Without lifting his eyes from the full pink roses, he nods once. Drych studies the roses carefully, scanning each vibrant green stem for dark brown spots or bugs. Just off to his side, he could see her standing quietly. Around them the room gleamed in the grey light of a rainy day. Finally, he pulls his eyes away from the roses and starts picking absently at the plate before him. Fat drops of rain cascade down the clear glass of the window landing with a soft sound on the window pane. Long pale fingers rip apart a jelly filled pastry, his thin lips pull down into a frown. With his index and middle finger, he pushes the hand painted desert plate away from himself. The rain had always made him particularly picky, today it was the soft outer crust of the pastry that displeased him. Bored with the pastries, he pushes the plate off the edge of the long oak table, watching her from the corner of his eye. Breaking the silence the plate clatters to the floor, shards scattering and skittering every direction. Hearing the alarming noise, Marybell and the chef who had made the pastries rush in from a servants’ door. Marybell’s once bright red hair has greyed in the years that Alina has been at the palace. The chef had been hired a year and a half after Alina had arrived, he still had much to learn while Marybell had tried to teach Alina everything she knew. Quickly composing herself, Marybell stepped forward to clean the mess while the prince had stood slowly. Every move he made was careful, as though he was trying not to move too fast or that he was naturally clumsy.
“Come.” He commands. Everyone knew that the order was directed at Alina. Drych expected her to be at his side constantly. When she wasn’t, she was supposed to be arranging a gathering of some sort. Occasionally, he would have to write messages to neighboring kingdoms or to the royal guards in which she acted as his scribe. Along with having to be his event planner and scribe, she was also a source of companionship for him. He would have her play games with him and accompany him when he went for rides in the countryside or when he went for walks. Over time he had developed a childlike attachment to her, in spite of being years older than she.
Swiftly, and gracefully, he makes his way up the spiral staircase. The second floor of the palace was decorated to be warmer than the ground floor. Deep tones of red and gold dripped off the walls on the second floor, the marble staircase abruptly turned to short gold rugs covering caramel tile. The ceiling of the hall was a massive painting of women dressed modestly tending to a perfect garden; one that mirrored his own in perfection. Unlike the other parts of the palace, this floor was more for the elites of society than it was him. This is where the visitors would be entertained and housed. This is also where Drych liked to be, the windows were larger on the second floor, also most faced out over the garden he’d spent most of his life creating. In a bored lope, he makes his way to the library.
It was close to the end of the day when Alina opened the door to the study. She could find no trace of his majesty anywhere. With a sigh she closed the door and again walked the cold marble halls of his palace. Other than the workers for company, it was quiet lonely.
It had been years since she first came to the palace. She was about 15 when she had decided to take from the royal garden. Since then she has lived by the side of the king as his royal advisor. It took everything she had to keep things in just the right order for him to be happy. Though he was giving, he was also a fire storm of energy when things were not set to his ways.
Walking down the stairs, she carried the skirts of her dress in her hand as her eyes glanced over the room. "You're Majesty??" She called out dress still in hand. It was a floor length slim dress. Forest green with intricate hand made lace all throughout. She remembered how much her king loved the color on her and usually wore it daily.
At a loss, Alina walked to the dining hall. There she finally saw him. He was sitting alone with a plate of pastries in front of him. His eyes focused on the beautiful flowers that surrounded him. Alina sighed and quietly walked up to where he would he able to see him and bowed slightly. "Is everything alright your highness?"
Alina looked directly at the doors as they flung open. the sound bellowing out as if the room was a symphony hall. Her heart raced seeing a bit of annoyance in his face and shoulders. Walking with purpose the prince stood in front of girl, his eyes locked with hers before Marybell broke their contact. Seeing her caregiver fall to the floor left her startled as she felt the blood quickly drain from her face. Alina let her eyes glance up at the man once more, searching for an answer to his hastily, how ever she was left with even more questions than answers.
