Chapter 17

 

She sat silently in her stool as handmaids sent directly from the palace hustled to make her perfect, fingers aflurry in their brisk dance of tool and hair and fabric. She stared blankly at her mirrored reflection like she would stare at the painted features of some distant ancestor - as many times as she had been through such a routine as this, she felt so far away. Where was Cassandra? She had left the girl at home with Sam and the horses, the flowers and the garden. She had graduated that life and left her spirit at home. Here was the hollow shell of a woman to be paraded around before Navarn as a brainless, heartless beauty. It did not matter to any of them who she really was, the child she had abandoned, the love she had left in Giddeon. She was a stitch in their royal symbolism - meaning just as much as she meant to her emotionless father.

With nothing else to think about, she wondered whether Giddeon was to be there for her arrival. She reguritated all the earlier thoughts of him in their typical cycle. Was he so cruel as to play such games with her heart? Did he really love her? Then why would be tell her he did not so wickedly? Did he still feel friendship for her? If he did, it did not matter to her. Whatever his intentions, he used her and threw her away, with it her regard and her friendship. Even if he was there, it did not matter. Why, it was likely she was to see him often in this new life of hers - after all, Navarn was his home and, from what she presumed, he was a frequenter of the capital and its lavish court. She would treat him with the cool, collected manner that was warranted of a Queen over a court - no more or no less of that disconnected curt courtesty that was to become her everyday persona.

Finally complete, she stood fully before the mirror. She did look exceptionally pretty. But unreal. Perhaps it was just where her head was at, but to her, she was a powdered, pinned flawless doll to be played with and used at one's discretion. Her eyes, her heart, were lost among the rose blush and the rich silk.

She looked away from her reflection to the window, where morning's first light colored the sky. It was to be the first morning of this new life of a woman who was Cassandra only in name.

 

{~}

 

She proceeded gravely down Evermore's winding staircase, careful not to step on the fabric of her long gown. Waiting below was her equally groomed entourage, at their head the house's master, Lord Ian, with his young wife at his side, and the Princess' travel acquaintance, Lord Nather - all watching her from below with wide, waiting eyes.   

The Princess first came to Lord Ian, where she offered him a low cursty and a gracious "Thank you," for allowing her this stay in his magnificient home. Next, she approached Lord Nather, expectedly waiting him to customarily take her arm and guide her to their shared carriage. Though he simply smiled, flourishing a deep, unnecessary bow.

"This is where we part for now, Your Highness," he explained formally. "From here we ride separately. As this marks the beginning of your busiest days, there will be little probability of meeting our private company once again." He took her hand, gazing warmly into her eyes before he softly kissed it. "Best of fortunes, Princess." 

Even if it seemed they had become fast friends, they still knew little of the other. Still, Cassandra felt a little tearful at this separation - she had enjoyed his friendship thoroughly, liked the man very much, and now had to enter onto the chaos of the El'burin court alone. She knew she would have to do it by herself all along, but there was always that whimsical hope. And facing it head on, without the aid of another, was more frightening than ever.

From there, wasting no further time, she was escorted by her royal guard - garbed in their finest dress - to her cleaned carriage and shining horses, where she and her bulbous trail of skirts were handed in. Her heart skipped a beat as they closed the door, the horses soon jostling off toward El'burin, pulling her towards the palace and her ultimate fate just beyond.

The End

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