Rednal29: I am so glad that I'm not the only one with crazy muses..yay! We can start a crazy muse club! Have a lollipop! Betalight: Glad that you liked it . Speckled-Utopia: Took the advice. You like? Candy! Onyxtreewind: But I did update..I have ten chapters..mrow.. 0.0 QueenOfSquirrels: I would fix Chapter nine but my compie is EVIL! Will get there, though...candy! C.M.E. Whitlock: Shinies! We love the shinies! Heheh..

Mmkay, Queen of the Squirrelyness, I changed the dialogue a bit...Do I get a cookie? Please? Pretty Pleasies?

Chapter ten.the chapter version of the decade! Woah...I'm losing it..

Golden sunlight poured through the thin silk drapes, illuminating Chelsea, who sat, yawning by the window, staring out over the rolling meadows and forests.

Yawning, her blue eyes lit upon the emerald forest. The familiar path meandered into them, and she grinned as she saw it. There were some fond memories she had about that forest.

It was where she had really met Jared, and gotten to know him as a person. They'd run into each other at his hidden training ground, and talked for almost an hour. Her eyes became misty as she fingered the necklace he'd given her, hidden in the pocket of her cloak.

A sapphire rose with minute emerald leaves and a golden chain lay coiled on her palm, and Chelsea fingered it idly.

Another flashback lingered in her mind: herself twirling in Jared's arms as he whispered in her ear.

Cayt, rolling out of bed, and hitting the ground with a painful-sounding thud, pulled her away from her reminiscing.

Eyes half open and starry from the sudden amount of light, Cayt blearily looked about her. "I woke up by myself this time," she croaked, gazing at Chelsea as her friend stood up and strode towards her.

"Of course you did, dear. Is your head alright?" Chelsea asked somewhat suspiciously as Cayt rubbed her head, grimacing.

Waves of pain rippled through Cayt's head, subsiding to leave the equivalent of a mild migraine where her head crashed against the floor. She grumbled nonsensically and stood up, walking over to stand by Chelsea. "Pretty necklace," she managed to yawn out as she padded back towards the tall armoire. "By any chance, did a little birdie tell you what I should be wearing today?"

Chelsea smiled widely. "I have a pretty good idea, actually. Semi-formal dress, slippers, and a light cloak." She nodded sagely, indicating what she was, as always, already wearing.

"How DO you always know these things," Cayt asked, more to herself than Chelsea, while she rooted through the closet, and yanked out the afore mentioned items.

A sage green dress, emerald slippers, and a dark green cloak were tossed onto the bed. Turning to Chelsea with wide eyes, Cayt nodded towards the outfit.

Squinting, Chelsea turned her head to one side, and then the other, scrutinizing the clothes. "Yes, that'll work," she finally muttered.

With a roll of her eyes, Cayt disappeared behind the old screen. "Did that same birdie happen to mention what we might be doing today?"

Rearranging herself on the plush window seat, Chelsea stifled a yawn. "Maybe..."

"And that would be?" Cayt gestured exaggeratedly with her hands, casting fluttering shadows on the linen screen.

"Well, let me just say that you shouldn't forget your thimble."

"Oh no! Not that! I'm injury prone.." She trailed off piteously.

A cackle escaped Chelsea's mouth as she stood up once more, and crossed over to the doorway. "Almost ready?"

Cayt emerged from behind her linen fortress. "Pretty much." She smoothed out the sage silk dress, and straightened her cloak. Lastly, Cayt yanked a brush through her rebellious curls, and slid over to the door, skidding in her silky soled slippers.

"Good good, let's go then." Chelsea swept out the door, a hyper bounce in her step, which meant trouble for those trapped in an enclosed space with her.

Following behind her, Cayt grimaced at the implied content of today's event. It looked like her happy place was out of reach today, but, then again, that wasn't a new thing.

The halls leading to the dining room were pretty much empty, as usual, and the only person that Cayt even recognized walking along them was the incessantly cheerful Anne.

"Good morning to both of you! Well, Cayt's looking glum, isn't she," Anne remarked critically as she stared at Cayt.

Chelsea smothered another cackle. "She's just depressed about the contest today."

Not the type for it, is she? I think she'll live, however," the maid replied with a conspiratory air.

