The double doors opened, and Scarlet’s mouth fell. With wide eyes, she slowly entered ‘her’ room. Pausing just far enough in, Renee and the guard Vern squeezed in behind her. Turning on her heels, she faced the two.
‘Is all this for me? Is it all mine?’
The guard, Vern, slide his pale green eyes to Renee. Renee looked from Scarlet to him.
“She’s asking if it’s all for her- if it’s all hers.”
Vern turned his gaze back to Scarlet, giving a small nod.
“Yes, this is your sleeping quarters. The near right door is a sitting room, which has a door that leads out to the hall; the small door to the far right by the windows is your closet, fully stocked; those two small double doors on the left lead to your bathroom, also fully stocked; behind those curtains there are French doors that lead out to your private balcony, though I am to advise you to not jump down from it- the flowers beneath it have horrible thorns. Anything you need, you only need to ask. The king will do his best to meet whatever you ask.”
“‘Okay, thank you.’”
Vern gave another head nod, slipping an ear-length strand of auburn hair behind his ear.
“Of course, now if you excuse me, I will leave you for the night. Dinner shall be served in three hours, but if you need anything before that, you can pull that rope in the corner and a maid will be here at once.”
Scarlet gave him the sign of thanks, and he left the room; closing the doors behind him.
‘Wow, this room is wow.’
“I know, just wait till you get to know the rest of the castle.”
‘The Castle? Wow, will I be getting a tour or something?’
“I’m sure the king will allow me the right to show you around this week, it’s not like you’re expected to stay cooped up in this room for the rest of time.”
‘We are still his slaves though, if he wanted-’
“Now, now Scar, the king has clearly stated- though by law we belong to him; we are not slaves. We’re servants to him.”
Scarlet gave a shrug, her wide eyes still taking in her room.
“Well, I’ll leave you to… take in your room. Explore a bit, even though it’s just a bedroom, you’d be surprised at what the king stocks for his workers.”
Scarlet nodded, and waved goodbye to her friend as she closed the doors behind her. Turning slowly, she faced her room once more. Compared to the dark halls, and the wooden office, her room looked as if it was the misfit of the family. Pale grey walls with black accents covered her four walls. The yellow curtains were light in color yet blocked out the light perfectly. Between the two doors to the right, was a large black wooden four poster bed. The comforter was a pale yellow while the pillows were a mixture between white and yellow. There was a small foot stool on the end of her bed, the color of black matched her bed and night stands. Beside the windows were two plush chairs, with a small table between them. The floors were wooden, but a large, thick pale yellow carpet covered up most of the darken wood. There was a well sized desk pushed at an angle in the left corner of the room, opposite of the windows.
Moving from her room, she entered her sitting room. From what she was always told; sitting rooms were very formal and somewhat small. Though the room was formal, with a matching chaise lounge, two couches, one love seat and two chairs; along with the different sized tables, it made a complete living room set. The room itself though, was large enough to be the size of her old kitchen and living room in her mother’s home. The far right wall and one that connected to it were covered in large windows that started at her knee level and went up to nearly the ceiling- which was easily 25 feet if not more. The color scheme from her bedroom went on into her sitting room. The only differences being her furniture was different tones of pale greys and white while her walls were a solid yellow. From the left side door to the far wall of windows, the wall was covered in a large book shelve- packed with books. Though Scarlet had never been much of a reader, she was willing to reconsider it with all the books she now had her fingertips. Moving to get a closer look, she ran her fingers across a row of spines, a small smile creeping on her face as she retracted her hand. In Tobus only the most rich had books to keep. Schools shared them, and free libraries were rare. Scarlet only knew how to read and write because she had no choice but to learn it. As she had been taught through the years, she taught her mother as well.
Her mother. A small ping of pain shot through her, and she was quick to spin on her heels.
No need to think of her. This is my home now. My freedom is gone; I lost it the day I didn’t listen to her. The king bought me and I took the oath, this is my home.
