“Maryanne, add another curl to the left side and more pins to the right to lift it better,” Kiana ordered scrutinizing her image in the mirror in front of her.
“Yes M’Lady,” Maryanne sighed stretching her tired fingers and reached for another pin.
‘Kiana!” The door flew open and a disheveled young women ran in tripping inelegantly on the carpet before she reached the vanity.
“Emmaline,” Kiana smiled. “I long to hear what you rushed in here to thrust upon me with all the enthusiasm in the world, however.”
“However, you simply must wait until the reflection of the mirror shows your best appearance.” Emmaline interrupted her sisters voice with a grin. “It is good that you always feel you have time to look in the mirror but my dear sister. I must warn you if you spend your whole life looking in the mirror you will find one day you missed out on a world outside of it.”
“I would rather miss out on an hour of the world to look my best in it.” Kiana laughed lightly pushing her sister aside and motioning for her maid to continue with her hair.
“It is becoming more than an hour gone Kiana,” Emmaline sighed dramatically falling onto the fainting couch. “I wish to venture out into the market today and I need an escort.”
“Rather a problem easily solved alone wouldn’t you say,” Kiana rolled her eyes again motioning with her hands about some misplaced curl above her left eye.
“I am going about solving it myself,” Emmaline laughed sitting up. “I am inquiring after my most favorite companion to attend me. One that time and time again has saved me from certain scandalous encounters with unsavory rouges. A woman no more than two years my senior who has found herself not a year yet out in society. One who should show her face in a public place to better showcase her abundance of marriageable qualities to rich visitors.”
“You mean to sell me to the highest bidder I presume?” Kiana raised her eyebrows playing scandalized.
“Of course not,” Emmaline giggled throwing loose curls over her shoulder as they fell out of her once elegantly coiffed locks. “Simply to show them what they should be spending their vast fortunes on.”
“This plan of your’s does appear to have some entertaining qualities if I were to accompany you,” Kiana started. She laughed lightly as Emmaline jumped up with a squeal of delight. “On one condition, whilst I am gathering our parasols and coats you must have your hair fixed again. I cannot be seen with you and your unkempt curls bouncing along behind you like some ungoverned toddler. Maryanne will fix your hair, I suppose something simple will have to do with your hurry to leave. Emmaline do sit still for her it’s no wonder your hair likes to leave it’s place with the terrible example you set leaving your dressing stool while the maids try to tame you both.”
Kiana grinned as she left the room Emmaline’s boisterous laughter echoing down the halls as her feet seemed to glide roughly along the worn carpeted halls.
Looking down at the once pristine pattern brought to mind their dwindling fortune. The carpets weren’t the only thing in the manor that would benefit from her finding a rich suitor sooner rather than later.
Gathering two parasols, coats and some lavender lace gloves she stopped at a small mirror hanging in the hallway. Not a single hair was out of place and her lips, red as the roses in the palace gardens. Just as it should be.
“Kiana,” Emmaline appeared beside her startling her into the present. Emmaline laughed and grabbed her coat and parasol from her sisters arms as she spoke. “I was waiting a while in your room I thought I might find you admiring the decor in the hall.”
“I am a great admirer of the finer things in life,” Kiana murmured giving another glance to her reflection before her sister pulled her away.
“Sometimes I think you find your reflection time a little too seriously,” Emmaline sighed happily strolling through the front doors looping her arm through Kianas. “We can reflect on the past only as long as we plan to spend time fixing our mistakes we find there.”
“Quoting Grandfather now are we,”
“I have found that he is a good man to quote now and again.”
“So he is.”
Kiana found herself smiling reminiscing about the past as they walked along arm in arm it wasn’t long before they reached the market square. Though Kiana had wanted to take the carriage to the market it was too short a distance to justify the time it would take to hitch the horses and gather a coachman.
“In all your wool gathering did you happen upon where you last placed my white lace fan you borrowed last week?” Emmaline asked looking near a small boutique. “If you haven’t perhaps I should purchase a new one.”
“If we could afford for you to buy one of everything you have misplaced we would be royalty.” Kiana jested pulling her away from the fine fabrics.
“Speaking of Royalty isn’t that King Allistair?” Emmaline pointed to a tall man talking to a palace guard quietly.
“I believe it is,” Kiana gasped pulling Emmaline to the side of a small shop obstructing their view of him. “How do I look?”
