Aster in the Fields of Tryssen

Aotsuki

Foreword: This is, indeed, intended to showcase many of the symptoms of a Mary Sue. It has been very entertaining to write this chapter; the author hopes you will laugh at it and enjoy it as much as herself. Please, sit back and enjoy the show. Ahh, Princess Ria...


-1-

A few years ago—actually, make that a couple centuries, you'll see why in a moment—there lived a girl named Ria Min.

Her name was not Ria Min, though, that's what everybody called her. She was actually Princess Rianna Othella Ravynna Aleda Yamashiro Akira Min'tharon de Matthinghouste-Tryssen, with the extra plus of being betrothed to the Prince of Fallowshaith since her birth at the Tryssen Palace to the king and queen of the kingdom of Tryssen.

Ria Min was not your average girl. In this century, she would be, but mind you, this takes place a few hundred years ago, so she was obviously special-ER than all the other stupid airheaded princesses out there. Not that she was stupid or airheaded; she was actually quite sharp and picked up on things very quickly, which she was praised for by the people of Tryssen and her family.

She had also been bestowed with a very special gift. Scratch that, several gifts. Horseback riding, swordfighting, archery, swimming, sorcery, singing, and playing almost every instrument out there not including the drums or the bass were just a few, although she had never touched a horse, sword, bow and arrow, swimsuit, staff, music stand, or instrument, as that would mar her smooth skin according to her mother, although Ria didn't actually care. She was also well-liked by everyone because, well, she was epitome of good looks and manners and could carry a conversation late into the night. Ria's long raven-black hair, curled slightly at the ends and almost wavy with hints of gold peeking through—all-natural, of course—was a source of fascination for suitors and the various courtiers around the palace, although not as much as her stunning looks. With piercing, beautiful golden eyes, full red lips, and a slim, almost anorexic but NOT figure, she was the most gorgeous girl on the planet. Even though her subjects weren't aware that there were planets. Truth be told, no one knew there were planets. But Ria knew because she was intelligent.

Ria also owned three cats—Shiro, Kuro, and Rin—and a hawk, Hayabusa. Her father had promised her a horse for her fifteenth birthday; she was planning to name it Jupiter.

Unfortunately, her birthday present never arrived because it was quite rudely interrupted by a man dressed in black coming in and quite rudely taking his sword and slicing everyone's heads off, except for Ria, because she had stunning looks that were unparalleled by anyone in the palace. With a warcry that was most unladylike, she grabbed her father's sword and ran it through the assassin, instantly killing him.

Single tears rolled down her beautiful cheek in rapid succession, but they only made her more attractive.

Taking a horse from the stable—the plaque above its stall had the inscription "Jupiter" on it—she quickly packed a bag of food that would last her to Fallowshaith, although she had never met her betrothed before. Honestly, she didn't want to be betrothed, but marry for true love. Although she had yet to find true love. But that will come later, back to the story.

She mounted Jupiter with no problem at all, although she had never ridden a horse before, and immediately began riding out through the rainy night with no clue about how weird it was to be riding through the night when it was oh-so-coincidentially raining at the same time, which makes for a lesser-known but certainly in-your-face cliché moment. She was also riding through the forest on the border of the Tryssen—Fallowshaith border, which she knew instinctually because of her queerly accurate sixth sense.

Her sixth sense also told her that the Prince of Fallowshaith would be kind. His parents, well, who ever said in-laws were a barrel of fun monkeys?

--

Two days later, she arrived at Fallowshaith Castle, sword "sheathed" in her red sash (she was wearing a white dress, because red and white are the colors of the Tryssen flag and it's kind of romantic) and meager provisions gone. She was not hungry, and her hair was still perfectly styled, despite having just arrived from two days' worth of thundering through the forest on a freaking horse. It is a wonder Jupiter didn't drop dead from exhaustion and a heart attack on the spot had it not been the fact that he was used to this sort of treatment, because all the people in the palace thought he could do things like that because they'd read it in stories.