Going back into her bedroom, she moved around the bed, and headed to her closet door. With a soft click, she pushed it open, and flicked on the steam-powered ceiling lamps. With the sudden flash of light, she was taken aback even more. Levels upon levels of hanging clothes met her with a blaze. The right side of the ‘first’ level was wardrobes, filled with minor things such as under clothes or socks or stockings. The left side was shoes, all types of shoes in all styles, in all the colors you could imagine. Above them, for four high levels, were just clothes upon clothes. For a moment she wondered how she was to reach the high levels of clothes, but when her eyes spotted a small track, she was able to find a rolling ladder.
Letting out breaths that would count for her ‘laugh’, she moved to the ladder. Grabbing it, she pushed it along before hopping on the moving object. When she hit the end of the track, she was stopped with a jolt- and found herself flying forward into a stack of shoes. The shoes came crumbling around her, one even landing on her head. Pulling the shoe from her head, she set to placing each pair back onto their shelve.
Coming out of her closet, she ran her hand along the curtains before pulling at them and hooking each one on its own little hook. When all twelve curtains were pulled aside, Scarlet stepped back to admire the view.
It was breath taking. Though she was only on the first floor, she had a perfect view of the grounds behind the castle. The grounds were perfectly kept, with brown pebbled mixed gravel paths surrounded by different types of lush plants, it was beautiful. Lanterns metal posts were stuck along the paths, though nothing hung off of them. Scarlet could only guess that they were add manually each night- or maybe only on certain occasions or days.
Looking around her room, she decided she loved it with the curtains opened. The light made the room seem larger and even grander. Plus, she loved the view. Surviving her room, she realized there was one place she had yet to see- the bathroom.
In her small two story home in Tobus, the bathroom she had shared with her mother consisted of a large metal tub with a water spouse; a small wooden bowl for a sink, and a simple toilet. The tub was raised off the ground by a foot or so, so that you could stick warm coals under the tub to warm the water. Coal was too expensive for her mother and her to afford, so they used wood to warm their house. The wood didn’t really work, so they typically took quick, cold baths. A small hose connected the side of the tub to the wall, where the water would drain out. The wooden sink hung on the wall beside the tub. It would be plugged by a plug, and pulled out from the wall to rest over the tub. From there you would have to pump water into it, and then let it run out into the tub. Their toilet worked in the same manner only it had its own small water pump, and the hose that connected it went underground into a small sewage tank that Scarlet’s mother paid a good price to get cleaned out twice a year.
Pushing the two small doors in, she leaned on them for a second long, as she took in the room. There were windows along one side of the room, giving light through curtains that blocked out her room but allowed light. The left wall was all mirrors. The white granite countertop ran with the mirror, a soul sink with brass features sat in the middle. Along each side were different makeups, perfumes and other random tidbits that Scarlet could only guess belonged in a bathroom. Across from the sing, resting just slightly off center from the room was a claw-foot tub that seemed to be made of some sort of marble or smooth white stone. Scarlet had never seen such grand materials before, so she could only guess what they were. The features on it were brass too, the tub even having a shower head, something Scarlet considered real fancy. A curtain rod kept up a plain white fabric curtain, though it was opened at the moment. To the right of the tub, near the edge of one of the two large windows, was a free-standing brass towel rack. In the far off left corner, behind a dressing screen, there was a single toilet. But it was nothing to compare to the one in her old home. This one was much nicer, and much more advance then her own.
Standing in the middle of the room, she rolled her lips into her mouth. Looking around, she eyed the tub, mostly at the faucets. The one for cold, but mostly the one for hot.
Well, Vern did say I have a few hours until dinner. Whose know who I’ll be dinning with- it could be the king himself! I don’t want to smell like… medical… A small bath wouldn’t kill me.
Starting the water, she plugged the tub when the water was so hot it felt like he skin might melt off. Standing she grabbed a bottle of bath salts; she knew these from the time she aided her mother on her job as a house-nurse. Pouring a small amount into the tub, she also added in a few drops of jasmine oil and a small round ball of fizzle soap. As the tub filled, she went to the closet, and picked out a simple, red gown to wear to dinner. It seemed, as Renee, she had a certain amount of options of clothes to wear. While for Renee it was pants and a shirt, for Scarlet it was some sort of gown- though she did have a few pairs of pants and shirts.
