"Rose, can you pick me out a pink dress?" I smiled as she walked to my closet to pick out the requested dress. I looked in the mirror, hoping His Highness would like how I looked today. With Rose's help, I gently fixed my hair before changing into my dress. She has been my maid since I was a kid; my Father hired her after Sakura moved in with us. He feared that my Mother would need help raising two kids, so as a result, he hired Rose, who I later made my maid after my Mother's death. I was lost in thought until Rose spoke, "My Lady, I am finished. Please look in the mirror." I noticed her eyes were sad as she said this.
"Thank you, Rose. I will be heading to the Imperial Palace to visit the Crown Prince. Maybe today he will accept my invitation for a walk." I smiled at her as I started to walk out of my room; hopefully, today was the day that the Crown Prince acknowledged my feelings for him. We had been childhood friends as my Father was very close to the Royal Family. One day, when my Father went to the Castle to talk to the Emperor, I went along with him, wanting to play with the Prince. That day, however, there was an assassination attempt on the Emperor in order to take over the Empire. Father left the Prince and I alone with a knight and a few maids in a room, saying it was for our safety since we were both young. He didn't believe anyone would try to find us since they were after the Emperor. However he was wrong, an assassin made his way into the room, killing the only knight Father left us with. The assassin walked towards us, wanting to get to the Prince; however, Darion tried to go against him but got pushed and hit his back on a table. The assassin then turned to me, grabbing me by the hair; he was ready to stab me with his knife. If it weren't for Darion, who grabbed the knight's sword and killed the assassin, I would have died that day. "Don't die; I don't want my friend dying before she sees me become the Emperor." That was all he told me afterward. After that incident, I started to develop feelings for him, and for a while, it began to seem that he also liked me, but that changed once he met Sakura. They became friends relatively fast, leaving me behind; I can't blame him either. I also became quite close with her almost immediately. I smiled while thinking of Sakura; she was a kind person I thought of as a sister. Walking through the halls, I observed the maids, who were busy cleaning the manner. The Karael Duchy was filled with gold emblems even with a gold shortage. There were small details made of gold and a painting with gold flakes. The painting was the official family portrait, with my Father and Mother with me in the middle of it. It made it seem like the perfect family image to someone outside the manor.
I continued walking until I arrived at the carriage waiting for me. I noticed two carriages were waiting outside, but I ignored them. As I got on the carriage, I saw my Father talking with Sakura outside; he seemed displeased as she spoke to him. I ignored it and signaled to start moving; I sat down and began to write in my notebook. I always kept a notebook on me; I found writing and expressing myself relatively peaceful. I continued to write until we arrived at the Palace, where I got off the carriage and started to walk towards the entrance. I started observing the Castle; it fit the Royal Family. It had a massive garden in the front, but that wasn't the central garden. The front of the Castle had the emblem of the Royal Family: a golden cross. It symbolized the Royal Family backing up the religious party in the Empire. "Lady Karael!" I turned around to see a Palace Maid walking up to me. I immediately recognized her as the Empress' maid, Kyra, "Are you here to see His Highness?" she asked with a smile. I returned the smile, "Yes, do you know where he is right now?" I asked her. "He is at the training grounds right now! I can show you the way if you wish!" she said excitedly, grabbing my hand and pulling me with her.
We walked towards the training grounds, where I could see Imperial Knights walking out of the building. "Did you hear that Lady Karael is in the Palace? She should give up on the Crown Prince." "She has no chance with him, especially since the Prince loves Lady Sakura." "Anyone would pick Lady Sakura over her. She may be the heir to the Karael fortune and land, but that is all in vain if she isn't half as good-looking as her cousin."
I stood at a distance from them with Kyra, holding my tears. I knew what was said about me and the Prince, but it was my first hearing it firsthand. I felt my heart clench as I continued walking towards the entrance; I started to regret all my time trying to make the Prince notice my love. "My Lady, don't mind anything they said. They are just knights; they are all muscle and have no brain. I am sure the Crown Prince loves you; he just hasn't realized it yet." I felt a tear start to fall; I quickly wiped it away and turned to Kyra. "If he loved me, then he wouldn't have an issue going for a walk with me today, right?" I said with a hopeful smile. Even if I already knew the outcome of it, I was willing to give it one more shot.
