Princess Vyollette Jenae Lycaon
The once ice blue roses, with purple stems, burgundy thorns, and dark green leaves, stood in the vase, black and wilted. The roses on a table outside her bedroom, picked every three days, didn’t wilt this fast. How could this be? She thought. What could cause them to wither so quickly? Can the curse be real? I thought it was all just talk to scare me.
"Ray! Ray!” She called. “Where is that Nissee anyway?” Vyollette muttered to herself as she looked around for her handmaid, Raygen Jacy. Vyollette stood at the table with her hands on her hips.
Raygen was a Nissee; neither human nor Wicht. Nissees were an off-spring of a Wicht mother, a creature of beauty with large pointed ears, very thin and large eyes, and a human father. Wichts shunned Nissees and most humans did the same.
"Yes, Princess, I'm here," Raygen said, as she strolled into the room.
"Where have you been?" Vyollette demanded.
"I—" Raygen approached Vyollette.
"Whatever. I really don't care where you have been or what you've done. You need to find out what is wrong with my roses,” Vyollette said. She picked up the wilted roses and thrust them at Raygen.
"Yes." Raygen took the black wilted roses gingerly; the prick of the thorn could cause her to become very ill. "Thank you, Princess. Is there anything else I may do for you, Princess?" Raygen turned to leave, and Vyollette could hear her cursing her under her breath. Vyollette shrugged her shoulders, she had too much to think about today.
"No. Just get me fresh roses by the time I return. I have to eat breakfast with my parents this morning. The King summons me." Vyollette turned and went into her bedroom.
She dressed in blue silk bell bottom pants and a mid-thigh length tunic of the same blue, trimmed in a white gold rose pattern, with black boots. Her sleek black hair shined like a black diamond down the length of her back to the end of her tunic. The only jewelry she wore, on her right finger, was the ring of her house; a gold band encircled with violet diamonds, and a black pearl in the middle.
Vyollette walked out of her bedroom and smiled, Raygen had replaced the wilted roses with fresh ones. The smell filled the room with spring that awaited her outside by her favorite spot, beyond the castle walls. Squaring her shoulders, she tried to present a strong façade. Building up her courage, she lifted her chin, reached for the door handle and saw her hand shake. She took a deep breath, put her other hand on top and with both hands opened the door. Vyollette had never defied her Father, her King.
As Vyollette descended the stairs, cut from the black and white swirl stones of Volny, all she could think about, 'was her decision an act of treason?' If so, her King, her Father, could condemn her to death. But would he?
"Hey, sis, wait up," a voice behind her said.
Vyollette turned and saw her brother, Wyane, behind her on the stairs. "Brother, are you coming to breakfast for the food or for the show?" Vyollette asked. Wyane had her father's dark blue piercing eyes that looked into one’s soul when one didn't want them there. His dark brown hair fell over his eyes despite his effort to keep it away. In his sixteen years, he had a half-foot of height on Vyollette and about fifty pounds of weight. Wyane dressed in tan pants and a white tunic that brought out the caramel of his skin. Some of the handmaids would call him handsome, but to Vyollette he was just the ugly little boy who followed her around.
"My King summons me to breakfast just as he did you. I'm guessing that is why you are coming down as well," Wyane said as he descended the stairs next to Vyollette.
Neither Vyollette nor Wyane had had breakfast with their parents in the main hall for years. How long? Vyollette couldn't recall. Today, the ninetieth day before Vyollette's twentieth birthday, she had only to guess what the conversation would be about. She just couldn't marry someone she didn't know or didn't love. It wasn't right to ask this of her. Was it?
"So you have made your decision then?" Wyane asked.
"Yes," Vyollette said.
"And Mother and Father are not going to like it?" Wyane asked.
"No,” Vyollette replied.
"Maybe you should hear them out," Wyane said.
"Why? Would they hear me out?" Vyollette asked.
"Maybe, if you didn't act like a spoiled little Princess." Wyane smiled at Vyollette and touched her shoulder. "Just hear them out." Wyane finished descending the stairs.
Vyollette paused, perplexed that her brother didn’t side with her. After all, if she made a point to not marry who they wanted, he would be able to choose when it came time for him to wed. Her parents had used the excuse that a necromancer had put a curse on Volny, and only she and this Prince Cyar of the Cougar-Lynx House could break it. Vyollette doubted it.
* * *
Vyollette descended the stairs behind her brother still in a quiver. Her footsteps, on the black and white swirl of tile, echoed in her ears like a drum of doom. She took a deep breath, then entered the breakfast room.
A long breakfast table, and massive chairs made from the chocolate tree, that sat twenty-two comfortably, but dwarfed the room. Five male Wichts lined the wall closest to the kitchen. Their presence disturbed Vyollette; she wrinkled her nose, and narrowed her eyes. Unlike female Wichts, male Wichts were short, hairy, crinkled noses, and beady eyes.
