The warm rays of the sun that penetrated through the curtains indicated daytime. Iris woke up feeling exhausted, as though she hardly caught a wink of sleep. The mere thought of the days activities evoked a nauseous feeling within her guts.

Lazily, she pulled the covers off her body and stepped out of the bed reluctantly.

Scanning the room, she caught no sight of Tracy and she proceeded to walk herself to the bathroom. Strangely, a bath had already been prepared for her and she related it to Tracys doing.

Iris stripped off her nightgown and stepped into the tub. She leaned onto the headrest and her eyes closed, succumbing to the sleep she had been deprived of.

She was there again. Trapped in the closet as her little eyes peeked through the openings that served as airways. Reynolds, her eleven year old brother lay unconscious on the floor after being hit by the defiler when he tried to save their mother.

Tears streamed down 8-year old Iris face as she watched the man ignore the pleas of a sick woman. Shamelessly, he defiled her and bit into her neck doing something little Iris couldn comprehend. As if it wasn enough, he slit her throat afterwards.

Just as he headed towards the exit, dragging Reynolds along, Iris opened her mouth to scream when a frantic voice urged, ”My lady, My lady! ”

Her eyes shot open with a gasp and when her hand reached for her face, Iris realised she was still in the tub.

e okay ”, Tracy assured, brushing something away from her face. With a terrified look, Iris scanned the bathroom suspiciously. Tracy quickly took over and washed the princess down.

When they stepped out, Iris already saw her clothes lying on her bed ready to be worn. Iris sat quietly as Tracy brushed her dark locks. She tied her hair up into a messy bun and helped her slip into her general-like attire. Iris tightly strapped her belt to her waist which clearly emphasised her feminine curves and wore her shoes.

As she turned towards Tracy, Tracy approached her and planted a kiss on her forehead with a gentle smile tugging at the coners of her lips.

” You can do this ”, she affirmed and straightened the princess attire.

”Now go ”, she chided and Iris took her leave.

As Iris bent around a curve, she came across Sir Jude who gave her a curt nod.

When she returned his nod, he spoke, ”Just a minute, Your Highness. Be careful with your words. ”

”And ”, he added, ”Put away your title and status for today ”.

Iris nodded in compliance and for a moment, a strange emotion flickered in his eyes but disappeared quickly like it was never there. Taking her leave, Iris headed towards the Throne Hall.

As she stood in front of the door, Iris drew her breath in sharply and exhaled. Signalling for the door to be opened, a guard went ahead and announced her arrival. Holding the door out for her, Iris stepped into the hall and recalled her fathers words.

Shoulders and arms relaxed, back straight and head up. As she took bold strides, she felt gazes glued to her. Some courtiers glared at her with scorn while others ogled at her beauty.

Her nervousness abated as she bowed to the King, her father who nodded at her gesture. Just as Iris took her seat at the high table, Raelles presence was announced.

In strutted the snobbish princess and just as with Iris, gazes were drawn to her. Iris watched amusedly as she bowed before the King. Now it was Keiths turn , Iris thought. But when the announcer hesitated at the entrance, everyone curiously turned to him.

Hastily, he walked towards the King and whispered something into his ears. The King nodded thoughtfully and the announcer composed himself, ”Unfortunately, Prince Keith would not be able to make it today due to complicated gastric issues ”, he informed and soon the gathering broke into whisperings and murmurings.

While others claimed he was a coward, others attributed it to a bad omen. A few wise ones kept their thoughts to themselves and in no time order was restored.

It was decided that the discussion would proceed between the two princesses.

After approval from the King, one advisor briefed, ”As announced earlier on, the death of Sir Finkle, has left room for a person to replace the deceased advisor. It has been declared by His Majesty to fill in one of his very own children. As theres only room for one, the three… currently, two would have to battle it out intellectual ly. In the first session, the duo are to propose suitable income-earning sources due to the inadequacy of capital being faced by the Kingdom after the initiative to construct more schools aiming at girl child education. You may begin this session! ”

The room quietened down as the courtiers looked like they would make it very tough for the duo. While Iris sat deeply in thought, Raelle stole occasional glances at her and as if threatened by her presence, Raelle beat Iris to time and spoke up first.

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