A few days passed, and my princess training hadn’t improved very much. The only good thing that happened was that I didn’t repeat the breakfast incident. That was the only thing I actually improved in. I was able to sit and eat correctly, with the right utensil, in only a couple of days. Unfortunately, it seemed that I couldn’t get a grasp on walking right, or the history and the many different kingdoms. Turns out there are more cat demon kingdoms out there. Who knew?
That’s not what I was worrying about today. Today, I had to worry about dancing. I was extremely nervous about this. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it. I mean, I had never danced before in my life. God, I was going to mess up so badly that Etana might die from the frustration. That might not be a bad thing though.
“Okay your highness, you must learn to dance perfectly for the ball that will take place in a fortnight. This ball will also be your coronation. Every king, queen, prince, princess, and noble will be there. We do not want the other kingdoms to think that our next princess, who will soon be queen, is a complete disaster. Now let us begin.” Etana said.
She beckoned for one of the maids that was always with us to come forth. Etana told us to get into dancing position. I put my arm on the maid’s shoulder and put my other hand in hers. Etana signaled to the small band to start playing the music. As soon as the music started we started dancing. I had no clue what to do. Etana started shouting over the music, “You must let the male lead.”
I let the maid lead me, but I kept stepping on her foot. Every time I did, I had to keep saying sorry. Etana waved her hands to tell the band to stop playing. They stopped and so did we. Etana gave me a disappointed look.
“You are hopeless. Never have I dealt with such a difficult princess. Even when I was training the princesses as children, they weren’t this difficult. I’m starting to think that you’re not the real princess at all, but an imposter. There’s no way someone as ungraceful as you can be our next queen.” Etana said.
I folded my hands in front of me and bowed my head. She was right. I was unfit to be a princess. Maybe they had gotten the wrong girl after all. Maybe that letter was a fake or something. The more I thought about it, the more shameful I felt.
Then the shame I was feeling slowly turned into something else. It was a different type of emotion. Arrogance, I think. I couldn’t continue letting everyone see me as weak. I had to be strong and show everyone that I too, had pride and strength. I shook my head stood up straighter. I raised my head. I held it high and gave Etana a neutral stare that had an edge of superiority.
“Though you may not think that I’m am not fit to be princess, the fact remains that I am and I will soon be queen. Just because I can’t meet your standards of perfection, doesn’t mean I’m going to give up trying to become the best princess that I can be. But that’s not going to happen if you give up on me Etana. I need your help and we’re both going to have to work hard to make me the best princess this kingdom has ever seen.” I said.
I kept my face neutral, though I was shocked by what I said, waiting for Etana’s reaction. For the first time, Etana smiled. That surprised me more than what I had said. Etana’s became gentle, and she curtseyed. She was still smiling when she straightened herself.
“Spoken like a true princess indeed. Now, let’s continue your training.” Etana said.
The maid and I got back into position, the band started playing again, and we began dancing. This time I stood straighter and danced like I had been doing it my whole life. I was no longer going to make a fool of myself. I was going to try my damn hardest to show that I had strength and pride.
We stopped dancing when the music did. The maid curtseyed.
“You did well your highness.” the maid said.
She went and stood by with the other maids. I turned to Etana and saw her eyes glittering with tears. She smiled at me.
“By Aligara and her consort Kirs, I think she’s finally got it.” Etana said.
Aligara was the goddess that is worshipped by this cat tribe, and Kirs is their god and Aligara’s consort. There’s a story about them, but I had a hard time remembering what it was. Someone walked into the room and we all turned. It was man with gray ears and a gray tail that had black rings. He bowed and then stood straight.
“Lord Tamesis would like to see her highness in the throne room immediately.” the man said.
I looked at Etana and she gave me a nod. I walked toward the man and he led me to the throne room. When we got there, Tamesis and Khuyen were talking to a man that was dressed like someone who wandered in the desert. Everyone turned when I walked into the room. The stranger looked at me. He looked me up and down.
“Is this really her?” the man said.
“Yes, this is Princess Ara, the future queen of Ferrentaea.” Tamesis said.
Tamesis walked toward me and held out his arm. I took it and he walked me toward the man and Khuyen. When we reached them, I let go of Tamesis. The man gave a graceful bow.
“It’s an honor to finally meet the daughter of the former Queen Nefretari.” the man said.
“This man is a messenger from Escadana, the…” Khuyen didn’t finish his sentence because Tamesis put up his hand.
“Let’s see how well the princess has been paying attention to her studies.” Tamesis said.
Everyone looked at me. I was starting to feel nervous. Damnit, why did Tamesis have to put me on the spot like this? I had quickly think about what I had learned. The continent was called Egandova. On the continent there are four countries that all border each other. Ferrentaea is the country that I was the future queen of, and it is also in the east. Aquicia is the country in the west, and is like an arctic region. Manadene is the country in the north, and also a mountainous region. Then it’s Escadana in the south that is a desert region.
“Escadana is the desert region ruled by king Eytan.” I said.
The messenger smiled at me and gave me another bow. “That is correct princess.” he said.
“It seems that the princess’ studies are going quite well.” Khuyen said.
I smiled at being praised.
“Now do you mind giving us the message?” Tamesis said.
“King Eytan would like to see the princess, but unfortunately, he is very ill. So in a couple of days his fourth son, Prince Jaguar, will be visiting in his place.” The messenger said.
“I see. Well, we’ll get a room ready. Tell your prince that we’ll be expecting him and that we are honored to have him visit us.” Tamesis said.
The man gave another bow. “Then I’ll be off.”
The man left the room and as soon as the door closed Tamesis said, “They’re planning something.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well isn’t itobvious? They want to see if you’ll weaken this country or make it stronger. If they see you as a weak leader, then they will wage war on us and try to take over our country.” Tamesis said.
“Now, Lord Tamesis, don’t jump to conclusions. They may be coming here to congratulate us on finding our princess.” Khuyen said.
“No, they are definitely planning something. When they arrive, I’ll set up spies around their rooms.” Tamesis.
“But, Khuyen’s right. You shouldn’t jump to conclusions.” I said.
“Now, Princess, you shouldn’t concern yourself with such things. Go on with your studies.” Tamesis said.
He turned me around and started directing me toward the door. What did he mean I shouldn’t concern myself with such matters? I was going to be the future ruler, not him. If I was going to be queen, I had to be more involved with my matters concerning my country. I was not going to let him use me as a puppet to rule my country. Fiancée or no, he was going to have to learn who was the ruler and who is the subject.
I turned around and grabbed his arm, my claws digging into his arm through his shirt sleeve. I gave a low growl and stared at him with cold anger. His face paled a bit.
“Listen to me Tamesis, I’m going to be queen, not you. Just because you are my fiancée, doesn’t mean you make decisions concerning my country without my involvement. If you don’t straighten up soon Tamesis, I’m going to put you in your place.” I said, my voice full of anger.
I let go of his arm. There was blood on my claws. I licked the blood and smiled at Tamesis’ shocked and frightened face. I turned around and left the room.