Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Chapter One

"Loved by many, Princess Sidhe was the apple of her mother’s eye.

Her father, King Herann, loved her more than her sister, Princess Adeline.

So, to proclaim his adoration, he married her to Radalph Lorran,

a Chailan noble of superb breeding and class.

Sidhe loathed Radalph, although he loved her dearly,

smitten by her beauty …"

—The Pasegean Scrolls

The village of Fernan was like many others in Menilan; small in size, small in economy, and most certainly small in mind. It sat, still; almost stagnant. People were born, married and died. But they never really lived.

Life passed slowly in the town; change was never evident until jumped into your face! In the following six years, Samandia grew. Kessah grew. They all grew. They all changed. But only one of them knew the consequence of time. The consequence of the setting of each sun and the rising of the next. Samandia knew. Samandia waited.

And Samandia loathed time.

She even began to loathe life: never enjoying each frivolous dance, each suitor at the door, each newcomer. Except, the ones which were impossible to ignore. Some, like Banudi of Tream, were so arrogant—and handsome—that ignoring them did no good. Others, like the farm hand Garvin, seemed to stand out for absolutely no reason.

She waited impatiently for the next dance; the activities she had previously detested became more important than her chores and schoolwork. She sat on the crossroad fence each day, waiting for him to pass back to the inn. Occasionally she was rewarded with a conceited smile, which she tried not to return.

Samandia was in trouble.


Smoothing her gown whilst her mother fussed around her, Kessah impatiently knocked on her sister’s door. "Sam!" she called exasperatedly. "Are you ready yet?"

Indignant cries emanated from the room. Kessah giggled as her sister fell over herself. You’d think she’d be helping me, seeing as it is my debutante! She’s eighteen tomorrow, and still hasn’t learnt a thing about courting!

Samandia flung the door open, gasping for breath. Her face was flushed and her hair messed, but she grasped Kessah’s hand, half-dragging her down the stairs. "Sam! Certainly you’re not going like that, are you?"

She looked back her mother, who nearly occupied the entire hallway. "Is there a problem with the way I look, Mother?" Her voice was ice cold. Her mother, used to Samandia’s ways shook her head quickly then scurried away. Samandia hurried her sister down the staircase and out the door. She nodded to her father, outside with his pipe.

"Goodbye, Papa!" Kessah yelled, shaking herself from Samandia’s killer grip. She turned towards her sister. "Do you really want Banudi to see you like that? He is the heir to the lord—and he’s twenty-three, the perfect marrying age!"

Samandia blushed. "Of course I don’t care for him! I don’t even want to think about marriage—and either should you. You’re only sixteen, Kessah." She shook her head. "Besides, Banudi is the most arrogant and impossible man I’ve ever met!"

The other girl nearly choked. "Arrogant?! He’s rich, handsome and charming! Why shouldn’t he be arrogant?"

Shaking her head, Samandia lead her younger sister towards Fernan’s town hall. A large embroidered banner was hung over the door, reading: WELCOME BANUDI OF TREAM!

Samandia sighed. Why must everyone make such a big deal out of this? So he’s going to become a lord one day—what makes him so special? She looked at her sister. A dreamy look was beginning to overtake her face, and she barely noticed Samandia’s hand waving in front of her face. "Hello?" her sister asked, breaking Kessah’s reverie.

Kessah turned to the other girl, a calm settling over her. "Beautiful, isn’t it?"

"Kessah … it’s a dance hall, not a waterfall." Samandia pursed her lips. "Come on!" Kessah rushed up the steps, her face flushed pink, the colour of her dress.

Inside, bright rectangles of linen marked the wooden walls, and were draped over the beams in the roof. Nearly all the village youths were inside, and the band were set up in the corner. Camryn Montage waved at Samandia from his lute, an expectant smile on his face.

Kessah giggled. "Camryn Montage, eh? Sam! I thought you’d have better taste than that!"

