••• THREE •••

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Chapter Three

"You will need this," Soka explains as the last string is pulled tightly on the corset. Sucking in a deep breath as my ribs feel like they are about to break under pressure, Soka pulls out a slim and long dagger. Simple and sharp, I can see my reflection in the polished metal. "For protection. Many unholy things happen within the palace walls." I nod, taking in my appearance in the mirror before me. Another mirror to bring back the memories of my mistake. An intentional mistake as I know I must accept that.

I had no idea what I did would work, nor did I think I would step through.

So here I stand now, dressed in a corset that punctures my ribs as the thin fabric of a dress is slid over my head. Hunter green, the material a tad worn as I rub my fingers against it. Hitting the floor with a little room to show the brown boots, I actually don't mind the attire, except for the fact it is a little itchy. Soka pulls my hair back into a simple braid, explaining that women within the palace walls and conjoining city still dress formally like this. Explaining that the nobles and royals wear silks and bit more modern gowns, I will look like nothing less than a villager from the werewolf community off the coast of Iduna's second largest island.

"Thank you," I express, taking the dagger and sliding it into my boot as Soka informs it is to stay hidden. Along with that I'm told the rules of how to look, how my chin must be held, to never walk faster than those dressed in silks and jewels, to never let my dress go above my ankles, and to never ever dare put my hair down. Why not to put my hair down? Soka explains only the ladies of the night wear their hair down.

Informed that the ride will be long to the Capitol, my thoughts are placed upon my father. There is a chance I could find him out there. There's a chance I could see my father once more.

"So, does the King mind commoners in his library?" I ask, remembering I'll be in the palace and in a library to search for records.

Soka shakes her head. "He has a private library just as massive, the one you will be in is open to those who give reason to be in there. Luckily for you, for I do believe my gods have shown you mercy though your kind hunts their creations, I know the man who operates the flow of who comes and passes through that library."

"Does the King have a Queen and children?" I ask.

"The King is new, yet to choose a bride, though many think it will be another werewolf from one of the three islands located off the west shore. He is barely even twenty-two."

"Young for sure."

Soka nods. "He took the title only seven full moons ago, his father had passed eight years ago, and his mother ruled until sickness overtook her. Now his parents are with the gods and I pray they are still respected by their people who live on."

So, religion is one important of a thing here. The way Soka talks about her gods and everyone else's just likes me know I'd better not ever insult them.

As the pale morning sun rises over the trees, I take my spot on the wagon, seated next to a chest filled to the brim with magical potions and a small boy who plays with a horse made of field grass. Looking back upon the village, I'm left only to wonder when the next time I'll be back as it becomes only a smaller structure the more time passes bye. Maybe I will return one day. Maybe I will never see these homes again.

For another three hours I just stare upon the views of trees and mountains, missing the technology that would aid me in my boredom. For many minutes I just run the fabric of my dress between my fingers, thinking of my mother and friends who I have now left behind. I left behind a boyfriend as well, one of two years, one who I've grown to appreciate more and more every day we were together. And now, as I sit here, this is the first time I think of him, of Nicholas. I didn't even spare him a thought when I disappeared into the mirror. I was so consumed by the thoughts and memories that I tried to still hold of my father that I just let everything else go from my mind.

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