calm sea during golden hour





3/19/20244 min read

Vienna hated making her friends feel inconsistent. Like they weren’t good enough. The way her old friends back in Terra used to make her feel when they walked away without a word to her. She only wished she’d known what she’d done to Dimitri so that she could apologize as thus.

“I’m thinking…why don’t the three of you stay here while I ask the Doyenne if there’s anything I can do.” Decima said solemnly. “I’ll be back within a minute if there’s nothing to do, and if she does have a task for me…”

She looked at Vienna, pale lips curved in a smile. “You were the best person I’ve ever had the chance to attend, Vienna Alcestis. Live the life you’ve dreamed for yourself and don’t let anyone stop you.”

“And Eveline. You’re kind and sweet, everything I’ve never seen a Royal be.” Decima flitted her eyes to Eveline. “I trust you two girls to take care of my brother the way I have all these years.”

“And you, Dimitri.” Decima turned to her brother, who looked grimly disconsolate. “I’ll be back for you. I promise. Semper fidelis, remember?”

“Semper fidelis.” Dimitri repeated. The three of them were then left alone as Decima disappeared, and the Crimson Guards closed in. The ground was still quaking under their feet but the vibrations had lessened considerably. Vienna would have gladly taken a peek outside if not for the Guards staring her down. She felt small and inconsiderable.

“Can’t we see what’s going on outside, Militus?” Eveline asked one of the guards and was only met by a brisk shake of the head and a bow.

“I’m afraid, Princess,” the burliest of the Guards bowed. “The Selineh are planning a landing. Doyenne plans to intercept them and hopefully deter them from their plan.”

“The Prince?” Dimitri asked.

“The Prince yet remains to be found.” The Guard said. “So does Lysistrata Silverlake. They are suspected traitors.”

Eveline shook her head, arms wrapped around herself. “If only we’d…”

“Don’t blame yourself. Just because you’re siblings doesn’t mean you’re accountable for everything he does, Ev.” Vienna said gently. Eveline flashed her a slight smile, sliding down onto the platform the Guards had cleared out.

“You know, we’ve never gotten matching bracelets.” Eveline said, voice slightly shaky. “So yesterday I was making some. Just to give to you, but I couldn’t get us together so I guess I’ll give them to you now.”

Dimitri and Vienna watched in silence, smiles painting pale faces as Eveline dug out the marble petunia she’d placed so carefully into her bag. A slight caress of the petals and it popped open, revealing a cluster of expensive pearls and silver glazed quartz. Her cool, slender fingers slowly separated them, the bracelets clinking against each other.

“They’re so pretty.” Vienna breathed.

“I made them silver, because it complements both of you, and you do like silver better.” Eveline added. Dimitri smiled.

“Thank you, Linn.” He said as Eveline gave him his. Vienna was getting all sorts of gifts today. Rings. Bracelets. Hugs. Smiles.

“I wish I’d given you guys something in return.” Vienna said wistfully as she slipped the bracelet onto her wrist. “Maybe a necklace.”

“You don’t have to give us necklaces, Vy.” Eveline said softly.

“You’re enough.” Dimitri added.

You’re enough. The words were foreign to her. She’d never heard them before. All her life, she’d been an investment, something to cherish only when she produced results, successes, trophies. Nobody’d ever told her that she herself was enough without anything else to define her. To be honest, she’d never even thought she was good enough to be enough, if that even made sense.

“Inner monologue again, Vy?” Eveline grinned. “Come back, the people of Niflheim need you.”

Vienna smiled. “I wish we knew what was happening outside.” She fingered the ring, making sure the clock was where it should be.

“Doyenne is negotiating with the Selineh, as of now. She’d like you all to remain in the stables until it is quite safe.” One of the guards trotted out.

“Negotiating in the castle?” Dimitri asked, eyebrows drawn together. “Was it wise to let enemy troops enter the castle without repercussions? And why are we sitting ducks? I’m a Blue Badge, I’d rather be collecting information than being cooped up in a barn.”

“So would I.” Eveline stood up. “I’m the Crown Princess of Niflheim, I should have higher…” she trailed off. “Higher opinion acceptance!”

“Doyenne’s bidding is our final order, Princess.” The Guard turned to Dimitri. “And Sir, your sister has given us strict orders not to let the three of you out of the stables. It’s not safe.”

Dimitri and Eveline exchanged annoyed glances and turned to Vienna, waiting for her rebellious input.

“I’d…also like to let the Tourism Bureau know of my dissatisfaction.” Vienna started diffidently, crossing her arms in an attempt to appear tougher. Their laughter was interrupted by another quake of the ground. The decrepit wood of the stables shook, the three of them almost tumbling to the ground. Even the Crimson Badges seemed to be bewildered.

“Selineh had a missile routine?” one of the Guards hissed to another.

“No way of knowing.” The oldest replied shortly. They turned back to the three of them, faces somber and unreadable yet somehow frantic.

“We’ll be checking the outside of the barn, your Highness, Sir, Miss. Please remain inside, for your own sake, please.”

They disappeared, leaving them, the last of the Niflteens, to their own devices.

“I say we take a look too.” Vienna finally piped up.

“Oh, you stay. I’ll take the look.” Eveline said.

“No, both of you stay. It has to be me.” Dimitri said boldly. “I’m the…man here and besides, Eveline’s fragile and Vienna’s just…Vienna.”

Vienna scoffed. “Offensive much, Ivanov? I’m not any less immature than you are.” (lie.)

“Let’s all go together.” Eveline offered. They doubled over to the front of the stables, where the Guards had shut the door behind them. A few tugs opened it, and a few moments passed. The sky outside had lightened from the dusky violet Vienna had seen from the roof (how much time had passed since then?) and turned the light yellow of skimmed butter. The castle seemed normal…except for a glowing sheen around it, and the grass outside was vibrating.

“Hel…” Dimitri murmured.