Six years ago
The Driskula kingdom
"Caelum! How do I look?" The princess suddenly asked. She had a flower tucked in her white hair. She stared up at him expectantly, bouncing on her feet as she eagerly awaited his response.
The princess was a beauty, a fact that no one could argue. With lovely silver locs that stretched down to her back and blue eyes as clear as the sky. Perhaps her ethereal beauty was the result of having a fae mother. Just like the late queen, she had elven ears which made her stand out among the people of the castle. Assuming her snow colored hair didn’t already do that.
She was half demon, half fae but fully the princess of their land and everyone adored her. So much so that they rarely saw the faults in the princess’s character.
"You look like a troll." Caelum teased, finding it amusing the way her pretty blue eyes flared up with anger.
"No I don't! You're the one who looks like a troll." She hit him repeatedly as the words left her lips.
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding." Caelum laughed as he easily blocked her strikes. Not many knew this or maybe they chose to ignore it but the kingdom's beloved princess was a major brat. "You look beautiful."
Eliora stopped her assault and huffed.
"Of course I am. I'm the princess after all." She said with her chest puffed out but her face was tinged bright pink.
"Snarky brat." Caelum muttered under his breath.
She stuck her tongue out at him and went over to the pond.
Caelum had been guarding the princess for almost two years now. He'd just turned sixteen when he'd been assigned the position. At the time, the princess was twelve and even more of a brat than she was now. He'd gotten into so much trouble because of her but now he knew how to handle her.
Right now they were in the princess's personal garden. You could tell just how spoilt she was from the fact that she has her own garden. She loved to have picnics here or just simply roam about. As her guard, Caelum had to be with her around the clock.
"Are you dating Sabrina, Caelum?" She asked suddenly, startling him. He blinked at her a few times. Sabrina was a maid in the castle. The two were close in age so they were friends, however they had no romantic relationship. Caelum had never seen the girl in such a light.
"What made you think that?" He asked curiously.
Eliora plopped down on the grass, taking her shoes off and sticking her feet into the water.
"Don't do that, I'll get scolded later."
"Relax." She patted a spot beside him and he took a seat beside her. "The maids around the castle keep saying you and Sabrina would look good as a couple so I got curious."
"Those hags," He muttered under his breath. "We're not a couple. We're just friends."
"Hmmmmm, that's good to know." She smiled.
Eliora gazed up at the sky while she kicked her feet in the water. It was a habit of hers Caelum found rather cute. At random moments, especially when they were outside like this, her attention would be focused solely on the skies above her.
She laid back on the grass with her feet still in the water.
"I wonder what it would feel like to fly." She said just as a bird flew over them.
This was something he'd gotten used to hearing but each time he heard it, he wished he'd been born with wings so he could fulfill her fantasy. There was always this urge to give her anything she wanted.
"I wonder..." he trailed off, laying down right beside her.
Caelum felt a gaze trained on them and he shot up on high alert. His eyes searched the area for any threat until they'd fallen on the culprit.
"Relax, it's probably father checking up on me." Eliora told him.
She was right. At a far distance, the king stood watching them intently. Caelum sighed. Another person who was hopelessly in love with the princess.
Shortly after, the princess was called in for lunch.
The king stood at the exit of the garden. When the princess was out of earshot, he said to Caelum.
"See me in my office."
It wasn't every day a knight of Caelum's status got called into the king's office. He didn't know whether to be scared or glad.
He knocked twice on the door and stepped in when he heard a voice say ‘come in’.
"You summoned me your highness.”Caelum said with his head bowed in respect.
"Raise your head. I'll get straight to the point. I’ve selected you to be among the next set of men sent to the front lines." The king said casually from behind his large desk.
Caelum's heart stopped in his chest. The king was sending him to the front lines? A low class warrior like himself would never even dream of being gifted such an honor. For demons like them, there came a pride with protecting their land. It was news that should have made him happy but yet he felt no joy. The moment he processed the king’s words, an image of Eliora staring at the sky flashed before his eyes.
"You'll be leaving with the next platoon of men getting sent out. That is all."
"Pardon me your highness. It is an honor to be given such an opportunity but who's going to be the princess' personal guard if I'm gone." He didn't mean to sound as frantic as he had.
"Of course a new guard will be assigned to her. Is there a problem?" The king gave a look as if daring him to make another comment.
Caelum could sense the irritation in the kings voice so he bowed his head instead of voicing his thoughts.
"It's an honor to serve the kingdom. Thank you for the opportunity my king. I shall take my leave now."
When Caelum was gone, the king relaxed back into his chair.
"How childish of you. Sending him off just because you fear he'll steal your daughter from you." Nora said as she materialized into the room.
"It’s more than just that.” He pushed his chair back and opened his arms to her. She sat in his lap just like she always did.
"Aren't you scared something could happen to him? You know how important he is to Eliora." She said as she snuggled into his chest.
"He's a strong one, he won't die so easily." The king replied nonchalantly.
Their kingdom had been in a war with a neighboring kingdom for over a year now. The calm within the kingdom hid the chaos outside it.
"You're despicable." The woman chuckled. Her ocean blue eyes sparkled just like Eliora's did and Derrick was captivated.
Caelum's head was a mess as he walked to the dining area where Eliora was. He didn't want to leave. He liked his job as Eliora's guard. When he stepped into the room, Eliora looked up at him and smiled. His heart clenched painfully. Soon he wouldn't be able to see that smile.
He stood to her left, watching her quietly as she finished her meal.
