Chapter 27 - The Queen's Maids
Upon hearing the knock at their chamber doors, Draxus let out a big sigh as he and Lillian broke apart from their sweet kiss and opened their eyes.
He hated being interrupted!
“Come in!” he called out, still looking at his beautiful wife.
The door suddenly opened outwards and General Shasharan stepped inside; seeing the two standing so close together he suddenly felt rather embarrassed about interrupting their special moment.
“Oh, my apologies King Draxus. I didn’t mean to interrupt...”
“It’s fine, General. What is it?” Draxus turned to face him in the doorway now, with his eyebrows raised.
“I have been informed that the High Council of Westonia have requested an urgent meeting with you, my King. I believe it is regarding an update on events during our last journey.” Shasharan explained.
“Of course, I’ll join you outside. Give us a moment.” he commanded and his General bowed his head, turned and exited the chambers, closing the doors behind him with a ‘thud’.
“Well, duty calls.” Draxus said, facing her again. “Will you be alright in here on your own for a while?”
She raised a brow at his silly question.
“Yes, of course. I’ll probably just take a bath and find something to wear. You go to your meeting.”
“I’ll hurry back as soon as I can.” he said as he quickly kissed her on the forehead and made his way toward the doorway.
“I’ll be waiting eagerly for your return.” she called out as he opened the door and gave her a quick cheeky smile, then exited the room and closed the door behind him.
And just like that, Lillian was left alone once more to settle into her new home. With a big sigh she started walking across the room towards the small doorway leading into another part of the chambers.
Peering inside, she noticed a large mirror on one of the walls, a massive open space for the shower and a large spa-sized bath in the corner. Her mouth curved up into a smile as he walked across to it and sat down on the edge.
Carefully leaning over, she turned the tap on and watched as the crystal clear water began pouring out from the nosel of the tap, down into the bottom of the bath. Keeping her hand underneath it, she waited for it to become warmer and then adjusted the taps slightly to her ideal temperature. Lillian had always liked her baths slightly warmer than most other people and she adored using scented lotions or oils when they were available.
Standing, she made her way across to where the large mirror had been fixed to the wall. There were several cupboards built into the wall and she began opening them one by one, in search for something to make her bath smell nice.
As she was searching, she hadn't noticed as several figures appeared at the open doorway.
Lifting a bottle toward her nostrils for a smell, Lillian was suddenly surprised to hear someone purposely clearing their throat from behind.
With a loud gasp, she spun around and saw the three women standing before her, each with warm smiles and their hands clasped together in front of them. The women all wore matching outfits, with their hair tied up behind their heads and into a large thick plat at the back. And they all appeared to be looking down, bowing their heads in respect.
Lillian's emerald eyes moved from one to the next as he tried to calm herself.
"Our apologies for startling you, my lady." the woman in the middle suddenly spoke calmly as she took one step forward, still with her head down. "We didn't mean to frighten you. Please, forgive us..."
Lillian swallowed nervously and then spoke.
"Oh, no forgiveness is necessary." she announced. "Er, but who are you?"
The woman on the left stepped forward as she spoke this time, still with her head bowed in respect.
"Your majesty, we are the Queen's Maids. We are here to serve your every need." she explained.
Lillian rolled her eyes as she stepped up towards the woman in the middle, the one with the long blonde hair. She reached out and gently placed her hand underneath the handmaiden's chin, lifting it slowly in order to meet her gaze.
"There is no need for such formalities between us. Please, I would prefer if you would look me in the eye when we speak from now on." she instructed kindly.
All three of the handmaidens looked to one another, seeming baffled by this command. They were not normally allowed to meet the eyes of royalty, as it was not customary and considered to be rude manners. But their Queen had just given a command and they were determined to follow her instructions.
As they each looked across to their new Queen, Lillian smiled as she saw their faces properly for the first time. They were each young and beautiful in their own different ways.
"Now, one at a time I'd like for you to each introduce yourself. Tell me your name, age and something about yourself." Lillian continued to command gracefully. "Starting with you.."
Lillian pointed to the handmaiden on the right who stepped forward to join the others as she spoke.
"Your majesty. My name is Willow. I am eighteen years old... and..." the red-head seemed to hesitate when thinking about what to say next.
Lillian could see this and decided to give some kind encouragement to get them more comfortable with talking around her. True, she was their Queen, but she didn't want it to feel so formal around her all the time.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Willow. My what incredible hair you have! It's as bright as fire! And those eyes; they're almost as blue as the sky!" Lillian complimented her with a smile.
Willow gave a shy smile as she looked to the blonde handmaiden, who giggled.
"Thank you, your majesty." Willow replied softly with a bow.
"Oh, and can I ask for no formality when it's just us girls. I would love it if you just called me 'Lillian' instead." Lillian added, causing all three handmaidens' brows to rise with surprise and excitement.
The blonde handmaiden spoke now, seeming a little more confident than she had been before about speaking directly to Lillian. Her hair was also long but blonde and a lot more wavier than the others; her eyes were bright blue, just like Willow's.
"Your m..." she paused to correct herself, "Oh, I mean Lillian. My name is Ruby and I'll be sixteen this year! And... something about me... I love to sing!"
Lillian chuckled as the other girls all seemed excited now, as if their invisible chains had been suddenly removed and they were able to be themselves around such a powerful and influential figure in the Kingdom.
Finally, Lillian turned to the last handmaiden who seemed to be the most quiet of the three. She had long, straight dark brown hair which fell to her lower back in the long plat. Her eyes were chocolate brown as she looked at her Queen hesitantly for a moment.
"Start with your name." Lillian calmly urged her.
"Skye." the brunette spoke softly.
Lillian smiled as she continued to urge her.
"And how old are you Skye?"
"I'm eighteen." she replied softly again.
As much as she had tried to reassure her, Lillian could sense that Skye was still unsure of how to act around her.
"Well Skye, I want you to know that you have nothing to fear when you are in my presence. I would never seek to cause you any harm." Lillian explained, then adding "You have my word."
Looking down at the bottle in her hand, the Queen suddenly remembered why she was rummaging through the cupboards in the first place.
"Now, do any of you know if there are any scented oils or lotions in this castle?" Lillian asked.
"I need a bath, badly!"