“You know you look like utter perfection,” Emmaline assured her looking her up and down approvingly. “I was thinking more of a rich gentleman with a large inheritance would catch your eye, rather than the King if that’s what you are thinking of doing.”
“A King is only a gentleman with the largest of inheritances.” Kiana whispered back peeking around the edge of the store. “One I intend to acquire myself. Like you’ve said it’s been almost a year since my introduction to society and yet no real inquiries after my hand. I find it is time to start seeking them out myself.”
“You think to start your search with the King?” Emmaline’s eyebrows flew up in shock. “It hasn’t been long since the Queen’s passing. He is only just out of mourning clothes you know.”
“The perfect signal to everyone he is ready to begin his hunt for a future bride.”
“How do you know he is in search of another? He has an heir already there is no need for another Queen.”
“Precisely,” Kiana laughed clutching Emmaline’s hands in her own. “He did his duty and now he has time for a beautiful young wife. Someone who looks good in a portrait and won’t want to dabble in his politics.”
“Wouldn’t it be nicer to go after the prince,” Emmaline sighed romantically. “He is most handsome and less likely to die before you.”
“As a King’s widow I will want for nothing,” Kiana assured her stepping around the corner with confidence. “I don’t have time to woo a young man only time to seduce an older one.”
“Kiana!” Kiana heard Emmaline gasp as she walked away from the store corner.
Gliding elegantly as she could manage along the cobblestone streets Kiana paused a little before the King’s group casually picking up a jewel encrusted hand mirror. It was beautiful and Kiana couldn’t help but admire herself in it while waiting for the King to notice her standing there. It didn’t take him long to do so as she watched his approach from the mirrors reflection. What a good day to come to market it would seem.
“My Lady,” King Allistair’s voice was regal and sounded rich to her ears. “It would seem you have an eye for fine objects.”
“I have a love for the finer things in life, it's true,” Kiana turned to look the King in the eyes. “I find life is of a more comfortable constitution this way.”
“I can agree with you on this note,” He replied, his eyes never straying from her face. “You seem almost mythically beautiful what brought you to the town square today?”
“My sister your Highness,” Kiana answered waving her hand in her sisters direction who had ventured close enough to watch their interaction with wide eyes. “She wanted to stretch her legs and I as her single older sister was more than happy to accompany her.”
“I see,” The King smiled approvingly not looking to the other sister for more than a moment. “I am glad that she did what great fortune it has been to meet you my dear.”
“And you your Highness,” Kiana curtsied low still holding the mirror in one hand.
“A fine mirror,” The King exclaimed pointing to it. “Will you purchase it today?”
“I might be so inclined,” Kiana answered looking at it longingly. “It is a beautiful thing isn’t it.”
“Not as beautiful as the woman holding it,” The King smiled as he motioned for one of the guards to come closer. “I will purchase it for you as a gift.”
“How gracious of you,” Kiana smiled demurely at him reaching out and placing a hand on his arm.
“I fear plans have already been made for my afternoon but I hope to call on you again.”
“I wish you would your Highness,” Kiana breathed out lowering herself in a deep curtsy once again. The King smiled approvingly and motioned the guards to walk on with him.
“That was something,” Emmaline whispered as she caught up with her sister. “He truly seemed fascinated by you.”
“Did he,” Kiana mused looking again at her reflection in the mirror. “It would seem so.”
“Truly he barely glanced elsewhere as if you were the fairest of all the ladies he had seen in all his years.”
“Do you believe that Emmaline,” Kiana asked pulling her eyes away from the mirror to look into her sisters. “Do you believe he found me fairest of them all? That is my one wish.”
“I do sister,” Emmaline sighed looking at her sadly. “I find great things could happen soon for you. I only hope you can focus on something other than your reflection to see it through. I’m warning you, you won’t find happiness stuck in a reflection you must look to the real world for great happiness.”
“I am sure you are right,” Kiana sighed happily looping her arm through her sisters once again. “Let us return home with high spirits and dream of a bright future for us both.”
“I can only imagine you in a grand ballroom happily dancing with the King all the while.” Emmaline sighed as she skipped along after her sister.
“Perhaps there will even be a princely character to catch your eye too,” Kiana giggled.
“That would be something to dream about wouldn’t it?” Emmaline cooed looking out over the hills to the castle beyond.
