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King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard


King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Author:Victoria Aveyard
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2016-12-10T05:00:00+00:00


EIGHTEEN

Mare

For once, I am not the object of torture. If I had the opportunity, I would thank Iris for allowing me to sit to the side and be ignored. Evangeline takes my place instead. She tries to look serene, unaffected by the scene around us. The rest of the bridal entourage keeps glancing at her, the girl they were supposed to serve. At any moment, I expect her to curl up like one of her mother’s snakes and start hissing at every person who dares come within a few feet of her gilded chair. After all, these chambers used to be hers.

The salon is redecorated for its new occupant and rightfully so. Bright blue wall hangings, fresh flowers in clear water, and several gentle fountains make it unmistakable. A princess of the Lakelands reigns here.

In the center of the room, Iris surrounds herself with servants, Red maids infinitely skilled in the art of beauty. She needs little help. Her cliff-high cheekbones and dark eyes are magnificent enough without paint. One maid intricately braids her black hair into a crown, fastening it with sapphire and pearl pins. Another rubs sparkling blush to sculpt an already beautiful bone structure into something ethereal and otherworldly. Her lips are a deep purple, expertly drawn. The dress itself, white fading to bright, shimmering blue at the hem, sets off her dark skin with a glow like the sky moments after a sunset. Even though appearance is the last thing I should be worried about, I feel like a discarded doll next to her. I’m in red again, simple in comparison to my usual jewels and brocade. If I were a bit healthier, I might look beautiful too. Not that I mind. I’m not supposed to shine, I don’t want to shine—and next to her, I certainly won’t.

Evangeline couldn’t contrast Iris more if she tried—and she certainly tried. While Iris eagerly plays the part of a young, blushing bride, Evangeline has willingly accepted the role of the girl scorned and cast aside. Her dress is metal so iridescent it could be made of pearl, with razored white feathers and silver inlay throughout. Her own maids flutter about, putting the finishing touches on her appearance. She stares at Iris through it all, black eyes never wavering. Only when her mother moves to her side does she break focus, and then only to inch away from the emerald-green butterflies decorating Larentia’s skirts. Their wings flutter idly, as if in a breeze. A gentle reminder that they are living things, attached to the Viper woman by ability alone. I hope she doesn’t intend to sit.

I’ve seen weddings before, back home in the Stilts. Crude gatherings. A few binding words and a hasty party. Families scrounge to provide enough food for the invited guests, while those who wander through get nothing more than a good show. Kilorn and I used to try to pinch leftovers, if there were any. Fill our pockets with bread rolls and slink off to enjoy the spoils.



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