I know this is irrelevant to this week's theme, but I still wanted to post something. It might even be able to contribute to my story for next week:) Sorry!
Dawn broke the darkness that snuck behind the towering mountain peaks, the sun slowly rising above the horizon. Eliza stood by the open window pane, feeling the cool breeze numb her cheeks. Everyone hated being cold, but not Eliza. Something about the sensation of feeling the iciness of the air was so mind-clearing.
And Eliza needed a clear mind, especially now. She picked out the far-off kingdom through squinted eyes. It was as small as her pinkie nail at this distance, and wasn’t very impressive. And she had to go there. The King there had died during the past week, and they were severely desperate for a capable—and wealthy—bride for the Prince. She sighed and turned away from the window. She walked over to a piano in the middle of the huge granite room, moving in a poised manner. The Grand’s slick black paint reflected the soft glow of the moonlight shining through the still open window onto Eliza’s azure dress.
She carefully sat herself on the bench and lightly placed her fingers on the keys. The melody filled the Music Chamber, Eliza’s fingers gliding across the keys, flowing in a continuous song. She filled the music with passion and emotion, and embraced the last echoing notes as she finished. She closed her eyes in sorrow and stood up from the cushioned seat. Softly tracing the framework of the piano, Eliza said her last goodbyes and left the room.
Yellow candle light and warmth enveloped her as she hurried down the castle corridors to her rooms. She quickly grabbed her bags—her servants were all sick, the poor things took the servant’s door, a convenient shortcut through the kitchens and to the palanquin that was waiting for her outside. She stepped into the chilling night air and spotted her mother waiting patiently in the palanquin.
Wait, were those wheels? Eliza found herself dumbfounded, but climbed into the strange palanquin anyways.
“Eliza,” her mother said softly. “A Princess is never late.”
“I am sorry, Mother. I will take that into account next time I am leaving my life behind to assist a kingdom in shambles.”
Eliza felt a stab of guilt, and immediately regretted the comeback.
Her mother glared, but otherwise ignored the comment.
Eliza’s mind soon wandered as she waited for the palanquin to start its journey. How would it move, anyways? However they got it moving, wouldn’t it be bumpy and—
Her thoughts and questions were interrupted by overlapped clip-clopping outside. Mother startled and peeked past the cloth curtain that worked as a makeshift door. She gasped, and pulled back into the palanquin.
“What is it?” Eliza asked, curious.
Her mother clicked her tongue in dissatisfaction and shook her head. “They think they can use horses to move the palanquin! Ha! How could those dirty beasts ever manage to—”
She was cut off as the palanquin lurched forward, much faster than either of them had expected. Eliza held back a smile, and slipped a small book out of her satchel. This was going to be a long ride.
By the end of the journey, Eliza’s backside ached. The horse-pulled palanquin on wheels was faster and more efficient, but much more uncomfortable. Every pebble in the gravel path lurched its passengers, causing Eliza and her mother to sigh in relief as they finally arrived at their destination.
“Finally,” Eliza’s mother grumbled. “I feel as if my backside will fall right off as soon as I get the chance to stand up.”
Eliza let a smile bleed onto her face at the remark. For a woman so strict on ladylike behavior, Mother could make up quite the scene—so long as they were alone.
Eliza stepped out of the palanquin first, with the help of the man that controlled the horses. The stench of dirt mixed with sweat immediately stung her nose as she watched a small rodent scurry across the path in front of her. The said “kingdom” was in worse shape than she’d anticipated.
“Goodness me,” her mother gasped in shock with a hand to her breast. “This is filthy!” She lifted her dress so the hem didn’t brush the ground as she moved and stomped towards the castle—the only seemingly normal thing in sight—to speak with the prince. Eliza nodded her thanks to the coachman—which he called himself after she’d asked—and hurried off after her mother.
Eliza noticed children running in the streets, playing with each other. All they had for clothes were rags hanging off of their slim bodies in tatters. They were covered in mud and dirt, and coughed violently as they played Bring-The-Stick with street dogs. Her mother was disgusted, staying away from them as much as possible and yelping when they ran across her path. Eliza was curious—and guilty. This whole time, they lived prosperous while this poor kingdom suffered the opposite.
As they approached the palace, Eliza spotted a small girl-child with stunning blue eyes, clutching a ragged doll. She sat alone on the side of the street, covered in grime and clothed with only rags. Eliza smiled at the girl and continued behind her mother.
Before they could even enter through the doors, a short, plump man scuttled out—the Lord Steward.
“At last! My name is Gustav. Come, come inside.” The man turned around and started inside.
Eliza’s mother snatched his arm with unexpected speed.
Gustav stopped and turned to face them.
“This is vile,” she exclaimed. “I refuse to stay here.”
Gustav adopted a horrified look. “N-no, miss, please,” he stuttered. “Please, just give us a chance. Two months, just two months, please!”
“Fine,” she hesitated, scowling. “But I’m going home.”
She turned to Eliza. “I will see you in two months, my dear.” And with that, she stalked off back to the palanquin, eyeing the man next to her daughter. Gustav said nothing, walking into the palace and leading Eliza to her rooms. He looked at Eliza with pleading eyes, then shut the door softly.
The nice Coachman brought Eliza’s bags, and she sat on her bed beside them, sighing. “Right, then.”