A Life Cycle Reborn
Chapter 11 Ship Life
It is the early hours of the morning and just outside of the windows, the sky isn’t completely tenebrous as it was in the night. The sun will rise in the next hour. I lay there, holding Ashlea, though I think she is awake, but she is lying ever so still not to disturb anyone. There are other rooms on this ship. Why would the princess want us to lay with her? I have a few ideas already forming. I think she made this arrangement so that we could not talk to each other about the events that happened over the past twenty-four hours. I think that she didn’t want to give us a chance to be alone together, and I think that she didn’t want us to think of escaping this arrangement. Not that we would try because we are known, and if we weren’t tracked down my mom and Saydira would be, and who knows what would happen to them? Neither Ash nor I would ever put my mom, or Saydira in that sort of situation. One question remains, the Princess; what does she want with my sister and I? She could have taken anyone to be her personal assistants. I lay there holding onto that thought. I close my eyes, ponder for a bit, and drift off into a short rest that only feels like I have blinked my eyes. The rustling behind me awakens me again. The princess is waking.
Rosaleen gently starts to play with my hair. She whispers to me, “You have been awake for a bit.” She says this because my hair is likely not black, but deep, dark brown since my eyes were open earlier looking around the room and out the window at the dawn that was soon to come.
“Yes Princess, I was awake but I stayed in bed not to disturb you, or Ashlea, and I drifted back into sleep.”
“Is this bed not comfortable?”
I murmur, “It is very adequate Princess, it’s just that so much has happened in such a short time, and it is hard to take it all in.”
“Do you like all that I have shown you so far?” The princess nuzzles up to me and rests her chin on my shoulder.
“Yes my Princess, you are so kind. It’s just… that I am starting to miss my mom and Saydira.” I let go of Ash and roll over on my back, staring up at the ceiling. The princess has no netting that surrounds her bed like the one my bed has back at home. It is another reminder of this nightmare. The princess leans over and gives me a gentle kiss on my right cheek.
“I am your family now, and you have Ashlea to accompany you into this new life.” She sits up and looks down at me.
“Come, let’s get up.” She playfully gets out of bed, walks to the window and stretches while gazing out at the ocean. She turns slightly to face me and Ashlea, slips out of her nightdress, tosses it to a hamper and walks away with a grin, into the bathroom. I nudge Ashlea awake.
“Come let’s get ready.” We cautiously walk to the bathroom where we find Rosaleen preparing a bath for all of us. I’m surprised that she is doing this and not a servant.
“Come ladies, get in.” We reluctantly undress and step into the oversized tub. Rosaleen steps in after we each find a spot to sit.
“You two have a long day ahead of you. Do you have any idea what we will be doing?” She smiles warmly at us. Ashlea and I look at each other for a hint of knowing in the other’s face; with haven’t finding anything we look back to Rosaleen for an answer.
She leans back against the tub and says, “Come on girls humor me, you two showed me such a wonderful time in the reef yesterday surely you can take a guess?” She looks on intently.
I murmur, “Are we traveling to the City today?”
Rosaleen laughs, “Oh no not today, you aren’t ready for the Palace…good guess though, Try again.”
Ashlea concludes, “Are we receiving lessons today?” It would make sense in assuming that we are officially the Princesses’ new servants or better yet, pets.
“You are both smart, you are going to be shown today how to properly present yourselves and how to represent me. You are going to receive the goods and background to palace life.” Rosaleen smiles, “You two women are going to do so well, I just know it. As long as you stay true to me I will treat you as well as I treat myself.”
We all wash one another, massaging each other’s shoulders and backs and braiding each other’s hair. Oddly enough, this actually helps me to relax a bit and forget for a moment the truth, that I am no longer free. We all finish bathing and step out of the tub. Izavelle and Soolena appears out of nowhere with soft fluffy white towels, and they wrap us up in the warmth.
The princess still wrapped in her towel gives instruction. “Izavelle please take care of Taylan for the morning, and start her lessons, and Soolena please do the same with Ashlea. I have things that need my attention, and I will meet you all on the main deck for lunch.”
She leaves the room with purpose in her step, and I think either Izavelle, or Soolena had laid some clothes out for her before entering the bathroom because when Ashlea and I enter into the bedroom there is no sign of Rosaleen, but there are two dresses laid out for us. We dress, Soolena escorts Ashlea to another area of the ship, and Izavelle gestures me and I follow the slender, petit woman. We walk out onto the back deck of the ship where we sit at a table. The ship is on a slow and steady pace, there is no sign of land, and we are at a cruise.
