Blood Crown
By Violet Day
Date: October 26, 2020
Ch. 44

“Oh,” Senna said, rolling out of bed. “Oh no.”

Lowelle came out of the bathroom, makeup applied, slim white denim jeans and a loose black top clinging to her figure. “What? Why oh no?” She shook out her dark hair and dried it with a towel.

“I…” Senna sighed. “I haven’t had much time for school.”

“Oh really? I’ve had a private tutor available every day of my life.” Lowelle pulled a small bag out from under her bed that Senna hadn’t noticed before. The dark haired girl took a small glass bottle out of the bag and spritzed herself. The air smelled like roses, with a hint of something darker.

“Did you really pack a bag just full of perfumes?”

Lowelle looked up, surprised. “Yeah. I like to mix it up, match the perfume with the occasion and my mood.”

“Wow.” Senna got out of bed and went into the bathroom. She was relieved to see toiletries wrapped in plastic ready for her use. She unwrapped a toothbrush and started to brush her teeth.

“What? Is that strange?” Lowelle came to stand in the doorway.

“You’ve just been brought up really differently from me,” Senna said, her speaking altered with the brush in her mouth.

“That’s true.” Lowelle bit her lip, seemingly thinking about something. “I’m going to go meet the other girls. You can choose an outfit from my square suitcase, the black leather one –that’s the one with the casual clothes –but don’t wait for me for breakfast or anything.”

Senna spit and rinsed. “Want to meet for lunch?”

Lowelle shrugged. “If I see you, sure.”

“I wonder where we’re supposed to get food and stuff.”

“I’m sure there’s someone waiting in the halls to direct us.”

“True. Okay, have a good day, if I don’t get to talk to you until tonight.”

“Good luck learning years of facts and theories in a day,” Lowelle said, smirking somewhat.

Senna rolled her eyes. “Just leave already.”

Lowelle did.

After taking a quick shower Senna opened the suitcase Lowelle had mentioned.

Pretty, delicate bras and underwear were folded on one side; the other held a proliferation of jeans in different shades of the rainbow, skirts, and blouses.

Senna picked the most comfortable pair of underwear she could find in the pile, ignoring the bras –she thankfully had one of her own, plus Lowelle’s cup size looked to be a letter or two smaller than her own. Then she pulled on the most normal, most blue of the blue jeans and a somewhat plain white t shirt that had a picture of a pineapple on the front. Senna didn’t understand it but she thought it was kind of cute and it wasn’t too obnoxious or revealing so she decided to wear it.

Okay. So she was dressed and clean. Now what? Go and socialize? No way, she felt uncomfortable with the idea. Go and get breakfast? That sounded like a much better idea.

Senna opened the dorm room door and peeked out into the hall. There was a page standing about thirty feet away but no other girls, though she heard some giggling and music from the other rooms.
Senna stood in the hall, hoping the page wouldn’t notice her. She realized that if she had any chance of making it through this trial, she needed to study. Not just study -study nonstop.

She didn’t have time for breakfast.

A group of girls came out of a room down the hall in front of the page. He turned to direct them. In the moment he looked away to help them, Senna hurried across the hall and down a different corridor where there was no page.

There also were no doors. Senna wandered for a while, looking at the gray stone hewn walls and the smooth floor punctuated with rich carpets. She was allowed to be here right? There hadn’t been any signs that said “competition contestants, stay out”... But, she realized, that was probably why that page had been there.

Then she noticed a stairway, an open doorway in the stone wall. She took the wooden stairs two at a time. She had started out looking for somewhere that might have books for her to study with, but now she just felt adventuress. She had never been somewhere so huge, so majestic, so rich, so foreign…

The thin staircase curved and let out into a hallway much like the one she had been in previously, but without the carpets and more claustrophobic. There were no windows, but electric lanterns hung from metal hooks on the walls. Again, there were no doors, but…

There was one! She saw it as she stepped off the last stair and turned to the left. The door was a bit open and a warm glow emanated from the room within.

Senna decided to see what was in there. If it was somewhere she wasn’t supposed to be, she could always just say she got lost and was a part of the competition. Plus… the color of the glow and the fact that the door was open just enough for her to notice it made it feel welcoming, in a way.

She pushed open the door, trying to step lightly in her boots so as to be less noticeable if there was someone in there. Lowelle hadn’t offered to let her borrow nice shoes, so she was stuck with her leather working boots.

When she was through the door, her heart beat faster. She was in awe.

She had found a library.

It wasn’t huge, it was about the size of two or three of the dorm room she and Lowelle shared –but shelves were stuffed into it floor to ceiling. Between the shelves Senna could see glimpse of a huge floor to ceiling window that gave a view of a rich garden in full bloom. The warm, golden light came from a chandelier made of gold tinted glass that hung from the ceiling.

Maybe it was a library for university students? It didn’t make sense that it would be open now, though, when classes weren’t in session. Or maybe it was open so contestants for queen could use it? Senna decided that was the reason –though she knew it most likely was not –and took a deep breath before striding down one of the cramped aisles.

As she scanned the names of books she heard her stomach grumble. Yeah, maybe it hadn’t been the best idea to skip breakfast in order to study. But she had already made the decision, and here she was, so she didn’t really have a choice but to take books off the shelves and start reading.

She started with some thick, dusty volumes that promised to tell her the entire history of Dornesse. Maybe she would find some stories about queens so she could find one to write her essay about.

Carrying the four volume series in both arms, she walked toward the window, because she thought she saw the skirt of an armchair. She walked from between the shelves into the space between the end of the shelves and the garden window, and promptly dropped her books.

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