They were relieved to stumble upon the castle, even though it was overgrown with vines. The whole way from their crash site, it had seemed as if the planet was empty. As if they were the only people in the world.
Sven had argued that they must be hiding. Zarkon had not destroyed Arus, but the planet and its people had taken a beating.
The five of them had to hack their way through the vines and thorns that had grown about everything – the castle, the walls, what Keith thought – hoped – were statues. At one point, he thought he heard a sound almost like a lion, trying to roar. But there was nothing there.
Yet the doors opened at the barest touch, as if they were expected guests.
The stillness inside the castle made them reluctant to talk too loudly, as if they might wake everyone.
They split into teams to search the castle, lights at the ready and swords hanging by their sides.
Keith and Sven were searching separate sides of a corridor when Keith found them.
An older man, his head resting on the desk he sat at, head resting on his hands as if in despair, asleep.
An older woman, resting in a chair with her neck at an uncomfortable angle, asleep.
On a canopy bed, surrounded by candles, there was a beautiful young woman, asleep. Her long blonde hair cascaded around her face, brushing the shoulders of her pink gown, her hands serenely folded on her chest.
He remembered all the stories his mother had read him when he was small. In those days, Keith had always imagined himself as a brave knight, slaying dragons, but the princes in those stories had another important task.
For surely, this girl must be a princess.
There was only one thing to do. He was alone with the three sleepers. If it did not work, no one would see him doing something so far-fetched.
Keith leaned down and kissed the princess gently, and watched as her eyes opened, surprised and blue and beautiful.
This was not the end of their story, he knew. Only the beginning.