Vera could not sleep at all that night and awoke exhausted from the previous night’s events. She got up and brushed her streaked hair and groaned at the dark grey circles under her eyes. The Princess wasn’t grieving for her mother like she thought she should. She hadn’t even cried. What was wrong with her? Slipping into a red and pink floor length gown and twirling her unkempt hair up in a messy bun, she grabbed a pair of matching gloves and cascaded down the stairs. Her mother’s lifeless form laid neatly covered with a purple sheet on the couch in the parlor. It took the breath out of her and she stopped, remembering her mother’s last wishes and words. Emotion struck hard and Vera then felt a twinge of grief. She closed her eyes tight, refusing to let a tear loose. “She is not my mother, maybe by blood, but not heart.” A tear escaped and she batted it away quickly.
“Oh you’re up, I’ve prepared breakfast.” Sephrine lightly smiled and beckoned her into the dining hall. Vera’s grief slithered away for the moment at the sound of her Ma’s voice. The dining hall was a long narrow room that housed a huge lengthy table that had been painted aqua blue. The rest of the room followed suit in shades of blue and Vera thought that this is what under the waves of the seas must feel like. She sat down at the head of the table as was her place. Sephrine had three plates balanced in her small arms. Sephrine was a dwarf, not of the elfin race and was very small in stature as was her husband Bertano. Most dwarves were servants and in some areas they were slaves to other races. Vera always hated the idea of slavery. Bertano and Sephrine were free and lived here in the large palace in comfort. Whatever was Vera’s, was theirs too. Sephrine’s bright green eyes sparkled as she handed her daughter her plate of eggs and salted ham. They had chickens cooped up in the garden, but they had brought them into the mud room this winter and put down some hay for bedding and the chickens produced eggs for them, which the whole household approved of. They had a large cellar that was stocked with preserved meats and veggies from the spring and summer months. Sephrine and Bertano made sure of that. She ate and relished the silence of her palace. Vera’s thoughts then drifted to Trima, the dark elf that had cursed her. Should she try to leave and find that staff? Did she want to become normal that much? The Princess chewed the dried meat and went over and over her plight. Maybe she’d have a chance to find someone who would love her. Sure her parents loved her, but was that enough to last her entire life? Somehow she felt alone now. And possibilities crept into her mind. “You are awfully quiet this morning, dear. Is it what your mother said?”
“What else would I be pondering, Ma. Of course. I’ve never even thought about becoming normal like every other elf. I didn’t know of the possibility of it. Now there’s a flicker of hope.” Vera said, slightly grinning. “Wouldn’t it be grand? I could touch you, I could go out and be amongst everyone and nobody would be fearful or scared.” The pros were starting to out-weigh the cons.
“But dear, don’t you think it a bit risky? Aren’t you even a little terrified? The world out there is hard, I can’t put it in any other words.” Sephrine had such a worried look on her face. “You’d have to hide yourself, be in the shadows. And you have to speak with the Woodland Elves to borrow or take that staff. If seems like you’re going to be put in harm’s way, love.”
“But isn’t worth a try, what kind of life do I have here? I’m secluded and shut off from the world. What good am I to anyone?” Vera got up from her seat and ran to her room, unsure of these thoughts and feelings of wanting to be free. She noticed on her way up, her mother’s body had been removed. Reluctant to search for where she had been taken, she headed back towards the mud room, where Sephrine and Bertano were whispering over the purple clothed body.
“Mistress will not be pleased,” Bertano hissed, “Not at all, she told us to keep the child here until her eighteenth birthday and then she’d come for her.”
“I know, dear,” Sephrine spoke in a harsh unkind voice that Vera had never heard from her before, “The Mistress will be very displeased, but we need to try to keep the Princess here at all costs. This palace and its riches will be ours and ours alone, finally. We can convince her to stay.”
“Trima will kill us if we don’t.” Bertano said curtly. Vera held back her gasp and quietly made her escape to her room. She went into her wash room and shut the door behind her. Afraid of what she just heard and somewhat in disbelief, Vera slunk to the ground and wept. All these years of being loved by the dwarves was a false, fake love. They lied and stole from her family year after year and Vera was none the wiser. How could she have known anyways? This wasn’t her fault, but she wouldn’t be taken a fool either.
“What am I to do? I have to leave now; I have no choice.” She got up and pulled out a dull orange satchel. She needed her romping clothes, clothes that weren’t elaborate or difficult to run in. The Princess didn’t have too many of those. She would mourn her fitted gowns of every color, but if she could, she would return to this palace again to rule as Greshire’s monarch. She grabbed a few short skirts with matching tights and peasant type blouses, anything that covered up her white alabaster skin. All of her clothes were colorful and she couldn’t help that she would stand out amongst a crowd. At least she had her tan cloak to hide most of her apparel. She grabbed her dark red boots and ribbons to tie up her long unruly tresses as well as a few pairs of extra gloves. Vera gathered all these belongings and stuffed them in the satchel quickly before her Ma came back up to check on her. It was the Princess’s turn to be sneaky; the anger at this fake family was bubbling and she had to calm herself down. Tucking her bag under her bed, she flopped on the bed and wondered when she should try to leave. A knock sounded at her door. “Come in.” Vera tried to make it look like she was still weeping.
“Honey, are you alright?” Sephrine said in the same soft voice she always had; this made Vera sick to her stomach because she knew it was a false concern.
“I’m ok.” Hoping to hide her disgust for this dwarf, she tried not to speak too much. She had a tendency to fly off the handle with what she said, just as she had last night to her real mother. Sephrine came and sat on the side of the large ornate bed.
“You don’t seem ok. Can I get you anything? I can make some biscuits and tea.” She smiled again and wondered if this was all a lie. Maybe the dwarves did love her just a little bit; how could this be all acted out? Knowing her charade of ignorance wasn’t going to last, Vera nodded her head.
“Yes, some tea and biscuits would help a lot, Ma.” Vera kissed her cheek to see her reaction and it was always the same. Sephrine smiled and patted her gloved hand.
“I’ll go get you some.” She shuffled out the door quickly. Vera breathed a sigh of relief and again flopped onto her fluffy bed. Sighing loudly and closing her eyes, she planned her escape silently in her mind.