Biting her lip in thought, and tilting her head to one side, Cayt wondered what they were REALLY doing today. Thimbles meant something to do with sewing, but there were so many different things in that category.. Darning, perhaps? Or... She shook her head in confusion. Sewing just wasn't her thing.

Anne fell into step with Cayt. "I'll bet you'll like the contest today," Anne crowed happily.

"Anne, I loathe sewing with every fiber of my being."

"Oh, not that, just..other parts of the event," she replied, eyes twinkling evilly. With that, she scampered back up to Chelsea.

"Anne! Anne, get back here and tell me what in the kingdom you're talking about!" Cayt cried indignantly, only to pad after them into the dining hall. The twin tables had plates with the remnants of breakfast on them and Cayt skipped over there, scooping half a bun and an orange onto her ceramic plate. Without waiting for Chelsea, and as Anne had left already, she sat down in her chair, and contentedly peeled her orange.

Finally realizing that the little food left on the table was fast disappearing; Chelsea grabbed a roll, and went to sit with Cayt.

They munched happily on their small breakfast together, until Madame Lydda trundled into the room.

"Good morning, girls!" Lilea, Saera, Alexei- who had been hiding in the back of the room- Cayt, and Chelsea looked up at her, somewhat warily on the latter's parts.

"Good morning, Madame Lydda," the contestants replied, not half as enthusiastically as she had.

"I am sure that all of you are anxious to hear what you will be doing today! Now, this event is a special one, and I think you will all enjoy it greatly."

Cayt sincerely doubted that.

"This event will be taking place in the Citadel Tower, where the King's and Queen's flags are flown. In a room at the top of that tower, there are multiple baskets of sewing materials at your disposal. Your task is to make a seat cushion for the Queen's throne. It must contain the Kingdom's colors of green and gold, and it may be wise to put in the Queen's favorite flower, the rose." She paused to sweep stiffly curled hair behind her ear. "The cushions will be judged on design, quality, artistry, and comfort. The cushion that is given the largest number of points by our three judges will be used as the Queen's new throne cushion. Isn't that exciting, girls!?"

A slightly skeptical murmur of assent rippled through the room.

"I'm glad that you all think so! Now, I shall introduce our Judges," she said, walking over to open the double doors. "First of all, our Prince Jared, secondly, the King himself, and lastly, the Queen's handmaiden, Lady Rosealia."

The three afore mentioned Judges walked in, the Prince smiling a wide, if somewhat forced smile at the girls, the King looking on solemnly, and Lady Rosealia simpering at the girls in a disgustingly pink gown.

Cayt's chances in this contest were not looking good. All the girls stood up slowly, and were led out of the room by a smug Madame, who had the air of someone leading mortal enemies to gallows. Which, figuratively, she thought she was.

Sighing in resignation, Cayt walked next to Alexei, who also looked somewhat depressed. "Not the sewing type?" She asked sympathetically.

Alexei looked over at her, eyes wide. "I end up injuring people with the needles when I'm hyper. What about you?"

She nodded, a bit taken back. "I'm not that...special...I just don't LIKE to sew..." Cayt's shoulders sagged.

An agreeing nod came from Alexei's vicinity, and they both walked up the spiral staircase in silence. Around and around they went, until Cayt thought she was about to puke her breakfast over the rickety railing.

Five pairs of feet padded quietly on the stairs, the sixth clomping heavily, for Madame Loathsome was no light figure, and little clouds of dust rose from the ancient steps as they groaned quietly.

Finally, the sounds of frightened pigeons, and a sharply conical ceiling alerted Cayt that they had either reached their destination, or Madame Lydda was going to throw them all out that big, open window and be done with it.

Personally, Cayt had been betting on the last one, but she was proved wrong by Madame stepping forward onto a small platform, and yanking open the single, small door upon it. "Through you get, girls, through you get."

They plodded, single-file, into the attic room behind it.

A peaked ceiling rose naught but eight feet from the floor, and the walls were thick, and round with the tower. Three windows graced it, but thin archer's slits cut into the two foot thick walls, and they gave a grand, sweeping view of Solastaria. The hard floor was covered in an assortment of woven rugs, and the walls with similar tapestries. Chairs were arranged randomly about the room, and a squat table in the corner was covered in sewing kits and heaps of fabric.

