The stalk was easy for my sister to climb. Or so she said. She did mention a lovely view of the forest from up there. Passing through the clouds was a little more treacherous, so I’m quite glad she didn’t contact me until after she was on the top side, though there were quite a few huffs and puffs on her end. But, oh, the wonders she saw up there! Castles of silver, roses of golden sunlight, giants of bronze. Of course, they were massive, but there were also several normal sized people up there. It was a town, a town with castles for the giants and ordinary houses for the humans. My sister had no idea how she was going to find the Keeper’s children.
Thanks to Clarice, Camille, Violet, and even Helene clucking over her all day, Muriel hadn’t been seen anywhere near her all day. Of which Abigail was glad. The fuss, though, hadn’t stopped Madeline from hovering at the fringes now and then, gazing longingly at the gown Clarice was madly working to finish off.
She didn’t quite know what to think of her stepsister anymore. It was entirely possible Camille was right and Madeline wasn’t as she appeared, but Abigail still couldn’t find it in her heart to believe something like that. Madeline was still the reserved young woman who lived her life on the edge of things.
Now, Abigail was surrounded by Clarice, Violet, and Camille as two fluttered around to ensure her ballgown fell just right while the third worked at pinning up her carefully curled locks. She was dressed the part of a royal lady attending a royal engagement ball. But she was also dressed as a lady fit to be seen on the Duke’s arm. Hence Clarice’s mad rush to ensure her gown was nothing short of perfection.
The sea green gown was layers of tulle and silk. The bodice was made from the Sun Kingdom fabric with a cream colored lace overlay. Seed pearls and polished sea glass dripped down the gown, meant to catch the light and make her sparkle. An off the shoulder gown, it made her feel self-conscious though Camille assured her her shoulders were lovely. That really wasn’t her concern, though. Fortunately, the glass heels her feet were encased in took away some of her attention. She’d dance like a princess in them, but they were not the most comfortable to walk in. Of course the fae would forget something when they enchanted the glass shoes.
“There we go now,” Violet said softly, sliding the last pin into her hair and stepping away. Abigail nervously met Violet’s soft brown eyes. “You look radiant, my lady.”
Abigail lowered her eyes as a hot blush spread across her skin. A loose curl stroked against her cheek. “Thank you, Violet. You don’t think it’s too much?”
“Not at all,” Camille said quickly, her hands smoothing down Abigail’s gown one last time. “Adrian will think you’re the most lovely woman in the room.”
Abigail’s eyes involuntarily flickered to Madeline. Her face was impassive, though her lips tightened a little. Abigail’s heart stuttered a little. Then, without a word, without anyone else noticing, Madeline swiftly left the room, hardly stirring the air.
She fought the urge to bite her lip. Violet had already caked her face with cosmetics; she would lightly scold Abigail if she ruined all that hard work.
“Now for you,” Violet said, turning to Camille. “Turn, please, my lady.”
Camille sighed while Abigail bit back a smile. Violet went to work covering Camille’s short hair with a silver net dripping with sea glass beads. Since Camille wasn’t attending the ball with the thought or hopes of attracting any attention, her burgundy gown was more austere. There were no pearls or glass ornaments, no floating layers and lace. It was a fairly simple ballgown with gauzy sleeves caught at the wrists. The netting was the only decoration to proclaim her a daughter of royal blood.
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