The Winner's Crown

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Chapter 9

"I am so sorry." The girl says, her eyes still filled with tears. Helping her up off the floor, I sit her on a chair to try and calm her down. She is dressed similar to me, in a dress that is pale yellow and flows to the ground with jems. On her wrist, I can see a yellow x tattoo. She is of lower status, just like me.

"It is quite alright." I assure the girl, sitting down next to her.

"I am so confused." She cries out, hitting the table with one fist and making my plate jump with a clatter. "Why me?" She adds as she wipes the stream of tears down her face.

"What do you mean?" I ask her curiously. This girl is acting strangely, like me after I'd been captured and taken to the palace that is. I had been a wreck, until Desmond made me feel a little more at ease. But without the prince...I don't know what I would have done. Maybe I would have been driven insane by the millions of possibilities dangling over my head so close, yet just out of reach.

"I mean, my life is a mess. One day I am living life with my friends and family, and the next...I am here." She hold's up her hand's in exasperation. My heart skips a beat as I realize what she means.

"That is exactly what happened to me." I whisper slowly, and it is no surprise she does not hear me.

"Who are you?" She asks, suddenly realizing that she is spilling her heart out to a complete stranger.

"My name is Lydia, and I think we may be quite similar." I tell her, finally starting to understand something Desmond had not told me. "We were both brought to the palace, you see. But for what reason, do you know?" I ask the girl, eyes wide as I wait for her response.

"No, I asked many questions, but the man that brought me here gave me no answers." She explains, rocking back in forth to calm herself down.

"Who brought you here?"

"One of the King's guards, I assume." She nods, and after a moment of silence I hear a faint noise near her heart.

"Are you hungry?" I ask, already standing up to fill a plate for her. She nods, and I do so quickly. Not wanting to waste any of the time that I have, talking with the girl about our strange connection of being dragged here into the palace with no explanation whatsoever.

Grabbing a fork full of pork and the delicious bread with strange sweet sauce I'd consumed earlier, I set the plate down in front of the girl. She eats slowly at first, but after biting down on the bread, like me, she shovels her mouth full of it, as she realizes how hungry she really is.

"Right this way." I hear someone say before the dining chamber's double door's open again, this time to reveal four more people, along with the Princess, Venus, that led me here minutes ago. Ushering them inside, Venus closes the door behind them, leaving us to stare silently at each other. There are two girls among the group of new people, and their age's look all over the place.

One girl seems to be the young age of thirteen, and I resist the urge to run to her in a protective manner. How could there be a thirteen year old inside the palace? And for what reason, if any?

"What are we doing here?" The little girl asks, shifting awkwardly from one leg to the other, but nobody responds to her question. None of us know the answer.

"We have to figure this out." The other girl interrupts the silence. "There has to be something linking us to the palace. Or else, what the hell kind of practical joke is this?" She adds, her hair shining brightly with sweat and dirt, making me think she is also a yellow.

"Yes, something to connect us to each other." The thirteen year old talks, her voice strained in what I know means she is about to cry. But miraculously, the tears do not come, and she look's at me with two big pools. filled with a deep blue color. She is too young to be here, I keep thinking to myself. And if there was some way that I could transport the girl back to her home, I would do it. In a heartbeat, no matter the cost.

My mother always told me I would end up raising kid's of my own. I never wanted to, even though I had the motherly instinct to protect young one's. And right now, looking at the little girl dressed in pearls, just as I, I can't help but to agree with my past self. I do not want to end up a mother. It is just not who I am, it has never been who I am, or even who I want to be. One day, that may change. But for now, I want to stay strong and single. With no kids of my own, to worry about feeding.

Of course, that does not change the way I view situations involving such a delicate person. I would give my life to protect a kid. They have more to live for than I do. I am not selfish, and I think that confession just proves my point.

"Sit, eat." I gesture to the group of people still standing at the door. I know they are hungry, just as I was when I woke up this morning. But even as the group start's to make their way down the tables, to gather their food, the young girl stands still. She is afraid, as she should be. But by what, well that is what I would like to figure out. Standing from my seat, I wander to the girl, and as I get nearer and nearer I can see that she is shaking.

"Are you alright?" I ask, my voice cracking as I see one tiny tear dripping down her cheek.

