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Knight of the Horn Ch. 1.1
Despite being only in a corset and fluffy footwear, Isabelle scurried about her chambers, unable to contain the overwhelming excitement to what today would bring.
“He’s back! Edmond is finally back!”
Bounding off the tip of her foot, Isabelle spun about with her long radiant golden hair racing around her body to catch up. She was like a leaf in the wind with her uncontrollable dancing stupor.
“Years! I haven’t seen him in years!”
Pressed to her heart, embraced between all of her fingers was the warm keepsake of the person who made the ticker beat so wildly. It was an excellent polished horn with a brass tipped mouth piece and ring piece. Two rings were carved in its sides to allow a number of laces and chains to loop through for the many outfits she adorned.
“Yes, yes, Princess Isabelle,” Delenda pursued after the inexhaustible fourteen-year-old. “…but unless you plan to enact a maiden’s wedding night when first seeing him, we must get you dressed.”
Words an innocent youth could not ignore. Turned scarlet red by lewd image assaulting her mind, Isabelle stopped cold in her dance.
“Gotcha!” Delenda grabbed the girl and with uninitialed force, they tumbled to the ground. “There now!”
The handmaiden sat up, straddling the girl’s back while adjusting a pin in her chestnut tress of hair that got loose during the fall.
“Its your fault for not staying still when I told you to. Heavens! Now I have to do my hair all over again.”
“Mm…you’re too heavy! You’re squishing me!”
“Humph!” A pang of indescribable hatred struck the woman whose eyebrow twitched to such a remark. “I could have sworn I heard something incredibly hurtful but that can’t be right. A princess of the Empire would never say mean things to a friend who cares for her like a sister.”
Delenda removed all support of her weight from her legs, allowing the helpless Isabelle to feel the wrath of a slighted woman, all one hundred and forty pounds of her.
Isabelle struggled to escape to no avail.
“Hm? What was that?” Delenda cupped a hand to her ear and leaned closer. “I can’t hear you princess with all the mumbling.”
“Ugh!” Isabelle gave one final effort to push herself free but her slender arms were nowhere near powerful enough. She collapsed in utter defeat. “I’m sorry Delenda.”
Smiling to her victory, Delenda sat up straight with arms crossing around her chest, basking in her victory.
“What a shame it would be for your childhood playmate to return from the wars only to be greeted by an insensitive brat.”
“Whaah!” Miraculous strength propelled Isabelle upward, causing the unsuspecting Delenda to fall backwards.
Unconcerned to her caretaker’s fall, Isabelle bolted on all fours to her side. Panic gleaming through her moist blue eyes.
“Y-you don’t think he’ll really think that about me, do you? Delenda?”
It was Delenda’s turn to feel pained. She should have known using the young man, even in jest against Isabelle would bring the poor girl to tears.
A hand went against the frightened girl’s cheek. “There, there, my sweet. He could never think ill of you. Remember all those letters sent to you?”
Isabelle plopped on the floor, recalling the many letters Delenda had rudely found and read. Embarrassing letters meant only for the two who were writing them. The gossip hound Delenda sniffed their new hiding place out behind the dresser weeks ago. No amount of relocating or voicing Isabelle’s displeasure at the invasion of privacy was going to stop her.
Now that Edmond was in the capital, Isabelle’s thoughts and feelings were all over in a spiraling mess. This was the one time she actually was thankful for having someone else who knew how she felt.
“Will he…not like seeing me after all this time? I’m not as big as the other girls in court.”
Placing her hands on each breast, Isabelle looked down in dismay at the merger development her body had managed. Against those her own age and women a few years ahead, Isabelle was lacking in the charm they flaunted about pridefully.
It was open season with all the men returning back from the wars, many of who were eligible bachelors rip for the picking. The one high on the listing was Edmond, son of the Iron Lord who performed admirably in every battle he participated in. Deeds and merits exceeding even more veteran warriors on the battlefield, were a thing to gossip about even among women. His young age and apparent gentle nature made him the idea prospect for many hopeful candidates.
Isabelle prayed night and day for her body to catch up with them or they all magically turn into ugly hags before Edmond arrived. Sadly, neither request had gone answered so she relied on the letters. Originally the letters had started out as communications between friends but with Delenda’s interventions, Isabelle had been steady pushing more subtle intimate intent with her words.
Sadly, Edmond had been vague and lackluster in his replies, responding more as Isabelle’s friend then a partner of romantic interest. This sort of back and forth game of trying to get him to say something confirming what she needed to know.
“You let me dress you like a proper lady and I’ll have that boy lovestruck to where he’ll only have eyes for you this evening.”
