Villette looked at herself in the mirror that hung over her bedroom wall. Her golden blond hair draped om curls over her shoulders and her soft light skin, almost glistening from the morning sun that shone in through her chamber's large decorated window. Her bright, emerald eyes observed the beautiful white dress she'd chosen for the day as a maid tied a pink ribbon in her hair.
She felt that she was too old for such things — she was almost ten now, after all — but mother kept insisting. She said it was cute.
Villette glanced at the ribbon as the maid fastened it. Perhaps it wasn't that bad...but she still thought she was too old for it.
As soon as the maid had finished preparing her Villette rose from her dressing table and looked around her chamber. Perhaps it was time to discard some of the items here too. She didn't have much use for her dolls and tea table anymore, and the bright pink decor didn't lend much to her image as a mature girl.
Putting the matter to the back of her mind, Villette instructed the maid to let her be and left her chamber behind, walking through the corridors of the mansion. She'd already had her breakfast, and so, decided to go and observe some of the family's knights during their morning practice. It was one of her favorite pastimes. If she was lucky she might even manage to convince Sir Larne to instruct her some today too.
Hearing the sound of steps on the carpeted marble floor she turned around a corner wondering who it might be. The servants mostly performed their cleaning early in the morning before she left her chambers, so except for her family there weren't many people that moved about in the main estate at this time.
Further down the hallway was a small figure with its back turned away from her. The only distinguishing feature she saw was their short, jet-black hair and clothing.
No, that wasn't right. Her younger brother was taller than that. And he wasn't that thin.
"Who are you?" she asked, taking a few steps closer to the person.
The small child stopped in their tracks and spun around to look at her, their appearance leaving Villette confused.
"Me?" the boy asked, pointing at himself. His black hair hung lightly over his bright blue eyes. He had good features, although his skin was quite pale. It definitely wasn't Gian — this boy was younger than him — but she felt that he looked familiar.
"I..." the boy seemed to hesitate for a moment. "Name is Khalid," he said with a slight grimace.
Villette's eyebrows shot up as the memory of her youngest brother flashed through her mind.
Khalid...Is that truly him?!
Her gaze moved across and examined the boy several times over. He did indeed look similar to what she remembered of her youngest brother. But he looked much healthier and livelier than before, and he lacked that stupid expression that was constantly plastered on his face on all the previous occasions that she'd seen him — few as they were.
He was always locked inside his chamber and the only times she'd had a chance to meet him were during those rare moments when mother had brought him out for family dinner. All he'd done was sit there, drooling as the servants fed him. It'd been almost a year since she last saw him.
She had heard that he suddenly started moving on his own a couple of months back, and mother wouldn't stop talking about how smart he was for learning to say words even a two-year-old knew, but as far as she was concerned he still sounded like an idiot. He was five years old and only now did he start talking?
She wasn't expecting someone like him to be moving about on his own in the mansion.
"Who are you?" he asked, pulling Villette out of her thoughts. It was clear that he wasn't accustomed to talking. It sounded odd. Like he had some weird accent.
"I am Villette Arndal." she said.
"Arndal?" the boy stroked his chin. The action looked out of place on such a small child. The head butler often did the same, but he was a grown adult and it looked much more natural on him. He also had a beard.
"Then," Khalid pointed to himself once again. "sister?"
Villette inclined her head slightly. "Yes, I am your older sister. I am ten years old." she paused. Was there any point in telling him her age? Could he even count? She shook her head and reaffirmed her gaze on him. "What are you doing here? Why are you alone?"
The boy let his hand down and looked around the hallway, his eyes stopping on a large painting on the wall. It depicted one of their ancestors — a strong-looking figure in bright polished armor and a beautiful sword in their hand.
"Exploring," he said, paying much attention to the picture. "Who that?" he pointed at the portrait.
She frowned. "That is Werner Sinclair Arndal. A famous knight and our ancestor. He's renowned for having slain a dragon." she said. "But you didn't answer my question. Is there no one escorting you?"
Khalid examined the painting further as he shrugged his shoulders. "Got lost somewhere."
"You got lost?"
He shook his head. "No. Escort lost somewhere. I not pay attention." his head turned to look at her. "What dragon? he asked.
Did he run away from the servant that was escorting him? Mother would go crazy if she learned of this. Villette didn't like it, but she might have to lead him to this servant. "Which dragon?" she said offhandedly, trying to think of where she was most likely to find the servant. She was wasting time here. The knights wouldn't be training all morning. "It was a red dragon, but I do not believe it had a known name."
Khalid shook his head again. "Not dragon name. What a dragon?"
Villette's eyes widened. "Oh. You're asking what a dragon is."
"It is a large magical beast with wings that can live for very long. This one could also breathe fire."
Khalid stroked his chin again as he looked down at the floor. "It has a tail and hard skin like big...lizard?"
"Yes, a dragon has a tail and like a lizard it has scales."
Hearing that, the boy's eyebrows rose and he looked at the painting again, nodding slowly. "Strong."
"Yes, very. Now, where do you think your escort might be?" Villette asked. She didn't feel like explaining these simple things to him when she had other things to do.
"Don't know," he answered.
She took a few steps closer to him and grabbed his arm. "Then we will go find them. Where did you last see them?"
He gave her an odd look before smoothly pulling his arm away from her grasp. "No, I fine. And tired of them. Exploring now."
She let out a sigh. "You cannot move around the mansion by yourself. Mother will not approve of it."
He regarded her silently for several seconds, then held out his hand toward her. "Ok. Bring me book place. Mother not complain then."
"You want me to bring you to the...library?"
"Library?" he looked confused. "Not book place?"
He shook his head. "Ok. Then bring me library."
She examined his face. "Why?"
"...Books?" he raised one of his eyebrows. When did he learn that? He was only five years old. She couldn't do that.
"Can you even read?" she asked.
He nodded. "Some."
She doubted that, considering the trouble he had with merely speaking. But maybe it wasn't such a poor idea. If she led him to the library she could just find another servant on the way to the training grounds and ask them to take care of him. Then she wouldn't have to spend too much time with all of this. If he wanted to play with some books that he couldn't understand, then let him.
"Very well," she said as she took hold of his hand. "I'll take you to the library. But you cannot leave until someone comes and get you. Is that understood?"
"And you shouldn't tell mother about you getting lost. It would cause trouble for everyone."
"Understood. Mother no need to know."
She looked at him. He was smiling. Did he understand everything she said? She'd assumed he didn't, but maybe he did...
Letting out a sigh she turned around with her younger brother's hand in hers and began leading him through the winding corridors of the mansion.