A/N: Hey guys, hope you're all doing well! So this is chapter 2 (finally learned how to write an author's note haha), and I hope you all enjoy it. I tried to make it longer than the last one, and if there's any feedback you can give me, please don't hesitate to write a review! Thanks, Sara.
The minute I step outside, I instantly smell the summer breeze drifting through the air. How wonderful it is to feel the fresh air of the outside world, something I long for each day and never can seem to get enough of. Suddenly a thought strikes me: I hadn't told my brother I went outside! What if he worries about me? Don't worry, he's probably too busy to notice your disappearance, a side of me thinks. But another part of me thinks I should go back and tell him, just in case. After a little debate in my mind, I decide to continue on with my journey and hope he doesn't mind. I am the Princess after all, and I am independent enough to make the right judgements.
As I move along the cobbled stone path - the old part of the kingdom - I wonder if anyone will recognize me. But then I realize that there is not even any one outside to do that. Confused, I walk further through the village. Looking for any movement, I spot a hand through the window of a run-down bakery. I decide to walk inside.
"Hello?" I ask loudly, creeping through the rusty and filth-ridden door, "Is anybody there?"
Suddenly I hear the voice of two, maybe three people deep in conversation. I duck behind a table and listen closely.
"...what are we supposed to do about this, Mark? Tell me, what do we do?" A woman. She sounds frustrated.
"Maybe if this moron over here didn't burn the pastries, we would've been better off!" An older man answers.
"Hey! Don't blame this on me! We all know whose fault this is!" This time it was a younger voice, possibly a late teenage boy.
"Well, duh we know! But even so, that doesn't answer the question of what we're going to do." The voice of a teenage girl appears, "I mean, taxing is already a pain in the ass, but how are we going to pay for everything else?"
"I suggest we use the black diamond." The woman answers.
"NO!" They all scream. That startles me so much, I fall over and crash into a chair, which obviously catches their attention. My mind and vision becomes fuzzy, but I notice four figures approaching me. I feel myself suddenly being lifted, and the next thing I know, I am in full darkness.
I wake up to a pair of blinking eyes staring right at my face, surrounded by an unknown background. I give out a small yelp, which clearly startles the owner of the eyes.
"Woah, girl! Calm down, I'm not gonna hurt you."
"Wh-who are you?"
A laugh escapes the young man's body, "Don't worry, I'm no one special. My name is Seth. And you are?"
"Confused, lonely, hurt, guilty, shall I go on?"
He laughs again, "No, I mean, what's your name? Where are you from?"
"I'm-" I consider telling him my real identity, then vote against it. "I'm...Amy. Just a...girl from around here."
"Well for a 'girl from around here', you don't seem very sure of yourself."
"Yes, well...that's just the clumsiness in me. They call me Amy the klutz, you know!"
He chuckles, "You're a weird one, I must say. Here, let's get you up and running."
He pulls me up and I finally notice where I am. In the run-down bakery, where him and his family were arguing over something. Speaking of which...
"What were you and your family talking about earlier?" I ask Seth.
He looks shocked. "You heard us? Were you eavesdropping?"
"A princess never..-" I begin to say, "-..that is, no I was not. It was just that I couldn't help but overhear. You were quite loud, too."
"Yes, well, at least there weren't any people roaming about in the village."
"Yeah, about that, why is there no one outside?" I question.
"Um, I thought you were from around her?"
Whoops, busted. "Well of course, I just want to hear your version of the explanation."
"Ah, ok." He begins, "I mean, I could sit here and explain it all to you in detail, but I think it'd be best if you see it for yourself."
"What do you mean?"
"There's a town-square meeting at 7:30. You'll know what I mean by then."
I slide off the small bed that they had put me in, and begin to look around the room.
"So is this your family bakery?" I ask.
"Used to be, yes, but now we're closing it down."
"Not enough money, you know how it is."
The truth is I don't know how it is, but I pretend to.
"Seth? Has she woken up yet?"A woman comes through the kitchen door and into the small bedroom, walking towards us.
"Yes, Mama, her name is Amy."
"Pleased to meet you, ma'am," I cut in, "and sorry about all the racket I've caused."
She lifts her half-broken spectacles from her face and stares at me.
"Don't worry, child, we're used to this sort of thing." While I thought it was rather strange to mention that, she must have found it funny, as she proceeds to slap her knee and take jagged breaths in and out. What a dreadful laugh!
"Thank you, Mother, now can I please go show the girl the town-square? We'll be back before curfew."
"Sure, Seth, just as long as you take your older sister with you."
I might have imagined it, but I think I hear him groan at what his mother said. Seems there is bad blood between the two of them. Hmm, interesting, I think as I slide off the bed.
