59: Last Chance

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                                                                                Part 59: Last Chance



           And when she went to the festival in the dress, no one knew how to speak for astonishment. (Cinderella, Brothers Grimm) _____________________________________________________________________

                  Sticky sweat pools beneath my fingertips, trapped there by the silky confines of my gloves. I pull endlessly at the ends of the long white gloves as I stride down the golden halls of Castle Esperance, following a short distance behind Reegan, Baxter, and Tannin, who are each dressed in equally fancy attire.

                   After finally reaching the castle, Reegan showed us a secret passageway in the east wall that allowed us to enter safely into the castle without alarming any of the guards. Once inside, Reegan took us to the guest rooms where we were each able to find clothing suitable for a ball. It required us to steal, which neither Tannin nor Baxter had much of a problem with, but I found it quite discomforting even despite Regan's claims that I look like a princess.

                  Now, here we are, striding down the hallways in our stolen outfits, looking like a group of four marching to their own funeral. No one says a word, not even Reegan who hasn't stopped trembling since we started on our way here. He opened his mouth long enough to instruct us on our false identities should anyone ask (we're siblings from a faraway land overseas, children of a grand duke) then he slammed his gnarled, brown lips closed and seemingly refuses to say another word.

                  I straighten out the butterfly masquerade mask on my face, which has become slightly askew due to the fast pace we've been keeping down the hall. Knowing myself and my clumsy nature, I keep my path directly at the center of the hall so that there won't be any unfortunate accidents involving an expensive vase and myself.

         As we continue our silent trek, I can't help but to continuously cast hidden glances in Tannin's direction, childishly hoping the hunter masquerading in a prince's clothing tonight will spare me a look.

                 He doesn't, not even once. He hasn't looked my way or said a word to me since he kissed me out in the streets of Esperance. He stares straight ahead now, narrowed green eyes focusing only on what lies ahead of us, not on the past.

                Surprisingly, it's quiet Baxter who speaks first and breaks the heavy silence that's seized our group.

               "So...." The gruffer of the twins drawls the word out like it's string. "Does anyone here actually have a plan?"

              "Try to stay alive, preferably," Tannin suddenly quips, breaking out of the statue-like spell he's been under for the past thirty minutes or so. He looks uncomfortable in the stiff outfit Reegan forced him into earlier although I think it suits him, strangely enough. The black overcoat trimmed with white lace contrasts well with his bright hair. The white ruffles of his shirt and the gold chain that crisscrosses above it all fit him perfectly well. He looks every bit like a prince tonight. Baxter is also dashing in his outfit, which is similar to Tannin's, but his overcoat is a deep, midnight blue.

               I can hardly say I look like royalty in the loose clutches of a blue dress that is far too big on me. Reegan reminded me that most royals have access to more food than us so we can expect the clothes to fit a little bigger. I feel like I'm drowning in a sea of blue fabric.

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