The guards at the door met her gaze for a moment before going into shock at the beauty in her golden-eyed gaze, immediately moving aside, because they'd heard of the beauty of the Princess of Tryssen and could identify her just by that. Jupiter sullenly trotted through the tall cast-iron gates, casting a baleful eye at the tall sandstone walls. There was no hay in sight, which truly sucked for him.

She dismounted gracefully. She distantly heard a cry of "Banholf! Banholf, assist the lady," and a "Very well, your majesty". Banholf, who was apparently a peer of the man who shouted, was a relatively well-dressed man, although a tad taller than most royalty around. Gazing up at the tall belltowers and turrets of the castle, she noted the colors of Fallowshaith flying bright against the sunlight—yellow and green.

Banholf bowed. "Would you need assistance, Highness?" Ria turned slightly and nodded with the air of one who is very peaceful, who has transcended words. Banholf snapped his gloved fingers, summoning two young raggedy-clothed boys. "Marde, Cail, take her majesty's horse." They bowed and immediately took Jupiter's reins, glancing questioningly at the princess. She nodded, and they led the tired horse away.

"May I escort you?" Banholf asked. There was no need, because it was customary. She nodded again, with the same manner as before. He held out his arm in a way that suggested he did so frequently, and she took it with a slight bit of hesitation. "I am here to see the prince, Sir Banholf." He nodded again. "His Majesty went back into the castle moments after you arrived, Princess." She made a small noise of acknowledgement, then beckoned him to proceed.

Banholf had a surprisingly quick step, as he seemed the solemn type that would never laugh or cry easily, if at all. He noticed her golden-eyed gaze boring into his forehead and complied with her wishes, looking at her. "We shall arrive at His Majesty's secondary quarters momentarily, Princess." With a few more quick strides, he reached a corridor with five doors. Heading to the fourth one, he paused before the five locks, seeming to be recalling something, then with a flurry of twists and twirls, he unlocked them and opened the door, holding it open as Ria gracefully stepped inside.

The Prince of Fallowshaith sat cross-legged in front of a window, engrossed in a book, and did not register their entrance.

Banholf coughed. "Princess Rianna Min'tharon de Matthinghouste-Tryssen, sir." The prince looked up, and Ria couldn't help but smile. His expression was almost entirely clueless. She curtsied elegantly, although she detested curtsies. They were pointless.

Recongition flashed across his face as he saw hers. "Ah, Princess. I did not expect you here so soon. What is the cause of your arrival?" He smiled, seemingly happy to see her. She immediately began to dislike his formality and affectionate mannerisms. Banholf had an excuse because he was just that type of person, but the prince seemed to be less so. Choosing her words carefully and with eloquence, she replied, slim figure unwavering, golden eyes not betraying her emotions. "It would seem as if there is a man who bears animosity towards the Royal Family of Tryssen." She cast a dark, piercing glance at him "Or what is left of it, Your Highness." He nodded tersely. "Banholf, could the Princess and I have a short moment alone? I shall call you back in after a while." Banholf nodded. "Of course, sir." He bowed and left the room.

The Prince of Fallowshaith watched Banholf leave, then turned his attention back to Ria. She stood there defiantly, not liking his attitude. "Please sit, Princess." He gestured to the chair across from him, separated from his own seat with a small wooden table. She came over, sitting down on the chair and leaning back. "Your Majesty, I should like to ask you a few questions first." He nodded. "Anything you wish. Please, let us talk in less formal tones. My given name is Tobias."

Ria fingered a lock of her hair, absently admiring the golden flashes among the raven. "How old are you, Tobias?" He looked slightly taken aback. "Sixteen. Why?" She smiled slightly. "In two days, I will be fifteen. I was supposed to celebrate it with my family, but three nights ago, it was rendered impossible." She fixed her gaze on him, placing her elbows on the table. "An assassin broke through the window on the second floor and proceeded to kill everyone in the palace—the guards, the royalty, the servants, everyone—in a singular manner, which was that of beheading. I took my father's sword, which is here—" she gestured to the item on her waist—"and killed him."

