The Prince of Ebony
Althea sat at the long wooden counter that only held up her elbow that helped her use her right hand as a pillow, a cash register that had been affected by the likes of Cronus, and the ring she whirled around her finger over and over again until it became irritating. Althea frowned at the ring and despised that even after moving in with her grandparents in the city she still could not keep her mind off of her brother. His deep brown eyes that helped her feel better with a single glance, his hair that seemed to be blessed by Erebus to where its blackness captivated your soul with just a side glance of wondering eyes, his gentle words that calmed her even after the murder of her parents, the flawless skin that made every girl that saw him feel her heart skip a beat, his laugh that seemed to come straight from Zeus himself, and the many rings that engulfed his fingers. Althea then felt anguish for making a mockery of her beloved brother’s favorite ring he had given to her before leaving by spinning it in the air where it could become contaminated. She quickly slid the sapphire wrapped in gold back onto her right ring finger with a sigh of boredom. How could the shop be this dead on a Sunday? Usually on this day the whole gift shop would be filled with men asking to orders gifts for their lover or wife for some kind of occasion, but today the only beings in the store were Althea and her sleeping grandparents that stayed upstairs. She finally got up with curiosity and went to the window of the wall that faced the street in front of the building and held the door. Althea noticed that everyone in the town was lining the sides of the street because of something. With a quick movement of her feet she slid out of the store without making a noise to wake her grandparents. Althea’s eye caught a tall, thin girl of her age that’s father owned the store to the right of her own. She went to the girl’s side and gave a side-glance. A smile formed on Althea’s face as she finally spoke, “Is there a riot of some sort?” The girl shook her head and her thick, curly hair moved with her answer. “Then why is everyone out here? Has Dionysus put a spell on everyone but me?”
“The Prince of Ebony shall be heading this way. When word was given of this it spread like wildfire, but how did you not hear of it Lady Althea? Everyone has been talking about it for two days and been anticipating this moment.”
“My grandfather is not well and I have not been out of the shop for days, Miss Belus,” She explained and then fiddled with a black curt of hair that fell into her face as she looked down the road for just a brief moment, “But what business does the Prince of Ebony have with our King Argos?”
“There is talk of King Argos allowing the Prince to come to our fair city to claim a wife from one of the many royal members that live among the commoners here,” She replied and then looked to Althea with uncertainty, “But should you not be at the side of the Princess, Lady Althea?”
She looked to Miss Belus and then back to the end of the road, “She has not called upon me nor has Lord Epirus come to inform me of her summoning so I assume I am not needed at the beloved Princess’s side for now.” Althea replied but her attention was averted when a prestigious black stallion came into sight. Everyone in the road silenced their chatter as the group of six men on horses trudged on. The lead man was shockingly handsome and, by the expense of his clothes, Althea could tell he was the Prince of Ebony. He had a ring on each ear to symbolize his royalty, perfectly cut brown hair to fit his ego, blue eyes that seemed to pierce one’s soul, and clothes of a Prince. Two horsed guards followed the Prince of Ebony on each side of him with the colors of Ebony, two behind those soldiers with the colors of Althea’s king and one in the same colors behind them. Her eyes caught onto the captivating green eyes of the second guard on the right of the prince as he was drawn to hers. Before Althea could move the guard sped up his horse, went past the prince, and stopped in front of her. She looked back to the rest of the group as they stopped behind the guard in front of her.
“What is the meaning of this, Sir Epirus?” The Ebonian guard on the left of the prince demanded as the one drawn to Althea hopped off his horse and walked to her side. He set his strong hand on her shoulder and she looked to him.
“Sir, I informed you before that I had to stop to fetch the assistant of the Princess and that is what I am doing.” Epirus said and the guard frowned at the two while thinking Epirus was mocking them.
“But this girl is just a commoner!” The guard protested as Epirus froze. He was curious to see how she would respond to such a rude comment. Althea went over to Epirus’s horse and hopped on to show she knew what she was doing. Althea held her hand down to Epirus who took it and she hoisted him behind her on his horse. Epirus took the reigns as his arms went around her body to get a firm grasp of control as Althea turned back to the soldier with bravery.
“Believe Sir Epirus or not, Sir, but it is your job to escort the Prince of Ebony to the castle and I suggest you keep to your duties,” She informed him and then turned back to the head of the horse, “Let’s go.” She requested Epirus without looking to him and the horse started moving again. They went down the street Althea lived on, took a right, then a left, and were presented with the golden gates with the royal courtyard within. Althea looked in front of the gate to see a familiar face. She smiled to her friend Cletus who quickly turned to a guard on the other side of the gate.
“Raise the gate!” Cletus hollered to a man a few feet above that controlled the opening and closing of the gate, “Lady Althea and the Prince have arrived!” The large gate rose and they quickly made their way inside. Once they were all in the gate closed again as Cletus ran to the side of her horse and held his hands out to her. She took them and hopped down from the horse, “The princess is expecting you and awaits you arrival in her…” He started to inform Althea, but both of them turned towards the castle when high heals hit the ground. The Princess had thrown the high heal shoes in her hands to the ground and now sprinted to Althea. She opened her arms to Althea and she held Althea tightly like she had not seen her in ages, when she had seen her only a week ago. Her blonde curls flew into Althea’s face but she ignored them and did not fuss since she knew her hair was in the Princesses’ face also. She let go of Althea and looked at her face with approval.
“I thought you were never going to show up! I have been tormented by Cronus with wait for what seemed forever!” She complained to Althea who smiled with apology.
“I’m sorry to make you wait.”
She shook her head, “Don’t worry yourself. All is forgiven,” She turned to the Prince that watched them and smiled, “Oh! Where are my manners? Prince Elius, allow me to introduce my best friend Lady Althea.” The princess announced and Althea curtsied honorably and then smiled to the Prince.
