The Winner's Crown

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Chapter 8

The warm sunlight drifts through the tall window's of my chambers. Yawning, I begin to stretch out on my bed. I don't think that I have ever been able to stay inside of my dreams for such a long time. Since on the farm, I would always wake up bright and early in order to help with crops and such. My stomach grumbles as I start to think about all the food we'd grown on the farm. And I realize suddenly, that I haven't eaten anything in three days now.

Dragging myself out of bed, I walk to the floor to ceiling length mirror standing in one corner of the room. Parting my hair, and pulling my hand's through the matted brown length, I try to brush my hair as best I can. Even though I was able to sleep in, I still look so tired, with bag's underneath my eyes, and my cheeks more hollow looking than usual. Probably from stress, I tell myself quickly.

I wonder what time of day it is, because the sun is out and shining brightly, so it could be either morning or noon. I also want to know how long I will be expected to wait in this room before Desmond, or someone else come's to retrieve me. I can't stay alive without food, so someone has to check in on me soon.

Wandering to the window, I sit along the bay window seat. Looking out across the garden, I can just make out a person, a man. But this man is not fighting in the training arena, but rather excercising in the field's of flowers. Squinting my eyes, the familiar sight of the prince's jet black hair come's into view. He is doing the workout's most yellow's hear about, but never have to do. Besides, we work by doing physical labor on the farm all the time, we don't need an extra workout. Or at least that is what I tell myself, if only to get out of putting myself through work out routines.

Looking at Desmond push up and off the ground in what I have heard being described as a "push up," I bring my finger's to my head, tracing my lips. They are chapped from the nonexistent care that I have given them, and I doubt that any guy would ever dare kiss me like this.

"Uh." Someone clears their throat behind me, and I whirl around to face a girl dressed only in silk and jewels. She must be Desmond's sister, I think to myself as I force my body down to the floor, in a bow. "No need." The girl raises her hand to stop my polite greeting, and I can't help but feel a bit relieved. I have always hated bowing, and I guess I never thought of a member of the Royal family disliking the movement as well.

"What may I ask, do you need?" I ask politely. I may talk back to Desmond, but that is because we first met when I did not know he was a prince. And I guess I just felt more comfortable with him after knowing him as a real person, before I got to know him as a Royal prince. But with his family...I just do not want to take that risk. Especially with his dad, who seem's to be as polite as a rock.

"If you do not mind me asking, what is it that you are wearing?" The princess asks me, ignoring my first question towards her. Instead, glancing down at my brown dress stained with dirt and mud.

"Um, my clothing?" I ask, confused by the remark. But the princess just shakes her head, and walks towards a chest by my bed.

"That will just not do, I am afraid." The princess tell's me, her dark brown hair flowing in curls down her shoulders, as she swiftly pulls a long purple piece of fabric, out from the wooden box. "Try this on." She tells me, holding it out for me in her dainty hand's. She resembles both her parents I can see. The pale tone of her mother's skin mixed with the dark of her father's and the blue eyes of her mother mixed with flecks of gold, reminding me instantly of that of Desmond.

"How do I...?" I trail off as I take the piece of clothing from the girl, hanging it loosely from my shoulders.

"No, it fit's as a dress." She laughs, holding it up to my chest to show me the fit of it. Nodding, I pad to the washroom, quickly shutting the door behind me. The dresses material feel's strangely too soft to be true, and nothing like my dress made out of itchy fabric I cannot begin to explain. Throwing my old dress to the ground, I fit the purple silk across my head and let it fall to the ground in front of me.

The pattern across the chest is full of colorful flowers and other decorative materials, and as I look at myself in the mirror I feel the need to cover my cleavage as the neckline seems to slope down in a V-shape. The dress is not short like my last dress, instead flowing to the ground in heaps of silk, and in this gown, I truly feel as though I am someone of great importance.

Emerging back into my bedroom, I find the princess sitting on my bed now with something else held in her hands. They are bright and a little hard to look at directly. But when she places them on the ground, I can finally tell what they are. They are shoes made out of diamonds.

"Here, step up." She tell's me, pointing to the space inside the shoes for my feet to fit into.

"Why are you being so nice to me?" I ask the girl, as I do what she tell's me. The shoes feel much better than I would have ever thought diamonds to feel. They are actually quite comfortable, holding my feet quite well and firm.

