The Cursed Prince's Strange Bride -
Chapter 24 One Problem To Another.
Paulina heaved a deep breath as she collapsed on the floor outside the door of the latrine, which she had just finished cleaning. She still couldn't believe that the second she got off the carriage, she had been dragged away to the servants' quarters, and without even a second of rest, one of the maids there had stuffed her hand with a bucket containing the soap and other items she needed to clean the public latrines and bathrooms around the palace.
Paulina groaned softly when she tried to sit up, and her stomach rumbled noisily, reminding her that she was yet to eat anything. Although she was a servant, she wasn't used to such manual labour, as her sole task since she was young had been to serve the princess.
Once she stood up, Paulina briefly considered going back to the servant's quarters to let them know that she was done with her assignment, but on second thought, she decided to first find the Princess. Who knew what other chores those mean people had in store for her? Besides, she knew that once she found the Princess, she was going to get something good to eat and not the measly food that she suspected that those mean people would offer her.
She looked around her as she tried to find her way back to the palace, where she knew that the princess would be. After walking around the quiet building and getting lost, she finally found the exit and stepped outside.
She looked around in surprise when she realized that the sun had gone into hiding and the sky was dark now. She hadn't realized how much time she had spent in there scrubbing those toilets. She took in a deep breath to inhale the fresh night air into her lungs, which were still filled with the pungent smell that had followed her from the latrine.
She looked down at her clothes, which were of low quality compared to what even the other servants here wore, and straightened them out. Somehow, she doubted that they were going to let her walk down the halls of the palace dressed like this and smelling of soap. If only she knew where the princess was, this would have been much easier.
Who could she ask about where to find the princess? The people here seemed unapproachable and cold. Even the servants seemed to think they were better than her. She shuddered when she remembered how one of the men had drawn a sword at the princess during the marriage ceremony. If they could do that to the Princess, then worse could be done to her, who was just a mere servant, she thought as she tentatively headed for the palace, which stood quite a distance from where she was.
She assured herself that if anyone stopped her, she was just going to say that the Princess had sent her on an errand and she was going to report back. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the roar of what she assumed was the town bell. She had been warned about the sound. The first bell was a warning for everyone to go inside. The second bell was to remind them of the first. After the third bell, anyone caught outside was going to be in trouble. This was the first bell. She had to hurry.
The closer she got to the palace building, the more jittery she became, and so her gaze kept darting all around her nervously, as though she was expecting the mean maid to step out of the shadows and pounce on her.
"Where do you think you are going to?" A harsh voice spoke from behind her just as she was about to go inside the palace, where she could see other servants going in and exiting in a hurry.
A startled Paulina spun around immediately to look into the face of the mean maid she had somehow known was going to show up.
"I have cleaned the latrines," Paulina said in a shaky voice as she took an involuntary step back.
"And?" Beth asked with a look of disapproval on her face, taking a step towards her whenever she took one backwards.
Why was she feeling so nervous around a maid like herself when she had done nothing wrong? Paulina asked herself, as she cleared her throat, "And I need to see milady," Paulina informed her politely.
"You can't see her. Here in this palace, I'm responsible for all the servants, and I assign maids to the royals. I have no idea why you were allowed to tag along with them, but you won't be serving her. So return to the servant's quarters at once!" Beth commanded harshly.
Paulina stood her ground, "The Prince said I could come along. I'm here only to serve my Princess," Paulina insisted stubbornly, even though her heart was thudding very fast in her chest.
"You are a stubborn one, are you not? Well, I know just the right way to break you in," Beth said with relish in her voice as she reached out a hand and grabbed Paulina by the scruff of her neck with her sharp nails, causing her to cry out in pain.
"Let her go," Alvin ordered in a cool voice as he stepped out of the darkness.
"You have no business interfering in this," Beth hissed at him irritably.
"I do. Prince Harold asked me to get her for the Princess, so let her go. I also have a message for you," Alvin added, and Beth eyed him curiously as she roughly pushed Paulina to the side.
Without sparing a glance at either her oppressor or her saviour, Paulina ran away from there and hurried straight inside the palace, even though she didn't exactly know where she was going. All she wanted was to put some distance between herself and the mean witch before looking for someone sane to ask for direc... "Ouch!" She cried when she walked into something solid, and something fell on the ground, making a clattering sound.
Her heart sank when she looked down at the goblet, which was now lying on the floor with its cover in a pool of wine. She looked from the wine to the feet of the person she had bumped into, and she had no doubt that he was a member of the royal family. She didn't know what to expect as she slowly and fearfully looked up. 𝓲𝓷nr𝒆𝚊d. 𝘤𝑜𝘮
Had she just succeeded in running from one problem into another? What if this was the same person who had drawn the sword at the princess? She wondered as she looked into his face.
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