Once, every month, the Kingdom of Wisteria held a commoner's court in one of its many great halls. During the eighth month on the nineteenth day, in the early morning, the doors of the castle had swung open to let in the eagerly awaiting populace.
The crowd murmurs in excitement as heads swivel around to take in the rich structure of the castle. They ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the golden trim lining the walls, the solid marble columns, and the large windows that let in the gentle beams of the sun. The royal guards decked out in a blue uniform, escort the crowd to the red great hall.
The crowd parts, and shuffles to either side of the expansive hall.
All eyes fall to the throne, and many gawk and gap at the king, the two princes, and the few nobles standing to the side of them.
Today, the king sits only two steps above the crowd. He was an elderly man but had an air of youthfulness. His grey, nearly white hair fell just above his broad shoulders, and his beard and mustache were carefully groomed. He wore clothes that could only be worn by a king, and jeweled crown on his head was eye-catching even at the back of the crowd.
In the pictures on the wall in the hall, the commoners had to walk through before entering, it showed a much younger king with golden hair and sparkling blue eyes. It was a trademark of the Silvan Royal family. Most of his children inherited his yellow locks and the exact shade of blue of his eyes, but few did not. Many in Wisteria saw the familiar features of their king in his children as proof of their legitimacy.
The crown prince Rodale, standing on the kings right in white and blue, and the second prince Orin, standing on the kings left in green and white, were almost mirror images of the king and the second queen.
The commoner young girls and woman took special note of the handsome princes, and their sighs of infatuation could be heard faintly as the crowd starts to simmer down.
The old councilor steps forward with a scroll clasped in his hands. He unrolls it before addressing the common folk.
“We shall now begin court,” He announces in a booming voice, and the crowd goes silent. He turns to one of the guards and nods to them, “Please bring forth the first case of the day,” he tells them and the guard nods before leaving.
The guard soon returns with two people following nervously after him.
They walk forward until they stand in front of the king, and both bow low.
“Greetings, your highness,” The both intone.
The king smiles kindly down at them, “Greetings, my people.” He says to them and they slowly straighten.
“Please state your case,” The councilor says to one of the men as he shuffles forward at the base of the stairs.
The man startles a bit before carefully unfolding a ragged piece of parchment with shaking hands. After clearing his throat and having two false starts, his launches into his grievances.
In the crowd, the older common folk listen attentively, while the younger ones shift impatiently and lean close to friends and family and start whispering gossip as the court continues in the background.
“That's him, isn’t it? The one in the blue?” A young girl with light brown hair whispers.
“The crown prince? Yeah, it is,” A girl with short, dark blond hair says. She stares dreamily at the crown prince and even swoons a bit.
“Wasn’t he the one in the papers early this month?”
The dark blond blinks once “Oh! Your right. I can’t believe I almost forgot about that! Do you think that it is true what it said, Pat?”
Pat nods her head, “I do, Annie! My mum said that she knew the witness who spoke out. He was a servant at the party.”
Annie gasps, “Really? Then it must be true.” She stares at the crown prince with a mixed expression, “I can’t believe someone so pretty can be so cruel and ruthless. My dad and uncle were once a supporter of the crown prince, but now they won’t even speak of him. To think he would try to slay his own fiancé at her debutante...it is just too horrible!”
Pat sighs and cups her chin with her hand, “Right? It happened ages ago, but we are just now getting the details. To make matters worse, the royal family still remain silent on the issue.”
“He just does not look like the type to do something like this,” Annie says.
Pat shakes her head in disappointment, “Looks can be deceiving.”
An older woman turns and scolds them, “You girls are loud. Quiet down before someone overhears you. Are you trying to make trouble for yourselves?”
The girl's mouth shut with a soft click as they look nervously around.
Further down, a man shakes his head, “A sad day it is that we cannot speak freely in our own country,” He says to his friend, glancing at the now quiet girls.
His friend nods, “Yeah. Did you read that paper on the first day of the month? The writer, Alek Carter, claims he was threatened and decided to write the story anyway. It is suspicious I tell you.”
The man nods, “It is. That poor girl. Just what did she do to ignite the prince's anger so much that he almost beheaded her? I had thought the crown prince was a rational lad, but now I think he is just plainly unfit. He reminds me of a certain tyrant. If only our true prince hadn’t left.”
“Yeah, and what about that? Why did the real first prince step down? This situation reminds me to closely of that time. The royal family hadn’t said anything back then either.”
“There silence only makes us question them. They should speak instead of moving as if nothing has changed,” The man says firmly and his friend nods in agreement.
The commoner's court session continues in a similar tone.
The low conversation breaks out amongst the crowd as the court proceedings continue on. The popular topic of conversation is the crown prince, and his ex-fiancé, the exiled former crown princess (though not by official standards). After a year and a handful of months, the people had not forgotten the seemingly bizarre event. Especially not after the newspaper printed a story on the event once more, with an eye witness that had been reviewed.
By the throne, and slightly behind the king, the crown prince expression wavers on slightly, while the second prince's face was neutral and distant. The king does not glance at either of his sons, but the heavy air of disapproval hangs between them.
An hour past and the commoner's court is drawing to a close. The councilor pointedly rolls up his scroll before he raises his wrinkled face and addresses the crowd.
“Court for the day has now been conclu--”
There is a loud noise, the clang of metal, and muffled shouts.
All heads swivel to the doors of the great hall. The royal guard tenses, as the king, lean slightly forward with a frown.
Before anyone could move, the doors to the great hall burst open, and a single hooded figure stumbles between them. Behind the hooded figure, a few unconscious soldiers could be seen lying on the while two other grapples with another hooded figure.