Entering back into the bathroom, the large tub was barely half way full. Placing her fresh dress aside, she easily slipped out of her corset, shoes and dress. She wrapped a towel around her naked body, and pulled out every single hair pin; allowing her hair to hang. Moving to the tub, she sat on the rim, running her fingers around in it before turning the faucets off. She then removed the wraps from her ankles and wrist. Slipping out of the towel, she grabbed a bottle of hair/ body soap, placing it on the small metal shelve that hung off the side of the tub. Finally, she fell into the water, with a huge gasp. It was so hot, it was wonderful. Her wrist stung and ankles stung slightly, but beside that it was as if her whole body had been wrapped in a warm, wonderful smelling blanket. Releasing it, she fell into the water more, until only her face floated. Closing her eyes, she took in the sweet smells of her additives, her body relaxing, and the pain slipping away.
Leaning on the rim of the tub, Scarlet tucked the edge of her towel under her armpit. Tipping her head to the side she began to dry her hair with a separate towel, rubbing her dripping locks in it. Flipping her head forward, she wrapped the towel around her head. As she brought her head back up, there was a knock at her bedroom door. Popping her head out of the bathroom, she saw Dr. Cartson popping her head in.
“Miss Scarlet, is it alright if I come in?”
Scarlet tightened the towel around her body and nodded her head. She would need to ask for a set of bells- it was something her mother had thought up. Dr. Cartson came in, closing the door behind her.
“I’m just here to check on your wounds and clean them- though you seemed to have taken care of that- you enjoyed the bathroom already, I see.”
Scarlet gave a shy smile as her face slightly colored. Moving aside, she allowed Dr. Cartson entry to the bathroom. Stopping as Scarlet closed the door; the doctor seemed to just realize that Scarlet was wrapped in only the towels.
“Oh my, alas, I was caught up in my own thoughts. You are in barely anything- I can come back later.” Scarlet held a hand out, stopping the doctor as she shook her head. “Oh my, well, why don’t you go get change and I’ll get the gaze and what not. If I am correct, you should have some right here in this cabinet…”
Dr. Cartson begun to open up the cabinets under the counter, as Scarlet slipped behind the dressing screen. Slipping off the towels, she hung them on another towel rack, and slipped on her underwear. Next came a chest-shaping corset that really only held her breast up, but nothing more. Next came the short under slip, a piece of clothing that some girls even slept in. Or Scarlet was told, despite her semi-fair looks, men tended to fall away from a mute girl.
“Whenever you’re ready dear!”
Stepping out from the screen, in only her underclothes, Dr. Cartson paid no attention- if she even noticed Scarlet wearing near-nothing. Directing her, Scarlet took a seat on the small stool that had been pulled out from where it had rested under the countertop. Scarlet sat, and Dr. Cartson went to work. When she finished wrapping Scarlet’s wounds, she dismissed her to get dressed. She put everything back in its place, and Scarlet finished the process of getting her outfit on.
“Alas dear, I do believe that this is the last time those wounds need to be wrapped. The scabs seem to be on well enough, though if you ever want my-oh my, Miss Scarlet, alas I must say that dress is lovely on you.”
Scarlet tugged at the sleeves on the dress, hiding the white gauze, as she stepped out from behind the dressing screen. She gave Dr. Cartson a small smile of thanks, knowing the woman wouldn’t understand anything more.
“Now, what are you going to do with your hair?”
Scarlet shrugged her shoulders, as ran a hand through her damp locks. She really hadn’t thought about how she would wear her hair, in all realities the dress she chose was the first one she saw that seemed appropriate for dinner.
“Well alas, I have no daughters of my own, but if you sit back down I’m sure we can figure something out.”
Dr. Cartson gave her a small smile, and Scarlet returned it as she sat down.