The girls stood together in the middle of the room, it's only other occupants being Madame Lydda, Lady Rosealia, and Chris.

Cayt, who had been semi-consciously fingering her dew-drop necklace, blanched, then reddened and dropped it as she saw Chris, and stared determinedly at the ground.

Chelsea laughed silently behind her, making furious hand-gestures to Alexei, who eventually got it, and burst out in a fit of silent giggles.

While those two were laughing like maniacs, Madame Lydda cleared her throat loudly. "I shall be leaving you all here, and Guardian Christian and Lady Rosealia will be holding you to your fidelity in this event. Afternoon tea will be brought to you in three hours, and you have five hours altogether to complete your work. I wish you all well," she finished grandly, and spun as agilely as she could, swishing out the door.

Silence reigned for the better part of three seconds, and then a flurry of motion broke out as Chris and Lady Rosealia sat down, in separate corners, and all the girls went to grab baskets and armfuls of fabric.

Chairs by the thin windows were quickly claimed and Cayt, who had the common sense to set her coat on one, happily plopped down onto, arranging all her supplies, including the much needed thimble, on the thick windowsill next to her.

Alexei and Chelsea stole the two seats next to her, and settled into their plush embraces with sighs of content.

Resolutely not looking at Chris, Cayt turned to Chelsea. "So mastermind, what's your plan," she asked she haphazardly sorted through her pile of fabrics.

Arranging her materials perfectly, Chelsea looked up. "Oh, a satin cushion embroidered with bouquets of red and yellow roses," she replied with a matter-of-fact air.

An awed look crossed Alexei's face as she heard it. "Cayt, are you as helpless as I am?" Alexei asked piteously.

"Definitely. Want to brainstorm together?" Cayt stared down at her assorted satins, silks, linens, and cottons hopelessly.


"Well...a red and a yellow rose..that's a start.." A stricken look overtook Cayt's face.

"Hmmmm..bouquets are taken, so I could do..a garden..or random flowers...or a rose bush...I think I'll make a rose bush," she exclaimed carelessly.

"With thorns? But, what about me?"

"Make two twined roses, or something," Chelsea chimed in, deciding to be helpful.

Nodding resignedly, Cayt snuggled down further in her chair, planning out the tones of her two flowers. She gazed about the room abstractly, and suddenly, an epiphany came to her. She should make a pillow first!

That made sense..

With a sigh, Cayt plucked a random piece of fabric out of her pile. Squinting, she determined that it was muslin. And scratchy. Very, very scratchy. The Queen probably didn't want to sit all day long on a scratchy pillow. She dumped the muslin on the floor. 'Next..'

A yard of white spider silk was the next victim. Holding it up to the light, Cayt admired how the sunlight shimmered over it as it slid like water through her fingers. It was so shiny! Snapping herself out of her shiny object obsession mode, Cayt forced herself to look at the silk critically.

It was very slippery..She imagined the Queen sitting on a soft, slippery cushion all day, and somehow, in this little vision of Cayt's, she saw the Queen sliding off the cushion because of the slipperiness. Shuddering, Cayt put the spider silk on top of the muslin.

The pile seemed to be thinning out quite a bit. A crème cotton caught Cayt's eye next, and she pulled it out skeptically.

Individual threads were picked out on the homespun-looking length. So far, it was the best choice, but plain fabric called for ornate embroidery, and, well, Cayt's forte wasn't ornate embroidery.

That ruled out the cotton.

Another sigh escaped Cayt's mouth, and she grabbed another fabric. And immediately started petting the fuzzy velvet. When Chelsea gave her a weird look, Cayt coughed, and took a more professional look at the regal velvet.

Sunlight shimmered on the off-white velvet, and it was so fluffily fuzzy that Cayt ad to restrain herself from using it as a pillow and falling asleep right then and there. And it was luxurious enough that she didn't have to do a large amount of needlework.

Setting all the other fabrics on the floor, Cayt racked her brain on how to make a pillow. Out of a fit of sudden inspiration and childhood memories, she folded the velvet in half, and, grabbing a nearby window-cushion and a pair of scissors, cut the doubled over fabric down to the size of the pillow.

Now that that was done, Cayt bent over, and grabbed her sewing kit. Pulling it up onto her lap, she stared at the array of threads in it. With a befuddled blink, she decided for the simple white, and threaded her needle, making sure that she had a thimble on first.

