Chapter 24:Left Alone
Martha rushed to Seren's room and saw the young lady sitting in the bed while clutching her quilt to her chest, looking around in panic.
"My lady, is everything alright?" Martha asked.
The flabbergasted Seren looked at Martha and mumbled in disbelief over the realization she had a moment before, "He saw me naked?"
Martha couldn't understand what Seren meant. She sat at the edge of the bed as she studied the panic on Seren's face. "Was it a nightmare, my lady?"
Seren shook her head and mumbled again, "Morning...in my bath...he saw me without clothes."
"Who?" Martha asked.
"The red-eyed man," Seren replied, her eyes seeking affirmation from Martha. At least, this time, she would believe her, right?
Martha held Seren's hand that was clutching the quilt and caressed it. "No one can come here, my lady."
"But I went there," Seren replied, not knowing how to fully explain what happened. "But you won't believe me, I know." She looked helpless.
"Explain," Martha instructed. It was not an instruction from a nanny but from the woman who was there to protect her all her life.
Seren explained to her what happened in the morning when she went to bathe. "And I think it's the same man I saw in the marketplace, the man who beheaded someone."
Martha's expression turned serious, but deep inside, she was just as puzzled. Although she had many questions in mind, her face showed nothing outside, not willing to scare the princess.
"My lady should sleep. We will talk about it tomorrow."
Seren nodded and lay down in bed. Making sure Seren had calmed down, Martha returned to her room.
However, the poor princess continued to toss about in bed.
"That's why he asked me who I am as if he knew me. Definitely, he was that man underwater, and he recognized me because of my eyes and...saw me without clothes. Arghh! Why did it happen when I didn't wear clothes?! Next time, I won't enter the water without clothes!"
Seren continued sulking as sleep left her eyes, not to return anytime soon.
The next day, after taking care of Seren's morning needs, Martha went to see King Armen in his personal study, and it was the secret meeting where Sir Barolt, the commander of the knights, guarded the entrance of the place.
Martha bowed to the King, who sat regally in his chair as he drank his morning tea.
"What's the matter?" the King asked.
"Your Majesty, do we have any guests in the palace who have red eyes?" Martha asked.
The King nodded. "The King of Megaris."
Martha's eyes widened as she repeated, "Megaris?"
"Hmm, the rumored son of the devil…."
"It's not just a rumor, Your Majesty," Martha interrupted the King and mused out loud, "So he is the son of the former Queen of Megaris, Queen Esther."
The King nodded in agreement.
"Your Majesty, I need to go out of the palace," Martha informed. Only she knew what was in her mind.
"Does this concern the Third Princess?" the King asked.
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"How long will it take?"
"This time, I can't confirm how long," Martha replied as she lowered her head. "I request Your Majesty to protect the tower in my absence."
"Rest assured. When are you leaving?" the King of Abetha asked.
"Right away after informing my lady."
Martha excused herself after bowing to the King. Sir Berolt entered as soon as she left and asked, "Are there any instructions for me, Your Majesty?"
"Martha won't be in the palace for a few days. Make sure to guard the tower," the King instructed as he finished his tea.
Martha returned to the tower.
"My lady, I will be away for a few days," she informed, making Seren look up from the book she's reading.
Her words startled Seren as it was so sudden. "Where are you going?"
"Some emergency came up," Martha replied.
"What happened? Is it the King who—"
"No, my lady. Trust me. Everything is fine," Martha assured, but her tone implied that Seren shouldn't ask anything more.
"My lady should follow the instructions that I give every time I leave the palace," Martha continued.
"May I know which instructions those are, my lady?" Martha asked like a strict teacher.
"I should not go out of the tower. If I do, then be quiet in the garden. I should not eat any food if someone sends it for me and I have to cook on my own…" Seren paused and looked at Martha. "Is this why you are adamant about teaching me cooking? So that you can go away whenever you want?"
Martha ignored her. "I'm waiting for my lady to complete the list of instructions."
Unwillingly, Seren continued, "I should not reply to anyone if they ask for me. If there is anything suspicious, I should only stay in my room. You will put a spell on the tower's main entrance so no one can enter it, and I'll be safe inside. I can't cry even if I feel lonely; I can't scream even if I feel scared, and I can't even feel angry even if I am frustrated by being locked alone."
Seren stopped, and Martha prompted, "And?"
"Whatever I hear or see, I should never go out of the tower at night," Seren replied reluctantly.
"Good. Wait for me," Martha said as she prepared to leave.
Seren felt like she was being abandoned and almost felt like crying. Not being able to control herself, she stood up and hugged Martha. "You will return, right?"
"It's not the first time I am going out, my lady," Martha said as she caressed the back of the young princess.
"I know, but this time, it feels different. Promise me you will be back," Seren insisted.
After assuring Seren once more, Martha left, and Seren couldn't hold back her tears. As she watched the familiar figure go, her chest felt heavy, making her feel as if a part of her was gone.