I am used to manual labor. For someone who has studied for four years preparing for a clerical job after graduation, I have only done physical jobs.
As I dust off the priceless vases and chinawares, I am in awe of how much value this stateroom has, even if I have cleaned it repeatedly for the past two months dutifully without a hitch.
Things have finally looked up for a change.
I am okay with the other members of the royal household because, aside from the pantry, we barely see each other as we are all busy with our duties inside the Arcadia Palace.
Curiously, and thankfully, I have never seen even one of the royal family members. Not even a glimpse of them, even though I am cleaning the offices they use six days a week.
I know they are using them because everything is out of place from when I left it after cleaning it the day before, and its for the best.
The chef said they are more trouble than worth for us lowly servants.
No word from them is good news.
It means we are doing our job perfectly.
But who am I kidding?
My fortuneteller friend always tells me that the wheel of fortune turns ever so slowly, but it depends. I can only have good luck for so long.
And I finally ran out today.
The stateroom door opened, and a man around my age entered wearing a crisp and expensive black suit and tie came in as if looking for someone.
The pictures and videos don do him justice.
He is more handsome in person.
Leo, Prince of Arcanus second in line to the Arcanian throne. They say that he is not only second in line to the throne but also second to the crown prince in terms of looks.
He is a well-known equestrian who is tall, lean, muscled, and athletically built. His buzz-cut fiery red hair only added to his royal charm. I tried in vain to hide behind the giant vase I was cleaning before he arrived, and his mischievous amber eyes found me almost immediately before I could even find refuge.
He smiled widely, showcasing his perfect set of white teeth and two deep dimples before walking briskly in my direction.
I curtsied lowly, put my hands still holding the duster behind me, and bowed my head, ”Your Royal Highness. ”
”Whats her angle? I didn even notice it for months. The tramp really outdid herself this time, I give her that much. ”
He seemed to be talking to himself about something I can and will not bother to understand. The sooner he decides I am inconsequential, the better.
My first-ever meeting with a royalty should be as quick and painless as possible. I really like this job. The pay is good, and the work is pretty straightforward. Plus, its free board and lodging.
I hate losing this work, especially when Frida pulled some strings just to secure this for me.
After a few seconds of silence, I dared to glance up and hope that the prince had finally left me behind, but to my horror, he was still staring at me pensively, ”You know, you are being paid to clean, not to just stand there and do nothing, right? ”
I forgot that I can continue my duties if Prince Leo supervises me.
I curtsied again in answer and turned around to start from where I had left before he barged in.
”You know, I am here because father and mother sent me. ”
I gulped and expected the worst.
Fired, for sure.
What have I done this time? I am sure if I had done something wrong, I would have been kicked out, and I haven changed my routine since day one.
”You can talk freely, you know… ”
”Welp, as I said, I was sent here by father and mother. ”
”Whatever for, sir? ”
To my surprise, he walked beside me as I was meticulously wiping the dust off the cabinet, and I saw him grin menacingly at me, ”They have a direct order for you. ”
”Anything for His and Her Majesties. ”
The Prince nodded approvingly and winked at me as he said the words that made my jaw drop, ”You are to postpone your duties for today and focus your time and effort on cleaning the office of my brother. He is out the whole day, and you have until midnight to do it. ”
My knees weakened when it finally dawned upon me that this was me being fired indirectly.
Fritz told me never to touch the crown princes office under any circumstance.
But he also told me that the words of the royal family are the law in the Arcadia Palace.
I was shocked when Prince Leo called me by my name, much less know it. It knocked me back to reality as I tried to gather my thoughts and managed a wobbly curtsy, ”The will of Their Majesties be done, Sir. ”
”Perfect, ” he answered happily as he prepared to leave, chuckling to himself, ”That lucky git, hogging the best help again. Welp, at least father and mother will not endlessly moan about that citadel of clutter nor his deranged schedule around me anymore. Now, what is that tramp up to? Could it be we are playing at the palm of her hand? Nah, she is too dumb for that. ”
He then left the stateroom, mumbling to himself while I just collapsed to the floor hopelessly.
As I walked miserably toward the crown princes office, I suddenly remembered my friends dire warnings the night before two nights before I started my job here.
Draped in a black flowing dress and veil, she appeared at my front door without warning.
”The tarot cards told me to come here and read your fortune, Linnea, ” she said in an ethereal voice as she showed herself in my home quietly.
Verda Norn, the enigmatic fortuneteller of our group and acted as a spiritual adviser.
She is very fickle and capricious. Even in our group chat, she barely, if ever, say something. But always reading our messages to each other.
Verda came from a long line of prophetic tarot card readers of the dominion. Our nation has prized these bloodlines, and the House Norn sat on more or less the same status as the aristocrats.
Their predictions are also highly valued and sought after though they are only sometimes giving them out. More often than not, they are the ones who will appear in front of you to have your fortune read and not the other way around.
Much like what Verda is doing, she made herself comfortable on my patched-up sofa while shuffling the tarot cards on her lap gloomily.
The way we all met her is really odd as well.
Several years ago, the nine of us in our circle of close friends hung around in the park on once-a-blue-moon occasions when everyone had time to spare and catch up personally when this mysterious and ethereal lady appeared suddenly, announcing that the cards had guided her to us all before proceeding to read our fortunes one by one before leaving as otherwordly as she arrived.
Each and every prediction she made happened precisely as she had foreseen.
Since then, she has become one of us and become like Frida in a way that she is always observing and monitoring our lives, albeit, in her more discreet and mysterious way, we may never know how.
I sat in front of Verda as she closed her eyes and muttered something I did not understand to her tarot cards before speaking again after her final shuffle.
”Pull three cards, Linnea. ”
I did what I was told and pulled three tarot cards faced down and put them down on the table.
”From left to right, these cards represent your past, present, and future. The Tarot is the means by which fate is revealed. Take charge of your destiny. ”
Verda then opened the first card representing my past.
”The Fool in an upright position. The start of a new journey, adventures untold and leap of faith to the unknown. ”
The next was revealed my present.
”The Magician in reversed position. You need to use your full potential. With repressed skills and talents, a man with the same limited space to make full use of his abilities. A mentorship? This is an awfully accurate spread so far. ”
Finally, for the card that holds my future.
”The Tower in an upright position. A hierarchy in upheaval, uprising and revolution. All will end in flames for us all. ”
I shook my head in disbelief at the grim reading she just told me, ”For us all? ”
”Yes, Linnea. For everyone in our group. Everything as we know it will all end in flames. If you continue this path you have chosen, unleash the potential within, we will no longer be able to see the world as we know it the same way before. ”
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