“Really?” The tears stopped and a hope tried to surface.
“Heh! Trust me on this.” Delenda clapped her hands and before Isabelle knew it, four other handmaidens rushed in the room.
“Get her girls!” She pointed.
All four girls ran forward and attacked Isabelle with their insatiable desire to dress a living doll.
“Ahh!” Isabelle wiggled and struggled but was no match for all four of them prodding and placing cloth on her body.
A dash of beautifications here and there to the face, stationary pink cheeks and rube red lips.
A long sleeve applique beaded champagne colored dress was their decided attire. Her hair was braided and draped over her left shoulder. The pins and baubles were pearl white to match a certain piece Isabelle simply had to have on this gown for this occasion.
“And this last installment,” Delenda approached and presented the beautiful strapped horn around Isabelle’s waist. The sash was bright white with gold trimming to bring greater attention to the mid-area where the horn hanged to left side of her stomach region.
“He’ll notice, right?”
“Instantly. Unless he has somehow lost his eyes in all of the fighting.”
“Delenda!” Isabelle delivered a series weak fist strikes against her friend’s shoulder. “Don’t ever say that!”
“Ho! You are such a darling little girl.”
“Ah! I’m not a little girl anymore!” Her cheeks bloated and Isabelle began a soft growl.
“Of course not,” Delenda playfully backed away. “But I’m not the one you have to convince today.”
Isabelle became gloom again.
“Will this be enough to catch his eye?”
Delenda gave the princess a quick look over, amazed the blossoming gem could possible have so little confidence in herself. The charming young beauty had a long list of suitors lining up, petitioning the Emperor for her hand already. If not for Delenda and the others keeping the wolves at bay, Isabelle would swarm her daily.
Of course, there was one none of the handmaidens could keep at bay completely.
All the girls turned attention to the intruder standing at the doorway. Delenda as fired mad by such rudeness but as soon as she realized just who, the anger on her face disappeared and she lowered her head as did the rest of the four handmaidens.
“Cousin?” Isabelle tilted her head in confusion.
Sticking to the shadows of the doorway as much as possible was the only thing Prince La Grant could think of to hide the reaction his body had seeing Isabelle’s beauty. His cheeks were flush, a cold sweat soaking his perfectly maintained skin, and perfectly trimmed brown hair broke its perfect combed back in various places.
“What are you doing here?”
“I—ugh…” La Grant shifted weight from one leg to the next.
“And during a lady’s changing. Even for a prince, to do this to the crown princess of the empire is highly inappropriate.” Delenda placed her hands on her hips like scolding any other deviant child caught in the act.
La Grant’s confidence returned with his attention shifted to Delenda.
“I’m here to see about my cousin’s wellbeing, wrench. Seeing as that has been determined, I wonder why someone like you is all dressed up. Competing much?”
“Hu-hum…” Delenda stuck her sizable chest outward. “The men are returning from their battlefield so now begins the battle of us maidens. We have to dress for our war and I see you have dressed up plenty. Is there a returning warrior you seek to impress with that colorful wear, your highness?”
“…!” La Grant grunted and balled his fist as all the handmaidens and even Isabelle got a chuckle in.
It was a flash bright red suit with gold trimmings and black trousers. The suit looked regal and stiff, meant to display elegance that anyone could see the wearer clearly did not have.
His hands balled into fists, shaking at his sides. Since they were little and Delenda was slightly older, she grew up as their older sister figure. The only one allowed to talk down to Prince La Grant outside of those with higher standing.
He hated her for that.
Distant trumpets from the road alerted them of the time.
“Seems our heroes of the empire have returned. Come, Princess Isabelle. You’re knight awaits you.”
“Tsk.” La Grant looked downward.
All the women formed a protective encirclement around the princess and moved into the hallway. La Grant had no choice but yield his plan to escort his cousin to the theater stand.
Her passing by, he settling for just admiring, but there was one item to Isabelle’s attire that stabbed La Grant as good as any blade could.
That’s…that’s that bastard’s horn!
It may as well be an act of wearing an engagement fixture to anyone who knew what the horn was and its purpose. Noticing La Grant’s displeasure seeing the horn, Delenda couldn’t help but give a vicious grin.
“Wont Edmond be beside himself when he sees you again? After all this time? Wouldn’t surprise me if he asked for your hand in marriage.”
“Ah!” Isabelle brought her hands up, barely reaching her agape mouth from the shock. “Do you think…he would? In front of everyone?”
“Why not? Your one and only knight has had eyes only for you.”
The girls giggled and moved off, leaving Prince La Grant gritting his teeth and shaking with a rage his trembling body could not contain.