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Midnight Masquerade
Midnight Masquerade

Midnight Masquerade

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1824, September tenth

The town’s cryer rushed through the cobblestone streets as the church bells rang through the city and to the outside forest. He ran as if a fire broke out. Sweating hard as the late summer heat has been daunting this land for many days on end now. Traveling from the high towers of the wealthy to the town market and outside the main town where the poor and farming live. With dirt spitting back from his shoes and holding his hat on top of his head trying to keep it from falling. Now entering the poor slums of the outsiders, he gives a call of a last name with all his might even when without breath. “Summers!...Summers! Where are you at?”
An old man comes out who is wearing a half torn tunic with hair that is sparsing around the crown of his head while bald on top. “What you want?” in a breathy voice from his age.
“Are you Summers?” the town cryer snarked.
“Yes,” seeming concerned, “did I do something?”
“The king wants to see you. He also said bring one of your cattle,” as he walks away just shouting as he doesn’t want to stand out in the sun any longer so he just shouts, “you are wanted immediately!” and walks away with a trot to his step as he takes his hat and dries off his forehead with it.
The old man goes back inside his half house and calls out. “David… David!”
A young man comes around the wall from the bedroom with a rectangular face and long, dark brown hair being straight on the top as it begins to curl and curl in different directions when reaching down and around his neck.
“Yes father?” with wonder in his tone as he peeps
The old man looks at him with a strange look. “Are you okay son?”
“Yes. Why do you ask?”
“You look, different.”
His long hair is freshly groomed as the front of it is wet after being drenched in a barrel of water
“I wanted to try something new. Do you like it?”
“Very fine on you my son,” a cough comes on for the old man as he shutters bending over coughing towards the wooden floor.
“You okay father?”
Immediately interrupting, “I’m fine David. Go to the palace for me and meet with the king. He is expecting me.” as the old man starts to gain back control of himself and his breath.
“What for?”
“Just go, the king knows who you are,” looking away at his cattle with sadness and fear, “bring one cow, bring a nice one. The king will only accept a fine cow.”
“What is it-”
“Just do as I say!” The old man raises his voice. “Go, quick, before we get in any more trouble.”
“Yes sir.”

David walks out in the droughted grass field and laces up the finest cow with a strayed piece of rope around it’s broad, masculine neck and guides it through the field and dirt path with no troubles. With his trip being to the palace, David put on his finest clothing to show respect. A dyed blue tunic with stitched hems at the bottom and dark brown, bagged pants with boots that are of the finest goat skin they have ever raised. In the brutal sun, he paces the cow to make it to the city buildings that shadow the streets making it a cool and peaceful place to be. On his way to the palace, David talks to his cow expressing his worries.
“I don’t know Bess. What could the king want from us?...father said he paid his dues and he did nothing wrong.”
Bess is just walking along with David not paying attention to him as for that she may want to hurry into the city also to get away from the heat and rest in a shaded spot.
“I just hope the king will accept you.”
Bess turns towards him.
“I know, I don’t want to lose you too.” Bess walks at a faster pace now.

After a half mile trip, David has made it to the city entrance. “We’re here Bess. Sorry to do this to you, but we have to keep going’. The king might be waiting for us right now.”
When striving towards the palace, people look at David and Bess with looks of disgust and disapproval. Could it be that he is all sweated up from the journey and showing himself in public in such condition? A cow in city streets? Not sure. The good thing is that people didn’t stop him to talk or insult him so it made for a quick trip in the heat to the palace. Stone and marble blocks making up the walls as pillars, perches and balconies fill the outside of the palace. Tall wooden doors that have an arched top with iron castings holding it together are standing in front of them. David then knocks on the door which might make the door shake disturbing the air with sound. He can hear some feet shuffling inside.
“Who is it?” cries out a man's voice.
The doors open with bruteness in them as they move with such ease and strength to keep swinging till they hit the walls on the outside. The man tells me as he pointed me straight ahead. “The king has been waiting for you….Is that a cow? I’m sorry I ca-”.
“No, the king asked for it.” He said with a weak smile trying to make it sound sincere even though it wouldn’t seem right.
“Ah, yes, the king did mention an animal would be brought. You may come in.”
“Thank you.” He takes one step into the palace and is awestruck by the beauty and wealth that is inside. Taking his time and looking at the structure and beauty, he didn’t realize that the servants we’re talking to him.
“If you could hurry it would be appreciated. The king is very busy today.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” as David rushes off as he gently tugs on the rope to guide Bess easily through the halls. David enters into a big room where two big, tall chairs sit that are gleaming with elegance with color and design. He looks around and a voice calls out.
“You’re late.”
David turns around and immediately goes down on a knee and bows his head. “Nice to meet with you my Lord and sorry.”
“Stand up. Where is your father?” Looking with eyes that are searching for a lie to flash across the white of my eyes. David stares a little bit at his white and grey beard and stutters in his mind as to what to say.
“So?”, his words broke the silence as David spoke up.
“My father is weak and wouldn’t be able to make it here with the heat out there.” Gulping hoping his reasoning was acceptable.
“Yes it is true. The heat is tremendous out there.” with a short pause of silence. “So this is the cow you brought.”
“Yes sir. She is the finest we have. I hope you’ll accept.”
The king is investigating the cow giving it serious thought. “She’s okay.”
“Thank you my lord. Glad it works.” Bowing his head again.
“You may leave. That’ll be all.”
Eager to ask a question. “May I ask what this is-”
“I said, that’ll be all. Now leave.” His voice now sounds as if David is a nuisance.

