3....2......1...... Emmeline feels as if her insides are being crushed as Gavriel helps the princess into her corset. Of course, this is an everyday occurrence for her, but it's not the sort of thing that you can get used to. If she's honest, she wishes she could've just stayed in her quarters, clad in her nightgown all day. But of course, the courting season starts tomorrow and there's work to be done. While someone else may lounge in their room, she doesn't have that luxury. So, instead she's stuffing herself into a dress two sizes too small, with her friend's help of course. Once she's finally inside, she mumbles a small thank you to her friend before rushing out her bedroom door, slowing to a stroll the second she sees a person. She can't be unladylike, after all. Sprinting in the hallway wouldn't make the best impression on her potential suitors.
Please be first. By that, she specifically means first of her family to make it to the entrance of the castle, where they are scheduled to welcome their guests. Of course, Emma feels that she should be first place in all aspects, but growing up with three brothers, she realized quickly that she has to do double the work to get recognized the same amount, especially when you have a sister like hers working against you. Anyway, she makes her way to the castle entrance and takes her spot, ready to receive the family's guests.
Her brother pleads with her, holding out the accursed gown. When it caught her eye just minutes earlier Nic began insisting that she borrow it for the ball. It's not as if anyone would notice that it's been worn before when they sell it, but that fabric was expensive and they really need it to be sold. She would have to work a full month non stop to save up the money for it once again. And quite simply, she can't risk it. But apparently her idiot brother can.
"No. That's enough of this foolishness now."
She huffs at him, scurrying out the door before he has the chance to respond. Ha. She's finally the winner of an argument! Ha ha!
Making her way to the castle, she takes the time to brush all the dirt off her clothes and make herself as presentable as possible. She had to cook this morning, so there was flour all over her. But hey, that flour fight was totally Nic's fault!
Raziah is completely zoned out when she enters the servant's wing, but is quickly brought out of it by Mrs. Miriam, the head of the servants.
"Oh, thank goodness you are finally here girl! You are to be the personal servant of King Drax. Treat him as if he would have your head if you ruin us, which he just might"
Nodding furiously, Raziah gulps.
A king? What? She isn't used to interacting directly with the Alorian royal family, much less another one.
There's no time for questioning it now. She makes her way to the castle entrance, where one of the princesses is already. Taking her place by the other servants, Raziah awaits her doom, or rather, the king.
Nicolas pleads, holding out a red dress that he'd spent days on. He told her it was to sell, but in reality he made it knowing she'd fall in love. Hopefully he'd be able to convince her to wear it before the next ball tomorrow. Sure, maybe she could draw too much attention and lose her position, but she could look attractive and promote his shop! Okay, maybe it is a bad idea. But it's the thought that counts, right?
"No. That's enough of this foolishness now"
She responds, shoving the gown back into his hands and rushing off before he could get in another word. Oh well.
Placing the gown back on the manniquin with a sigh, Nicolas begins fixing the hem of a gown that was comissioned by a noble for the masquerade ball tomorrow. Oh, the ball. How lovely. Romance in the air. Mabe some asshole nobles will even choke on it.
TRIGGER WARNING ABUSE
Another day, another desperate wench throwing themselves at his feet. Collecting his clothes, Camdyn quickly gets dressed and throws the woman her dress, not bothering to say a word as he stalks into the hallway. Rapping against his sister's hotel door he questions
"You dunce, are you ready yet?"
Within a few seconds his younger sister, Serana glides through the door, a scowl on her face.
"Yes dear brother."
She mutters sarcastically, making Camdyn raise his eyebrows.
Grabbing onto her arm he pushes his baby sister against the wall.
"You. Do. Not. Disrespect. Me."
He glowers, tightening his grip. After a moment, he releases her arm, leaving her in the dust. She catches up quickly.Without a word, the two begin heading towards the castle.
The evil lurks just behind her door, knocking on it endlessly. Serana takes a deep breath, shutting her eyes, before stepping out the door.
"Yes dear brother"
She mutters sarcastically, realizing her mistake as soon as it happens. This was not one of her kinder brothers, but the worst of them all. Even when they were children, Camdyn was always targeting the girl, bullying her and pulling her hair. Now, as adults, he has become her caretaker. How ironic.
Within seconds she is slammed against the door by her arm, her brother's face coming very close to hers.
"You. Do. Not. Disrespect. Me."
He hisses and she nods weakly, trying to bite back the tears in her eyes from the grip he has on her. Releasing her once his point has been proven, he leaves, making her run to catch up.
The two of them don't talk on their way to the palace, simply detesting the other's presence silently. Approaching the palace, Serana notices a beautiful girl, a bit older than her, who she can assume to be a princess. The girl welcomes them both with a smile, which her brother returns with a grimace.
