It had now been a full week since Timena had left her bedroom. She felt as though there was no need to leave when she had a bed, bathroom, and Eurina pleading for her to leave her room but still giving her proper sustenance so that she wouldn't starve.
Timena let out a loud screech at the sudden feeling of her comforter being yanked from her body. "What the-"
"Enough is enough, get up this instance." She was shocked to see that it was not Eurina but instead, her mother standing with her hands placed on her hips.
"M-Mother, please go away." Timena turned back around to rest her head against her pillow but yet again, it was yanked away before her head could reach it.
"Let's go, a bath and then breakfast. It isn't the end of the world my dear." Adelia said knowingly.
Timena groaned, eventually getting out of bed. She glared back at her mother's smiling face.
Sitting across from Timena was Delacroix who averted her eyes, avoiding her sister's face at all costs. Timena stole a few glances, her irritation and anger rising with each passing minute.
"Well Delacroix, how are lessons going?" Adelia attempted to make conversation in hopes of removing the tension in the room.
"Very well mother, Shaw is teaching us about the the wars of the land." She smiled timidly.
"Maybe someone could teach you about loyalty." Timena said with a bright smile.
Delacroix's face fell but she stayed silent.
"Timena don't-" She'd already gotten up to leave the room before her mother could finish.
Stepping out onto the court, the sunlight was blinding. Timena had apparently forgotten what the outside world had looked and felt like. Through her squinting, she could see Samuel coming towards her.
"Timena, what the fuck has been going on? I've been hearing something new every day." He spoke eagerly.
"What is everyone saying?"
"That you ran away to avoid Silas and gave your sister a near death beating when you got back." He replied as they continued on the grass.
Well they weren't wrong, but the last bit was a bit exaggerated.
"What happened Mena?" He asked, sincerely worried. She sighed.
"Silas plans to marry me because my father traded me for the greater good of the island. I ran away when I realized that Silas was keeping up with my whereabouts, he was scouring the city because he thought I had run away." She groaned inwardly.
"So, he thought you had tried to run away before you actually did?"
"I'm positive my foolish little sister told him that I was planning to run away in case he did want to marry me. She must have been eavesdropping when I asked Norman to help me secure a way out." She answered.
Samuel's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Why would Dela do that?"
Timena sighed heavily. "Your guess would be as good as mine Sam. She must have found the map that led to Norman's old cottage where I was to stay for the night because I had to escape in the early hours of the morning when I heard them coming for me."
"How did you escape?"
"By the grace of God, I suppose, I had to abandon Ephraim to get them off my trail. I went on foot the rest of way and eventually lost them." She laughed, thinking back to that moment. "But I stayed with a good friend of Norman's, he was a nice old man, makes the most amazing swords I've ever seen Sam. You would really like him." She said fondly at the thought of Makar.
He smiled. "How did Silas find you?"
Timena's face fell. "I met this girl, this strange girl Clara, near the cottage I was staying and she had... powers. I know you wouldn't believe me but take my word for it Sam. She led us near Vitabesk to get ale and stupid cherry fritters supposedly and that is where everything went to hell. In the center of the city was father and it was an awful shock to see him there— we were hiding near an alleyway when two women came and one of them must have noticed who I was and before she could even scream, Clara silenced them both and the guards came and we left as fast as we could."
"W-Wait, what she silenced them, with her powers or?" He asked skeptically.
"I know it's hard to believe but just listen. We made it back and I was going to disappear right then and there but I had left the map back at the cottage and I didn't know where I was going, I've never been in those parts of the forest. She said it would be safe and I believed her. I opened the door to find Silas waiting for me and I tried to run but Clara was gone, and she'd taken the horses we'd ridden with her and the guards swarmed in like flies to shit." Timena rolled her eyes remembering the event.
"So this Clara, really had powers?" He asked after a moment.
She shook her head. "I know it sounds ridiculous, like stories we only listened to when we were children but it was real. She was a witch Samuel." She looked him dead in his eyes and he didn't seem to doubt her, at least not visibly.
"So, what does this mean for you and Silas?"
Timena had forgotten about that part and just like that, her sadness and fear had returned. "I haven't a clue, but I suppose escaping again is surely out of the question." Looking around, there stood multiple guards surrounding the open area and she sighed defeatedly.
"Delacroix feels bad, she won't stop sulking and crying I hear." Samuel said, knocking Timena out of her troubled thoughts.
Good. "It's what she deserves." She countered angrily.
Timena's sword was brought to her by Miro as she put on the last of her armor. She smiled with relief, taking it from his hands. A sincere look of sadness for her fate was evident in his features. She ignored it before pulling out her blade from its sheath. Needing something to take her mind away from the troubles of her own life, she found a familiar sense of comfort in the heavy steel between her hands.
"I'm going to defeat you this time." Samuel said, confidently.
"Oh, I'm sure you will." She smirked.
"You do not fight fair, you know I'm not in my best state after sparring with Silas." Samuel whined,
massaging the back of his head to alleviate some of his pain as they continued inside.
