I followed the girl back to the main hall. As we descended the stairs I was surprised to see Prince Christian leaning on the front desk. He smiled and waved when he saw me and I did likewise. I wondered what he could be doing here. Often Giselle and Victoria had men calling on them for days at a time but a prince calling on me?

I curtsied. "Good morning, your highness."

He gave a slight bow. "Good morning, Miss Ebony." He said. "Forgive me for calling upon you so early but I think that we should get an early start for all the things I have planned today."

I raised my eyebrows. He wanted to take me out for a full day. "You have things planned for today?"

He offered his arm to me and I laid my hand in the crook of his elbow. Together we walked down the red rug and to the doors. "Oh yes, I want to make sure your first full day in Pharyss in memorable. You should get to know the city before the festivities begin; it will make them all the more enjoyable."

Two horses were waiting on the street in front of the hotel. One of the doormen was holding their reins to keep them from wandering off. It seemed as if we would not be taking a carriage today. The horses were not the foreign ones from yesterday. One horse was black and the other was white with large brown patches. Christian led me to the brown and white horse which was to be mine. Luckily I had not put on a dress that would have made riding difficult. He swung himself up onto the black horse. I had learned to ride when I was young with Giselle and Victoria so I did not look the fool by not knowing how to ride.

"Today, for your touring pleasure, we will be seeing all the major areas where events will be held in the town." Prince Christian said formally. His voice made me laugh which pleased him.

The first place he showed me was a large square with a mermaid fountain in the center. He announced that this is where the biggest outdoor balls would be held for the townspeople. Today, the square was filled with people walking about. From the square we went to a theatre where every night performers would take the stage and entertain the audience with their talents. Then we went to a huge grassy area that he said would be used as a zoo with all manner of exotic creatures. It seemed odd to me that there would be a field in the middle of a town but Christian said it was used annually in the summer for the zoo. Next was a smaller square that had orderly rows of lampposts lined up in the center. The prince explained that on nights during the celebration the lamps would be lit with fairy lights that would shift colors creating a rainbow of light. We passed through a square where men were setting up maypoles that the children would dance around holding their colorful streamers. In another square, game booths would be set up like a carnival. Another hotel, similar to the one I was staying in, was going to host grand balls and parties for its guests and the visiting dignitaries. Christian informed me that if I wanted to attend that I could, but he also said that I would probably be at the royal balls with him. This he said with a wink. Nearly every place we passed would be the location for some sort of entertainment. The entire town would be celebrating every day. There would be sporting events, musical performances, and feasts taking place everywhere as well as everything else I had already seen. There were even going to be fireworks every night counting down until the first day of the celebration. I had heard the stories from people who had attended the last king's city celebration but none of them seemed to do justice to what would really be going on.

For each meal he took me to a different place. For breakfast we ate from a vendor on the street who had arrived for the celebration as well. Lunch was eaten at a small outdoor café near the square with the fountain. For dinner he took me to an all-too-romantic restaurant. At the end of the day I was feeling light from my day with the prince. It was perfect and I was looking forward to the rest of my stay. When we returned to the Gilded Leopard, I was reluctant to leaving because being with Christian was so enjoyable. Yet he had to return to the castle. He helped me off my horse and before saying goodbye kissed my hand delicately.

"I had a wonderful time today playing tour guide for you." He said. He was still holding my hand in his.

I smiled and tightened my grip on his hand. "You were a wonderful tour guide; I am a very lucky girl."

We said our goodbyes and I practically floated back to the Crocodile Room. I drifted through the door and went straight to my couch bed and fell over the side. I just lay there staring blissfully at the ceiling and recalling all the events of the day. My reverie was short lived because as soon as they heard the door close Victoria and Giselle were in the sitting room questioning me.

They both had their arms crossed and were staring down at me and I was grinning up at them. "Why are you smiling like that?" Victoria asked.

"Where have you been all day?" Giselle said at the same time. "You were not here when we returned."

I couldn't wipe the smile from my face. "I was in town."

"All day?" They said together.

I nodded. "Prince Christian gave me a tour of all that is to come with the festivities. Did you know there are lights that change color in one square? I'm sure it will be beautiful when they are lit."

Giselle burst into tears and ran back into her room. She was sobbing at how ugly she was and that was the reason the prince didn't pay her any attention. Victoria glared at me. "Now look what you did," She snapped. "Poor Elle is devastated by your inane actions with her prince. How could you be so cruel?"

"Giselle has men falling at her feet at every turn. She shouldn't be upset when one happens to enjoy my company over hers." I said. I probably should have been more careful about what I was saying, but I couldn't contain my thoughts.

I thought Victoria was going to slap me, but she didn't. Instead she leaned over me and spoke in a dangerous tone. "Giselle is in love with the prince and you are a terrible person for trying to ruin that for her. Tomorrow I want you to go into town and buy her a present to apologize and never flirt or see the prince again unless we are with you. You are a very selfish person, Ebony."

I sat up. "I am not buying her a present because she can't deal with not being the center of attention."

"Then I will make sure this is a very unpleasant trip for you." She sneered. "If you don't do as I say you will be confined to this room for the entire stay. I am the eldest so I am in charge, mother said so. Now I have to go comfort my sister because of your cruelty."

She turned sharply on her heel and went into Giselle's room. She slammed the door behind her and I was left with her threat echoing in my head. I heard the fireworks outside, seven booms for the seven weeks remaining until the celebrations officially began.

Victoria woke me in the morning and made me dress and wash hurriedly. Giselle and Victoria were going to spend another day at the castle. Apparently, the princess had recruited them to help her plan the balls that would lead up to her wedding. Before they left, Victoria made sure she had pushed me out the door with a small purse of gold coins to go shop for Giselle's present. I wandered the shops near the hotel for the morning. It was not as if I had to buy the present immediately after all. When I did get around to buying her present, I decided on a small bottle of perfume. It was inexpensive and still more than Giselle deserved. I admittedly was slightly afraid of what Victoria would do if I did not follow orders. If I wasn't I wouldn't be following them. I was walking back to the hotel as the sun was setting. There were quite a few people in the square I was walking through so I did not think much of the boy who bumped me until I felt the slight tug of my purse being pulled from my pocket.

"Hey," I shouted to him as he was already darting away. I tried to catch him but it was no use, he was much swifter at navigating the crowd. He turned back and grinned cheekily at me and I glared at him. From the distance all I could see was that he was tall and thin with blonde hair and dark eyes. Then he was gone. I had just been pick-pocketed. In Lyscos we did not have pick-pockets because the town was so small that everyone knew everyone else. I tried telling a soldier who was standing nearby about it but he shrugged me off because there was nothing he could do since the thief was gone.

I trudged back to the hotel. I had lost the money I had; granted it was not much after buying the perfume but the injustice of it being stolen made my stomach churn. Why hadn't the thief gone for the other bag, the one with the perfume? I wouldn't have minded if that was stolen.


I have encountered an aspect of my writing which makes me question how smoothly my story reads. I was looking back over my story today and I came to the conclusion that my chapters are very short compared to other stories I read on here. There are some stories where just one chapter is almost as long as my whole story and I can't figure out how people do that. I've always had trouble discerning where to draw the chapter line so I decided to keep each chapter to around the same length as all the others. So what do you guys think? Longer chapters which may take longer to write and therefore update or keep the length the same?