The news of his death had come to Maddie through one of the few servants left in the castle secretly loyal to Edward. His wife, the Queen, had not approved of anyone close to her King, so she had separated him from his followers and childhood friends alike with lies, banishment, cruel imprisonment and even death. Their loyalty and love for him had been their only sin.
The realization that Isabella and her lover captured and murdered Edward not only surprises Maddie, but so does how utterly void her soul now feels. His secret visits and messages since his marriage and her imprisonment had made the years tolerable, even when Isabella had ordered her to be chained to the wall. Edward always consoled Maddie and promised he would find a way to free her. His death now meant hers as well.
Maddie blows the dust away so that she can see the progress she has made and takes a moment to massage her aching hands. Another tear slides down her wet cheek as she gazes absently through the bars of the solitary window. “My Edward will never return to me.” She forces her mind back to her task- No. Not just a task. It is her life at stake now- and continues once more to chip at the stone surrounding the metal embedded there. The moon is shining bright tonight, giving her a few more precious hours before dawn – before they come for her.
Maddie’s heart pounds wildly, startled by shouting voices that she can’t discern whether are real or remnants of dream. She doesn’t remember slipping into sleep but is wide awake now. Grasping the chain keeping her prisoner here, she tests it by tugging back and forth on it. She feels the stone loosen it’s hold just a little. Using the dull knife as a chisel again, larger pieces of the aged rock crumble away. Excitement and fear strike her lungs, making her almost breathless. The knife slips out of her moist palm and clatters as it hits the cool stone floor.
Footsteps and the unmistakable sound of keys clanging together were faint, but are heading in the direction of her chamber. And in a hurry. Maggie struggles to grip the chain- grunting as she forces it in opposite directions again and again. She falls backwards with a gasp as the stone breaks apart, releasing her. Moving quickly, she uses strips of her bed sheet to tie the dangling chain to her leg and covers it with the layers of her once beautiful dress. Hopefully the sound of the chain would be muffled enough by the fabric while keeping hidden it from sight.
A key is being attempted in the lock and fails as Maddie tucks a small book into a hidden pocket of her dress and unlatches the window. Surprisingly, it opens without much protest from the rusty metal hinges. She slips out into the first day of her new freedom just as the heavy door inside swings open. The figure standing in the doorway is consumed by disappointment at the emptiness of the room before them.