"Your Highness, you must awaken immediately! There is a matter of grave importance that you must attend to!" Favian reached out from under the covers and swatted at his annoying manservant.
"Really Jeffery, who talks like that 'A matter of grave importance'?" Favian imitated his servant with alarming accuracy and then snorted a laugh into his pillow. "Besides, whatever gravely important matterer has come up, I'm positive you can handle it, I trust you." With that, Favian rolled over and began to fall back asleep. Jeffery eyed the Prince and felt a wicked smile curve his lips, grabbing a pillow he began to hit the Prince until he was sure he was being listened to.
"Prince Favian your mother said its very important! It is about your father!" Favian shot up, surprising Jeffrey so that he stumbled back and fell.
"What about my father?" Favian demanded and without waiting for an answer heaved himself out of bed and toward the door. Not bothering to grab a shirt, he rushed down the hall toward his parents corridors, leaving behind whispers as servants and guards wondered what had happened.
He burst into the bedroom and stopped , his mother sat in the corner, her face pale and tear-streaked while his father lay in the bed a healer in a white robe leaning over his still form. "Oh Goddess is he..." the word "dead" got caught in Favian's throat and he struggled to swallow. The healer stood up and made his way toward Favian. Casting a worried glance at the Queen, the healer took his elbow and led him from the room.
"The King is not dead, he suffered a rather serious attack of the heart. If I had not been called in time well..." The healers voice trailed off and he cleared his throat, "As it is, I believe the King will live but if it happens again I doubt he will be so lucky, even with my aid." Favian's gaze trailed to the door as he wondered how this could have possibly happened to his strong father.
"Your highness." The Healers sharp words brought his eyes back into focus and he looked at the healer. "As King of Serkia your father bears much stress and even with good care and lots of rest I fear it will kill him." Favian's eyes widened as he grasped what the healer was saying.
"You mean that you think, it would be best if my father stepped down as King?" His tone was incredulous but the healer's eyes remained steady.
"I do Sire." Favian was quiet for a long time before nodding and meeting the healer's eyes.
"I will speak to my father once he has rested. You are dismissed." The healer bowed and walked away, grabbing his assistant so he could give directions on how to care for the King. Favian's eyes followed after him and even when he was gone he stood thinking.
He was to be King. It was only the muffled sobs coming from his parents chamber that broke his trance. He shook his head and snapped his fingers, immediately a servant appeared at his side.
"Do you need something your Highness?" The girl asked politely.
"Yes. Bring my mother some tea and after she is rested, make sure she is distracted. Prepare her for tonight's ball or something." The servant bowed and scurried away. Favian rubbed a hand over his face and slowly began to walk towards the garden. He felt as though he has suddenly aged ten years, he needed to think.
It was his favorite place in the entire palace, quiet, peaceful, relaxing. He had played here as a child, then is had been a different world, a place to be explored, one away from the "highness, sires and princes." Now it was still an escape but it was no longer a different world, roses perfumed the air, the soft bubble of water calmed his frayed nerves and the rising sun cast the cold gray walls of the courtyard in a warm yellow light.
"I will admit that for a Prince of such low intellect, you have very good taste. This is beautiful." Favian twisted in his seat and saw, standing behind him, Atalanta. She was dressed as she had been the day before, in reds and gold, the only thing missing now was her bow. Even dressed in colors of warmth and framed by the rising sun, Favian could feel the cold waves of contempt radiating from her.
"And I will admit that for a woman of such elegance, you have terrible manners." He turned back around and concentrated on the fountain before him, missing the quick, amused smile Atalanta gave him. She walked over and sat beside him.
"That was interesting. Yesterday you were so chivalrous, what changed?" Her voice was all innocence and Favian cast a quick look at her. Atalanta's face was smooth and blank but her eyes danced with amusement.
He looked back at the fountain and mumbled, "You are right, I'm sorry. It was rude of me to snap at you, after all, even if you deserved it, I am a gentleman."
"What a pity. I've always found gentlemen, chivalry and all that rot, extremely boring. And I am only rude because I despise being treated like a criminal or worse, a china doll. I am neither." Favian was quiet for a moment.
"I am to become King." Surprise flashed across Atalanta's face before it settled back into blankness.
"I fear for your Kingdom." Favian's eyes hardened and he turned to look at the woman beside him.
"My lady, what could you possibly know about running a Kingdom? Or what kind of King I will be? My father taught me well, and I will rule this Kingdom fair and just! I would never allow my people to suffer or permit any threat to what is mine! I will be a great King who, demands love and respect. Now if you would please leave me alone I would be most grateful!"
