| The dawn splashed a pink glaze over the valley as it stretched across the green grass. It floated past the wheat fields, past the the small houses within the great stone walls, all the way to the highest point where a grand castle sat on a very hill. The cold stone of the castle sparkled in the light.
Sabra Hereford was oblivious to the morning light for she was asleep in her bed. The warm blankets were wrapped tight around her. As she slept in her bed, the door opened a crack, and in slipped a small woman. Her dress rustled as she shuffled across the room from where Sabra was sleeping. She went over to the curtain that hid the room from the sun. She paused and a little smirk crept across her face. She abruptly yanked the curtains open. Sunlight burst into room, lighting everything, then finally setting on Sabra's face. Her eyes twitched open only to be blinded by the sun. She hid her head under the blanket. "Peoria, shut those curtain before I am forced to strangle you with them!" Sabra's muffled voice hollered from under the covers.
"I have already let you sleep ten minutes more than usual. Now it is time to get up. If you don't hurry up, you'll be having cold oats instead of hot ones for breakfast," with that Peoria left the room. Sabra groaned and threw the covers off. She stretched then quickly. She braided her long hair down her in a single braid down her back after which she ran downstairs to the dining room .
In the dining room, there was a long polished wooden table with four chairs placed at it, one on each side. Three of the chairs were occupied by two young men and an older one. Sabra took the empty chair. "Good morning, father. Good morning, Basel, Arviat," Sabra said sweetly.
"Good morning, sleepy head." Luarent Hereford replied, "I'm sure you've had enough sleep." Luarent sat at the head of the table. The way he looked exuded a certain confidence and authority. His once chestnut brown hair was now a dark gray. His eyes were a deep hazel and shown with confidence. Even at his age, he was a handsome man.
"Probably more than enough. I swear, you are as lazy as a cat, Sa." Basel Hereford smirked at his sister. He looked like a younger version on their father with just as much confidence and authority.
In response, Sabra purred loudly then let out a "meow". The whole table burst into laughter. The loudest laugh coming from Arviat Hereford, who across from Sabra. Arviat looked the most like their mother. He had hair the color of straw, deep piercing blue eyes that always shone with laughter. Freckles were scattered across his face and his smile was wide and bright. He too had confidence, but a different kind. Sabra had long chestnut brown hair like her father and brother, but her eyes were pools of gray that hinted at mischievousness.
Peoria came in the with a bowl of oats and fresh fruit. Sabra mumbled a 'thank you' as Poeria left the room. Sabra had only one bite of food before her father clared his throat loudly. "As you all well know, the Lancasters of Beliot will be staying here during the Paz festival. I expect you all to be polite and generous hosts to them," he paused to look at them sternly, "Basel, after the Paz festival it is likely I'll be going to Beloit for business; therefore, I will be leaving you in charge, understood," Basel nodded,"Good, and Sabra, I believe I I tolf you that the Liards have moved into Amber Manor. You are to take Lord Liard's youngest daughter under your wing for a while."
Sabra scoffed," You want me to babysit some snotty little girl?"
"You are one to talk."muttered Arviat. Sabra shot him a glare.
"We will not talk that way at the table. Do not refer to someone as snotty whether they are or not." Luarent's voice boomed over the table. He was not exactly yelling, but it had a internally deafening power over you.
Sabra bowed her head in shame as she mumbled, "Sorry, father.Yes, father."
"Good. I will see you all at the ball." Her father gave her one last look then left the table. The table ate quietly as they listened to their father leave the manor.
"Why do you always have to be so defiant, Sa?" Basel said in a scolding tone.
"I do not do it on purpose," she retorted defensively. She looked Basel in the eye challengingly.
"Whatever." Basel got up and left, leaving Arviat and Sabra in silence. Sabra thought about how everybody was always saying how defiant she was. She didn't mean to be, but for some reason she kept on getting into trouble. She decided to push the thought away as Arviat got up and leftmuttering a quick goodbye. Sabr ate the rest of her now luke-warm oats in silence and left as well.
At the stables, the stable boy had two horse already waiting for her. One was white with brown spots and the other was dark black. Midnight was name. She was Sabra's horse. Sabra gave the table stable boy a small silver coin called a Drey, as she took the rains of both horses. Sabra walked them down the winding road away from the grand castle that sat at the top of the hill. She lead the horses down to the foot of the hill, into the busy streets of the town. The streets were filled with people all donig many things at once. Venders and mothers were debating as their children played in the streets. Sabra worked her way through the crowd to a small house. A sweet aroma floated to her as she came to the door. A squat woman answered when she knocked.
"Good morning to you madam." Sabra gave her a sweet smile.
"Good mornin', my lady, Jasper is already here, come in." The woman stepped aside to let Sabra through. Sabra stepped into a small warm room. A young man sat in the corner watching intently. He wore a solemn expression. Sabra went over to him and sat down in a wooden chair. "Here's a loaf for ya. Just came outta the oven." The woman handed the bread to her in a sack to keep the heat in.
"Thank you, that is kind." Sabra handed her a couple of Pios, the gold coins of the five kingdoms. "How is Dryden?" Sbara turned to the young man in the corner. The young man gave her a fearful expression. He shook is head.
"Not good, not good at all." He finally replied. Sabra nodded, trying to comprehend what Jasper was saying. She turned back to the woman.
"May we see him, madam?" Sabra asked getting to her feet. The woman shook her head.
"No. He...He is in the contagous stage of the Sickness." replied the woman. Sabra could tell she was fighting back tears. Sabra felt helpless.