Tobias nodded. "I see. Since your family was killed, and I am your betrothed, you would ask me to host you until it is the time for us to marry." He noticed her shoulders trembling slightly, and she wiped away a tear from her golden eye. "Ria…" With a bit of effort, she restrained herself and forced a calm composure into her actions. "Precisely." The prince coughed, pretending not to notice the momentary lapse in composure. "Well, I suppose it is given. You, however, are now the Queen Regent of Tryssen, since there is… a lack of other candidates."

He took his book off of the table, realizing he had put it down sometime between her entrance and the beginning of their conversation.

There was a banging on the door. "Hoy, Your Majesty, are you going to let me in anytime soon? I thought you'd let me in shortly." The muffled baritone of Banholf rang from behind the door.

"Quiet, De Hayes, we were about to finish anyway," he called back in an irritated tone. Looking back at Ria, he finally looked her over, trying to word his next statement correctly. She was beautiful, he conceded, but there was something else about her that he couldn't quite pin down. "If you have any problems, come to me and I'll sort them out. Banholf will know where I am, he practically lives with me," he said wryly. "Feel free to ask the servants anything, and if you want to talk about…" He gestured helplessly with the book. "Feel free to come to me anytime." He smiled. "I suppose we should spend more time together over the next year. You will be the Queen of Fallowshaith." She smiled uncertainly, the corners of her full lips edging upwards in a delicate curve. "Thank you, Your Majesty—" "Tobias." "—Tobias."

The prince stood up, bowing slightly, and crossed the room, opening the door. Banholf nearly fell onto the floor, having almost dozed off leaning on the door. "It took you long enough," he said crossly, then bowed again to Ria. "I apologize for the interruption."

Ria stood, white gown swirling about her feet. Her black-gold hair was pushed to one side by the breeze gently flowing through the window, sunlight glinting off the gold in her hair. She curtsied slightly, the sword at her side impeding her movements slightly.

"You should give her the room on the third floor with the tree, sire," Banholf said quietly. "The women tend to praise that room for its 'lovely mood' and whatnot." Tobias agreed, then walked over to a labeled wood plaque. Choosing from one of the cords hanging above it, he tugged one. A faint ringing sound echoed from down the corridor somewhere in the lower levels. "Now we wait," he said, and stepped back from the panel.

Not long after he had summoned her, a woman with an apron over her brown pinafore accompanied by a womand in a green dress, white apron, wide-brimmed straw hat and heavy boots marched into the hall and curtsied to the prince, Ria, and Banholf. "You called me, sir?" the first one asked. "Ria, this is—" "—Cook," the cook said promptly. Tobias sighed. "Have it your way. Siying, I suppose you were in the kitchen too?" Siying shrugged, then nodded to all three of them. With a slight accent, she said, "I do have an interest in the culinary arts, yes." The prince half-smiled. "Siying is the head gardener on Fallowshaith grounds, from Anich. You'll see her pruning and planting and such during your stay. During my youth, she would make interesting, cynical comments about everything, and we'd often go off to—" "—Cook's—", the cook interjected, "—kitchen for whatever reason. She was sort of my aunt-figure." Siying raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Your aunt? I'm from an entirely different part of the world, mind you. This isn't even my first language, Shaanxi is. How am I your aunt?"

Tobias tried to ignore her rantings. "Siying, Cook, could you take Ria to the room on the third floor next to the maple? Thank you," he added quickly before they could interject. Ria eyed them suspiciously; the gardener and cook back at Tryssen Palace had been the most high-and-mighty people she had ever met.