Izavelle starts the conversation with her warm exotic voice, “So how do you feel about all of this?” Her eyes speak to me, and her voice echoes her princesses’ words and I wonder if she even cares or if this is part of an act. I know that she is referring to this entire new life of service to the princess.
I lie, “It is really nice, and you are great hosts.” I can’t help it, but there is a bit of sadness in my voice, and really what can I say? The truth is I want to hit rewind.
She leans towards me, “Let’s cut to the chase, do you know why you are here?” Izavelle asks.
I answer, “Because the princess needs more servants?”
She shakes her head no but says, “Yes, but do you know why she wanted you and your sister?” She can’t help, but smirk at my obvious observation to the fact.
I pause for a second, look up then back into her persistent eyes, “Izavelle I have no clue?” I look to her for answers.
“You and your sister are free spirits, from the little time she has known you; she has seen your love and dedication to one another and your interest in exploring. Rosaleen has said so herself, she is captivated by you and your sister’s absolute trust in each other and in strangers.” Izavelle picks up my hand and holds it on the table. “She was keen on taking you because she knows that your family was intact, and it was only a matter of time before others would find out, and the City would come, seeking out your family to serve. Rosaleen felt compelled to take you for her own, because serving royalty is much easier than doing the dirty ground work of serving the City.” She looks into my eyes and I can’t look away, “She did your family a favor by taking you two before the City did. We are going to mold you into a strong creature. Don’t get me wrong, but you will see things that aren’t right, but at least the good outweighs the bad with the life the princess will create for you, and trust that this is for a greater good.”
“What things?” I ask.
Izavelle looks at me, “You will find out soon, just remember what we have talked about”. I don’t feel like we have really talked about anything. Nothing has really been explained and I only have more questions. She smiles and takes a strand of my hair that fell from my braid and tucks it behind my ear. “We have to teach you some etiquette this morning, let’s start with the basics, please and thank you.” I sigh.
Izavelle gives me the run down on when to use and apply different manners that they use in Thresolon and the Palace. Not that my sister and I are rude people it is just as Izavelle explains it, manners are a bit different in Thresolon and the Palace. She spends the morning teaching me and having me mimic her movements, her walk, her bow, her smile, her eye contact and the way that she annunciates. I find myself sort of liking these mannerisms even though this feels silly.
We take a break and lean out on the banister, both looking out at the ocean, “Izavelle, can I ask, how did you come to serve Princess Rosaleen?”
Izavelle smiles, “How do you know that I serve her?”
I pause and look at her, “Umm…well, I assumed by the way she instructs Soolena and you?”
She laughs, “Just because you see that I take instruction from her doesn’t mean that I serve her, or am loyal to her. This is your first real lesson, and you need to remember that. Everything in the palace community and the City isn’t always what is seems to the onlooker. Never assume. I might be your mentor today, but later on I may become your enemy.”
I ponder that thought. How am I supposed to serve this woman who has taken me from my home? Being taught things about her life, how to act and told not to trust her servants and to only trust her? I just don’t understand. I am confused. This seems to be some sort of disarranged social game.
“I am sorry Izavelle.” I look down to my toes as I curl them, do I trust myself, my intuition? Can I trust my judgment? I know that I am in a situation that is bigger than what has been revealed so far. I feel in my heart that this princess will be good to me, but what I don’t know is, is she good?
Izavelle sits down beside me and whispers, “I didn’t mean to upset you. You need to be shown that this world is much different from the world you have known. You need to serve your master, and you need to protect yourself by remaining reserved, by watching and by paying attention to your surroundings. Let’s end on this note. You have done so well this morning. Come Taylan; let’s meet the others for lunch.” Izavelle and I walk hand in hand to the front deck to meet with Rosaleen, Soolena and Ashlea. Rosaleen stands to greet us as we walk up.
“Ladies come and join us.” She joyfully motions us over to sit with her at the table.
“How did she do, Izavelle?”
“Marvelous, she is a quick and eager learner.” Izavelle beams.
“Good and Ashlea did just as well I hear.” Ashlea smiles and I return her smile and look to her for signs that she is okay and her glance back, brings comfort because her silent gesture says that she is good despite all of this.
“Let’s eat.” Rosaleen is the first to fill her plate with fresh bread and fruit and fill her glass with white wine, and we all follow her lead.
“I think you two will really enjoy what we are doing after lunch. You showed me how to flip and spin and play in the depths of the reef, now I will show you something that you have never experienced.” She smiles and pops a grape in her mouth; swallows and splashes a sip of wine to wash it down. Ashlea glances at me, excitement in her expression, and I feel my uneasiness settle with my sister’s glances. Her excitement is infectious, and I feel myself sharing the same emotion. I feel a little guilty for feeling this way after having lost everything. Maybe this arrangement isn’t bad.