The Count and Rose

King Leonard was much loved by everyone. He was a fair and just ruler, avoid many wars and unnecessary taxes. His reign was wonderful from the very beginning, fifteen years ago. His Queen, Patricia, was sweet tempered and pretty. Together, they made a great couple, and gave the kingdom three wonderful Princes and  five sweet Princesses. No one doubted the kingdom’s stability if the King should die; however, King Leonard would be very much missed once his death occurred.

If the Count died, however, not a soul would miss him.

The Count was cruel and menacing, a terrible figure who had gained land by foul means and terrorized the local villages with his troops. The Count’s rate of unpopularity grew as he made it clear that he strongly disliked King Leonard. His jealousy and bitterness grew so much, that, with a small band of his wicked supporters, he attempted to overthrow King Leonard and take the kingdom for himself.

The Count’s supporters were caught, tried, and executed.  Though many people demanded for the Count’s death, King Leonard only stripped the Count from his powers and banished him to the uninhabited, treacherous Marshlands of the south. The Count could do nothing without his friends, the King determined.

King Leonard was wrong.

Deep in the Marshlands, the Count paced back and forth in the Main Hall with a scowl plastered to his wicked features. A gaunt, haggard figure, the Count moved with smooth, elegant movements across the dark carpet. His tall frame was dressed in black, scraggly clothes that were faded and worn, and the Count’s thin, graying hair was receding, leaving the top of his head bare. The Count has a long, crooked nose, shiny gray eyes, and pale, pale skin.

The Count was impatient, Edwin noted. Small, thin, and eager to please his master, Edwin was the only companion the Count had that survived the wrath of King Leonard. Edwin had short, mousy brown hair and watery blue eyes. He knew his master’s habits, and when the Count paced in the Main Hall with a scowl like the one he had on right now, it meant that the Count was impatient for something to get done. It also suggested the Count was–dare Edwin even think it?–nervous. The wicked Count was fearless and cruel, facing even the most daunting of tasks, like overthrowing the most powerful and popular King in history, without a trace of fear.

It was funny how much a man changed when confronted with a member of the opposite sex.

Perhaps the isolation was going to the Count’s head, as he almost never associated with women. Even now, long after his banishment had began, he had many admirers who were highly attracted to his dark ways, but he bluntly refused their offers. He was too rough and too set in his ways to even begin courting someone. For a man like the Count, it simply wasn’t right for him to get married.

So why would he want to change now? Why had he decided to get married now? Edwin wondered.

Finally, the Count stopped pacing due to some sixth sense. “She’s here,” he said to no one, his voice like a oil-covered snake.

The great doors opened, and in stepped two cloaked figures. One was a young woman, pale and petite, with a heart-shaped face and warm brown eyes. Long curls of honey were plastered to her face. Her companion, an older man, was short and squat, with thin white hair and a short, white mustache. He, too, had warm brown eyes. The similarities in their facial features made it obvious that they were father and daughter.

What neither of them knew was that they had just landed in a trap. The Count had originally sent for Dr. Heywood alone, claiming to need some medical assistance. But the Count  had known that Dr. Heywood would bring his daughter, Rose, with him. Despite his humble appearance, Dr. Heywood was actually a very high-ranking noble–a secret that only King Leonard and his Queen knew. It was this secret that the Count had stumbled upon during one of his schemes to get rid of the King.

If the Count married Rose, it would be a giant step forward into gaining all of his evil powers back. It was a ploy Rose never found out until it was too late.

For a long time, silence held the four people in its tight grip. Finally, the Count spoke, moving toward the soaked, tired pair. “Welcome. I apologize for making you take such a long trip, Dr. Heywood. Please, come inside and make yourselves comfortable.”

Dr. Heywood looked at his daughter, and slowly moved deeper in the Great Hall.

“You must be Rose,” the Count said, taking the woman’s pale hand in his long, bony fingers. “A pleasure to meet you. I hope you find you stay here enjoyable.” He smiled down at her, regarding her with shiny gray eyes.

Rose looked at him and swallowed nervously. She jerked her hand out of his, and walked away without saying anything.

The Count smiled–she was afraid of him. His plan was already working.

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~ by w1s3r on November 11, 2010.

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