Kalliope let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding and hurried towards the guards to bend down so Alexander, her little brother, could take a skin of his own. He always liked to her carry things, whether it was a pile of dirt from a flower bed or extra pieces of pie they stole at night. Mother often yelled at her, claiming that they had staff to do the carrying for them. The guards began walking towards the market district again, surrounding the three of them safely in the middle.
“What did that man want?” inquired Alynn.
“He was trying to help me find Aeron,” answered Kalliope quickly. She didn’t wish to bother young children with worrisome thoughts.
“I didn’t know he was holding a speech tonight,” Kalliope told her sister as they turned on to the main road that would get them to their destination.
“Stop playing with that Alexander!” she giggled at her brother.
Alynn only rolled her eyes and smiled as Kalliope took the skin away and gave her brother a scone from her satchel. Although Alexander was only two years younger than his sister, he was incredibly childish. While Alynn dutifully went to her singing, stitching and etiquette lessons, Alexander sneaked out of the Castle to play in the gardens with Kalliope, who was never given any obligations apart from not embarrassing her new royal family. They heard the crowd before they saw it. The usually already uncomfortably loud and full market square was now so tightly packed with people that Kalliope feared a few might be squeezed to death, and even more people were trying to force theirselves closer to the stage at the far end of the plaza. Their guards were having a hard time muscling their way through the masses, and even being incredibly tall and strong didn't help a lot with the fact that even though some people saw them coming through, the others didn't and so didn't make space. The princess and her siblings were squashed between their guards while slowly advancing to the front and passed quite a few people with bloody noses, who kalliope guessed were victims of their escort's incredibly short temper. After what felt like an eternity the group finally broke through the last of the onlookers and passed a few heavily guarded men who squared off the steps to the stage and the stands for the royals and important guests. In the middle of the blissfully uncrowded space stood King Leander being yelled at by Prince Aeron, whose face was a dark shade of red that made Kalliope wonder if her ointment might have helped.
"- don't love her! Leila of The Southern Islan-"
" No! You have no say in this!" Replied the king in an equally agitated voice. "You will do as I command! I chose her wisely and you will not question me!" The king spun around and was taken by surprise to see that his youngest had witnessed his uncharacteristic outburst, but composed himself back to the calm and professional ruler he was known to be.
"You will do as I command." He said over his shoulder to Aeron whose hands were now trembling.
" Yes father" he said curtly through gritted teeth, and closed his eyes to regain his calm. With that the king waved his hand and was promptly surrounded by his guard.
"Alyssa, Alexander come with me. Kalliope-" his eyes went down to the dusty sheep skins she clutched in her arms "- stop picking up after the peasants." The princess opened her mouth to respond but the king had already turned to walk to his seat. He always did this. Kalliope watched her little siblings hurry to their father with their guards, leaving her alone behind the stage. Aeron was walking up the steps to deliver his speech when Kalliope caught up to him and asked him to wait. There were only two more steps until he was on stage, but people could already see them and evidently started cheering. Aeron glared at her. It probably wasn't the best time for it but Kalliope wanted everyone to see her effort and recognize that she was a good girl.
" I- I made these for you" she stammered,gesturing to what she held in her arms. "It will be hot and the sun will be shining and I know skin will burn but this will help I made it myself and-" she was cut off by Aeron who slapped the skins out of her hands onto the floor. Kalliope looked down and saw that one had burst and was now oozing a foul smelling goo on the hem of her dress. The people were still cheering.
" I will be fighting a vicious dragon and you are worried of the sun burning me?!" He yelled in her face. Now the crowd quieted down a bit to hear what was happening.
"Do you think your stupid trick will help me when that dragon is roasting me alive?"
People were now hushing each other to hear every word. Kalliope could hear the blood rushing through her head.
"But I just wanted to..." She said with a quivering voice.
"What? Waste my time? I have enough to worry about without you silly little girl!" He screamed.
Aeron had never yelled at her like this. A few people were now snickering.
"Go away, I have important things to do," said her brother and took the last two steps to stand on stage, causing the crowd burst into cheers once again.