She was right, of course. Nothing good did come from that arrangement for, as soon as the captured parties had been brought to the stage, the queen tapped her wine glass and signaled for silence. A hush fell over the crowd, all eyes on them. Kya wanted to die of embarrassment.
"Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please," the queen requested, "We have a very special announcement to make this evening. In fact, this ball is a celebration of it. An engagement has been made. And tomorrow at noon Princess Kya Kvoz will marry Prince Zolan Aserday of Melawja."
The queen beamed first at the applauding crowd, then at her daughter. The king smiled benevolently, as if he had just done someone a huge favor. The fat prince looked her up and down with hungry eyes. He was practically drooling. Kya simply stood with her mouth hanging open in shock. This was the reason why they neglected to punish her this morning, tonight was her engagement party. Her stomach seemed to drop and churn at the same time and suddenly she felt sure she would throw up.
Drawing a deep breath and putting her hand over her mouth, Kya quickly ducked off the platform and into one of the side rooms. She rushed past the people, pushing them out of the way with as much force as necessary. She tripped, she stumbled like her soon-to-be husband in a dance but finally, she made it to a staircase. Kya sat down heavily on the top step and simply stared down the dark corridor in shock. And then, without ever making any conscience decision to, she began to cry. Tears streamed down her cheeks, which she promptly wiped away. She couldn't remember the last time she cried.
Suddenly, a dark figure appeared in at the bottom of the stairs. Kya leapt up and prepared to run but the figure just leaned against the wall, presumably looking up at her.
"Congratulations on your up coming marriage. I'm sure you'll just adore Prince Zolan once you get to know him. And I think he only snores most of the time now so you'll-"
"You knew!" Kya snapped at what could only be Nero, "You knew this was going to happen tonight."
Try as she might, she couldn't say any more, so choked with tears was she. She sat down on the step again and dissolved into sobs like she hadn't does since she was a little girl. His joking was like salt in a fresh wound and she didn't want to hear it. Silently, he climbed the stairs and sat down next to her.
"I'm sorry," he said, all traces of joking gone now, "I didn't mean to make you cry."
"It's alright," Kya said, as she finally regained control of herself and stopped the tears, "I was crying before you showed up."
They both remained silent for a moment with one big question hanging between them and Kya felt obligated to ask it.
"So this pirate crew of yours, where do I sign up?"
"Now that's what I'm talking about! Let's get out of here."
He jumped to his feet and she followed close behind. Despite everything, his smile was infectious and she found herself smiling back. The feeling was immediately offset when Kya took a step down the stairs and Nero took a step up.
"Where are you going?" she asked, "The door is this way."
"Yes, but the ship is this way," he said, pointing upwards, "It's a flying pirate ship, remember."
"Right, I knew that." But Nero was already laughing.
"Not so smart after all?"
"Ha Ha. Laugh it up cause-"
"There she is!" boomed a voice at the bottom of the stairs. The guards sent, no doubt, to make sure she wasn't lost had found their quarry.