"I want every guard and servant in this castle looking for her," Maurice barked at his most loyal knight, Sir Percival. "She’s not allowed off the palace grounds and she knows it. Find her!"
Sir Percival bowed his head obediently before he turned around and left the throne room, leaving the King of Navarre alone on his throne.
"Please, Belle, forgive me…" he whispered to himself, closing his eyes and going over the argument that had caused Belle to run away.
In the meanwhile, Belle was unaware of the chaos she had caused in the palace after they had figured out she was missing. After their argument, Belle had grabbed her book, climbed over the palace walls and made her way to her favorite place in the world: the old castle’s ruins, two miles from her father’s palace.
Once, the castle of her great-grandparents had stood there, but the place had burned down during the first Ogre Wars. Now, there was nothing but ruins there - old eroded rocks with ivy growing over it - and here and there a stone bench was left, or a bit of a wall, now a sanctuary for birds and other wild animals that needed a place to live.
For Belle, there was no better place to read, and the walk through the forest had calmed her down a bit. Yet, as she saw a nest of robins in one of the holes in the old wall, she spoke to them: “Can you believe it? My father actually asked me to marry Sir Gaston! That boorish, brainless… Ugh!” Belle shuddered, causing one of the robins to leave the nest for a short moment before the princess took a step backwards and the bird returned to its home. “He said that Gaston wouldn’t take no for an answer. But I believe that I still have some say in the matter, don’t you?” She didn’t bother to wait for a response from the birds as she continued. “Well he wouldn’t be the first knight to ask for my hand in marriage, but he has been the worst. Maybe it’s my punishment for turning down so many good noblemen. Maybe I waited too long, and now I’m stuck with the worst one of them all. Father seems to believe my time is running out. I disagree. I’m not that old, am I?”
She sighed as she sat down on one of the stone benches, her fingers trailing over the cover of her book.
"But they just don’t get me… They treat me as though I’m inferior. As though I can have a perfectly happy life just sitting in the palace by the side of my husband, being perfectly quiet and never leaving that place. That’s the last thing I want! I want… I want love and adventure!"
She raised her book and sighed before she opened it, starting to read to find precisely what she wanted in her book.
She read for an hour, laying with her back on the stone bench, holding the book above her face in a position which she would only keep up for another few minutes, but she’d probably switch over to lay on her stomach again once she was tired of it. She looked rather silly, laying there in her golden gown, but Belle never let her clothes bother her while she was reading. She was just about to turn a page when she heard something - small rocks moving about, probably someone walking up the hill to the ruins, and immediately she shot up and turned around, looking for the source of the noise. No doubt her father had sent out the guards, knights and servants to find her, but she wouldn’t have thought that anyone would find her here so soon already. She had at least hoped to get some peace and quiet until nightfall.