She blurted out when his back was turned, "is this about the tear, I'm so sorry father, I really was trying to be careful."
Panic and terror laced her voiced and was obvious on her face when he turned back to look at her. His facial features instantly softened as he shook his head, "no dear, of course not. Your mother and I…we just have something we'd like to discuss with you."
When she wasn't convinced he closed the gap and placed a kiss on her forehead, ruffling her head, "I promise, I'm not cross with you about the garments."
He smiled once more before turning his back on them, drifting back to the castle. There seemed something off about him, his body language, his tone, even his eyes.
Charlie stayed glued to her spot, watching his retreating form until Nora came up beside her with a worried expression, "you mustn't worry, I'm sure everything is alright. You know how moody your father can get."
At this statement Charlie laughed, she forgot how well Nora knew her father, but at times like these she was instantly reminded. Charlie nodded, "you're probably right, I should go in before I arrive fashionably late, or tardy as my mother calls it."
Nora said nothing when Charlie brought up her mother, the same response she usually got when it involved Rachel. Charlie had gathered they weren't one another's biggest fans, but she had little idea as to why. Nevertheless Nora nodded her head and indicated for Charlie to begin walking when she was ready.
Charlie had no idea why she said 'I' when she hadn't been alone a day in her life since birth. She couldn't complain though because for awhile she had other guards she disliked greatly until Nora came along. She didn't mind Nora, but every once in awhile she just wanted to be away from everyone and everything, and that had nothing to do with anyone in particular. She just wanted space.
Shaking aside those thoughts, pointless because she would never get that, she proceeded on towards the castle, greeting the cooks and maids as she passed by them. Per the usual routine, she waited behind a fraction of a step, letting Nora enter first to inspect the room.
Cleared for her entry, Nora widened the door as Charlie stepped inside, grimacing when she saw the gown hanging there, peering directly into her soul.
A shudder passed through her body as she faced Nora when she began talking, "see there it's not terrible."
She had to give Nora credit for trying, but that was a downright lie, it was a wonder God didn't strike her down, "yeah well, you put it on and tell me it isn't terrible."
At that Nora made a face, "I'll have Priscilla draw you a bath."
"Not that terrible, ha, what a lie," she mumbled to herself when Nora closed the door softly behind her.
Going back to the catastrophe at hand, the dress was of a light, sky blue color, no doubt one of her mother's pickings. Her mother knew that she detested light colors, so every chance she got she dressed her up in anything dull and dim, claiming that it looked well with her skin tone and her hair.
Ornately fashioned, beads adorned the gown around the rim of the sleeves, and all along the bottom half of the gown, up until almost her midsection.
When it were a family matter they were discussing, she usually didn't have to appear so formal, that gave her the impression that it was something more than her father let on.
A knock on the door brought Charlie back into the present, "come in," she called out and smiled when she was met with Priscilla's shining face.
Priscilla had always been one of her favorite ladies because she was a genuinely happy person that cared about Charlie and what she wanted. She listened to her and tried to advise her in the best possible way, not just tell her to do her duty like the other ladies.
She also adored Priscilla's husband Aaron who was an advisor to her father and her tutor in almost everything.
He was smart beyond comparison and knew a wide selection of topics to discuss, so even though Charlie disliked the method in which she had to learn and often daydreamed instead of paid attention, she couldn't say that Aaron wasn't interesting. He never repeated the same thing in all of her years of being his pupil.
Carrying a large, black iron cauldron that looked much too big for someone of her size, Priscilla smiled, "I'll just dump this water and you're all set your highness."
She sighed and corrected her out of instinct, "just Charlie Priscilla."
With one more smile and an accompanying head nod, she disappeared into the bathroom, discarding the water as well as setting aside the cauldron to be picked up at a later time.
As soon as she exited the room, Charlie pounced on her like a young lion stalking its prey, "do you know what my mother and father want? That gown seems a bit much for just a family discussion, wouldn't you say?"
She was hoping that maybe Priscilla could give her some insight, and she would no doubt if Aaron knew anything about what the urgent matter was.
Sadly though she shook her head, "I'm sorry your highness I haven't been told anything, I wouldn't worry though." Everyone kept telling her not to worry which only made her worry even more.
Charlie allowed Priscilla to help her undress, tossing aside the filthy clothing to be washed later, but whereas Priscilla normally helped her with bathing and making sure her hair was clean, she opted out.
Shaking her head, she called out to Priscilla, "I can handle it, thank you very much Priscilla."
Solemnly she nodded her head, "alright your highness I'll wait right here outside."
Again, Charlie wasn't angry with Priscilla, she just came to the conclusion that bathing was as close to being alone as she was going to get. That proved to be a much more difficult feat than she planned, not accounting for the length of her hair and how quickly her arms grew tired.
Wanting to spend a lifetime in the water, she gave up and exited when it turned cool and Priscilla began tapping on the door, "is everything alright your highness?"
She resisted the urge to say no and roll her eyes, what could've possibly happened while bathing in a barely big enough space for her body, "yes, I'm finished, you may enter now."
Drying off her body as much as she could, Priscilla tried her best to tame Charlie's hair, smiling when it hung nicely down her back, "I know you aren't thrilled with the thoughts of wearing a gown and I wish very much that you didn't have to. I hate to see you unhappy."
