I pushed myself up in my bed and sighed. I knew what I had to do that day, and I most certainly wasn't excited. I kicked my legs out of bed and stood up to stretch. I did my morning stretches and brushed my straight hair away from my eyes. My curtains were closed, and no one came to open them. My door was closed. I pushed the door open and peeked out into the hallway. I walked back to my bed and sat down on it. I waited for a minute or so, until a servant rushed into the room.
“Oh, oh I’m so sorry miss! Please forgive me!” she exclaimed. I narrowed my eyes.
“Okay. Just make sure I’m not late to breakfast,” I grumbled as the servant nodded and rushed to my curtains. She pulled the curtains open and rushed to my closet, where she pulled out a gown. It was a soft pink one. She fitted the dress on me and out my hair up into a simple bun. I grabbed my necklace and clasped it around my neck. I pushed a lingering strand of hair from my face and left the room. I walked down the hallway once again.
“So, how am I going to ask Father?” I mumbled into my necklace. No answer, as I expected. “Everything’s so upside-down,” I sighed. I picked my head up and kept walking, into the dining hall.
Breakfast went as normal. Instead of heading back to my room, I trailed along behind Coras as he walked the halls to his training. He didn’t notice me. If he had, I would have been sent away. He walked out of the back door and grabbed some training weapons. Spears and swords and a bow and some arrows. He dropped all of those things by a target and turned around to face me. he crossed his arms over his chest and adopted a perturbed look.
“Okay Lilliana, explain,” he said.
“What should I explain?” I asked, trying to seem innocent.
“You’re following me. Now explain why,” he said.
I sighed. “I guess I will. Look, I want your help. You see, I just wanna get out for a while. I, uh, don’t really know, but I just want to,” I said.
“You need to stay here and focus on becoming a good princess! You may have something important to do in the future!” he chided me, but my mind was running wild. I was at the end of my rope. He kept telling me of how important I was but I could see he was just trying to make me feel better. Everyone knew I was just the unwanted child.
“No I won’t have something important to do in the future! This is my only chance to do something. Here at the palace, I won’t amount to anything, even if I am the perfect princess. Being the perfect princess just means staying out of the way while the men do all the work. The quiet and sweet one, but I want to be something more! Sure I might not be experienced in the outside world, but… It’s my only chance it seems and I have to take it, no matter what you say!” I replied. Coras quieted. The silence droned in my ears as we both mulled over my words. A look of realization crossed Coras’ face.
“You’re right. It might be your only chance. But that doesn’t mean I’ll help you go on some frivolous adventure to who-knows-where all alone.”
“Ugh, you’re just like father,” I started, then corrected my speech. “I mean, you may be like father but I will not let that stop me from becoming the girl I wish to be. I wish to be someone strong who can support herself and though I know I will most likely just marry a boy from another country to strengthen our ties with them, I should like to be my own person before that.”
“I know you would, but you can’t just do that Lilliana! You could get hurt or worse, and there are casters out there that might end up hurting you and I’m not going to let my little sister become a plaything for some evildoer. Anyone out there would be overeager to use you as a bargaining chip, and that’s all you would be.” I thought back to Brendan. Was that what I was to him? Had it all been a complex lie? Was I being used? The thoughts all jumbled together in my head to form a swirling pot of worry.
“Please, I won’t get hurt, I was going to have a friend protect me! He’s a good fighter and he can ward off anyone I may come across that wishes to harm me,” I said. He pondered, and turned towards the field sprawling in front of us.
“What can I do,” he sighed, still facing the field. His speech filtered up into the air and the words seemed to appear before me, showing me their true intent.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes really,” he said.
“Well, uhm, we need to convince Father to let me go. I don’t know how we can do that though,” I said.
“Maybe there’s an education facility that can teach you about that… And you have to go live there in order to get your full education?” he said.
“Oh yeah! That might work! But what if Father gets suspicious?” I asked.
“He doesn’t have any way to know whether it’s real or not,” he said with a shrug. I nodded, but I was still anxious.
“Hey, your face’s looking a bit pale. Are you sure you’re alright?” My brother lifted my chin to look into my eyes.
“Yeah, just worried,” I said.
“You should go and pack up a bit of stuff, and maybe get some rest. I’ll wake you up for lunch” he said. I nodded and turned towards the palace. My feet dragged against the grass, which was still a bit wet with dew. I walked back inside, small watery footprints being left in my wake. I walked back to my room and closed the wooden door behind me. The latch made a whisper against the door jamb, and I wiggled my toes in the carpet in the middle of the room. It was fluffy and soft and I tended to just want to lay right down in it. I never did, of course, and never even dragged the rug onto the bed. I had resisted the urge all of these years.