We leave the bedroom and go into the seating area and pastry display, which is now nothing more than collected dust forming on the tables and chairs are clearly made of poor wooden material, and the beige paint on the walls is peeling off. In less than a few minutes, a girl walks out of the kitchen room and comes over to us, who is presumably his sister.
"Hello, I'm Kristina. Hope you're feeling better."
"I am, thank you. I'm Amy, by the way."
"Wonderful to meet you, Amy, and if you haven't already guessed, I'm Seth's sister."
Surprised by her manners, I smile at her. She returns the favour. After that, we are out the door and off to town-square.
"So, what exactly am I about to see here now?" I ask them.
"You mean you've never been to one of these before?" Kristina sounds shocked.
"Well...I never usually have time for them, anyway."
"It's just a meeting where the Royal Treasurer gives us an update from the palace on taxes and such," Seth joins in, "You'll see."
"The Royal Treasurer? Why would he come?" I am genuinely confused, considering I've never even met the Treasurer myself.
"He comes to tell us how much money we owe the palace. If there's a tax raise, or any new fees we have to pay. It's basically ridiculous." Kristina responds.
"Wait, taxes?' I ask, "Why do you have to pay taxes? For what?"
"Um, where have you been, honey? We've been paying taxes since Queen Dahlia died and King Daniel rose to the throne. Apparently there's been 'monetary shortage in the kingdom', and if we don't help out, we won't survive." Kristina spits. "I've never heard anything as stupid as that."
"But I don't understand, the royalty has more than enough money! We don't need anymore..."
"Yeah, well, tell that to them. Clearly the King doesn't know the difference between abundance of money and bankruptcy." Seth adds.
"This is...I mean, this can't be possible! The village is barely surviving as it is, but now we have to pay, too?" I still cannot wrap my mind around the subject.
"It started off as a humorous little speech that the King made, saying how only 10% of our general income would be taken as tax," Kristina explains, "But it kept on growing and growing until it became almost half." Seth finishes. "How did you not know about this?"
I ignore his question and continue, "Then what about the other fees? What are they for?"
"Anything, really," Kristina says, "Food, land, royal balls, clothing, you name it."
I am convinced there is a plausible explanation, because there is absolutely no way my brother would let this happen. I blame the Treasurer.
As we near the town-square, a huge crowd of people are circled around a carriage with the Royal Seal plastered on the side. The town square is a wide, cobble stone road, surrounded by stores and markets. The expressions on peoples' faces are grim, which makes my stomach tie in a knot. As I look around, I notice that practically everyone from the village are here. Behind me there is a sign that says 'Welcome to the Harvestia Village of Marketing and Businesses'. Ah, so this must be what the village is called, and what it is known for.
A loud trumpet horn blows through the crowd, and everyone's attention, including mine, goes to the carriage in the centre of the square.
A short and stubby man is standing tall and proud, ready to make a speech with a scroll in hand. "Attention all citizens of the Village of Harvestia: There has been a raise in the percentage of taxation, effective immediately, which has been approved and monitored based on the proper judgements of our beloved King Daniel. In consideration of all the sacrifices the Royal Family has made, along with the determination to keep the economy strong, the tax has now been raised to 60% of your general income.-"
At that, everyone starts booing and protesting. "-In addition, there will be monthly fees to pay for basic human needs such as food, water, clothing, and shelter. Keeping in mind that all decisions are final and must be abided by. If anyone chooses to disagree with this, they may be more than welcome to suffer the consequences. In the name of his Majesty the King, her Royal Highness the Princess, and the Royal Monarchy, may we all stay strong and prosper together. Good day, citizens." The man then retreats to his carriage, and the carriage hurries away from the town square, going back to where it came from.
I stand still, appalled by what I just heard.
"Oh. My. God." Kristina exclaims. "I cannot believe this! The tax is now officially more than half of our income! Our village cannot withstand anymore, which is precisely the reason why we're closing down our bakery."
"I, for one, would just like to know where he takes this money, and what he actually uses it for. Because I think we all know by now that the whole 'monetary shortage' thing is complete bullshit." Seth declares.
"I-I don't know what to say," I try to explain, but words don't come out.
"Yeah, we don't know what to say either, don't worry." Kristina says.
"No but...you don't understand. I'm-...I'm not who I said I was."
"What?" The confused expression on both their faces is evident.
"My name is not Amy."
"Then what is it, Petunia?" Kristina exclaims.
"No. I mean, this is hard to explain but...I'm not actually from the village."
"Yeah, we got that one down. Are you secretly from Marblecoast? Are you trying to inspect us or something?" Seth inquires.
"No! That's nonsense. I don't even know what Marblecoast is. I mean that I'm...well I'm..."
I take a deep breath, exhale, and straighten my posture. "I am Amelia, the Princess of Rosania, sister to King Daniel."
They both exchange glances.
"Trust me. I am. And I can prove it to you."