Tobias frowned slightly, then shook it off. "You'll get accustomed to the grounds and the people, Princess. It's not like Tryssen Castle, from everything I've been told, but it will have to suffice." A shadow passed across Ria's refined features, then she gathered herself and stood proudly, although about two inches shorter than both "Cook" and Siying. Seeing this, she resolved to grow much taller over the next year.

--

After passing through several staircases and walking up and down corridors—Siying had several argumenta with Cook about whether the room was the third on the right side of the fourth corridor, or the fourth on the left side of the third corridor, or the second on the right side of the fifth corridor—but they eventually found it after five minutes. "It's locked," Siying announced. "Go get Catrena, J—" "Cook." "Whatever. We need Catrena's keys, go get them." Cook rolled her eyes. "Fine. I'll be back in a few minutes."

As the slightly eccentric Cook flounced off down the stairs nearby, Ria nervously fingered a lock of her black-gold hair. Wrapping the other hand unconsciously around the hilt of her father's sword, she couldn't help but feel slightly… endangered… around Siying. It seemed that the woman had slightly violent, cynical tendencies. Ria decided not to judge her too early.

Cook came back up the stairs with a clatter, holding a wooden tray a teapot and four teacups. A tall woman in a gray pinafore and white apron followed, dark gray hair bound up in a severely plain bun. A few frills were found at the waist, neck, and wrists of the dress, and she wore glasses with a thin, fine chain tied to both earpieces. "What did you say you needed me fore, Siying?" She unhooked the ring of keys from her belt and sorted through them. "Oh, yes, the key to this room…" After sliding them around for a bit, Catrena finally selected a small, iron key, pulling it off of the loop with a small, metallic clink. "Here you go." Siying handed it to Ria. "It's your room. This key will be yours for as long as you stay here at Fallowshaith, so don't go about losing it, hear me?" Ria nodded, taken aback by the slight something in Siying's voice. She couldn't quite pin it down, but her air was similar to that of Banholf's.

Taking the key, she slid it into the lock and turned it. It opened very easily, and she pushed the door open, stepping inside.

The walls were painted a soft lavender color, unadorned. A bed in the corner was the only furniture other than a small round table and chair, covered with a white blanket. The satin curtains blew to the side as a gust of wind entered the room, carrying several leaves with it. They skittered across the wooden floor, landing at Ria's feet. She paused, hand on the doorknob. "Beautiful, isn't it?" Catrena hooked the keyring back onto her belt. "Please, go on in." Ria nodded, still entranced. Cook followed and picked up the table with one hand, carrying it to the center of the room. She placed the tray on it, taking the teapot and pouring the hot tea into the four cups.

Siying headed to the window. "Eh, this one needs a little trimming. Before long, he's going to be growing into the room and letting squirrels inside the grounds…" Ria looked at her confusedly, then realized she was talking about the tree. Cook shrugged, handing her a cup. "Oh, thank you." Catrena also took one, and Siying looked ready to pounce on the teapot itself and gulp down its contents if no one else wanted any. Cook handed her a cup with an admonishing glance, then picked one up herself. "Jasmine," she announced. "Siying has one or two of them in the garden, so jasmine it was."

Ria nodded, not really caring that much. She remembered something, and faced Catrena, the hem of her white dress twirling elegantly around her feet. "Um, I left my things on Jupiter…" Catrena nodded. "The horse, you mean? Yes, I told Marde and Cail to bring up the pack and whatever was in the saddlebags, just in case. They'll be up here soon." Setting her tea-less cup back down on the tray, she straightened out her apron. "Well, I'd best be going now. There's so much to do. Send Marde back to the stables when he gets here, Siying, and Cail can help you with whatever you need." Catrena left the room.