David leaves the room and walks through the hallway lined with valuables and paintings thinking of what just happened. He comes across an opening and sees a staircase spiraling up towards the stone ceiling. As he follows along the spiraling case, a lady appears. A young lady as she walks down gracefully in a deep purple dress gown with her blonde loose curled hair pulled back in the center as the sides were falling in the front of her shoulders. David stops and watches her come down. With every step, her shoes made a clicking sound against the marble that echoes throughout the palace halls. As she approaches not too far from the bottom, she notices David standing there, looking at her, and they locked eyes while David stared in shock at the beauty he is seeing as the lady in purple is staring in delight towards him as they saw each other for the first time. There was an unspoken connection. But as David was about to speak, the queen came out of a room next to the stairs and slammed the door turning to see David. She speaks out in disgust, “What are you doing here you peasant? Leave. Get out! You aren’t fit to be here.” As she was speaking, she walked towards David and noticed the young lady on the staircase. “You get out you filthy peasant. Isabelle. You don’t look at him or go near them. They are not to be seen around you or our kind. We are better than that to be around.” The queen rushes her up the stairs by shooing at her first with her hands flapping, then taking her by the shoulders, guiding her to turn around and holding her hands to make sure she keeps moving forward as she takes steps. Isabelle turned her head to get one more last look at the boy. The queen says again with a stronger tone, “You better get out boy. Or I’ll have to get others to have you out.” As they disappeared back up the stairs a sound of a door closing shatters through the building. David turns towards the doors to leave.
“Isabelle.” David thought. “Isabelle...where have I heard that name before?” But he didn’t really think about what her name was associated with. He just took a quick flash memory as to what it was like to sense something that had an unknown, yet affectionate feeling in his heart from that moment Isabelle and him locked eyes.

After returning back to his father’s house, the old man was waiting for David just inside the door.
“Did the king take a liking to the cow?” Asking with fear of a no.
“Yes father.”
“Oh good.”
David took a little bit as his face began to give a persecuting look. “What was it all for?”
“Oh nothing now, don’t have to worry.” The old man says.
“You didn’t pay your dues didn’t you?” David says accusingly.
“I did, I did….Just didn’t pay it all.”
“Father, you have been able to pay for three years since he raised the tax. Now what is happening?”
“Well,” the old man says, we weren’t able to pay it for three weeks now. The heat with the drought, the cows and animals aren’t taking it so well and their condition is weakening from it,” He looks with guilty eyes at David, “I know I should have told you, but the king doesn’t like it when us peasants aren’t able to pay. So instead of coins, he is willing to take animals.”
David breaks out, “But we only have two cows now. The chickens have died off from the heat and the sheep are down in size from the wolves that terrorize them. We can’t live like this. If this still goes on, we’re gonna be in the dungeon or slavery. You are gonna die if it’s either one of them.”
“I know son, I just didn’t want to worry you. And I thought that the weather would get better and then the animals would thrive.”
“Well it didn’t!” David stormed. “One more missed pay, we are as good as dead to the king.”
“No we aren't’.”
“YES...we are. I am probably dead already to the queen.” He blurted out.
His father asks questionly, “What? Did you engage with the queen? How could you-”
“No, I didn’t. All I did was notice a young lady who she didn’t want her to see.”
“You engaged with the princess?! You know you can’t do that.” The old man says starting an argument.
“I didn’t know she was the princess. I’ve never seen her before.”
“Well don’t go near her again. Do go to the palace ever again,” his voice becomes strict, “If you are caught near the palace with no reason or you just wanted to affiliate with the princess, you will be shunned and taken in or possibly killed for it.”
“Why would they do that?” David remarks.
“Because we have no place in society. We can’t even pay our dues. We are just people taking land that we can’t make value on. That is why!”
There is a silence in the air and the two start to settle down, but still angered as to what happened.