As she pulled on her underwear garments, Charlie couldn't help but to feel a little bad at the silence she was giving Priscilla. She had done nothing wrong other than what she was required to do every other day.
"At least it wasn't that frightening shade of pink like last time," Charlie commented as Priscilla laughed lightly, pulling the gown over her head carefully.
While she began to plait her hair, Charlie could get a better glimpse of herself in the gown. As gaudy and lavish as it looked hanging up, it looked a million times more extravagant on. The material, stiff and offering no room for movement let alone breathing, clung to her body, accentuating her hips and flaring out past her feet.
As she stepped into the most uncomfortable looking pair of matching shoes, long and pointy as was customary footwear, the hem of the gown was lifted off the cold stone floor and hung right to her feet.
She felt as though she should be going to a festival or ball of some sort. It felt much too out of place, she felt out of place wearing it.
"There, you look beautiful, as you always do…Charlie," Priscilla admired her with a motherly gaze as she pulled her hair around to the side, smoothing it out.
When Priscilla said her name she whipped her head around and grinned up at her, taking Priscilla's hands in hers, "all thanks to your wonderful work."
Pulling her hands from Charlie's, she patting them before squeezing gently, "no my dear, you were beautiful from the start, I only worked with the canvas I was given."
With those kind words, she and Priscilla parted ways, her absence filled by Nora's now more presentable presence. Her eyes questioningly roamed Charlie's gown, trying in vain to bite back a smile. Pointing a finger in her direction, Charlie frowned, "not a word from the peanut gallery."
Nora held her hands up in a mock surrender, "I'll try to contain all my comments. Your parents have asked you to accompany them in the Great Hall…although I doubt you and that dress both will fit down the corridor."
For a moment, Charlie hadn't heard the underhanded insult Nora threw her way, fixated on the location of their meeting.
The Great Hall was a room for entertaining, receiving guests, and used during mealtimes. Rectangular in length and measuring two times as long as it was wide, reaching almost as high as the heavens, it was one of the grandest Great Halls to ever exist. Its large, extravagant space housed one of the biggest, and most elaborately decorated fireplaces, large enough to stand and walk inside of. The overmantle was just as decorative, coat of arms and woodcarvings adorning the entirety of it. Along the walls, paintings of the most intricate landscapes lined the space below the wooden banister.
Cradling his dark luscious locks in his hands, Miles didn't raise his head when Charlie entered the Great Hall, unaware of her arrival as he listened to Aaron drone on beside of him about all the advantages they would obtain from this deal.
Aaron didn't like it anymore than Miles did, but when Rachel offered it up as a sensible solution, to which the higher council agreed with, he had to look at it from a logical standpoint. It was his job as the King's advisor to cast aside his emotions and feelings, and speak from a more analytical part of his brain.
Miles had one of those analytical parts of the brain when it came to things like battle or fighting, but when it involved people he loved, that part of his brain fell into a deep sleep. He was incapable of separating his emotions, even if it could possibly mean strengthening his kingdom, his home, full of people he loved and who loved him.
To his right stood Rachel, fidgeting nervously with her hands when she saw Charlie enter. Putting on a fake smile, she motioned for the guards to leave and for Charlie to come forward on her own.
Danny said nothing nor did he look up at Charlie when she entered, but instead, sat wordlessly in the chair next to his mother. There was something about curious about this whole thing. Danny was refusing to meet her eyes even though she knew he could sense her presence, her father, who was always alert and aware of his surroundings still had no idea Charlie was there, and her mother, well there was always something off about her character, but today even more so.
"Is everything alright father?"
Concern laced her voice as she came to a halt at his side, almost flinching back when she finally met his eyes. Tired and weary, he looked as though there had been demons plaguing his every waking thought since she saw him earlier with Nora.
Speaking of Nora, she glanced around, seeking her comforting gaze but was only met with emptiness. Rachel had dismissed all of the guards, including Nora.
Her eyes snapped back to her father's as he spoke softly, "please have a seat sweetheart."
He motioned to the chair as Aaron pulled it out for her and although she wanted to refuse, she found her legs bending on their own accord as she numbly sat down. She figured whatever it was she might as well get comfortable.
Not being able to take the deafening silence, she finally broke it, "okay, could someone please enlighten me, what's going on?"
Her mind started fearing for the worst when no one immediately answered and Miles looked to Rachel with a pleading gaze. She only cast her eyes downwards, no, Miles had to be the one to do this himself and break it to her.
Sighing he finally granted her an answer, "Charlotte…Charlie dear, your mother and the higher council have been meeting to come up with a solution to the rising tension due to the trade ceasing. We've been doing alright for awhile, trading with other kingdoms, but none can match the resources that Kairos has to offer."
Charlie nodded as she listened. She understood perfectly, she knew that their resources were depleting, Aaron talked about it some during her tutoring so that she would understand the financial aspects of running a kingdom.
Miles continued with a grave look, "I've reached out to Bass, King Sebastian," he quickly amended, "and while I have nothing to offer him that would be of value, financially or otherwise, your mother felt it was in the best interest of the kingdom to offer him something. Something that would strengthen both ours and his kingdom at the same time."
Charlie didn't say anything; all she did was continue to nod because it wasn't adding up in her head. What could they have to offer him that was terrible enough to put such a somber look on her father's face?