Lila Brede had always had her doubts about society. While others were impressed by status and royalty, she was cynical towards it. But, she hardly ever let on that she was thinking "outside her place", as some would say. In the kingdom of Nouvelle, such acts could get one banished, or worse, executed. Lila had seen many thinkers fall victim to the guillotine for voicing their opinion against the kingdom. She was not about to become the next. So, she kept her mouth shut while she worked. Lila was a personal handmaiden to the Princess Giselle Hugh of Nouvelle. Of all jobs for a social cynic to have, it had to be this one. But, of course, Lila was only following in the family tradition.

Lila was not born into wealth or success, but she was born into a loving family. Her mother, Kalei Brede, and father, Edric Brede, adored their daughter and each other. Kalei and Edric were, in tradition, servants of the King and Queen. Kalei had been a personal handmaiden to Queen Dana Hugh and Edric had been one of many castle groundskeepers. They lived in the servants quarters along with the other castle workers, and of course, their daughter Lila.

Although she had no formal education to speak of, Lila's parents taught her well. They always stressed the importance of intelligence, bravery, and kindness. Of course more traditional studies were included. Lila's father even taught her swordplay. However, the one thing that Lila's parents could not seem to teach her was her place. Yes, she knew she would grow up to be a servant in the castle, but Lila always wanted more. Besides, who ever yearned to work for others? Certainly not Lila. She wanted a life of beauty and art, but more importantly, she wanted a life of freedom. A life away from the palace and all the social scrutiny. But, sadly, this was not the life Lila lived.

As a child, Lila was incredibley inquisitive. So much so, in fact, that her parents had come to her aid many times when she found herself in trouble with the guards or other servants. Lila always wondered why her parents submitted to the authority of the King and Queen. Her father, out of fear that his daughter would anger the wrong people, sat her down one day to explain why compliance was so important.

"But Papa, I don't understand. All I was doing was playing in the rose garden!", Lila wined. Edric Brede rubbed his temples in a tired fashion.

"No, Lila, you were tearing through that garden like a wild donkey. You practically took down every bush!", Edric said. Lila looked towards the ground, slightly embarrassed.

"I'm sorry," Lila began, "But Papa, Princess Giselle gets to pick roses!"

"That's because she's a princess, Lila. And, no matter how often your mother may tell you, you are not", Edric said slowly. Lila began to protest, but Kalei Brede cut in. She cupped her daughter's face and spoke.

"Of course she is. Just because she doesn't wear a crown doesn't mean she's not a princess!", Kalei cooed. Lila laughed and grabbed her mother's hands.

"I do have a crown, though, don't you see it Mother? It's made of silver wire shaped to look like the leaves and flowers of the Enchanted Forest! It's even better than the one that Princess Giselle gets to wear!", Lila chirped happily. Kalei smiled, pleased with her daughter's imagination. Edric began to rub his temples again.

"And Mother, you have a crown, too!", Lila continued.

"Oh, do I? Tell me, what does it look like?", Kalei encouraged. Lila smiled even wider.

"Oh, Mother, it's absolutely wonderful! It's made of Elven gold, and it twists around the front to a point where a large emerald sits! You look even better than Queen Dana!", Lila shouted. At this point, Edric shot up and put his hand over his daughter's mouth.

"Lila, no! What if the King or Queen should hear you? You see, this is what I'm talking about. You must be careful, Lila! You do not realise the damage you could do!", Edric whispered. Her father's harshness pulled Lila from her daydream. There was a brief silence where even Kalei did not speak. Finally, Lila broke the silence.

"I'm sorry, Papa."

From that day forward, Lila learned to keep her thoughts and emotions in check. As she grew, her imagination widened, but many times it was over shadowed by her cynicism and sarcasm. Admittedly, it was an odd combination, but it was who she was. So, Lila grew up, serving the kingdom. As the years came and went, Lila stayed with her parents, doing as she was asked and avoiding trouble. But, along with the good days came the bad. When Lila was was twelve years old, her parents died from a mysterious illness that had claimed the lives of many civilians of the kingdom. Lila was heartbroken, but had little time to grieve, for she soon received her assignment to serve Princess Giselle. She was taken from her home in the servants quarters at dawn every day and did not return until Princess Giselle had fallen asleep at night. It was tiring work, but Lila formed a gentle rapport with Princess Giselle. The princess was different from her father, who was a harsh, but fair king. Giselle on the other hand, was just, but much less frightening than her father. Every morning, Giselle greeted her handmaidens, especially her two servants that were her age, Lila and Karmella.

Karmella Hubert had grown up with Lila in the servants quarters, among other children, though they were the only two girls of the same age. They were best friends in every sense of the word, and told each other all of their thoughts and hopes. Every day, they would help Princess Giselle dress, help serve breakfast for the royal family, wash any filthy clothing, help Giselle to her studies, wait for Giselle to finish her studies, and then would do whatever was asked of them. Usually, after Giselle finished with her lessons for the day, she would have free time while Lila and Karmella went to work around the castle. If they were not needed, they were free to follow Giselle during her free time.

The usual day was spent with idle gossip and general activities. However, as Princess Giselle got older, the general activities turned into screenings and plans for marriage. Many princes would come from all over the world to see if they would be Giselle's husband. And that, my dear readers, is where our story truly begins.