"We'll be waiting for the men of the household to address us. Anything else would be disrespectful towards my status"
Nodding, the princess takes a step back and goes to speak to someone else, Serana giving her an apologetic look when she gets a chance.
Sit up straight, shoulders back, smile on your face, but not too much of a smile. No Elsie, that looks creepy stop it! The evil woman with her, Lady Jane Cameron, or Zany Jany as the girls called her, gives the lady a strange look, probably due to the fake smile that quickly spread across her face and disappeared just as fast as it came.
"Whatever are you doing girl?"
The woman questions her, making Elspeth's head shoot down. She stays silent for the remainder of the carriage ride, just occupied with her thoughts.
"Come. We have other girls to accompany"
Elspeth is awoken out of her thoughts as the carriage door is opened for her and she steps out, a light smile gracing her face. Fake, like everything else, but it would make her at least appear friendly. She approaches the woman who seems to be in charge, bowing before her.
"Your majesty, it's a pleasure"
She speaks as she stands back up, being careful not to look the princess in the eyes.
"The pleasure is mine. I don't believe I've had the honor of meeting you quite yet?"
She questions, making Elspeth's eyes widen. Oh, that's because I've been trapped and held against my will for years She wants to say, but bites her tongue.
"I'm afraid not your highness. I am Lady Elspeth of the Grey duchy."
She introduces herself and the two chat for a few minutes until the princess must greet the next person.
Apparently, the servant for her and her brother hasn't arrived yet, nor has the brother in question. So she stands, hands clasped, waiting patiently.
Waking up next to a beautiful woman was nothing new for the eldest prince so when his eyes fluttered open to find slender fingers along his bare chest he smiled and glanced over at the fiery redhead next to him. She was quite beautiful, and he had been flirting her up for several weeks now since she started working in the kitchen. Last night they had enjoyed the finest of wines from his father’s cellar and ate their fill before enjoying pure bliss with one another. Now with the rising of the sun the crowned prince ran his hand over her cheek before removing her arm from his chest and getting out of bed. He knew by the time he returned to his room later that day she would be gone, back to her duties, and he would be her prince rather than her lover. He would need to do something nice for her, perhaps he would arrange to have a bracelet delivered to her or perhaps something else for her to enjoy. He would also see about perhaps bettering her career path. All things he would have to worry about at a later point in time.
Quite used to quickly dressing himself Robert was adorning one of his finer outfits in no time. The prince knew he would need to greet the guests with the rest of his family and so with one last look at his sleeping beauty he departed his chambers and began to make his way towards the front entrance of the palace. As he approached, he could hear his sisters voice around the corner and smiled, it only made sense that Emma would be the first of them there. His smirk disappeared however the moment he heard some pompous swine dare to talk down to his sister. His blood boiled instantly, and Robert had to take a breath before he risked racing around the corner to break the bastard’s jaw. Taking a deep breath, the eldest prince returned a smile to his lips and eased his stance, he had a plan.
Rounding the corner and entering the view of all before the palace Robert jogged casually down the steps. “Good morning, dearest sister. You look lovely this morning; I am assuming the men of the council already informed you of that though. How was that meeting by the way? Oh wait, the guests. You’ll have to fill me in on all I missed later, I am sure Lord Eldrige was unable to match your whit as per usual.” He greeted her first and foremost, making it clear that she was someone of great importance to him as well as a respected figure in royal matters. Then his gaze traveled to the guests but not the male who had clearly disrespected his kin, no, his gaze turned to the lovely princess standing at his side. “And quite the pleasure it is to lay eyes on you your highness.” He greeted the blonde as he planted a kiss on the top of her hand. “I do hope your trip was easy and your stay is pleasurable.” He added, continuing to ignore the man standing beside her. Royal sentiments be damned, he wanted it to be clear that despite this prince being a guest he would be treated like insignificant swine if he continued to act like insignificant swine.
Looking over his shoulder he waved a nearby servant over with a smile. “Ah yes, if you could please escort our guests to their quarters while the others grab their things.” He requested kindly. “I do believe the princess here is set to be staying in the Jade Suite.” He informed the servant, making sure that the blonde got one of the more luxurious rooms. “And the, well I can’t quite say gentleman, so this bloke here I believe is set to stay in the South Suite.” He informed the servant, clearly changing the young princes guest quarters to a far lesser grade room than the rest of the guests would be receiving.
As per usual Gavriel started her day by helping Emma to start her day. The young platinum blonde beauty was dressed in a lovely seafoam green gown with a tight corset that enhanced her womanly features. The shade of the dress caused her jade eyes to look enchanting beneath her naturally thick lashes. She was quick to help Emma pick the stunning pink gown the princess had bought only a few weeks prior. It was a color that looked most flattering on the royal and Gavy knew she had been saving it for a special occasion such as this.
