Ch. 4 : Meeting the King and Queen

The silence that followed only lasted a short while before a maid found us, bowing to the Prince before urging us to join the others in the ballroom. She noticed the blood streaks on my arm and helped clean them up, offering a few tissues to Rosanna to help her still look presentable. Once we rejoined the rest of the Queeness’, His Majesty disappeared down a smaller pathway and through a side door followed closely by his Knights.

“What happened?” Arden and Ivy quickly found me, their eyes filled with worry as they glanced from Rosanna’s tear-stained face to my tired one.

“Nothing.” I sighed, fixing my skirt a little. “She just snapped at me and almost slapped me, but His Majesty stepped in.”

“His Majesty?” Ivy squealed, her eyes wide as my brother’s face grew even more confused. “You mean the Crown Prince?”

I nodded, chuckling at her reaction. My brother then started looking me over again and again while we waited, not taking me honestly when I would say that I was fine. A proud and old butler appeared after a few more minutes, smiling warmly at us all as he explained what was expected of us.

Each Noble Lady was going to be called into the Throne room one at a time with her chosen Guard and Handmaid as escorts. We would meet the King and his wife, the Queen, along with the Crown Prince. They would personally greet us to the Palace and welcome us as members of the Queeness competition. A few rules and explanations would then be said and then a Royal tattoo artist would step in and give us the ‘Seal of Silence’. This was a small tattoo of our choosing that would be placed on our palm, just below our thumb. The ink used in this tattoo was enchanted and meant to keep us from talking about anything involving the different tests of the competition, as well as anything that goes on in the Queeness Palace. After that they’d ask us a few questions about our families or ourselves before we were dismissed and allowed to return to our rooms.

The butler also said that we would be having dinner with the Crown Prince late since there were twelve of us, so snacks and treats would be prepared for those that would finish first. When he finished, he called out the first Noble Lady that would go into the Throne room, announcing the next in line so they would be prepared.

I chose to walk around the room while we waited, nibbling on the mini sandwiches that were provided. Ivy and Arden stayed close to me throughout the wait, making me laugh and relax as the hours ticked by. Eight women had been called by the time my feet started to ache from standing. A few Guards had even left and returned with chairs for the Lady’s. I was teasing my brother about being my personal fetch-boy when the butler came back in and called the next in line.

“Lady Delphia, please step forward.”

I dusted my hands and once again fixed my dress as we made our way to the butler, catching Rosanna’s bitter face as we passed. He smiled at us and turned, instantly leading the way. I felt a nervous flutter begin to spread across my stomach as we turned a corner, revealing a huge set of solid black double doors. They were painted with gold trim and had bright red door handles. Two Knights stood Guard on either side of the doors, nodding to us as the butler pulled the massive doors apart.

“Presenting her Ladyship, Amara Delphia of the Order of the Violet Wolves.” The butler’s voice boomed through the large room, surprising me with how loud this frail man could be, as well as how he had introduced me. “Daughter of the Grand Knight Diana Delphia and Duke Edwin Alpheus Du Pleasant.”

I stood frozen for a few too many seconds, wondering how anyone knew this information when I had only mentioned it a few moments ago. But once the shock passed I bowed, placing my fist over my heart along with my brother and Ivy. Once we straightened up we walked into the room and stopped in the middle of it, staring up at two grandiose Thrones and their occupants.

Her Majesty, Avelia Serene Fafner, was sitting to the right of the King and her Handmaid behind her throne. She was dressed in a beautiful white and black gown that was layered with twinkling sheer material. Her silver, opal studded crown rested perfectly on top of her strawberry blonde hair that was elegantly braided and resting over her left shoulder. Small flower shaped opal accents were scattered across her braid, surrounding her neck and adorning her wrists. Her soft hazel eyes looked us over as a tiny little smile curved the corners of her painted lips. She gave off an aura of calm and peace that helped put me at ease as we stood in silence.

His Majesty, Laroyna Drako Avinus Fafner on the other hand, was her exact opposite.

His ink black hair and deep red eyes were very distant and almost bored as his gaze weighed down on us. He was wearing an identical formal uniform like his son, who stood to his left. But his chest glistened with more medals than his younger look-alike, blinding me along with his solid gold crown. The largest ruby I had ever seen rested on his crowns center and little emeralds and diamonds snakes around the rest of it. His very presence was intimidating and fear-inducing, as if he were there to judge the very value of your soul before you moved onwards after death. And it didn’t help that his right hand was resting on the hilt of his still sheathed sword that was slowly twirling on its point by his boot.

“We welcome you, Lady Delphia, and wish you luck.” Her Majesty broke the silence, smiling warmly as she spoke. “I dare say, I never expected to have the daughter of a world renown Knight to become a candidate in this eagerly awaited competition.”

I bowed again and smiled back at her, feeling my heart race at the mention of my mother's achievements.

“You honor me with your words, Your Majesty.” I glanced quickly at the King, half-grateful that he hadn’t said anything. “And I thank you for your warm welcome.”

