A Thousand Shining Stars ♥ Night of the Masquerade He sat alone, amidst billowing curtains of a window left open. Outside, the rain was pouring, splattering upon the roads and leaving his castle in hovering fog. He could hear the sounds of laughter coming from the halls as the royal heirs frolicked about the massive estate. They enjoyed the Deceptian hospitality; the enormous rooms, the humble service, and every possible wish of their dreams was to be answered to. The servants, too, were giddy to see so many young ones gathered about in their curious ways. His own child, his poor young boy, burdened by his father's great mistakes, shadowed by the puppetry upon which Deceptia laid the ruins of it's great rival, Memoi. Even now, as he strode to the window and drew the curtain aside, the King could not admire the beauty of rain washed lands. His eyes could no longer see the miracle of life, his heart could not love the gardens his wife so preciously tended to. There was something missing from his life, something missing from his world. And yet, he knew not what it was. He glanced at his hands, allowing the curtains to fall past the window again, concealing his view of the outside world. A rush of wind threw the cloth past his nose, fluttering freely. The King stood still, his palms upturned in front of him. No matter what he did, he could not forget the blood that stained these hands... ~*~*~*~ In the castle, the servants hustled about, eagerly tending to their new masters. The heirs from the neighboring kingdoms were a sight to see; they were all sorts of young men and women, from the prettiest to the quietest, to the strong, able princes, to the kind-hearted, delicate princesses. Each was given a room, in a different wing of the castle. The Central Wing of the Castle consisted of the ballroom, the dining rooms and the various halls for celebration and visitation. The North Wing, just behind the Central, was designated to the royal chambers and the rooms of the royal family of Deceptia. The East Wing was granted to the Princesses of Rosewood, Verdisia, and Labarin, who had arrived earlier that afternoon, before the downpour of rain had showered Deceptia with it's splendor. Although, the lands looked best in bright sunshine, with flowers blooming cheerfully by it's grassy plains, Deceptia had a cruel, almost melancholic beauty in the rain. The West Wing was decorated for the Princes, but at the moment, the only one occupying a room was the Prince of Thierran. He, too, had arrived a short while ago. The South Wing, alight with nearly as much as splendor as the North Wing itself and possibly even more was reserved for the King's most honored guests, the Faisen Pillars from the far-off kingdom of Faisen. Not only were these heirs of a powerful empire, they were now, by their father's proclamation, the leaders of their lands. They had just now arrived, their entourage of carriages riding up to the castle entrance. A large amount servants scurried about to help them and their cavalry. Not only had rooms for the Pillars been prepared, rooms for their companions had also been taken care of. Below the South Wing were the Servants Quarters, a little farther than the Queen's Royal Garden. The servants of Deceptia was treated kindly and with an amount of glamour that most servants did not receive. The Deception King, with all his guilt, treated his subjects well enough to be regarded with respect. ~*~*~*~ Princess Aurora Lily F e l i c i a F a y The stage had been set. Felicia could see, barely squinting through the pouring rain that the guests who had just arrived were the most important of all. Even the King of Deceptia himself had come down to grace them with his presence. She strained to hear their words, crouched low in the plants and bushes right along the palace entrance. It was raining, so she figured they wouldn't notice her at all if she got this close. And she couldn't help it, her sense of adventure and enthusiasm had perked right up when she'd thought of seeing all the kingdom heirs. She had planned on sneaking into the Masquerade Ball, but this was the best part yet! Faisen Pillars...? She overheard, frowning. So the rumours were true! The great empire of Faisen had sent their leaders to the Masquerade Ball! But what did Faisen have to do with the Treaty of Flowers; Felicia had a wide expanse of knowledge on the political subjects of their time. She often spent time at the libraries in the royal rooms without being caught and read volumes and volumes of royal literature. It was a surprise that she didn't catch any Faisen relations with Deceptia, however, aside from the normalcy of overseas trade. She looked around and sighed. She'd have to wait until the Masquerade Ball to figure this new mystery out, but for now, she wanted to see what these heirs looked like. She was intrigued by the idea of all these foreign princes and princesses coming to one place. She wanted to meet them all, hear about their lands and kingdoms, ask about their experiences as royalty. Her curiosity was getting the better of her. As the servants scurried with large coverings to protect the Pillars from the rain and opened the carriage doors, Felicia held her breath. Any second now, she'd catch a glimpse of the most honored guests of the Masquerade Ball. Just one glimpse and I'll head back. It's getting late and I still have to convince Jonathan to come with me to the Ball! With all this hush-bush, they won't notice two extra visitors. she grinned, thinking of her childhood friend. He always kept track of her little adventures. She wouldn't be surprised if he was here now. She looked around again. I know he'll go, but it's still fun to try and argue with him She smiled at the thought and then looked up at the sky. Raindrops trickled down her face and slipped off her chin. Her smile brightened, I love the rain, but I sure hope it lets off soon.