All Strings Attached

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Chapter 9: Poison Ivy

~Sin-Vira's POV~
 Queen Juliana stabbed into her diced potatoes as she glared at her son from across the table. "Vira. You still have yet to explain why you returned home so late."

 Sin-Vira tensed as he wearily looked at her. "I apologize, mother. I was still a bit sluggish. While escorting me home, princess Sibylla injured herself and I took her back home. It was my mistake for not properly watching after her…" he bowed his head shamefully.

 "You put too much trust in that girl. Who's to say she did this on purpose to pin suspicion on you? Do you think any Gardenia resident would doubt you purposely shoved her?" She spoke with such hatred, Sin-Vira felt his heart sting.

 "Mother, please. Princess Sibylla would do no such-" He jerked his head up and froze at the sight. His mother's scowl made his jaw clench.

 "You have no idea how shallow those bastards are! They will lie, cheat, steal! Anything to get what they want! Do not let your guard even for a second!"

 "…Of course mother, my apologies…"

 The fury slowly left her eyes as she smiled. "To ensure you won't forget, I assigned Ivy to keep an eye on you. Whenever you leave, Ivy isn't to leave your side."

 On cue, Ivy poked her head out from the doorway behind Queen Juliana. Her shining silver locks swayed as she walked with a bright smile.

 "I'm honored to be assigned this task, your majesty. Prince, Sin-Vira will be in safe hands." She curtsied with grace, but Sin-Vira could tell she was close to squealing with excitement.

 Ivy was a well-trained servant to the kingdom. While strength wasn't her strong suit, she was selected for her swift reactions and innovative counters. Sin-Vira would occasionally open up to her, which made her the only real friend he had in the kingdom.

 It also meant he couldn't deny the order without upsetting them. Forcing a smile, he nodded. "I'm pleased to have you join me, Ivy."

 "I can't believe we have to go to that lousy kingdom! It must be so boring," Ivy whined from across the carriage.

 Sin-Vira wanted to check on Sibylla, which meant letting Ivy tag along. Though for the entire ride, all she did was whine.

 "Um… it's okay I guess. They have a bakery, which makes the best bread I've ever eaten! You should try it!" He suggested with a grin.

 Ivy leaned back and rest her legs on the bench. "It's bread, Vira. Saying it's the best is just an exaggeration. No need to lie about it."

 "No no really! I promise you'll understand when you taste it! Suni has a way of making them more sweet and even creamy." Sin-Vira felt himself grow hungry again just at the thought.

 "Yeah, whatever." She looked at her red dress before jerking her head up at him. "The driver said you ran towards the kingdom on foot, was that true?!"

 Sin-Vira chuckled as he recalled the memory. "I never really thought about how long it would've taken. All I could think of was getting there in time."

 "For a fight, right? What made the fight there more important than ours? We have them all the time and you never were interested in participating…" Ivy's tone was slightly envious as she crossed her arms.

 "Because it was for Sibylla. I promised to kick this Corn-hair's behind and didn't wanna let her down. If I missed it, she'd probably kick mine then his!" He laughed.

 Ivy rolled her eyes and stared at the window. It showed the lilac kingdom shimmering. "It's disgustingly bright… how can you deal with seeing it so often?"

 Sin-Vira leaned his head out as well and shrugged. "I just keep my eyes looking down until they adjust!" He then heard a loud thud from above and turned to look upwards.

 Princess Sibylla was sitting on top of the carriage with a bright grin as her hair whipped around.

 "Good morning! I waited since the early morning on that tree just to do this! Surprised?!" She asked with a bright face.

 Sin-Vira was about to ask the driver to stop, but it might cause the princess to get thrown off. He pushed the door open and kept it that way. "Get inside before you hurt yourself again!"

 "Okay!~" She spoke before flipping herself into the carriage. She sat on the floor with wild hair and was giggling uncontrollably. That was until she saw Ivy glaring at her.

 "Sin-Vira! Would you please explain why you know this ill-mannered girl?" Ivy asked as she pointed at Sibylla.

 He slowly closed the door as he tried finding the right words. "She's um…"

 Sibylla carefully sat on the bench beside Sin-Vira. "Princess Sibylla of the Gardenia kingdom," Sibylla answered with a composed tone. The energetic attitude was unfortunately gone from her eyes.

 Sin-Vira struggled to keep from laughing. "Ivy, meet princess Sibylla. Princess Sibylla, Ivy has been assigned to escort me whenever I come to visit. I hope you don't mind."

 The now calm princess simply fixed her tousled hair with ease. "I don't mind at all. I apologize you had to meet me this way. Sometimes my fun goes a bit too far. I can assure you I do much better as a host than a jester." She smiled sweetly.

 When they arrived and were let out, the driver had to double-take when he saw Princess Sibylla leaving the carriage.

 Sibylla walked ahead of the two. "I wasn't expecting you to be accompanied, but it's alright. I can request more cups once we arrive at the garden."

 As Sin-Vira followed behind, he took note of every little thing different about Sibylla. Her back was straightened, her tone was more lifeless, and even the way she walked. She behaved the same way when he father was around. He was surprised she was able to jump on moving carriages and walk normally after injuring herself the night before.

 "Sin-Vira, a prince has better things to do than waste time in a tea party. Must you be so boring, milady?" Ivy spoke with disdain clear as glass.

 She stopped in her tracks and turned around. "I apologize for not asking. Sin-Vira, is there anything you would like to do? We have physical activities, lengthy paths, my 'study' has interesting books I could show you?" She suggested. When suggesting the study, she lightly stomped her heel down.

 Assuming it was a sign, he answered. "I would love to see your study, princess. If you don't mind of course."

 "I don't. Please follow me." She smiled before resuming her walk.

 "Why the study? Is their weaponry that pathetic that even you can't stand it?" Ivy laughed.

 Sin-Vira sheepishly chuckled. "No no. I honestly think a study is an important room. It can tell you a lot about a person."

 "Really? I wonder what her's will say then…"

 Sibylla clenched her fist before it quickly loosened. "Oh! I'm sure my study has a 'lot' to say about me. I just hope Prince Sin-Vira can explain it to you in words!"

 Whenever Sin-Vira visited, Sibylla did everything she could to avoid taking him inside. Everywhere they looked, some jewels shimmered brilliantly in a mocking way. It made him feel uneasy how the King comfortably flaunted his abuse without shame.

 The room Sibylla entered was the exact opposite. It lacked even a flake of gems and was quite plain. With only a wooden desk and library that filled up the wall behind it.

 "Wow. I'm so glad you picked this," Ivy sarcastically spoke as she walked towards the library. Mocking each book as she went.

 Sibylla picked up a journal and wrote in it quickly. "These are some of the things I try to complete every week." She presented it to Sin-Vira who read it.

 'Get rid of her ASAP'

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