She escaped to her little bit of paradise, hiding again from the demands of her tiresome father. She wanted little to do with the Lords of Ethir for they seemed so caught up in mundane and pointless politics.
Why should she be dressed like a china doll just to be shown off by her father? All he wanted was to have her married and sent off with one of those musty old men, with wandering hands and very little hair left on his wizened head.
And those corset and skirts she was forced to wear were so uncomfortable, though the lecherous men from across the valley seemed to enjoy the effect of her rather-more-than adequate chest spilling over the front of lace and silk. Perhaps another might enjoy such frippery, but she preferred to lose herself in adventures of imagination.
Of elves, dwarves and wizards she dreamt, creatures of myth of course, but where was the fun in dreaming of slobbering youths and hunched old men.
At this moment she was deep within an elven paradise. She danced with a beautiful stranger, with flaxen hair and smiling eyes. She was swept across the floor, laughing and merry in the company of these ageless beings.
Aladriel was certainly a sight to be seen. Carefree, she had her cumbersome skirts pulled to above her knees. Her feet were cooling in the bubbling stream. There were leaves in her unruly hair, caught in the corkscrews and curls when she had lain gazing up at the patterns made with the green of the treetops and the blue of the sky.
A little to well made in face and body to be considered beautiful. Her deep brown eyes were huge and twinkled with humour, her nose upturned and covered in freckles and her full lips were plain when compared to some of the great beauties.
She was strong willed and stubborn, strongly objecting her fathers efforts to marry her off. He was weak, and allowed those disgusting old men to take advantage of this. He wanted only to please them and thought nothing of parading her in front of them in an effort to be included.
They were nothing but overfed nobles who had images of grandeur. They thought they were something and yet did nothing for the good of the people, spending money which could be used to feed the orphans on silks and endless parties.
She had no time for her father or for them and wished they would leave her alone.
“Aladriel! Come home this instant! Your father has gone mad and you have driven him to it. You were meant to be entertaining The Lords Hangaard and Idibell today.”
Her maid looked out of breath, not surprising considering the bulk of the woman. Stiff white collars and buttons strained under the effort of holding her great mass.
Entertaining? Is that what her father called it? Not this time!
“Oh Bertha, I just couldn’t face spending such a fine day inside that dusty old room talking to dusty old men.”
Aladriel rose, brushing leaves from her hair and pouting petulantly. It did not suit a face usually so full of laughter.
“Well, you’re in for it now. He’s gone blue in the face with anger. You’re in for a beating, and a thorough one too!”
Aladriel lay on her side, her back burning and tender from the beating her father had given her. She looked miserably over her balcony at the rugged wildness of the forest and the mountains behind them, tears of pain running freely down her face.
This was the last time, she decided, she would leave as soon as she could move.