“Please forgive my acts of Ate from before.” She said but he did not reply. He just stared into her eyes with an odd look. Althea’s attention was diverted by the gentle hand of Cletus and turned to him.
“Lady Althea, the King has requested for you to join his daughter at the royal dinner tonight that starts soon. You should go to Princess Cilia’s room and get ready.” He suggested and she nodded. The Princess took Althea’s hand in hers and they ran to the castle. Before going inside Althea picked up the Princess’s shoes and she laughed with embarrassment that she had done that. They went into the castle, ran up the grand staircase in the front of the castle, went down the hall to the left of the stairs, and went to the last door. Althea followed Cilia into her room and she shut the door behind her. She brought Althea to her closet where a maid was organizing. The maid was startled by their entrance, but quickly bowed to them.
“How may I serve you, my ladies?” the maid asked them and Cilia spoke up for Althea.
“Could you please pick out an outfit for Althea to wear tonight?” Cilia asked and the lady quickly nodded. Cilia led Althea into her bathroom that was the size of Althea’s grandparent’s shop, but Althea was used to its extravagance. Cilia went to her counter and sat on it. Althea went in front of her curiously. “Could you do my makeup, please? No one else makes me look more like a maiden of Aphrodite than you.” She said sweetly and Althea nodded. Althea looked down to her makeup and started with cover-up. She gently placed the liquid around her face to make it seem even more flawless than it already was, and then put a soft eye shadow colored blue on her eyelid to match the dress Althea realized Cilia wore. The dress was as long as she was and held up by her breasts that seemed broader because of the corset around her waist. It was a glittery blue silk that was scrunched purposely around her waist and then fanned out with the layers of extra material made by skirts. Her shoes from before sat on the cold marble floor as Althea then put on eyeliner and mascara. The final thing left was lipstick, which Althea chose a peach color that seemed more natural than the rest and when she was finished Cilia turned to the mirror and gasped. “It’s Aphrodite quality, Althea! Thank you!” She exclaimed and Althea smiled broadly.
“It’s my pleasure, Cilia.” She replied but then was called by the maid from before. Cilia and Althea went into the bedroom the size of Althea’s whole home and saw the maid had brought another dress.
“Please take off your clothes, Lady Althea.” The second maid requested and she did so down to her underwear. They first started by wrapping a corset around her waist and breasts. They tightened the strings and she slowly felt the pain of elegance. When the painful contraption was finally tied they pulled out a thick and fluffy skirt that would go under her dress like one did for Cilia. Althea stepped into it and it was tied around her smaller waist. The red dress was slid over her head and brought to her breast line. The dress looked identical to Cilia’s except for the color and that it had no glitter or ruffles. Instead there was a black sash that was wrapped around her hips after the dress was fully zipped up. The maids tied it in a perfect looking bow in the back and then the first maid slipped Althea’s shoes on as the other one put Cilia’s shoes back on her feet. The maids left them after that and they went into the bathroom again. Althea put on her own cover-up, eyeliner, and mascara but turned to Cilia.
“What eye shadow shall I use?” She asked and Cilia pointed to a light, glittery black that she put very little on since it was such a dark color to wear. Cilia then picked out a deep red lipstick that matched Althea’s dress color and she put it on. When Althea turned to Cilia she seemed pleased.
“You look like Aphrodite.” She complemented and Althea laughed lightly.
“I don’t think Aphrodite would enjoy you calling me her since I am no royal member.”
“Nonsense! She would be honored.” She argued and they both laughed before leaving her room. They gracefully went down the way they had come here, but instead of going outside they went to the large dining room to the left of the front door. When they entered everyone in the room stood and bowed to Cilia except for the Prince of Ebony and the King. Two seats were left open for them, which were across from each other and one seat down from the king’s sides. Althea sat to his left and Cilia sat to the right. On one side of Cilia was the Prince of Ebony while to the other side was her young brother, Prince Catreus. To Althea’s right was Epirus and to her left was Cletus. They both smiled to Althea and she did the same to them. Althea then looked to the king and bowed her head slightly.
“Thank you for letting me come tonight, my King.” She said politely and he smiled back to her.
“Of course, Lady Althea. You are my only daughter’s best friend, one of the best followers of Artemis, and the sister of our military commander. You deserve this.”
“Indeed.” She whispered and then looked down to her lap while holding back tears. She looked to her brother’s ring that was on her finger and felt a hole in her heart growing deeper, but was brought from the thoughts of her brother when she felt the gaze of the Prince of Ebony.
“Lady Althea is it?” He asked formally and Althea nodded, “I presume you are blessed with the powers of Artemis.”
Epirus spoke up for her, “Actually, unlike most, Lady Althea’s blessing has not presented itself fully since she shows more gifts than just Artemis’s.”
“Oh? That is very uncommon for someone more than the age of ten to not know their blessing.” The Prince said and she looked directly into his eyes.
“If you do not mind my asking, Prince Elius, what is your blessing?” Althea asked and he looked directly back to her with no fear showing in his eyes.
“I am blessed by Zeus.”
“That is a very uncommon gift, Sir. You must be very powerful.” She commented and he nodded.
“But it is not as uncommon as your bother’s gift Lady Althea.” Cletus commented and the Prince seemed intrigued.
“Oh? What is your brother’s blessing?” The prince asked her directly.
“He is blessed with the inhuman powers of Uranus,” She replied and his eyes widened, “And since we are twins I will most likely be given a very high power also.” She replied and his face seemed to change from rude to hesitant. He did not know what to ask a woman that had a twin of more power than his own. But how could it be that a commoner is blessed with such a wonderful gift? He asked himself and she could tell he was becoming nervous.
“We should start.” The king announced and maids fled from the room with a very direct order to put into motion.