The sound of his heavy heals echoing the room faded away and soon it was just the two in the room again. Jumping down from her stool Alina knelt to Marybell's side, looking at the fading mark. "Was he play a game with me? He looked at me as if to see if i would do anything?"
Swinging open the door to the thread room, Drych interrupts the girls. His impatience is growing with the passing hour and it is almost time for his after-dinner tea. He watches with some amusement as Marybell jumps, turning her wide eyes toward her with the loud banging of the doors on the wall. He arches a thin eyebrow and studies the pair. His already narrow eyes turn into accusing orbs of darkness. The brash explosion of the doors leaves him to enter the room boldly and gracefully. He moves around the stool the girl had been sitting on. Marybell already shrinks away from him, her emerald green eyes dropping to the white marble floor.
Marybell quickly covers the girl in the larger scrap of fabric to keep her modest from the prince’s angry stare. Marybell stands between the girl and the prince, protecting the girl from the prince. She knew that the prince’s temper could flare unexpectedly, she was not wrong. She watches as her master’s hand twitches right before the back of his hand connects with her cheek. She falls to the ground with loud smack. Tears threaten to well up in her eyes, but she remains strong. She knows better than to stand right away, she knows that it is better to wait until he leaves the room. She keeps her eyes on his back boots. With a curse to her name, he finally moves off. Marybell moves slowly, her cheek pink from the slap, but the color quickly fading. For some reason, he hadn’t hit her as hard as he had in the past. She turns toward the girl to see how she was doing and how she was reacting to it.
“Do not be afraid child. It is my fault I am taking too long on your dress.”
"That's so sad" She whispered to herself watching as Marybell worked on the top of her dress now. "It's never easy to lose family, even if you do not like them very much, the end of a chapter makes it so your questions can never be answered. But if you loved the person you lost, I think it makes it worse." Alina then started to walk around the room. She noticed that there were flowers in every room she entered, even this room. Tilting her head she gently caressed the petals of the bloom and sighed. Everything around her was beautiful. From the stone on the floor to the molding on the ceiling tiles. Even every flower was perfect.
It was obvious his majesty preferred all thing beautiful and perfect. This was something she did not see in herself. At least outwordly. Even her new caretaker, the one whom now wished to be her friend was elegant and graceful in everything she did. Could Alina become this too? She shook her head of the thought and decided not to speak of this to Marybell. The young one's insecurities were hers and hers alone to ponder.
"Do you think that is why the prince seems so lonely? Because the King died? I do not see any other family here with him. He seems lonely to me. Unless he likes being alone, but I have never met anyone who truly likes to be alone all their days. Can you imagine? To live 60 years alone, that's a long life if you ask me."
The girl proved to be more patient than Marybell would have guessed. With the skirt finished, she left it to hang around the girl's feet and to cling to her waist. Pulling up the corset and bone skeleton that the fabric would fit over, she measured it and started making lines on the too long bones. It didn't take long for Marybell to finish this task. The bones of the corset would have to be cut later, but for now they served the purpose of a measurement.
Stretching her fingers, Marybell continues to work on the fabric, working to fit it beautifully. The top fabric she uses is artfully decorated. She starts to lace the fabric and then stich the rims.
"Yes, the king was unwell and then he died." This lie trickles off of Marybell's tongue. She hides the truth from the girl partly because the lie is part of the truth. The truth is that the king was unwell, the prince had given the king mercy.
Alina peered up from her lounged position at the desk when Marybell was called away. How was it did she know she was summoned? It must have been from years of waiting, servants usually knew the feeling a house makes when a call needed to be answered. She waited patiently for her return and smiled when she did. Jumping off the stool, the small girl took her stance once again at the podium, lifting her arms and letting the skirt around her be fitted just so. "You will?" Alina questioned, tilting her head in surprise.
She thought for a moment but then nodded in satisfaction. She was happy to have someone to at least speak her worries to when she need be. At frist she wasn't sure Marybell would be to interested in befriending her with such an age difference, considering Alina and the Prince were closer in age. Marybell in fact could well be a mother to both Alina and Drych, but again, to have anyone was better than to be alone.
