*The art for this chapter was provided by fiverr user "fluffycakies". Thanks a bunch! Chibi Ruta looks awesome! :)*

                                                                                Part 48: Coming to Terms

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          "The little sister, however, was dreadfully frightened when she saw that her fawn was hurt..."(Brother and Sister, Grimm Brothers)

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                                                                                                        -Ruta-

         Well, that was easy.

         Of course, I wasn't expecting any other outcome. The other girls in the contest were sub par, at best. All of the glowing dresses and giant elephants in the world couldn't have gotten some of these brain dead, tittering idiots into the next round.

         Even with the handicap of having my beautiful face obscured by a mask, I easily charmed Edmund and his family. I knew I was guaranteed a spot in the second round before I gave my final curtsy.

          It was strange, seeing a smattering of familiar faces from my past as this new being I've become over the past few days. Some of the girls who were princesses were familiar, others were not.

         King Esperance was still the living embodiment of flirtation; his scandalous blue eyes couldn't help but roam over any and all young women that approached the throne.

         The Queen, although I've never had the pleasure of formally meeting her, held all the rumored "charm" of a python. I actually rather like her.

      Edmund looked the same: tall, handsome, and with a good amount of his shining teeth showing. He extended all girls (even those with faces that looked like a cross between a horse and a seasick fish) the most gracious of welcomes.

         It was easy to block out their familiarity when I remembered why I was here in the first place. I didn't bat an eye, even after I introduced myself as a Rose, the young peasant girl who had a tailor as a father. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be to claim to be a peasant.

        "From which land did you travel, Rose? Your attire perplexes me." the Queen asked with no hesitation.

        "Doria," I responded smoothly.

        "Do they all wear masks like yours in Doria?"

          "No," I said with a flippant smile she would never see. "This mask is as rare as the girl underneath it." I curtsied.

         The Queen pressed her fingers together and whispered amongst her family members. After some time, the pointy woman leaned forward, her fingers wrapped together beneath her chin to form a sling. Her red lips cracked a smile.

        "I do like this one, Edmund. Send her on."

        And I was in.

        I tilt my head to the side and observe the rest of the girls that stand, still waiting with bated breath to find out which fate awaits them--the second round or the castle doors.

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