Her Father, King Lycaon, sat at the head of the table on the east side of the room. Her Mother, Queen Lycaon, sat to the right of her father. Her mother once told her, “the wife should always sit to the right of her husband, she is her husband's right hand, this will make sure her husband knows he must consult her before he makes decisions in all aspects of life.”
Wyane sat to the right of Queen Lycaon, so Vyollette had to sit to the left of her Father or sit to the right of her brother. She chose to sit to the left of her Father, to keep his graces in her decision.
King Friderich Lycaon, King of the North-West Realm of the Wolf-Fox House, sat at the table, back straight against the chair, fists clutched his knife and fork as if they would run from him just as Vyollette wanted to do.
"Good morning, Daughter," King Lycaon said.
Vyollette barely glanced at her parents and said, "Good morning Father, Good morning Mother." The screech of the chair as a Wicht ran up to pull it away from the table made Vyollette's heart skip a beat. She flinched.
"Thank you." She sat, reached for her napkin, and looked at her plate with scrambled eggs and sausage that another Wicht placed before her. She swallowed the lump building in her throat. They will understand.
King Lycaon turned to his wife and said, "How are the wedding plans going?"
Vyollette looked up at her Mother. Queen Aylen Lycaon's gray eyes met Vyollette's. She nodded her head toward Vyollette. "Why don't you ask your daughter?" She folded her hands under her chin.
"Vyollette?" King Lycaon asked.
Vyollette looked at her mother, her black hair pinned up in a perfect bun style with her small crown perfectly positioned on her head. Her blue dress hugged her shoulders, the neck line just below the base of her throat. Always the regal Queen, Vyollette thought. Did her mother know the answer to her father's question?
"There's not going to be a wedding," Vyollette said, so quiet no one heard her.
"Speak up child," her Father said.
Vyollette turned her eyes and attention to her father. King Lycaon an impressive man, stood six-foot three-inch, his muscular form warded over her. His dark brown hair hid the small crown centered on his head.
"I said," Vyollette raised her voice, "there's not going to be a wedding."
King Lycaon's eyes narrowed and his face turned the same crimson color of his tunic. "What do you mean there's not going to be a wedding?"
"It's my life," Vyollette said. She picked up her fork, looked at her breakfast, and let out a ragged breath.
"You need to do the right thing for Volny!" King Lycaon said.
“I don’t want to do the right thing,” Vyollette said, looked from one parent to the other. "Don’t I get a say in my life?” Her silver fork hit the gold rimmed porcelain plate, with a loud clunk. She was no longer hungry. She had no patience, and didn't want to talk about this wedding anymore. The breakfast area of the great hall echoed with a loud screech as Vyollette pushed the heavy wooden chair back and stood. She wanted to run from the hall. Run from her all planned out life. Her face bright red with anger, Vyollette said through clenched teeth, “May I please be excused?” She still needed to show respect, after all they were her parents, and her King and Queen.
"No!" King Lycaon brought his fist down on the table, "this conversation is not over, young woman." The two diamond and ruby chandlers hanging from the ceiling swayed from the force. Food bounced from plates, and a glass of orange juice tipped, spilling its contents among the mess. A Wicht moved from the wall, "Leave it!" King Lycaon brought his hand up to keep the Wicht in his place.
“Vyollette, you have barely touched your breakfast.” Queen Lycaon glared at the King.
“All of a sudden I’m not very hungry, Mother.” Vyollette crossed her arms and sat back down with a huff. To leave was an act of treason against her King and Queen. They had not dismissed her.
"I don't care if you are hungry or not, you will eat your breakfast." King Lycaon again brought his fist down on the table, this time even Wyane jumped.
Wyane sat eating his breakfast. Why didn't he come to my defense? Vyollette thought.
"We are going to finish this conversation, and I don't care if you like it or not." Down came his fist again on the table.
Vyollette's heart beat hard against her chest. She put her hand over the left side of her chest to calm the frantic organ. She looked intently at her father's face red and flared nostrils. The raged bull emerged, and Vyollette needed to calm the situation.
"Please father, can we talk about this later,” Vyollette pleaded.
"I'm the King," King Lycaon jabbed a thumb into his chest, "and I said we are going to finish this conversation now!"
Queen Lycaon rolled her eyes, "Vyollette, we can finish this conversation at dinner. You may be excused."
"No, Aylen." King Lycaon turned his attention to his wife, "the girl has to learn that I'm not just her father but her King, and what I say is law."
"Law?" Queen Lycaon asked. "She is not one of your servants or one of your plebeians to just boss around,” Queen Lycaon took a breath, stood with her hands on the table and stared down her husband, "and I will not have you treat her as such. She is your daughter, and you need to give her some time to digest this situation."
Vyollete stood still to see what her parent’s decision would be. She always wondered if it was really her mother that ruled the Realm. Her father, so in love with her mother, never argued with her decision.
"Digest what situation?" King Lycaon asked, looked up to his wife.
