Marcela found herself staring at the clock every five minutes. She was scared of what was coming at ten, but rather excited as well. Elden Mactree was the most excitement she's had in a long time.
She kept going back to the fact that he knew her duty as Princess, how he knew about her heart, and how he know that gloves prevented men from doing anything to her heart.
She kept dancing with the suitors. She could feel her heart draining. None of the men knew what crime they were committing, as smart as they may be.
Mancela despised the day she accepted the job as Princess. She was frail, starving, close to death, and clueless of what her future brought. She also missed that day, for that was the day she met the one person who truly cared about her; the first Princess. Princess Shilah.
Princess Shilah had been walking alone in the wet, abandoned streets of Folio, looking for a certain person, when she heard a faint cry from an alleyway. Curious, the Princess found the alleyway where the noise was coming from and looked for the source. She came across a girl, no more than nine, balled up and crying softly. She walked over slowly, trying not to step in any puddle or kick any rocks. She gently placed her hand on the little girl's back and rubbed it gently.
"Shh," she said, in her soft face. The little girl with a blotched face looked up at the Princess.
The little girl took her sleeve, which was a dirty brown, falling apart, and too big for the girl, and rubbed her eyes. "P-Princess Shilah?" She muttered.
The Princess smiled and nodded. She moved her hand from the girl's back to her hair, which was jet black.
"Yes it's me." She paused. "Why are you crying?"
The girl looked up with her eyes full of wonder and sadness. "My family's gone. They were taken away."
The Princess felt her eyes well up. A girl who's parents were taken away? But why? And why didn't they take this poor girl?
The girl began crying again at the thought of her parents. But this time, she was louder and laid in the Princess's lap. "I didn't know what to do," she sobbed. "They pushed me away as the police took them away. The police didn't even notice me." She wiped her eyes again. "I was defenseless. I couldn't have done anything. Because I'm puny. And weak." She looked down at herself and her eyes became wet.
The Princess pulled the girl towards her in a hug. "No. No you're not. You will be a great person someday." She stroked the girl's hair as she sobbed into her chest.
"Thank you Princess," the girl whispered.
The Princess grew a smile as a crazy idea came to mind. "Hey? I have an idea!" The girl picked up her head to look at Shilah.
"Why don't you come back to the castle with me? I can teach you to be a Princess!"
The little girl nodded violently, amazed by the turn of a day's events. The Princess carried her all the way back to the car, where she was driven to the castle.
Mancela shook away the memory. She missed Shilah, more than anything. She was the true Princess.
As she danced with the last suitor, with great difficulty, the clock struck ten. She quickly curtsied and said goodbye to all the men. Then, she ran to the hallway door with as much energy as she could.
When she made her way to their meeting spot, Mancela collapsed from exhaustion. She didn't have enough energy to run. It would kill her if she did it again.
"Princess!" A voice shouted from the hallway. She looked up to see Elden staring at her with worry. "Are you alright?"
He helped her up, not waiting for an answer.
She leaned against the wall and pointed to her heart for Elden, hoping he got the message.
"You're using yourself too harshly, Princess. That run could've killed you."
She stuck her shaking finger in the air. "But it didn't," she breathed.
She opened her eyes to see Elden shaking his head. "Why did you ever become Princess? It's a terrible job."
She gave him a deadly stare. "You dare insult me like that? You know what I did to get this job? I didn't do it for honor, you know. I did it because it was all I could do." She looked down at the floor, her eyes full of rage at the thought of Shilah's misery.
"'All you could do'?" He looked at her, wanting answers.
"I did it for her," she snapped.
Elden doesn't ask anymore questions, sensing that she didn't want to talk about it.
Mancela puts her hand on her heart as the heartbeat starts to slow and eventually goes back to normal. Her heart couldn't do anything that crazy anymore. She knew that, especially now.
"How does it even work?" Elden asked, looking at the spot where her heart was.
She took a deep breath and started,"I won't go into details, but I ended up at the castle on special business. Princess Shilah had started to teach me, feed me, giving me clothes. She took care of me until I knew how to do it myself. Then, she started to become ill, which everyone knows. Then, she gave me duty as Princess because she could no longer continue. When taking the position, I did not know what it would do. But, when I signed the contract, a sharp pain ran through my heart and flowed through my veins. The man who brought the contract looked at me and said, "As Princess, you now have the Duty of dedicating your heart to the kingdom." Then, he explained my entire Duty to me, how my heart's energy would drain every time a man's heart that was longing for love touched my hand. The energy would drain until it was all gone and I would fade. The men would remind me that love didn't exist in such a cruel world."
Elden looked at the Princess in awe. No one has to live with that, he thought. "That's, that's horrible."
She nods and stands. "Now, what is it you want?"
He smiles. "I'm here to help you, Princess."
She turns around. "But how?"
"I'm here to get your heart back."