1824, September Twelfth

Inside the glamorous palace in the princess’ room,“No.”
“Why?” Isabelle exclaimed.
“Because he is a poor boy.” the queen retaliates, “And I want the best for you. Not some poor, dirt-eater who can’t do any good for society.”
“You don’t even know him mother.” the princess pushes back with words.
“Oh I do, and so does your father.” She quickly explains, “His father did no good for us as he thought that he could just pay us with sheep wool and grown foods. The man didn’t even have any money. The man was trying to cheap us. How does he expect for us to live like that?” She exhilarates a huff of breath just thinking about it.”
The princess turns to her and says, “Maybe if you didn’t raise prices and tried to help people out, you wouldn’t be dealing with that.”
“Well not everything is gonna be perfect sweetie and it was a long time ago. You were just young.” the queen says trying to make it sound as if it is natural.
“You could at least help them out.” She says, “Father can lower dues a little.” Trying to find a solution.
“Oh that is not possible,” she says, “We need that for the Masquerade Ball we are having.”
“You and father could just afford it yourselves along with your higher friends.” The princess is strong minded as she doesn’t like the way the city is being treated and how it runs and always questions her parents, but not to them directly fearing that she will be hated by her parents.
“But sweetie,” The queen says, “Why would we do that? That would make us look like we aren’t royalty when we are.”
Isabelle didn’t like that reasoning. She won’t bother to counter her mother as they aren’t willing to hear words from others. “Can I invite people?” Isabelle asked.
“Yes.” the queen replies graciously, “You can invite your friends. Since we are inviting people from other cities me and your father don’t want you to feel alone.”
“Anyone?” Isabelle says.
“You aren’t gonna bring that peasant boy here.” She genuinely said.
“Why not?” she cries out from the injustice of her wanting that young man her.
“Because we are not gonna bring that boy here with all of our friends and guests. You know how those dirt-livers act when they see just a sign of wealth. Besides, we are bringing many people here that we may not know from our other friends. Now we don’t want to give a bad impression on them don’t we?”
Ida the maid comes in with a platter filled with vegetables and Isabelle asks her a question. “Ida, do you think I should be allowed to bring-”
“Don’t answer Ida. Your living depends on your job here unless you want to be out there with the others.”
Ida is scared to answer the question and just takes the safe route, “I don’t think I should intervene in family situations.”
“That’s right you shouldn’t,” says the queen with disappointment in Isabelle, “I will teach my daughter some manners as we go on. I don’t know why she wants to be around those low lifes.”
Ida walks out after leaving the platter on the side table just beside the door just as the queen was about to leave.
“Yes mother.” she snarks back
“I don’t want to see that boy again.” and the queen leaves the room.

Isabelle is by herself wondering as she sat-up looking around her room from her big cotton feathered canopy bed with sunlight painting a yellow light against the smooth stone. She then blurts, “Ida!....Ida, I need your help.”
Ida comes in rushing with her black maid clothing with hair up. Her slightly sizable body stays in place as just her legs move to Isabelle asking if she felt well or is in pain.
“No, no, no Ida, I’m fine. I need your help though.”
“Oh sure, yes, anything.”
“Can you send an invitation to that Summers boy for me?” With a desperate look.
“Oh, I’m sorry my child. I cannot for I may get caught and punished for it.” Ida took a moment and came to a conclusion to speak of it. “You must really take a liking to this boy if you just saw each other and not spoke.” Smiling with joy in her eyes.
“Yes, I do Ida. I sensed something when we first met, but mother told him to leave and she took me away from him. I don’t know how to get him near or how I can get close to him.” Isabelle rants a little, “I mean, mother and father don’t want me to be with someone “lower status” and want me to marry one of their friend’s sons.”
Ida talking as there is no worry, “Don’t get hung up on this Isabelle. There is hope. All you gotta do is believe.”
“How can I believe it if it is impossible.” Isabelle cries.
“There are those who need love and there are those who help love.”
Isabelle looks up confused, “what does that mean?”
“Oh, just believe.”
Ida walks out smiling and waving to Isabelle, “You take care my child.”
Isabelle stares out the door from her bed and falls down with the back of her head hitting the pillows bouncing off her as she gives a sigh of grief.

