The Maiden's Request (Part 6)

Henrik and his brother barely spoke after entering the servants’ buildings. He placed the cushion on the floor of his room and went straight to bed without changing. Visions of Jing running and crying haunted Henrik’s attempt to sleep. The desire to fix the harm Frederik’s actions caused kept him awake. Guilt mixed into his thoughts because he thought more of Jing than his cursed brother.   Henrik rolled over to check on the toad. The cushion was empty. He shot out of bed and walked quickly toward the palace, searching, and hoping he wouldn’t attract a patrolling guard’s attention. Henrik neared Jing’s chambers when a woman’s scream startled him.   “Jing!” Henrik rushed to open the door to the chamber. In the dim light from torches outside the window, he only saw the closed drapes of Jing’s canopy bed.   “You foul creature!”   The toad came flying out from behind the drapes. Henrik ducked and heard a loud thud on the wall behind him, followed by a much larger crash on the floor.   The attendant rushed to the bed and opened the silken bed curtains. She sat and spoke calming words at the princess’s side. “My lady, are you all right? What happened?” Fury coursed through Jing’s eyes as she pointed to where she threw the toad.   Henrik heard shouts from soldiers running along the halls. He turned to see a broad-shouldered man groaning and stirring in the corner. The man’s arms and legs fumbled as if he had forgotten how to use them. Henrik grabbed a discarded robe and covered him. “Frederik, you idiot!” Henrik pulled Frederik to his feet. “We need to get out of here, now!”   Jing screamed again. “Frederik? Who’s Frederik?”   “Jing, this is my older brother.”   The anger on her face shifted to a confused panic as her glare shifted between both men. She whispered to Henrik. “You can’t be found here!”   “I did it, Henrik. I broke the curse. We can go home!”   Soldiers burst through the chamber doors. The two men did not resist as they were forced to the ground and tied with ropes.