But now, the rug was not my priority. I walked over to my closet once again. I grabbed a small bag made of leather from the floor of the closet and turned to the wooden clips holding my clothes to the rack. Most of the dresses were long gowns flowing past my feet when I wore them, and I knew those would be inappropriate. Despite that I grabbed one of the most extravagant of the gowns, a silver one with painstakingly sewed embroidery covering the bodice. I threw it in the bag, and returned to the closet. Aside from that I grabbed a few summer dresses, one of them with stitching looking like branches of a tree going throughout, the other one a silky blue dress. I tossed them in the bag and looked for a pair of shoes. I didn’t have any kind of shoes besides my fancy ones really, so I just grabbed a pair of ballet shoes that had become worn down and didn’t fit all that well anymore. I figured they would do as well as anything. I threw them in the bag, and put another pair of shoes in just in case. I grabbed a few necklaces and bracelets and tossed them in. I grabbed the pressed Annika Lilies that were inset in a frame and gently laid them in the bag. The thin layer of glass covering the extravagant purple flowers gave them a shine. Coras had pressed the flowers amidst some of my tutoring books so I would find them the next time I went to study.
I tossed the bag on my bed after slipping the button into the hole. I looked around my room, and my mind strayed back to lunch, which was still an hour or two away. I glanced at the tiny sundial sitting by my window, and noticed that there was an hour and a half or so before it would be lunch time. Now I needed to while away an hour and a half full of worrying and stress. Fun times were bound to ensue. I laid down on my bed next to the bag and stared up at the silk canopy of my bed. Threads laced through the silk, tracing out the shape of a flower growing from the ground. I let a sigh slip from my mouth and closed my eyes. Dancing in my head were thoughts of what I would possibly say, what my parents’ responses would be, and what I would do if I was let go. I rolled over, my head buried into my pillow. I tried to sleep but my nervousness kept me up. It was too bright for me to sleep anyways, with the sun streaming through the window.
I heard my door open and I rolled over, rustling the silk sheets. I blinked my eyes open. Coras was in my doorway.
“Time for lunch Lilliana,” he said.
“Oh!” I exclaimed, and jumped to my feet. I brushed down my dress to hopefully avoid having a ton of wrinkles appear in it once I took it off, and gathered up what miniscule amount of courage I had.
“You ready?” Coras asked, and gave me a sidelong smile.
“No, but I’ll go anyways,” I said.
“Now that’s the spirit!” he said, and pulled the door open. We walked out of my room and down the hall. I was still barefoot. Honestly I didn’t even know why I owned shoes other than the dance shoes I had. I never wore them, except for formal events. And no one saw my feet at formal events, everyone just wants me to look taller than my 5’ 3” height. We walked into the dining room together, and we both went to our places. Father gave me a slight grimace for entering with my brother. Apparently he thought we shouldn’t be together quite so much. The servants rushed around and we got the food that we wanted. I decided to take a bit more, earning me some strange looks. Who knew, it could be my last good meal for a while.
“So Father,” Coras said, pushing some vegetables around his plate. I looked up and watched his expression. He mostly looked amused, but some of the worry shone through.
“Yes?” He looked up from his food and gave my brother a disapproving look.
“Lilliana was telling me about this educational facility on the other side of this country that teaches girls in etiquette so they can be better at being… You know, women!” I scowled at him. Though I couldn’t really expect more, I was still a bit offended. I pressed my dress down as Father gave me a glare.
“What is he talking about?” he asked, his voice firm.
“I-I want to go to that educational facility,” I murmured.
“I will not let you out of this palace all by yourself. That would be a disastrous idea,” Father said.
“Please, I want to be a better princess for when the time comes to marry. I do not want to let my husband down when I am married. Please,” I said.
“Come on Father, she will be fine. it may be better for her to learn how to go somewhere by herself so she does not have ot rely on her husband the whole time,” my brother chimed in with.
“Yes yes, what he says is true!” I said. Father let out a sigh. I didn’t think it would be so easy to sway him to agree. I was glad it wasn’t a long ordeal, though. I am also glad my parents didn’t have to die for me to be able to go on an adventure. That seemed to happen a lot of teens like me who were about to go on an adventure.
“I suppose you shall be allowed to go. But you must write letters back, if not to me then to your brother, as I know you have a certain fondness for him. And if you’re serious ab out this, I expect you to be gone before the time comes for us all to eat dinner.” I nodded, and thought back to the bag in my room. We went back to eating and I thought about what else I should put in my bag. I kind of had forgotten some things in my haste. We all finished, and I bolted up to my room. I ran into the washroom and grabbed my hairbrush and some lip stain made from fruit which made my lips look more red. I darted back into my room and put that stuff in the bag before sitting down on my bed to wrack my brain for what else I might need.
I decided there wasn’t much left to pack up and slung the bag over my shoulder. I brushed my dress down once again and walked towards the entrance of the castle. I pushed the doors open and stepped out into the courtyard. Bushes that were once blooming in vibrant colors were losing their flower petals, and trees were starting to turn other colors. I walked to the gate without so much as a glance back at the castle in hopes I wouldn’t be too disappointed about leaving my old life behind. I pushed the gate open and stepped through. Closing the gate behind me, I looked around to find Brendan standing by the gate waiting for me.
“Thought you’d never get here,” he said, fingering the necklace he was wearing. Internally I then remembered the reason I wasn’t feeling so good about this. Being alone, with a caster?
“Y-yeah,” I stammered. May Annika have mercy on my soul.