"I do not hail from this side of Romania. Where I come from, we do not have a King, just a magistrate, and a few noble man. But here...." She trailed off and watched as the redheaded roman continued to pin from beneath her. "What happened to the King? Did he die?" She whispered not wanting anyone but the two of them to hear. "You said The Prince will have his coronation in a fortnight, This only happens when a King is unwell or no longer in our relm."
The girl made herself to be younger than she actually was. Marybell felt for the girl as she worked tirelessly. A sudden noise calls her attention away from the fabric in her hands. She leaves the girl for a moment, her master has returned from wherever he had disappeared to. She pats the girl's hand before leaving the small room to return to the white marble sitting room. Marybell waits carefully at the side of the door, waiting until she is addressed. Drych sips at his cup, the pearl cup holds a steaming liquid with a bitter alcohol smell. Keeping her eyes to the ground, Marybell waits for a few moments longer.
"Her dress?" The words are spoken shortly, he demands an answer, not an explanation. Marybell steps forward, following the normal sign of respect. She keeps her head down and she speaks quickly.
"Just finished the skirt." This is all Marybell says before she is dismissed as quickly as she was summoned. Backing away, Marybell only turns her back on Drych to open the door of the work room. She closes the door almost soundlessly as she makes her way back around the girl. She resumes her work on the skirt, the edges quickly coming together under her fingers. She never lies to her master, but in this case it was necessary. Once the final stich has been put into the fabric, Marybell has the girl stand again and put the finished skirt on. She leaves a little bit of fabric for the girl to grow into.
"I will be your friend." Marybell offers, feeling remorse for almost ignoring the girl.
It wasn't as though she was looking for a place to stay. Infact, being alone was probably safer for her. Or, at least she thought. Again, she was just a young teen who thought herself to know the world. Yet, to belong someplace, and to have a real purpose, was always a thought in her mind.
Alina was still and quite as the skirt was being measured and sewn. She recalled her time back on the streets of the many villages she wondered, never staying to long for anyone to notice her. There wasn't much to do, when you were homeless and alone. Sure, you could spend your time walking around, and creating trouble wherever you went. At least, this is what the villages think you do as someone like her. However such wasn't so. Many hours of the day included sitting in whatever hidden crevas you found, and day dreamed of possibilities you wish could come true.
She had many dreams. Always in a building, the owner of something, a store, tavern, a place where she was in charge, but kind and never abusive. She once even dreamed of being married and being taken away to a beautiful house, with land and beautiful flowers all around. Horses and even dog existed. But it was all just a young girls imagination.
Watching Marybell, Alina nodded softly. Her large brown eyes, clear like crystals, watching every stich she made. "I understand. At first when you spoke...I was disappointed. I dont want to see him as someone who is bad. I mean, even though he grimaced when he saw how dirty I was, and had the episode of hostility, he never turned me away. He still let me walk inside his, VARY clean mannor. He let me eat with him, and more than that, he talked to me...." This time her eyes hung low and she leaned her head on the table where there was not much work. "I thought maybe...if I showed him enough appreciation, he would be my friend "
"You must always be weary, You don't have to be fearful. Just be careful of him." Marybell continues cutting at the fabric. After a moment she motions for the girl to jump down so she can check the length. With the girl standing, she places the fabric around her waist, the edges are still frayed from the scissors and rough. She loops what will be the skirt around her waist and then holds it together. She takes a half step back, looking at it. She then chews her lips before pulling the fabric away again and laying it out on the counter. She snips at the extra length before pulling out a needle and thread. She starts to clean up the edges of the skirt. After the frayed edges are sewn and perfected, she will put on a few silver buttons. The buttons will match those of her own, few will be decoration, the others will be decorative and useful.
"He isn't a monster, he is a strange being, very particular." Marybell searches for the right words in her limited vocabulary. The way the young girl talks, gives the older woman the impression that she has seen much beyond her years. Marybell looks at her again, pausing in her work.
