Her Majesty, Queen Oliva Salidoris, was on display in her Crystal Throne at the northern end of the Great Hall. Today was the first day of summer and one of only four days that she required her three daughters, the four Governors and the local nobility to attend her. Dark and curly shoulder length hair, adorned with golden threads containing delicate pink blossoms and tiny green leaves, framed the face of a mature yet strikingly beautiful woman. The intricate Crown of Dahlian, nestled atop the curls, appeared to anchor the golden threads in place. A sleeveless, floor length gown was the color of spring wheat in celebration of the new season. The gown was trimmed with the same profusion of leaves and blossoms at the hem, waistline and neckline which was cut just low enough to hint at the femininity hidden within.
Intense hazel eyes, partially hidden behind lowered dark lashes, scanned the courtyard as she greeted her guests with a nod and a distracted but benevolent smile. The fingers of her right hand continued to tap out a rhythm on the arm of the throne despite her best efforts to still them. Today’s major announcement involved an agreement that had been reached concerning Princess Sofia. One that she was completely unaware of and the Queen was concerned what her hot tempered daughter’s reaction would be. At a discreet signal from the Queen, the Seneschal lowered his head to hers.
“Any word as to the whereabouts of Princess Sofia?” she whispered.
“No, your Majesty. The servants are being uncommonly tight lipped. No one has seen the Princess since late last night.”
Just then a movement at the southern entrance to the chamber caught her eye like a breath of air rustling the leaves of a single tree branch. A young woman dressed in a blindingly white gown with folds of sheer lace down the sleeves and around the neck, strode down the aisle. The lethal grace of her movements was a testament to the years of clandestine lessons she had been receiving from the retired arms-master. The Princess had been successful in keeping the secret from the rest of the court but what she didn’t know was that her mother had set up the lessons in the first place.
A wave of silence spread out from the Princess as the sea of courtesans parted in front of her on the way to the Throne. Even from far away the Queen could see the anger smoldering in the eyes of her youngest daughter. Knowing her daughter wouldn’t have created a dramatic entrance on purpose, something or someone must have delayed her. The Queen’s suspicions were confirmed as she caught the barely suppressed smirk and look of distain on the face of her middle daughter, Princess Dianna.