Its almost midnight and the lights have long been put out in almost every home in the city. The view of dark windows and drawn curtains is one thats seen in almost every street.
Theres a soothing quiet enveloping the streets, accompanied by the bright rays of moonlight pouring down from the cloudless sky and the calming sounds of nature in the background, forming a picturesque scene.
This state of tranquility doesn last long though, the silence is first disrupted by the sound of hooves colliding with the dirt, soon the warm yellow glow of a torch is cast on the street, the silhouette of a man on a horse outlined in the shadows.
He races down the street on his horse, with knitted brows and sweat lining his temples, his eyes leaving the path ahead of him only to glance at the rolled up paper attached to his waist. He rides off quickly and the street descends back into the tranquility it once had but the message on his waist is bound to caus his housee unrest on both the streets and in his destination.
On the other side of the city, the streets are still buzzing with life. Carriages are seen rushing through the streets all heading to one destination, a large brightly lit mansion in the distance.
In a wide hall within the mansion, the final destination for the passengers of the incoming carriages, a party is being held. The hall is bright, illuminated by dazzling chandeliers and garnished with delicate decorations, teeming with people adorned in expensive clothes and glistening ornaments and filled with the sound of music and the aroma of exquisite food.
In a dark corner of the hall, hidden amongst the shadows Natalia stands fumbling with the strings of her apron.
Her hands are clammy and the strings of her apron keep slipping out of her slightly shaking fingers, her heart is pounding furiously in her chest like shes been scurrying around the hall like the other maids even though she hasn left this spot.
The hall is cool yet her forehead is dotted with beads of sweat, her dress is a little big on her and keeps sliding off her shoulder, her fiery red hair is in a poor excuse of a bun and the little wisps of her keep getting stuck to her face.
Shes a mess and everyone around her is too busy to notice or care.
The hall is gradually getting filled up by the people constantly pouring in and is soon dominated by different sounds. The shuffling of feet, the clinking of glasses, the sound of laughter; both fake and real and the joint murmur of voices speaking at the same time.
The hall is filled with nobles either standing or sitting while chatting amongst themselves and servants like her running around serving the nobles, balancing trays and manouvering carts trying not to make a mistake, trying their best to stay alive.
Theres a tacit understanding amongst the servants so much so that even when they bump into each other or step on one anothers feet no one seems to mind, they just move on without sparing the other person a glance the complete opposite of a normal day.
In this hustle and bustle, Natalia is the only one whos totally out of sync with the others, hoping to be forgotten in the little corner shes tucked away in. If anyone from her hometown saw her right now, Natalia is sure she won be able to live it down.
The reputation she spent almost ten years building would disappear into thin air in an instant. Back in her hometown, everyone knows her as Tali and the Tali they know doesn have moments when she struggles with the strings of an apron or moments when she hides in a corner and hopes no one will notice her.
If this had happened two weeks ago, Natalia mightve cared but things are different now. For one, she isn in her hometown anymore and the chances of her running into someone she knows is practically impossible.
Theres also the fact that the person hiding in this dark corner struggling to tie a bow isn the Tali everyone from her hometown knows. The person hiding in this corner is Natalia, who very much wants to stay alive and whos starting to regret accepting this job.
She left the little town she grew up in for a bigger city and was lucky enough to get a job working as a maid in the house of a noble family two weeks ago, how it happened though still manages to baffle her each time she remembers it.
After leaving her home town, Natalia moved to a city called Velar and stayed there for almost three months without finding a single job. She was running out of money, didn know what to do and had no one who could help her. Needless to say, Natalia whod left town with big dreams was extremely frustrated.
On one particular day, shed been in a terrible mood after failing to pass yet another job interview, someone ran into her on her way back to the inn and made the cinnamon bread roll shed spent three copper coins on, to fall into a puddle of water.
He– a thin man with short black hair–then proceeded to step on the puddle of water and her cinnamon bread roll splashing her clothes with dirty water before continuing on his merry way without stopping to acknowledge the damage hed just caused.
Now Natalia isn a very tolerant person thats exactly why shes been trying to restrain herself ever since she moved to Velar, because her little town and a big city are worlds apart and she couldn afford to make a mistake. She tried her best to hold back and be careful with her words and actions and shed been doing a good job… at least until that little incident.
To cut the story short, Natalia found out the man who bumped into her had just stolen a good amount of money from someone and had run into her while getting away. Of course she found all this out after giving the man a good beating and collecting both her compensation and the money he stole.
Now you might be thinking she was going to return the money, but the bright smile on Natalias face when she turned to leave was a dead giveaway that she wasn .
Sadly, as she was leaving she ran into the person whos money got stolen, a middle aged woman with greying hair and sharp black eyes accompanied by two patrol guards. No matter how much it pained her inside Natalia had to return the stolen money to its rightful owner…after all she couldn make a run for it with the guards there.
The middle aged lady whos name she later learnt is Mariam turned out to be the head maid of a noble family in the city and offered Natalia a job as thanks for her help which Natalia accepted without batting an eye.
