- Part III -

As the crown princess grows older, the similarity to her mother can be well noticed.

It is not just her azure-tinted skin, an ocean grey-blue somewhere between her mother and her brother. It is certainly not her beauty, for she has barely any to speak of – even the aging Queen can still be called more beautiful than her daughter.

No, it is in the coldness with which she bears herself. Keyanna plays along well with the expectations of those around her, but she does not truly interact. There is a mystery in her aloof, jaded eyes – dark eyes, Irelian eyes – that both intrigues and warns away.

The woman is inscrutable, and sometimes she seems as old as the woman who once led an empire in her younger days.

The King does not care to notice the flat wisdom in his daughter's eyes, at least not in public, and the court takes its cue from him and leaves the mystique alone.

She was such a vibrant girl in her youth, and her childhood playmates often wonder what changed, what transformed the look in the King's eye from pride into something else. One, the son of a soldier and now a guard himself, even dares to ask her about his concerns. She tells him nothing, of course, as befitting a lady of her station.

Keyanna wonders if the servants are the only ones who even notice.