Once upon a time, there existed a kingdom unlike any other. This was a kingdom that thrived off the misfortune of others. A place where criminals, villains, and malevolent citizens called home. There, in the center of all the darkness, grew an untainted flower. A pure hearted princess, whose entire existence would be brought into question…
“Vivian! Wake up girl! Do you know what day it is?” The handmaiden Natasha bellowed, as she pulled open the princess’s red cloth curtains.
“Hmm… is it the day where you let me sleep in?” The princess replied, her words muffled by the pillow pressed against her cheek. The rays of light shined on her face. Her mouth glistened from drool, she wrinkled her nose at the unwanted sun.
“Five more minutes…” She groaned rolling away from the window, placing her feathered pillow over her face.
“ It is Saturday! The King is going to be here on the hour!” The handmaid exclaimed as she ripped the silk sheets from the princesses body.The princess flailed her body a bit in a temper tantrum before settling down. She lied still for a second before sitting up abruptly, her pillow catapulted across the room. Her dark brown hair raised messily around her head. Her eyes widening, she leapt out of bed and hurried towards the washroom. Natasha was soon behind her.
“There’s no time!” The princess began removing her clothing and throwing it behind her. Each item was effortlessly caught by Natasha’s nimble fingers. Vivian ran till she was completely naked except for a pair of socks and a blue ribbon that held the back of her hair in a loose messy bun. She was at full speed now, dashing down the halls. She turned the corner of the corridor to see her mother walking towards her. She tried to stop as best she could but she slipped on the freshly waxed marble floors. She hit the floor with a loud painful thud. She raised her head, Queen Eleanora was looming over her with a look of displeasure on her face.
“Playing in the halls? On this, the day you are to meet your betrothed?” Her eyes narrowed, she shook her head and sighed. “Vivian, you know that you must be ready to meet the King. It is your duty to please him.”
“Yes mother, I will happily serve my kingdom. I will be the best wife he could ask for!” Vivian smiled with pride. Ever since she was a girl she knew she was destined to be the wife of the King of the neighboring country, so she could unite their kingdoms and live in peace. She dreamt of this day. She was finally going to meet her true love. She lifted herself off the ground and bowed to her mother.
“Sorry mother, I will be ready shortly.” The princess ran past her towards the washroom at full speed. Her mother looked to the handmaiden. She was holding a bucket and scrub brush.
“ Natasha, she’d better be ready, I don’t think you want to visit the chapel again do you? We both remember how the revered father likes you so.”
“ Yes my Queen, she will be ready I promise. Thank you my lady. I must go now,” the handmaiden rushed away.
“ Stupid mutt,” The Queen spoke as she stepped forward down the hall.
“Ah!” the princess shrieked 'Its so cold!' she whimpered with a frozen stutter. The princess cried as the water was dumped on her head.
“And whose fault is that?” The handmaiden furrowed her eyebrows in anger as she poured the perfumed oils in the princess’s hair.
“Ah! I don’t even care! I’m meeting my husband!” The princess let out a shivered fangirlish squeal. “I waited ten years for this!” The handmaiden rinsed the oils from her hair and pulled her up to scrub her body. Vivian blushed, even after eighteen years she was not used to this. She was rinsed again before being ripped from the tub. Natasha grabbed the fluffy towels and wiped Vivian down collecting all the moisture from her body. They ran back to the dressing room and rushed to ready Vivian. Vivian placed her hands on the wall to regain her balance, as Natasha pulled and yanked to tighten the Griffin boned corset. A carriage approached the castle, she jumped a bit when she heard the sound of hooves on stone outside.