"I love it hear, in spite of his strangeness, he is a generous man. He is kind and he won't treat you like help, you will feel a purpose here, he will let you know that you are important. It just takes time." She answers her.
The young girl listened to the woman she now knew as Marybell. Her warning was sincere yet loud. There was obvious worry in her elegantly ageing features. This, scared Alina. Yes there was that moment during dinner where tempers had flown, yet, it was not as drastic as others whom had owned her before. But Marybell 's warning was very pronounce. She shouldn't take her new master likely. "That's a lot of things to remember". She sighed and watched as her skirt was being cut and shaped. In two weeks he would be crowned, and she would soon be an aid to a Romanian king. Alina closed her eyes not really having anymore questions. Honestly the day was already too much for her. The last few hours went from excitement to dread. "So...what you're saying is, I should always be fearful of him...?" A soft shallow sigh came from her chest as her feet again began to swing above the floor as she sat on the green, uneven stool. "I guess you really can't expect anything less from someone who owns you". Her tone was no longer cheerful and child like. It was cold and matter of fact. She had know nothing else, the world wasn't as helpful to her as they would be to a child with money. To the world she was just a street wonder, and no one looked twice to see the anything more. "I honestly thought for a moment things were going to be different. I don't want to be someone's maid in a pretty dress...I knew I was going to be the help...but I wished for more of a voice. Otherwise, you're no different than onever who cleans" her words drifted and her eyes looked at the woman marybell. "Do you like it here? I'm confused by the way you speak of him. You make him sound like a monster hiding behind a mask. I'm not dumb, I'll do what he asks of me, I'll call him prince, and I'll make sure not to make him a fool, I mean, he's going to help find my parents, so why wouldn't i?"
Marybell listened closely to what the girl had to say as she planned the pattern in her head. The task is a mundane one for Marybell. She pulls the emerald green fabric away from the table before folding it. With a sharp blade she cuts the right length and prepares to fold the fabric again. With another cut and the cleaning of the edges, she has what she needs to start on the skirt. Pulling thin sparkly silver thread out of a basket, Marybell measures the thread using her forearm. After a few minutes, she doesn't answer the girl right away. Her thoughts are taken up by the work before her, but soon she comes to answer the girl.
"There are certain manners that must be obeyed in the castle, in the presence of royalty like him and above him. It is disrespectful to use his name, unless he himself has given you permission to do so. As for his character, he is a strong leader and precise. He means what he says and does what he says, in saying that he can be very cruel and unforgiving. He is quite unpredictable and unreadable. He is very prideful on top of being generous and understanding. He is kind and tender, sentimental at times. He can be a haphazard planner and aloof. His people think highly of him because he refuses to let them see him imperfect. Any rumors of his cruelty are kept under careful watch and disproved by his kind actions. I don't know what kind of king he will be, but I hope he remains the same as he is now."
Marybell answers every question the girl has, elaborating deeply when she feels it's needed. She is careful to censor the prince's true nature without lying to the girl. Her heart aches for the girl, knowing that she doesn't have anyone other than herself and the prince. Why the prince had brought her to the castle isn't a mystery to Marybell as it is for the girl. Drych is looking for someone special, why is a question she doesn't know the answer to, but that someone is to be raised by him. Six children have come before the girl and all before her had been boys. Each had been killed or simply disappeared for various reasons.
"Listen child," Marybell pauses in her works before cupping the girl's cheeks, forcing her to look at the older woman's eyes.
"You [i must] obey him. Whatever he asks of you, obey without hesitation. Always mind your manners and never offend. Always speak when spoken to and never otherwise. I will help you throughout your stay here, I will protect you the best I can, but I am not perfect. I will teach you how to walk properly, dress properly and what to say and when to say it. If he ever asks for your opinion agree with him and if he ever asks your opinion on a choice, pick what he would. Heed my words carefully."