Scarlet paced around her room, pulling a fabric curler from her hair as she did. Her small heels made a muffling noise, and the small train of her dress drug behind her. She held the fabric curlers in her hand, as she took out the last few. Pausing at the small dressing table, she dumped the curlers onto it. Running her fingers across her scalp, she pushed her hair in all sort of directions. As she released her fingers, she gently shook her head, and looked at herself in the mirror. Her cheeks were slightly flushed from her nervous pacing, and her bottom lip was a tad red from her biting it. At any moment she was to be summoned for dinner, and the whole thought of it made her head spin. She had never been to a royal dinner before- or even a semiformal one! Her whole life consisted of the small cottage home she had shared with her single mother. They had never been rich enough, or known anyone enough, to be invited to such a grand event.
Only the highest of the high in Tobus dined like a king would. Scarlet and her mother were nowhere close to high on the social standard. It was rumored, that the reason Scarlet had been born mute, was because she was a bastard child. The rumor claimed that Ms. Solomon had been the secret whore of one of High Lord Rolle’s sons. She became pregnant and instead of killing the child right off, Scarlet was cursed. What many people did not know was that Scarlet was more than just a mute, she was Blessed. Thus growing up she knew she was not related to the High Lord- despite the fact that her mother never revealed her birth father. Scarlet still struggled a bit when growing up, unable to speak her mind. She was grateful to Rene because she did have a voice, and wasn’t afraid to threaten even the largest of bullies.
A knock at her sitting room door pulled he from her thoughts. She walked from her bedroom, and opened the door. Vern was there, waiting for her, as was Rene. Stepping out, she closed her door behind her.
“Wow-oh-wow Scar, you look great.”
Scarlet smiled and thanked her friend. She wanted to say the same to her, but couldn’t. Rene was in the outfit that was becoming her signature look; a collared button down shirt with skin tight pants and boots. Scarlet was starting to believe that, that combination outfit was to be worn at all times by her friend. Though, this one was a tad more fancier then her earlier outfit. The shirt was long sleeved, and fitted to her thin arms like fresh leather. The shirt was tucked into her waist high pants, which in returned were shoved into her knee high boots.
Scarlet started to respond to her friend, but stopped when Rene held her hands.
“Don’t, I know my outfit is nearly identical, but it’s what I as given. Seems like you- miss teacher friend of mine, will be wearing dresses for your uniform.”
Scarlet gave a small smile, and nodded her head. No way was she about to spill the facts of her huge closet. The three then started their way down the hall, Scarlet allowed Vern and Rene to lead- being the two knew the huge home better than she did.
Through yet another maze of hallways, she was lead through one rather large door. It opened into a huge dining room, easily three times her new bedroom. It was an inner room, and thus windowless. But the forest green walls were not left bare, portraits of different people, different groups, were perfectly placed among the room. The ceilings above her were painted in the most delicate ways and in such details that she couldn’t even make them out from so far below them. There was one large chandler hanging in the middle of the ceiling, with two smaller ones towards the ends of the room. The table itself was some sort of fine wood, and could easily seat thirty people if someone chose to.
Tonight though, the room was nearly empty. Minus Scarlet’s small group, and what Scarlet figured were other servants of the king, there was one woman. Her ivory skin was flawless, and her red hair was sleeked back so that it hung straight down her back. Small, thing sliver wires were twisted about each other and rested on her head, Scarlet knew almost at once what it was- a crown. They were in the room with a royal. The queen smiled at them, her teeth being only a few shades whiter than her skin.
“Good evening and welcome. My name is Queen Dolra, and I shall be your host this evening.”
Rene and Scarlet bowed their heads as they bent forward. Vern gave a simple head nod.
“Please rise, and take a seat. I am sure you are hungry.”
The two girls stepped forward, and took the seats to the left of the head of the table. Queen Dolra, instead of sitting at the head, sat to the right. She smoothed out her blue gown, before looking up at the two girls.
“You must forgive my husband’s absent. He wanted to join us tonight, but business called him away.”
“We are honored to have you here at least, my lady.”
The queen smiled once more, and nodded off to one of the side servants. With a short nod for a reply, the servant left and the others followed swiftly after. Not even a minute passed before they started to return, sliver platters, bowls and pitchers of all sizes within their grasps. The food was laid out along the table where the three women sat, and each was left to fill her plate to her pleasure. They were silent as they did this, the only noise being the clatter of the sliver.
