“She’s home!” Talia yelled, her ten year old feet pounding down the regal hallways of the always-busy palace. “Orella’s home!”
Talia came around the corner, her long hair flying out behind her only to swish over her shoulder when she rounded the corner. Talia’s soft shoes skidded along the tiles of the hallway, but that barely slowed her down and she picked up her pace again as soon as she’d righted herself.
With huge, eager eyes, Talia picked up speed and headed for the open door where Orella’s clothes were already scattered over the floor. Ten years older than Talia, Orella was in college and did so many interesting, fascinating things. Talia wanted to hear all about her latest escapades, especially since Talia was confined to the school room. School was interesting too, but not nearly as interesting as whatever her oldest sister had done over the past few months.
Unfortunately, when she ran into Orella’s room, her sister was nowhere to be seen. Talia tilted here head, listening. Sure enough, the shower was running and Talia smiled, eagerly waiting for her sister to come out of the bathroom.
Walking around, Talia picked up some of the exotic clothes that had been carelessly tossed onto the floor, her fingers sliding over the soft silks and satins. Talia’s eyes widened at the leather contraption that looked like a bathing suit when Talia held it up. But she couldn’t figure out why anyone would wear something that looked this uncomfortable. There wasn’t any other fabric other than the leather straps that looked as if they might only cover the boob area and…well, not much else!
“What is this?” Talia whispered, intrigued.
“Put that down!” Orella screeched, startling Talia who swung around to watch her sister approach. “What are you doing in here anyway?”
Talia opened her mouth to reply, stunned by the anger in Orella’s voice. “I was just…!”
“It doesn’t matter, brat. Just get out.” And instead of waiting for Talia to act, Orella pushed Talia towards the door with one hand while holding the towel around her with the other. “And don’t invade my privacy again!” Orella yelled, slamming the door when Talia was finally on the other side of it.
Talia turned and glared at the door, hurt that her sister had so completely banished Talia from her room. With a huff, she turned and headed back towards the school room.
“What’s got you looking so frustrated,” Amit asked, walking beside her and slowing his stride to match her shorter legs.
“Orella is back,” Talia grumbled.
“So I heard,” Amit replied, chuckling. “She kick you out again?” he teased.
“Yes,” Talia snapped, tucking her chin down slightly. “I just wanted…to say hello and talk with her.”
Amit wrapped his arm around Talia’s shoulders. “I know you did. But Orella is…well, she’s not a fan of coming home.”
Talia looked up at her older brother. “Why not? I love it here!”
Amit chuckled. “I know you do. But Orella is different.”
Talia hmphed again. “She’s mean, is all.”
Amit laughed, then pulled back. “That too. Sorry that she snapped at you, brat.”
Then he was gone, leaving Talia standing in the hallway looking glum. “I’m not a brat,” she muttered, then turned towards the stables, preferring to go for a ride instead of heading back to work with her tutor, muttering the whole way.
“They aren’t villains, Uncle Jesba,” twenty year old Santos commented.
“They are Satan!” Jesba bellowed, throwing his hands up in the air. “They lie, cheat and steal! The people of Izara are liars!” he snapped back.
Santos leaned back against the cushions of the chair, wondering if his uncle was slightly touched in the head. And if that was the case, it was a pretty major problem. Santos wondered if he should drop out of school and take over ruling Padar? It was his country and Jesba was ruling temporarily. But was the older man doing more harm than good?
“I don’t think they are all that bad,” Santos soothed, trying to calm his uncle down.
“They are! Just last week, someone came back from Izara after just talking with some stores that might sell his products and was mugged on the way back!”
Santos stared at his uncle, waiting for more. “I don’t think that any country claims to be crime free, Uncle Jesba,” he replied when that was all his uncle was going to say.
Jesba made a rude sound, waving Santos’ objections away. “He was mugged because of all of the criminals that live in that God forsaken country.” Jesba paced some more. “I tell you, Izara cannot be trusted! I will issue a travel advisory against our people stepping foot into that horrible country!”
Santos sat up abruptly, shaking his head. “No!” he snapped and his uncle spun around immediately. “No, Uncle Jesba! Do not issue a travel advisory! That sends the wrong message! If we’re having problems with the border towns of Izara then we contact the appropriate person in the government and demand that they do something to fix the situation. We don’t issue advisories until there is a specific threat!”
Jesba eyed his nephew warily. “Fine! But you’re going to inherit all of these issues and I’m eager to see how you sort them out!” he snapped, then walked out of the room in disgust.
Santos relaxed again, but his mind continued to think through the problem. Obviously, Jesba was struggling with all of the tasks that were required for his position. As much as Santos enjoyed school, perhaps he should speed up his education. And he should probably install someone to keep an eye on his uncle, just to make sure Jesba didn’t do anything that might deepen the distrust between Padar and Izara. There were good relationships to be formed with that government, he thought with conviction. And there had to be a way to ease the distrust that had been simmering for too long.