Vera couldn’t sleep again. Instead of fighting it, she got out of her bed and strolled over to her amethyst painted balcony, sliding the glass doors open. She wrapped a shawl over her shoulders because of the biting cold. It was a clear frosty night, the snow glistened from the moonlight above. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. She would miss this castle, but she would reclaim it as hers as soon as she could. Vera was still a little in shock by the betrayal of her so called adoptive parents, but they had never treated her poorly. She always felt loved even if it was false. Running her hands through her hair, she retreated back to her bed.
Sleep never took over Vera, and she tossed and turned all night long. “I’m getting tired of these dark circles under my eyes.” Vera complained to her reflection in the mirror. She really didn’t want to get dressed today or interact with her guards at all. That was what she going to call Sephrine and Bertano in her head from now on. They were not her parents any longer. The dwarves were only here to collect the riches this castle held as their prize from Trima. Vera brushes her hair and braided it, she had been annoyed with it lately and chose to wear it up. She peeked into her closet and pulled out her tropical looking gown with yellows, greens, and blues. The winter was so dull and bleak she had to wear something bright. A knock sounded at her door and Bertano came in, a look on his face almost in slight shock. It was a look she had never seen from him and wasn’t sure how to respond.
“You’re still in your room?” He asked slowly as if he expected her to be somewhere else.
“Yes, Pa. Where else would I be?” She asked rather taken aback. Did they think she left? Did they know that she planned on leaving?
“I’m sorry, darling. It’s almost noon and usually you’re up earlier than this. Your Ma was worried.” Bertano said quickly.
“Oh, it is? I haven’t been sleeping well, so, I must have been tired enough to sleep in. I’m sorry.” Vera apologized as she pulled on a pair of canary yellow gloves. “Well no wonder why I’m so hungry.” She laughed and Bertano smiled slightly too and turned to leave.
“We’ll see you downstairs, dear.” Something felt different with how he were reacting to her. It was strange and new. Her eighteenth birthday was coming within two months, maybe they were nervous about Trima coming back and taking her away? Why did Trima want her? She needed to get out of here tonight. Too many secrets and unknown circumstances. Vera headed downstairs to the smell of breakfast cooking just like any other day.
“And so the Princess awakens.” Sephrine announced, “We thought you had died. You must have slept like the dead child.”
“I’ve not been sleeping well, Ma. I guess my body just needed some rest this morning.” She smiled. Some eggs and potatoes were placed before her as well as a goblet of warm cider. Sephrine busied herself in the kitchen, seeming detached and strange. “Ma, is everything alright?” Sephrine stilled and turned towards her daughter.
“Why yes, honey. Nothings the matter.” She smiled again and went back to cleaning up the kitchen. Vera shrugged her shoulders and ate her food. Once she was done Sephrine dutifully took her plate and goblet to be washed. Life in the castle was boring. Sure there was a massive library and a game room, but Vera had read all the books and played all the games twice over. It was so cold outside, but she wanted fresh air. Plus she needed to scope out an escape route. Feeling like a mischievous child, she got her blue winter coat and headed out to the garden. The garden was dead right now and covered in white snow. Vera hated the winter; it made everything colorless just like her. It was still and silent besides the crunch of the snow below her feet as she walked. A few little sparrows pecked at the nearly empty birdfeeder. Vera tried to keep it full for the little sparrows and finches that visited, but unfortunately they were all out of seed. She neared the edge of the garden wall and found a small passage that lead out into a pasture. Maybe this could be used later as her way out. She heard footsteps coming close to her and she whipped around to see who might be out here with her. Sephrine was bundled up and coming closer to her with Bertano too. Uh oh, did they think she was trying to leave now? “Vera child, do come back in. It is freezing out here, you’ll catch a cold.” Should she run? Dwarves weren’t very fast. Or should she wait it out for night time? They were getting closer and Vera decided it was best to stay. Her satchel was still under her bed and she needed to pack some food.
“I’m coming. I just needed some fresh air. I feel invigorated now.” Vera smiled widely. Sephrine looked relieved. Bertano shifted something from behind his back, was that a sword? “Are you ok Ma? Are you worried I might leave? It’s too cold for me to be travelling even if I wanted to go find that staff.”
“I’m glad to hear that you’ve decided not to go.” The dwarf said, but Vera corrected her.
“Oh, I will go, once this weather is done with and spring arrives.” That was all Bertano needed to hear and he was standing in front of her with the sword drawn to her throat. Vera gulped and shrieked.
“We cannot have that young Princess, go.” Before she could make any more arguments about this hostage situation she was lead back into the castle with the point of Bertano’s sword in her back. Vera contemplated pulling her gloves off and killing the both of them, but she couldn’t, her heart wouldn’t let her. Once they were inside, she was lead to the cellar. It was cold and damp and smelled like rotting things. “You can stay here.”
“What is this all about, you two? Are you crazy? Ma, Pa?” Vera tried to act scared and unsure why this was being done. The less she told them what she knew probably the better chance of escape.
“We cannot let you leave this palace.” Sephrine said in that same unfeeling voice from yesterday.
“Why? Are you afraid that I might hurt myself? Why are you locking me up? This is insane, Ma.” Feigning ignorance, Vera pushed on, hoping to get the truth out of her. “I want to be in my room, not down here. I won’t leave, ok? I won’t try to go to the woodland elves. I love this castle; it’s where I was born. It’s my home.” Vera pleaded; she was beginning to think she should be an actress. Sephrine crossed her arms against her chest and looked at her husband that still had the sword at the ready. “I just don’t understand.” Vera thought of the saddest feeling she ever had and pulled on that emotion to bring tears flowing. Instead of talking to Vera directly, Sephrine spoke sharply to Bertano.
“Lock her in her room.” With a flourish of her embroidered skirt, the dwarf left the cellar. Bertano motioned for Vera to follow, pointing his sword forward. Vera let the tears drip on her face and she realized they weren’t fake tears anymore. This is what betrayal was.