“Well, that was fun.” Kiyara spoke, carefully undoing the clasp on the back of her neck. Her silver and red necklace fell to the floor with a small clang. Andalysia sighed, sitting down heavily on her bed. She felt... tired. Her last encounter with Keagan had left her feeling dizzy and confused. She couldn’t be with him, that much she knew. What would she do about Atasuki? But she couldn’t be with the Fairy King either. So, what, you’re going to be single for the rest of your life? A ruling Queen with no King to help you? It had been done before, but it wasn’t easy. And it certainly wasn’t the lifestyle she wanted. No, she had always pictured herself stepping up to the throne with a handsome, brave man. A man like Keagan. Or Atasuki, if he had been born human instead of fairy.
“Keagan seemed to be quite fond of you.” Kiyara spoke softly to her younger sister, obviously sensing something was troubling her. “He seems to be quite nice, actually. The type of man I’d expect you to fall for.” Kiyara wriggled out of her dress and into a nightdress. “In fact, I’m surprised you don’t show more interest in him.” She paused. “Unless... unless you are secretly courting someone at the moment?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. Andalysia shook her head, furrowing her blonde eyebrows.
“No. Well... kind of. Not really, no. I was. But it’s over now.” She stammered, surfacing from her thoughts. Kiyara raised her eyebrows inquisitvely.
“Anyone I know?” she asked. Kiyara shook her head.
“No... he was a... er... a foreigner. Not suitable to be a king.” She said quickly. It wasn’t exactly a lie, either. Kiyara pouted, looking quite put out.
“Oh. I see.” She stretched her tan arms and yawned. “Well, in that case, why don’t you see Keagan sometime?” she asked, lying down on the bed, legs crossed. Andalysia shrugged.
“Oh, I don’t know.” She said with a small shrug, pulling off her own dress and taking a silk nightgown in her hands.
“Oh, Andy!” Kiyara tsked. “I cannot, will not, let me sister go without a male companion. It’s easier than it looks, you’d be good at it.” She said, sitting up. Kiyara laughed quietly.
“You’d have me become like you?” she asked, pulling the soft silk over her head. Kiyara laughed at that, flashing her brilliant white teeth as she sat up, and pushed herself off the bed with the grace of a pixie. She twirled once, her red nightdress drifting to a scandalous height.
“Perhaps not quite like me... I don’t know if you’d be able to take being the image of every man’s fantasy.” She purred, emerald eyes flashing dangerously. “But, it wouldn’t hurt you to get out once in a while, give mother and father some comfort, knowing you are, in fact, thinking of your future as queen.” She said with a sly smile. It was true, Andalysia knew her parents were worried that she would never find a man to her liking. Under normal circumstances, she would probably be very attracted to Keagan and thrilled that he seemed to dote upon her every word. But now... well, now things were complicated. Would he still see to her needs when he found out what she had done?
“Come on, Andalysia. It’s just one time. If you don’t find him to your liking, you can simply leave. Give the poor man something for all his hard work!” she said with a small laugh. Andalysia smiled gently at her sister.
“All right.” She said, stretching. “He can’t be that horrid.”
The next morning was bright. Sunlight filtered through Andalysia’s window and caressed her cheek warmly. She smiled in delight. Waking up, she thought, contrary to what most young women believe, was one of the most luxurious times of the day. Especially when you could sleep in however late you wanted to. Thinking about this, she rolled to her side, not wanting to leave the warm grasp of her blankets. Kiyara was already up, her feather-filled pillow tossed to the floor sometime during the night.
“Some habits never die, do they?” she asked herself quietly. Kiyara had never been able to sleep with pillows, and always ended up throwing them on the floor, sometimes while she was asleep, much to Andalysia’s amusement.
“Princess Andalysia...?” Unta slowly opened the door, her thick black hair tied into a tight bun. “are you awake?” she asked quietly.
“Good morning, Unta.” Andalysia said with a quick smile, sitting up on the bed. The middle-aged maid came in, bringing hot water and damp towels.
“The Queen requests your presence at breakfast.” She said, placing the hot bowl of water at Andalysia’s feet, and handing a damp towel to Andalysia, who rubbed it across her face before handing it back to Unta.
“Tell her I will be down in a few minutes.” She told the maid. Unta curtsied, her pretty dark eyes disappearing under rapidly fluttering eyelashes.
“Yes, your highness.” She said, then turned rapidly, and left. Andalysia quickly pulled off her silk blue nightdress, then pulled on one of her favorite dresses, it was as golden as the sun and looked beautiful when placed by her curls. It was strapless, and had something like a corset in it, but not one that needed to be tightened by Unta or steal the breath from her lungs. It was comfortable, and beautiful, with emerald embroidery of leaves and vines along the hem, swirling upwards on her right leg up to her thigh, then ending suddenly with a green flower made from actual emerald stone. She wore it with golden slippers, and let her hair hang down her back, topping it with a small silver tiara. Makeup was easy, she used a bit of charcoal on her eyes, not nearly as much as Kiyara used, but enough to make them look defined, then stained her lips with a pomegranite, leaving them a nice red color. She uttered a quick incantation to lengthen her eyelashes, a small spell she had learned from a wizard, a gift, when she turned thirteen. Then, she smoothed out her hair until it looked flawless, and stepped out the door.
