I couldn't deny I was nervous about using magic in front of King Percival, his father had banned it after all. But I did, and now he was safe. A pity really, considering his family's view on magic. But then, much to my surprise as I stood in the fading light, he gratefully bowed and invited me back to the castle.
By the time we had made it back to the castle wall, I was growing nervous. What if this was all some ploy to have me executed, saviour or no saviour? But then I looked at the young King and decided he had an honest face, although he looked nothing like what I had expected. I thought he would be severe and serious, but his face seemed to be used to laughing, and his eyes sparkled like emeralds. He caught me watching his face, and I stared steadily back at him, until we both looked away embarrassed. I hid my face behind the hood of the green cloak I wore, and looked towards the light I could see from the courtyard. Fires burned in torches, and already servants had appeared, anxious for their masters health. The King brushed them off, while I thanked the young man who offered to take my cloak, but declined, prefering to keep it until I was sure what I was doing here. The King asked one of the servants to show me to a guest room, bowed and asked me to join him for dinner at the banquet. I nodded graciously, but still did not speak a word. As I turned to follow the servant, the King called to me.
"What is your name?" I turned and watched him smile.
"Ella," I said softly "Ella Vadrini."
"Thank you, Ella Vadrini."
He smiled and then I turned and followed the servant to a beautiful room, with a huge white bed and a closet full of gowns of every colour.
"This closet is at your disposal. They are the spare gowns for Princess Agatha, and should suit you well."
"Thank you...what did you say your name was?"
"My name is Derreck my lady."
"Thank you Derreck."
When he left I turned to the closet. This I was not expecting. I searched through the dresses until I found a beautiful green dress, with gold stitching. It was made from velvet, and was the simplest of all the dresses. I undressed, then dressed again. I smoothed the gown over my hips. It really was beautiful. I stared at myself in the mirror. I never thought much of my appearance, even though I had always got plenty of attention from men, but in this dress I felt I looked at least decent. I brushed through my hair and sighed. That would have to do. I looked longingly at the leather outfit I wore when fighting, with its free trousers that would shock any woman at this court. I only wished I could wear it, but I knew it would never be accepted. I swivelled and stared critically at myself in the mirror again. Well, I hoped I would not disgrace the court.
There was a knock at the door. Derreck entered, faltered when he saw me, then struggled to speak.
"Uh..uhm, it is time for the feast, my lady."
"Thank you Derreck." I gave him a warm smile. "Could you take me there? I'm afraid I don't know where it is." He bowed and led me through several corridors until we arrived at a pair of enourmous engraved doors. He bowed and left, staring back at me as he did so. Perhaps I did not look so bad then. The guards at the enterance threw open the doors and I entered the enourmous hall beyond. All eyes turned, and were upon me.
I stepped up to the highest table, and curtseyed to King Percival.