“Your highness, if it’s not out of my place to ask, I was wondering if you gave such a grand meal to all of your new servants.” Renee had taken the leap, and broken the silence. The queen places a small, but very rare piece of meat on her plate before looking up to her.
“No, but you two are not any normal servants. My husband tells me that Scarlet is a Blessed human, and that despite her lack of vocals, she still finds a way to communicate. He believes that by learning this strange signed language that it would benefit Voirol as a whole. Our military already uses a similar process, though it is nowhere near as extravagant as Scarlet’s.” She took a small bite of the bleeding meat, not even blinking an eye as her wine glass was filled with a thick red liquid too dark to be wine.
“Oh, I see, thank you for clearing that thought up.”
“Of course, now, if you two don’t mind I would like to learn more about you. I am told you two hail from Tobus, is that correct?”
“Tobus doesn’t produce many slaves for the Trade, how did you two get mixed up in it? I’m a assuming you two were captured together so you must be quite close.” The queen took a sip from her glass, her eyes gleaming. They would have been a beautiful shade of green, but the whiting cast over on them bleached them out to where just a hint of pale green was visible. Renee looked to Scarlet, and with a deep intake, she nodded her head. Renee turned back to the queen.
“That’s right, your highness, Scarlet is my best friend in the whole world and I’m hers. We grew up as neighbors, just one house plot separated us and we went to school together. Our mothers had been close friends before our births so I guess you can say the bond that holds us was meant to come, naturally. I don’t think I would change it.” Renee looked to Scarlet, and with a smile she nodded her head no. Reaching out, Scarlet wrapped her hand in Renee’s, giving it a gentle squeeze as they shook them. There was no way in any shape or form that she would change the fictive kin bond they shared. Releasing her friend’s hand, Scarlet did a few signs anyone would understand.
‘I love you like my sister.’
“She says she loves me like a sister.”
“Ah, I see. How marvelous, a bond such as the one you two share gives hope to the world that those types of love and care are still out there. I take it that is the reason you two ended up in the Trade together?”
“Sort of, we went out one afternoon to pick berries in the forest behind our homes and we ended up in a berry war. We thought no one was a round, so Scarlet used her powers, but there were people. A small group of men took Scarlet first, and I chased after them. I couldn’t allow them to take her I would never be able to show my face to Ms. Solomon again if I let them take her. We fought, hard, but they over powered us…” Renee looked down to the food she had been sliding around on her plate with her fork, “I didn’t even get to see my mother one last time. There’s so much I wish I could have told her.”
“Your mother, did you not have a father- what about Scarlet. Excuse me for being frank and forward but I wish to know everything about the two girls who captivated my husband enough to spend a million and fifty thousand gold on when his record before had only been three thousand.”
Scarlet could hear the slight tint of bitterness that under lied her silvery tone. Either the queen was mad at the king for spending so much on two humans- despite Scarlet’s abilities- or she was threatened in some way by the two girls. Perhaps it was a cocktail of the two.
“My father works in the mines in the mountains of Tobus. He’s gone for much the year, and I only ever saw him the holidays, maybe a few rare weekends here and there. We lived so far from the mining camp and all his money went to caring for us so he couldn’t afford to come out as much as he liked. Needless to say, my parents loved each other, me and my three younger siblings.”
The queen nodded, and then looked to Scarlet. “And her?”
“Her mother raised her alone, she, well…” The way Renee hung the sentence left the queen wanting more information on the Blessed human.
“Ms. Solomon never married, and there were rumors for years that the reason Scarlet was born mute was because she was a bastard child born out of wed lock.”
“My mother died many years ago, when I was only a child. My father was a wealthy noble man, and owns a whole fleet of trading ships- spice trade that is- and was always busy. I was given it all in life, but was raised by governesses and slaves. So I can relate to a point of the absent parental figure or figurers.”
Scarlet’s free hand curled in her lap. Queen Dolra had just claimed to have it all growing up but because her mother died and her father was busy making a ton of gold she was left to be raised by elsewhere people. She would have to disagree with the queen on that matter, in Scarlet’s mind that would be a near perfect life.