A tale following the journey of Princess Sayumi of Feresat, as she fights to discover the secrets kept from her for her entire life, and set right the wrongs of the past. Written in 30 days, also the longest piece of writing I have written so far.
"As the old ones say: there is a young maiden, deceived of her birth, with an untold secret. When met by another, robbed of his blue, our thoughts will be heard, and evil ones will cringe by the maiden aided by Faerie."
Sayumi stared into the hazy sunset from her limestone balcony, and sighed heavily. All her life she had dreamed of the time when she would marry and ascend the throne of Feresat. But now that she was eighteen and had a couple suitors en route from their settlements, all she felt was uneasy and afraid. She smoothed her silky navy gown, the traditional dress worn by royal women who are eligible to be married. The flowing fabric was more comfortable than the obnoxious dresses the women in the neighboring kingdoms wore; they were supported by complex wire framework that stabbed into your sides every time you moved at all, and were so heavy the poor girls could hardly stand. Sayumi shuddered at the thought of being forced to wear such a contraption.
Her thoughts were interrupted by her younger sister, Rakelle, bursting into Sayumi's room shouting, “Sayumi!! Father wants to talk to you right now!” Sayumi sighed, then walked quietly up to her much more unruly sister and smiled at her. As Sayumi fixed her sister's hair, she replied, “Your behavior is not very ladylike, imagine if the Duchess of Westbrook saw such behavior!” They giggled together for a moment, then dashed down the corridor towards their father's study.
“Sayumi, we have received word that the firstborn son of the Duke of Marmelupe will arrive tomorrow. Now, as you know, the Duke is very well endowed as far as money is concerned, but there are a few... questionable rumors about him. We have no conformation as to the accuracy of the rumors, but I still suggest you proceed with caution.”
Sayumi nodded, then Rakelle pulled her out of the king's study with a jolt. Rakelle dragged her sister all the way through the castle and into the courtyard before she stopped to catch her breath. Sayumi gasped, “What the heck did you drag me all through the castle for?!”
Rakelle replied anxiously, “I have to warn you about this guy who's coming, son of the Duke of what's-his-face!” Sayumi blinked curiously, then murmured, “Go on,”
Rakelle took a deep breath and announced with a huff, “That brat apparently has been going and putting in a suit with every girl with any scrap of power. He is arrogant, and very untrustworthy. Father is very worried he is going to try to woo you, then he will take over the kingdom and be a horrible ruler. You remember what Father says about how when Grandfather ruled the kingdom was in shambles and everyone was ill and weak? We fear that could happen if you marry this idiot!”
Sayumi closed her eyes and put a hand on her sister's shoulder. “Rakelle, as Father said earlier these are just rumors and suspicions. We should at least give him a chance to prove himself worthy. When you are trying to find a husband, you will understand.”
Rakelle wrinkled her nose, and stared up at her sister with innocent blue eyes. Sayumi hugged her sister, not wanting her jealousy to show on her face. Rakelle was the embodiment of beauty; her eyes were blue like the sapphires on the king's crown, her hair golden as the sunrise. She was slender and pale, and dainty like a cherry blossom.
But Sayumi was very different. Her skin was tanned, like she spent all day in the fields with the servants. Her hair was black as night, and instead of wavy and thick, her hair was fine and straight, and was very hard to style because it was so smooth. Whenever she tried to pin it up in most ways, it just fell back down again. Needless to say this frustrated her to no end.
After the girls settled down for bed, Sayumi asked, “Hey Rakelle, will you be lonely if I get married?”
Rakelle scowled in her bed and replied, “Maybe a little, but you will still be in the castle, and you will still talk to me right? So we have nothing to worry about, I will always be your little sister.” As Sayumi started to drift into sleep, she wondered why that final statement made her heart ache.
The next morning, Sayumi was woken early and set to work putting the traditional style of makeup on her face: a touch of golden powder on her cheeks, and dark wispy eyeliner. She smiled at her reflection: she reminded herself of the faeries in stories that the royal family from the desert kingdom of Hetalia often told when they visited. She was just about to start on her hair when her sister burst in again. “Just put it in a braid and hurry, he will be here any minute now!! And whether you say yes or not, you want to look your best, he has connections!”
