The bells tolled, calling for the midday feast. Cora and the young men listened to the echoing gongs of the serenade of the bells and horns that rung through the palace.
“The midday feast is about to begin, we must hurry before my mother, and your father worries,” Cora spoke to the boys as she stood, holding the skirt of her dress and she made her way to the door of the glass building. Amor and Oren looked at one another; their eyes pleading never to leave or let go of the other’s hand.
“I understand you mustn’t want to release your embrace, but for your good, and heads, we must hurry before the guards come and find us.” Cora opened the door and made her way out, the men shortly after her. They exited the large atrium and made their way to the dining hall.
A long table stood in the middle coated with a white cloth rimmed with a dark blue fabric that mimicked the color of the seas. Centerpieces of white and red hanging bell flowers, silver roses, and lily of the skies stood in tall white vases with blue engravings of the ocean and their creatures. The windows paneled the walls, reach from the floor to the ceiling, covered by seafoam green curtains. There were five chairs with golden cushions; their wood was dark and glossy. The servants placed two at each of the two ends, two on the right side, and the last one on the left.
The servants stood behind each chair, waiting for the guests to arrive at their placement. Their attire changed from their green dresses and aprons to a more elegant gown with black lace lain over their skirts and gloves stained blue.
Cora began walking to the closest end of the table, a woman pulling the chair from the table and allowing her to sit before pushing her towards the table. Amor and Oren did the same though Oren sat on the lone side with the one chair.
The doors on the other side of the room opened to reveal Queen Vitana and King Anyel. Their faces were flat, neither shown a sense of humor, delight, or joy as they sat in their seats — Vitana across from Cora and King Anyel next to Prince Amor.
Everdeen stood in front of the door, two servants by her side, holding the knobs of the door.
“We shall begin the midday feast. Aurain and Iradesa, please open the doors.” The two servant girls opened the doors to allow the servers in, men with black uniforms and gloves entered with silver dishes in their hands. They walked to each royal with a plate and laid them in front of them.
Everdeen clapped her hands, and the men lifted the covers to reveal the food.
“This day will be feasted on Aecorian Crown Fish plated with roasted lily petals, dressed with Damned Sea Oregian Kelp purée.” Everdeen clapped again, and the waiters placed knives and forks next to the plates.
The aroma of the food filled the air; nostrils flared as they inhaled the scent of the delicate fish.
“Accompanying the main course will be a glass of Silveran Wine.” Everdeen clapped again, and more servants entered the room with tall glass bottles and glasses. The old waiters left the room, making way for others. The waiters placed the glasses in front of the diners. Everdeen clapped one last time, the servants opened the bottles and began to pour.
“Gah!” King Anyel boasted out as a servant pulled away with the bottles of wine.
“You ignorant, lackey! How the hell do you do this!?” He distressed as he pushed away from the table, the chair falling to the ground. His coat was darker in giant splotches; they grew as the wine sunk into the fabric.
“I am so sorry. Please, let me clean your coat!” The servant fell to his knees and pleaded; his eyes were glossed as he stared up at the King.
“I rather see your hand on the floor severed from your arm!” He yelled at the servant, his leg rising, his heavy booted kicked the servant further to the floor.
“Father, stop!” Amor called to his father who was now repeatedly kicking the man on the floor.
“This is what mistakes such as you deserve.” Anyel halted his kicking and was now stomping on his chest. The servant was gasping for air, blooding dripping from his lips and sliding down his cheek.
“King Anyel, I am going to have to ask you to stop.” Cora stood up from her seat, glaring at the King. Her stance was tall as her palms laid flat on the table. King Anyel stopped, glaring at the young woman, bewildered by her demand and words.
“You cannot tell me what to do. I am the King of Gillaria, the largest nation in all the lands.” His brows were furrowed and his lips contorted in disgust at the woman who stands up to him.
“I am the heir to the throne of Aecor, and you are in my kingdom. Any damage done to my people is damage that can be reversed and put against you at much more extremes.” The King stepped back, lifting his chair and pushing the fallen servant away from him. Cora sighed as he sat back down.
“Everdeen, please attend to Aro’s injuries, please.” Everdeen nodded and ran to Aro’s aid, other servants helping him to his feet and carrying him out of the room. The dining room was reduced to nothing but the sound of heavy chests heaving which was relieved by the clank of Cora’s mother’s fork against her plate. Her food has been cleared from her plate, the commotion, the violence that happened was a mere fly to the Queen as she sipped her glass of wine and stared at the guest of the table.
Cora glanced at her mother, her jaw slightly dropped as her mother set down her glass and stood from the table. She began to walk towards the door, her stance tall and her dress flowing behind her. Cora chased after her, watching as she left through the doors and into a hall where she stood next to a painting of herself.
“What are you doing? You said nothing, did nothing! You just ate and stuffed your face with food as one of our servants was abused and battered.” Cora’s face contorted into a fury of anger and ferocity. Vitana looked up at her self-portrait. A picture of flowing lines and shapes, a dress that waved on the canvas, a sword held in her hand, her hair braided and twisted around her head, a fan in her other hand.
“There are so many things I want to tell you, but I can’t.” Vitana looked away from her daughter, staring down at the floor.
“I want you to become Queen with your own experiences. Believe me, Cora, when I say I am more afraid of reign than I am of my own..”
“You let him beat, Aro!” Cora screamed at her mother. It’ was what felt right. She couldn’t react in any other way. She didn’t know how to react other than to yell. TO scream, to shout as loud as she could without disturbing the guests and servants.
“We should get back to our guests.” Her mother led the way into the dining hall. King Anyel, Prince Amor, and Sir Oren had finished their plates.
“The day has ended, your quarters have been shown to you all, may you rest your heads until the High Tide Banquet.” The Queen boasted as the servants led the three men to their rooms. Cora stood next to her mother as the men left. Anyel scowled back at her as he pushed aside the staff and left the room with the large doors closing behind him.
“To your room, Cora. I will see you right before the high tide banquet.” Queen Vitana left the room with her dress waving behind her as if it was waving goodbye to her daughter.
The heir stood in the dining hall as the attendants carried the plates and cleared the table of the centerpieces. She was in disarray and disbelief of King Anyel. His aggressive behavior, his attitude towards her. His vile inhumanity. However, she was in more distress by her mother. The thought of what her mother couldn’t tell her made her mind twist and turn. It made her head burn.