See Part 1 here.
I sat, numb. The struggle to grasp the fact that I had a family and that they were at war and that they were royalty was too much to bear. Finally, a clear thought came to me. “I don’t have any powers.”
“Your parents mentioned that you would begin to see them manifest at this age.” Lord Traford tugged his lace-hemmed sleeves down inside his brocade jacket. “I have employed a tutor for you to help you through this period of learning to use them.”
I looked at Master Corpet. “You mean I’m no longer a slave?” I could feel my heart racing as my hands twisted in my lap.
“That is true, though to me, you were never a slave. A ward, would be the best way to put it.” He grinned at me as though he was pleased with himself.
A wave of anger washed over me that made me gasp. “A ward? Really?” I shot up from my seat. “Controlled like a dog for decades. Leered at by your men. Whipped by Emil. Locked in my wagon when elves were near.” My voice quavered with passion.
Surprise filled his face. “Whipped?” he stammered. “No one was to touch you. Ever.”
I snorted. “Emil thinks it’s funny to ride up to my wagon and use his quirt on me then ride off.” I folded my arms over my chest trying to contain my fury. I spun to face Lord Traford. “Why was I not educated in the life of my people? I’m to be a savior and I have no idea what or who they are!”
All three men stood up. Lord Traford placed a hand over his heart. “My Lady. Please forgive us. We followed the King’s orders. I don’t know why he gave them, only that he did.”
Corpet reached out a hand. It was meant to be a comfort but I shot him a glare that should have roasted him on the spot. I paced the length of the room and back again, stopping in front of the Lord. “What’s next then?”
He cleared his throat. “I have an apartment prepared for you, here in the palace. I’ve arranged for you to meet your tutor tomorrow after breakfast.”
I closed my eyes. My greatest dream, freedom, was coming true and all I could think about were my pitiful possessions in my wagon. “What about my things?”
“I’ll have them sent, first thing in the morning,” Corpet rushed to say. “I’m sorry, Delia, for causing you so much pain. It was never my intention.”
I started to smooth it over, as I would have as a slave. I bit back the comment. “Intention or not, it happened. My entire childhood spent making myself small and invisible. No parents, no love.” I shook with the pent up emotion. “Abused.”
He looked devastated. I didn’t care.
“Princess.” Alexis intervened.
I turned to face him.
“I’m sure Master Corpet did the best he could given the circumstances. We’re all a little out of our depths here. It must be very disconcerting for you, especially.”
That, at least, was true. My entire reality had just been shifted. I reached down and picked up my sherry, draining the glass. From slave to princess in a single sentence. I drew a deep breath. “Very well.” I put the glass back on the table. “I’d like to retire to my apartment.”
All three men began nodding and making apologetic noises. “I’ll lead you to your apartment,” Alexis said. He went to the door and held it open.
“Gentlemen.” I nodded curtly to Corpet and Lord Traford and left the room.
Alexis guided me through the palace, up another flight of stairs and down a long hall. He stopped at the last door on the right and opened the double doors. “I do hope you find everything to your liking.
We entered a sitting room. A circle of armchairs surrounded a low table, similar to the arrangement in the library I had just left but in feminine pastels, primarily greens and blues. Landscape paintings hung on the pale green walls and a bookcase filled with volumes was centered on the wall to my right. Opposite the door was a bank of windows with a window seat cushioned and pillowed to match the armchairs. To the right of the windows was a door where I found my bedroom. Again, wide windows with window seat, a bed wide enough to sleep four people was opposite the door. A dressing table was on the wall with the door. A fireplace was on the wall facing the window with two armchairs facing it. I could fit three of my wagons in the bedroom alone.
“This is nice.”
Alexis bowed. “Mother did her best to make the rooms pleasing to you.”
“I’ll thank her when I see her.” Suddenly I was exhausted. “Thank you for showing me the apartment.”
“My pleasure.” He backed out of the room. “I shall leave you now, to your rest.”
I followed him to the door.
“There’s a bell pull next to your bed and one here.” He pointed to a long ribbon of fabric hanging by the door to the hall. “Just pull it and a servant will be here shortly if you need anything.”
“I appreciate that.”
“Breakfast is at nine but if you wish, you can have the servants bring you something earlier.”
He stepped into the hall. “Good night, Princess.”
“Sleep well, Lord Traford.”
He bowed again and closed the doors. I went into the bedroom and opened the wardrobe. Several dresses hung there, along with several pairs of shoes. The dresser held undergarments, bedclothes and dressing gowns. I pulled a pair of bedclothes from the drawer and changed. As I took down my hair and brushed it out, I tried to sort out what had happened to me.
I had a family. Parents anyway. Did I have brothers or sisters? I had an uncle who was challenging my father, the king, for the throne. I was supposed to have powers. What would those be? They purposely hid me. With a slave caravan. Purposely kept me ignorant. Why?
I had very many questions and no answers.
Thank You! Come back next week for Part 6.