There was a clatter and a yelp that sounded suspiciously like a cat's. "Good heavens, Marde, can you not carry those infernal animals inside the house?" "S-sorry, ma'am, they were in the saddlebags." There was a rustling of cloth, and then a boy of about fourteen years with brown hair stumbled into the room, looking lost. "Erm, are you Miss Ria?" Ria nodded. Marde stood there for a second, looking awkward and embarrassed. A black cat clung to his pants leg, a white one to his arm, and a third gray one sat contentedly on his head. He held out the pack with a hesitant motion, then tried to shake the cats off. "Um…"

Shiro, Kuro! Get off of him, she said, although only the cats would understand. Fine… but the human is just too fun to take advantage of, the black one replied. Come on, Rin, let's go. The three cats jumped off of his body and rushed towards Ria, who bent down and picked all three of them up. She took the pack from Marde's hand, flashing him a brief smile. "Thank you," she said, and Marde blushed, bowing. "You're supposed to get back to the stables, Marde," Siying said amusedly. "Cail, stop hiding follow me to the garden. I know you don't have anything else to do." She took the boy, who had been hiding behind the doorframe, pinched his ear and led him protesting off to the castle grounds.

The cook nodded and took the tray. "When you're done with the tea, just come down to the kitchen. Go down the stairs at the left end of the hall and keep going down until you reach the bottom floor. Your nose will guide you from there." She hurried from the room, balancing the tray on her fingertips. Her footsteps echoed in the corridor, fading quickly.

Ria sighed. Alone again.

--

After finishing the jasmine yea, Ria tied up her wavy black and gold hair in a ponytail, then turned to her pack. Shiro, Kuro, Rin! They stopped hissing at a ball of dust and bounded over. Yeah? Shiro yawned, stretching. Where's Hayabusa? Ria had left the hawk behind at Tryssen Palace, trusting him to find his way over. Um, he should be on his way soon, he was hungry the last time we saw him at the stables.

How's Jupiter? Rin licked her paw. A bit sullen, but fine. You did make him run for two days, you know. Ria rolled her eyes. That's because there was a man in black who mysteriously killed the entire palace populace with a giant iron axe, and I had to kill him. There might have been more attempts on my life, you know. She carefully picked up the cup with slender fingers. I should get this back to the cook. You guys stay here, I'll come back tonight.

Rin and Shiro yowled in disappointment. Leaving us alone for half the day, huh? We just got out of the bag, and now we're going to be locked up in this room?

Ria smiled. Trust me, you'll enjoy it. It's like the times you were up in my room, remember? You had lots of fun there, I seem to recall. See you later.

She closed the door behind her, still smiling. Her cats were one of the joys of her life that had remained alive through the assassination. She felt detached from reality, somehow, and it surprised her that she hadn't cried yet. I'll have to keep it up.

The Prince of Fallowshaith, she thought, was not such a bad-looking man. He was polite, kept his distance, seemed to be understanding… but at the same time, cold, formal, and somehow snide, although he'd never shown any aloofness during their short conversation. Ria intensely disliked snide people, and often sent them packing after a short converstaion. Why did my parents have to predetermine my marriage? Ria shook it off. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

Then she collided with someone as she turned the corner, catching herself with catlike reflexes. "Oh, sorry," she said, upon recognizing Banholf.

"Princess Ria," he said, bowing slightly. "I hope you've become settled in your room?" "Yes, of course," she replied. "Thank you for recommending it." Banholf's lips pressed together in what she supposed was a smile, but it held a bit of something that she compared to Siying. "May I inquire what you are doing here with a teacup?" Ria shrugged. "I was going down to the kitchen to return this cup." Banholf coughed, masking his mouth with a gloved hand, then cleared his throat. "This is the fourth floor, Princess. The kitchen is on the first." She blinked, somewhat embarrassed. "Oh. Erm. Do you know how to get to the kitchen from here, sir?" He raised an eyebrow, then nodded, holding out his arm once again with that practiced patience. "I have a feeling I should escort Your Majesty," he said. Ria bristled mentally at his tone, but forced her full lips up into a smile. "Thank you, Mr. Banholf." "Sir Banholf Yonde de Hayes of Lanquelin, actually, but call me Banholf."

