Prologue of Ashes to Ashes is here. Story based on a dream. Well, dream refixed for logic. Anywho, part 1 is after the cut.
Ashes to Ashes
By Seriously Sarah/ sarah coldheart
The curtains were a deep blue brocade with gold embroidery. Ashlinn stared at it as she leant against the glass of the large French windows. The frost covered the exterior, blocking her view of the evening sky outside.
She felt a gloved hand grasping her slender wrist and pulled her out of her hiding spot.
A tall handsome man with short blonde hair frowned at her.
“Oh hello your grace. Fancy seeing you here,” she said softly.
He sighed as she looked away from him.
“Considering it’s my birthday, yes I would think I would be here. You’re hiding again. And stop that, you can always say my name,” he whispered, bending down so his lips were next to her right ear.
“Kai, I don’t like being at festivities. You know that. Shouldn’t you be with Crystal or Ruby? They’ve presents for you,” she sighed.
Ashlinn looked down as she was led towards the center of the ballroom. The string orchestra was playing a waltz and she knew everyone was looking at them.
“Ah, they were the ones who pointed you to me,” he smiled.
“Traitors,” she faintly smiled.
They stepped in time to the music, dancing together an arms length apart. The other guests joining them, twirling around on the dance floor. They merely danced without a word until the song ended. The duke bowed and Ashlinn curtsied to him. Before she could retreat away from him once more, he caught her wrist as they stood in the middle of the ballroom.
“Ash, I have invited you and your family here, not just because of my birthday. I have something important to ask of you,” he said seriously.
The other guests gathered around them in a circle as if expecting something to happen. Ashlinn briefly looked around and it suddenly occurred to her that besides her family being there along with his, their friends were all there. No doubt it was his birthday but the atmosphere had been abuzz with anxious whispering and knowing looks thrown at her way.
She looked up at him in alarm.
“No need to look at me like that. Ash, I have a question for you,” he said and released his hold on her as he bent on one knee before her.
Ashlinn stared as he pulled out a small blue box from his waistcoat pocket and opened it. He took her right hand and showed her the opened box. It was a simple band made of Star Alum. It was more precious than gold, harder than any other metal that existed and conducted the most amount of magic through it.
“Yes?” she asked nervously.
“Ashlinn, will you marry me?” he asked, looking up at her hopefully.
The ballroom was silent, waiting for Ashlinn’s answer. She could feel her hand in his as she looked up and saw her family anticipating her reply. Her stepmother was there along with her stepsisters smiling at her. Kai’s parents were next to them, looking joyful about it. Her heart started beating wildly as she realized that it was all real.
Kai had proposed to her on his birthday, in the middle of the ballroom where everyone she knew was there. He tightened his grip on her hand as he saw the frightened look on her face and a greenish pale light washed over the two of them.
“Ash? I asked you to marry me, not that you’d be executed,” he joked.
“I… I can’t help it. In the middle of the ballroom, really?” she squeaked.
Everyone else was frozen in place. Or rather, it was merely the two of them that had sped up and were in a special pocket of time. It had happened countless of times to Ashlinn before, usually when she was frightened or nervous enough.
“Calm yourself down. Is it that bad to marry me? I can provide you will all you need and want,” he said.
“I know that,” she said, her fingers curling around his.
“Do you… not like me?” he asked, standing up slowly.
Ashlinn looked up into his crystal blue eyes. Her lips parted, as she tried to think of something to reply. It was difficult for her to say anything when she was nervous. She looked down towards the ring that was in his other hand.
“I do. I am very fond of you, Kai. You know that,” she said softly.
“What is it then?” he asked.
“It’s just that… I can’t marry you, not now,” she answered.
He took a deep breath and calmed himself, not letting his hand off hers. It would not do to frighten her more than she was and he knew that Ashlinn was very skittish.
“Why is that?” he asked.
“Father. Father isn’t here. Did you ask him for permission?” she replied.
Kai knew of her father and that he had disappeared as of late. It was something that had distressed her and her family for the past six months. He had personally sent for some men under his charge to investigate and find Ashlinn’s father to no avail. It had been said that the trader was supposedly killed during a bandit attack in the realm of darkness, Atra.
Ashlinn had refused to believe that.
“I thought so,” she continued.
“What if he never returns?” said Kai.
They stood in silence. Kai stepping away from her but still holding her hand just by the fingertips.
“It is by your choice, my lady. I will not fault you for it. Only that, you must know my alternative,” he said seriously.
Ashlinn sighed once more as she looked at him. A refusal would mean that he would have to marry another suitor. He was no prince with an urgency to marry but he was eight and twenty years of age. No more could he postpone the inevitable as he had other noblewomen thrusted upon him to choose by his parents.
It was surprising that he would be able to ask her for her hand. Ashlinn was only the daughter of a rich trader and now the stepdaughter of a far off cousin of the royal family. It would take quite a bit of a stretch to qualify herself as a noblewoman.
“I understand. I know what decision to make,” she said.
“I will await your answer. I hope you’ll choose the right one?” he asked hopefully and looked down to the polished floor.
She gave him a grim smile and pulled her fingers away from his, releasing Kai from the pocket of time. The green light that surrounded them, dissipated from him once she had him untouched.
Slowly, Kai looked up and saw the empty space in front of him. The sounds of the guests whispering grew louder and he closed the ring box with a snap.
“I guess, that’s a no,” he said to himself.