Lila stood in the doorway, silently sputtering her words. She had not expected Karmella to twist her words around like that. Plus, she couldn't very well yell at Karmella that she didn't find Prince Dimitrius handsome now that she was standing in the same room as him. 'Oh, well played, Karmella', Lila thought. She narrowed her eyes playfully in Karmella's direction. Karmella held back laughter. However, their eye contact was broken by a harsh voice.
"Oi, servant, what are you waiting for? Bring the royalty their fruit!", Ulric Wintwater said sourly. Lila resisted the urge to roll her eyes as she walked towards the dining table. Ulric was her overseer, and had been since she became Princess Giselle's handmaiden. He was a rude, gruff man with a short temper. What was left of his hair was a dirty blonde color and was almost never clean. He had a strong build, so much so that many would be frightened to be on his bad side. His broad shoulders added even more of a threatening look. But the kicker was his facial expression. He always looked as if he smelled rotten eggs in the air, and if his build didn't warn you not to frustrate him, then his expression surely would. As Lila was nearing the table, a smaller, thinner man stepped out from behind Ulric and roughly grabbed Lila's arm, almost causing her to spill the bowl of fruit.
"He meant now, servant!", the smaller man said. Lila caught her balance and glared at the man. She knew him well - he was Karmella's overseer. His name was Fendrel Forthwind, and he could almost always be seen with Ulric. He had dark red hair and a scrappy beard. He was considerably smaller than Ulric, which gave him good reason to befriend Wintwater and become his sidekick of sorts. This came as much displeasure to Lila and Karmella, since whenever one of them did something wrong, not only did the both of them get screamed at and punished, they had double doses of each. Lila honestly didn't understand the logic of a servant overseer being crueler than the royalty who was above them. But, then again, Lila didn't understand many things about status.
"Honestly, Fendrel, there's no need to harm the poor girl", Queen Dana said nonchalantly before eating a grape from the bowl Lila had just set down. Fendrel bowed his head and mumbled an apology, but not before glaring at Lila. She gave him a quick sarcastic look, then swiftly took her place at the end of the table, standing next to Karmella. She gave Lila's hand a quick squeeze and then returned to her statue-like pose. Lila was greatful for the kind gesture.
"So, Dimitrius, how has your stay been? Comfortable, I hope?", King Andres asked anxiously. It was apparent that he didn't want anything to convince Prince Dimitrius that marrying Giselle was a bad idea. The prince looked the king in the eye and smiled.
"Oh, it's been very interesting. But, yes, I have enjoyed my time here. Seeing the grounds and countryside, and of course, getting to know my future wife", Dimitrius said casually, looking at Giselle at the end of his statement. She blushed. Queen Dana smiled at her daughter's response.
"Well, fantastic. I must admit, I was afraid that no prince would ever capture my Giselle's heart, but you have proved me wrong - thankfully", King Andres said delightfully. Giselle shot her father an embarrassed look, but it went unnoticed.
"I'm honored to have her heart, sir. Though I must admit that I was rather surprised by Giselle", Dimitrius said. King Andres' smile faltered a bit.
"Oh? Why might that be?", the king inquired, attempting to hide his slight embarrassment. Dimitrius took this moment to redeem himself.
"Well, I wasn't expecting a princess who was so beautiful", Dimitrius said. King Andres visibly relaxed at these words, " I also wasn't expecting a princess of such humor and patience."
"Patience?", the king pressed. He was curious now. He knew his daughter to be many things, but patience was definitely not her virtue. At least, not for him.
"Ah, yes. She showed remarkable patience when her handmaiden refused to bow to me and I thou-", Dimitrius began, but he was quickly interrupted by Ulric.
"Who? Who didn't bow?", Ulric asked angrily. Queen Dana began to protest, but she was cut off by Prince Dimitrius.
"Why, the one with the lovely green eyes and dark brown hair - her, there", Dimitrius said, pointing at Lila, "But honestly, it wasn't a-"
"Lila Brede, you have crossed the line!", Ulric shouted, lunging from his place at the other end of the table. Lila immediately ran to the side of the table opposite Ulric. He moved to chase her, but she moved the right. Ulric then moved to the right, so Lila moved to the left. This went on for about ten seconds before Ulric pounded his fist on the table, frightening everyone. Lila stuck out her tongue at Ulric. He flushed red and began to scream.
"Come here NOW, Lila! I'll have you whipped for this! You'll see, I'll have you-"
"THAT IS ENOUGH!", cried King Andres, standing up and causing his goblet to fall over, spilling mead all over the table. Karmella moved to clean it up, but King Andres motioned for her to stay still.
"Ulric, you forget your place!", the king yelled.
"But, yer highness, she disrespected royalty by not bowing", Ulric said in a lowered tone.
"And you've disrespected royalty by not only shouting out of turn, but interrupting our guest who is, need I remind you, a PRINCE!", King Andres yelled, his face reddening. Ulric looked towards to the floor and apologized for his outburst. The king glared at him for a moment and then turned to Lila.
"Now, no one will be whipped today. But, Lila, I would like to hear the reason as to why you found it so difficult to bow before Prince Dimitrius", the king said in a softer yet stern tone. Lila was still ready for Ulric to attack her, but one glance in his direction showed that he wasn't going anywhere. Lila looked at Prince Dimitrius before turning her gaze to King Andres.
"If I may, King Andres-", Dimitrius began, but the king interrupted him.
"No, no, I'm rather curious to hear Lila's version of the story", King Andres said firmly. Lila took a small gulp and stepped forward. She knew that even if the king seemed calm now, the wrong set of words could to lead to a whipping, or worse.
"Well, your highness, I...I didn't think he earned it", Lila said boldly. Karmella looked at her friend with wide eyes. The king cocked his head to one side.
"You...didn't think he earned it?", King Andres repeated. Lila looked nodded, but did not break her gaze with King Andres. He continued.
"And, why did Prince Dimitrius not earn your bow?"
"Well...he's just a prince, isn't he?", Lila muttered. Everyone's eyebrows raised. Lila furthered her answer.
"What I mean to say is...a bow represents respect, yes? So, I have bowed for you and Queen Dana and Princess Giselle because you have taken good care of me, and shown me respect. So, in return, I respect you. But, what has Prince Dimitrius done for others? If there is nothing noteworthy to garner respect, then why should I give it?", Lila finished. The room was unnaturally quiet. Lila took a quick look towards Giselle, but she was staring down at the table. Finally, King Andres spoke.
"I don't believe I have ever had a servant who questioned the authority of royalty as much as you, Lila. You have grown up in a comfortable situation for a slave - and that is what you are - so I will remind you of what life could be like for your kind", King Andres said sternly. Lila's eyes widened.
"You will spend tonight in the dungeons. You will not be whipped or harmed, but you will be reminded of your place and how to behave towards those above you", the king finished. Lila relaxed slightly knowing that she wasn't going to be killed, but was still quite frightened. She hated the dungeons more than any other place in the castle. Just knowing that people had died in there in vain sent a chill up her spine.
"Ulric, please escort Lila to the dungeons", King Andres ordered. Ulric smiled a disgusting smile.
"My pleasure, your highness", Ulric responded. In no time, he had grabbed Lila by the elbow and was pulling her out of the dining hall.