“Andy, dear, if I may be so bold, I think you should consider meeting with this Keagan boy.” The Queen spoke, holding a golden goblet, engraved with precious stones, and holding blackberry wine. All royalty took enchanted wine with every meal, it was said to increase your lifespan. She took a sip, her ice eyes never leaving Andalysia’s face.
“Yes... yes, mother, I’ve thought about it.” She said, self-consciously pulling a purple fruit from a silver plate. She bit into it, feeling it’s moist exterior along her lips, on her tongue. The silence went on, the Queen waiting for her daughter’s reply. Eager to change the subject, Andalysia swallowed the fruit and said shakily:
“Where’s Kiyara?” The Queen rolled her eyes.
“Off riding that smelly horse of hers somewhere.” She replied with an exhasperated sigh. “Andy, please stick to the topic at hand. Are you going to see him or not?” she asked impatiently. Andalysia shrugged.
“I... I suppose so. He seems nice enough.” She looked at the fruit in her hand, the dark purple skin with the white flesh, and took another bite. It was sweet, delicious.
“Good. He’d make a suitable king, his lineage is good and he has money. A respectable family, much like ours. Perhaps not quite as high class, but, for you my dear, it will have to do.” She went on and on, talking about how important it was to make a good match, how to impress men without being scandalous. Andalysia wasn’t listening, she’d heard this a thousand times already. Plus, her mother’s ideas to impress young men of this time were incredibly strange, not at all what the boys wanted these days. Then again, her mother was from a different era, and who could blame her?
“You know what would be wonderful, dear, if you got captured by... oh, I don’t know. An ogre, or a dragon of sorts and the prince could come to rescue you? I’m sure we can find some monster to come capture you for pay. Or perhaps we can hire a wizard to put a spell on you and you won’t be freed from it until you recieve “true love’s kiss”... of course, we’ll make sure he knows it’s Keagan’s kiss we’re talking about. Yes, yes. I do like that. We could build you a nice tower to stay in, and a dragon to guard it. The traditional way is best, my dear. I don’t want you getting married to a coward. That would truly be a scandal!” she said with a laugh. “Oh, this is fun. What do you think, Andy?” she asked, leaning forward, in an attempt to get closer to her daughter. It was futile, of course, considering Andalysia sat on the complete opposite head of the table, which was around ten feet long. It was surprising they could even hear eachother from the distance. Maybe this was why all royalty knew how to speak so loudly, if not, than it was surely having to talk over one another.
“Andy?” her mother asked. Andalysia shrugged, taking a bite into the fruit, then, mouth full of it’s inside’s, muttered something like “A dragon would be nice.” She hated how her mother already talked of Keagan like he was going to marry her. The Queen shook her head, and tsked.
“None of that, Andy. A suitable princess cannot speak with her mouth full. Now, wash up and make sure you look presentable. Keagan is staying at the nicest inn in the kingdom, we’ll send someone over to tell him your response. Hop to it, now!” mentally rolling her eyes, Andalysia stood up, and walked away from the dining table.
“Now... to plan the wedding...” she heard her mother say behind her.
Thud. Thud. Someone was knocking on the wooden door, two quick raps with his fist. Keagan sat up from the bed he had been lying on, daydreaming. He pushed his dark hair out of his face, and strode to the bathroom, quickly pushing the door out of his way.
“I’ll be there in a second!” he called, taking one of the many water buckets provided by the innkeeper, and poured some of it into a basin, where he splashed it on his face, cleaning the dirt and grime from his strong features. Pulling a rag off a rack, he pulled it over his face, and looked up into the mirror. High cheekbones, a strong jaw, a bit of stubble, and dark inquisitive eyes, the same color as a doe’s, greeted him.
Thud. Thud. The knocking continued, urgent.
“I’m coming.” He shouted, throwing the rag over his shoulder and rubbing his calloused hands together, before opening the wooden door.
“Yes?” he inquired. At the door was a tall, thin boy, about fourteen, two years younger than himself, bowed deeply, his carrot-colored hair bobbing in the air.
“Greetings, your highness. I come from the castle of Alonia, bearing a message from the princess Andalysia,” he paused, waiting for Keagan’s reaction.
“Go on,” the prince said, making a motion with his hand that the boy should continue. He did, clearing his throat, and spoke with great dignity, his freckles popping up from pale skin, eyes the color of amber glistening.
“She has agreed to meet with you today,” he began “you must be at the castle before the sun reaches the middle of the sky.” Looking up, the boy added “And you might want to hurry.” Keagan stepped past the boy, and took a quick glance at the sunny blue sky. He had less than an hour left. Swearing quietly, he quickly thanked the boy, then closed the door.
“Andalysia, my princess, here I come.”
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