In tales of old, there was once a story that captured my childhood attention. A story about a fierce and mighty black dragon whom chaos and desolation followed wherever its wings would beat; crushes the hopes of the helpless townspeople whenever it is seen; and said to be found celebrating upon a throne of flames built by its own destruction. A free dragon that no one could hope to end.
A fearsome dragon indeed, but one I very much envy.
You see, as a young child, female and that of royal birth, I was expected to be what my people expects that of a future Queen-to-be: submissive, dependent, loyal to the crown, beautiful, kind, soft-spoken, a good hostess, a wife and mother, but most of all weak -all traits that I, unfortunately, from birth, have been trained to be. Yet however hard my teachers tried, I, fortunately, do not have all the requirements they had set me out to be, for I am not the beauty nor the dependent female that they had aspired me to be.
In the privacy of my own mind, I call myself a rebel of the nobles. I fancy myself a thief, a pirate, an assassin, a warrior, a King, a dragon.
But unlike the mighty beast, I, myself, will not be pulled down by love.
For in the end of the tale, the dragon of old was felled by the tender mercies of one kind, caring soul -a witch.
A gentle knock on the door interrupted the princess' private reading time in a room full of books.
She looked up just as door is pushed open by one of her attendants and pouted, annoyed at being disturbed on one of her favorite pastimes. The attendant, a blond pretty girl of the same age as her sixteen years, scowled at the face she made while taking only a step inside the princess' exclusive library.
"Princess Nadia," the blond called, "the time for your studies with Mr. Fallman draws near and you have yet been seen breaking your fast." She ended with a polite smile but Nadia wasn't an easy female to deceive. She knew that none of her eight attendants given to her liked her anymore than she liked them. She gave back the scowl ten-fold and shut her book loudly, smirking in satisfaction at the spotted flinch her usually proper lady-in-waiting made.
"Aaahh!" she groaned heavily, stretching and bending herself in ways that she knew disturb the sensitivities of the other female. Finally, after a full minute of cracking bones, she turned with a flip of her long free flowing sunset hair.
"Princess, your hair-" the attendant started with furrowed brows.
"Will be done by alyssia per usual." Nadia interrupted, adding to the building frustration of the blond. "I'm sure-" the attendant started again only to be disrupted once more. "I'll be having supper in the kitchen today as usual so kindly inform Mr. Fallman about my late arrival. Also, have my painting kit ready for me in our usual place of practise. I'll make sure to send some pastries up as I will be in the kitchen so you need not bother. Is that all, Christine?" Nadia ended with a mock of a smile.
"Yes. Well then, if you will excuse me." Her attendant, Christine Logi, nicknamed Christy by her other attendees, politely excused with a tone of hidden disdain.
Nadia watched her attendant walk away with dignity in every step she took as was taught to every woman of noble birth and was sickened every time. The females of her circle weren't taught how to walk with open dignity for themselves, but for their future noble husband. They knew this and rather than be repulsed by the idea, were instead very proud of it. She, at least, defied the idea by taking every step for herself and none other.
She descended down the kitchen with every grace and poise she imagined a regal warrior would be.
"Princess Nadia!" A cheerful voice greeted her once she entered the busy kitchen.
"Allee!" Nadia smiled right after she instructed a maid, with a much more genuine emotion than what she showed her attendant. The small kitchen maid, Alyssia, with dark short hair and soot covered clothes wiped her hands on her apron before taking the hug offered to her by the princess. "Oh!" She suddenly gasped. "My clothes! I'm all covered in ashes! I'm so sorry!" Only for it to be brushed off by the princess.
"It's alright." Nadia started patting down her clothes. "See? It's clean again." She smiled. "Now where's my supper? I'm dying for one of your tasty pastries!" She swiveled her head in search. Alyssia gave a light giggle and pointed at a clean wooden table sitting at a corner of the busy kitchen stocked with a plate of steaming hot food. Nadia gave a childish pout at the lack of pastries as the kitchen maid gave her a slight push to the table.
"I promise to bring up a lot of pastries later, but first a healthy dose of meat to fill up your energy for today." Alyssia promised, sitting down the pouting princess and leaving her for but a moment to fetch the brush and clips as well as properly wiping her hands with soap and water to attend to the princess' long silky hair. Nadia moped for a couple more seconds before dining in. It wasn't her favorite pastries but it was still just as delicious as anything the kitchen staff of their castle provides. A gentle tug of her hair signaled her to the start of Alyssia attending to her hair.
She ignored the rest of the kitchen staff's disapproving stares and continued on to her afternoon routine.
"So tell me Alyssia," Nadia started, after swallowing a forkful of lamb, "is there any new news that hasn't reached my ears yet?" she asked.
"Not to my knowledge, milady. Other than the usual harp of new merchants that has arrived, there hasn't been anything out of the usual... Though there has been hype about the upcoming festival." Alyssia answered respectfully.
"Hm," Nadia hummed, munching on bread. "New men applying for a chance of a position in part of my father's court. How painfully boring..." She winced.
"At least milady is to be under the shade of a tent and not out in the sun while watching the tournaments." Alyssia commented, pinning a large chunk of hair in place of her princess' head.
"What use is the tent when I'll be melting not by the sun's rays but by the stifling contraption they call a dress that I'll be no doubt forced to wear on the occasion?" Nadia sulked. "At least when Mother throws the occasional Ball, it is with the cold breeze of the night air. And I can claim sleep early."
"I see milady is spoiled by Sir Rommul." Alyssia chuckled, unbothered by her lady's unconventional ways.