Alina froze when she heard the woman before her mention who he was. "A Prince?" She closed her eyes as her face twisted to that of embarrassment and regret. "Ugh...why couldn't he have just been a Nobel man...but a Prince? Royalty?" She mumbles to herself thinking back to how she was caught red handed and how he watched her clean the years of dirt off of herself. "Does he not like his name?" She finally questioned, walking over to a seat next to where Alina's new caretaker sat and worked. "I mean, of course I would never refer to him by his name if he is a prince, but it's a strong name. He never once told me who he was." The young girl swung her feet before looking up at the ceiling. "I think it's strange that someone like him would want to help me. Or even look my direction. He must be a good person to become King...even if he has a temper. What do his people think of him?"
Again question after question came out. Her mind was swimming with them, and she knew the only person right now she could ask was the woman with red hair. Closing her eyes, Alina thought back to her encounter with the man. He seemed lonely and didn't answer when she asked if his family lived with him too. She made the same face again and shook her head. [i you're an idiot.] She thought to herself, waiting for her questions to be answered.
With the girl standing on the crate, only in her slip she can really see how small and underfed she is. He wraps the black measuring tape around the girls waist first, counting the tick marks and then moving away from her and to the emerald green fabric. She makes a mark and then returns to the girl. She takes the measuring tape and wraps it around her arm, repeating the process. Assuming the girl could no longer control herself, she starts spouting questions at her. An amused smile coupled with a soft chuckle fills the slightly quiet room. Wrapping the measuring tape around her chest she begins answers her questions.
"Shh, now child. Yes I am, I've been here for a few years now. He saved me from starving and dying of illness. I'm eternally grateful." She works quickly, trying to work faster than the young girl's patience. She moves to the table with the fabric again and she then makes another note. She returns to the girl's side, this time measuring her chest and making careful notes of the girl's waist and shoulders. She knows that he would want something fashionable and modest.
"The man that saved your life is a very important man. He is next in line for King, his name is Drych Brazensycthe, but you must never call him by name. Always call him 'Sir', or something of nobleship." Marybell pauses to reach up and cup the girl's face, forcing her to look at her. "Do you hear me? Always remember that." Softly she lets go of her face after a tense moment. She moves away from the girl and back to the table. She pulls out a short blade and starts to cut the soft fabric. Once cutting a length that would fit around the girl's waist and this would be the start of her skirt.
"He is the prince, his ceremony to be crowned is in a fortnight. So yes sweetheart, he does own this place." A smile pulls at her lips as she works, pulling on fabric and letting her own creative juices flow in the making of her dress. She waits patiently for more questions as she waits to have her own answered.
She looked back as she was pulled away. She wanted to stay with the man who had brought her here, but she knew being too much at his side might make him upset. She couldn't be clinging. She just wanted to know more about this mysterious man behind these magnificent stone walls. However she would get to know more about him in time, soon he would find a place for her, and it would be up to her to keep in good standing if she wanted food and a roof over her head, but also help finding her family.
Before she fully left the room she stopped and bowed her head gracefully. He sat silently, and most likely didn't even notice her. Alina couldn't help but be drawn to him. Literally any other man, she probably would have run away from, but there was an unnatural draw to him. It was nothing romantic. Obviously because she was only 15, however his gaze had a way to hold you. It was quite unfair actually. She would have to remember to keep her will strong around him, just so she wouldn't be walked all over. With what she knew about him from the last few hours, she didn't think he would be someone who would blindly stomped on people without reason.
Once entering the room she was told to stand on a small stool and strip down to her slip beneath. Timidly she nodded and wiggled herself out of her outdated circus tent of a dress. As she did this, she realized this was the first time she had actually heard the woman speak. Not only this, it was the first time she was left alone with anyone other that herself or the man whom did not give his name. "....are you the main house keeper here?" Alina asked as her dress fell to the floor and she lifted her arms to the side like the letter T. She could feel the coolness of the black measuring tape around her arms and waist as the fiery red head took her measurements for the garment she was to fashion her. "Have you been here long? Who is the man I was just talking too? Does he own this place? I'm not from here...he seems of a high class however he didn't give me his title when we first spoke...."
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