"Because, I believe that everyone shall be treated with equal rights. My mother always told me that. And so, now I live by those words." She smiles, and my heart warms at her words.

"But I always thought that blues know." I trail off as she stares me stern in the eye.

"I am aware of the term evil. But that is not me, nor my sister or Desmond believes we are, and we have always strived to be better than hatred." She explains. "Not everyone is evil you know. Not even us."

"What about your other brother?" I ask her, unaware of how rude I might be sounding as I push her into telling me the thing's Desmond is too guarded to tell me himself. But she nods firm, speaking slowly.

"He was second born, right after Desmond. So since Desmond had been my mother's best friend, and basically raised only by her and not my father....He wanted Richard to be his own mirror image. And that is why, out of the four of my parents children, he was the only one my father ever bothered to love and admire. My father is not an evil man. But rather...wrong in his ruling. And I guess, Richard is that way as well." The princess tell's me, revealing to me so many family drama's that I find it hard to trust her.

Why should I? But then again, why should I not? For all I know, the princess could be filling my head with lies. Or she could possibly be telling me the truth. But for now, all I do is nod at her story, getting up with her as she stand's.

"Breakfast is being served in the kitchen. Do you need me to direct you there?" She asks. "Or has Desmond already given you a tour of the palace?" She adds, laughing at her joke. Blushing, I open my mouth to come up with a reasonable response for why we were wandering the garden's alone together, but am interrupted by someone talking loudly around the corner.

"I want you to find him! Do you hear me? Because if you don't, the temptation will be ruined!" The king say's harshly, directing the message towards one of the Royal guards.

"Right this way." The princess tells me, once she see's her father shouting at the guard, and I have no choice but to follow as she grabs me hand, leading me away from the scene.

The hall's are more familiar now, and not as scary as when I first arrived. I now know the tapestries hanging to direct me to the chambers, and the oak doors that lead me in the direction of where I assume the kitchen is, as that is where we are headed right now.

And soon, I am greeted by the delicious smell of egg's and bacon along with other breakfast item's I do not know of. Walking through the large oak door's, we enter the kitchen. But it is not much a kitchen as it is a separate dining quarter's. There is no kitchen that is exposed in the dining chambers, but there is a door leading to where the kitchen staff must prepare the Royal families meals.

The room is decorated with deep oak accents all around the walls, and golden thrones in place of regular wood chairs my family owns. There are many tables as well, and I realize that this dining space could easily be filled with at the very least, six houses the size of my family's shack-like home.

"I will not be joining you today, but you will however be joined by three more guests staying at the palace." She tells me, and my eyes grow wide with the news of other guests. So I am not the only one who was picked to stay here at the palace? Which makes everything seem so much more confusing. Why out of everyone in the kingdom, only some people were chosen to be taken to the palace? It makes no sense. No sense at all.

"Feel free to serve yourself, and to eat whenever you would enjoy." She smiles, gesturing to a table near the back holding plates and plates filled with the deep scents of breakfast.

"Thank you princess." I nod my head gratefully for everything she has done for me today. Not only leading me to where there is food for me to eat, but mostly just for explaining to me something Desmond would have never revealed. Because now I know more about him, and now the Royal family seems to be more like a family and less like a unit full of power hungry monsters.

"You are most certainly welcome. And you may call me Venus." She smiles one last time, before exiting the room, her bright red dress seeming to float on the wind as she leaves me alone.

Managing my way down to the table piled high with food, I grab as much food as I think I will be able to finish (which is a lot), and sit down in one of the gold and white plush chairs near the entrance of the dining chambers. Stuffing bread with something pink and sticky on top of it, into my mouth, it explodes with flavor as the sweetness of the coating and the savory of bread comes together to form the perfect concoction.

But just as I am about to stuff my mouth full of more treats, the dining chamber's double door's opens yet again, this time to reveal a woman, about three years above my age. She is very pretty, with light blonde hair and tanned skin, and she is dressed head to toe, like me, in a shorter version of the pearl strewn dress, I am dressed in as well. But her's is not the color of purple, as mine is. Instead, her's compliments all her features with a mustard yellow pattern.

"Hello." I say, standing to greet her. There is only ever one first impression, and I want my image to be as nice as possible. Especially here in the palace, where anyone could be watching me at any time. And I just haven't noticed it.

But instead of greeting me back like most ladies would, the girl sinks to her knees, sobbing heavily into her hands.

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