Katriona’s fingers glided over the piano, wistfully touching each chord as if it we’re a lark’s song. She tilted her head to the side and listened to each note as her fingers hit the chords. The vibrations of her efforts coursed through her body and she shivered. Playing the last keys for her audience, she sighed and hit the last note with a feverish high. She had never felt so alive, so beautiful. The piano brought her a certain joy and excitement she reveled in. No other thing or person had brought her so much happiness. She lifted her head, thanked the Lord for the gift she had been given and stood. Lady Jane came to her side quickly and held out her hand. They turned to the members of the room and the piano maestro smiled. She heard the loud clapping of hands being brought together. She bowed slowly, trying not to hit anything while doing so. Lady Jane led her to a nearby seat. She sat down slowly, laying her hands gently onto her lap. The ladies and gentlemen bowed to her as she sat and they applauded her talent once more.
″Thank you all. You are all so kind.″
Lady Jane sat down beside her and watched the people moving around the room. Katriona listened to the ladies shoes tapping against the floor and the men's walking cane’s being pulled behind their masters. She smiled and took Lady Jane’s hand in hers.
″My dear friend, tell me the truth. Was I good tonight?″
Lady Jane squeezed her hand lightly and laughed.
″I have never heard anyone as talented as you. You have excelled beyond your teachers even. You have a talent that no other can achieve.″
Katriona stood, turned and faced a wall of mirrors. Lady Jane took her arm and they walked towards it. Jane watched her friend’s reflection and smiled. She had not changed since childhood, she still had the same auburn ringlet hair and fair freckled complexion. She was not only talented, she was also beautiful. Too bad she couldn’t see her own reflection. Katriona, the great piano maestro, the beauty from Arbourshire, was blind.
Chadwick brought down his sword one last time, slashing his victim in half. Blood splattered all over the muddy ground and his armor. He leaned on his sword’s head and looked at the ill fated fellow. He had not ventured into battle out of his own will. The king’s orders had come and he had been obligated under oath to advance against the enemy. He would have preferred to stay home, even if home was a small cabin out in the woods. He had all he needed and he knew not to ask for more. He had once had a family and now they were all gone, one by one they had been taken from him, some by the sweating fever and others by the war. The most horrible loss of all was his wife, but she had left of her own accord. He had come back from battle a month later, wounded and badly burned. She hadn’t even been able to look at him. She left him the very night of his return, without saying a word. He had loved his Amelia dearly, even convincing himself that if he had returned alright, she would have stayed. The truth was, during his time at war, she had met someone else and had secretly been seeing him during Chadwick’s absence. He had known only after, but he still remained adamant that the reason for her leaving had been his burns. The left side of his face was intact, but the right side was badly charred and he had a large scar that began above his eyebrow and cut down across his cheek. He didn’t recognize his right side anymore. The single mirror he had in the house had been broken violently one night after he had drunk himself into a stupor. He didn’t possess any mirrors anymore and when he crossed a mirror in a public place, he always thought he had seen a monster.
Lady Jane drew the curtains and let the sunlight pour through. Katriona felt the heat on her cheek and opened her eyes. She saw Jane’s shadow and a shimmering light surrounding her. She wasn’t completely blind, she could discern shadows if their was enough light behind them. As a result of her blindness, her other senses were heightened. She felt things, heard things, smelled things others didn’t. Katriona Kirkpatrick had been born into royalty, her father was brother to the king, next in line to the throne. Her mother had been a lovely woman, Katriona got her own patience and humor from her. From her father, she got her strength and wisdom. She was but two and twenty, yet people could not believe it, for she was wise beyond her years. Her mother had passed on four years ago, yet her father had not remarried. He had loved her without fail from the day they had married. His wife had given him a precious child, and for Katriona, he would be forever grateful to Kathryn. His daughter was a blessing to everyone who encountered her.
Katriona felt Jane walk into the room. More like run into the room. She sounded out of breath. Jane held onto the chair Katriona was sitting on.
″What’s wrong Jane?″
She put down the needlepoint she had started and reached out for her friend.
″We received a letter from your father. He has requested you play for your uncle. King Abraham has invited a lieutenant named Chadwick Carmichael. The King describes him as being the fiercest and bravest soldier in the army at the moment. He is holding a soiree in his honor.″
Katriona smiled. She would never refuse a request from the King, but she dreaded the long four day journey it took to get there. Her father had thought it best for her to live somewhere where the sun would shine stronger and longer during the day. She would have preferred to stay with him, but he had insisted and she had been much obliged. He now resided with his brother in the royal court. She lived with a house full of servants, but she only had one maid and that was Lady Jane. Jane had been appointed her maid four years ago, when Katriona’s mother had passed. They had become very close friends, not many years separated them. Katriona stood and turned to the window. She felt a soft breeze against her neck.
″We shall go, much as I hate to travel, I should like to see my father and uncle.″