So, after three months of toiling Natalia finally got a job in the most weird way and most unexpected place. Perhaps it would have been a heartwarming story if Natalia didn know shed have run off with the moey if Mariam didn show up with guards.
Shes been working as a maid for two weeks and is just starting out with her basic training. Apart from the new things she learns each day like etiquette, greeting, table arrangement and a lot of other things she didn know a maid had to learn, most of her time is spent shes doing some menial tasks or following a more experienced maid around to learn more.
She doesn pay rent, gets free food and a salary on top of that in Natalias book shes already living the ideal life she never expected a party would disrupt everything.
The noble family Natalia works for is an old ducal family thats been in existence since the founding of the kingdom. The heir of the family whos been suffering from a strange illness for years finally recovered and the family decided to host a small party to celebrate.
Since shes still in her training period Natalia was supposed to help out with the preparations for the party at most, there was absolutely no need for her to be present.
So imagine her surprise, when she was suddenly dragged out of her room and told to help with the serving the little party theyd originally planned for had suddenly turned into a huge banquet. With the sudden change lots of things had to prepared, more food, a larger hall and more hands to help with it all and this is where Natalia and the other maids in training come in.
Though they might all be in training, the other maids have a lot more experience than her as most of them have been working seen they were little. For them they
e merely getting adjusted to this familys rules and structure so while they immediately started working with ease Natalia was at a total loss on what to do.
Shes a commoner going into a room full of nobles, actual nobles not the struggling barons from her hometown. Actual nobles who could make her life a living hell, a single mistake and shes done for. While struggling to wrap her head around this predicament, Natalia finally learnt why the little party turned into a banquet in the first place.
A messenger had rode all the way to Velar to deliver the news that His Highness Freidrich Lionel Evan Rochford IV, the King of Avriel is on his way to the Dukes mansion.
Not an earl, not a baron, not a nouve riche or the wastrel son of some baron that she can beat up and get away with it if she plays her cards right.
This is the king of one of the most powerful kingdoms in the entire Western Continent. One wrong move, a slight mistake, a frown, the tiniest wrinkle of his brows and her neck could be sent flying.
The nobles all came running when they heard the king was going to be here none of them wanted to miss this opportunity. To others this might a just another banquet but to Natalia its nothing but a room full of dangerous traps.
Thats exactly why she chose the darkest spot she could find to hide, for how long though shes not sure.
Just when Natalia is finally about to tie the knot of her apron shes startled by the sudden appearance of someone in front of her.
”Why are you standing over here doing nothing when theres so much to do? ”
Natalia raises her head to meet the brown eyes glaring at her and lets out a breath of relief once she sees its a familiar face even though its one shed rather not see.
Unlike Natalia who looks unkempt, the girl in front of her, Janet, is the complete opposite. From her bun down to her shoes everything is neat and tidy leaving no room for complaint at least in terms of appearance, once she opens her mouth though.
”Hey! I asked you a question, Natalia. Do you think you
e above answering my questions now? ” Janets face twists into a scowl Natalia has seen so much in the past two weeks that shes already tired of it.
Natalia starts tidying up her clothes and hair without sparing her a glance. ”I was having some trouble with my dress so I came here so I wouldn get in the way of the others. ” Once she feels she looks presentable Natalia looks back at Janet and says. ”Im leaving now. ”
Before she can take a single step though, Janet grabs her wrist tightly. ”You shouldn act so haughty just because the head maid likes you. You should know your place ”
Natalia turns to look at Janet with both exasperation and awe written. Natalia has been working in this mansion for only two weeks and doing this time she did her best to keep a low profile and get along with everyone but Janet had long decided to act like they
e mortal enemies since the first day she arrived.
Some of the servants think she has some connections with the head maid because of how quickly she was employed and Janet is the one who believes it the most and has made it her duty to look for ways to make trouble for her, even though shes had little to no contact with the head maid since she started working.
Natalia gives her a dull stare. ”I understand. Can you let go of me now? ”
Before Janet can continue with what she was about to say shes cut off by a voice asking, ” What are you both doing here? ”
They both turn to look at the owner of the voice, the head maid Mariam, who shes seeing for the first time today. She walks over slowly with her back straight and her steps light.
”I asked what both of you are doing here ” her eyes travel to Natalias wrist thats still being held by Janet who immediately lets go once she sees Mariams eyes on her.
”Theres still a lot of work to be done so I hope you won waste your time idling around or creating a scene ” her eyes are just as sharp as she remembers and her words are firm leaving no room for argument which has Janet scurrying to leave in the blink of an eye.
Natalia watches Janet run off before turning to Mariam and giving a bow. Just as shes about to leave she hears Mariam say, ”I know its hard on you but please just bear with it for today ”
”I understand ”
Thats what Natalia was going to say before the sound of a loud trumpet fills the hall. She turns to scan through the hall were everyone has gone still. Just then a loud voice from the entrance shouts.
”His Highness Freidrich Lionel Evan Rochford IV, the King of Avriel has arrived! ”
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