23 Chapter 22
"Wait, Lord Valentine!" Before I can utter the last word, Lord Valentine vaporizes in front of me.
That must not be the real Lord Valentine. This is just a shadow of him made by his magic.
He could have sent another written message like the one a few days ago, but he didn't. He appeared in person, just to apologize. To me. There is nothing he needs to apologize for, yet he asked after my feelings and conditions.
I stand in the balcony, admiring the moon while slowly tasting the candies he left me. I have to treasure them. The moon and the candies are all I have in this lonely night.
Tingling of warmth and sweetness slowly glide down my throat and then my chest, my heart.
The moon looks stunning tonight.
I wait till nearly the end of the ball to find Cordelia bursting into the hall and hiding behind a column.
"Hide my track, Ianthe!" Cordelia orders by communicating telepathically to me.
With a small sigh, I abide her order. I have disguised my magical bag into a small clutch. I open it until I am staring at the inside of what looks like an ordinary clutch. I whisper, "Dolphin, can you help me find a distraction spell?"
I can very well place my hand inside and search, but that will take a while with how many things I have stuffed inside since our escape from the Kingdom.
After a second, a tiny slip of paper appears at the mouth of the clutch.
"Thanks Dolphin. You're the best!"
Taking a quick glance of my surrounding, I take hold of the slip of rune and mutter beneath my breath.
Just in time to mask Cordelia's track when the prince bursts into the ball room. He is holding a ruby red mask. His face flushed as he shouts to his guards, "Find her! Find the owner of this mask! Bring every lady who is able to wear this mask to me!"
What is he hoping for? A mask is different from a glass slipper. Masks can fit a whole range of people. I wonder if the author took inspiration from Cinderella for this scene.
We definitely have to slip away, before the guards become more organized and ban every girl with a face from leaving.
"Princess," I say telepathically, "we have to slip away. I am on the balcony. There is a small stairway here to the Royal back garden. We slip away from here. Can you make it to the balcony? I can still mask your track for now."
Cordelia may not be gifted in magic, but that is made up in other ways. Such as her superhuman strength. Such as her ways to slip away gratefully and elegantly.
"That stupid prince. Want to catch me? Wait for a hundred years," Cordelia boasts when she walks towards me.
"Princess, let's start the boasting when we leave this place! We haven't even escaped the ball room."
"Spoilsport." She rolls her eyes and storms down the stairway. At least she has the decency to soften her footsteps when walking down.
We're halfway down the stairway when someone shouted from above.
"Hey, stop there! My ladies, my apologies, but you are not allowed to leave yet! Just now the Prince..."
Not much power is left in the distraction rune I'm holding. I just need a small distraction spell to distract the guard long enough so that we can hide in the shadows of the garden. I have never tried a distraction spell without a rune, but there is not enough time to take out one from the clutch.
I mutter the spell beneath my breath and feel power draining from me. The guard spaces out immediately and looks in the opposite direction.
I quickly slip down the remaining stairs and usher Cordelia to hide in the shadows of a bush.
"Dolphin, the spell for shield," I whisper into my clutch. A second later, a slip of paper appears.
After activating the shielding spell, I heave a sigh of relief. I feel exhausted. As expected, I am not powerful enough to do a distraction spell without the help of runes.
"Princess, I don't think I can do any more spells for awhile, let's wait here. The spells will protect us from being discovered. When the farce above has died down a bit, we slip out."
"Fine. So useless. It's just a few simple spells and you're exhausted!" She rolls her eyes and then makes herself comfortable by sitting on the grass. She looks like she is having a moonlight picnic rather than escaping from the prince of this Kingdom.
Stay calm. Calm. Gotta say my patience is stretching thin.
We stay in silence for half an hour which comes as a surprise to me. Princess not saying any biting remarks, not complaining or not moving for thirty whole minutes?
Did she fall asleep? Slowly, I try to take a peek at her.
"Are you feeling better now?" Cordelia brushes her hair from her face. For one second I thought I saw something akin to caring on her face, but then as quick as a slip of sand, her face is filled with annoyance and impatience.
"Much revived, your highness. And I think the guards no longer focus so much on finding escaping ladies. Let's slip out."
Cordelia nods her head noncommittally and says, "I know the way to the front door. Find it during playing with the pretty prince." I do not miss the evil spark appearing in her eyes when she mentions the prince.
I hope she remembers directions well.
Turns out aside from not being able to do magic, Princess more or less excels in other regions. I shouldn't have doubted her. In ten minutes we're out of the castle.
"What a fun night." Cordelia stretches her arms above her head. "Wait for me, pretty prince. I'm not done with you yet."
If someone takes a picture at this moment, a perfect poster for a villainess will be produced. With the moonlight, the ruby red dress, the evil smile on her face. You do know that you're the heroine of the story, but not the villainess, Cordelia?