Kiana smiled and found herself looking at the castle as well. It was almost too good of a thought that it couldn’t be more than a dream. Dreams coming true was rather a rarity she hadn’t encountered yet. Yet...Kiana smiled at the word. It would all come together very soon.
Finding herself in her bedroom after daydreaming of expensive fashions and large gilded hair ornaments Kiana further studied the mirror in her hand.
“Oh my beautiful mirror could it be me,” Kiana questioned quietly out loud. “Could I truly be the fairest of them all?”
“I have seen none fairer of face,” a voice called.
Startled Kiana nearly dropped the mirror catching it only just before it hit the floor. Looking around she climbed on her bed holding the mirror out as her first line of defense if an attacker should appear.
“You mean to use me as some croquet mallet?” the voice called out again humor edging it’s words.
“Where are you,” Kiana called out looking around the darkening room. “I have been trained to use weapons by my father.”
“The only weapon I could see you using is perhaps one of your many hairpins,” The voice laughed again. “Though they seem to be of better use keeping your curls in place wouldn’t you agree?”
“Show yourself,” Kiana whirled around hearing the voice so near to her was frightening and confusing. Where could the man be?
“All the beauty and none of the brains comes to mind now,” the voice mocked again. “Look in the mirror again. Our own reflections aren’t the only thing we tend to find revealed in them.”
Holding up the mirror Kiana gasped a mans face appeared behind her own she whirled around but saw no one behind her. Looking into the mirror again showed him right beside her but she knew no one to be there.
“Are you in the mirror?” Kiana asked her voice barely above a whisper now.
“A fine place as any to be when I can gaze at faces like yours,” the mirror replied, his voice thick as honey.
“You have seen many faces?” Kiana questioned studying the shadow of a man in the mirror.
“Thousands.” He replied smiling adoringly at her. “Though surely none as beautiful as you.”
Kiana found herself looking past the man and back at herself again studying her reflection.
“You think so,”
“My dear,” the man laughed. “I am a man who has looked upon a thousand and one faces of many ladies. I do not think so. I know it to be true. I have become an expert on beauty simply study your lines, the shape of you face, the curve of your lips the turn of your nose. There you will find pure physical perfection. Lean closer the color of your eyes shine brighter than that of the clearest skies. Closer as to inspect the darkness that is your lashes as they look like chocolate shavings adorning the finest truffles.
Kiana found herself entranced by not only his praises but also by her reflection. She was perfection everything about her was perfect. She couldn’t look away she pulled the mirror closer and closer to her face gathering in all she could.
A rush of wind whipped her hair out of place and she found herself closing her eyes against the sudden onslaught of air. It had come out of nowhere it would seem.
Opening up her eyes again she looked around. Nothing came to her eyes. Emptiness surrounded her twirling around her eyes widening at the ever exansive nothingness that had enveloped her chambers. Turning again she saw a small window.
Peering into it she recognized her bedroom. Her bed, her vanity filled with hair pins and brushes and a man sitting on her bed one hand stretched out before him. It was the man from the mirror although now she saw more than just his face. He smiled down at her, his face growing as if he pulling her closer to him but she felt no movement.
“What is this place?” her words coming out in a fearful whisper.
“You are in the mirror,” the man called out his voice echoing in the emptiness she found herself in.
“How can I be in the mirror when you were in the mirror,” She called out her breathing becoming erratic. Her questions coming out faster and faster. “How did you get in my bedroom? How did you get out? How do I get out?”
“If you want to escape from this mirror yourself you must find another so detached from this world. Obsessed with only that which they see reflected back at them that they don’t feel the pull of their souls being drawn into the mirror itself.” The man laughed adjusting his hair as he watched Kiana fall to the floor clutching her chest. “If you can find so selfish a person than you too can escape from the mirror I wish you luck it only took me a few hundred years to find you. Perhaps you can find one sooner or perhaps not. I really must be off I don’t care much for mirrors anymore i long to see the world after all it’s all new now and i can’t wait to explore all it has to offer me.”
“But wait,” Kiana called out, but it was too late she could only see the ceiling as if she had been placed on the vanity and forgotten. Her sister had warned her about becoming stuck in her reflection and missing out on the world how true that had become. Kiana curled into herself looking out the window into the world she already grew to miss. The world she had not moments ago so easily forgotten looking into her hand held mirror.