"No." She tells me, her face crumbling as she begins to cry. Walking slowly, cautiously towards her, I rest a hand to her shoulder. I am not good with comforting a person in need, but I have to at least try. And not just because the girl is so young, but because when I needed comfort the most, I had no one to turn to. And if I can help this girl keep her emotions in check, maybe she will be alright within the palace. But the truth is, I know that no matter what I do to try and make this situation one is going to be alright. We are all here for a reason, and that reason cannot be good.

There are four of us here, if I include myself, of course, and we take turn's introducing ourselves. When it is the younger girl's turn to speak, I listen carefully.
"My name is Vivian. I am an orange. I am fourteen years old, and I am afraid of the competition and what being taken here, to the palace, means for me." She shiver's, and everyone nod's, agreeing with Vivian's words.
"Do you know when the competition is set to begin?" The girl beside me that cried upon entering the dining chambers, Clara I think her name is, asks hurriedly.
"It is always five day's after the drawing." Louisa, the girl who entered with Vivian says. Louisa is a green. "So...tomorrow."
Everyone goes silent, not daring to breathe and ruin the moment of silence, we have dedicated to the loss of so many lives.
"The thing I would like to know, is how people can be so selfish as to watch it. To watch as so many men die, who had the right of life before it was taken away from them so quickly." I say suddenly, and murmurs of concurrence spread's quickly around the room.
"I would like to know just one thing, why are we here? And how can we escape?" Clara say's out loud, and I glance across the dining chamber's as everyone begins to talk all at once.
"Maybe we are here to observe." I blurt out, and every face in the room turn's to me. "Just think about it. The first year that the Royal family includes guests to watch such an event unfold."
"Yes, but why?" Clara asks, her eyes still glimmering with tears as she listens carefully to my words.
"I don't know, maybe...." Vivian begins, before the door open's once more. The king stand's there looking furious as ever, before saying something that shocks us all.
"You, come with me." The king spit's out, looking directly my way. I do what I am told quickly, scared out of my mind, yet holding myself up cool and composed, and all ladylike. But as we leave the dining chamber's and the doors close behind us, I begin to shake uncontrollably. What does the king want with me?
"Hurry." The king grunts, as I begin to fall behind, tripping over my shoes as I have never worn such delicate heel's before today. Yet, I hurry my pace, keeping up just enough so that the king will maybe ignore me. But that is not a plausible thought, at all. And I almost laugh out loud as I rethink my words. If the king were to forget about me as I trip over my skirts, following after him through the palace hall's, that would be, well...impossible.
The king lead's me through hall's Desmond never showed me. It is decorated elaborately with gold accents and marble flooring, and when we finally reach our destination, I almost collapse from my sore toes pushing up against the diamond of my shoes, I once thought were comfortable.
The king open's the door, and walks inside expecting me to follow him obediently. But not trusting him, or my instincts makes it hard to enter.
"Come, now!" The king shouts, annoyed as hell with my wariness. And as I enter the room, I know immediately where we are. The throne room. And sitting among the six thrones, is the queen and her children. Desmond is not here though, and his throne made of black obsidian sit's empty in the corner.
"You, along with the girl's you just met in the kitchen, are here, because of both my son's brilliant ideas. Specifically, Desmond." The king starts, sitting down on his golden throne with a sigh. "Always something going on with that boy, it seems." He grunts out, burying his head in his hand's. But I cannot believe what I am hearing. All of this could not be just because of Desmond. He wouldn't do such a thing as to rip me...everyone here, from their families for some unknown reason.
"What?" I ask out loud, not understanding a thing that is being said. The only thing I know now, is that Desmond never told me anything, any answers, because he himself probably did not know them. "Then why exactly am I here? Why are any of us here?" I add quickly.
"Oh, you foolish foolish yellow. You never seem to understand, now do you?" The king begins. "You, along with those other girl's, and more people that will be arriving soon, were brought here for one reason only." The king says, throwing back a long silk sheet from two more thrones, sitting right beside both the prince's.
So now, I finally get some answers.
"So why? Why am I, why are we here then?" I push him to answer me, raising my eyes as I await his response.
"You think I'm going to tell you such a thing? No. But you know too much anyways, so take her away." The king motions to the guards standing still in the corner of the room. I search frantically for a way to fight back or to flee, but it is of no use. I am caught in little time.
"Don't you worry, you won't be gone forever." The king laughs as I am dragged out of the throne room and the door shuts in my face.
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