1824, September fifteenth

In the palace, the Masquerade Ball was being put in place and decorated. Snow white with violet blue cotton and silk fabrics cover the room while yellow, white and red roses, daffodils and lilies are scattered among the stairs, tables, and hallways. Making it look like a fancy inside garden.
“Oh this is beautiful Ida,” says the queen, “I am very delighted with what I see. Look Charles, at the flowers and silk robes draping around.”
“Ah, yes, very fine.” the king showing respect, but not very delighted with the idea that it has to be set up so early.
“This is just beautiful, Ida. I wish I had you for all the planning and decorations before. My husband doesn’t know what true art is even if it slapped him.” She says laughing and joking.
“Thank you Madam.” She says, “May I offer you some pastries or a drink?”
“Not necessary, we’re fine,” the king says rushing, “We are going to meet the other leaders out of the city for a while.” The king and queen rush out the door to the fancy, enclosed carriage as the summer drought and heat is still beating on the city. As they were leaving the palace. The queen's voice cries back, “Ida!”
“Yes queen?”
“Don’t let that poor boy come around here or let Isabelle out.” with a serious tone.
“No worries my queen. I will do as told.” looking sincere Ida bowed, and watched them leave as she smiles
After hours go by, the summer heat dies down as the sun starts to sink below the tree line and the moon shows its face at a crescent phase. All the slum dwellers come back from the forest and fields with their crops or animals moving in a mass migration to their homes. The sweat drenched people and they move quickly as the bugs are now emerging and become invading the skin. David and the old man return back and enter the house. A piece of paper fell out tied with a red ribbon around it and David picks it up as his father looks back at him.
“What is it David?”
“A letter addressed to me,” reading a paper tag tied around the letter with his name in neat calligraphy cursive.
“What is it for?” The old man asks.
David unties the red ribbon and unfolds the paper and looks at the two emblemed lions in black pressed ink and initials of the king and queen’s names at the top. He reads on mumbling the words as his father comes closer.
“It’s an invitation to a Masquerade Ball,” sounding shocked and excited.
“What?” The old man exclaims. “Where?”
“At….The palace.” Saying the words slowly and dreadful, turning towards his father.
“No. You will not go.” he ordered
“Why? I got an invitation.” David replied back.
“Well who sent it?” The old man questions toughly.
“I believe it was, Isabelle.” He said calm as the moment they saw each other came to his mind.
“It’s a trap,” His father said, “They’re trying to get us. I mean, why would Isabelle, the princess, come here, an outsider's lifestyle and send a letter to someone who is a peasant? They want us gone David. No one wants us, no one likes us. All that the others want is a wealthy, vibrant, living without us dirt-eaters coming into the area.” The old man said as he went to the water barrel for a drink from the long day out in the heat, “You don’t go and that is final.” His father took the paper out of his hands, tossed it outside and closed the door stopping the discussion and they did not speak to each other that night.
David sat on his hay bed with a wool blanket covering his legs and waited staring at the wooden and sod ceiling. As his father started to snore in slumber, David got up, crept to the door and opened it hoping the invitation was still where his father threw it. The crickets are loud and the moon is shining high and bloom lighting the whole sky making it easy to see everything around him. He sneaks back in and gets back in bed. Trying to cause no sound, he opens the folded letter slowly and reads it. It looks genuine as the Ball is posted to be on the date September 17. Forgetting his father is sleeping, he says aloud, “That’s two days from now.”
The old man’s snoring stopped and he moved around in his own bed and went back to snoring. David doesn’t want to make that mistake again and shuts his mouth for the rest of the time he was reading and thought in his mind, “I can’t get a costume ready by then. Not even a mask.” David saw some ink at the bottom that wrote, “Meet me at midnight just outside the city entrance tomorrow. I have a costume for you.” David pushed his arms up and pumped them in excitement as he whispered quietly, “yes.” He can’t be too excited tomorrow though when the old man is around or he’ll get suspicious. So as David calms down from the joy, he planned out he was gonna leave the house and meet whoever it was that sent the letter and receive the costume.

