Thirteen Years Later…
Bronwen searched through an old trunk looking for a discarded dress of one of the older princesses. The garment still had usable fabric perfect for cannibalizing. If memory served, and little escaped her recollection, Princess Anora’s castoff gown matched Princess Amara’s perfectly. It was amazing that the youngest was now to celebrate her thirteenth year. Where had the time gone? With all the activity going on, Bronwen took it upon herself to make sure Amara’s dress was the loveliest at the ball. Her eyes began to mist thinking that this task should have been the queen’s, but she shook her head. She refused to let sadness to take root in any part of this day.
Rummaging through the trunk, she found more discards. Other dresses, faded and dried flowers, and a multitude of old dancing slippers padded the bottom. She clicked her tongue, fishing out the sought after dress and then closed the lid gently. What would she do with those girls?
“I really should tell them to be more careful. If anyone knew where they went…”
“And where do they go, Bronwen?” asked smooth and silky voice. Bronwen started and instinctively sat down on the top of the trunk. She could feel the heat from a banked fire warm her backside. Clutching the fabric to her chest, she regarded the intruder.
“Who said anyone goes anywhere? What do mean by sneaking up on old woman about their own business?” she asked with a sneer. The intruder merely raised an eyebrow and walked further into the room. His eyes swept languidly across the scene in front of him.
“All that goes on in this kingdom is my business, or have you forgotten that I have the ear of the king?” he asked willing a confrontation.
“More like the soul of our king. And I would find that more impressive if I didn’t have the ear of the queen,” she replied looking towards the ground. The tears that had threatened earlier were coming to the surface, but she wouldn’t let them fall in front of this odious man.
“And where is she now? My sister has been gone these 10 years and most likely dead. At least I think of her as such,” he said. Her head snapped up at that remark as he knew it would. Goading her was just a perk, but her evasiveness made him curious. “What are doing?”
“None of your concern, Uriel. I’m merely making sure the Princess has her gown ready for the birthday festivities. Shouldn’t you be in council?”
“Yes I should, but I was sent to find Princess Mariana. Do you know where she’s gotten to?” asked Uriel watching Bronwen’s face very carefully. He knew the old woman was hiding something, but her face betrayed nothing. Her hands however were worrying the fabric.
“Try the rose gardens or the sword room. My lady has a penchant for all things sharp,” she replied noting his attention. Abruptly she put the fabric down, but did not rise.
“Of course. And by the way, perhaps we’ve overtaxed you with duties. You shouldn’t have to mend dresses when those lower than you could. I’ll take it upon myself to find you a useful girl to help with menial tasks,” he said over his shoulder as he went in search of the king’s eldest. Bronwen had a keen mind and knew that anyone Uriel gave her would be more spy than helper. Rising slowly from the chest, she emptied it of all the tattered and torn dancing shoes. Stoking the fire, she threw them all in and hoped Uriel hadn’t seen them.