Quest for the Treasure, Chapter 12

Fiction By Jackie West // 9/18/2010

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   Zuben and Emily were hauled to the king’s palace, and in to the throne room. A huge, fat man, eating off a tray of food, stopped when he saw them. He sat up.

   “Foreigners, eh?” he grunted. “Throw ‘em in da dungeons, bubble’eads. Where else do dey go? ‘ey, wait, leave da purty girl and trow d’other in da dungeons. Goo on, bubble’eads!” He gestured to a servant girl. “Jirah, get ‘er garb, servant garb.”

   Oh, brother, Emily groaned to herself. I have to be one of his servants?

   Jiarah led Emily off.  “Yay, aren’t you so happy to be one of Fat Guy’s servants? He has gadzillions of them.”

   “What’s it like?” Emily asked.

   “Nothin’ special,” Jirah replied. “Servin ‘im and his family every day. From the day ya come in to the day ya die.”

   “Oh, great!” Emily said to herself. “I’ll never get out of here!”

   Jirah led her to a huge room. It was brightly lit, with beds everywhere. It was bustling with female servants.

   “He gets at least three servants every day,” Jirah informed Emily. “We prepare for them beforehand. It’s Rest Hour now, so all the servants except one-to wait on the king, and that’s me today- rest on our beds.” She pointed to a bed close by that was empty. “That can be your bed. There’s a uniform there already. Tough luck if it doesn’t fit.” She went off.

   Emily wandered over to her bed, which was the bottom of a bunk. She lay down on it after removing her shoes.

   The occupant of the top bunk looked down. Her bright blue eyes looked over Emily, and her curly black hair hung down.

   “Hi there. You new? What’s your name? Mine is Saja.”

   “Uh.. call me Em,” Emily said.

   “How old are ya? What do you think of the king? Are you new?”

   “I’m sixteen and new,” Emily answered. “Do you chatter all the time?”

   “Oh, yes. My mom said I was born talkin’. In fact, I talk so much that if you don’t want me to talk I’ll shut up, but since you’re not saying for me to shut up, I’ll just keep talking. So you see, if I keep talking, you can’t shut me up, so since you can’t shut me up, I’ll just keep talking.”

   “Quiet during Rest Hour!” a tall, skinny stern woman shouted.

   Emily lay back on her bunk and thought. The captain of the guard patrol had said that they weren’t leaving yet. That was something to consider during her time to relax.

   The stern lady came over to Emily and peered at her through a pair of glasses. “Hmm. New, are ya?”

    Emily nodded.

    “Well, listen carefully to me, girl.” The lady began listing off the rules of being a female servant. When she finished, she said, “Got it, girl?”

   Emily nodded again.

   Rest Hour passed quickly. Then Emily was put to work in the kitchens. The stout, friendly head cook gave Emily some cooking tips and put her on the baking team.

   Emily enjoyed being on the baking team, especially since Saja was there.

    “Almost all of the food is for the king and his nobles and family,” said Jaye, the baking team leader, “so remember, make all this food with your best efforts. We’ll start with the bread today.”

    Emily was assigned to help a girl named Raia. She was very quiet and made excellent bread. But she was also very friendly.

    “I have two sisters,” Emily said. “One is a teenager, and the other is seven.”
                 Raia gave her a tired smile. “I have three brothers. Their names are Matthew, Jordan, and Raewa. They are 17, 13, and 14. I’m 19.”

    “I’m sixteen,” Emily said. “By the way, have you ever heard of Hadrian?”

    Raia mixed the bread dough furiously. “Too many times. I despise him!”

    “I was his prisoner once,” Emily said.

    Raia looked at her out of the corner of her eye. “I was once, too. My brother Raewa, I think he is still a prisoner there.”

    Emily removed the lump of dough from the bowl and started kneading it. “What are the meals here like?”

    “We servants do not get treated too badly, and our food is alright,” Raia answered.

    A sudden commotion near the door made them peer over.

    “Queen Jayda is coming,” Raia said. “Look as busy as you can!” She left the dough to rise and helped Emily bring dishes to the sink. Then they found work elsewhere to wait on the rising bread dough.

    Then Queen Jayda entered the kitchen.

    The kitchen bustled more busily than ever, as everyone tried to look dutiful.

    Jayda stood tall and straight. Her long, tight dress sleeves spread out at the hand, with a fold of stiff cloth at the back of her neck. Her dress had a low, V-shaped neck and her long skirt swirled as she walked through the kitchens.

    When people were walked past, they curtsied deeply. Emily’s curtsy was wobbly, and Queen Jayda immediately noticed that she stood out.

    “You, girl!” she snapped.

    “Yes, your Majesty,” Emily murmured politely.

    “Stand up, girl!”

    Emily straightened.

    “Girl, you need to learn your curtsying,” Jayda said. “It is most improper.”

    Jayda continued on and soon left the kitchen.

    Emily helped Raia wash and dry some dishes. “How am I supposed to learn proper curtsying?”