“Stop squirming, I’m almost done!” The fiery redhead yelled as she gave Vivian a final tug and tied it off at the end. She grabbed Vivian’s damp hair and tied it up with a blue ribbon. Vivian raced down the stairs to greet her husband-to-be, her hair still dripping droplets of water down on her light pink sleeves. The bell shaped dress made it hard to move as she made her way to the castle’s doors. Her mother was already outside greeting the King. Vivian checked her breath and fixed herself as best she could. Her mother came in first laughing about a memory she shared with the King. She led the man in as he took off his cape to reveal an old wrinkled face, grey hair, and teeth that had long since rotted away. Vivian looked past the man, her eyes searching outside to see if there was anyone else coming in. Maybe this was the King's advisor… or his father? She thought to herself before her wishful thinking was brought to an end.
“ This is King Meiteni, as of today you are his.” The Queen approached Vivian and lightly pushed down on her shoulder. “Have you no manners girl? Is this how you welcome a king?”
“N-no, I am sorry my good King I am just… taken aback” She said, the disappointment welling in her heart. She bowed to him and gritted her teeth to fight the tears from appearing. All her life she had dreamt of what her husband would look like, but never did she imagine this. The King approached her. Vivian’s heart skipped a beat each time his shoes hit the floor, time seemed to slow down. He stood in front of her reaching beneath her chin lifting it up towards him. Her tears betrayed her and rolled down her cheeks.
“What a fine girl you are, you will make lots of dashing heirs for me. Now, now don’t cry I have had lots of wives before you. I know what I am doing.” The old man licked his lips and rubbed his thumb across her bottom lip. Vivian, filled with disgust, slapped his hand away.
“Oh? It is going to take a bit to break this one in Ellanora I thought you said she was trained to obey me?” He chuckled turning to the Queen, he shook a satchel tied to his side. It jingled with sound of coins clanging together. The Queen’s face reddened with embarrassment before she grabbed the Princess.
“We will be back in a moment. Natasha, please make the King comfortable and show him to his quarters.” Natasha forced a smile on her face and walked up to the King. Ellanora dragged the princess into the kitchen and threw her atop the counter. The cook and other servants hurried out of the room. She grabbed Vivian’s wrist to hold her in place while she repeatedly slapped the girl in the face.
“ Do you have any idea what you could have caused?” She growled, her usually stoic face contorting into a snarl. “ Do you want a war? Can you be responsible for the countless lives at stake?” She gripped the girl’s neck and pressed her thumbs into her jugular. The girl gasped for air beneath her. The Queen stopped, removing herself from her daughter. She fixed her crown now crooked on her head, and steadied herself. “ Think about what you have done, we can push the wedding back until tomorrow. I suggest you go to your room and think about your duty to your country.” The Queen stepped away closing the door behind her. The princess coughed and hacked caressing her neck gently. Tears rolled down her face. Had her father been alive he would have never let this happen. She dragged herself to her room, each step bringing more sadness. Her heart filled with despair, she ripped off the clothes that covered her and put on her night gown. She crawled into bed and grabbed the storybook from her bedside table. The book was a fairytale, one her father had read to her. She held it close to her heart, the detailed leather cover was decorated with an embroidered rose, her name inscribed on the back.
“Daddy when will I find my prince?” The small girl nestled into the man’s side. Her eyes looking at him with inquisitive wonder.
“Haha when you're older, I don't want to even think about my sweet little girl being taken away by some fool on a white horse” The man laughed heartily at his own joke.
“I want my prince to be like you daddy, strong and kind!” The girl nuzzled her cheek against him. The king laughed softly and pet her hair.
“Vivian, marry the one you love and don’t settle for some half wit prince.” The girl drifted off to sleep warmly.
She recalled the fairy tales her father would read her before bed. Tales filled with courage and love. Tears rolled down her face soaking her pillow. She wept, her body shaking from the anxiety.
Vivian awoke suddenly, she had cried herself to exhaustion. She was parched. sitting up she tried to motivate herself,
“ It is my duty, I will do this for my country. He loves me.” She placed her feet on the stone floor. A cold chill crawled up her body, making her hair stand on ends. She left her room, and silently crept towards the washroom. A light shone from beneath her mother’s chambers. Her mother would always be asleep by this late hour. Curious Vivian passed by the washroom and continued down the hall. As she drew closer she could hear a conversation taking place.