“Get up David.” the old man says, “time to go in the fields. Some of the sheep are wandering away from the herd.” The sun is rising high now and David throws the blanket across the bed and arises quickly. He can’t wait for the day to be over and midnight to come.
“Come on David, we gotta go get the sheep.”
The sun falls and night arises. Few clouds are in the sky, and the heat is still on. David waits nervously and impatient as his father has stayed up later than he expected. He halted in his bed waiting for the sound of snoring to fill the house. Soon enough, the snoring filled the house obnoxiously. David pushes himself out of bed and heads for the door. As he creeps out the door, people are making sound. Louder and louder they got, sounding drunk. David pulls himself back in the house and gets back to his bed fearing that his father might be awoken by the noise. As the drunks went by, David snuck back out and went straight to the city entrance. As he waited by the wooden gates to the city, he looked up at the stars looking for patterns and constellations, while wondering what the costume would be, but most of all who it was that was coming. In the midst of his thoughts a sound broke in. David looked just inside the entrance and saw a lady.
“Pst...pst. Over here.”
David goes over to the lady who is up against the stone wall that surrounds the city and she is holding something fairly large.
“Here’s your costume young man,” she whispers, “Don’t forget, tomorrow night, the Ball is to happen. Be there.”
“Thank you,” he says then asking in a loud whisper of question, “Who are you?”
The woman turns around, “I am one who helps the love needed people.” She turns and walks away into the cobblestone streets without another word or sound. David looked confused, but knew he had to get back to the house quickly before anyone sees and leaves the entrance back outside. Carrying his costume he walked along the dirt path. Cattle moo in the night while the chickens were fast asleep along the edge of the road. Soon David reaches the house and pushes the door open. He ventures to his bed holding the costume close to his chest gripping it tight with his arms not wanting them to fall. As he crouches down and calmly sits down on the bed, he looks at his costume. “Wow.” David thought to himself. “This is really nice,” as he looked at the animalized costume. He admired the color combination of the dull orange, white and black on the cotton shirt and pants. “There are so many pieces to this get-up.” As he unfolds them, he sees a scarf-like piece, a sash, belt, and wooden soled shoes as the light brown cloth makes the color of them. He then looks at the mask. “This had to cost a lot to buy. Who cares about the cost, the time that had to be put into it had to be extraordinary.” The half mask is of likeness to a fox. The pointed round black nose with orange and white perked ears on top. David puts on the mask and ties the thick black ribbon around the back of his head wondering what it would be like to wear such a thing. He could see through it fine. It was as if it was tailored just for him. After a long time admiring the mask and clothing. The sun started to rise. He can’t let his father see it. So he folded it all back up as it was given to him, placed it underneath his bed, and pulled the wool blanket at the edge letting it droop down to block the view of the costume.

1824, September seventeenth

“Do you feel okay this morning, Isabelle?” Ida asks.
“No, I don't,” Isabelle says with a sniff.
“Oh, let me feel your head,” Ida sits beside her on the bed and puts her tissue paper soft hands on her head, “You don’t feel hot...Open your mouth.”
Exclaiming in question, “what?”
“Open your mouth young lady.” she demands.
Isabelle obeys and opens her mouth.
Ida turns Isabelle’s head looking side her mouth studying it. “You don’t seem to have any sign of sickness inside….Oh, I think I know what it is?” Smiling, “It’s the Ball.”
“Yeah, I don’t want to go Ida.”
“Well why not, you can have so much fun.” Ida says like Isabelle is going to miss out.
“Father and Mother are just gonna have their friends' sons coming up to me asking to dance and stuff.”
“Well, just make the best of it. Try to have some fun.” Mocking a rhetorical question. “Why? Because you are going.”
“Ahh, I don’t! It’s gonna be terrible.” Isabelle cries out.
“Just remember what I told you.” Ida says with hope in her voice.
“Yeah, well, that is gonna be hard when I’m forced to see people.” with a little cockiness in Isabelle’s tone.
“Oh don’t be so hard, the ball didn’t even start yet.”
“I don’t know Ida. It’s gonna be hard to act something that I am not.”
“You hush up and don’t worry, just be ready for tonight.”
Ida leaves the room and Isabelle lays in bed staring at the ceiling, wondering how the night could play out in the worst ways possible.
“Oh!” Ida says out there with her voice echoing, “Don’t forget,” as she peeps her face around the door, “there are those who need love and there are those who help love.”
“Ida,” Isabelle cries out in frustration from it, “tell me, what does that mean?”
“You’ll see.”

