11: Worlds Collide

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Sophie had decided to take up a new needlepoint project to keep herself occupied while she sat by the window and waited for Dex to return. It was a picture of tiny little ducks walking into a pond. It was for Biana's baby boy. It was simple. It was easy. It was rhythmic. It was tedious. It was distracting. Push the needle through, pull the needle out. Use each stitch to make a shape with thread. Have it add to the picture. Tie a knot. Push the needle through, pull the needle out. Use each stitch to make a shape with thread. Have it add to the picture. Tie a knot. Push the needle through, pull the needle out. Use each stitch to make a shape with thread. Have it add to the picture. Tie a knot.

Sophie felt more machine than human nowadays. Even her thoughts were mechanic. Each sentence was short. Concise. Empty. Wake up, get ready for the day, wake the triplets, get them ready, get everyone to breakfast, find Biana, sit in the parlor, meet with noble ladies, be dismissed, sit by the window, work on needlepoint, realize it's time to get the triplets, rush to get the triplets and to get to dinner, take the triplets back to the room, get the triplets ready for bed, read the triplets a story, put the triplets to bed, go find Biana gain, talk in the parlor until it's late, help Biana get ready for the night, go back to the room, get ready for bed, pray for Dex to come home, go to sleep, repeat. Nothing more, nothing less. However, she tended to carry around her needlepoint because whenever her mind wasn't busy, she was thinking about Dex and whenever her hands weren't busy she was nervously pulling out her eyelashes.

A horn sounded in the distance and Sophie threw down her needlepoint to the ground, rushing to the window's edge and leaning as far as she could for the best view she could get of the road. She waited...and waited...and no one came. Feeling defeated, Sophie picked up her needlepoint from the floor and trudged to her seat.

Push the needle through, pull the needle out. Use each stitch to make a shape with thread. Have it add to the picture. Tie a knot. Push the needle through, pull the needle out. Use each stitch to make a shape with thread. Have it add- A horn sounded again and this time, Sophie set her needlepoint aside before swiftly moving to the window.

This time, Sophie waited for longer and watched in heart slamming anticipation as the large metal gates of the wall surrounding the palace opened and a single black horse ran through, a young man on its back. Even from a distance, Sophie could tell it was Fitz. Without thinking about her needlepoint, Sophie ran down to the hall and almost flew down the stairs. She ran until she was at the main entrance and practically flung herself out the door, stumbling to stop in front of Fitz, who was smiling widely out at the path. When Fitz noticed her, he dismounted from his horse with a smile.

Before he could say anything, Sophie asked breathlessly, "Is he... is he here?"

Understanding what she meant, Fitz nodded proudly, "Yes, he is with the rest of the men and they shall arrive soon. I ran ahead to inform everyone of the situation at hand."

"What situation?" Sophie asked, suddenly concerned.

"We were attacked by a rebel group affiliated with the ogres along the way called the Neverseen. They are why our return has been so delayed. We stopped about five times to fight them properly in full scale battle. It was like fighting a second, miniature war," Fitz sighed, and Sophie suddenly noticed how tired he looked. There were dark circles under the young prince's eyes and his clothes were dirty. The sword that hung at his side was, like his boots, muddy and bloody and he wore an ill fitting breastplate over his tunic. There was a tear in his cape and his upper arm was tightly wrapped in a bandage.

Hesitantly, her fingers brushed against the bandage on his arm, "Are you very injured?"

Fitz shook his head, "No, it is but a scratch. Have no fear, Sophie, neither your brother nor I will perish from serious wounds we received in the battles."

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