Without further ado, here are days 2-7 of my Inktober 2019 prompted scenes. Just a reminder, not all of these will end up in my story, they’re just ramblings. None of these pictures are mine - I found them all on Pinterest!
Reginald wandered MINDLESSly through the forest. His mother had come home and sat him down, telling him the news she'd heard in the castle kitchen. The princesses were all gone. All three of them had gotten too close to the Red borders. In the process, her watch had snared them. Word had been sent to the white queen. His queen. The red queen told his queen to not expect the girls home, ever again. They were being charged with infringing border agreements. In the white kingdom, this wasn't a terrible thing; there was some time in prison, then they were returned home. Walked straight to the border with a royal escort and guard.
In the red kingdom, this infraction is treated as if it were treason to the opposing kingdom. The girls were as good as dead, and because of the white king's refusal to get involved in the way the red kingdom is run, though he'd had the chance many years before, his own daughters had fallen victim to the red queen.
"Reggie," his mother now whispered to him as she gripped his arm. "You must find them."
He stared at her, her words not quite registering. "What?"
"You have to rescue the princesses."
"Mother, have you gone mad?" He stood up forcefully ripping his arm from her grip.
I stared at Graham, my heart sinking. Impossibly, I knew he was right. I knew we had to do it. He had to be the BAIT. He was the only one who knew the red queen's castle. He was the only one who knew, with the most intimate knowledge, how to avoid the guards. He had literally been her spy, her personal assassin. He knew how to get where he needed to go. He was the only one who could do this.
"I don't like it," I frowned. "I don't like you putting your neck on the line."
"It is a rather attractive neck, isn't it?" He smiled and stroked his neck. Then he got serious. "It will be fine. The guards won't hurt me."
"Unless Scarlet tells them to. They can't ignore their queen's orders."
Graham only smiled softly. "That's a chance I'll have to take, Princess."
I glared at him. "I'm not the princess."
"One day you'll remember. And I hope I'll be there to see the look on your face."
We all five sat around the fire and listened to the wood crack and pop in the forgotten cabin at the edge of the lake, knowing this could be the last time we sat like this.
I sat by the fire, staring at the embers. I thought about what I had seen in my life, or what I remembered of my life anyway. The fake life.
I thought I could remember my mother's voice, rough and dry from drug use. I thought I remembered my 'aunt' Ellen's embrace, waking me from a nightmare and holding me close when my mother couldn't. I remembered meeting Reginald at school. He walked right up to me and shook my hand. "Hi, I'm Reggie. You're Alicea, right? Can you help me with my homework?" I'd spend weeks tutoring him in math. I didn't stop until I realized he actually did in fact know math, he had been lying just to get me to teach him. But it didn't matter, by then he'd already become my best - and only - friend.
A log fell in the fire and I jumped and pulled the blanket tighter around my shoulders. How much of my life had been a lie? Were any of my memories real? Had the red queen respected me enough to give me any sliver of my past life?
"You're going to FREEZE, Princess," Graham's rough voice was soft and comforting. It didn't startle me.
"It's not too bad right here," I whispered back. Graham sat beside me. His scent of pine trees wafted toward me and I breathed deeply, my eyes closing. Never before had I been near someone so homely, so comforting, yet so dangerous.
"Why aren't you in bed, Princess?"
"Would you stop calling me that?" I glared at him. "I'm Alicea."
"I wouldn't dare offend a member of the White Royalty by using her given name in conversation."
"Shut up," I pushed him with my shoulder playfully. "I am Alicea White. I'm from Salt Lake City. I make coffee at the coffee shop. I have a tattoo! I'm no princess."
"You... have a what?" He looked so confused and astonished I almost laughed out loud.
I grinned. "I have a tattoo, wanna see it?"
"What is a...tattoo?"
I sat and watched as the stranger sat to BUILD a fire. I shivered and rubbed my hands up my arms quickly. I breathed deeply and watched the cloud form between my lips. It's so cold, I thought numbly. It had been an unusually warm day as I'd walked the streets of Salt Lake. Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. My knees were shaking, with cold or adrenaline I wasn't sure.