David is out in the fields and the heat is even worse than the other days. It has been so hot and dry over the few days that the dirt is cracking and drying out while the grass starts to shrivel and become yellow while David and all the other slum livers are out in the fields, sweating and working hard. It’s gonna be a long day. Picking through the fields for some potatoes and sugar beets. Even the animals are forging for some food in the ground. Everyone is just dreading the day. David though, is having the time of his life, not complaining about the heat or even sweating that hard. He is too joyous of what he is going to experience tonight. In David’s mind, “Oh I can’t wait to get out tonight. I get to go into the palace. Better yet, I’m invited to the palace without going there to pay dues or being persecuted by the king. I get to go to a fancy party, eat rich fresh food, I get to wear fine clothing, and I get to dance with the princess, the night wouldn’t get any better.” With a smile on, he doesn’t mind the day and just wants the day over for the night to begin.

As the sun slowly sinks down, the heat stays and the stars come out and light the sky with the big, bold moon. David, his old man, and the rest of the slum-livers get off their hands and knees to return back to their homes. The old man and David walk into their house dirty, clothes drenched in sweat and wash up for the night. David starts smiling while washing his hair with the water from the barrel.
“Why are you so happy?” his father asks.
“Happy?” Immediately putting a no-emotion face on, “Why would I be happy? It’s been a long day. I don’t want to do this tomorrow.” Now showing a serious tone to his face.
His father responds back in strange curiosity to what his son has just done and says, “Yeah, well, we’re gonna have to work tomorrow. I suppose we should go earlier. This heat won’t stop, but the sun will with the night skies.”
“Earlier. How early?” David asks in fear that he might be caught for going to the Ball if he comes back too late.
“Uhhh,” his father with a questioned look as he wonders for a little bit with his head up, “about four. You can get up by then, can’t you?”
David knew he couldn’t do that. From work today, sleep for one or two hours, go to the Ball, sleep for another one or two hours, then back straight to work for most of the day. Even worse that the heat would get to him and affect his working ability. He couldn’t do that in so little time. So David begins to do a little deal making. Immediately, “How about six?”
“What about 6?” The old man not seeing the connection of the question.
“Working.” David responds as if it were reasonable.
His father with no thought, “Nope, four.”
“Nope, four. Why do you try to change the time?”
David with quick thoughts running through his mind, “I mean, it’s been a long day from the heat and sun, I thought we would do better with some more rest.”
“Hmm…” his father says, “Okay, five we’ll leave for the fields. No later. No more rest. I don’t want to be out in the sun and heat longer than I have to. It’s bad enough the rain doesn’t come to grow the crops, we don’t have to be out there drying out in the sun with no water in sight.”
“Yes father,” David says trying to hide his joy, “I’ll be up by then.”
The two then go their separate ways as they get ready for bed to meet a long day that is ahead of them.

David stayed up watching the moon float across the sea of stars through his small broken wooden window. In the distance looking towards the city, he sees few spots of light. “The party must be starting soon.” David thought. He reaches below the bed and flips the blanket over revealing the costume he has received. “Can’t screw up now.” He takes the costume again, holding it close to his chest. His father fast asleep as the snoring was obnoxiously loud. People would be mistaken by the sound for pigs. When his father snored, he moved closer and closer to the door until opening and getting out. David walks to the back of the house and changes into his costume. The pants, shirt, belt, sash, everything except for the mask. With the wooden shoes on and everything going to the plan, he walks to the palace with the knocking of his shoes against the hard, dried-out dirt and cobblestone streets. On his way no one came or saw him so far and knew it was a good sign.

“Charles! What are you doing?” the queen says abruptly at him as guests are coming in masked.
“I’m hungry. Is it so bad to eat when you’re hungry?” in a little annoyed tone from his wife.
“Well you don’t have to eat like that in front of our guests.” Smacking the king’s arm with her hands as she is dressed up for the occasion.
“Yes, yes, yes, please stop, I won’t.” The king says repeatedly trying to make her ease up on her aggressiveness.
Isabelle walks down the stairs in light blue shoes and gown that has small shoulder puffs revealing most of her arms.
A darker light blue flower sits just in front of her shoulder mimicking the petal effect of a flourishing rose with waves in each petal. Her hair pulled back and tied up as she walked down the stairs holding a blue top-face mask trying to paste on a smile.
“Oh, look at you darling,” the queen says in a high pitched voice as if she is talking to a friendly dog, “doesn’t she look beautiful Charles?” looking at him.
The king is eating again and the queen slaps him in the arm, “Ah, very beautiful Isabelle.” he says with food in his mouth muffling the words.
The queen muttered in anger to the king, “Please stop eating, we have friends and guests here who would like to eat also.”
“Well behead me if it’s a crime to eat.” He mutters aggressively back as Isabelle walks towards them.
“So, what do you think of this party so far Isabelle?” the queen asks with a smile deferring the dispute she was just in.
“It’s fine, I guess.” Isabelle said not caring at all.
The king comments in, “well look at all those people. It looks like almost everyone is here.”
All three of them look inside the big decorated room. There has to be a hundred, two-hundred dressed people in there. Isabelle is hoping her friends came. Isabelle’s eyes survey the room. She didn’t see anyone that could’ve been her friends. How can she? There are many people who are dressed up that have the same style. Fancy clothes, half mask, hair pulled up or back. It’s gonna be hard for her to find her friends. And Isabelle puts on her mask and ties it in the back.

