1867-10-29: Not In Your Shoes
Not In Your Shoes
Summary: Dealing with courtiers becomes too much for Clara as she succumbs to the growing plague.
Date: 10/29/1867
Related: The Plague Plot

There are certain things that cannot be escaped. As surely as the sun rises and sets, there are particular duties that need to be attended to. And, with Rivana in the grips of what is most certainly a plague, one of those duties is to attend to those courtiers gripped with fear, or at least gripped with a most inopportune sense of timing. It isn’t a task that the princess Clara Tracano particularly enjoyed, but it was something that needed to be addressed. There was always someone looking the other way and whispering when she (usually a she) thought Clara wasn’t looking.

And…today is no different. As Clara walks into the main hall, one of many places for the courtiers to gather, Lady Justine Sandoval smirks, tilting her head to murmur within the ear of her twin sister Willa, as both sets of eyes shift towards the Tracano’s direction. It’s enough for Clara to notice, as it always is whenever Clara is in the same room as the Sandoval Sisters. Clara didn’t win their hearts by berating their father…and it seems the Sandoval clan has long memories. But…Clara didn’t care. Not today. Today, she was too tired to care.

In truth, Clara has been feeling tired for most of the week prior. But, she was also working hard, too. There were fears to quell, supplies to acquire, and guests to attend to. It isn’t all that unusual for the princess to be a little tired at the end of the day. But…it is mid-day, and already Clara is tired. <This is going to be one of those days.> thought Clara. Already, Clara is dreading this particular little chore.

<Oh well, let’s just get this over with.>

Clara moves through the hall, accompanied by Sir Alaina Cassomir, always a formidable appearance in her Lancer attire. The princess takes up a particular corner, speaking softly to those present. The questions come…and Clara is only cursory aware of them. They are all the same lately…

“What is the Crown doing in regards to this supposed plague?”

“Will commerce be halted?

“Are there enough healers to go around? If so, then can I have one on retainer?”

The customary answers are given. This isn’t the first time Clara heard these questions…and it most certainly won’t be the last. At least, the answers are given with a smile, even if the voice seems a little weary. However, today, the usual routine is broken up. Justine Sandoval, with that self-same smirk upon her face, shakes her head sadly and sweetly states, “Why, Your Highness, you look positively exhausted. Why, with all the sickness about, I can only imagine how stressed you must be right now. You look absolutely terrible. I most certainly wouldn’t want to be in your shoes…” Her statement is punctuated with a stolen glance towards her sister Willa, as the two almost giggle. Almost.

<Of course…had to be one of the Sandoval twins.> Clara shakes her head visibly, as if arguing gently with an unseen foe…namely herself. <Don’t get involved…don’t get involved…don’t get…> As Clara sees the giggle and catches the undertone of the seemingly innocent comment, the usual restraint snaps. <Damn it. Too tired to fake it anymore.> The smile slips from the Tracano’s mein as Clara walks over to the pair of twins. “What was that, Lady Justine? You wouldn’t want to be in my shoes? Well, let me be perfectly honest with you. The…”

Suddenly, a wretching seizes Clara…a sudden and forceful coughing. A coughing fit so sudden that Clara didn’t have time to cover her mouth before a bit of phlegm flies from the princess, splattering oh-so delicately upon the toe of the Sandoval. And…despite the coughing…and One, the heat, Clara can’t help but smile weakly. The response, stolen away by the coughing, is delivered with a voice rough and soft.

“The feeling is mutual.”

The princess’ voice then dissipates into another coughing fit. Clara reaches out, using a hand to hold herself up. Ragged, Clara is barely a whisper as she murmurs. “Now…if you would excuse me…” A step is taken…and no more, as the princess falls to the floor.

The courtiers scatter, fleeing from the hall and the palace proper. Except for three others. One…Alaina. The Lancer wastes no time in scooping up the unconscious princess from the floor, barking out orders to a nearby guard to, for the One’s sake, fetch a healer immediately. The Cassomir knight carries Clara straight away from the hall and out of sight, leaving the two other individuals in the hall.

Justine and Willa Sandoval, with Justine staring at her shoe in horrified silence.

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