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6. Wedding Preparations

The morning sun shone through the library's arched stained-glass windows. The  stunning glass shards were in shades of browns and orange sending an even warmer glow through the large hall. From one end you could not see the other, rows and rows of dark cherrywood bookshelves covered the entire room, with certain areas left open for tables made of the same dark cherrywood and some chairs. Each table had a light at the centre. Chandeliers in browns and orange crystals hung from the ceiling spread out in rows  casting their glow around the entire area. Along the shelves hung the occasional bracket of lights.

The floor in between the shelves had long strips of woven mats in deep blue and right at the back of the library was the silver metal wall  that reached the ceiling. It was this wall that separated the restricted area from the main library. It towered rather high, more than three-quarters of the way to the ceiling. 

Layana shivered as she looked at the centre of that wall from where she sat, the small door set in the thick metal was chained shut. There was only one way in, and that was to climb over the high wall. Something she needed to brave to retrieve a book her sister Cordelia the second princess desired. It was common for Layana to sneakily break the rules for her. 

She had come here on the pretence of getting  some of her punishment written up. The truth was she wanted to store some items she needed for later when she would have to attempt to climb that wall. It was a little more than risky but the only one that guaranteed her not getting caught, with  a little assistance of course. 

She spent another hour there doing some of the dreaded essay. Her slender fingers were sore and blistering. It was a lot of writing, but she was glad she had spoken up, Queen Myra needed to learn she could not bully them all. 

She sighed softly as she gathered her papers, glancing around when she saw no one near having chosen a quieter area of the library. 

She could still hear the distant hum of people conversing silently, the occasional book dropping onto the floor and the rare sound of someone speaking louder than they should.

Standing up she picked up the small bundle she had bought hidden under her cloak and going to a shelf lifted out three books. She shoved the small bundle behind before replacing the books, although  they now stuck out a little. But it would do, glancing around she hugged her papers to her chest and exited the library, chin held high. 

She wondered what time it was, queen Azalea had requested to speak to the princesses before lunch.

The sound of a distant bell that went off every hour during the day let  her know it was already noon, which meant she was late. 

Oh no! she thought as she glanced around the hallway hurrying up as much as possible without breaking into a run. She prayed that no one who would report back to Queen Myra had seen her.

 

She made her way through the spacious halls that she had grown up in, not noticing the looks from the younger male apprentices. She looked breathtakingly ravishing, but they looked away quickly not daring to be spotted lusting over the princess.

It was no secret that most young men would love to bed the young princess who was soon to come of age. They may keep their opinions secret that no elder or the king heard but if the princess was not so tightly kept hidden away she  would surely have had many suitors. 

Layana reached queen Azalea’s quarters slightly out of breath, her chest rising and falling as she knocked. She entered  the drawing-room once the guards at the door opened the door for her.

“Layana,” Azalea said relieved to see her. Layana curtsied to her.

“Forgive me mother for my tardiness, I was working on my punishment and lost track of time,” she said as her sisters all looked at her, Cordelia shook her head and Terania was noticeably pale.

This room was similar to the princesses drawing room but in shades of greens and soft blues. The queen and her sisters sat  gracefully, the table between them holding fruit and a pitcher of juice

“It is fine, however, if it was your father or queen Myra this would not be acceptable,” Azalea said coughing lightly. She  covered her mouth and her personal maid who stood to the side hurried forward to grab the queen a glass of water. Azalea smiled at her and accepted it, “I'm a little under the weather,” she said once she had cleared her throat. 

“Mother make sure you have some herbal tea, it will help with the cough,” Cordelia said helpfully. Azalea nodded as she turned to the girls once more.

“Now, there  are several things that we need to go through, I was just telling these three that I have prepared you all a list of things you must have prepared and ready before the end of the month.”

Layana looked at the scrolls on the table and then at her sisters' unsure what was happening

“We all need an entire new wardrobe for the wedding celebration,” Aurelia whispered to her. “Twenty-five dresses each. Daywear, evening wear, everything,”

“For an engagement is that not a bit much?” Layana asked confused

“If you came on time Layana you would know why,” Cordelia said, making Layana pout as she  had been in the library for her. “The thing is, that not only has the engagement moved forward but the wedding itself will happen within a month,” Cordelia finished, her strong confident voice loud and clear making Layana’s eyes fly open in shock. She looked  at Terania who was sat there tight-lipped. 

“But why, why the sudden rush? Is something going on?” she asked, a small frown on her face.

“No dear, it’s just your father wishes not to delay any longer. At  Terania’s age both Myra and I were mothers,” Azalea said gently as Layana stood up and walked over to Terania, placing her arm around her. The elder girl was trembling and Layana knew that the news of her engagement being pushed earlier had shaken her, and now this must have shocked her even more so. She caressed her sisters back wishing she could do more to ease her troubled mind.

“Terania will be assisted by queen Myra herself to prepare for the wedding and all the correct traditions. The rest of you are to have lessons with Lady Miranda to prepare for your sister’s wedding,” Azalea said.