Sayumi rolled her eyes; its as though her sister actually thought she didn't think of that already. She quickly braided her hair, and tied it with a blue ribbon that matched her dress. She sighed, “Well, lets get this over with.”
The son of the Duke of Marmelupe, who's birth name was Eliah, didn't arrive until after noon. That left the whole royal assembly to go completely insane waiting for him. Rakelle undid and redid Sayumi's braid twenty times before Sayumi got aggravated and shooed her away. They had servants with telescopes on the roof, who shouted frantically when they saw Eliah and his knights approaching. Everything was perfect when he walked up the steps, and Sayumi felt her heart start to race: Eliah was very tall, even taller than the King. His dark blond hair was short and unruly, definitely not the fashion trend in Marmelupe. He wore a strange outfit: his trousers and shirt were black, with yellow and red trim on the hems. The Marmelupe crest was on the left side of his chest, depicting the famous slaying of the giant werewolf by the first Duke of Marmelupe (no one outside Marmelupe actually believed the tale, but Marmelupe really didn't have any other accomplishments to boast of so everyone let it go). He gazed at her with his emerald eyes, and a shiver crept up her spine.
He announced in a commanding voice, “Please excuse my tardiness, we were held up by a dispute between some locals, and we refused to leave until it was resolved.” Rakelle rolled her eyes, and Sayumi jabbed her sister in the ribs. Eliah smirked and continued, “But allow me to introduce myself. I am Eliah, son of the Duke of Marmelupe. I have come to inquire after Sayumi, princess of Feresat.” He walked towards Sayumi, and she almost wanted to shrink and hide in the cracks in the floor. He took her right hand, and to her surprise, he kissed it and smiled gently at her. “It is a pleasure to meet you, my princess.” Sayumi tried to keep up her cool and confident appearance, but she felt her cheeks grow hot under his gaze, and she waited nervously for someone to say something.
After an incredibly awkward dinner where Sayumi was forced to sit next to Eliah, Sayumi was desperate to escape the piercing gaze of this strange man. He frightened her, but mostly because he caused her to act very strangely, and she couldn't figure out why. She went to great lengths to ensure her solitude in the garden, and she sat underneath the fruit tree in the garden. She stared up at its branches, which hadn't produced any fruit in her lifetime. She wondered what kind of fruit it would produce. “It looks like a very overgrown sugarplum tree.” Sayumi yelped and whirled around to see Eliah standing behind the tree, watching her curiously. He laughed and walked around so she could see him.
Now more flustered than she had been before, Sayumi looked away from him and muttered, “Sugarplum trees don't exist. They are things you tell children about to get them to go to sleep. This is just a stupid tree that doesn't produce any fruit.”
He laughed again, and replied shocked, “Oh princess, sugarplum trees are the most beautiful trees of all! I can assure you they exist, just the same as brownies come and play pranks on my knights when they forget to leave them treats on their windowsills!”
“Now you've lost it. I assume you believe in witches and warlocks too, and that witches can summon centicorns to ride into treacherous land and battles!” Sayumi smirked. Surely no one would believe such foolishness.
“... Meaning you don't?” Sayumi stared at him in awe. He looked genuinely shocked and confused. Sayumi exclaimed, “You can't be serious! Those are just tales spun by people with too large of imaginations. There is no proof of their existence, how do you know they are real?”
Eliah smiled and a faraway look crossed his face, and his expression became hard for a moment. “The proof of their existence is in the annual witch hunts my father holds for his domain. Every year a score of people are burned at the stake for 'witchcraft', and sometimes while they scream their final words, I have caught glimpses of centicorns peeking through the forest, wishing they could help their familiars. And during last year's hunt, we found one young warlock from Repremendant who not only wasn't killed, he escaped by flying. It is the strangest sight in the world to see a person sailing on the wind like a bird, and also the most wrong.” His eyes filled with hate and jealously for a moment, but quickly faded and he smiled at her again and added, “But that is such a depressing topic, care to take a stroll with me?”
