Author's Summary :
A few years after the double wedding in which Princess Anneliese of Kattenland and her look-alike, Erika, each married the ones they loved, King Dominick's ambassador has become disillusioned with the fact that his queen was born a peasant. He seeks out Preminger, now imprisoned in Kattenland's dungeon, and asks for his help in seizing Dulcinea.
None of this belongs to me. The characters are owned by mattel and the plot is owned by the author.
Erika took a few steps before reaching the edge of the balcony where she and Dominick had once sat. They had been here when she was masquerading as Anneliese, and he thought she was the Princess. This was where he had told her she was honest, no pretenses. It had made her uneasy back then, as the very life she was living at the time was a lie.
Now, it made sense. She was glad that he had continued to love her even after realizing she wasn't the princess. What was worse was that Preminger had made up a story about how she had hidden the princess in the Kattenland Mine and then collapsed it. He had fooled her into believing Anneliese had perished in the collapse. She hadn't, of course. She and Julian had gotten themselves out by flooding the mine. It was thanks to Wolfie's digging that they'd gotten out through the mine shaft.
She and Dominick had no children yet, but you never knew what could happen. It could be just around the corner. She hoped that, one day, she would have a little daughter as beautiful as Misha Anne Katten.
She turned. Bertie was running up to her. She ran right up, hoping to catch her.
"What is it?"
"I've just received a letter from Ambassador Bismarck. He says His Majesty the King wishes to speak to you immediately."
Erika gasped. She knew it had to be serious, for he had known where she was going and that she was planning to stay for more than a day.
"Did this letter say what happened?" she asked.
"No," replied the lady. "I'm sorry, Your Majesty."
After a hasty farewell to the Katten royalty, Erika was back in the carriage. Unlike the last trip, however, she wasted no time looking out the window and marveling at the beauty of the mountains or the valleys, which she had done when she wasn't busy thinking about what Anneliese and the others were up to. Her heart was sick with worry. Was her beloved ill? Was the kingdom getting along okay? Could they even be on the verge of war? She dared herself not think on it. In all her life she had never experienced a war. It was frightening to think of what might happen.
After she had thought up her last worries as to what could be wrong, she found herself falling into dreamland.
She was a little girl again, happy and free, singing, while her parents smiled. She was about fourteen. Her father and mother had caught the same plague that had only a week ago proven fatal to the King of Kattenland. She was praying for their recovery. She was fifteen. It had been three months since she'd lost her parents. She was now working at Madam Carpe's dress shop to pay off their debt. She was finding an odd stray kitten who barked and deciding to take him in. She was seventeen. She and Princess Anneliese were coming face to face like a mirror. She was being coached on how to act like a princess by Julian. She was falling in love for the first time with King Dominick. She was being exposed by Preminger. She was planning her escape from the dungeons. She was singing in some far-off land. She was getting married. She was being crowned Queen of Dulcinia.
Amidst the smiling, cheering crowd, she saw the sour face of Bismarck.
"Your Majesty? We're back."
Bertie's voice pulled Erika out of her flashback. Immediately she got herself out of the carriage without even waiting for the guards to help.
"He's not here," said a familiar voice.
It was Bismarck.
"He's not?! Where is he?! What's happened?!"
"He had an…urgent meeting with the King of Lunenmeyer," Bismarck replied. "He wanted you to come, but unfortunately you arrived too late. He will be back by tomorrow."
"What's going on in Lunenmeyer?"
"I'm sorry, Your Majesty, but I'm under strict orders not to tell."
That night, King Dominick gave his escort orders to take him back to Dulcinia immediately. For some reason, his ambassador had told him that the Queen of Paladia wanted to see him right away, and he'd gone all the way there only to find out that there was nothing she needed from him after all. Why had his ambassador sent him on a bogus mission? It had occurred to him right there and then that the place he should be was the one he had just left.
"Back to Dulcinia! Now! Quickly!"
Erika awoke without opening her eyes. The night before, she had complained to Bertie and the ladies about how cheated she felt and fell asleep. She'd always been a heavy sleeper. But something was different today. It smelled funny. Almost like…horses.
She opened her eyes.
Herve, Preminger's old horse, regarded the Queen with kind eyes. She screamed when she found herself in the stable with him and his mate, a beautiful white horse named Fleur.
"I wouldn't do that if I was you," sneered a voice Erika thought she would never hear again.
She looked through the stable window and screamed again.
"N-Nack! Is that-t y-you?!"
"I wouldn't be askin' stupid questions if I was you," said Nack.
"I wouldn' be me if I was you," Nick interjected. He promptly received a clout to the ear.
"B-but how d-did you two escape?!" Erika whispered.
"We was helped out!" exclaimed Nack. "Someone who really doesn't like you got us out, and the boss too!"
"What?! Preminger escaped t-too?!"
"Yup he did," said Nick. "An' this time, you don't got no cats to help yer escape – ow!"
Herve made a grunting noise. He had hated being Preminger's horse and he wasn't about to be that horse again.
"The boss is nickin' us some armor," Nack said. "An' if ya wanna ever see yer beloved kingy again, you're gonna do as we tell ya! Don't even think abou' tryin' to escape!"
And they slammed the window in her face.
She went around, trying to open all the windows and doors. They were padlocked.
She was locked in.
Original author's note: "Lunenmeyer" is the name I gave to Rapunzel's kingdom, and Paladia is where Princess Rosella is from.