A tall, steady, middle-aged man with a stern look on his face walked between the queues of trainees with a stick in his hand. He commented on almost everything.

”Straight shoulders! ”, he used his stick to see if a mans shoulders were straight.

”Straight back! ”, he pushed a mans back in with his stick. He commented on almost everything.

”Too long hair could be a distraction! Cut or braid it ”. he shouted at a man.

”No accessories allowed here! ”, he spat into anothers face.

He tapped on a mans stomach, ”Lose weight! ”

Moving to another, he critically examined his physique before tapping his arm with his stick, ”Gain weight! ”

Standing in front of the trainees, Sir Frost lined out all the rules audibly. His way of insulting them was by calling them girls.

”Oh come on! Even women can do better than this silly show youve put up. Or should I get you skirts to wear! ”.

He was about to fret once more when he caught sight of Princess Iris. He straightened himself and bowed to her before saying, ”Good day, My Lady. If I may ask, what brings you to our lowly station? ”

Iris smiled warmly before replying, ”I was just taking a stroll around. But if I am a hindrance then I should leave ”, and she attempted to do so but was stopped by Sir Frost, ”No, no My Lady. It is a pleasure to have you here. ”

After yelling and a few more insults, the yard soon bustled with clanks of swords groans and the sound of broken bones. Iris reclined in a chair and so did Sir Frost.

As Sir Frost struck a conversation with her, Iris occasionally glanced at the familiar looking boys way. He had shoulder-length, tousled brown hair that stuck onto his sweaty face as he sparred with his opponent.

Matching brown eyes lit his face and a body that could send maids drooling after him. She rarely stepped out of the castle and this was the first time she had been to the training grounds so where could she have possibly seen him, she mused.

”My Lady, are you alright? ”, a voice intruded her train of thoughts.

Iris blinked to see Sir Frost peering worriedly over her. With the look on his face, she guessed he probably said something she missed. Iris opened her mouth to say something but Sir Frost had already traced her line of sight and was staring curiously at the brown-haired boy.

Deciding not to stir up any trouble, Iris dismissed herself. Just before she left, she spared the familiar-looking brown-haired boy one last look but as if sensing it, he turned towards her and held her gaze for a few seconds before Iris nervously exited the grounds.

She couldn stop thinking about him. His doe-like brown eyes revealed he had been through a lot. She felt her heart ache at the thought of that. And those luscious pink lips….she imagined how they would feel on her….

Urghh! What was she thinking? She had never felt like this before and she felt disgusted at herself. She dismissed those thoughts and set her priorities straight.

She sighed deeply and when her eyes opened, she then realised that she had already walked past Keiths chamber.Taking a 180 degrees turn, she moved towards his door. She raised her fist to knock but then stopped midway, unsure of what she would say to him. After some seconds, she finally brought herself to knock.

Anne, Keiths nurse, stepped aside while opening the teakwood door wide enough for the Princess to enter in. Iris exchanged greetings with her before heading towards Keiths bed.

”Hes been sleeping all day. Except for times he gets up to ease himself ”, Anne informed from behind.

Iris stood quietly as her eyes scanned her half-brothers full length. His hair seemed dishevelled and dark circles were already forming under his eyes. He twisted in his sleep before his eyes flickered open.

Keith scrunched his brows together as his eyes adjusted to the light.

e awake ”, Iris spoke up as she took a seat by his bed.

Too sleepy to respond, he merely nodded.

”How did you end up like this? ”, she asked with concern colouring her voice.

”I wonder ”, Keith muttered as he sat up and leaned on his bedrest.

Sighing to herself, Iris informed, ”Ill be here by noon. Father asked me to bring you along ”.

Keiths eyes widened as he realised it was daytime before he questioned eagerly, ”Who won? Wait, you did right? ”

Smiling to herself, Iris nodded. Keith stared thoughtfully for a while before he congratulated her. He held out his palm for a shake but Iris leaned in and hugged him, noting how his temperature had risen.

When she stood up to leave, Anne appeared by her side.

”Ill see you later then ”,she said to him before instructing Anne to freshen up the Prince. As she left, a sharp pain seared through her joints causing Iris to hurry towards her chamber. However, she abruptly stopped in her tracks when she heard noise emanating from Raelles chamber.

Intrigued, Iris tiptoed to her window and hid behind the curtain.

”Arghh! ”, Raelle groaned as she thrashed the cosmetics on her dressing table onto the ground.

”That wench! Urghh! ”, she screamed as she searched for something else to destroy. Her eyes lit up in satisfaction when she caught sight of glasses in a tray that sat on her table.

Like a psychopath, she trudged towards the table but was withheld by her mother, Queen Eva, who grabbed her daughters arm. After futile attempts to wriggle out of her mothers hold, Raelle gave up and turning her screams into sobs, she recoiled into her mothers arms.

As her mother reassuringly patted her back, Raelle let out her tears in desperation. Her mothers eyes moistened but she resolved to stay strong for her daughters sake.

Iris felt tired of this show and just when she attempted to leave Raelle spoke up, ”Why does she have to be the best at everything?! I naively assumed that once Keith was out of the way, I could easily beat her. But no! She won again. ”

Her mother didn reply and Raelle broke into sobs again. Meanwhile, Iris ears perked up at the last words she caught. What did that mean?, she mused.

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