"Master Rommul has more sense in fashioning a lady without having to squeeze my insides out." Nadia huffed and tilted the last of her drink in an unladylike fashion whilst Alyssia pinned the last of her hair in place.
"'Tis truly unusual for a knight of his caliber to be bothered by female fashion. It would make more sense if Sir Leopard gave you advice on what to wear than Sir Rommul." stated Alyssia.
Having finished, Nadia stood from her seat and kissed Alyssia's cheek in goodbye. She sneaked a secret smile in her direction, gleaming sea green eyes bright with mischievous information. And Alyssia thought that the princess would impart some secret knowledge about the mysterious Sir Rommul, "Well, I have a painting session with Mr. Fallman down at the garden. Don't forget to bring my own tray of pastries, Allee!" She was then out the backdoor of the kitchens without even waiting for a response. Alyssia, used to the princess, only shook of her head with a smile.
"Tsk. Tsk!" The head cook clicked her tongue at the unroyal like behaviour of their princess. "Allee! You shouldn't be encouraging more of Her Highness' eccentric ways. That girl will be standing at the end of the line of the matchmaker's waiting list if she keeps that up, mark my words!" The cook waved her spatula in emphasis.
Alyssia chuckled in response, "Pardon my presumption, but I likely doubt Princess Nadia would even want to be listed in such a list like that."
"You are late, your Highness." Called Mr. Fallman, her teacher for the arts with the slim scholar build, beady eyes and wrapped in a professor's black coat.
"Not too late, I hope." Nadia smiled with all the charm her etiquette teacher, Mrs. Debrah Hail, smacked into her as she proceeded to her place in front of an empty canvas. But judging by the half empty plate of pastries that she had sent over, he probably did not care as much.
Her lesson in painting was about exciting as the pretty tree she painted -steady in some parts and a disturbance when a breeze passes by. Fortunately, despite her awful skill, she rather enjoyed this particular noble 'duty' of hers as it wasn't one that needed much speaking on either her and Mr. Fallman part -thus were their usual teaching sessions.
"I think this is it for today," Mr. Fallman eyed her work with obscurity, as is normal for them. "Ahem," He coughed, "I advise you to practise your brush strokes and get yourself used to the different types of brushes before we could move on to your next lesson, your Highness. Next week to be exact whilst tomorrow, I expect that you have improved with your piano fingers."
Nadia respectfully stayed quiet and properly accompanied him to the door, watching and waiting until the carriage carrying her last tutor for the day had left. Afterwards, she picked up her skirts and raced back toward her chamber via secret pathways used by their servants. Upon arriving at a cleverly hidden doorway behind a tall bookshelf, she expertly tore away her constricting dress for the day and grabbed the already awaiting custom made outfit lying on her queen sized bed. Just a belt buckle away from her meeting with Sir Rommul, a knock halted her progress.
She furrowed her brows in confusion as she doesn't remember having any other lessons or appointment left to do as a princess for today. Unminding her shocking state of dress, she unhesitatingly opened her bedroom door.
"Oh thank goodness you're here! Missy said that you wouldn't be in your room today and that you'd be elsewhere but I just had to try and here you are!" giggled the brunette that stood upon her doorway. "The girls and I were just planning to go into town today to shop for some new hats and we were -well, I" she corrected with another giggle, "was wondering if your highness could join us-" her voice falter once she realized exactly what the princess was wearing.
"Oh my!" She gasped, utterly shocked as the princess was wearing something she hadn't seen before on any other woman she had encountered.
Brown leather pants, knee high black boots, a shirt that looked like it could do with a rough wash, a brown fitted vest, a black leather double strap baldric and to top it all off, Nadia had black trench coat hanging on an arm. She looked like a right pirate then and there, even more so when she took one pin off her hair and let the long braid hang on her back. She gave a pleased smirk and stepped past the stunned noble woman.
"I'm sorry Nancy, I know you've just been my attendant for a few weeks but I do know that all my ladies-in-waiting know to make an appointment with me if they want a part of my time." She said. "I'm a very busy princess that need all the education I can get and haven't got any time for any such leisure like my ladies-in-waiting after all. Such is the life for a future reigning monarch." She construed.
"Oh, well that's... that's too bad." Nancy murmured, still slightly disturbed by the princess' appearance.
"I've got to go now, but I wish you and the girls a good time in town. Farewell."
After bidding the dazed girl farewell, she then ran through the hallways of her rather large estate, unminding the various shrieks and yelps of surprise that followed her path, and made her way to the stables. "Atta girl!" she cooed to her Friesian mare in greet, foregoing the lock and instead climbing up its gate to sit upon.
"You're late." A voice from deeper inside the stable said.
"That's the second time I heard that line." She answered, unconcerned.
"Oh?" a young man materialized beside her, leaning on her horse's gate. "Who was the first?" the short raven haired young adult with sharp features asked.
"Mr. Fallman," Nadia answered with a shrug. "He expects my piano skills to have improve come tomorrow." she told him.
Silent laughter with shaking shoulders rendered the raven speechless. Nadia shoved him off the gate with an good push. "I'm sorry milady, but I don't believe you'll be able to master any kind of musical instrument in this lifetime." he finally said.
Nadia scowled for but a second before laughing along with him. "That's true." She need not hide her lack of musical talent. She certainly wouldn't miss it.
"Saddle up now, your Highness. We have a lot of ground to cover today and very little sun to ride in." He announced.
"What're we waiting for then Master Rommul? Let's go!" She stated excitedly, jumping from her seat to the ground with nary a flinch.