Taking a deep breath, Cayt pushed the needle into the closest side of the velvet square. And pulled it out again. And pushed it in, and pulled it out. Over, and over, and over again.

Cayt thought that she'd made some progress, and looked down at the beginning of the cushion. She had done, officially, one forth of just making the actual pillow. Thus, she had two and a half sides left to go.

This was going to take a while.

Time flew very, very slowly when you were sewing. Very, very, very slowly.

Cayt's head was beginning to ache with boredom. To pass the slowly crawling time, she started humming to herself.

'Just keep sewing, sewing, sewing, just keep sewing, stop. Just keep sewing, sewing, sewing-'

Alexei looked up at her with a raised eyebrow.

"I was bored!" Cayt said in self-defense of her sanity.

"Oh. Okay," she nodded comprehendingly. "Me too."

Nodding in agreement, Cayt held up her almost finished pillow. "I am going to be in this room for the rest of my life."

The pillow had one side left to go, and recalling earlier experiences, Cayt decided to stuff the pillow while one side was still opened. With a luxurious stretch, she stood up, and shuffled past a bashful Chris to the table, grabbed an armful of goose down, and padded back to her seat while Lady Rosealia looked on from her secluded corner.

Feathers floated around Cayt like she was a goose magnet while she sat down, the stuffing in her lap. She wrinkled up her nose, suppressing a sneeze as she stuffed the goose down into her flat, velvet sack.

The pillow, seemingly decided to be stubborn, required another armful of feathers before it puffed up like a normal pillow.

Plucking wispy feathers out of her loose hair, Cayt, in resignation, took up the thin needle and threaded it. She sighed, and restarted the ritual of pushing the needle in, and pulling it back out, and pushing it in, and pulling it out, until the final side of her little pillow was finished.

A few last feathers floated down to the ground as Cayt held up final part of this project for inspection. In the yellow light of the tower room, it looked good enough to her.

But the only true way to test the thing was to use it. Grinning conspiratorially to herself, Cayt stood up, pulled the cushion off her chair, and placed her new one on it. Sitting down with a plop, Cayt sat stock-still for a minute, and then, wit a large, blissful smile, snuggled down onto her comfy cushion.

"Cayt, you have to get off the pillow eventually," Chelsea remarked without even looking up.

Sticking her tongue out at her psychic best friend, Cayt sighed heavily, and somewhat reluctantly, pulled her velvet pillow out from under her. "Spoilsport." "What to draw, what to draw," she muttered to herself as Cay stared at her blank, whitish pillow.

Roses, roses. Two twined roses. Two twined red and yellow roses. But that was boring..Cayt tilted her head to one side. A border would be too time- consuming, and little bouquets were what Chelsea was doing...

Cayt breathed heavily, and looked about the room for inspiration, hurriedly glancing past Chris, and her gaze fell upon a vase of half-wilted lilies.

Single flowers placed randomly were always a simple, easy solution. She shrugged, and pulled the appropriate red, yellow, and green threads from her sewing kit.

She looked back down at her fluffy pillow. First off, she had to stitch two big, twined roses. Which she had no idea of how they looked. Now where, where oh where oh where, on the top of a tower, could she find a pair of twined roses?

Taking another glance around the room, Cayt wasn't exactly inspired. Then, she was hit with the third epiphany of the day.

She could conjure flowers! Mind you, they would be pink, but that was a simple technicality. With a focusing of her thoughts, Cayt called up two, large, twined roses.

They popped into existence on the windowsill, supported against the window, two stems spiraling around each other tightly.

With a startled blink, Alexei looked up at the fresh flowers. "Those are pretty," she said sagely, not questioning their origin.

Embroidering a flower that is but three feet from your face is mindless, boring work, and Cayt, her fingers steadily stitching the first, red rose, stared out the window pensively.

Chelsea, who was, as always, almost done, glanced up at Cayt. "Bored already?"

Startled, Cayt whipped her head around to face her friend. "N-no. Not at all."

"Eh, me too," Chelsea replied, glancing innocently about the room. Her gaze fell upon Lady Rosealia, looked up to the ceiling in annoyance, and then fell upon Chris, sitting quietly in the corner. She stood up, bounced over to Chris, having already set down her pillow, grabbed his arm, and towed him over to a spare chair by their window. "Chris, we're all bored, and I'm sure you are too. Sit," she said, an evil, evil glint in her eye.