There was the occasional hustle and bustle around them as servants moved about. The princess was turning fourteen in some days so everyone prepped for the coming banquet. They were at her balcony now. A little round table had been set before her, loaded with cakes and treats but her attention laid on the book in her hand.
Caelum stood to her side, watching as her small hand flipped the pages.
"Ouch!" She exclaimed. The edge of one of the pages cut her delicate finger.
"Princess are you okay?" Caelum rushed to her side, squatting beside her chair so he could be on a closer level to her.
Her lips thinned as she held her finger towards him. A bead of blood was already forming on the cut.
"Please be more careful princess, the king will have my head off if anything happens to you."
Without much of a thought, he brought her finger to his lips, licking the blood off. The princess's surprised gasp made him realise what he'd done. He stood abruptly and took a step back, bowing his head.
"I deeply apologize, that was rude of me your highness." How careless of him. How could he act like that to the princess? He was acting way too familiar with her these days.
"Stop that, I'm not mad." her voice sounded panicked.
"I would get a proper scolding if anyone found out."
"Then no one has to. I won't tell if you won't." he looked up at her and marveled at the sight of her smiling face. So pretty. He murmured a thank you, feeling a bit too flustered to speak properly.
Eliora stared down at her finger and a blush crept up her neck. She'd just finished reading a scene in her book where the vampire male lead sucked blood off the female lead’s finger after she cut herself with a blade. Caelum had done the same just now although he wasn’t a vampire.
It often annoyed her how dense the man was to her feelings. He did things like these without so much of a thought. Well maybe that was part of the reason she fell for him. He was also dangerously handsome, not many in the kingdom could match him in those terms. With his short black hair and hazel eyes, women often stared at him without him realising. His face was perfectly sculpted, a defined jawline with strong cheek bones. There wasn’t a flaw to his features.
As there weren't many her age within the castle walls, Caelum became her closest friend. But now she wished for something deeper than friendship.
The sound of glass breaking snapped her out of her thoughts. She looked down from the balcony to see the head maid scolding a younger maid. There were some broken glasses on the ground beside them. Her birthday was coming up so everyone was antsy. This one was more special than the others because this was supposed to be her debut as the kingdoms princess. It was unfortunately a rather big deal. Delegates from other kingdoms not affected by war would be present
"So what's Caelum getting me for my birthday." She turned to him, nearly stuttering when she met his eyes.
"It's basic etiquette to not pressure someone for a gift."
She rolled her eyes and huffed then picked up a cupcake. Knowing him, he would get her a gift nonetheless.
"Princess I might not be around for your birthday....." Caelum started.
Eliora stormed the halls leading to her father's office, she pushed the doors open without as much as a knock.
"Father! Tell me it isn't true you're sending Caelum to war."
Her father was disheveled when she walked in. His shirt button undone and his hair looking like he'd just woken up.
"El what did I tell you about knocking?”
"Answer me father!" She stamped her foot to the ground in anger.
"Yes, I decided he's a worthy enough warrior to stand and fight for the kingdom."
"This isn't up for debate Eliora! I've made my decision and he'll be leaving soon."
Her eyes pricked as tears formed. Soon they were flowing down her face without abandon.
"El... don't cry." Her father got up to approach her but she stormed out of the room slamming the door behind her.
Nora materialised at that moment.
"You've really spoiled her." Nora wrapped her arms around the king to comfort him. "I knew she wouldn't take it well."
"She's just like you."
"Please, I was never that bad."
"I beg to differ."
The king clutched his wife to his body, relishing in her scent. He dropped to his seat, pulling her into his lap.
"She'll just have to accept this."
The day before her birthday was the appointed date of his departure. Eliora sobbed and sobbed until she had no more tears left to shed. She initially refused to say goodbye to him but couldn't bare to not see him before he left.
He was gone now and she laid in her room feeling depressed. She weakly got off her bed and moved to the desk at the other side of the room. She dug out a quill and some parchment. They agreed to send each other letters until the day he could finally return. It was too early off to start sending a letter, he probably hadn't even arrived at the borders yet but maybe it would make her feel better.
When she finished the letter, she searched the drawer of her desk for an envelope when she came across a small black velvet box. It was about the size of her palm. Curious, she opened the box to see a piece of paper in it. A letter.
I'm probably not going to be around for your birthday but I couldn't leave without giving you a present. It took me a while to save up for this so I hope you like it. But then again it might not be up to her majesty's standard.
It might be years before we're able to meet again but I truly hope you don't forget about me.
Please be safe Elora.
His name was signed underneath. His handwriting was messy and she couldn't imagine him holding a quill and trying to write a letter to her but she was touched. Only when the paper began to get wet did she realise she was crying. She looked back into the box to see a pendant. A silver chain leading to a beautiful blue gem. She couldn't recognize the gem, it was unlike anything she'd ever seen. It was a beautiful ocean blue, the same shade of color as her eyes.
Realisation dawned just then. He selected the stone to match her eyes. More tears threatened to spill and she didn’t bother to hold them back. This was going to become her most prized possession.
The day of the banquet finally came forth and she felt lonely. After all the major introductions where done, she stepped out into the palace's main garden to get some fresh air. She was usually good around people but today she felt suffocated. Her hand traced the stone of her necklace for comfort.
She missed Caelum and it had only been a day since he left. When this was done, she was going to write another letter to him.
After getting her nerves under control, she decided to go back to the banquet hall. It was almost time for her first dance, her father would probably be looking for her now.
She heard the sound before she registered the pain radiating in her head. Black dots formed on her vision and soon she fell unconscious.