"What?!" Her jaw dropped disbelievingly. "You mean—you think! Oh!" Samandia threw her hands up into the air, exasperated. "Kessah, really y—"

"Samandia! Kessah! How wonderful!" A rather plump girl began to walk towards them, her face aglow. "Have you met our guest of honour yet?"

"Hello, Llyne." Samandia forced the words out through clenched teeth. "I don’t believe I feel up to meeting someone of such idi—" Kessah nudged her sister "—well, status."

A smile spread across the other girl’s face. "Oh, well he is quite charming! But, Sam, you really shouldn’t be intimidated. Here—I’ll introduce you two!" Llyne beckoned them towards a chair at the other end of the room which was decorated with purple velvet—and a rather arrogant royal.

Kessah held her hand to her heart, then spoke. "Sir! Such a pleasure to meet you!"

Banudi looked over Kessah approvingly, then delicately took her hand and kissed it. "The pleasure is all mine, sweet lady." Then, looking pointedly at Samandia. "And who might your companion be?"

Llyne jumped in. "This is Samandia Darvosten, sir. And her sister, Kessah Darvosten. Ages eighteen and sixteen respectively, milord."

"Very good, very good." He looked into Samandia’s brown eyes, ignoring the icy glare. "Very good. Samandia … an unusual name."

Samandia flushed. "Not as unusual as some, sir."

Banudi laughed. "No doubt you are referring to mine, lady. Now you’re a fiery one, aren’t you?" He nodded to her, reaching for her hand. "Well met, Samandia Darvosten."

She pulled her hand away from his. "Charmed, I’m sure." Her voice was pure sarcasm, and she turned and walked away.

"Oh, and Samandia," Banudi called to her, "make sure you don’t get a splinter in your leg from sitting on that rickety fence at the crossroads. I’d hate for any of my subjects to injure themselves."

Samandia spun around, eyes blazing. "You’re impossible! Not to mention patronising! Ugh!" She threw up her hands in disgust and stalked outside.

Banudi’s manservant motioned to run after her, but was stopped by the noble. "Oh, nevermind her—I like her spirit. She’d make a fine wife … even for me!"


Several others followed Samandia outside, curious.

Llyne was flustered. "Well, you certainly made a spectacle of yourself in there, didn’t you!"

Samandia, seated on the steps outside, raised her eyes to the other girl. "Oh, Llyne, why must you always sound like my mother?"

Llyne gasped in horror. Catalina Sheperd, always the peace keeper, stepped in. "Please, must we fight about such trivial things? Who cares if he’s the lord’s eldest son? I’m certainly not going out of my way to become his bride!"

Kessah rolled her eyes. "Catalina, can you spell hypocrite?"

Catalina reddened, reminded of her earlier encounters with the handsome heir. "Well, I … uh," she stuttered, unable to apologise. Kessah turned away in disgust.

The rest of the ball resulted as such. Banudi pursued Samandia, who avoided him like the pox; Kessah flirted with all the men, including Garvin, which resulted in Llyne huffing and puffing; and Catalina sat in a corner, alone.

As the time edged closer to midnight, fear overcame Samandia’s mind. What’s going to happen? Why didn’t I say "ten years" or "twenty years"? Now I’m a maid, but I’m still the same as always … what will happen to me?

Llyne crept over to Samandia, ready to share some juicy gossip. As she informed her of a new arrival to Fernan, the soon-to-be damned woman beside her sweated as she watched the clock in the corner. "What’s wrong?" Llyne asked, wondering why the girl was disinterested in her news. She was quick to forgive, and never held a grudge. That was probably why Llyne had no enemies.

The clock struck once. Samandia … A voice echoed through her brain. Your … another strike! time … Dong! is … Ding! nearly … Dong! up …Eleven times the clock struck, the pendulum sticking on the last. Samandia held her breath in anticipation as the party went on as normal.

Banudi approached the clock. "What’s wrong with this thing?" he yelled, kicking the grandfather clock. This dislodged the pendulum, causing the clock to strike the twelfth time.

You’re mine!

Samandia fainted as the world as she knew it crashed down around her.


Copyright 2000 M. Lees

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter