A revolution is starting in the kingdom of Cathalla, and if it succeeds it could destroy everything Iris cares about.
Iris gritted her teeth to keep from screaming, and focused her energy instead on cursing whoever had had the grand idea that tattoos were a mark of adulthood and status.
“You’re almost done, Your Highness. One more.”
Thank the gods, she thought, because if she opened her mouth, she would scream.
Finally, the needles stopped, and Iris could relax her muscles. The artist who had tattooed her face held up a mirror for her.
“Woah…” Iris breathed. She looked… different, somehow. But even Iris, who hated the idea of having permanent gold tattoos on her face, had to admit they looked striking. Maybe, if these tattoos would finally allow her to demand attention from her own court, so she could actually be part of the decision making, they would be worth it. Maybe. “Thank you, Ma’am.”
“It’s my pleasure, Your Highness,” the artist said. “Now off to the hairdresser with you.”
Iris blinked. Oh, right. “Of course. Thank you again. Goodbye!”
Today was Iris’s twentieth birthday, the day she became a full adult, and she had to look the part, as per royal traditions. Iris would have a portrait painted of her and hung up with the others in the hallway leading to the dining room.
Iris’s world went dark and she stumbled forward as a small pair of hands covered her eyes before she was even halfway to the hairdresser’s. She smiled.
“Is that Lily?” she asked with a laugh. “You know you’re not supposed to see me yet!”
“Weeell,” Lily dragged out the word, “Hya showed me the way down here one time, and now she’s out with Arthur, and I’m bored. Are you almost done?”
“I still have Anne to get through!”
Lily pouted. “Well tell her to go fast.”
“And then I have my first council meeting as an adult,” Iris reminded her. “But if you go back upstairs now, I’ll let you have an extra piece of cake at the banquet later,” she promised.
“Hm…. Fine.” Lily clambered off Iris (she had jumped on her to be able to reach her eyes) and smiled. “Don’t forget!” she called as she raced back upstairs.
10-year-old Lily was the youngest of eight siblings, five sisters and three brothers. She was often the most mischievous of the bunch, the one who encouraged the others to participate in small pranks on the castle staff. She was also the only blond in the whole Rosewood family, who were all brunettes. If Iris had to guess, showing Lily the secret downstairs rooms was not Hyacinth’s idea. She shook her head, realizing she’d arrived at Anne’s place, the hairdresser.
Anne wasn’t a woman of many words, but she was amazing at what she did. With barely a greeting, she got straight to work, brushing and combing through the knots in Iris’s long, dark, and thick hair. It took her nearly an hour before she was satisfied with her work. Then she began the long process of actually doing Iris’s hair; painstakingly braiding strands and wrapping them in a crown on top of her head. The rest of Iris’s hair she curled and arranged around her shoulders.
“You’re all set, Your Highness. And you look beautiful.”
Iris nodded her thanks and left the room, starting to feel that nauseousness that comes with nervousness. She climbed the long spiral staircase slowly, shaking with anticipation. The council stared at her with unblinking eyes when she entered the room. Her mother stood and beckoned for her to come to her right.
“You look beautiful,” her mother said, smiling proudly. Then she straightened out, and said, “Iris Rosewood, are you ready to serve the country of Cathala as a Royal Councilor?”
“I place on your head this circlet as a reminder of your power, and along with it, your responsibility. Do you accept it?”
“Then welcome to the Council, and may you serve your country well.”
Iris smiled and took a seat next to her mother.
Just then, a servant bust open the door, out of breath. “Your Majesty, Your Highness, high Councilors,” he said, nodding at each of them, “it’s Trixie. She’s lost again.”