The room became hot as the heat came in and the gathering of people made it worse as they were standing just outside the dance room, Isabelle leaves the area while the queen goes into the room while the king goes to the front of the room and starts an announcement by tapping a glass with a metal fork. “Everyone may I have your attention-”
The sound of a door opened in the midst of his speech, but didn’t interrupt it as the king has a deeper voice that fills the room. A man in a fox costume and mask walks in the door and hears the king speaking. He quietly walks into the room where the king is speaking and blends into the crowd slowly surfing around the crowd in the back to get a view of the dressed up people around. A few minutes later, the king’s speech was over and said, “Fronz! Music!” He gestures towards the side of the room where a small group of musicians are with strings, woodwinds, and few brass sit. A man, most likely the captain of the music, throws his hand in the air and gives a quick swat down as if trying to hit a fly, and the music begins. A softer tone of music started to play and the guests mingled around wearing their elegant masks and clothing. Going through the crowd, David has seen costumes like, phantoms, lions, birds, then elegant clothing with extravagant masks red, blue, black, white, pink, they just don’t stop in creativity. Walking through, people started to pair up masked and unknown, and dance to the medium paced music. The strings doing a high melody while the woodwinds made an impression of an elegant sound that made the room dance in an upbeat tone. A woman in a black gown and mask came up and took David’s hand in the steps of his walk. She pulled him into her body and wrapped her arms around me. She smiled loosely and slurred her words. With the gibberish she said and saying that they should get married, yeah, she definitely had a few drinks in her. David tried getting away, but her hands wouldn’t stop clinging on his fine clothes.
The lady in black, “No, don’t-don’t go...stay.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back,” David says gently towards her trying to convince her, “I’m gonna get a drink for you, okay? I’ll be back.”
The lady in black stumbles around on him still clinging, “okay, just come back beautiful.” She lets go of him. David takes a few steps back and watches her go to another masked man.
“Wow,” David says, “hope I don’t see her again.” And he walks some more trying to find a sign that Isabelle is here.

Music is heard upstairs and the laughter and talking of people climbs up the stairs and fills the halls.
“Oh Isabelle.” Ida says with disappointment and question to Isabelle who is laying in bed staring at the ceiling, “what are you doing in bed?”
“Ida,” she says untying her mask, “I don’t want to meet all those people where they only see me as just a person or beauty queen. I want someone who can show respect and compassion with a loving side and willing to put down their work and wealth to spend time with me.” She sits up in her bed talking to Ida in a desperate, yet hopeful way as if she is fantasizing. “I want someone who yearns for me when they are socially less and respect that because they don’t want prestigiousness, they just want and need me to love and care for me.”
“Well Isabelle,” Ida says as she sits down next to her in bed, “Think...think about what you are doing. There could be someone that will love you and enjoy your company.” She said with passion in her voice.
“No Ida,” Isabelle says, “I don’t think you understand.” throwing herself back down on her bed.
“I think I do,” Ida says standing up about to leave, “Just go down and look. Your prince might be down there. Now get up before your parents come up. They'll be disappointed in you not being there. Besides, the one you never met might be down there.” Ida leaves the room to the sound of music and talk of the people and Isabelle raises herself up like Nosferatu in question and excitement of anticipation.