Reddening slightly, Chris nodded, and gingerly sat down in the over-stuffed armchair. "Lady Chelsea, Lady Alexei, Cayt," he said, nodding to each of them, and blushing even more about the neck as he nodded to the latter.

Cayt, mortified at her friend, rubbed her necklace nervously, and stared determinedly at her nearly finished red rose.

Cayt's best friend, who seemed beyond determined to play evil match-maker today, turned to Chris, who was scooping his hair back from his forehead nervously, with a huge smile. "Chris, don't you just love that necklace Cayt's wearing?"

Blanching slightly, Chris glanced up hesitantly. "I'm glad you like it."

A small smile crossed Cayt's face, and, with even more determination, she stared down at her rose, pulling out a single, mess stitch.

Chelsea rolled her eyes dramatically.

Alexei, who suddenly seemed to grasp what on earth was going on, looked up at Chris. "You gave her the necklace? Was it her birthing day, or the First Saint's day, and she forgot to tell me?" She asked indignantly.

"Not...not quite," Chris managed to stutter out.

"Oh, so what WAS the reason, I mean, we all want to know wh-'

"Chelse, dear, you're PRYING." Cayt glared up at her best friend.

"I still want to know..." Chelsea mumbled under her breathe as Chris laughed silently to himself.

Glaring in embarrassment down at her viciously finished red rose, Cayt snapped the silk thread in half, and rummaged for a suitable yellow. She took another look at her pink model, fixed the image in her head, and started anew with the golden, dandelion yellow.

She stared that rose, rapidly filling in one curved petal, and staring glassy-eyed out the window, for concentrating on your sewing makes the time fly even slower.

With a yawn and a cat-like stretch, Chelsea stood up as Cayt finished her second-to-last petal, and grabbed Alexei's arm, pulling her to her feet. "We're going to go get some trim," she purred with a smile. "We might awhile."

Alexei following behind, they made their way over to the supply table, and stood, giddy looking back at their other companions.

The silence that stretched between their two victims could have been cut with a dagger and eaten for supper. Especially since they both were edging away from Chelsea, who had a slightly unnerving, maniacal look in her eye.

Chris coughed slightly. "So, Cayt, how did you end up here?" He asked quietly, slightly taken back at Chelsea's highly triumphant look.

"You probably know that as well as I do," Cayt replied, stitching in the center of her second flower.

"No, I don't. I don't know anything about you, Cayt," he protested in earnest.

She blinked. That hadn't really ever occured to her.......

"Well, I know that your father is Lord Jeliang, your sister Lady Kathryn, and your brother a knight, but I don't really know anything about you. As a person."

Wide eyed, Cayt stared at him. "Are you a stalker?"

"I'm the Prince's guardian. That's kind of in the job description."

"Ooohhh.....I knew that, really, I did. Well, there isn't all that much interesting stuff about me, I'm pretty.......average......" She shrugged, blushing slightly. It wasn't exactly horrid that he was so curious about her.

He sighed. "Maybe in your eyes. But, say, I don't even know...what your favorite color is."

Blinking, Cayt rethreaded her needle with a sage green, and started on the stems. "It's green. Yours?"

"Blue, thanks. Your Birthingday?"

"Two days after All Saints' Day."

"See, now we're getting somewhere," he said, with a wide grin, eyes twinkling.

"Now, it's my turn." Cayt sported a Chelsea-grin. "Your hobbies, besides interrogating young, embroidering girls?"

"I deserved that, didn't I?" He tilted his head to one side, cupping his chin on a spare palm. "Swordplay. Riding. Tilting." (AN: That's practice jousting, for the non-Medieval obsessed of the world.) Chris grinned. "Listen, Cayt, I'm really glad that you like the necklace. It looks beautiful on you. Tonight, after dinner, I was wondering if-"

Chris shut his mouth with a snap as Chelsea waltzed back over, Alexei sticking her tongue out at her tormentor, and sitting down gratefully. Their arrival gave Cayt an excuse for bury her face in the pillow, nicely hiding her scarlet face.

