The Palace Gates
The horses in their trained line trotted regally into the courtyard. Clovis sat tall in his saddle, a light sheen of sweat covering his body as well as his stead. The old grey stallion tossed his mane and Clovis smiled. The courtyard was lively as stable hands came for the horses, but one woman in the throng stood out.
She was just a maid to most. A nanny fallen from grace who had once tended the Princes of the Palace. Now she only tended a single princess, and not a favored one either. Many wondered where this once proud woman had gone wrong, but she didn't.
"Nanny, dear what's wrong?" Clovis called to her, seeing she was searching the men. She was obviously looking for him.
The 50 year old woman came to his side and bowed low to him. Her golden hair wrapped into a frazzled bun, and the not in her dress sash hastily tied told him all he needed to know about her mood. The old woman's pride wouldn't have let her leave the rooms like that unless she was in a fiery frenze.
"Master Clovis, the young miss was horridly wronged by the First prince!" she didn't bother with trivial greetings. There was no point, the moment she finished those words his eyes darkened. Clovis dismounted and handed her the reins.
"Put General up." his words were an order cast over his shoulder as he headed for the palace. His face was cool and collected, calm even. However his stride was long and quick. The servants who normally tended the returning patrol quickly moved aside for the man on a mission. They may not see him as future emperor, but they knew his temper to be ice rather than fire.
By the time he reached the princess's door his heart was beating faster. Why did Bastil insist on tormenting his daughter? Raina was no threat to Bastil's sons. She was quiet and obedient with no hint of dominance. For crying out loud, she's hardly three! Yet his sons kept targeting her. If he put half the effort into teaching his own sons that he put into correcting Raina who was not his daughter, perhaps they would behave better!
The dark look on his face only grew deeper as he remembered all the suffering his three year old had faced. Not only did Bastil render her motherless, he had to make the child's life harder with his tricks. The worst part was, Raina didn't know why her uncle hated her so. Clovis pushed that from his mind, forcing his face to relax.
Gently, he swept the curtain aside, and walked into his daughter's room. It was simple, but fit for a young princess. Things to keep her entertained, pictures, scrolls, a table and chairs as well as all manners of strings and strips of cloth were available to her.
She was sitting at her table, wearing a pretty little cloth veil was positioned just under her eyes on the bridge of her nose. Soft purple fabric flowed over her mouth and lower face. Her dainty hands were focused on the fabric in front of her. She was weaving several pretty strips together, judging by the way they were tied and the length she was making a hair ribbon.
Her little face looked up to see him there, her soft blue eyes filled with sadness. His heart quivered as he realized the depth of her feelings. Lost, hurt, helpless, and pain all poured through her eyes. Clovis forgot his position, and knelt down, putting one forearm over his knee and beckoned his daughter over.
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