Estela sat before her father on her knees along with her younger brothers. They all had black hair and striking green eyes. She was the tallest and oldest of the three siblings and her brothers were twins, so it was hard to tell them apart. Only Asron was the taller of the two and the eldest by a few seconds. Estella was only older than them by three years.
"Estela, tomorrow is your eighteenth birthday. I want you to at least act like you're happy. Asron and Isron, please behave tomorrow, especially at the ball. It is very important that none of your antics ruin this important day." Their father said, pacing in front of them.
"Of course father. We don't want to ruin such a grand occasion." Asron said, those only his brother and sister could tell he was planning something. They had grown up privileged, but had snuck out often to see what lay beyond the palace walls and they had been upset with what they had seen. Since Estela would become the Empress some day, they had planned on change already. Everyone was curious to see how the young girl would rule. Her father hoped to control her actions as often as possible, but that would only happen if she married. She had no plan to allow him any sort of control.
"I don't want to embarrass any of you. Estela, I expect propriety, which means no riding clothes and no common speech. I deal with enough of it as stands right now. Suitors of the high class will also be there. Don't scare them too much. And do at least act flattered. You will have to deal with them when you ascend to the throne." Their father lectured on, making his expectations clear for all the three. "And boys, keep an eye on your sister. If anyone tries anything I want at least one of you to step in before she reveals she's a mix. No one can know she is half-shifter. If she shows signs of fangs or her ear elongating, you must lead her away and back to her room." He finished and made sure they each understood before dismissing them from the chamber.
They almost immediately busted in to full sprints after the door shut behind them and raced to the stables. Estela beat them, like always. She didn't even have to go in to her half animal form now. Of course they said she cheated, but they had been on the ground floor of the main part of the castle and the argument was moot.
"I can't believe he doesn't trust you to control yourself, emi." Asron said, using the informal word for sister. Imi would be the expected form he would have to use tomorrow.
"I'm used to it. He still insists I meditate before bed as well." Estela replied. Isron jumped on to her back and almost tackled her, though she did stumble forward because of the force. "Get off relin" She said, moving to ram him in to their brother, but he got off before she could.
"Hey imlin, lets show it to her early." Isron said, eagerly running about. He really was the youngest, being the only one with a lot of energy.
"I don't see why not." Asron said and grinned when Isron let out a victorious whoop and grabbed Estela by the arm and started leading her towards the men's wing of the castle. It was technically the royal families wing, but Estela was the only female that slept there and she often stayed with the maids. She stumbled along behind him with Asron next to her, probably so she didn't have a chance to get away.
"I don't need to be pulled along you know." She said, though she was smiling. It was hard not to when her little brother was so excited about something. Even their father could be infected with just a smile from him. Isron blushed slightly and let go of her, but she kept along with them.
"Sorry emi, I just can't wait to show you what we did for you." He said, giving her a big smile.
"I know, but it does hurt. Besides, I know you get excited easily." She said. They started walking again as they neared the large double doors on the left side of the castle. The building was split in to three main parts. The main section was the only public part. The right wing of the castle was the servants quarters and the left wing was the royal family and official guest section. It would be full when the government officials arrived later that day, some coming from the port cities that allowed them to travel from the western continent to the eastern one. The grey stone walls were decked out in the blue, gold and white colors of the Imperium.
Asron suddenly covered her eyes with a blindfold after they were inside. "Don't worry, we're not going upstairs." He said and helped in leading her to a set of doors. It had been a tradition for younger siblings of the heir/heiress to commission the redesigning of the main strategy/council room that was connected to the future rulers study.
"Since your coming-of-age ceremony is tomorrow, we decided to have the decorators redo the room before hand. Father already approved of the changes. What's so cool is that we had more freedom when it came to design, since you're the first woman to be born in to the family. And because father's was so barren." Isron said, opening the doors after Asron took off the blindfold.
The room had been simple with enough chairs around a circular table for their father's room. There hadn't been much else. Now it had maps on the walls with a family portrait done of them with their father when Estela had turned twelve on the wall across from the door. The table had been changed out so that it was more rectangular, meant to allow more space for larger items and a more formal setting. It was like that since she wasn't particularly close to any advisors. The circular table had been used because most of the ascenders grew up with their advisors. She; however, was closer with the maids and menial laborers than military and other advisors, though she did have to learn about everything when it came to running the empire. Of course her brothers had learned all that she had, but that was in case she was killed or denounced her claim.
"I can't believe father allowed you to put up the portrait. I had barely remained calm through the whole thing." She said, smiling at the almost forgotten memory. She had had a bad day and it was hard for her to not changed in to a more feral form.
"Yea, father almost had the commission canceled because of it. It was only when you learned that it was your present that you calmed down, though father had been against you knowing until after it was over." Asron said, giving his twin a pointed look. She pulled them in to a hug before they could start fighting.
"You two can be so stupid sometimes." She said, surprised they actually remembered the day it happened. It felt like it had been so long ago for her when it had only been six years.
"But we're your idiot brothers emi." Isron said. "Besides, this is only the beginning. The study is still under redecoration though. Tomorrow it should be done and you can now have a place to hide from all the suitors until the ball." He added.
"Alright, lets go before father finds out. We can't be caught showing you." Asron said, pulling them out and shutting the door. "Just act surprised when father shows you tomorrow." He whispered and they casually walked away. When they were back outside there was a crowd gathering by the main gates.
"Young masters and mistress, the guests are starting to arrive. Your father is waiting for you in the throne room." A servant said, running up. They nodded and walked in with a practiced dignity, the twins falling in step behind their elder sister in a show of formal propriety. Estela was thankful her head maid had insisted on the blue dress that was formal enough for greeting dignitaries, but also comfortable and loose enough for her to move around. Of course she had been barefoot outside, preferring the feeling of the soft summer grass to the confines of either leather boots or the slippers she would have to wear once back inside and for the ball.