The rest of the walk was spent in complete silence, Ria feeling slightly put off.

--

Banholf left her in front of the kitchen's broad double doors, striding off silently and with that aloof air. Ria sighed exasperatedly, then pushed open the right door.

The scent of fresh bread was the first to register, wafting through the entrance. She immediately felt hungry, having not eaten much since her flight from Tryssen Palace. She ignored this, however, feeling that she shouldn't intrude at this time of day, and looked around for Cook. She spotted her quite easily, Cook being the loudest.

"Aefred, stop messing around with the canister and open it already—Lilla, go help him—oh, hello, Miss Ria, are you finished with your tea? Yes? Thank you for returning the cup." And with that, the cook had already taken the cup and rushed away to do something else. Feeling out of place in the kitchen's confusion, Ria backed out of the room, closing the door softly.

To her left, there was an arch over a stone path leading out onto inner castle grounds. Walking outside, the wind blew her hair to one side, and a blanket of gray clouds had covered the sky. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and a flash of lightning faded on the horizon. She kept on walking, the tense air drawing excitement from her. The cobblestone path she walked on had diminished into a dirt path, and she stopped momentarily under a large oak tree.

With a final rumble, the clouds released torrents of rain that washed over the ground in curtains. Ria felt the coolness, then snapped out of her trancelike state and looked around wildly. Seeing the castle, she headed back towards it, rain soaking her clothes.

The hollow sound of hooves pounding the mud followed her, and she whirled around to see Tobias on his tall steed. "Princess, what are you doing out here?" He offered her a hand up, and she quickly mounted. With a flick of the reins, the horse gathered speed and bore them towards the castle. Ria's hair clung to her neck, and the rain glittered in the raven and gold depths like pearls. They reached the castle gate, and Tobias shouted up to the guard on duty. The doors opened, and he guided the horse over to the main building. "Don't catch yourself out in a storm like that again, Princess," he said, though equally soaked. She nodded, speechless as he thundered off to the stables. Shaking it off, Ria headed inside. The torches on the walls had been lit, and she looked around, lost.

"You're soaked, child. Get to the kitchen and I'll find you a change of clothes," someone said from behind her. Ria turned around to find a tall woman behind her—taller than Siying and Cook—who put two hands on her shoulders, marching her off towards what she supposed was the direction of the kitchen. Seeing the double doors again, she saw the archway on her left. Tobias hadn't used that entrance, which was why she was so disoriented…

A large fire was going in the fireplace, and windows high up on the wall clattered from the rain pounding on them. The kitchen was almost empty except for a few assisstants preparing another pot of tea, whispering amongst themselves and not noticing the two new arrivals. The woman pulled up a stool and placed it in front of the fireplace, beckoning Ria to sit on it. "Sit, sit, sit. I'll be back in a moment with clothes, then you can go off into the cellar to change." Ria nodded. "What's your name?" "Marizanna Helen Whitfield, but just call me Helen. And you?"

Ria recited her name, and Helen's gray eyes widened. "Goodness, that's a mouthful. What do they call you, Princess?" "Ria," she said simply. "Just call me Ria." Helen nodded, then put a hand on her shoulder. "I'm going to go get those clothes now, so just wait here."

Ria sat on the stool, alone once again. The tea had been sufficiently prepared, apparently, and the assistants filed out of the room, still chattering amongst themselves.

This must be the strangest place I have ever been to, Ria thought, then leaned her chin on her hands, resting her elbows on her thighs. Listening to the crackling of the fire, her exhaustion finally caught up with her, and she fell asleep, sitting on the chair.

Helen came back with the clothes, and upon seeing the girl asleep, she smiled, and gently draped the towel she'd brought around the girl's shoulders, laying the change of clothes on the girl's arm.

She quietly walked back out of the kitchen, heading back to attend Queen Mira.

--

End of Chapter 1