The day of the mysterious meeting with the yellow flower sender came and passed, or at least Kel supposed it had. She'd been confined to her room entirely for the past week, and all the days had begun to blur together.
"Ninety-eight… Ninety-nine… One hundred," Kel sighed, flopping back onto her bed. This was the fifth time she'd counted the ceiling tiles since the beginning of her confinement.
She thought briefly about finding a way to measure the tiles and then figuring out the total area of the room. What would she do with that information? Well, nothing, but at least it would kill some time.
"Maybe I should go back outside," she groaned, rolling to face the double doors leading to the small terrace.
In all her years of training as a soldier and a princess, nothing had prepared her for what to do… when there was nothing to do.
Deciding against going back out into the sun's heat, Kel rolled the other way. She spied the large brass water pitcher and glass cup placed neatly next to her bed.. For the last several nights, she'd been stricken with sudden hot flashes and a dry throat. Thankfully, Lucy dutifully ensured the pitcher was always full of water.
Kel slowly pushed herself up and poured herself a drink. The cool liquid soothed her itching throat as she gulped it down.
The sweltering summer had been mostly blown away by autumn's chilled breeze, so she couldn't understand why her body was reacting this way. Perhaps she was just adapting to the humid eastern climate. Whatever the reason, Kel hoped the discomfort would pass quickly.
After several more minutes of lounging on the bed, Kel jumped to her feet with a grunt. It was time to train her muscles.
Without access to weapons, equipment or even enough space, Kel had gotten creative with her daily workouts. Strength training was simple enough thanks to all the heavy furniture, but stamina training was proving to be difficult.
Her first attempt at stamina-building exercise ended in Lucy, two other maids, and Roland charging through the door in alarm.
She had dragged the end table next to her bed to the center of the room and cleared a path to the wall on each side. After everything was set, she ran at full speed from wall to wall, vaulting over the table.
All was going well until her toes caught on the edge of the table, bringing herself, the table, some curtains and a nearby dresser to the ground in a jumbled mess. Roland and the maids burst into the room seconds later to find Kel hopelessly buried in the rubble.
To make matters worse, she had opted to exercise in her undergarments, leaving much of her skin exposed. Poor Roland's face turned from concern to embarrassment as he helped her out of the pile.
"Princess!" Lucy screeched, taking note of Roland's tomato-like face. "Were the dresses the head maid sent not light enough for you?"
Kel, unsure whether it was more embarrassing to admit the truth or not, had simply replied, "It's just rather hot."
That poorly thought out response set off the quest to create even lighter, skimpier dresses for the risqué princess of Mevani. Despite being locked away from the outside world, Kel still caught wind of the colorful rumors circulating about her lewd taste in clothing. She couldn't help but laugh, however, at the thought that it wasn't Keliyah of Mevani, but Adriell of Mevani whose name would be forever stained.
Thanks to all the misunderstandings, Kel ended up with dresses that were much better suited for physical training. She also decided to separate her stamina routine into running laps around the center of the room and then jumping in place afterward. Everything had worked out nicely, but she still itched for freedom.
After an uneventful evening of fulfilling her new workout routine, picking apathetically at her dinner, and counting the ceiling tiles again, Lucy arrived to help Kel prepare for bed.
"The humid air here really doesn't suit you," the maid murmured sympathetically as she gently combed the sweat residue out of Kel's hair.
"It has been a bit difficult to adjust," Kel replied. She felt a pang of guilt for not telling Lucy the truth about the sweat, but it would only endanger her precarious position even more to reveal that she engaged in a soldier-level workout drills every day. Besides, considering the nightly hot flashes and perpetually parched throat, her body really was having a difficult time adjusting.
"Please bear with it a bit longer, Princess," Lucy responded. "I'll be sure to have the palace physician stop by tomorrow."
"Ah, yes, thank you," Kel answered. Unfortunately, the doctor wouldn't be able to do anything about the nightly hair cleaning. Kel would be grateful enough though, if he could at least curb the burning in her throat.
"I've finished, Princess," Lucy smiled, setting the comb on the vanity. She motioned toward the bed, and Kel obediently followed.
"Could you tell me how Barclay is doing?" Kel asked, settling down into the blankets.
"He's well!" Lucy beamed.
"Right," Kel smiled cynically. Every time she asked about her comrade, Lucy gave the same cheerful answer. Kel had no reason to doubt the woman's words, but she longed to hear even the tiniest detail about Barclay's condition. Sure, he was well, but was he comfortable? Had the man also been confined to his room? Had his wounds healed properly without much scarring? 𝒾𝙣𝚗𝐫𝑒аd. ᴄom
Kel sighed as Lucy nodded, blew out the candles and exited the room. No news about Barclay was probably the best news.
Or so she tried to tell herself.
Within minutes, Kel was crouched on the balcony, craning to get a view of the opposite end of the building. She had no way of knowing exactly which room Barclay was in, but she knew he was somewhere in the area just out of sight.
Huffing in frustration, Kel leaned back against the railing and stretched her legs out. She'd spent enough nights here to memorize the guards' patrol routes and knew she had about fifteen minutes to relax before another patrol would come by.
Fifteen minutes, huh? she thought to herself. That would be more than enough time to sneak over to Barclay's side of the building. She'd felt the urge to try many times but had never gone through with it. The longer the house arrest continued, though, the stronger the urge to sneak out grew.
Would tonight be the night?
"Might as well," Kel snorted, shaking her head at her own stupidity. Without another thought, she flipped her legs over the railing and jumped.
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