Once they were finished getting Emma ready for the day Gavy quickly gave herself a once over before following the princess to the front of the palace. She knew Emma was eager to get there before her brothers and sister, her princess was always putting in ten times more effort than the rest of them and it irked Gavy with how few noticed. “You look lovely.” She told Emma with a smile as she took her place a step behind the royal and waited for their guests to arrive.
As Lords, Ladies, Royals, and more began to spill out of carriages Gavy greeted each of them with a respectful bow. That was until one young royal thought it wise to speak to Emma as though she were nothing. For an instant, Gavy considered ripping into him but knew it would only lead to issues that her friend would have to deal with so instead she leveled him with a cool gaze and her chin held high. Oh, how desperately she wanted to go off on him and perhaps in private she might have but not here, not now, not when Emma’s image was on the line as well.
The moment Robert arrived Gavy could tell by his approach that he had heard the interaction. While to most it would seem like a casual stride, those who knew Robert best would see that he was not as relaxed as he may appear. When the eldest prince began to talk to Emma, then the visiting princess Gavy felt her lips form into a smirk. When she heard Robert call the man a ‘bloke’ she couldn’t help but chuckle. It was what he deserved after all and Gavy hoped both princesses would find it funny as well.
While many other royalty and nobles chose to arrive by carriage, that was not the way of King Ronan Drax. When he traveled, he liked to see the people of the places he traveled to. He enjoyed being able to wave to them, chat with them along the road, get to really know them. In a carriage, he felt cut off from those who truly did all the work to keep the kingdoms going and that did not sit right with him. Because of this the Beast King often road on his horse, Blue Jasmin, at the head of his caravan and allowed his servants who couldn’t ride horses to ride in the carriage instead.
As he approached the castle he looked to his side where his best friend Draven road and smiled, “Looks like we managed to make it here in one piece.” He chuckled as he remembered past journeys that weren’t so peaceful. “Come on Draven, smile! It won’t hurt you.” He teased his oldest friend before nudging Blue to pick up the pace. Over his shoulder he called out, “Camilla would you please make sure he is smiling by the time he reaches the gates?”
With that, the large, bearded man took off ahead of the caravan with a smile on his lips. He was excited to see this place and its people, all its people. Different countries could be so interesting and exciting to explore, they could have different customs, different manners, it was thrilling. Despite his smile, he knew he must have looked rather intimidating as he road past the palace gates by the look on the guard's faces. It seemed they were uncertain for a moment if they should let the hulking man dressed in furs and armor past but once they saw his crest, they realized who he was. Ronan didn’t take it as an offense and gave them a wave as he passed by.
Approaching the front of the palace with his horses’ hooves clopping across the stone Ronan looked out of place compared to all the fancily dressed folk. He gently pulled Blue Jasmine to a stop and dismounted her swiftly before reaching for his saddlebag and slinging it over his shoulder, his battle ax strapped across his back as it normally was. Looking around he spotted what looked to be the royal greeting committee standing on the steps of the palace and passed his horse off to a servant, giving them a few words of thanks and passing them a few coins for their hard work as he made sure to get their name so he could hopefully get to know them better later. As the well-muscled man approached the situation happening on the steps, he overheard the words of the visiting prince and frowned. He was about to speak when the crowned prince appeared and took matters into his own hands. Once the words were exchanged Ronan stepped forward and placed a firm hand on the visiting prince’s shoulder, giving him a squeeze of warning as he spoke. “I think it’s time you properly thank the princess for greeting you boy.” He suggested as his grip tightened slightly before finally letting go and turning to face the prince and princess. “I take it you must be Prince Robert and Princess Emmeline?” He inquired as he turned his focus away from the other young man. “I am here on behalf of King Drax because, well because I am him.” He introduced with a friendly smile. “But most call me Ronan.” He added. “The rest of my people along with those of King Draven are on their way.” As he spoke he had no idea that the woman of his dreams would be walking through the palace entrance any moment.
Princess Synnøve had her eyes glued to the view on her side of the carriage with wide eyes and a gaped mouth. She'd been like this ever since they left her country, having never been able to venture outside the borders. Every little new thing was a wonder to her and she'd exclaim or point with so much excitement, her servant, an older woman named Grete, couldn't help but smile and shake her head. In Grete's eyes, the Princess was still a child, even if she was of age to find a husband. She knew of Synnøve's childish attitude and was worried about all the scolding and chasing she'd have to do, lest the King be angry. The man would hardly let his daughter out of his sight most of the time and for her to travel to another country... He was probably sweating and pacing and muttering to himself like he does when he's worried.
