– Chapter 1 –
The young Katharine von Hohenstaufen, standing on the railing that overlooked the outside, jutted dangerously forward. The sad expression on her youthful face would break anyone's heart, but the servants were busy with preparations for the trip, and so were the rest of the family. Despite her young age, a mere fifteen years, Katharine knew the history and the deeds of her ancestors. Well educated and intelligent, with great sensitivity, the girl also had an appearance that would infatuate anyone at a single glance. Slender, athletic body, pale skin, eyes of a deep blue and thick blond hair, resembling those of her mother; her ladies-in-waiting found extremely pleasing to comb Katharine's hair. In short: she was beautiful, the most beautiful of the nobles of Swabia and maybe the whole Germany, yet her face was pensive and saddened. Long eyelashes quivered in the breeze late summer, and her swollen ruby lips whispered sweet words to the Black Forest. A man's voice caught her from her reverie, inducing her to turn without losing her balance.
"Kathe, we have to go" the tall guy informed her. A couple of years elder to her, he was of equal beauty, blonde haired like her but with ashen grey eyes; her brother Gerhard was staring at her. Katharine deliberately chose to ignore his worried expression, opening her arms and holding them out as wings. "I don't want to go. I throw myself from here" she replied with an air of whimsy. Gerhard sighed. "Violante would not be happy of this" he said promptly. "I do not care anything about Violante" continued Katharine, jutting dangerously backwards. Worried, the young man stepped forward. "Heinrich even" pointed out, stopping the girl with those words. Heinrich, the second born of the Hohenstaufen dynasty but firstborn son of his deceased parents, was the Prince-Elector and the favourite of Katharine; he was the only one able to control her eccentricities and her fickle whims not appropriate to a princess. Gerhard thought that he knew well how much the friendliness of the small Hohenstaufen was reciprocated, thus making Heinrich inclined to justify she often, even without doing it on purpose; for this motif Gerhard took the liberty to suggest, when it was necessary, an eventual mood disturbance of their older brother to tame Katharine. He was the only one to do so: a similar insinuation by people of lower rank would have resulted, of course, in a punishment for such freedom not conceded; the only other person who could have done it, Violante, wouldn't have wasted time in similar subterfuge. Between the two sisters, whose age difference was about ten years, there was bad blood: they tended to ignore each other and Violante, enjoying the position of first-born, only communicates coldly to her the decisions taken about her life such as education, the meeting with the villagers and their travels, as had happened a few nights before.
Katharine jumped down from the railing, touching the ground lightly and inducing Gerhard to have a slight sigh of relief. "I do not want to attend this silly dinner. Why do we need to do it?" she complained again, heading towards the interior of her room. Gerhard followed her, turning his eyes. "It's a gala dinner between elector families. You should be able to understand its importance" he informed her, focusing on the figure of his sister. He thought that she was growing very beautiful, but too spoiled. He puts his hands in the pockets, being careful not to crease his expensive tailored suit. Everything was ready: the luggage had been brought into the yard and they were ready to go. "Are you ready?" he asked, ignoring a possible answer and walking ahead to the outside of the bedroom. Katharine snorted, waved lightly her coiffed hair and obediently followed her brother outside, complaining about her outlook on the immense Black Forest.