what if the words in a book could take you to another place - literally?
Chapter Twenty-One ~ Leylina
Leylina woke to the sun streaming its way through the stained glass window to the right of her bed, and then through the silk curtains with flower-themed embroidery stitched into them.
Slowly, she sat up, rubbing the crust from her eyes. It was two days after she had eavesdropped on her mother. She had relived the mysterious conversation over and over in her mind so many times that it was like the memory was embedded in her mind.
The princess moved her legs over the side of her bed, and set her feet onto the cold, hard tiles. Slowly, she walked over to her window and thrust open the curtains.
“Ugh,” she moaned as she shielded her eyes from the glaring sun.
She opened them, revealing a scene she had seen many times: the palace courtyard, with a fountain in the middle and a luscious garden surrounding the premises. A stone path wound its way through the yard and trailed out of sight, around the sides of the castle. She saw the palace walls - a stone barrier to the outside world that surrounded the entire palace.
Leylina walked to the other side of her bedroom and sat on the chair facing her vanity. She looked at her reflection. She stared at her long, blonde braid that reached her waist, her skin beautifully pale, and her eyes like daggers, yet they shimmered like the stars. Like deep ponds, with gold at the bottom that shone like the sun, yet if you tried to reach it, you would drown.
She undid the braid, letting it flow loose, its curls unravelling themselves and falling onto her shoulders. Leylina took the lid of a small, silver container to her right, and placed the pinkish powder inside onto her cheeks with a large, soft brush. Opening a lidded dish, she revealed a red, wax-like substance to be inside. She first ran her finger along the surface of the wax, then applied it to her lips, making them red and shiny.
Leylina hated to cover her face with these cosmetics. It was like having a layer of paint over your face. She refused to use more than rouge and lip stains to compliment her complexion, whereas many other girls her age painted themselves with the stuff and much more every day.
As her mother always said - “You are almost sixteen, darling. Now is the time young girls your age begin to recognise themselves as women, and being a woman is a huge responsibility. You need to be able to please the people around you, for that is where opportunities arise from, and part of that is making sure your appearance is impeccable every minute of every day.”
“More like ‘you need to be able to look like perfection all the time so that men can look at you and see you as a considerable wife.’ Like a doll - something you can take home and put on display to increase your masculinity.” Leylina said quietly. If someone ever heard her say that...she didn’t even want to know what the consequences would be.
There was a knock on her door, and the princess spun around, startled.
“Who is it?” She asked.
“Just a maid,” a voice replied. “Wondering if her highness would like some help in getting dressed?”
“Come in,” Leylina replied.
A woman who couldn’t have been more than two years older than herself hesitantly entered the room.
“Good morning, Princess Leylina,” she said.
The princess looked her up and down. She didn’t recognise the maid’s bouncing, brown curls, her dark, almond skin, or her shy smile.
“Morning,” Leylina replied, smiling politely. “What’s your name?”
“Am...am I supposed to tell you that?” The maid wrung her hands, her face turning a deadly shade of red.
“If I request it,” she raised her chin. “You must provide it.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” the maid stuttered. “I’m Frauline. I’m sorry.”
“You seem nervous,” Leylina said, standing. “Don’t be. There’s no need to be sorry, Frauline. How long have you been serving my mother and I for?”
“I’m new,” the girl replied. “Came in yesterday, actually.”
“Where from?” Leylina moved to her closet, opening the doors.
“I...used to serve a very wealthy family up north a little.”
“Was it good work?” The princess began searching through her assortment of dresses for an appropriate one.
“Yes, your majesty,”
“Then why leave?”
“The master of the house passed away,” Frauline explained. “I had to find new work. Somehow I ended up in this part of the kingdom.”
“What about your family? Who did you travel with?”
“Are these questions really important, Leylina?”
The princess turned around slowly. No maid or servant had ever used that kind of a tone with her before. And if this girl had any experience with royalty or being a maid, she would know that you should never use just the first name of a master or mistress unless granted permission, especially if that person is royalty.
“Sorry?” Leylina tilted her head sideways.
“I was asking if the answers to those questions were a necessity at this moment.”
“They are.”
“Why?” Frauline tilted her head to match Leylina’s.
“You have a lot of nerve, Frauline,” the princess said, turning back around to face her closet. “This kind of behaviour could result in you being exiled from the kingdom.”
“I understand. I just know that you won’t tell on me, Princess.”
“What makes you so certain?”
“I can tell that your personal characteristics are not any where near similar to the ones that make up the personality of someone who would do such a thing.” Frauline replied. “To be honest, you and I aren’t much different.”
“Oh, we are very different,” Leylina picked out a dress and laid it on her bed. “For example - I am the princess and you are the maid. I eat the food and you clean the plate. I sleep in the sheets, you wash the blankets. I walk the footpath, you clean the paving.”
“That was low, your highness,” she said, glaring at her. “Very low.”
“Make my bed,” Leylina said in a soft tone. She was sick of this girl.
Frauline said nothing as she walked over to the bed and began smoothing out the covers.
Leylina studied the maid out of the corner of her eye as she did so. Something was off about her. Her change of mood - from the nervous girl she was before to the confident, cocky woman she was now - somehow didn’t fit into place.
“The fact, Frauline,” Leylina said, looking her straight in the eye. “Is that if you are going to see me in a corset, I am going to have to know a little bit about you first.”
This made the maid grin.
“As you wish,” she shook her head, and her red curls bounced with her. “My mother died when I was young. I never had a father. It was just me and her, working for the master. She died when I was seven. I was born in that house, raised working in that house, so when the master died I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I came to this part of the kingdom and...here I am, I suppose.”
“Thank you for sharing that,” Leylina smiled at her. “I like to get to know my maids. It makes the palace a better environment for not only me, but for them as well.”
The princess walked over to the lounge set against the right-side wall, and picked up her corset. She hated the thing.
“Would you help me put this on?” Leylina requested. Frauline hurried over to her.
Quickly, she stripped of her nightgown and placed the corset around her waist. Leylina held onto the edge of the lounge as the straps at the back were tightened, to what Leylina believed to be the point of suffocation - but that was the norm.
“Thank you,” she breathed. She placed the dress over her head and felt it rest on her shoulders.
“That is a beautiful dress,” Frauline exclaimed.
“Yes,” Leylina said. “It was my mother’s.”
It was beautiful, indeed. The dress was a very pale blue, with silky fabric. It rested just on the edge of her shoulders so that the entirety of her collarbone was showing, and the and of the sleeves were long and elegant. Golden embroidery was on the front, creating a gorgeous pattern, and from the waist down, the fabric flowed outwards in a entrancing shape.
“You should wear this headpiece,” Frauline handed her the piece that had been sitting on her vanity. It was a golden circle, with tiny crystals encrusted around the front. Leylina placed it on her head.
“Princess?” Spoke a voice from outside the door.
Frauline went to answer it, but she waved her off.
Leylina opened the door and smiled. It was a boy who looked to be around twelve years old. He grinned when he saw the princess.
“I was sent from the kitchen,” the boy said. “Your morning meal is ready, Princess Ley.”
“Thank you, Sami,” Leylina poked her head around the door so that she could see Frauline. “I’m going to breakfast. Put my night gown away.” She told her.
Leylina closed the door behind her as she walked towards the stairwell.
“Oh, and by the way, Princess,” Sami told her. “You look ravishing.”
Leylina smiled.

Keep Reading

Chapter 22

Chapter Twenty-Two ~ Leylina

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