When they were nearly at their destination and traveling through the busier part of the Kingdom towards the castle, Synnøve could hardly stay still. She took in everything all at once, eyes dashing all over and slowly that gape of her mouth twisted into a smile. People of the kingdom noticed the carriage and saw her practically leaning out of it. She waved excitedly to peasants, children, shop keeps, her smile growing wider and wider.
"Look at them! They smile at me too! Grete!"
The woman sighed and shook her head. "Princess," she began in a scolding voice, speaking in their native tongue. "You are not acting like a lady. They're going to think you're mad!"
The princess' face twisted into a pout and she sat away from the door, back against the seat, crossing her arms. Grete thought she might pout the rest of the way but suddenly the wrinkle of her brow softened.
"How much until we come to there? Grete?"
Grete sighed again, something she often did, and turned to ask the carriage driver as they paused to let a group pass in front. Before the words left the old womans mouth, Synnøve flung open the carriage door and rushed into the crowd towards the market where so many things appeared to be happening. "PRINCESS!" The woman yelled in their tongue. "You cannot do that! There's too many people! It's too sunny and warm out, you need your parasol! Princess!"
A mischievous but excited smile was pasted to Synnøve's lips. Surely, a little look couldn't hurt her, could it? People stared in awe, some smiled, others chattered to each other. She smiled and laughed as she made her way from booth to booth, stopping at one that sold some kind of glazed bread. It looked tasty and Synnøve wanted it. She pointed at it and the shop keep stared dumbfounded for a moment before opening their palm expectedly.
she asked with a small tilt of her head.
The shop keep nodded. The princess thought for a moment before taking off a ring on her finger, a silver piece set with a purple gem and dropped it into the shop keeps hand. The man just stared at it and then her. He wrapped not one but a handful of the pastries and grinned from ear to ear. "Thank you, your grace!"
She murmured, clutching her spoils and turning around to find a very angry looking Grete with her hands on her hips. The woman had a scowl on her face and a glare in her eye. The princess bowed her head like a puppy that got into trouble and chuckled nervously.
"Grete... I bought us food."
"With what money?" Grete asked, speaking their language and then realization hit her and she scanned the Princess of her jewelry. "You paid with your ring?! That is way too much! What were you thinking?!"
"The man was so happy, though! Do not worry, Grete. I will explain it to far, yes?"
The woman glared a moment longer and then bowed her head and shook it again, knowing there was little she could do to stop the Princess. "At least take your parasol. You will surely faint in this sunlight. We can look around but not for long, or you will be late and it will leave a bad impression."
Synnøve's eyes lit up and she smiled wide, hugging the woman who just huffed before patting her on the head. Then she turned back to the stalls, the crowd, and wondered where to look first.
Lysan was just about to call out him winning the game when a large and rough hand landed none too gently on his right shoulder. Lysan was small already due to his childhood illnesses, but compared to the behemoth currently behind him, the prince was dwarfed.
"You cheat, little bastard," the thug growled out. Oh dear. Lysan looked across the tavern to where his bodyguard and dear friend, Brandish, was.
"You must have me mistaken, kind sir! I never cheat," Lysan told him, putting on his most innocent smile and batting his lashes, hoping his demure demeanor would sway the thug into thinking he was just a lucky player. Though Lysan knew when his time was running short so he wiggled his way out from under the thug's hold and began collecting his winnings. That is until a single card fell out of the prince's sleeve. The card he switched out for a winning card. The thug picked up the card and immediately the other thugs around the table stood from their chairs, the wooden furniture scraping across the floor, halting the music and chatter.
"Thief!" One shouted.
"Uh oh," was all Lysan got out before the thug's were charging like bulls in his direction. The prince scrambled around tables and danced between people.
"Brandish, my darling!" was all Lysan could get out when his guard caught up to him. The thug's had fallen behind with all of Lysan's fancy footwork and we're tripping over both people and furniture alike, inciting one of Lysan's favorite things. A bar fight.
"Now I'm sure you have much to say about this predicament I've unwittingly got us caught up in, but I assure you I was playing just as fair as the house was. You know those games are turned out of favor for the guests. I was only leveling the playing field and- oh! Oh dear. What was I saying? Ah yes, I do believe had I not won the last game, I might've gotten away with it," Lysan rambled as the two ran to their horses, flinging themselves atop the Friesians and racing off towards the castle and town surrounding it, leaving some grumpy and rather rude thugs in their dust. Slowing down after getting far enough down the road, it was a sudden realization for Lysan that left him pushing Chavelle to the limit. Going at a breakneck speed that would definitely break his neck if he fell.