Atalanta stood and began to walk away, right before disappearing through the arch leading out of the garden she turned and said quietly, "I'm sure you will be. Good day your Majesty."
Favian gaped after her and then, slowly his lips curved into a smile, "Oh."
It was the sun that woke me. Harsh, bright rays of sunlight fell across my pillow from a cloudless sky and I groaned, cursed sun. I yawned and stretched before slowly pulling myself out of bed. and across the room. Still half asleep I gathered a towel and a vial of lily scented soap before stumbling down the stairs and out the door toward the dam. Living away from town certainly had advantages. No one bothered us out here and instead of dragging a tub and heating water for a bath, I could simply bathe in the streams. I stripped down and dived in, allowing the cool water to bring me fully awake. I floated on my back and grinned up at the sky, life was sweet.
After my bath, I took my time drying in the sunlight before heading back home. It was two candle marks after noon when I once again found myself in my room, meaning I had quite a while before the sun would set. I curled my hair and pinned it artfully to my head, with several curls escaping to frame my face. My make-up was simple, just a little kohl to bring out my eyes and some rouge for my cheeks. I looked at myself in the mirror and ran worried fingers over the stone of my necklace. How could I be so sure no one would recognize me? Even with Aaron and James in other parts of the palace what if some noble commented on the oddities of my skin or eye color? Even if I was playing the part of some foreign princess it was risky, did I really dare? I met my reflection's eyes and they hardened determinedly. I could and would do this. If someone recognized me for the commoner I was, I would simply say that I had wanted to see what a ball was like and snuck in, surely I wouldn't be punished to severely...I sighed, there was no point in worrying. Favian wanted me there and I had said I would go, so I was going, it was as simple as that.
I moved over to my bed and eyed the brown package Favian had given to me last night. My fingers shook with anticipation as I slowly unwrapped the paper and picked up the neatly folded dress. I gently shook it out and heard a soft clank as something fell to the floor, laying the dress carefully on the bed I bent over and picked up the mask that now lay at my feet. Two blue ribbons spiraled over my hands from their place at each side of the simple mask. It would have been an ordinary silver, half-face mask, if not for the blue and green stones sparkling along the brow. I turned to the mirror and held it up to my face, the mask hid my horrible scar and gave the illusion of perfection. I sighed at the image, for one night that is what I would be, perfect. For one night, nothing, not my skin, my eyes or even my past would matter. Smiling I laid the mask on the bed and began to face the difficult task of getting into my dress.
After almost a full candle mark of struggling with getting into my dress and buttoning up all the buttons running down my back, I was dressed. Taking a deep breath I turned around to face the mirror and an "Oh Goddess" escaped my lips.
The straps hung just off my shoulders, making the neck swoop in a low, graceful arc. The sleeves flowed from a point, up my arm and down into a smooth bodice that molded to my curves and was intricately beaded with glass beads in ever blue, green and purple imaginable. The material, which I had never seen before, shone with the soft, white iridescence of pearls, catching the light and turning silver, blues and purple. My eyes traveled down to the skirts, which flared at my hips and swayed like temple bells when I moved. It was a magnificent dress and I wondered where Favian had found it at such short notice.
Looking out the window I could see the sun sinking behind the trees and knew the masquerade would be starting soon. Slipping on my mask, slippers and cloak I left the house but instead of turning toward the palace, I turned toward the sound of the ocean. I would have to arrive late so that no one knew I did not have a carriage.
I arrived at the beach just in time to see the last brilliant display of colors painting the sky as the sun sank into the ocean. I held out my arms and felt the final rays of light and warmth caress my face. Tonight people would dance behinds masks of every color, some would be jeweled, some would be feathered but beneath them all the wearer would be the same person they had always been. For me the word masquerade meant so much more, I was to be a whole different person, a dream that didn't really exist. As the first stars began to come out I turned and started back to the palace.
It seemed hardly any time at all had passed when I reached the palace, surprisingly clean and unnoticed. As I walked down the hall to the ballroom I could feel my stomach twisting into knots and I tried to remember how to breathe. The doors leading into the ballroom were huge, and two guards had been appointed to stand on each side so that the guests would not have to open them. Taking a deep breath and holding my head high, I motioned for the guards to open the doors, if I was going to do this, I would do it right.