Queen Lycaon, though small in stature, loomed over her husband. Her dark tan skin showed no sign of being frustrated with the situation before her.
King Lycaon held up his hands in defeat. "She has known what was expected of her since she was ten, Aylen."
Queen Lycaon stood, crossed her arms and looked down at her husband.
"Fine. Go." He flicked his hand toward Vyollette. "But we are not done with this conversation."
"Thank you, Mother." Vyollette nodded to King Lycaon, "Father."
Between her footsteps, she heard her father say, "That child is so spoiled, Aylen.”
“Have patience with her, Frid. She is doing the best she can to understand. After all, it is not her curse,” was her mother’s response.
Vyollette stopped at the base of the stairs to listen. All anyone talked about lately was her upcoming wedding to Prince Cyar. She didn’t want to marry the Prince, or anyone else for that matter. She didn’t love him, she didn’t even know him. She didn’t love anyone at this moment. What did her mother mean by ‘that the curse was not hers’? Vyollette waited but neither her Mother nor Father said anything else.
Her heavy footsteps pounded the stairs that ascended to her room on the second floor of the North wing of the Lycaon mansion.
Another huff expelled from Vyollette’s mouth as she reached her room’s massive doors. The double doors were eight feet tall, and made from the hard wood of the cherry trees that grew within the forest, behind the mansion. She had to cool off. She was going to go for a swim in the lake in the forest. It was early summer and the dip would cool her overheated body. It would also calm her nerves. With the buzz about her twentieth birthday, and the wedding, she was definitely on edge.
She entered the soft pink, egg-shell accented room. Her sanctuary. A sitting room with a maple wood table, seated six with matching chairs off to the left of the doors. Opposite was a full size egg-shell colored couch with a matching settee. Windows adorned the side of the room with the table and chairs. On the other wall was a huge fireplace laid in front of the couches. In the middle of the room was a small round glass table that had fresh-cut ice blue roses. She walked past all that to another door which hid her sleeping chambers. The bed laid on the left side of the room and the bathroom to the right side. She made a beeline for the bathroom to grab a towel. The room was large enough to hold a full size tub, walk in shower, sink and other door to the toilet at the back of the bathroom.
She grabbed an oversize towel and strolled out in a somewhat better mood. Swimming was one of her favorite past times.
“So where are you going?” a voice said.
“Oh. Hi, Ray,” she said. Raygen Jacy was her best friend and hand maiden. She was just an inch or so shorter than Vyollette, with strawberry blonde hair, pale white skin, and emerald eyes that sparkled like gemstones. She was seven years older than Vyollette, and her hand maiden since Vyollette was ten. “I’m going for a swim. Care to join me?”
“Uh no, but do you want to talk?” Ray said cocking her head to the right.
“Talk? Talk about what?” Vyollette asked. She looked at the Raygen and crossed her arms.
“You know what. Don’t give me that.” Ray crossed her arms and stared down Vyollette.
"About what happened just now with my parents? No. Well maybe later, but not now, I need to cool off first,” Vyollette said as she walked past Ray on her way out the door.
“Okay, I’ll be here when you need to talk,” Ray said, "or when you want to apologize."
Vyollette stopped and turned around "Apologize?"
"Yes," Ray said, her arms still crossed.
"Why?" Vyollette asked.
"That conversation with your parents must have really upset you," Ray said.
"You mean for this morning about the roses?" Vyollette asked.
"Yes,” Ray said.
"Well you know how much those roses mean to me, and you are the servant. Aren't you." Vyollette made sure that last part was not a question, turned and walked out the door.
She walked out of the house as fast as she could to avoid any further altercations with her parents. Strolling past the grounds keepers and security guards, she pushed a button to open the gates of the fence surrounding the mansion.
“My Princess,” one of the guards at the gate said. He put his hand up. "You need soldiers to accompany you?"
“No. I’m sorry I don’t know your name, sir?” Vyollette said as she looked up at the guard and blinked her eyelashes rapidly.
“It’s Terry, my Princess,” the guard said. He turned rosy color as he looked around to see if anyone else saw what the Princess had done.
“No, Sir Terry, I’m just going to the lake for a private little dip." Vyollette stood very close to the young guard now. “I won’t be far. I’m sure you will be able to hear my screams if anything should happen to me.” She looked deep into the young guard’s eyes.
She knew that he should not let her go into the forest alone. What should it matter; she would be only a scream away, right?
“As you wish Princess,” Sir Terry said, and let the Princess pass.
Her footstep crunched on the little path she’d made with many times she frequented the lake with the cascading waterfall. The tall cherry wood and chocolate trees stood at attention as she passed. The birds sang above her. A smile came across her rose colored lips and pink to her sun-kissed cheeks. She started to whistle a tune she had heard from the night before. She twirled down the path to the song of the birds and her tune in a better mood then she had left the mansion. The marriage was off.
Looking up into the trees as she walked, she thought she saw a shadow, but shrugged it off.