She knew  the king wished to speak to both Cordelia and Layana about their futures too. After all, Cordelia was already eighteen and Layana would turn eighteen in a mere few weeks. 

“Your father is busy with a council meeting for the entirety of the afternoon however he has requested us to join him for dinner. Two particularly important guests arrived yesterday, and he had made it clear that you are all to be on  your best behaviour,” 

The queens’ eyes flickered to Layana who pouted seeing this, 

“Who are the guest's mother?” Cordelia asked

“Lord Aren of House Silver Mountain and Declan of House Storm,” Azalea said unsure why the sole heir to House Storm was not addressed as Duke.

“House Storm?” Cordelia asked her eyes wide, “From that cursed house…”

“Cordelia! He is an honoured guest of your fathers,” Azalea said as Cordelia nodded bowing her head in apology,

“I understand mother…. But… House Storm was wiped from our kingdoms noble houses was it not? Surely there was a reason why it is no longer even talked about,” 

“Regardless of the fact it is not in the books, your father has never removed it from the official dukedoms,” Azalea said, “You will show him every respect you show Lord Aren,”

Cordelia nodded although she did not agree with her mothers’ view.

“Please remember your manners, for my sake, all of you,” Azalea said gently, and Layana pouted knowing when the queen used that card, she for one could not disobey her. She loved Azalea dearly and even though the woman did not give birth to her, she was her mother. She nodded, silently promising that she would behave well.

“Yes mother,” Cordelia said smiling eloquently as she tossed her long brown locks slightly. 

“Who knows these men might be so very handsome,” Aurelia teased Cordelia knowing the brunette loved to meet handsome eligible young men every chance she got 

“Behave,” Cordelia scolded her as the  royal women all stood gracefully, each lost in their own thoughts.

Terania worrying about her upcoming marriage. Layana about her night-time adventure in search of the forbidden book Cordelia wanted and how to cheer Terania up and Cordelia wondering if this Lord Aren would be handsome, after all, she did not care for House Storm.

'Layana…' a whispering voice sounded behind her, making the hair at the nape of her neck rise. She turned suddenly scanning the room, her heart hammering, what was that?

“Layana come,” Terania called and Layana nodded, perhaps she had just imagined it, she shivered as she stepped out of the room allowing the door to shut behind her…

-----

Declan made his way through the palace halls after his training session with Aren, needing a bath and perhaps a drink. If there was one thing he appreciated about Ehlesaar it was its fine wine. He sighed inwardly wishing he could get rid of any thought to do with the woman in his mind. He walked without even caring for anyone around him. Ignoring the looks he received from several women.

He frowned as he saw a woman up ahead, blocking off the hall, flanked by two guards and a maid. Probably one of the princesses, Declan thought, a thought that was confirmed when two women curtsied to the brunette. As he glanced at her, he completely disagreed with Aren who had said all the princesses were beautiful, this one was nothing special in any way. She had straight brown hair, large grey eyes, a slender build with curves far less than her sister. He frowned pushing Layana from his mind, this princess was just a standard Ehlesian beauty. He continued on his walk ignoring the woman and her entourage making to pass by her.

Cordelia felt her heart skip a beat when she saw the handsome man approaching, a deep brooding frown on his face, his dark eyes so dark she wondered if they were fully black, curious to what they were like up close. His slight facial hair made him look even more appealing and his chin-length hair was slick wet, it was clear from the swords in hand, and the dirt on his pants that he had been training. But even sweaty and dirty he looked beyond godlike. Her stomach fluttered wondering who he was, surely if he was one of the warriors would he not live in the barracks? She had never seen a man who had looked so enticing as the one before her. She squared her shoulder waiting for him to stop and bow but instead, he ignored her and walked past her. Had he not seen her tiara?

“That man-” she began as her guard frowned

“Sire! This is princess Cordelia, please show your respect!” one of the men called loudly, Declan stopped his eyes cold as he looked ahead not turning back.

“Oh it's ok, may I know your name though my lord,” Cordelia said in a voice softer than her usually stronger tone.

“No, you may not. And I bow to no one,” Declan said arrogantly, his voice as cold and dangerous as the darkest storm.

“Sir that’s-!” the guard tried as Declan simply walked off,

“It's alright, it’s perfectly alright…” Cordelia said a small smile crossing her lips. This man had caught her attention and she would find out who he was, surely he must belong to some nobility house if he resided within the palace, but she already knew the noble knights in the centre army who resided at the palace. Perhaps he was a visitor.

She licked her lips without even realising it, her grey eyes clouded with a sudden infatuation for the man who had not even spared her a second glance. She turned and continued on her way.

“Anakin, please find out who that was, I do not want you to say anything to anyone, but just find out his name,” she said waving at him to leave. He bowed low

“Yes your highness,” he said bowing before leaving swiftly to do his princesses bidding.

Comments (8)
goodnovel comment avatar
Lenie Bermejo
so far okay but hope this will clear soon
goodnovel comment avatar
Tina Maria Price
got me hooked
goodnovel comment avatar
Darshan Shah
So wonderful story ......
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