Lady From Day

Chapter 2 – First Meetings

Sig stayed with me while the others went to clean up for dinner. I didn’t know there would be dinner because of the famine. One of the servants assured me I should expect a large feast provided in our honor. I was taken aback by this, but being in a castle and at the home of a king it didn’t seem too unusual that he would have more at his disposal even with a famine than the rest of his subjects.

We had been assigned to fairly large rooms and I decided to use the spare time to explore mine. Siegfried went to his room out of propriety until I had a chance to clean up. My room contained two windows with plush red seats adjoined, parallel to the door. There was a large candelabra sitting on a table in a corner, next to a colossal bed with delicately crafted oak pillars and soft velvet drapes. The bedspread was a lovely dark satin and there was a pile of fluffy pillows at the head. The smell of spices filled my nose as I discovered a scented candle disk floating in rose water beside a desk on the other side of the room. I found a pitcher of water and a hand towel and used it to clean my face and the dirt which had been caked on my hands. I didn’t have any fresh clothes so what I was wearing would have to do. I was starting to second-guess myself which doesn’t happen too often and was so grateful when Siegfried returned to chat.

“Sig, I sincerely want to cure this princess of this curse which is starving the kingdom of Feyris. I look on the eyes of the people here and all I see is pain and it’s as though I can feel it myself,” I said sitting down on one of the red window seats. I was afraid I would tarnish them with the dirt from our journey here staining my garments. The plush fabric gave my body a much needed rest and the dirt somehow did not transfer. “This quest is something I know I can do, but I just don’t know how. Maybe she’s been magicked, but I’m no mage. This will surely be a challenge. All the other quests we’ve faced were cut and dry. Go to the house and free the prisoner, or take a wagon of crafts to a neighboring village. This is a little outside my comfort zone. How can I possibly convince the king I know what I am doing if I don’t know myself?”

Siegfried sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulder to comfort me. “Lia, you’ll be fine. You have managed to get through tough situations before. That house was not easy to find and the prisoner didn’t exactly want rescuing if you remember, so I don’t see why you are considering this as anything different. Why did you even want to take on such a thing if in your heart you didn’t think you could do it? You must stay confident, or the rest of us will doubt in your abilities. Well not me, but some of the newer men at least. Even if you aren’t sure of yourself, pretend you are.” His assuring words made me feel ready for what was to come. Giving him a hug and a smile, I wiggled out of his embrace and walked to the open door of my room, shoving myself outside. “What are you doing? It’s not dinner yet.” Sig left his seat and started after me, his boots pounding across the oak floor, but I lifted my hand to stop him from following. My mouth widened into a smile.

“Pretending…I’m going to find the princess,” I answered him. I could tell by his facial expression he knew I had my reasons, though I didn’t really have any other than to find out what she was like and pretend to know what I was doing to help her. I wasn’t going to lie if she asked me straight out. That’s one thing I always made sure of. I might just try and direct the conversation so I didn’t have to.

“What…now!?” he implored in amazement.

“It’s as good a time as any, I think,” I declared, giving him a smile. “Sig you don’t need to worry about me. I’ll be fine. It’s not as though she’s going to eat me.” Sig nodded with a chuckle and exited with me.

“I’ll go and see if I can find dinner then; I suppose we’ll meet there. I will save a seat for you Li.” He waved me on.

“Thanks, I’ll be there,” I said and shut the door, the oak closure making a gentle clunk. I walked around through the keep’s halls, trying to find someone to ask where the royal quarters were. Quite by chance I bumped into a servant carrying a large load of fresh laundry in a basket.

“Excuse me milady, I didn’t mean to run into you,” the middle-aged man apologized, lowering his brown haired head in embarrassment. He looked around to make sure none of the clean clothes gathered on the floor. The clothes stayed in his basket however.

