Monday, January 18, 2016

Katherine of Carpenchia: Episode 3

Katherine wailed, spread out on her bed like jam on a muffin.

A knock sounded at the door. "Not now, Elsie," Katherine whined, lifting her tired head up a bit.

"It's me, Celine," came Celine's warm voice from the other side of the door.

"Oh. Well. Come in, then," said Katherine.

Celine entered. Her long, perfect, platinum curls spilled over her shoulders onto a satin gown of deep blue, trimmed with lace. "You can't just miss your own ball," she said.

"I can if I want to," pouted Katherine.

"No, you can't," said Celine gently. "Everyone down there is wondering where you are. It's a ball to celebrate you, Katherine! You, the new Queen! You can't miss it. I know, I know, you've never liked such things. I'm not begging you to like it, I'm just begging you to go."

"No," said Katherine. "They're all a bunch of puffed-up ninnies down there. They think they know better, are better than me just because I'm young. They're horrible."

"They'll be even more horrible if you don't show," pointed out Celine. "Come on, I promise I'll be with you the whole time."

Katherine rolled over onto her side. "Promise?"

Celine nodded. "Promise."

"All right," Katherine sighed.

Celine helped pull her out of bed.

Katherine stood up and brushed herself off.

"Why," cried Celine, "Katherine, you look absolutely beautiful!"

Katherine snorted as she followed her friend out the door. "No, you look beautiful," she said. "I look like a walking wedding cake. I hate my tailor."

They arrived downstairs in the ballroom, slipping through one of the side doors. Around them, lords and ladies in silks of plum and buttercup held delicate champagne drinks as their laughter tinkled up to the gilded ceiling. The whole hall was lit splendidly with chandeliers dripping in gold, especially the center, where a few young couples were waltzing to the sounds of harp and piano wafting across the room from the other side.

"How long do we have to be here?" whispered Katherine. But Celine's eye was focused on something else.

Standing by a window, solitary and stern as always, was the most despised lady in the Court - Lady Marella Appadeia Coswyn. Celine remembered her from when she'd lived in Carpenchia. The lady was permanently grumpy, unfailingly stingy, and perpetually out to be a foil to whatever plan the Queen Illiandra had had. But that wasn't what interested Celine.

The main thing that interested her was that Lady Marella held in her hand an exact copy of the handkerchief dropped by the assassin earlier that day.

"Celine," hissed Katherine, jerking her friend back to the moment. "Celine Mae'telle! How long do we have to be here?"

"Just a few moments," said Celine quickly, who was now worried for her friend's safety. "Why don't we get food? I'll fetch drinks and you can choose desserts."

Katherine conceded to this plan. Food was good, very good. If you were in the middle of stuffing yourself with a pastry, you might look so occupied that people wouldn't approach you for conversation. The trick would be getting to the desserts and back without being caught - but she was sure she could manage that somehow. "All right," she said.

"Good," said Celine, and started off quickly - not for the drinks, but for something else.

Caihanna stood against the wall in a corner, dutifully keeping an eye on her mistress, as always.

"Caihanna," Celine said, coming over. "I need to talk to you." She lowered her voice to barely audible. "The assassin that appeared earlier - I am sure she was sent by the Lady Marella. You must keep an eye on her and search her rooms to see if you can find any condemning evidence."

Caihanna nodded. Of course. At last, a bit of excitement, break from the tiresome ways of the Courts, and back to her roots as a street thief in Marigo. "Yes, my lady," she said, and slipped off. She would find Elsie, wherever the girl was, and set about the task immediately.


So, what do you think? Did Lady Marella send the assassin, or is she innocent? Are you excited for the next bit? Is the suspense high?

{on the other side of reality}

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