“I expected her to be a lot more submissive, but I guess she takes after you.” A man’s voice stated.
“ No, shes weak just like her father.” Vivian recognized the woman’s voice as her own mother’s. Vivian pushed her ear to the door. “He filled her head with fantasy and it ruined anything of worth in her.” The queen giggled and whispered something luridly. Suddenly her mother’s room fell silent. Then there was the sound of heavy breathing.
“Oh, its been quite a while has it not old friend?” The woman moaned. A slapping noise echoed through the room. Vivian’s stomach turned, she opened the door hesitantly just enough so she could peek in. To her horror she saw a sight she would never forget. Her mother was straddling her fiance. Her hair sprawled wildly across her bare back. Vivian froze, her eyes glued to the grotesque sight. Her mother like an animal moaned and writhed over the old man. Vivian’s nails ground into her palm, cutting into her skin. Eleanora's turned her face towards the door just enough that half of it could be seen. Her eyes met Vivian’s and a wicked grin crawled across her cheeks. At that moment, Vivian felt as if something inside her had shattered.
Before she realized it her body was moving on its own. She had begun running, sprinting, fleeing. Tears flew from her eyes. She reached her room and began throwing her most important belongings into a sack. She threw clothes into it and a small pouch of gold. she threw her drawers open to find anything that stood out. Her hand stopped when she reached her bottom drawer. Inside was the locket her father had given her. She grasped the locket, and held it close to her heart. The guilt of abandoning her country shook her to the core. Vivian fell to her knees and wept. The tears flowed from her eyes like a faucet, they had no sign of stopping.
“Princess?” A whispering familiar voice beckoned from behind. Natasha was standing behind her, a large bag was in her hands. She had her cloak on and her hood up. The princess tremored, her face contorted in sorrow. Natasha ran to her, falling to her side, she wrapped her arms around the girl in an attempt to console her.
“My whole life is a lie, Natasha.” The princess turned to look the handmaiden in her eyes. Natasha frowned at the Princess’s tears. Natasha placed her hands on the Princess’s shoulders and smiled slightly.
“ So run away with me! We can find my father, he lives high in the mountains but its safe there. My father is of the warrior caste, he can protect you. I was waiting for the day you met that man so we could leave together.”
“Did you know, that my mother was like that?” Vivian wept her breath hitching from the hysterics. Natasha averted her eyes and fell silent trying to find the words to explain.
“ It was my duty to know, and to make sure you did not. The Queen has been planning this since before you were even born Vivian. She is a wicked woman. Do not feel guilt for wanting to flee’ It is what is best for you.” Vivian hung her head. A laugh expelled her lips.
“ Somewhere I always knew, that she had no love in her for me. Then again she never said she loved me so it’s not like she lied.” The Princess calmed herself and grabbed Natasha’s hand and held it firmly. “Let us go, to the Mountain of your father, to freedom from this wretched place.” Natasha smiled and stood up, not letting go of her hand the princess stood soon after.
“Here, put these on.” Natasha handed Vivian clothes from the large bag. They were clothes of one of the servant girls that was around the same size as the princess. “We can’t have you drawing attention to us, we need to move fast.” The princess frowned at the worn dull colored clothing, but she hurriedly dressed herself and threw her cloak over her. She draped the chain of her locket across her neck and Natasha instinctively clasped it for her. The princess slipped on her most comfortable pair of shoes and pulled her hood up. “Ready? Once we leave there is no turning back. Don’t let go of my hand no matter what.” Natasha held her hand out and smiled. Vivian hesitated a little, the situation sinking in. She felt something she had not in a long time, Adrenaline. Her heart pounded in her chest as she placed her soft uncalloused hand in the worn hands of her childhood friend. Natasha squeezed her hand lovingly and they were off.