    “I’m sure many nobility would be willing to teach you,” Raia said. “But especially Princess Taera.”

    “How can I get to her?” Emily wondered.

    “Hmm...” Raia looked thoughtful. “Well...Queen Jayda might recommend you to her and send you to her.”

    

    Raia turned to be right. Emily had finished helping carrying food to the dinner table and was washing up in the kitchen when Raia came in.

    “You’re supposed to meet Princess Taera in her room in half an hour,” she informed Emily.

    “I can’t see her like this,” Emily protested.

    Raia grinned with a twinkle in her eye. “Oh, just finish washing up. I’ll take you to her chamber.”

    Emily tied on a clean apron and followed Raia to Taera’s bedchamber. “What do I do?” she whispered nervously to Raia.

   “Er...as soon as you go in, curtsy and say, ‘Your Majesty, Princess Taera,’ in a polite murmur.”

   “I heard that!”came a sing-song voice. “Just come in and don’t bother doing all that curtsying and stuff!”

   “Go on!” Raia urged Emily.

   Emily hesitated, then opened the door and slipped inside.

   Princess Taera’s bedchamber was furnished with all colors of silks and velvets, made even brighter by the sunset spilling through the huge windows.

   The Princess herself was lounging on a couch, her crown sparkling on a nearby pillow. She was slender, with long, curly brown hair and sparkling green eyes.

   She looks like she’s sixteen! Emily thought.

   “You’re thinking what people always think when they see me for the first time!” she laughed. “Lots of people think I’m sixteen or some sophisticated age like that. Well! It would be nice just to stay twelve!”

   Taera seemed so friendly that Emily’s shyness washed right off.

   “Mother said you needed help curtsying, so I should start with that,” Taera said. “She also had her eye  on you, and saw that you were a hard worker.

   “Really?” Emily said.

   “I wanted someone to be my personal handmaid, one who is with me all the time,” Taera said. “I have so many other servants, but they’re not quite like you. If you accepted, you’d get paid.”

   “I would?” Emily said.

   “Oh yes, my parents are always giving me money,” the princess said. “Have you had any education?”

   “Yes, I was educated for about seven years,” Emily answered.

   

 

   An hour later, Emily was able to curtsy much better and she had become Taera’s personal servant. She had decent clothes and was earning a decent salary.

   “There is to be a ball tonight,” Taera said, “and I need help to pick out a dress. Would you like to help me?”

   “Oh, yes!” Emily said. “Who is coming?”

   “An odd person who calls himself..Oh dear, I’ve forgotten the name,” Taera said, sounding annoyed.

   A servant came in with a snack, which Emily and Taera enjoyed together.

   “Oh, no,” Taera said to herself.

   “What’s wrong, Ttaera?” Emily asked.

   “My older brother...he’s coming soon,” Taera said. His name is Kaeyra. In fact,” she said, lowering her voice, “here he is now.”

  The door burst open and Kaeyra came in. He was wearing riding clothes and looked to be about 18 years old.

  “I’m not going, Kaeyra,” Taera said. “I do not like horses. They scare me.”

  Kaeyra went out.

  “He’s not very talkative,” Emily said.

   “No,” Nytaera said. “He always tries to get me into riding horses even when he knows I’m scared of them! So do Tyra and Tyria, my twin cousins. They live here because they’re orphans. They’re both really annoying. They’re 15.” Taera got up and went to her huge clothes closet. “Now, let’s pick my ball dress.”

 

  Late in the evening, when Taera and Emily went down, the ball had already started.

  There were several thrones at one end of the room. Taera went over to them and sat down on hers. Emily took her place beside her.

  Nytaera was given a cup of tea and a plate of pastries.

  “Will you dance?” Emily asked her.

  “No!” Taera scoffed. “I like drawing and writing so much better than dancing.”

  They watched the dancing and snacked on  the pastries.

  “There he is!” Taera said, pointing to the other side of the room. “Our mysterious guest. He does work for our father, and he has two children. Their names are Medona and Jared. They’re very quiet.”

  Jayda looked over from her throne. “No one knows their father’s name except the king, and he won’t tell anyone what it is.”

  Suddenly, Taera rose. “I’m going to my room, Mother. I don’t feel well.”

  Emily hurried off after Taera. “What’s wrong?”

  “My stomach feels ill,” Taera said. It was probably from staying up late or eating those pastries.”

  In her chamber, Taera put on a loose nightgown and went to bed, soon falling asleep.

  Emily ran to the females’ sleeping room. “Saja! Saja!” she called, running to her friend’s bed.

  “If it was bedtime, you’d be dead by now!” Saja said, jumping off her bed. “What’s wrong?”

  “I need a doctor for Princess Taera!” Emily gasped out. “She’s sick, and I think something’s wrong with her!”

  Saja ran to fetch the palace doctor. He immediately examined the princess.

  “The news is bad, I’m afraid,” he said, shaking his head in concern.

  “What? “Emily asked anxiously.

  “The princess has been poisoned!”

 

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