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Coming of Age Fantasy

"Quinn, hurry." Ma said from the living room.

I tied the last sash around my waist and tucked a loose strand of hair into my bun, then I walked out of my bedroom, embarrassed by the way the strapless bodice on my ballgown pulled and pushed and poked me. I looked like a marshmallow with feet.

Tonight was the Village Master's ball. Only ten girls who were fifteen years of age would be chosen as wives for the ten brothers of the Seven Warlords. The rest of the girls would be shipped off to become maids for her royal-snooty-pants' in the Jasminian Islands.

It was the biggest party of the century, and every villager in good standing with the Village Master would be at the town square. Well, everyone in good standing except the family's chosen for this year's breeding.

By "this year's breeding" I mean that every five years, there's a breeding year where a certain group of women must bear child. Every half decade, there's a new wave of younglings, Ma had been chosen for the last three. But that was before Pa died. Now she was shadowed in scorn everywhere she went. It was my duty to become one of the brother's wives so I could take the scorn off my family. Make them beloved throughout the town.

But it wasn't for Ma, so she wouldn't have to bear the scorn, embarrassment. Instead it was for Kate and Bobby.

"Ma, do I really have to wear this?" I said, my voice dripping with disgust.

"Yes, you do." She said. She turned behind her and grabbed a hickory box with lovely gold accents. She opened the lid and smiled. "Turn around."

I did as she said, and a moment later, a silver locket was fastened around my neck. I held the locket in my fingers and said, "Oh, ma! It's beautiful."

I heard snickering from the hallway behind me. "Quinn, whatever are you doing?" Bobby asked.

"Are you trying to outdo even Her-Royal-Majesty?" My sister giggled and flicked her golden locks over her shoulder. I'd always envied her for them.

I would have laughed, had mother not been in the room. "No, Katy. I'm going to the Village Master's ball."

She looked down sadly. She knew what that meant, everyone in ChesterWick knew. "So I guess this is goodbye?"

"Oh, Katy." I said sadly, walking toward her and kneeling so we were at the same level. "Nothing could keep me away."

Of course, this was all a lie. Tonight my future would be sealed. I would either go home with one of the ten brothers, or I would be heading to the port to be shipped away from ChesterWick. If I went to the Jasminian Islands, I would be able to find a husband, then I would go back to ChesterWick on the next ferry to the islands. That's what my mother had done

Most likely it would be the latter. I had nothing noticeable about me. I only had creamy skin, dark black eyes, and dark hair. I had a slim waist, but what did it matter for men who would not look past my plain face?

Neither option was good. But I had to do it for Katy and Bobby. If I became one of the brother's wives, my family would become richer then their wildest dreams. If I didn't, scorn would be placed upon my whole family until the next girl in my family became one of the young lord's wife's.

The ball was held in the town hall. Unlike every other day of the five long years, it was lit up with dozens-no, hundreds-of candles. I'd seen the ball from our tower window when I was five and ten, but this was the first time I'd actually seen it in person. Well, this was the first time I was allowed to go, as the balls were always restricted to fifteen year-old girls, the ten lords, and their parents. The Village Master was always invited, as well.

Tables of cookies and tiny cakes stood on one side of the large room. On the other side were the ten lords. Immediately, I headed for the food, but Ma linked her arm through mine and dragged me toward a line waiting to greet the lords.

"No eating." Ma whispered into my ear.

I nodded. The line moved faster, and soon we were greeting the lords. One of them, Isaac, said, "What is your name, Miss?"

"Quinnly Weston." I told him, curtsying. "It is a pleasure to meet you, my Lord."

"The pleasure is all mine." He said. Ma led me away.

The rest of the night past in a blur. I danced with all the ten Lords, as the law required.

Apparently three of the lords were adopted, which made sense. "You are very graceful, Miss Westerly." Lord Devaro said, spinning me. "I feel very privileged to have shared this dance."

The song ended, and I switched partners. "Hello, Lord Isaac."

"Aah, Miss Quinnly." He said. "Tell, me, how has your evening been."

"Quite pleasurable, thank you." I lied, annoyed at the stuffiness of the hall. But I couldn't say that. This party was for Isaac, and I shouldn't insult him. "And you?"

"Ugh. Parties bore me." He said. "So much stuffiness."

"Really?" I giggled. "I feel the exact same way. But I couldn't offend you. I'm sorry." I said quickly.

He chuckled. "It's alright."

He took my hand and we walked outside to the garden. "Isaac, where are we going?"

"Just wait." He said.

I gasped as we walked into a moonlit clearing with a huge tree with leaves a deep green.

"Quinn, will you stay with me?" He asked. I was glad for the little light, so he couldn't see me pale. I knew what he was asking, and he knew, too.

"Yes." I said. "Yes, I will marry you."

The next morning, I woke in a silk sleep gown. I sat up and yawned.

Then it occurred to me: this wasn't my bedroom.

Then it all came rushing back. The ball. Isaac. Dancing. Everything.

Had he actually asked me to marry him? That explained the weird... everything.

The door opened and a maid stepped in. "Pleasure to meet you." She said. She threw the curtains open.

I kicked back my covers and headed to the closet to pick out a gown.

Eventually, I settled on a simple lavender gown and a braid. "Has anyone decided when the wedding is going to be?" I asked as I walked out of the closet.

Two weeks was her answer.

Two weeks.

Two weeks.

Two weeks.

I tugged on a pair of purple shoes and brushed my hair.

I pass Isaac in the hallway. "Only, two weeks, my love." He says.

I nod and I pretend to be excited.

He continues to walk down the hall. The maid I saw earlier caught up to me and said, "Miss Weston, someone would like to meet you in the library."

"Of course." I say, and follow her through a door.

I immediately recognize Lady Ingrid, Isaac's mother. She looked me over with disgust. "So, you're the girl who is Isaac's betrothed?"

I nod. "Yes, ma'am."

The door closes behind me and I realize the maid had left. "It's a wonder you have become my son's fiancé, but you lack anything memorable. So what did you do to my son? He never would have fallen for someone as plain as you, girl."

"Nothing, Lady Ingrid." I said. "I did nothing."

"Mmm." She said, not quite convinced. Then she yelled, "Guards, take Miss Weston to the dungeon."

Guards swarmed into the room. Lady Ingrid leaned closer to me. "Let me make this clear, Quinnly: You are nothing more then a coincidence. And I don't like coincidence's."

I knew what she meant. In ChesterWick, everything was scripted. What people's schedules were. Where they worked. The Three Overlords controlled people. And to them, I wasn't supposed to exist.

July 22, 2021 21:22

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1 comment

Alex Sultan
20:34 Jul 26, 2021

This is a dark concept, and I like your style for it. The first paragraph is really catching, great use of alliteration with 'pulled and pushed and poked me.' If I could offer feedback, I'd recommend avoiding adverbs. They'll make writing a lot less vivid. 'She looked down sadly.' reads sort of awkward, and it leaves a lot up to the reader. We have to imagine what we're being told rather than being shown it. You could rewrite the sentence like 'She looked down, tears forming in her eyes'(Might be a bit much, but you get the point) It woul...


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