Just as I expected, the guard barely noticed me. I resisted the urge to hit him and kept my fake smile glued to my face. Adeline took my hand and led me into the hall to await our fate. The hall was just as I remembered it, having not visited it many times in my eighteen years. Adeline was at home in this hall, she spent most of her time in it learning from my father. Even Father preferred Adeline.
Decorated with lush reds and sparkling golds, the hall looked like its own personal sun. Adeline only improved that image. The two of us walked hand in hand to where our father sat in his dark wooden throne, a deep red robe draped around his shoulders. Father was not an old man but he was hardly young. And he was a tired man. He hid it well, much like my own sadness, but the effects started to show on his face. He gave Adeline a smile and sent a smaller one in my direction.
"My daughters... How did you grow up so quickly? It seems as if only yesterday you were just babies, crawling through the palace and causing trouble" he said with a smile tinted with memory, "But, now that the two of you have reached womanhood the matter of my succession comes to light. Adeline, your thirst for knowledge has shaped you in to a fine young woman with intelligence beyond her years. And Marian, your strong will and determination have shaped you into a headstrong young woman, much like your mother. So this decision was not made easily".
One of Father's servants presented him with a small wooden box which he took and stood from his throne. Father walked over to Adeline and I, the small box balancing on his palms. Once he stood in front of us, he opened to box and removed a thin silver chain. Hanging on the end of the chain was a silver leaf that curled around to hold a small amber stone in place. The Solstice Sphere.
"But I have decided that Adeline should succeed me after I pass" Father said, putting the necklace around Adeline's thin neck.
I gave Adeline a smile when she grinned at me, fighting to hold back the disappointment and resentment. Of course Adeline would get the throne, I'd known that. But part of me had hoped. The Court, who had been silent until now, erupted into cheers. Would they have done that had I gotten the throne? No, they would have booed and demanded Adeline be the crown princess. I clenched my teeth at the sounds of their celebration and stared at my father.
"What of me, Father?" I asked, barely covering the hate in my voice.
"Not now, Marian" Father said quickly before turning back to Adeline.
The Court, the peasants and now my own father... The anger in me spilled over. "Look at me!" I shouted, barely being heard over the Court's celebration.
"Marian?" Father asked, a little embarrassed of my behaviour.
"Do I not matter? I turned eighteen today as well, you know! All my life it's always been "Adeline this" and "Adeline that". Well I'm sick of it! I hope your beloved Adeline drops dead. No, she can have the throne. But I hope she never marries, never produces an heir. Then where will you be?" I shouted, feeling some of the anger pour out of me.
Father and Adeline looked hurt. The Court just looked shocked. "I'm sorry" I said quietly, realising what I'd done. I was supposed to be good at hiding things, how did that happen?
"Marian, I think it might be best if you return to your quarters" Father said quietly before turning back to the Court.
I slipped away without a word.