Chapter 19 - Valaria II

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The bath they gave me was quick, though the maids somehow manage successfully scrub off any trace of mud and dirt on my body, face and hair. The hair was the hardest since I mud it almost every day until I met Ethan. It definitely feels better when I swim in the lake than taking a bath here, with all the hands touching your skin.

There are still small scars that they couldn't scrub off on my feet and arms. I do not care much, if they can't remove the scars, they will hopefully let me wear a  comfortable long-sleeved dress though I know they will not protest if I refuse to do something.

Everything they do, every word they speak was only in the sake of duty. They only talk to me to lift my head or bring one leg up or anything like that. I restrain myself at the bath to ask them if they were from the Outlands just out of curiosity.

The Valarians take the Outlanders as slaves if they don't have enough of them but then, I doubt they would let a slave from the Outlands work at the castle. Maybe just being a castle maid is a big enough honor for the Valarians and they are happy to do their work.

I snap back to reality when I notice in the reflection of the mirror in front of me, three of the maids whispering to each other and giving me quick glances while the other two does my hair, braiding it into a bun. I do not know if they were talking about me or not but it feels like they are with the giggling and sideways stares. 

One of them notices me staring at them and she quickly whispers something before the three of them breaks off. I sigh. I should've known that they will look down to me. What is a hunter compared to a prince? 

I do not realize the maid that's doing my hair, the red-head, is looking at me. " Pardon me, m'Lady, " her voice is thick with accent. I look to her reflection in the mirror as soon as she starts to speak. She deserts her stare at me and focuses on my hair. " But are you from the Outlands? " she squeaks out, eyes still looking at her hands in my hair. The few other maids glare at her and she keeps her eyes down. 

I try to hide the shock in my voice. " How did you know? "

" There are words, m'Lady. " She continues to do my hair though I know it is already finished and she is just trying to find an excuse to avert my eyes. I feel a small pang of sympathy for the red-head. She is a soft girl, I thought. 

Her skin is pale, even paler than mine and is dotted with freckles that seem to make her look more attractive. Her fiery hair seems to light up in the room and reminded me of Nala's own red colored hair. She is still looking away with the blue eyes of her and I sigh. 

" There is no need to be scared of me. " 

" Thank you, m'Lady. " I see her pale lips form a smile. " But I'm not scared. Just cautious. We're not supposed to talk while serving anyone. " 

I nod in understanding. Perhaps I was wrong about her. She knows what words to say without making her sound too good or too vile. Now, I'm worried that the other maids will say something bad about the girl. They certainly do not look happy but I'm sure Ethan will listen more to me than to them.

" Is your lords and ladies cruel to you? " I ask softly, touching into an unordinary subject. If they are as vain as the soldiers and merchants, then this girl must've been through a lot. 

She finally brings her head up to me, blue eyes wide in shock. The other maids' mouths drop slightly. To my surprise, the red-head shakes her head quickly, her.  " No, m'Lady. I'm happy here. "

Her words shock me slightly. How can she be happy here? In Valaria? Where the lords and soldiers take any woman they want to bed, just like how they wanted to do to me and Laila.

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