Midnight Masquerade Stavos Voronin was not as blind-eyed as many nobles and royals. Evony’s physical gestures—even the simplest movement of her hands—revealed that she had not always been destitute. The same was true of the children—of their polished manners and the boy’s knowledge of horses and tendency to be bold and fearless of strangers. Ah yes, Stavos enjoyed a good mystery. After all, interest in the inexplicable circumstances surrounding the royals of Abawyth was the very thing that had lured him to the kingdom—the enigma of Abawyth’s twelve sleepy princesses. And yet now—now his mind was all the more intrigued. Not only was the obscurity of what had caused the profound and baffling torpidity of Abawyth’s princesses laid out before him, but also he found his curiosity intensely piqued over the riddle surrounding the very lovely Evony and her siblings. As Stavos strode through the village resting on the outskirts of Abawyth Castle, his mind reeled with possibilities. His musings were drawn back to why he had come to Abawyth at all—to solve the conundrum surrounding the twelve beautiful princesses of Abawyth kingdom—to solve the seemingly impenetrable crux and thereby win the hand of one of Abawyth’s princesses, as his father, King Letholdus of Ethiarien, had commanded.
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She was tired—oh so very, very tired. Never—not in all her life—had Evony Elorietta known such thoroughgoing fatigue. As she trudged out of the dark woods still veiled in the shadows of early sunrise, out across the expanse of cold, dew-drenched grass and onto the main road of the village, Evony wondered how she would ever endure a day that was only just beginning. Every bone in her body ached—every muscle throbbed in misery, every inch of her flesh begged for respite. Yet there would be none—at least not until she had finished her stitching—finished the near thirteen hours of sewing she now faced under the ever observant, incessantly critical eye of seamstress Agnes Teche.
After such a long, chilled, and sleepless night spent in watching—peering through the darkness and into the rooms of the inn in the woods, until her eyes were too dry to watch any longer—after listening to the shallow, often vile conversations, until her ears hurt from the foul ferment of it—Evony dreaded sewing for Mrs. Teche more than ever before. The woman was a banshee of an employer. And yet, she was grateful Mrs. Teche had had the keen eye to recognize Evony’s superior skills with needle and thread—for how else would Evony have managed to feed Mikol and Tressa—to shelter them—to keep them hidden?
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