Lucia inhaled slowly and let the air out in a quick sigh.
Today is the day...
She'd lived a rather secluded life. Her mother had passed away when Lucia was just a girl, and her sweet father swept in to make sure she never lacked in love and attention. No, he hadn't exactly spoiled her rotten. She had to keep up her studies, work on her sewing and her singing, and would have her ears boxed if she spoke down to the servants.
But she'd never been allowed to attend parties or gatherings without him. She was never allowed out without a chaperon. And she had never been courted by any of the handsome men in her city, though she knew at least a handful had stolen quite obvious glances. And why not? Lucia knew she was pretty. Her milky white skin was framed by her thick, straight, honey hair, and she had eyes that reflected the midnight sky, her mother used to say. She had the body of a healthy eighteen year old woman. Her upper lip was quite large in comparison to her lower lip, giving her a near permanent childish pout, though Lucia liked that. Helped her get out of her father's scolding when she misbehaved.
The only flaw, that Lucia could see, was the scar that ran over the left side of her lips. She felt it, now, with delicate fingers. Years ago, she'd snuck out of the estate and was jumped by a group of neighbor boys. They hit her in the face and put their hands down the front of her dress before her cook beat them bloody with a stick and chased them off.
Daddy hadn't punished her that night, when the cook brought her home, lip bleeding, dress covered in dirt, and tears on her face. Said the scar would be bad enough. It served as her reminder.
From then on, she wasn't allowed to be alone in the house.
Suppose, the word more appropriate to use would be protective. Her father was very protective.
Most girls Lucia's age would be bothered by it. But she wasn't. Lucia knew she was different. Someone special.
She was a Seer.
At fourteen, it had become official, the High Church of the kingdom had sent her father a letter of recognition. But she'd had her first premonition years earlier. She always thought they were just dreams, and would occasionally write down the confusing ones. It took her a few years to realize she was Seeing the future. And a few more months to work up the courage to tell her father.
Lucia didn't need to be a Seer to see that it worried him.
Seers are rather common. Like the trait of red hair that people were sometimes born with. Those with magic in their blood were nearly everywhere. At least, that's what Lucia was told.
And even though they were everywhere, and, some, very powerful, they all respected and bowed to the Queen. She'd given them peace, and it didn't seem to be changing soon. Every Equinox, the Queen took a young woman, a Seer, one 'touched by the Gods', as the priests said, and would sacrifice her in a ritual to plead the Gods to protect her realm and those who would keep it save.
And that's where Lucia came in.
The courier had delivered the letter a while ago, though Lucia couldn't remember when. She'd lived in a fog since it'd come.
She was due to report to the Palace in a few days time. She'd been looking forward to the trip to the Queen's home for too long.
And finally... today was the day.
Lucia stood in front of the mirror, dressed in the gown her daddy had purchased for the occasion. A gorgeous silk, snow white dress, with a chiffon layer on the skirt that was embroidered with golden stars. The hems were also stitched in gold. Her slim arms were covered to the wrist, and the sleeves belled out at the elbow.
Her honey hair had snowy ribbons braided into it, which she wore braided over one shoulder, where it hung over her breasts.
She almost looked bridal. Which, to Lucia, made sense. In a few days, she'd be given over to the Gods, much in the way she'd have been given to a groom.
She breathed in once more, running her hands over her skirt as she gazed at herself.