When we got to the training grounds, I told Kyra she could return to the Empress. As I started to walk around, I found myself in the fighting arena, where Darion, the Crown Prince, was training with one of the knights. I sat on one of the spectator seats and waited until they were finished; I took out my notebook again and started to write. This time, however, it wasn't about my love for the Prince but my regret. "I give up." I heard the knight say as I put away my notebook. I went up to Darion to talk to him; he was already walking towards the exit when I finally caught up. I was about to talk to him when he turned around to speak to me.
"Get away from me. Can't you see I do not like you? From your eyes to your hair, I despise all of it." I looked at Darion as he said those words to me; I looked at him, hoping he would change his angry face. "I will never love you. Sakura is by far the most beautiful woman I have seen in this whole Empire, and someday I will make her my Empress," Darion stated while still holding his angry expression towards me. "Why! She is not better than me; I will be the one to inherit my Father's title! So why her? Why do you always choose her?" I yelled at him, tears threatening to come out of my eyes. I tried looking at his gorgeous blue eyes, but all I saw was hatred toward me.
"Did you not hear me? She is far more beautiful than you; her beautiful green eyes, pink hair, even her personality. Not once has she tried forcing her love on me. Unlike you, your black hair is quite an eyesore for me to look at. Your personality also seems like you only care about becoming the Empress." I looked down as Darion said this. "She has the same eye color as me, and I don't want to be Empress! I only wanted to be by your side." I whispered the last part, but it was not loud enough for him to hear. "Same eye color? You have to be delusional to believe that. Her eyes resemble emeralds, the finest emeralds at that. They are the brightest and most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. Meanwhile, your eyes hold nothing but your greed to become Empress." "I hoped that you would someday consider my feelings for you, but I can see that won't happen. I am sorry for disturbing you all this time; rest assured I will not disturb you anymore, Your Highness."
"Darion! I had come to see you! Are you busy right now? I wanted to take a walk around the palace garden." Sakura came in, running to hug Darion, which he gladly received. "Of course, I will take a walk with you! Iris was leaving, so I will be free the whole afternoon!" I looked at Darion, feeling a pain in my chest, wanting to cry out in pain; I turned to walk away.
"Wait, Iris, why don't you take a walk with us?" Sakura asked, even if she was innocent; I found it hard to believe that she didn't understand the circumstances she walked into. "I have to leave now; my Father wanted to talk to me about urgent matters. I only came here because I needed to talk to his highness." I explained to Sakura as I started walking away towards the exit. I continued walking until I saw the carriage.
Once on the carriage, I finally let my tears fall. I had not felt this pain in a long time since my Mother died four years ago, leaving my Father and two thirteen-year-olds alone. Although I did miss my Mother, I was glad I did not have to keep enduring the favoritism she had towards Sakura. She had always been favored by people in my life, including my Mother. I never understood why she had always favored her. I was her real daughter, and yet she treated me as if I was the adopted child she had to take care of.
Since Sakura's parents passed away when she was seven years old, my parents raised her. She and I became close to the point we considered each other siblings. She, of course, could not inherit my Father's title since she was not his biological child. That was her only flaw in everyone's eyes. My Mother had argued with my Father countless times to make an exception and consider Sakura when passing down his title, although my Father refused and told her it was my birth-given right to inherit it. In those six years my Mother cared for us, she fell in love with Sakura, constantly comparing me to her. "Iris, isn't Sakura's hair beautiful? Of course, it is. It's a beautiful pink color that complements her beautiful green eyes. She is obviously from your Father's family; those green eyes are the only thing you guys have in common. Although, she's so beautiful it could even make the Crown Prince fall in love with her." She said as she smiled, looking directly at Sakura. My Mother predicted my sad present: my first love, the Crown Prince, fell in love with Sakura. I finally snapped out of my thoughts when the carriage stopped. I got down and started walking inside the manor. "My lady, the Duke is waiting for you in his office." A maid stated as I walked past her, hurrying to talk to my Father.