Clementine was spending her weekend the way she had been for many months now: lounging in her room in the Errings Rising castle. After joining the guild, she had somewhat adopted a schedule, something she hadn’t really planned. It just kind of happened. She would work various job postings during the week, then be a couch potato on the weekends. So far it had been working pretty well for her.
Currently she was lounging half-dressed on her bed. Clothing was something she considered optional here. Despite her laziness on these days off, Clem kept a clean room. Her days living in a untidy, trash-filled house with her mother had made the painter a very tidy person. One of the things she hated most in the world was rats, and she had dealt with enough of them back then to keep a staunchly clean living space.
Clem slammed down her bowl of ramen on her bedside table as another round of the video game she was playing started. The furious clicking of the buttons on her controller filled the room. Light from the screen across the room flickered in pinks and blues across her face, which was scrunched up in concentration with her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth. Just one more enemy to kill and her team would win!
A knock on her door interrupted her game. The young woman ignored it, focusing on her game. A teammate managed to kill the last opponent. “Yes!”
Clem hissed, raising a clenched fist in victory. Another knock came from the door, much to her annoyance.“Mistress Clementine?”
The painter let out a sigh, facepalming and letting her hand drag down her face in exasperation. It was Nadaline at the door. Was she here for another tutoring lesson? Gods, I hope not,
Clem thought. While the learning sessions had made exponential progress in her reading and writing abilities, she hated it. Nadaline was patient, but the whole thing just felt patronizing to her.
Gritting her teeth, Clem stubbornly decided not to respond. Maybe if she just pretended not to be there, Nadaline would go away. Holding her breath, she waited in the prolonged silence.“Mistress Clementine?”“Ugh.”
Clem groaned and flopped backward dramatically on her bed. There was no point. She may as well see what the queen’s maid wanted. “What?”
she replied in a deadpan tone.“The queen has requested your presence in the ballroom. Please tidy yourself up and accompany me there,”
Nadaline stated. There was no part of what she said that made the meeting sound optional. Clem screwed her eyes shut for a moment, then heaved herself out of bed. She knew how intense Saraphina could be, so it was probably in her best interest to show up.“Fine, gimme a minute,”
she said towards the door. Dragging her feet every step of the way, the painter got ready. Donning her usual jacket with a dragon on the back over a plain t-shirt and some sweatpants, she stood in front of her mirror. Quickly she tied her hair into a classic ponytail then placed her hands on her hair. What color of hair did she want today? While a pinkish auburn was her go-to, today she felt like being a bit more bold. With a little pulse of magic, she contorted the pigment in her hair until it was black with several large streaks of blonde.
Opening the door, Clem slipped out quickly into the hallway where Nadaline was. She didn’t want the servant to see how tidy her room was. Though it was petulant, Clem wanted to keep up her badass persona, and having a neat living space certainly wouldn’t help that.
Without a word, she followed the woman through the castle corridors. They passed by a few other guild members, but at the moment the castle seemed pretty quiet. As they approached the ballroom, Clem started to hear music. It was that fancy shit that uppity people liked, full of string instruments. A perturbed expression covered her face.
As they rounded the corner, her concerned look turned horrified. The ballroom had changed. Racks of fancy dresses and clothing had been rolled in. A shelf filled with different types of shoes, mostly high heels, sat next to a rack. Nearby to a changing screen sat a portable vanity, complete with a mirror surrounded by little lights. Different kinds of makeup were set up on its surface. In the corner, a band played the music she had been hearing from the hallway. At a circular table sat the queen herself. An empty chair was set out, probably for Clem, and a steaming teapot accompanied two cups upon the table.“What the fu-”
Clem started to say. What the hell did Saraphina have in store for her?