"Brandie! We're late! Oh Emma is going to give me the biggest lecture I can already tell!" Lysan shouted over the rushing wind from going so fast. Addam would have a heart attack if he knew. It wasn't long, but long enough that Lysan could tell he was late when they arrived at the stables. Lysan left his horse to be untacked and brushed down in the stable hand's capable care. He would usually do those things himself as he cared deeply for Chavelle and wanted to bond with the horse after pushing him so hard, but all he had time for at the moment was to feed the horse an apple and give him a big kiss on the nose.
"Wish me luck Chavelle!" He shouted, running out of the stables, Brandish hot on his tail.
"Brandie, I think tonight is the night I die if we're the last ones there," Lysan hissed under his breath. "Please take care of Opal for me if I am no more." Speaking of Opal, the Finnish Spitz came bounding from the field with a yip when she saw her owner.
"Opal!" Lysan was momentarily distracted by his fluffy companion before he righted himself and put on his most serious face. "Right. Time to face the music!"
Lysan cheerily bounded his way through the castle, Opal and Brandish on each side. He raced through the doors and was immensely relieved when he found that the only ones there were Robert and Emma. He would bet his left foot that Rovena would be last if it wasn't him. It was eerily tense tho. His brother doing that thing he does and Emma looking slighted as her smile was off. Gavy though looked ready to pounce.
"Hello sister! Brother! Sister Gavy!" Lysan was quick to greet his family and of course his honorary sister Gavy. He then greeted the visiting royals.
"Hello all! I'm Lysan! I hope you all arrived well!"
It was the season of hell once more. Wherein the servants had to be worked to the bone to prepare for the many many people coming to find a spouse. The day before, and she was currently occupied washing the many dishes after helping the cooks prepare breakfast. She normally loathed the gruelling task, but now she found it a comfort. Her last moments of peace before she was to do all the dirty work when preparing the meals for all the guests. Though her job was to do menial labor in the kitchen it wasn't uncommon for her higher ups to request she do something more complex or even away from the kitchen if the palace was particularly tightly scheduled, and she was certain that this season would be no exception. The whole ball a week concept was practical from a marriage standpoint but a nightmare to put work into. She was positive that she would never know sleep until the next year. With a huff, she scrubbed off the last of her dishes and looking around, quietly snuck off to find her one solace in the palace. She creeped around, making sure she wouldn't be spotted by anyone who would ask of her duties. Despite her surly nature, Immy was typically the type to take responsibilities very seriously. On this day however? It would probably be the last time she was able to spare a substantial amount of time and she didn't intend to waste it. Not when she could be with her very reason for working a grueling job in the kitchen.
Finally spotting him standing around, no doubt standing guard, a wicked grin spread to her face. Attempting to walk slowly and casually as if she had not searched the entire castle for him, she inched closer and closer to him. "Morning Wolf Pup. Tell me, I was always of the impression they only allowed humans to be employed here, how on earth did you manage?" She mused teasingly, her arm linking with his. Wolfgang Thorleye had been a facet in her life for as long as she could remember. From her mother's frequent visits to the apothecary, a friendship had grown between the three children, one that had blossomed into adulthood with two of them even working in the same place. The man and his loveable friendly nature had a special place in her heart since her girlhood, even if it was rather irritating to have such affection for him at times. Case in point, his latest plight that his dear sister was too young to marry. This would be all well and fine if she were not the exact same age as dear Lili. Was that how he thought of Immy? Too young?"I simply can not believe that courting season starts in the morrow. You shall hear all my complaints and thoughts until this wretched event is over, and I do not care if I have to disrupt your work to do it." She remarked. It was far from secret how little she enjoyed the festivities, and far less so if it was someone like Wolfgang who for some reaon or another still put up with her antics. "In fact, why don't you switch professisons entirely? Join me in the kitchen so I can talk to you endlessly." She chuckled, concealing the side of her wishing that he could indeed follow her around throughout the day. She would even settle for him acknowledging her as anything more than a girl "The kingdom will not fall apart with one less guard. And if it does, I shall bear responsibility and throw myself in the stocks." She commented, her eyes glancing around, praying she did not see another soul who knew she was meant to be working. Time with Wolf would become a precious commodity these days. Especially if she had to go back home as she feared she may. So why not go a little rogue for the day?
She was not the sort of woman to be messed with and she made sure that was known. The moment she and Lysan entered this establishment she approached the bar and ordered a strong ale for herself and one for the prince. As if on queue a burly man with a poorly shaven beard and breath that smelled foul enough to kill a rat came over and put his arm around her waist so he could pull her against him. “Oi pretty lady, looks like you could be my future wife.” He growled in her ear in what she assumed was meant to be a seductive way but sounded more like he was choking on his own saliva. She was not some delicate flower, some common defenseless bar wench, and she was far from in the mood to deal with this sort of swine.
