Part 1 here.
At a few minutes after nine I was led into the breakfast room. Alexis Traford was at the buffet along the right-side wall, selecting morsels from chafing dishes to put on his plate. Lady Traford came in behind me.
“Good morning, Princess Delia.” The lady stopped and gave me a peck on the cheek then took my arm in hers.
“Well enough, Lady Traford. Thank you for asking.” I nodded at Alexis as he turned from the buffet. “Good morning, Lord Traford.”
“Good morning, Princess.” He smiled as he sat down. “I’m glad you’re joining us.”
“The lady walked me to the buffet. “We keep breakfast casual. Serve yourself whatever you’d like.” She nodded in the direction of a uniformed man at the door at the back of the room. “Lors will pour tea, coffee, juice or water, as you indicate.”
I gave the man a nod which he returned. “Thank you, Lady.” I picked up a plate and studied the buffet. Bacon, sausage, and what looked like some sort of meat loaf in slices, scrambled eggs, potatoes both white and orange, then platters of fruits, rolls and sliced bread, followed by four varieties of cheese and cold cuts. Not my usual bowl of mush. I selected fruit and a roll and sat down. Lady Traford followed and sat across from me.
Lors appeared at my side. “What would the Princess, prefer?”
“I’ll take the same, Lars,” Lady Traford added. “And a glass of juice.”
The man nodded and moved to a buffet on the other wall and prepared the drinks.
“Are you feeling well?” The Lady looked over my sparsely filled plate.
“I’m well. I had a small breakfast a few hours ago.”
She nodded and smiled as she cut into her sausage. “I suspected as much. Is Pricilla working out for you?”
“Yes. Thank you for the loan of her. A nice young woman.” I cut my melon into tiny pieces and speared a slice to eat.
Alexis joined the conversation, half of his plate of food already demolished. “Father asked me to lead you to the tutor, Princess, when you’re ready.”
“Thank you, Lord Traford.”
“Please, that’s my father. Call me Alexis.”
I glanced at his mother. She seemed to be fine with that. “And call me Delia, please. Princess seems,” I waved my hand, “too formal.”
At that I saw the Lady’s eyebrow twitch but she gave her son a small nod. “Of course, Delia. I’d be honored.”
That settled, the meal passed pleasantly until the Lady rose. “I must meet with my secretary. So much correspondence.”
Alexis rose and went to his mother. He gave her a peck on the cheek and took her arm as she walked to the door. He opened it for her. “You have a wonderful day, Mother. Shall I see you at dinner?”
“Yes, son.” She kissed him back. “You may want to go to the stables this morning. One of the stallions seems to have a problem. Talk to the stable master about it.”
His head bowed. “Of course, Mother. I’ll see to it immediately.”
“I’ll see you this evening, Princess.”
“I look forward to it.” Delia nodded her head and Lady Traford left.
I gave a small sigh of relief.
“We can delay if you’d like more to eat,” Alexis said.
“I’m finished.” I dropped my napkin on the table and rose. “It’s time to meet my tutor.”
He led me out of the small dining room. Pricilla was waiting outside of the door. “Lord Traford is taking me to the tutor, Pricilla. Thank you for waiting.”
“She’ll be in the conservatory, Pricilla.” Alexis held out his arm. “Shall we proceed?”
“Certainly.” I did my best to quiet the butterflies in my stomach. I was glad I hadn’t eaten much. On the way, Alexis entertained me with stories about the portraits and landscapes on the walls of ancestors and famous battles. We arrived at the conservatory relaxed.
The space was huge, walled on three sides with glass. It was lush and green and humid, a definite change from the desert environment where Katzin was located. I tried to take in all of the different flowering plants as he walked me around the central plantings to an open set of double doors on the second wall. There a small wrought-iron table and chairs sat, a tea tray in the middle, looking out to a lawn and garden outside. It was very lovely.
A man sat at the table, looking out. He turned at our approach, and rose as we neared. My breath caught in my throat. It was an elf.
He had long blond hair, pulled back on the sides to a braid that fell over the back hair. He was silver at the temples, with deep brown eyes, flecks of gold in the irises and high cheek-bones making his face seem aristocratic. A tooled leather belt at his waist, with a silver dragon buckle, set off the sage green tunic. His fawn colored breeches were tucked into knee-high brown leather boots. He wore a silver pin sigil on his left breast of a spreading tree.
“Lord Enaur, this is Delia, Princess of the house of Ucheni. Princess Delia, this is Lord Enaur, a mage of renown, from your father’s kingdom.” He bowed as he stepped back.
I could hardly take my eyes off of the elf. He studied me. “Welcome back, Princess.”
“Thank you, Lord Enaur.” My mouth was nearly too dry to speak.
“Will you have tea with me?” he asked as he indicated the tray beside us.
My knees felt like water. “Yes. Certainly.” I gripped the back of the chair next to me and controlled myself as I sat.
“I’ll take my leave, then.” Alexis bowed to the mage, then me, turned and left out of the open doors.
I clasped my hands in my lap to control the trembling.
Enaur, sat down and poured tea for us both. We were silent through the adding of cream and sugar. Once his cup was to his satisfaction and he’d replaced it in the saucer, he took a breath.
“I’ve been informed that you were told who you are just last night.” He studied my face. “It must have been a shock.”
I nodded. “It was. I still have difficulty rearranging what I thought about my life until now.”
He sipped again. “Drink your tea.” He looked around the conservatory. “Then we’ll walk around the gardens and I’ll give you more background.
I picked up my cup and sipped. This was a more robust tea than I’d had for breakfast. Fortifying. I glanced around the conservatory. Did he suspect listeners? I emptied the cup.
He rose and held out his hand. I took it and rose beside him. “I have much to share, and a message from your parents.”
We left the brick-floored conservatory and stepped out onto the green lawn. What could the message be?
Thank You! Come back next week for Part 8.
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