"Lotus!" a young girl shrieked, lifting her skirt up and chasing after another girl who looked to be about five to six years older and a prettier girl at that.
"Lily!" the older girl snapped, appalled at her forward behaviour, "You mustn't lift your skirt! What would have happened if Momma had seen you?! We are in the gardens, Lily!"
Lily slowed down instantly at Lotus' word and put her skirts down. The mere thought of their mother berating her was enough to get her to act with some decorum. Upon finally reaching her sister, she curtsied and waited until she heard the rustling of Lotus' fan moving towards her, allowing her to look at her sister and speak.
"Lily? How are you?" Lotus asked as she threaded her arm through her sister's arm.
"Forget about me! You're the heir to the throne?! And you've just turned nineteen, are now fully engaged and I haven't seen you in three years! You've been off with Papa travelling the Empire! How are you?!" Lily spilled out lightning fast.
Lotus couldn't help but smile, her sister was right; she had become the sole heir to the Throne of Empire (Papa had just made it official). She had been engaged now two full weeks, and she'd only been able to stay in touch with her sisters and mother by writing to them. She had missed them something terrible.
But, now she was back! Three years older and wiser and now engaged. She honestly felt a little staggered about the engagement, shocked that in a few short months she would be married.
"Well, Lily, I'm rather surprised that Papa didn't do all of this earlier in my life. After all, I've known Souka since our childhood... What is that horrendous look on your face for?!" Lotus exclaimed when she looked at her sister's face.
"You're to marry Souka?! But he's the Prince of Mari'Ahnoa!"
"Yes, I know that and his father proposed the idea to Papa when we went to visit them a year back!"
"But Papa has been after this since you were a babe! He's wanted to join our two great kingdoms for years!"
"I know.," Lotus said wistfully, beaming somewhat, "Apparently, Souka was the one refusing. That is up until last year when we went to visit them. Souka was following me around like a lost wolf pup, and we were only there for fortnight! It was only official as of two weeks ago."
Lily was awed, was there nobody or no thing that could refuse her sister? She was happy that her sister was going to marry someone who so obviously loved her. And she was also thrilled that after so long of being stuck in their palace with not but the baby for entertainment and the flimsy paper and wooden walls to separate her from her mother's sharp gaze, she had her sister back!
Lotus suddenly stopped and became rigid, tightening her grip on her sister, yanking Lily from her thoughts.
"Whaa--." Lily was cut off instantly when her sister's hand and fan attacked her mouth.
Lotus pushed her into the brush around them with a whispered, "Be quiet and trust me."
Lily did as she was told, closing her slanted eyes and concentrated on regulating her breathing and listening.
Lotus quickly composed herself and stepped away from the brush and the trees, getting back onto the path she had just been on seconds ago. As she did, she thanked the gods that the man she had seen was still not looking her way yet. So, she took out her new black silk with pink cherry blossoms fan out and was careful of the metal blade that was on the edge of the fan whilst it was opened swiftly and properly all the way.
She started to walk, well aware she had foolishly sent away her guards and fanned herself. No matter, she knew how to protect herself. She'd dealt with him before.
A cold, cutting, sarcastic voice reached her ears and her skin crawled. "Lotus..." He had hissed.
She held her vomit down, stopping dead in her tracks.