Giving the bartender an annoyed smile she raised her foot slightly before slamming her heel back on the man who dared to touch her. As he let out a howl of pain the ebony-haired woman turned her upper body with her arm raised and planted her elbow solidly against his chin causing his jaw to clamp shut and likely bite his tongue. The pain caused the arm around her to loosen and in a swift turn, she brought her knee up between the pigs’ legs and nailed him right in the family jewels. The man doubled over as he felt pain course through his entire being and was met with a swift elbow to the side of the head that left him dropping to the ground like a sack of stones. Brandish looked at him, not even breaking a sweat, and sighed as she realized she needed to make sure she hadn’t killed him. Bending down she placed her fingers on his neck and waited a second before standing back up content with the pulse she had found.
Now hours later she sat alone at a table not too far from Lysan with her feet up and several empty mugs of ale beside her. Despite her size, she barely felt the effects of the alcohol but did enjoy the slight buzz that had set in. The man from earlier had been carried out by his friends and no one else had dared to approach her at her table, clearly too afraid to risk it or realizing she had every right to react the way she did. Brandish didn’t really give a damn though, she was here for two reasons and two reasons only. The first was to make sure Prince Lysan didn’t get his hands cut off while playing cards, the second was to enjoy a few drinks in peace.
Peace it seemed wasn’t an option though as her eyes flickered to the faces of the men Lysan was playing with and she could read the agitation all over their faces. Lysan was winning and she knew it wasn’t because he was playing fairly but she didn’t really care. What she did care about was the growing hostility that was brewing around the card table as Lysan won another hand. “Shit.” She sighed as she watched a card fall from Lysan’s sleeve and the room filled with the sudden rush of men jumping from their chairs and after the prince. As Lysan scrambled away Brandish got to her feet and waited for the prince to race past her before lifting her chair and slamming it into the crowd of men, giving it a solid kick to push them back on each other and give Lysan more time to get away. As the men stumbled backwards Brandish whirled on her heels and raced after Lysan, throwing some tables on the floor behind her as she went.
“You couldn’t just take the winnings three hands ago when they weren’t suspicious?” She inquired pointedly as she caught up with her client as they raced towards their horses. She shook her head but couldn’t resist a smile pulling at her lips as she listened to Lysan ramble on in defense of his actions. It was never a dull day being at his side which was part of the reason the ebony-haired warrior enjoyed her job so much, well, that and the royal treasury.
Mounting her horse, she urged Sobek onwards towards the castle, the Friesian keeping pace with its matching pair on which Lysan rode. “So long as she is lecturing you and not me.” Brandish replied with a smirk as they road across the castle grounds and towards the stables. “I’m your guard, not your timekeeper after all.” She added with a laugh as they came to a halt in the palace stables and both dismounted their steeds. “Good boy Sobek.” She hummed to the black stallion as she retrieved her sword and whip from his saddle and gave him a loving neck pat. She turned to see Lysan doing much the same with Chawelle and gave them a moment before clearing her throat and nodding towards the palace, “We’re late.” She reminded him with a teasing smirk and in an instant was taking off after him again.
She couldn’t help but chuckle and shake her head at the young prince’s dramatics when she heard him talk about how he might die for being late and how she should look after Opal if he does. “As if Opal would ever leave your tomb.” She replied jokingly though it had a hint of truth to it that the boy’s dog was so loyal it would stand by him even in death. She smiled as the dog in question came racing around the corner to meet them as they entered the castle. Swiftly the small pack moved through the halls and made a rapid approach towards the front entrance of the castle.
As they made their way through the doors it didn’t take a mind reader to tell that something had happened. Prince Robert was poised but looked like he could strike at any moment if given a reason. Princes Emmeline had the most forced smile Brandish was sure she had ever seen on her lips, and there had been many. And Lady Gavriel looked like a snake ready to strike at any moment. As Lysan approached the situation Brandish followed with her hand resting casually on the pommel of her sword, not in a threatening way but easy enough to access in the blink of an eye. All the aggression seemed to be angled towards a young pair that was likely visiting royalty. Scanning the new faces Brandish found her gaze lingering a bit longer on the delicate and beautiful features of the young princess who stood before Robert and Emma. The blonde woman looked so soft with doe-like eyes that Brandish found herself studying for a heartbeat longer than normal. She would have liked to explore her features further but the arrival of more people and the already mounted tension had her attention forced elsewhere on the off chance any real threats came into being.
