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Chapter Eleven

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Natalie woke up early that morning to the familiar slamming of doors, but was met with two friendly faces as she sat up. Avilina and Ellyn beamed at her whilst Ayala stood at the foot of her bed holding a purple dress fringed with silver lace. She raised an eyebrow ever so slightly before placing the dress delicately on the bed.

"Good morning Lady, I trust you slep well?" She asked woodenly.

"Um ... Yes?" Natalie held back a yawn, not fully awake.

"Good, we have much to do." She clicked her fingers and Avilina hurried forward with breakfast. "The Emperor of Yurian will be here shortly."

Once she was dressed and half her breakfast had been eaten, Ellyn sat her down in front of the mirror and began raking a comb through her hair. She pulled and tugged until she was happy enough and started scraping Natalie's hair back into a plait.

"You've such a pretty face Lady." Ellyn said quietly, so Ayala didn't over hear. "Your hair looks much better like this."

"Are you sure?" Natalie asked, "My fiancé always said it made my face look too round."

"Then the boy was an arse." Ayala said walking past briskly.

Ellyn snorted at the shocked expression on Natalie's face. "Almost done Lady." She finished her hair with a purple ribbon and stood back.

Natalie stood up, her dress was a bit tight around the ribs and sitting had been painful. She let the women have a good look at her before asking "How do I look?"

"Like a Queen, Lady." Ayala answered, the other two nodded furiously behind her.

"Great." She breathed a sigh of relief. "Now what?"

The main chamber was bustling with life as Natalie followed Ayala up to her throne. Servants dipped and dashed past her shouting instructions to each other. Kebes stood at the top of the room next to her throne in what appeared to be a deep but distainful conversation with Sarus. They both stopped as they saw her approach and forced smiles on to their faces.

"Lady." Kebes nodded at her.

"I trust you are well this fine morning your Highness?" Sarus said in his usual sickly fashion.

"Yes thank you Sarus." She smiled back, though her stomach had already started churning.

"You look radiant as always Lady." He said, eyes focusing too long on her chest as he looked her up and down.

Natalie blushed uncomfortably and looked over to Kebes. "Do you know when he'll be here?"

"Any minute Lady. You should get yourself ready." He indictaed to the throne beside him.

The throne was still as hard and cold as it had been on the day of her Crowning and her back ached immediately as it forced her to sit up straight. A man appeared with her crown and gently lowered it on to her head. She felt it push her ears out, now that her hair wasn't there to take it's weight, and she prayed that she didn't look like Dumbo. She watched as the servants slowly began to leave the chamber and her guards marched in and up towards her. Roncero led them and she saw that he still wore his worried expression as he locked eyes with her. She gave him a reassuring smile but it didn't help. All the men shared his apprehension, even Wilhelm looked more shifty than usual.

"Is he near?" Kebes asked tensely.

"Any second now." Roncero replied.

Kebes gave each man a position ready for the Emperor's arrival, putting himself and Sarus either side of her. Lighten and Roncero were situated at the bottom of the stairs, the furthest away from her. She watched nervously as they readied themselves, not even hearing Sarus talking to her. Two women, a small blonde and a plump red head, stood not too far both holding baskets of fruits and fabrics, probably gifts. The doors flew open and a tall, dark skinned man entered, followed by four other men she assumed were guards. He walked fast, with good posture and a cocky smile on his face. He robes were a simple white, with a gold sash draped around his shoulders decorated with jewels. As he approached she realised he was also much older than she had expected. Natalie had assumed he would be of simular age to her, but the lines on his face showed him to be around mid forties, though he was exceptionally handsome. He was bald and his dark eyes were heavily outlined, making his expression all the more menacing. He stopped just short of the steps and stood tall in front of her, showing no intention of bowing.

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