The doors opened and I stepped to the top of the stairs. Every head turned in my direction, some people stopped dancing and craned their necks, trying to get a glimpse of the later comer. With my heart in my throat I walked down the steps and through the parting crowd, until I stood right in front of Favian. Curtseying low, I held out my hand.
"May I have this dance, you Highness?" Favian was staring at me, his mouth slightly open and as everyone watched I reached up and gently closed it. That seemed to get his attention, regaining his composer, he gave a small bow and nodded.
"Of course." He took my hand and motioned for the band to start playing, I hadn't even noticed they'd stopped. We began to dance and slowly those around us joined in until the room was once again loud and brimming with activity.
"I almost didn't recognize you" Favian murmured.
I smiled, "Well that is the point, you know. This dress is amazing, thank you."
He spun me out and when I was once again in his arms he whispered, "You look beautiful." I blushed and didn't say anything. We danced through the next two songs before some other woman cut in and I was passed off to another partner. The night continued to go on like this until after a while I felt as if I had danced with almost every man in the room.
"Not quite." I spun around from the place I'd been resting and standing there in a red velvet mask and an even more elaborate tunic of flame than before, was Aiden.
"I am sorry my Lord, I did not realize I had spoken my thoughts aloud." He smiled and stepped closer.
"Oh it is quite alright but I would be honored if you would endure dancing with one more man and dance with me." I tried unsuccessfully, to stifle the sigh that escaped my lips, holding out my hand, I gave him a tired smile.
"How could I possibly refuse such an offer?" He grabbed my hand and began to lead me around the dance floor.
"You look stunning tonight Aria." Startled I turned to look at him. No one else had recognized me, partly because I was common and the guests were nobles but the mask and the dress did a good job of transforming me into something totally different than I was.
"How did you know it was me?" He laughed softly.
"Aria, I could never, not know who you are." Confused, I turned my head and began to wonder what those words meant. We began to slow and then stop and I looked around, while I had been lost in thought, Aiden had steered us out of the room and into the garden. He offered me his arm and giving him a strange look, I took it and followed him into the flower scented night.
"Why are we out here?" I asked, looking up into his face.
"Because it's easier to talk this way." My stomach tightened as I recalled the conversation I had overheard between Aiden and his mother.
"Oh and what could we have to talk about?" He glanced at me and then turned his attention back to the stone fountain in front of us.
"You." I laughed nervously.
"There is nothing to really say about me." I reached up and began to run nervous fingers over my necklace. His eyes followed my fingers and then flew to my face."
"That is a fascinating necklace, where did you get it?" He asked, his eyes holding some emotion not portrayed in his voice. I glanced at my hand and forced it down to my side.
"Oh, it's just something I had when they found me." He was quiet as if waiting for me to go on, so I took a deep breath and let the rest tumble out of me. "When I was about ten they found me in-" I paused, remembering he had been found in the very same cove as I had been. "In the woods and when I woke up I couldn't remember anything about who I was or where I'd come from. So the hunter who found me, took me in, named me and all the things I had been wearing went into a dowry, except this. For some reason this just seemed...important, so I kept it." As I was speaking I had moved over to sit on the edge of the fountain and was trailing my fingers through the water. I didn't look at him, but kept my eyes firmly on the swirling patterns the water made around my fingers.
"Rissa." The word was said quietly, brokenly and I turned to look at Aiden. He was staring at me, his eyes wide, with a single tear sliding slowly down his cheek. He wiped it quickly away and settled his face into a calmer, more serious expression. He knelt before me and took my hand, surprised I tried to pull it away but he only held it tighter.
"Do you wish to remember who you are Aria?" I stared at him in shock, my mind swirling with what he'd just said. The soft whisper of my name slipped into the garden and broke through my thoughts, Favian was looking for me. I stood up and began to pull Aiden quickly behind me.
A/N: Alright it seemed like EVERYONE was updating and I was like hmmmm, maybe I should too! So here I am! Well I must say this was not a horribly long hiatus! Some people take longer to update, so I am pleased. Here is the long awaited (who is was waited for by, I have no idea, but heres to hoping) chapter 5 of The Forgotten Element. Those of you who already read the story again I'm so sorry! And I did go back and do a few big changes so maybe skim the chapters or read the story summary in last chapter, cause I fixed it in there. So well, here it is, new and hopefully improved. This is one of those pivotal chapters, the beginning to everything that may come, so I would LOVE input from my lovely readers! I don't really have much to say, and I would do the reader responses but my family just got here and we're doing out christmas thing today and I have to clean quickly, so I PROMISE I'll do them next time! HAPPY NEW YEAR!