Still could not believe my ears after hearing the kings press conference address. I was in a muddled state, my head was spinning while my heart beats were racing.
A week ago, my parents wanted me to marry Gemma but just two days later, the king is making such announcement. Were they toiling with my emotions or was it all a test? The harder I pondered, the more entangled I became.
Still in my state of confusion, but there was great joy in my heart. Finally my wish had been granted and any moment from now, I get to see Aris again.
Knowing that she would be at court when I get back spurred me to fast track all my assignments quickly so I could get back to the capital.
Speaking of the attack, it was a tragedy. I visited the victims who were directly affected either seriously injured or lost a loved one. This action carried out by the otholians was uncalled for because discussions were still ongoing. After visiting the victims, I decided to inspect the affected sites critically.
At the end of my assignment there, soldiers from the capital were posted down to guard and protect the boundary at our own end.
Relief materials, cash and food items were also donated to the people likewise the hospital bills and treatment costs were also taken care of.
Two days gone and my assignment was done. I was set to return back to court.
Never have I seen the people of Islandes celebrate the way they did when the pronoucemmet was made. It was like a week long filled celebration of different activities ranging from dancing, singing, acting, carnival display amongst others.
As for me, I was nostalgic. Leaving where I knew as my home to a total different location and space was terrifying but only thinking about Troy was making me happy and comfortable.
I believed he received my letter well because I hadnt heard for him. My maid came in and informed me that my royal entourage had arrived to escort me down to the palace the next morning. So all I needed was a beautiful sleep to help me look more gorgeous tomorrow as I arrive at court.
But I was anxious, thoughts of how life would be there kept travelling through my mind even when I kept fighting the thoughts, they didnt go away. I really hoped I'ld make it through the 365 days.
The duchess and I had our little but lengthy talk where she advised me more on being myself. In her words "Aris, my dear be yourself. Do not fake things or pretend. You've always been an excellent young woman, now I want you to put all you've learnt into action and set a standard for yourself. Remember everyone is watching you to probably see you fail so they can kick you out, but you'll emerge successful even at the end"
I plan on following through with her advice to the very end. Whatever happens, I just have to remain strong and proof people wrong that Troy made the best choice and that's me.
Moments later, I had a late night visitor. The only person who was literally permitted to visit at any time of the day was Lord Adrian. Yes he was a very close friend, actually he was my cousin. His father, the duke of was the brother to duchess Isadora Floros - my mother.
"Hey sleeping beauty" he called out once he stepped into the room.
The way I I rushed and jumped on him hugging and pecking his cheeks showed I had missed him for so long even if it's just been couple of weeks.
He laughed loudly while hugging me back tightly. "I missed you so much" he mouthed.
With smiles plastered all over my face, I pulled him toward the bed to join me in. "I missed you too so much. When did you get back?"
"Two days ago and I decided to come see you after I heard the big announcement" he said and I blushed shyly.
"Congratulations baby" he stared at me with his lips folded into his mouth and happiness written all over his eyes.
"Thank you so much Rian!"
"So are you ready to move?"
"Ofcourse I am" I giggled like a little girl.
"You are?" He questioned with an arched brow. "Last time I checked someone was avoiding the prince, did I miss something?" He cooked his head, squinting his eyes.
"A little" I muttered while he signalled I continued. "Well, the prince visited Rythfork and we hosted him here and....... we got to spend time with each other. Apparently that's all that happened" I explained to him whose hands were raised and rubbing his chin slowly.
"Hmmmm, so..... " he narrowed his eyes at me "Are you in love with the prince?"
"Not yet I guess but I'm definitely attracted to him in every way" I sighed feeling I confessed too easily. Adrian noticed I was feeling bad and pulled me into a hug.
"Its alright dear, I mean I dont have the right to judge you. They're your feelings and besides, he choose you so its normal to feel the way you do" he voiced while gently patting my back.
