Chapter 2: And so it Begins
Deanna was sitting on a stool facing her window. Not long after her father passed the Queen claimed that a bastard princess did not deserve such a fine room. She was moved to a small room in the western tower. The only times the rooms in that tower used were when the castle was housing a great number of guests. The last time the rooms were used was during the King’s funeral. Since then Deanna had lived a much quieter life. Although the Queen could not deny her birthright she could however deny her from ever leaving the castle and often banished her to her room to keep from seeing her face.
Deanna turned away from the window.
“Trina! Lilia! Why are you two up here. You know Queen Mother does not wish for you two to come up here,” Deanna scolded. Her younger sisters looked just like the Queen and the Queen’s first child Helena. They all had golden hair and soft hazel eyes. They were very beautiful and had sweet smiles. The princesses were much beloved by the kingdom with personalities a beautiful as their faces.
The opinion of the Queen however, was not as greatly up held as her daughters. The people of Albarel never trusted the Queen. A young princess from a neighboring kingdom, she became King Harrell’s second wife who died of disease. She did not socialize with the people as the King did and taxes rose once she became queen. She dressed much richer than the previous queen did and spent too much money in order for her to live grander than she ever had.
“Deanna,” Trina hugged her, “Why weren’t you at breakfast or supper last night or the night before that or the night before that or the night before that or-“
“Trina!” Lilia snapped, “Mother doesn’t let you come anymore does she.”
“It’s to be expected,” Deanna shrugged, “I still see you all at lunch time when Queen Mother is not there.”
“You weren’t at lunch today!”
“I was nt feeling hungry today,” Deanna lied. Honestly, she was being scolded by the Queen for sneaking off to the gardens without permission.
“I want to see you all the time though!” Trina argued.
“You two really should go back before someone catches you here,” Deanna warned.
“We just wanted to give you this,” Lilia said handing over a sealed letter. Deanna’s brows furrowed in confusion as she took it.
“It’s from Helena,” Lilia explained. Now Deana understood. It Lilia and Trina were caught in the western tower they would just get a stern talking to and maybe a slap with a switch each, but if Helena were caught her punishment would be much worse.
“How is Helena?” Deanna asked. Out of her three sisters, she was closest to Helena. Trina was only eight and still didn’t understand everything that was going on around her. Lilia, eleven, did quite grasp the magnitude of Deanna’s situation. Helena was only four years older than Deana, but all three of them looked to her for guidance. She was Deana’s closest friend before Dillon, Lilia, and Trina were born.
“She met her fiancé yesterday,” Trina blurted out.
“What’s he like,” Deana asked.
“He’s handsome enough,” Lilia shrugged.
“He’s very nice too,” Trina added, “Have you ever met him, Deanna?”
“I did when they were first engaged,” Deanna said thinking back, “She seemed so smitten with him back then. I wonder what’s taken them so long to get married.”
“I asked that. She said she didn’t want to leave us behind,” Lilia replied.
“I don’t want Helena to leave anyway,” Trina said.
“But Helena deserves to be happy,” Deana lectured, “She will eventually have to leave us. But when you are older you will get married too and be happy like Helena.”
“You think so?” Trina questioned.
“I know so,” Deanna answered.
“What about Lilia,” Trina asked.
“I will die an old maid,” Lilia replied sarcastically. Suddenly Deanna’s door opened and a head popped in.
“Dillon!” Deanna said surprised, “I didn’t know you were out there.”
“He’s our look out,” Lilia explained.
“Are you girls done talking?” he demanded. Deanna smiled. He looked like their father. His hair was golden silk like his mother and sisters, but his face was shape exactly like the late king and he had the same dark shiny eyes and lopsided grin.
“How is your training with the knights going, Dillon?” Deanna asked. Dillon frowned.
“The captain says I’m fast and good at sword fighting, but I always fail in hand to hand combat,” Dillon admitted.
“It is because he is still so small,” Lilia said with a snicker. Dillon shot her a look.
“You just need to be patient,” Deanna said ignoring Lilia and Trina’s giggles, “You will catch up. You’ll be just like Father. You are a splitting image of him.”
“You think so?” Dillon asked glumly.
“Trust me Dillon. You’ll be just like Father.”
“As long as I’m not just like Lamont.” Deanna rolled her eyes. Lamont was a failure when he trained with the knights. He was an excellent strategist like the late King, but he was soft when it came to training. He also looked just like his mother, but what was an asset in his sisters’ case was a fault in his. Their warm smiles looked like a rat’s evil grin on him. Their gold tresses was a mousy mop atop his head. Their hazel eyes were dull marbles to his face.
“Let’s all hope you’re nothing like Lamont,” Lilia murmured. They all nodded in agreement.
“You should go now before someone comes looking for you,” Deanna said as she shooed the three out the door.
“Bye Deanna,” the three called as they ran down the hall.
“Love you!” Trina added. Deanna smiled, closed the door and returned to the stool by her window. She remembered the letter in her hand and broke the seal. The sun was setting, but still provided enough light to read.
My dearest sister Deanna,
It saddens me that we are no longer able to speak in private anymore. I am sorry for the way Mother treats you. I miss Father so much as I’m sure so do you. I’m sure you have heard that Francis came to see me. His parents have requested that I marry him as soon as possible. They are anxious for me to provide him an heir. But I cannot think about leaving you here in misery while I leave with him. I do love him so, but I cannot leave you this way. He has agreed to delay our wedding a little longer, but I’m afraid that he will not wait much longer.
When mother questioned me about this matter I told her I couldn’t possible leave her in her time of need so soon after Father died and do you know what she said?! She informed me that she will not be in a time of need for much longer for she has sent out a notice that she is looking for a consort! She says the castle will be busy in the coming weeks due to guests coming, including men coming to court her! I know she is beautiful and has not yet reached her barren years, but Father has yet to be gone a full year. How can she do this to him? She has told me that while her guest are here you and our younger siblings must stay out of sight. I wish I could say that I do not understand why I am allowed to be seen and you are not, but that is not the case. Many young men will try to court her. I am engaged, but with your beauty you would easily steal every man’s affection.
Finally sister I must warn you. I think Mother is plotting to have you removed from court. You must not give her any reason too. You must be on your best behavior until I find a way to resolve this situation. And be weary of the servants. She has told them to watch you at all times. For most of them the fear of her wrath is strong than their fondness of you. I’m sorry I had to send Lilia and Trina to give you this message instead of coming to see you myself, but it must not be risked. If Mother knew I was feeding you information she might lock you up somewhere none of us can get to you. Know that I love you sweet sister. I will write you again. Until I can see you again.
P.S. Burn this!
Deana couldn’t believe what she just read! She suspected the servants were watching her and she always knew that the Queen was itching to remove her from her sight, but to allow suitors to court her in order to find a consort?! How could she? The King must be raging in the afterlife. She knew her sister was determined to help her, but she honestly did know how. She had no power over the Queen nor over Lamont when he finally took the throne. She’d only be putting off her own happiness if she continued to worry about her well-being. Deanna looked out her window once again. She could see the village. It was calming down as the sun escaped beyond the horizon. She could see the road leading out of the village over a very large hill. She’ll be able to see each and every suitor the Queen receives as they make their way to the castle. Deanna had to do something for herself. She could not depend on her father or even her sister anymore. She had to do something. But what?