Chapter 1

The whole hall was dimly lit, with only candles scattered throughout the table rows. The exception was the rectangular stage, raised slightly higher and in complete darkness. Eleven of the royal palace dancers were crouched here, ready for the closing performance of this night. Amongst them was, the lead dancer and youngest child of the King of Syraine, Freya. At the age of seventeen, she was the pride and joy of her country. Her dark brown hair was done in loose curls tonight, with a simple golden circlet resting on top.

Freya closed her eyes throughout the wait, clearing her mind and calming an anxious heart. But soon these deep, dark brown eyes were back open, as the applause for the previous performance was hushed. To her right, the orchestra also readied, and the sound of clap sticks came out clearly. One, two, three.. Right on cue, the stage came to life with light, and the orchestra resounded. The dancers all immediately stood up straight, in their opening stance, before twirling one by one to their second formation. In the middle remained Freya, still with her back to the audience. And as the other dancers froze, she moved to the detached music with strong actions. Left heel out, right arm back, right arm up, left arm up, arms down. These steps came naturally and without hesitation, the result of hours on weeks of practice. Two sidesteps to the right, back flip twice, left foot cross over, turn to face audience, right foot side step. With a wide smile, she froze here for the audience, and allowing for the expected applause.

As traditional with Syraine dancers, she wore loose red pants that rested on her hips and belled before coming in at her ankles. Her red top that rested on her shoulders had a wide triangular neck, and left her stomach and waist bare. Both items of clothing were lined in gold, matching her gold soft slippers and gold split sleeves. Numerous gold bangles and a gold necklace completed the impressive costume.

As the music started again, she joined her other dancers in a circle formation. Together, they made a magnificent sight of swaying material and graceful bodies. Twirling across the stage, all traces of anxiety left her, and the thrill of dancing had her smiling effortlessly. This was what she was born to do. She was undeniably passionate and talented, with the audience was entranced by her every movement. Upon reaching the front of the stage, she kneeled down to give respects to the guests of honour. Her father, King Solodell of Syraine sat proudly in the middle, and to his left was Freya's brother and heir to Syraine's throne, Prince Raydeh. On King Solodell's right, was Sharne, visiting Prince of Loree and heir to the Loreean throne. But it was the one sitting to the right of the visiting Prince as the future Queen of Loree that kept Freya's attention. Her sister, Phayre. It was such a joy to see her again, back home.

And several spins and light steps later, Freya was standing in the middle of her dancers. She flicked both her wrists outwards, whilst her dancers dropped into kneeling positions, before freezing together in a final stance. A second later, the hall was filled with the sound of clapping. She watched her sister laugh after Sharne whispered something to her ear, and felt like laughing herself. Here she was, performing what she enjoyed most to all the people she loved most.

x

Glancing at herself and Phayre in the mirror, Freya continued to wipe away her face paints. She was seated on a cushioned long seat, while Phayre stood behind. They looked similar, although Freya had darker hair and eyes. Whilst Phayre was blessed with a soft, gentle beauty, Freya was stunning.

"Freya, you were amazing tonight. I wish I could dance like you," Phayre said as she brushed through Freya's long locks.

"Well I wish I was as happy as you."

"You speak nonsense," But of course Freya saw her sister secretly smile to herself.

"Don't lie, I can see you in the mirror."

"Well aren't you perceptive?"

"Tell me, what makes you smile like that? Or should I say... who?" She laughed at her sister's embarrassment, and put down the now dirty cloth.

"What is Sharne like?"

"To you, he is Prince Sharne. It is treason for anyone outside the royal family of Loree to mention him without his proper title."

"I'm sorry. Are you going to hang me?"

"Oh, you are impossible."

"Tell me about him," she urged again, turning around to face Phayre. She watched as her sister sat down also, still smiling.

"Well, alright. I think he will be a good King. He is smart, confident and honourable. And he treats everyone around him well; always just. Loree will flourish and-"

"You bore me to death, sister. Tell me what I actually want to hear," causing Phayre to laugh lightly.

"You truly are impossible. But, well.. Sharne is.. amazing. He always finds time for me, even though he has so much to see it. He respects me, and tells me everything. When he holds me, I feel safe and content. And when.. when he kisses me, I feel.. like I everything is perfect. It doesn't matter how many times he tells me he loves me. Because, I already feel it whenever I'm with him."

The dreamy look stayed on Phayre's face, and Freya stared at her sister in admiration.

"You are truly lucky, Phayre."

"I know."

Freya laughed, before looking away to the wall.

"I'll miss you, Phayre."

"Me too."

"Tomorrow, you leave to return to Loree. And I leave with father, to Thadell."

Phayre sighed. "I'll visit again soon. And besides, I know you'll like Thadell. I've heard that they dance very much there."

A comfortable silence then ensued, in which Freya found herself watching her sister again.

Phayre was the first to speak and stand up, "I think you need your rest tonight, Freya. You are lucky to be visiting Thadell."

"You too, sister. It will be a long journey back to Loree."

"Goodnight Freya."

"Goodnight Phayre," Freya replied as her sister kissed her lightly on the forehead, before walking out and closing the door.

Now that she was alone, she resumed staring at the wall, replaying the night in her head. But soon, another knock was heard, and she got up to open the door. She was met with one of her hand maidens, Yannae

"Princess, I am to inform you of arrangements for tomorrow's journey to Thadell"

"Come in then"

Once in side, Yannae reached for a hair tie on the dresser table, "Would you like me to braid your hair for tonight?"

"Yes, I would," Frey replied, sitting down once again.

"King Solodell wishes for me to act as your decoy once we leave tomorrow."

"Oh. Why?"

"As a daughter of the King, there are many thieves outside the palace walls that would want to take you for ransom. There will only be minimal protection for you once you leave the palace."

"Is our journey set on a dangerous route?"

"No, princess, but it is not the safest of routes either. Only two squadrons of Syraine guards will be present."

"How long will these arrangements be for?"

"Because Thadell is not a kingdom in allegiance to us, you may still be in danger once we reach the royal palace. I am to stay as your decoy through the opening feast. Once the King is sure of your safety, he will give me orders to swap back with you."

"Alright then. Thankyou for your services, Yannae."

"It is my place, princess," she dutifully answered as she finished securing the braid.

As she exited, Freya glanced at her also dark brown hair and slender figure. From behind, this hand maiden would look the same as her. And from memory, she knew that this girl also had dark brown eyes, and similar features. Freya remembered her father introducing this girl to her less than a year ago. She had been hired for the purpose of being her decoy, but would also serve as a hand maiden. But her hair was always pinned up, and her skin disguised as a darker shade with face paints. Only the royal family knew of her role as a decoy.

And so Frey walked over to her bed, and crawled under the covers. Dreams of dancing, Thadell, and love soon overtook her, as she slept silently.

Author's Note:
Oh, first chapter done! I'm so happy. :D So what do you think? Too much boring detail, not enough detail, alright, or perhaps even good? I've had this story in my head for a while now, and I actually have half the story planned out already. I'm a bit unsure though, since I've never written a long story before. I was thinking of starting off with a high school drama fiction instead, but fate intervened. Well anyway, I'd really like to write the second chapter, because a certain very hot, very hot and did I mention very hot, Thoren, Prince of Thadell is in it. ;D So if you want to know what he's like, you better inspire me. (There's a button at the bottom left corner that'll make a window pop up. It says Submit Review. :P Press it!)