"Loved by many, Princess Sidhe was the apple of her mothers 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 arrogantand handsomethat 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 sisters door. "Sam!" she called exasperatedly. "Are you ready yet?"
Indignant cries emanated from the room. Kessah giggled as her sister fell over herself. Youd think shed be helping me, seeing as it is my debutante! Shes eighteen tomorrow, and still hasnt learnt a thing about courting!
Samandia flung the door open, gasping for breath. Her face was flushed and her hair messed, but she grasped Kessahs hand, half-dragging her down the stairs. "Sam! Certainly youre 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 Samandias 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 Samandias killer grip. She turned towards her sister. "Do you really want Banudi to see you like that? He is the heir to the lordand hes twenty-three, the perfect marrying age!"
Samandia blushed. "Of course I dont care for him! I dont even want to think about marriageand either should you. Youre only sixteen, Kessah." She shook her head. "Besides, Banudi is the most arrogant and impossible man Ive ever met!"
The other girl nearly choked. "Arrogant?! Hes rich, handsome and charming! Why shouldnt he be arrogant?"
Shaking her head, Samandia lead her younger sister towards Fernans 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 hes going to become a lord one daywhat makes him so special? She looked at her sister. A dreamy look was beginning to overtake her face, and she barely noticed Samandias hand waving in front of her face. "Hello?" her sister asked, breaking Kessahs reverie.
Kessah turned to the other girl, a calm settling over her. "Beautiful, isnt it?"
"Kessah its 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 youd have better taste than that!"
"What?!" Her jaw dropped disbelievingly. "You meanyou 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 dont believe I feel up to meeting someone of such idi" Kessah nudged her sister "well, status."
A smile spread across the other girls face. "Oh, well he is quite charming! But, Sam, you really shouldnt be intimidated. HereIll introduce you two!" Llyne beckoned them towards a chair at the other end of the room which was decorated with purple velvetand 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 Samandias 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 youre a fiery one, arent you?" He nodded to her, reaching for her hand. "Well met, Samandia Darvosten."
She pulled her hand away from his. "Charmed, Im sure." Her voice was pure sarcasm, and she turned and walked away.
"Oh, and Samandia," Banudi called to her, "make sure you dont get a splinter in your leg from sitting on that rickety fence at the crossroads. Id hate for any of my subjects to injure themselves."
Samandia spun around, eyes blazing. "Youre impossible! Not to mention patronising! Ugh!" She threw up her hands in disgust and stalked outside.
Banudis manservant motioned to run after her, but was stopped by the noble. "Oh, nevermind herI like her spirit. Shed 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, didnt 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 hes the lords eldest son? Im 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 Samandias mind. Whats going to happen? Why didnt I say "ten years" or "twenty years"? Now Im a maid, but Im 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. "Whats 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. "Whats wrong with this thing?" he yelled, kicking the grandfather clock. This dislodged the pendulum, causing the clock to strike the twelfth time.
Samandia fainted as the world as she knew it crashed down around her.
Copyright 2000 M. Lees