After a short hike, she came to an old fortress, stone ruins that must have been a grand castle years ago, yet having a trace of functionality. Sections of the castle were still intact. But what was once a tower had collapsed, leaving huge bricks, rubble of cut rock and half standing pillars spiked high above the grass. Crumbled walls protruded from the earth, hinting at legends of grandeur from past centuries.
Cassie followed the sound to one of the chambers. Reluctant to interrupt Cassie slowed as she neared the alcove and stopped next to an open window.
A single stringed melody resonated from the violin, first painful in a sorrowful refrain, and then as gentle as a tender kiss.
She leaned over the stones that framed the cathedral window and gazed into the room vacant of any furnishings. A single ray of light shone into a corner, resting on the back of a young man. His uniform torn, his arm that held the violin wrapped heavy in bindings where he had been shot, still, he displayed no sign of physical pain. Engrossed in his song, his body moved to the motion of the music. Chin nestled on the instrument that had be-come a part of him, hands too large for the slender bow; fingers trembling across the strings in complex chords--the instrument was his vocal, singing a ballad too pure for the human voice.
Cassie watched, traveling in time with his melancholy.
Every note he played, every move he made, told his story. It sang of his patriotism, it cried in agony of the death of his father and his brother; it mourned the loneliness of exile.
His long dark hair danced with the swaying of his body. Tender for a moment.
He could have been wielding a sword, fighting a battle within his soul. The violin resonated a barrage of harmonious discord throughout the empty halls.
Through the wrenching pulse of the music his grief was evident.
The quiet euphonious cry of a single string ended the chorus, a complete circle to where it began.
Cassie closed her eyes and the agony that had been in him rush into her veins. He had spoken in a voice with no words. She turned to face the sun, leaned against the cool stone, and slid to the ground, overwhelmed by his song.
Here was the young king, so close and yet so unapproachable. When the music stopped, she waited, wondering what she should do next, not wanting to startle him, or enrage him.
"He thinks Iím an assassin. How will I ever convince him otherwise?"
She stood and watched, gathering her courage. His back still turned to her, head bowed; his instrument lay across his lap. He sat in silence.