Timena looked to him in disbelief. "Yes, I'm certain that's exactly what's preventing you from beating me." Her laughter echoed throughout the hallway as she reached the staircase.
Entering her room, Timena was shocked to find a pile a of dresses laying on top of her bed. Her mother and the seamstress stood in the center of the room, going through the materials.
"Timena, wonderful you are here. Your father thought it would be appropriate to get all dressed up and have a little feast tonight." She clasped her hands excitedly.
"We had a rather substantial feast a few nights ago mother. And in case you've forgotten, I don't... do dresses." Timena replied, pointedly.
Biting her lip, Adelia decided to approach the matter lightly. "Well tonight you do. You're having dinner with Silas." She said under her breath.
"We all figured that it would be nice for you to have the opportunity to spend some time with him, before..." She trailed off.
Realization felt like a load of horse manure as Timena felt her anger building up. "You mean Silas, thought it would be nice."
"Now my dear, you need to do this. It would mean a great deal to your father to have this alliance with Calyx. It would mean a great deal for our island and its' people. I know it isn't ideal, it should have been your sister— but since it's not, you have to be willing to do this. This is important for us, you mustn't be selfish Timena." Adelia moved towards her.
She moved away from her mother's reach. "How can you call me selfish? You know I never wanted that life. That isn't fair for you to say to me."
Her mother's expression instantly shifted from gentle and sweet to cold and serious.
"Whether you want to or not is out of the question Timena. You have to do this, if not for you then for your father and our people. He could have chosen any of the princesses that came the night of the ball, but he chose you. So, you will have dinner with Silas and that is final." She strode back over to the dresses, not missing a beat. Timena's eyes had welled up with tears as the seamstress came over to give her a gown to fit, offering a sympathetic smile. Walking into her bathroom, she closed the doors to try on the dress.
"Well we don't have all afternoon Timena, come out." Adelia's voice rung out from behind the doors.
Timena was becoming increasingly annoyed with her mother each time she tried on a new gown but reluctantly, she kept her thoughts to herself.
Walking out of the bathroom for the sixth time, Adelia and the seamstress, Ida looked at Timena in awe. As she looked at her reflection, she noticed how snug the material fit on her figure. It was a dark green gown that showcased a portion of her back with a gold laced corset which would undoubtedly emphasize her breasts.
I could hide an entire feast in these large sleeves, Timena thought as she waved her arms around in fascination.
"This is obviously the dress, Silas won't be able to keep his eyes or his hands away." Her mother clapped with excitement. Timena scowled at her in disgust.
"Can I get out of this contraption now?" She whined.
Adelia huffed and rolled her eyes. "So dramatic, fine. You need to get yourself ready now and then we'll do your hair and your face." She responded before her and the seamstress left the room.
After hiding in the bathtub for as long as she could, Timena was quickly yanked out by her mother. She had barely covered herself in a robe before realizing there were at least four other women in the room waiting for her. Her mother quickly threw her into a lion's den— the women primped and prepped her body with the utmost care. They had shaved almost her entire body from head to toe before lathering her in different oils. The only matter Timena had the slightest say in was her choice of hairstyle, which she decided to leave a big heap of curls.
Pulling the hairs away from her face, they were held back by a few pins in the front as the rest of her hair hung at the middle of her spine. Timena held her arms up as a silk chemise was gently placed over her head and fell onto her body. As she finally put on her dress, she grunted each time the corset laces were pulled tighter around her waist. The final step was to put on a pair of brown leather, heeled shoes with a large buckle. Trying to adjust into the shoes felt odd to her, she felt too far off the ground even though the heels had to be merely an inch or two high.
Spinning around to look at herself, she was left somewhat speechless. Timena had never viewed herself as being that beautiful, nor had she even paid much attention to her features in the past but with the green dress complimenting her olive skin and hazel eyes, and not a pair of breeches in sight— she could admit to herself that she could look very appealing in a dress.
"Wow, would you look at this mother. My breasts are up to my neck." Her snarky remark made the women giggle quietly.
Adelia rolled her eyes before Ida came over with a little wooden box. She placed it in Timena's hand lightly.
Upon opening the box, she discovered a pair of emerald earrings.
"They were your grandmother's. As soon as I saw the dress on you. I knew I had to give you these. I wore them when I married your father." She smiled warmly.
God, why are you doing this to me? Timena understood the importance of this moment for her mother and all she felt was sadness. It should have been Delacroix.
"I-I can't ta-" Adelia cut her off immediately.
"I'm not insinuating anything, but it would just mean the world to me if you wore these tonight. Please." She quietly pleaded with her daughter.
All eyes were on her and she couldn't bear to hurt her mother's feelings, even if her mother had hurt hers.
"Alright." Her mother pulled her in an embrace as soon as the word left her lips.
Timena turned back to the mirror before putting on the jewelry. They all clapped immediately after and she smiled weakly in return.
It was time to face Silas.