Story Saturday: Henrietta's Nightmare

I have been working on a screenplay with my husband called Forgotten Love Spell, so I thought it would be helpful to write out a scene to give myself a better understanding of our protagonist, similar to the short stories I wrote for The Stolen Jewel. Forgotten Love Spell is a tragic romance between a princess and a wizard who gives up his memories to cast spells. I may or may not keep this scene in the screenplay, but it provides a good insight into what's going on in Princess Henrietta's head. If you read this, please let me know in the comments what you think and if you have any suggestions.

Forgotten Love Spell: "Henrietta's Nightmare"

"No!" Princess Henrietta looked on in horror as her father took his final breath. Graylor had never been the best father or king, but he was the only thing standing between Captain Lars and full control of Brodor. Lars laughed maniacally as he removed the bloody sword from Graylor's chest. If her father had only listened to Agatha's warnings about trusting Lars, maybe things could have been different.

"Princess, you must do something!" Agatha shouted from beside her father's corpse. Her voice sounded stronger than it should have for her old age. "You cannot let him take control!"

As the royal advisor, Agatha usually had all the answers. The problem was that Henrietta was the only one who ever listened. What was she supposed to do now when everything was already lost? She wouldn't stand a chance against Lars in combat with his years of training. She tried to step forward but found herself frozen in place. No matter how wide she opened her mouth, she couldn't scream. All she could do was tremble in terror as Lars approached her.

"Now," his deep voice boomed, "it's time to take care of the final thorn in my spine. This little princess thought she could save the kingdom all by herself. How quaint. You will never understand what it truly takes to rule."

Henrietta gasped, struggling to breathe.

She felt a sharp sting in her side that she was certain was Lars' blade but was too scared to look. The throne room went blurry around her.

"Princess?" asked a soft voice, probably a desperate servant checking to see if she was still alive. It would all be over soon.

"Henrietta!"

Princess Henrietta looks out from a tower window with a somber expression

Somehow, the voice got louder. Two firm hands grasped her by the shoulders. Her eyes shot open, and she gasped for breath as she realized she wasn't in the throne room at all. This wasn't even her own room. She reached for her mattress and felt a hay bale beneath her. The stabbing pain that she thought was Lars's blade had only been a poke from a sharp piece of hay.

"You were having a nightmare," said Malakai, who had been shouting her name in her sleep. He abruptly removed his hands from her shoulders, afraid she might take the gesture as a sign of impropriety.

The room was almost pitch black. Henrietta struggled to see the two sparse beds of hay and meager surroundings of the elder's home that they were staying at as her memories of the past few days came flooding back. She had run away when she learned that Lars, the captain of her father's army, intended to kill her. Malakai, the young wizard who now looked over her with concern, had helped her escape. If it hadn't been for him, she would likely be dead.

If she were still at the castle, it would be her duty to pretend that she was fine and reassure anyone who found her in such a vulnerable state that it was a momentary lapse of judgment that would never happen again. Yet, she was not at the castle, and she was not fine. She clung to Malakai, her only source of comfort during this difficult time. He hesitated as he placed hand hands gently back over her shoulders, doing his best not to take advantage of the situation.

"It was awful," she sobbed. "I dreamt that Lars killed my father and took over the kingdom. He was coming for me next."

"It's all right. You're safe now."

"Perhaps I am, but what about my people? I left them suffering under a council at odds against each other. What if I can't return? What will happen to them then?"

She tugged on his shirt, and he pulled her just close enough for her to feel his warmth crushing her tears.

"There is no use in dwelling on what you cannot control. All we can do is focus on what the here and now."

That was easy for him to say. When she read his spellbook, Henrietta learned that wizards sacrificed memories to cast spells. He had no past to burden him the way she did. It must be so freeing to release all of one's problems in a burst of magic. Perhaps she could ask him to teach her a spell or two so she could forget about how Lars was terrorizing her, but that was a request for another time when she wasn't troubling him in the middle of the night. For now, she would try to forget about Brodor and focus on the impoverished village where the two runaways had ended up.

"You're right," she said. "We should find a way to improve the wellbeing of these poor people."

The thought of being able to help another community while she couldn't do anything for her own eased her back to sleep as she tried to get comfortable in the bed of scratchy hay. She heard a squeak from Malakai's familiar, Cheers, a furry mouse with oversized ears, as he curled up in the corner of her rough pillow.

"That isn't quite what I meant," said Malakai, who was more accustomed to moving from place to place than getting to know the people from the kingdoms he visited. However, Henrietta was too tired to continue the conversation. Malakai smiled at the sleeping princess and the rat who had traded his bed for hers.

"Keep an eye on her," he said to Cheers as he returned to his own bed of hay. He never expected to get so close to a princess in his travels and only wished there were more he could for her.

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