Draven rode along side Ronan glancing back making sure their servants and Camilla were still doing alright. The journey was new for many of them so he wanted to make sure they were doing alright. His gaze flicking back towards Ronan hearing him speak about smiling and that it wouldn’t hurt him. The stone faced man shook his head looking annoyed but was highly amused by his long time friend. It wasn’t uncommon for Draven to look ready to kill his face was constantly in a state of disapproval or as Camilla called it resting bitch face. He heard her snickering behind him and turned towards her.”Don’t make me send you back home.”he joked since Camilla was actually a servant of Ronan but they both grew up with the young woman and often sought her guidance with some common things as she was able to easily chat with common folk. He heard her reply and actually laughed a little.”You are right now come on we better hurry before he gets himself or us into trouble.”he said speeding his horse on. It didn’t take long before he arrived with Camilla he dismounted then made sure Camilla got off safely as well. Draven strode over calmly while Camilla kept right behind him making it clear she was a servant but a higher up one.
Draven heard the tone of Ronan and knew someone had already angered him some. His gaze flicked over and he motioned for Camilla to quickly follow. He approached the group and moved allowing Camilla’s soft hand too gently touch Ronan a light warning for the king. “It seems like this is quite an entrance already. I might as well introduce myself as well. I’m king Draven Gwynbleidd it’s a pleasure to meet you both.”he said since Ronan seemed to have a problem with the one man Draven wouldn’t greet him either the two were a paired deal on most things. Draven trusted Ronan’s instincts so he only addressed Prince Robert and Princess Emmeline attempting a warm smile as he felt Camilla also give him a tiny pinch of warning. “Also this young woman here is Camilla a servant of King Ronan though she also assists me when needed. We would appreciate it if you allowed her to work closely with us and whoever else she needs to assist while staying here.”he said as Camilla allowed herself to be view and gave a warm curtsy to the royals.
“Tighter.” She let out a pained breath but sucked her stomach in more, the servant who held the strings in her hands hesitated before pulling it tighter. Victorias knuckles were pure white as she grasped the table, biting her lip from letting a small scream out. When people say Beauty is Pain, its an understatement. Its more like torture.
“Your grace are you alright?”
“Quite alright. Thank you for the concern, Nicolette.”
“Would you like to dress now? You are to be in the courtyard within the hour.” Victoria nodded and Nicolette left for a moment before returning with a bundle of fabrics in her arms. A wide smile on her face.
“You will look lovely, Your Grace, sure to outshine the others!”
“Thank you, that is very sweet but im sure the other girls are quite beautiful.” She smiled back at her as she slid on a tan petticoat. Nicolette fiddled with the buttons as she continued to speak.
“Are you excited for the Courting Season? I heard from a servant that there are Princes and Princess coming in.. even some Kings and Queens! Oh Your Grace what if you were to marry one? Would you bring me with you?” Nicolette had gotten a bit more comfortable with Victoria the more time passed, Victoria could see her as a friend. She let out a laugh and shook her head slightly.
“Quite excited. Of course you would come with me! What would I do without you?” Nicolette beamed at her and by the time they were done talking, she was dressed in her outfit. Right after the tan petticoat, a sky blue silk gown and an overcoat of sapphire blue with handsewed golden splotches. It draped across her chest before splitting to both sides of her, leaving the pale blue exposed. She turned to look in the mirror and gasped, “Oh Nicolette! I look beautiful. Thank you!” She grinned and the servant turned bright red.
“Youre welcome Your Grace. Anything for you.”
“You are relieved from your duties the rest of the day, ill call for you when I return.”
“Thank you so much Your Grace- You are too kind.” She dipped into a small curtsy before exiting the room and Victoria clicked her tongue. Maximilian perked his head and trotted over to her.
“Come on Maxi, we have people to greet!” She slipped a leash onto his collar before dancing her way to the door. Sliding on a pair of sapphire slippers embroidered with gold thread, and a parasol to match. She slipped out her door and clicked it shut behind her, off to collect her brother.
The duchess dipped into courtesies whenever someone passed, exchanging pleasantries as they gushed over how well-groomed Maximilian was. Her footsteps were light and her dress trailed behind her, she looked like a goddess. Victoria reached up and knocked lightly on Zevs door, unsure if he was still asleep.
“Zev, we need to get going before we turn the Malachite family name to rubbish. I know you dont care about your title but I do!” Once he stepped out she wasted no time hooking her arm through his and guiding them to the courtyard, Maximilian trotted beside her, his tongue sticking out.
“Glad you are alive and not dead. How was your sleep, dear brother? Pleasant I hope?” She attempted to make small talk though that wasnt her forte. It wasnt long before they reached a side door and a pair of guards opened it for them. She took a deep breath, in then out. She drew her shoulders back and curled her lips into a polite smile. Victoria tilted her head closer to her brother, ice blonde locks cascading over her shoulder. “Remember to smile ok? Dont scare off the ladies.” She patted his arm and stepped out into the courtyard.