"L-look," I tried to say as my teeth chattered. "I d-don't know wh-who you are, b-but I need to go back. Th-that man k-killed my aunt. I need to go back. I n-need to find him."
The stranger looked up from his task, his eyes wide. "Go back? Princess, you can't go back."
I was so shocked I almost stopped shaking; I stopped breathing for sure. "Wh-what did you s-say?"
"You can't go back."
"N-no, the other th-thing. You c-called me 'princess'."
He looked confused. "Yes, I did. I'm sorry, I don't know which one you are other wise I'd use your name."
"I'm n-not a princess."
"You certainly don't look like one," he chuckled, nodding at my cut off jeans. "Your legs might just fall off in this weather."
"Where am I?" I managed without stuttering. The fire was starting to warm up the small log room.
"Wonderland. Red kingdom." He mumbled as he moved to get me a thick blanket and wrap it around my shoulders.
I laughed out loud. "No, seriously, where am I?"
He looked confused. "The red kingdom. My cabin in the forest. Well, it's not really mine, but I've been staying-"
"I'm not in Wonderland," I shook my head and stood up, walking closer to the fire - and farther from him. "Wonderland isn't real. Whatever practical joke this is, it isn't funny. Put me back."
"Salt Lake City!" I snapped. "Where you just pulled me from. Put me back."
I stared at my parents. I looked at them and everything that encompassed them. My mother, so beautiful and looking so much like Ellen I almost cried. My father, who I could see myself staring back at me from his eyes. They were so beautiful and the way my father held my mother, I knew they loved each other deeply. And I knew what they were looking at.
I looked like their daughter, a little. I was several years older now. They had missed so much, and their daughter hadn't come running home to them. She'd hid in the forests just beyond their reach. I'd been a coward and a sneak. I'd wandered their kingdom and hadn't even come to them. Even when I knew who they were to me, who I was, I didn't come to them. I stayed in my rabbit hole and hid from them. I had endangered their kingdom and hadn't even blinked an eye.
My mother broke away from my father and came forward. She hesitantly reached out and touched my short cropped hair, touched my cheek. Her fingers were so warm, her touch so gentle. I almost fell to her feet. How many times had I prayed for a mother to look at me the way she was looking at me? How many times had I cried myself to sleep because I didn't know the loving caress of the woman who birthed me?
Then she roughly took me in her arms and she started to bawl, her shoulders shaking and her cries echoing around the large ornate room. I held her tightly and cried with her, feeling a release of emotion I had been holding on to for so long.
I heard my father speak from just behind my mother and I looked up at him, blinking away the blurry tears and hoping my nose didn't run all over my mother's gown. "Welcome home," his HUSKY voice croaked. "We missed you so much, Alicea. Welcome home. You made it back to us."
"Alicea, I must say I'm simply ENCHANTED to re-meet you. It appears your time on earth has not treated you well at all, though, how saddening this is."
I stared at the Red Queen, my hand gripping the sword tightly. Her voice showed no emotion; an absolute psychopath.
"I mean, you've aged quite a bit. I only saw you a mere month ago, and look at you. Quite a woman now. Tell me, did you have a life back on earth? A lover, perhaps?" She looked me straight in the eye. "Why did you come back, if you did? Surely, you should know you will die. You all will, at my hand."
"What is your problem?" I demanded, hate making me want to spit at her feet. "Why are you such a cruel girl? What are you, seventeen? What made you so evil?"
Her eyes flashed with anger. "Do not speak to me that way!" she swished her long, full skirt as she stomped her foot. "I am the queen of the Red Kingdom!"
"Some kingdom!" I shouted over her. "You've basically killed all of your people out of spite for one little girl. A little girl who doesn't even exist anymore!"
"Oh, she exists," Scarlet spat at me. "Just because you can't remember her, doesn't mean she isn't in you. And I'm sure she'd be so proud," she spoke the words with such sarcastic poison I almost shivered. "To see what you have become."
I stalked closer, holding my sword all the tighter. "If she is in here," I snarled. "She's hiding from the monster with your face."