“I’m sure you’re well aware of the importance of this time honored tradition?” Hesitantly, I turned to face the King whose expression remained devoid of any emotion. “So I must ask you, why was your identity kept hidden from the rest of High Society? And why were you permitted to add your name among the other Lady’s of Noble birth, when you are just a half-bred Noble?”

I straightened my spine and refused to show fear as I looked at him, feeling that fire of defiance begin to burn within my chest.

“It was never our intention to hide who we are, or who our birth was.” I started, motioning to my brother who took a small step closer to me. “We were just children, left at the mercy of the Duke and his family after our mother was killed…. We held no power within the Dukedom, and since our basic needs for survival were being met, we had nothing more to ask of the Duke and Duchess.”

I knew that I was being stupid, protecting the the Duke and his wife from their due punishment by keeping their abuse hidden. But there were still innocent people within the Dukedom that weren’t of high status still living there. Families, servants, merchants and Knights that had shown my brother and I kindness as we grew up beneath the Duke’s thumb. The very city of Du Pleasant was filled with many Shifters who deserved to continue living a peaceful life. And if I was to bring up what had really happened within the walls of the estate, it would drag the entire city along with the Du Pleasant family. Things could even escalate to the point where the Duke himself could lose his title and someone else would be appointed as his replacement.

If that happened, who knows what the city would become? The new Duke could be a greedy, selfish man that would take the city and its people down with him. Or he could be a savage that would only seek to keep himself entertained, ignoring his responsibilities to the people who count on his protection. So no matter how much I would want to drag the Duke and Duchess through the mud for what they forced my brother and I to endure, I had to put those innocent people first. They were thriving under the Dukes care since he actually did what needed to be done and looked after his land.

I’ll bite my tongue this once. I thought to myself, waiting in tense silence as the King processed my words.

“Very well.” His Majesty’s words finally let me breathe, leaving my shoulder sagging a bit from the tension. “We will ask you a few questions about yourself and your family as you receive the Seal of Silence, as well as explain the rules and expectations we have for you as a Queeness.” He waved his hand as he spoke, glancing at the man in a pure white suit as he walked in. “Pay attention to what we say and make sure to rest your hand so that it may heal properly.”

I nodded while the man in white set up his things on a small desk that was pushed up against the wall. He filled his strange looking metal device with ink and slipped on a pair of white gloves that covered him up to the wrist.

Once he was ready he approached me and silently as for my hand as Her Highness began to speak, listing the rules one by one. I was confused at first as the man turned my hand and started to aim the needle, wondering if he was going to ask me what I wanted to have tattooed on me. But he just started working, piercing my skin while I fought to focus on the Queens words instead of the sting of the needle.

A Queeness must not incite a fight, verbal or physical in nature against another Queeness.

A Queeness must not leave her room unaccompanied unless absolutely necessary.

Sharing a night with the Crown Prince is permitted as long as he willingly chooses to stay.

If such a night comes to pass, the Queeness will later be visited by the Royal physician to prevent any unwanted accidents from occuring.

Cheating of any kind will not be tolerated, and punishment will befall those who choose to disobey.

Each event will be announced through a morning letter that will be delivered by a Palace maid that is escorted by Royal Knights.

There will be smaller, secret tests that will be monitored closely by those tasked to perform them, these results will be kept secret until an elimination is made.

At the end of every month a single candidate will be eliminated and she will be chosen by the results of that months’ tests.

When the Queen was finished listing the rules, His Majesty took over, asking me questions about my family. More specifically, my mother and the kind of childhood my brother and I had had.

It was easier to forget the stinging pain  of the needle then, losing myself in the memories of a happier time. I answered each question with a story of some kind, giggling every once in a while when I’d recall the silly things our mother used to do when we were upset. Arden even joined me, smiling at the ground as we reminisced about her. It felt very freeing to finally be able to speak her name and tell someone else how great our mother was. It was such a great feeling that made it impossible for me not to smile.

So great in fact, that I completely forgot who else was in the room.

I was only reminded of my silly faux pas when the man in white finished his work, wiping my hand clean with his glove. I didn’t even look down at the new piece of art that was now permanently on my skin, turning to look at the two silent dragons on their thrones. My face burned bright with embarrassment as I looked at the King and Queen, seeing their eyes focused on me as I stiffly stood there, unsure of what to do or say.

What surprised me the most was not the tender look that the Queen was gazing at me with, nor the warm look that the Crown Prince had. It was the amused and blissful expression that was all over His Majesty’s face. The distant and bored look was completely gone, replaced by his smile and the happy little glow that seemed to brighten his crimson eyes.

“Thank you, Lady Delphia.” He said, nodding slowly before waving towards the side door that the man in white had silently left through. “I look forward to our next meeting.”

“May the Light of the Night Bless you and your Beloved.” I bowed as I recited the Fafner Kingdoms words of goodwill, glancing at my brother and Ivy before turning to leave the throne room.

Comments (1)
goodnovel comment avatar
Bella Jersey
The royal family was thrilled most likely real people yay no fakes

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