"Adrian, have you told the prince about me?" I asked him still in that position.
"I think you need to do that so we dont give the wrong impression"
He pulled me away from him at my words, his hands still on my shoulders, he peered into my face. "What impression? You think people will feel we are romantically involved with each other?"
"Not people but the prince"
He huffed shaking his head. "Troy wouldn't think that but if it will make you comfortable I'll tell him once I report to court. Is that okay?
"Yea it is" I smiled and we hugged each other some more.
Adrian and I talked more about life at court and how it would look like for me. He also assured me that he will always have my back and all of that. Also, he told me many interesting things about his childhood growing up with the prince,, Charles, Gemma and of course Cleopatra.
I went on to ask him about the trip he made and the outcome which he explained to me went well but expressed great concern at that which happened to the Bashuri people.
We all felt sad about it. Just as the saying goes, injury to one is injury to all. I was still looking out to hearing what steps the crown would take to salvage the issues.
After series of discussions and Adrain later left my room, I forced myself to sleep hoping for a better and brighter tomorrow.
Very early the next morning, my luggages were packed and launched into the car ready for my departure. It was really hard to say goodbye to my parents and family but my only consolation for now was I will get to see them at court probably whenever they attended the cabinet's meeting.
After forcing myself to say goodbye with tears in eyes to my parents and entire family who had come out bid me farewell, I entered into the car feeling sad as the journey began.
It was going to be a very long drive to the capital city of Urvinum in a days journey. Thoughts of the prince and life were gradually flooding my mind as anxiety also was creeping in.
Trying to have a clear picture of what life in court will be like again, the king and queen obviously do not like me, apparently they made the pronouncement because they had no other option, that was what I felt though would love to know the reason.
Then again, Gemma and her parents will probably detest me with some others. Apparently my parents were not also loved by many especially among their counterparts. So it will only be natural, same level of dislike is extended toward me.
But again, deeper thoughts into it all returned some level of calmness within me knowing that Troy and Adrian will be there for me. After a couple of hours of mental exercise, I fell asleep.
Urvinium -the capital was one of the beautiful cities in Doxa kingdom with the palace cited right at the centre of the city surrounded by other lovely architectural structures.
So many perosns did not leave in Urvinum because it was the center of the crown unless you were one of the top officials of the kingdom. Apparently Doxa had about six provinces (States) headed by a duke and duchess with about fifty one counties excluding the capital. Each county is headed by an earl and they make up the provinces.
In addition to that, there are fifty other top officials that serve with the crown. About twelve ministers that function as ministers of health, state affairs, finance, education, foreign affairs, defense, labour and employment, transportation, information, business/Investment, domestic affairs, culture/tourism and eight royal advisers with thirty knights who head and lead various fighting troops.
As our car drove into the royal palace, there were people gathered everywhere and a small reception organized in my arrival. Once I alighted from the car, i breathed out taking in my environment. My heart and eyes were desperately searching for my prince when an elderly court lady approached me and said.
"You're very much welcome my lady" she curtsied. "Their royal majesties, the king and queen awaits you" and she led me into the chambers where I could pay my respects to the crown but my eyes still hovered around in search of the prince yet I couldnt see him. He was supposed to be here welcoming me. How do I cope?
While all of these were happening, the royal reception had started with singing and celebration but in all I could see through it.
Walking to meet the king and queen made me both anxious and nauseous. Instantly I became sick to my stomach, that swallowing became a problem. With every step I took, my body felt heavy and I could barely lift my legs up. I struggled within me still pretending to be fine till i was before the king and queen.
I curtsied respectfully "Your majesties" shaking continuously.
"Lady Aris" the king smiled from the chair he sat on. "Welcome to court. I hope you find life here simple and hospitable. Take a seat" he offered me and I sat thanking him.
Taking a quick glance at the queen who just sat beside her husband wearing an obvious frown across her face. It was also filled with disdain toward me. It was glaring that my very presence irritated her and if she had her way, I would never have come here in the first place. The kings voice sprung my attention back to him.