David walks around in the heat of people as he searches for the one he desires hoping each woman he meets and dances with is the one. He didn’t know that after every dance, you are supposed to kiss the person you danced with and apparently some dancing pairs just head out and are just gone. David now thinks his chances of seeing Isabelle are ravagely decreasing and that it might ever be true. “It has to be true,” he thought, “why else would I have received a letter?” As he was walking and looking around, the queen caught a glimpse at him as he just saw her walking towards him. In a moment of rushed thinking and panicked eyes, he immediately walks the other way and starts journey briskly away through the crowd. Quickly he looks and sees the queen is coming at him. The queen begins to talk towards David, “Young man, come here.” David adds length to his strides. The queen calls for people to stop David. Everyone stops dancing and talking and just looks around. The queen calls out again asking the masked crowd to stop him. No one did. They helped David by just clearing a path for him. The music started to die down, but it was playing still, off-beat. As a few men near the queen realized something was wrong, they started their hunt down for David, but as soon as they got past the mass of people, it was too late. They don’t know where David went. The men came back and told the queen he had gone. “Well,” the queen says, “I know he won’t come back anymore.”

The princess came down undetected by her parents and ventured into the crowd and made the best of the party. She searched masked looking for someone who might be the one for her. As she went looking, people came up to her and danced with her. She didn’t know who they were of course, but made the best of it trying to see if there could be another spark between them. She may find the same connection she did with the young man she saw in the palace. Highly doubting it, she still believed that he may have snuck in to see her or something. Isabelle just wanted to see him again. As the room starts to heat up some more, people are starting to leave. Only a few though as most of them didn’t want to be rude and stayed. Ida came into the room and searched for the princess. She had to tell her something, but not in the room or anywhere the queen or king were. Whispering aloud, “Isabelle….Isabelle.” She went into the crowd and searched for her, went through every person and looked for her light blue gown. Ida went outside the room and looked upstairs and through every room.

“Sitting out in the garden,” David thought, “hiding like a coward.” He sat on the bench enclosed with flowers and bushes that didn’t seem to be affected by the hot days and no rain. With his clothes and mask still on fearing that he may be spotted he thought, “how did the queen know it was me?” David checked his clothes and mask, “I don’t know how. Could it have been my actions, my words, how?” With David thinking he didn’t even bother to think of a way to get back in or to find Isabelle. He thought maybe that it wasn’t meant to be. So he sat out under the stars with a few clouds rolling in and embraced the late summer heat.

“What are you doing?” Ida says as she met Isabelle outside by the garden leaning against the stone fence still wearing the mask.
“Ida,” she says as if she lost hope and knew it, “how do you know someone loves you. How do you know it’s special and not just a false sense of it?” She says with her head down on the warm stone.
“Do you feel it is love?”
“Well, yeah.”
“Do you believe it could last?” she says right after.
“Yes.” Isabelle says with a tear.
“Did you give it a chance?”
Isabelle stands up saying, “no.”
“Well then give it a chance then. How do you question something like that between two people when you haven’t experienced it yet?”
“I don’t know Ida. Am I afraid of it?”
“For what you are doing, yes you are. That’s only because you want it to work out and have it be good for you and him.”
“Thank you Ida.”
“You’re welcome my dear. I will be going back inside. Don’t want the queen to think I am snoozing around and not benefiting from anything.” Ida walks back to the doors and opens it. The sound of the party escapes through the door and again becomes muffled and trapped after Ida closes the door. Isabelle stares into the night at the few large clouds, “Oh when? When will you come, when will I find you, will I find you again?”
David stands up after hearing the conversation and walks slowly towards her and kicks a few stones underneath his steps.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Are you okay?” As she looked to where the sound came from.
“No, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be out here.” says David.
“I should be inside.” says Isabelle.
And they bustled into minor-guilty exchanges of words. Isabelle didn’t know who was the man behind the mask, but David knew the woman behind the light blue mask. There was silence between them and felt comfortable. The music inside stopped and the grandfather clock struck and made it’s heavy ringing sound through the palace. Everyone inside unmasked as it is midnight and their identities were to be revealed to the ones they are paired with. Isabelle bows her head down, unmasks herself, and lifts her head showing her soft, glowing face and the eyes that would light anyone's heart with a small, hidden smile. David unties the black ribbon from his mask and slowly pulls down the mask. He shows his face with a small smile. They come closer together and embrace to have their lips meet each other’s. Clouds blanket the sky and sprinkles come and a rain starts to begin soaking the dried, cracked ground, chilling the heat.

Author Notes: This ain't my style of writing. Please rank and comment on this story. Also please listen to the song, "Twilight Hotel"-Quiet Riot. Fits in with the masquerade scene.
Much Love. Keep on Rockin'!

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24 Apr, 2020
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