After a brief stroll with Eliah (semi-reluctantly), she found herself not only repelled by him, but equally drawn to him. She feared him, but was curious about him. He made her so confused, but was there a reason? As far as she could see, the rumors weren't true, so why should she fear him? She shook her head and walked swiftly to her room, avoiding all human contact very carefully, not wanting anyone to see her so frazzled.
The next morning, Sayumi stayed in bed uncharacteristically late. She desperately wanted to just hide in the covers and forget the handsome face of Eliah, but she just couldn't get him off her mind. Am I in love with him? After such a brief time? The thought jolted her out of bed instantly. She muttered to herself, “No, that's impossible. Don't jump to conclusions, you could just have a bit of a fever, that must be it! Yes, you are a bit sick. That's the reason.” Sweat beaded on her brow, and she quickly wiped it away. She sighed heavily, and got dressed quickly to search for the comforting ear of her younger sister.
“So, that's the situation. I'm so confused right now, do you have any insight?”
Rakelle wrinkled her brow. “I still can't figure out why Mother never told you any of this. This is important knowledge for a princess.” She sighed. “From my outside view on the situation, you are very attracted to him. And if you aren't careful, you could fall in love with him. Now it looks like the rumors about him aren't true, but I still don't trust him. So if you fall in love with him I will support you but I will make sure he keeps in line, okay?” Rakelle flexed her muscles and added with a goofy grin, “I'll beat him into 'Eliah flour' if he does anything stupid!”
Sayumi burst out into hysterical laughter, and hugged her sister tightly, forgetting any misgivings she had about her younger sister's judgment. Rakelle smiled, glad to know she could ease her sister's mind a little. Suddenly, a flustered servant burst in and announced, “Eliah of Marmelupe requests the presence of Princess Rakelle immediately!”
Rakelle stared at the servant, her expression displaying utter bewilderment. Then the servant bowed politely and left just as swiftly as he came. Rakelle asked her sister, still looking just as confused as before, “What the heck would that idiot want with me?”
Sayumi shrugged, and replied, “You should go see, and if its anything bad don't hesitate to run away screaming.” Rakelle laughed as she left to see what Eliah had summoned her for.
Sayumi waited patiently for Rakelle to return, wondering the whole time if she should be worried by Eliah's sudden interest in her sister. A hint of jealousy pricked her heart, and she tapped her foot in impatience. After another ten minutes or so, Rakelle opened the door gently, and slipped in quietly. Sayumi stared at her: Rakelle always burst in, so this was a new habit for her. Sayumi asked, “What did he say?”
Rakelle looked around, as if to see someone crouching, listening in the shadows. When she was satisfied there was no one, she murmured in Sayumi's ear, “He asked if its seemed too soon to propose to you.” Sayumi's eyes widened, and she exclaimed, “You aren't serious!” Rakelle stared at her sister with unwavering confidence.
Sayumi started pacing around the room, trying to wrap her head around his way of thinking. She thought he would want to court her for at least a month before proposing, but he had only just met her yesterday! Rakelle watched her sister pace around the room, and added, “You know, I think you should say yes.” Sayumi stopped dead in her tracks, turned her head slowly to look at her sister, and waited for an explanation.
“Well, think about it. He seems to care about you, and from what I hear, all the other suitors are either incredibly old, or completely arrogant and stuck up... or really ugly. I think this could be the best you're gonna get. Besides, he's filthy rich!” Rakelle added thoughtfully, “He's even somehow managed to get on Father's good side. Besides, I'm sure we can keep him in line!”
Sayumi thought for a moment. On one hand, she could refuse him, and never see a man as handsome or rich as him ever again. On the other, she could marry him and when her father steps down inherit the kingdom and they could become a good king and queen. Or at least decent, there was no way she would let him become a tyrant. Marrying him seemed like the best option, and she felt her heart flutter a bit at the thought of marrying Eliah. She muttered to herself, “I wonder if Mother felt like this before father proposed to her.” Rakelle shrugged, and excused herself to go wander off somewhere.