"Well, I'm glad that you all had a nice chat. Cayt, are you almost done embroidering yet? It's been four hours!" Chelsea complained loudly as she flopped down onto her seat.

"Almost done, I just have to do some rosebuds," Cayt replied absent mindedly as she began to shape out little, floating roses around the two, larger ones.

Chelsea looked down at her completed, elaborate pillow, with twining bouquets wandering over it in a bright medley of colors. Alexei's was much simpler, a simple, elegant rosebush alone on her satin pillow.

Finally, after another few minutes of awkward silence, Cayt, stood up, pronouncing her embroidery done, even if a few stitches were missing, and snatched four white tassels off the oak table.

Sewing those on was quick work, and she had a handful of minutes to spare, which she spent taking a nap, until the dread Madame waltzed back into the room.

Her nap over, Cayt sat up with a start, grabbed her pillow, and followed Chris, Rosealia, Saera, Lilea, Chelsea, and Alexei back down the endless staircase.

Their walk was brisk, for, evidently the King was waiting below, and he couldn't be kept waiting. The girls were hustled back into the dining room, and stood in a line before the three judges, Lady Rosealia weeping into her hard-backed chair next to the King.

"Well now girls, you will give your pillow to Lady Rosealia, who will write down a score and pass it on, and then the King shall follow that action, and so on. As always, the score is out of ten, and the highest score overall is today's victor. Lady Saera, you are first."

Saera, swallowing hard, gingerly handed her pillow to the Lady Rosealia. From what Cayt could see of it, the design was simple, and pleasing.

The judges took almost no time to scan over the pillow, and the scores were quickly announced. A seven from the Lady, an eight from the king, and a five from Prince Jared, overall being a twenty out of thirty.

Lilea was next, and after a somewhat longer wait than Saera's, was given a six, a seven, and a six. It seemed the judges were rather harsh, for her pretty pillow got but a twenty as well.

Alexei swallowed as she handed the pillow to the first Judge. Amazingly enough, her simple elegance won her a 28, or a nine, a nine, and a ten.

Scattered applause broke out, and she made a courtier's bow, taking back her place in line.

A somewhat nervous feeling overtook Cayt's digestive system as she gave her pillow, somewhat reluctantly, for it was fuzzy, to Lady Rosealia. Five nerve-wracking minutes later, it turned out, to her utter surprise, that she ended up with a nine point five, and two nines, being only point five from Alexei's score.

Last of all, pale little Chelsea went up, and handed her bright pillow away. In the silence that followed, an eight, an eight, and a ten from the Prince were her results, and somewhat dissatisfied with the first two scores, she stepped back in line.

"Beautiful craftsman ship, girls, simply gorgeous. Now, as Lady Alexei won, her pillow shall be used for formal occasions, and as runner up, Lady Cayt's pillow shall be used for more casual events. Off to bed with you all, now! Dinner at the seventh hour," cried Madame Lydda with a yawn as she walked out of the room.

The girls scattered, our three grouping together to tramp back to the general area of their quarters, and Anne, who seemed to know exactly when they were let out, joined them at the bottom of the grand staircase.

"Good job Alexei," she crowed happily, spinning Alexei round in a giddy circle with her. Alexei nodded, bouncing up the stairs, and, "Accidentally," stepping on Anne's cloak, was chased, screaming at the top of her lungs, back to her room.

The other two followed a bit more slowly, Chelsea tucking the unwanted pillow under her arm. "You really like him, don't you?"

Cayt looked up at the ornate ceiling. "Yeeeeessss......."

Chelsea squealed. "That's so cute! And he likes you, it's so obvious!"

"He can probably hear you."

Cayt rolled her eyes. She sighed, looking over at Cayt's solemn face. "You had the conversation with your dear prince, so why the glum face?"

A forlorn look on her wide-eyed face, Cayt turned to her best friend. "I want my fluffy pillow back.'

Chelsea, with a dramatic roll of her eyes, turned to Cayt. "You want a pillow," she said evilly, and then started whacking Cayt with her slightly- less-fluffy pillow, and her victim, who then ran screaming, and following Alexei, could be found hours later, still picking feathers out of her hair.

AN: yay! Ten chapters! I feel so..old...hrmmmm...I need more CANDY! Review, and maybe I'll share the candy..ooohh...ahhhh...