The royal guards run in front of the king and the two princes and brandish their swords as the crowd scuttles away from the staggering hooded figure.
“Halt!” One royal guard barks out, pointing his sword threateningly.
The figure does not. They stumble forward a few feet before they trip on the lavish rug laid out in the middle of the hall and clumsily fall to their knees.
The councilor all but cowards behind the tall back of one of the guards and points a finger at them, “What are you doing?” He asks frantically, “Seize them!” He snaps.
The royal guards ignore him and glance back at their king. The king nods once, and they start forward. Before they can descend upon the figure, a thin, pale arm raises.
“Wait,” A distinctly female, and slightly breathless voice says, “Just give me a moment.”
Despite the fact they had no obligation to listen to the hooded figure, the guards still gave pause. Their swords are still held at the ready, but they do not move as the figure wobbles to their feet. The two men sharply take in the figure, registering height, gender, and awkward gate in an instant.
The heavy cloak the figure wears hides their body and identity completely from view and was caked with dirt and torn at the edges.
The king eyes the figure with a relaxed posture, vaguely curious, “Who are you?” He asks in a tone that demands an answer. His blue stare was unflinching and calm. Behind him, the crown prince shifts closer, while the second prince looks bored and disinterested.
“Well, I suppose it should come as no surprise that you would not know my identity based off my voice alone,” The figure standing before the king says, “I was very rarely graced with your presence after all. Still, it is a bit disappointing.”
Her tone was posh and perfectly even. Her breathlessness a moment before was completely absent.
“It is a common thing,” The king says calmly, “I cannot meet with all of my people in person, no matter how I wish it. Even if we once had met, there is no way I could recall your voice based on a single meeting.”
“That may be true, but I am not just anyone,” The cloaked woman says knowingly.
He glances away from the woman when he sees Rodale move from the corner of his eye. He takes note of the crown prince's face. It seems as if all color had suddenly drained from it, and he stands as still as a statue as he stares at the figure with a blank stuntedness.
What an odd thing. He never once saw Rodale respond in such a way. He seemed to be caught off guard, surprised. The king turns the figure with renewed interest.
The second prince steps forward then, and the king notes how he moves woodenly, though his expression remains neutral.
“All the same, if you wish to speak to the king, there are certain channels you must go through first,” Orin says with a voice that rings across the room, “Your violent entry is disruptive and unnecessary. It is unfortunate that you choose to force your way in. I’m sure we could have handled any problems you might have had, but as this is the case, we cannot allow you to speak your piece.”
Orin waves his hand, “Guards, take these intruders away.”
The figure isn’t fazed when the guards seize her arms.
“Oh, Prince Orin,” the woman particularly coos, “You are as sharp as ever.”
She struggles against the royal guards who tries to pull her away, and manages to elbow one in the gut and slams the hard tip of her boot into the delicate shin of the other. The drop her arms on reflects, and she quickly shimmies away. She moves closer to the throne and speaks before she is grabbed again.
“Tell me, are you really going to stand there and pretend as if you do not already know my identity?” She asks as she gazes up at Orin, “How cold you have become. To think the same prince once picked daisy's in my garden and laughed so bright and carefree.”
“I do not know you,” Prince Orin says firmly.
The cloaked woman lets out a sharp laugh devoid of amusement, “How you will regret that statement in the near future. Fine. I will let you sink into denial a little longer.”
The woman turns to the crown prince, “But, what of you, crown prince? Will you also deny the fact of knowing me?”
All eyes turn to crown prince Rodale. Even the king remains silent as he eyes his son with a frown.
The crown prince freezes for a split second and swallows. He opens his mouth before closing it and clenches his hands into a fist.
“I...” Rodale starts to say before trailing off.
“What is the matter?” The woman asks, tone almost dripping with false concern, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
The king frowns pulls down heavily, “Crown Prince, do you know this woman?” He asks sharply.
“I’m sure my brother does not,” Prince Orin says, his oceanic blue eyes staring a hole into the side of his older brothers' face.
Outside the doors of the great hall, the skirmish finally comes to an end, and the other cloaked figure calmly steps into the room but stays tucked in the shadows.
“I...” Rodale curses himself even as he trails off into silence once more. He has never been the type to stutter or talk in unfinished words, but his immaculate composure has been shattered into pieces the hooded woman spoke. His clear thoughts turned into a mushy haze, and all he could do was stand there stupefied.
She wasn’t supposed to come back.
It was impossible.
But there was no denying her voice. It was the same voice that haunted him the moment he dared to close his eyes.
Still, he was the crown prince, and it wasn’t long before he gained control of himself. His expression flattens and his mouth firms into a thin line.
“No,” He says. “I do not know this woman.”
Orin makes a subtle gesture and the royal guards march forward once more, but before they can grab the girl, they suddenly fall to the floor in a slump.
“Well, this isn't going as planned,” The woman says lightly as she steps over the body of one of the royal guards.
“Young lady, I do not know who you are or what you have just done, but any act of violence against my guards is an act of violence against me,” The king fiercely says as he stands up to his full height.
“Yes, but that isn’t correct, now is it?” The cloaked woman says impatiently.
She gestures to the royal guards, “First, I did not do this. I do not have the capacity too. I was never gifted in the art of magic.” She nods to her companion, “My friend cast a sleeping spell on them. They are not injured, I promise you.”
“And finally,” She grabs the hood of her cloak.
“Guards!” Orin calls out, “We need more guards!”
The Crown Prince steps down, his hand coming up.
The hood falls, and dazzling purple hair catches alight in the morning glow of the sun from the many large windows lining the red great hall. Livia blinks her upturned purple eyes and stands tall.
“I am no stranger,” She declares to the room, “I am Livia Katrina Valentine, and I have returned.”