“Oh that’s quite all right. Would you mind telling me where Her Highness’ room is?” The servant raised his head, brown hair fluttering past his eyes as he adjusted the laundry basket, gave a quizzing look at me, and asked,

“Of all the places in the castle there are so many others which would be better suited to your liking. I wouldn’t want to be around the cursed child, even though she is the lady of the castle. I am dedicated to serve her, but still. I wouldn’t want that sort of thing to be rubbed off on me if you understand. Why do you need to go there miss?” His eyebrows raised in suspicion. He raised a large hand to remove the displayed hair on his face. I laughed lightly and answered him.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t introduce myself. I am Lia Dhobhar and I am trying to disenchant the princess, or something like that,” I said.

He had a wide smile and an almost excited look in his eyes. He answered nodding, “Ah I know, well the whole castle knows. You’ve become quite legend recently. We have all heard a bit of your past endeavors, what, running about the kingdom of Aelisonia and all. Not too many folks do adventuring anymore. You’re a dying breed.” He laughed heartily in understanding and pointed up some stone stairs nearby. “You’ll find her up there, third door on the right. She might be asleep though, which is the only time she’s not hungry as a wild dog.” His eyes grew wide and he apologized for his outburst. “Oh, please don’t tell her I said that.”

“Thank you, sir. I won’t,” I responded, leaving the man to continue through the halls with the newly washed fabric. He did manage to turn himself around — his load rocking back and forth in his arms — and call back to me.

“Much obliged to be of service, ’specially to those trying to help the lady.” I turned to wave him on and slowly walked up the tower stairs he described. The stairwell was very dark and the stairs curved upward. Through the window’s narrow arrow slits I could see the courtyard and a scant portion of the Humble Bridge. The torches along the wall guided me forward and soon I came to the end of the staircase. I walked along the corridor before me, which was encased in stone with beautiful rugs on the floor and wooden benches along the side. The benches contained decently stuffed pillows, save one which held a sleeping servant…one I would hope was off-duty. I soon found the door the laundry servant had told me was Daschl’s. I lightly rapped on the door.

“Might I come in Your Highness?” I called out in a friendly tone. “I’m Lia.”

A polite reply came back, though a little hesitant as I was a new and unfamiliar voice. “Yes, I am here. Please come in.” I opened the door slowly and pushed my head into the room. I saw a bored princess munching on an apple and sitting on a chair beside an elegant cherry writing desk complete with the royal crest engraved at the top, and as she caught my eye she carefully closed the book she had been reading, although she kept a finger in it, and twisted her body to look at me. I slid my arm and then the rest of me into her room. I didn’t want to open the door too wide, for fear the increased light would wake the servant in the hall.

“Hello, I’m Lia Dhobhar. I’ve come here to help you,” I said. The princess stared at me like I wasn’t real. Her eyes were wide, and her face set in an expression which could only be described as gawking. Her mouth was open in a slight jaw-dropped position. She herself was fair-of-face. Her dark brown hair was plaited on her head, half surrounded by waterfalls of curls, and she wore a tight-fitting dress, most likely silk and some very expensive brocade. The fabric was a lovely sea blue with gold embroidery. I was almost jealous at the luxurious vestments of the princess. I was stunned at her, but was on the verge of laughing at the expression that she, herself, wore.

“Well, what did you expect?” I demanded. The princess looked back at me,
mouth wide open. She slunk out of her shock and shook her head, realizing I had spoken to her.

“What did you say?” she inquired, her eyes fluttering out of the glazed stare she had maintained only a few seconds earlier. I smiled at her in amusement.

“I said what did you expect? You were gawking at me as if I were some mystical creature sent here from beyond the mortal realm. I’m as real as you.” She took a bite of her apple and when she swallowed she apologized, turning her chair around to face me.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t expect you. Oh dear, that didn’t come out right,” she remarked. She stopped to explain. “I’m a horrible conversationalist for a princess. I suppose this is why men are the diplomats. Two years ago Father sent out my brother, Rowan, to Kyrie to settle some skirmish over there, I don’t know the details but he always sends out Rowan and never me. I want to rule and help my people. Of course in this state I’m only hindering their well-being. Anyway, my father had a messenger come tell me about someone who arrived here today to help disenchant me. What I meant to say was I didn’t expect a woman and one so young,” she explained, crossing her legs daintily. The rich fabric from her dress flowed into a pile, neatly at her side. “Please, feel free to sit down.” She pointed to her bed, which was the only place to really sit down.