"As the prince's bride to be as demanded by tradition, you're meant to stay in court living and adjusting to court life while understudying the queen and learning everything you need to know about being a good queen, hence your presence here" He stated. "You're actually a very beautiful and intelligent woman with lots of experience and exposure both locally and internationally. Within me I have no doubt that you will adjust quickly and contribute your wealth of knowledge to the progress of our dear kingdom"
Hearing the king say all these things for once made me feel acknowledged and appreciated that I was going to do well by the prince and also here in court.
"However, your days here will be basically spent under studying the queen" he pointed to his side at the queen whose face was still squeezed in a frown. I gave a small smile and nodded in acknowledgement.
Right now all I wanted to do was being myself. I've had no issues with the queen before today so I wouldn't reciprocate in the manner of her actions towards me. I clearly understand she has her reservations about me because I'm not her choice for a bride.
"The crowned prince by tradition is supposed to be here to receive you but he's away on an official trip. Hopefully to be back in three days time" he explained "but for now, I hand you over into the care of the queen. Welcome to court once again" He smiled at me as I stood up and curtsied again.
"Thank you so much your majesty for finding me worthy. I'll put in my best to ensure I dont disappoint the crown or the crowned prince" I responded to the kings address.
Moments later, the queen obviously had not said a word to me but she handed me over to her royal adviser to take me to where I would be staying. The palace was so big and beautiful yet complicated. If one is not smart enough, you could actually get lost just within the court alone.
The area I was taken to looked like the outskirt of the palace but was still very much inside the court. It had lots of apartments clustered together in a rectangular shaped pattern. One of the doors were opened for me and I stepped in.
"This is where you would be staying lady Aris" she spoke softly "And the court ladies assigned to you will be here soon"
My eyes travelled round explicitly. Taking in the whole environment. The space had a mini parlour and a semi mini bedroom with a medium sized bed and another door leading to the bathroom. It was like a hotel suite only smaller.
After moving around and inspecting the whole place, my eyes fell back on the lady who was standing with her head lowered to the ground.
"Thank you Eusebius, but who really stays here?" I asked her out of concern. Apparently the place looked like someone was staying here as at few hours ago.
"Uhm......uhmmmm" she stammered with her head still bent down. "I'm sorry but I cant say. Her majesty only asked that you be brought here" she said with a shaky voice when there was a light knock on the door, then she opened it revealing an elderly lady maybe in her fifties and a much younger one. They both walked in after she invited them in and curtsied at me respectfully.
"My lady, These are the court ladies assigned to you as the princess in waiting" she pointed to them introducing the elderly one first. "This is Dorothy and this is Echo" she pointed to the younger one as they both bowed respectfully.
With their heads still lowered to the ground I spoke in a very friendly manner because I felt attracted already to Echo. "Its nice to meet you ladies" I smiled as they both raised their heads and reciprocated my kind gesture.
After a moment of familiarising myself with them, I got to know that Doarthy was my royal adviser while Echo was my personal lady in waiting. Though they kept restraining themselves from getting to comfortable with me. I only knew it was going to be only a matter if time.
Echo was more friendlier toward me maybe it was because of our age differences while Dorathy was more like mother.
All the while, we got along Eusebius had left already when she returned only to inform me about being present at the reception organized for me. It was going to be a small dinner with the king, queen and some members of the royal family.
I quickly freshener up and got a change of clothes before hurrying out not wanting to keep them waiting for me closely followed by Echo.
The reception was really nice. I felt welcomed even though I tried as much as possible in avoiding the queens eyes at me. But yet from time to time I still felt her burning glares toward my direction. Meeting other members of the royal family like the kings brothers and of course the hand of the king (royal consult).
After the dinner, I went back to my quarters and had a brief conversation with Echo before retiring to bed.