“She is coming!”
“The dragon is going to eat us!”
“I got you!” I yelled, as I jumped in front of the kids.
They all screamed and laughed as I chased them back down the street. People were jumping back, so as not to be pushed over by the kids, who were all trying to find a place to hide.
“You can’t run from the dragon! I’ll eat you all raw!” I yelled, before grabbing one of the kids, and holding him high up from the ground, while acting like I was going to eat him. “One kid isn’t enough! I must have more!”
The kids all stormed to the side, while I held on to the boy I had "eaten". He laughed loudly, as I swung around with him in the air, holding him with only one arm, while trying to grab another kid with my other.
“She is coming!” one yelled from behind a little stall.
The seller did not seem particularly happy about it, and quickly pushed the kid out of hiding.
“I got you!” I yelled, storming toward the kid. “Now I have two!”
Both of the boys were laughing so their stomachs seemed to hurt, as I tried to act like I was eating them.
“Down with the dragon!”
The kids yelled in unison as they charged towards me, trying to free their friends from my hold. Some of the kids held short wooden swords.
“Oh no, not swords made of dragon glass! I’ll not stand a chance!” I shouted, as I held my arm where one of the kids had "cut" me.
I let go of the two boys I had caught, and they quickly stormed to the others. They all cheered as they saw me fall down on my knees, begging for mercy.
“Oh brave knights, please spare me!” I said dramatically, as I looked at the kids with pleading eyes.
“No! No dragon gets to live.”
“Down with the dragon!” they all yelled again.
They charged towards me, circling me, as they "cut" me with their swords, and yelling down with the dragon over and over.
“Oh, no! I’m dying!”
All the kids laughed, as I did a wonderful but slightly overdramatic act of my death.
“So… much… blood…”
“The humans win!” one of the kids yelled before they all cheered.
I couldn’t help but smile as I saw them cheer over their victory. Unfortunately, the happiness did not last long.
I looked behind me, as I heard a very familiar voice that I begged not to belong to my governess, but I wasn’t that lucky. She did not enjoy seeing me outside the castle walls, and she absolutely hated it when I played around with the orphans.
“Elizabeth,” I said and got up from the muddy ground.
I did not even attempt to try to get some of the mud off my dress. I knew it was useless, and while I did not really mind the mud under the eyes of my governess, I could not help but feel dirty.
“Playing with the orphans… again.”
She was so uptight. I did not believe her back could be any straighter or her chin higher in the air. She was dressed in a blue dress with golden edges. Her brown hair, with a hint of grey, was pulled tight into a bun by the nape of her neck. Her green eyes were narrowed, and if she really hid a demon inside of that façade of hers, as me and the kids believed, it was staring directly at me.
“A little mud never hurt anyone.”
“But you, your highness, aren’t just anyone.”
It was hard to argue with those words. I was a princess, even though I played in the mud with the orphans, and a princess shouldn’t be playing in the mud. At least, not according to my governess.
“Your father wants to see you.”
Her green and scary eyes went to the kids and narrowed even further.
“Go on! Home with all of you. Back where you came from!” she told them, pointing in the direction of the orphanage.
She was talking to them, as if she was trying to do an exorcism and wasn’t speaking to the kids. I felt their eyes on me, and I turned to look at them. I bend down slightly before giving them a sweet smile.
“Go on. We’ll play again tomorrow.”
I whispered the last part and winked. They all smiled before storming away, continuing the game on their own. I followed them with my eyes as they ran away. Sometimes I wished I could do the same.
“I’m coming, Elizabeth.”
My governess wasn’t a patient woman, and I was never in a hurry. It was an awful combination.
It did not take us long to reach the castle. There was no time to change, and I was brought before my father in a light pink, mud-covered and slightly torn dress. My dark hair with the white stripes in the front was all a mess. My father was sitting on his throne, in the middle of the throne room, where he would usually listen to the peasants’ complaints. And my brothers were scattered throughout the room as well. I had six of them. All were older than me and all had a smile on their lips as they watched me.
“Playing with the kids again?” my father laughed slightly, as he took in the view.
While my looks didn’t really bother me, I was glad we were the only ones in the throne room. I did not need the judgmental stares. I got enough of those just walking through the many stone hallways.
“What can I say? I like mud.”
My father only shook his head while trying to hold back his laugh. I knew people expected him to lecture me, make sure I abided by the rules of princesses, but I was not like any princess. I did not like to sit around looking pretty while doing needlework. I liked to run, to play, to curse and to yell. I liked to laugh and speak my mind, even though it wasn’t proper for a princess to do so. And I liked to be free, but everyone else seemed to like me in a golden cage. Not my father, though. My mother had been just as free-spirited, and I knew he liked me that way. I reminded him of her. While his sons were the spitting image of him, I looked exactly like my mother except for my hair. I even inherited her green, emerald-like eyes. I was often told they were my best feature. No one had seen eyes like mine. They truly looked like real emeralds.
“But a princess does not play around in the mud, does she?” my father asked.
I sighed. The right answer would be no father. She does not, but where would the fun be in that?
“Mom liked the mud, and she liked to play with the orphans, so why shouldn’t I?”
My father’s smile quickly disappeared. While he surely enjoyed seeing her in me, he did not enjoy talking about her. She was the love of his life, and yet he did not speak a word about her after she died.
“Laelia…” my father sighed, rubbing his forehead tiredly.
“Father, I know a princess is not supposed to play around in the mud, but my duties are so terribly boring. One of my lessons is strictly about how to curtsy… Curtsy! And socializing. How to speak properly and sit with a straight back and-"
“And eat tiny small bites, and after that I am supposed to learn old history and then-"
“And then I am to learn about embroidering and sewing pretty flowers and-"
“You are to be married!”