“There is no malice taken, Princess,” I stated as my journeyed legs and I headed toward the bed in her room. My legs were far past being tired from the day’s journey and I needed to sit down. While I was used to long travels with the men, to get to the Feyris castle we had to do a lot of uphill climbing. It took a lot out of me. As I sat down I noticed the soft bed was covered with silken sheets, so I wasn’t about to complain. Really, I would never have complained to royalty about anything.

“Please, for pity’s sake, call me Daschl. There is no need for such frivolities. I really just want to be normal. Calling me by only my name helps.” She smiled, resting a hand on the wooden chair she was sitting on. I noticed her delicate hand carried an assortment of rings, and her thin vampire-white wrist tilted at a dainty angle downward was decorated with expensive jewelry. Even though she wanted to be treated normally, her eyes held that of someone years senior. It wasn’t easy to remember she was only human as she looked immortal.

“Very well Daschl. You are quite unusual for a princess you know,” I noted.

She laughed and replied, her brown hair tumbling around her. “Yes, with
unusual eating habits too.” I laughed with her; at least she had a good humor about
the situation.

“How terrible it must be,” I said with solemnity. My heart yearned to console her.

“Yes, well, I try and get used to it. Every hour someone brings me a meal, except at night. Then I can sleep, and when I sleep I am never hungry. No one ever talks about it as it’s quite an embarrassing topic but it’s the truth. I always feel they are thinking I should take naps more often.” She stood up from her chair, book in hand, and smoothed her skirts in front of herself with the other. “I’ll be right back if you’ll
stay here.”

“Surely, please go,” I said. Daschl walked towards the other door in her room, opening it just wide enough for me to make out a large desk. She closed the door and I was left to wait for her arrival. Poor girl. She looks to be in her late teens. I wonder how long she has had this problem. I shall ask her when she returns, I thought to myself. For a princess, she is very approachable. It was almost time for the evening meal, so I had to hurry back down to the dining hall shortly. The princess returned and sat down.

“I’m so sorry, I wanted to put my book away. The mark was in the desk and I have a horrible memory. If I were to lose my place I’d probably have to read the whole bit again to find it.” The princess went to the window of her tower room and gazed out. She turned to me as I spoke.

“How long has this curse been upon you?” she shifted uncomfortably and replied.

“Twelve years, almost to the beginning of my memories. My father wanted me to be able to eat a lot, since we had terrific feasts back then. He asked a fairy to come and bless me with an appetite.” The princess sniffled, her eyes became watery, and I could tell she was losing control of her emotions. “The awful creature did, and the land has lived on scant meals since.” The princess was on the verge of crying, so I decided to change the subject.

“How old are you, Daschl?” I questioned. She sniffled again and replied,

“Seventeen come Wednesday.” Her large eyes were full of pain and I could see her heart ached for a relief that I wished I could give her.

I stood and said, “Well Daschl, I hope you have a pleasant birthday with lots of presents.” I made sure not to say “cake” since she was upset enough as it was. “I must be off to dinner, but I shall try my best to find a cure. I’ll see you there?” Daschl nodded at me with the same understanding as Sig did when I left him for the princess’ room.

I turned to go and heard her say, “Good luck Lia Dhobhar. I hope you succeed for the people’s sake.” I left the room a little sad, but her good heart helped ease my distress. The princess kept as much of a cheery disposition as possible despite the circumstances and it was uplifting compared to how most people dealt with bad fortune. Dinner would be starting in a few hours so I decided to go to my quarters
and wait.

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