Her gaze drifted over all the people gathered before it landed on a beautiful young woman in a pink dress, who was speaking to a duo when the male said something Victoria couldnt catch but she didnt seem to like it. Then the Crowned Prince appeared and from his reaction she could tell it was bad. His voice carried over the courtyard and Victoria had to stop from giggling. "The Crowned Prince ought to order the guards to cut off his tallywags.” She couldnt help but snicker for a moment. “Alright alright ill stop.” She danced her way through the crowd once she found a familiar duo.
They approached the two and she let go of Zevs arm and stepped into a curtsy. “Duke and Duchess. How were your travels?” She stood back up and Maxi whimpered at her side, pawing at Xena trying to get her attention.
“It seems like Maximilan missed you Xena. I did too, its nice to see you again. How have you been? Isnt it exciting how many are here for the season?” She stepped closer to speak to the woman as she turned to focus on the royal family.
Thread. Sew. Move the fabric. Start all over again. With the upcoming courting season and the multitudes of balls, this required Fae to work day and night to finish the orders shes been given. She dashed around her small workspace, needles in her mouth and threads in the side of her apron. There were at LEAST 5 dresses in the room currently- not counting her own.
She turned to face one dress, picking up the skirt, popping thread through the eye of the needle and took to hemming it. Proceeding to turn and grab another dress, this one deep blue with a torn sleeve. This was an easy fix, she could do it in her sleep. Not that she could afford to sleep for like- the next year.
She quickly sewed the sleeve back into place and patted it. “One down! Wooo!”She cheered as she moved over to the back corner, papers strung everywhere. Her eyes scanned over her schedule that had lots of scribbles everywhere. Well good thing she finished that dress today because it is due today! Though many of them are a bit late due to the high demand for new dresses.
AH SHIT! SHE STILL HAD TO FINISH HER OWN DRESS FOR TOMORROW! She took the deep maroon dress off the mannequin and took to sewing the front and back piece of fabric together. Her seams nice and neat, evenly spaced. She took pride in her work. The dress was pretty simple but she was in love with it. Someone simpler is better.
Her mother bought a bundle of silk and velvet for Fae to work on her own dresses for the ball and she knew it cost a fortune. She spent a good amount of time in that side of the market. She would eventually pay it back once she became a famous seamstress or tailor working for the royal court.
She held the dress up and beamed, when her mother walked in. “Oh mama isnt it just beautiful!” Her mother nodded in agreement before getting to the topic with a smile.
“You need to get ready to leave, everyone is starting to gather in the courtyard. The surplus of carriages is ridiculous. Do you want to take Butterscotch-”
“Nope!” She chirped as she stood up from her bed and grabbed the pale pink bundle stuffed in the corner of her bureau. “Ill walk today I think! It would be good for me to get some air.” Fae kissed her mothers cheek as she nodded and left the room. Fae grabbed her corset and slipped it on, grabbing the strings in her hands and pulling tightly on it. After growing up with only brothers and no sisters, she took to learning how to do things on her own.
Like lace up a corset. She finished tying it and slipped the gown on over her head. It was a little tight which was understandable considering it was at least five seasons old but she had no time to make a new one! Plus it was still really pretty with its flowy sleeves, white lace, and golden belt.
She threw on a pair of black slippers and headed downstairs. “Mama can you do my hair really quick?” She asked and her mother nodded, taking chunks of her hair and braiding it while the rest got moved into a bun. She tucked the pieces of the braid into the bun and smiled. “Thank you mama!” She hugged her before taking off out the door.
Their little Tailor Shop was located in the center of town where most business flowed, but now it was flowing with carriages and horses. She danced her way through the crowd with a pep in her step and a small melody playing from her lips.
A guard stopped her once she arrived at the gate and she complied, expecting this to happen.
“Halt. State your business.”
She dipped into a curtsy as she spoke, “Hello sir, I am here to join the group within the gates for the Season, I have an invitation.”
“Show us.” She withdrew the invitation out of a hidden pocket and handed it to him which he looked over before nodding and she was cleared to go. A guard opened the gate for her and she thanked him before darting through.
She let her grip slip on her dress and it spilled out around her feet. She spun around with a twinkle in her eye. One day she would work here for the royal court. Like forget true love! Her love was thread and needles and fabric! It didnt seize to amaze her at all the types of people cluttered together, the lower classmen and visiting royals which never happened.
She spoke to many people, learning all about them and where they were from before talking to a particular servant, now taking them hostage as her gossiping buddy. She rambled about many things from ancient fashion, to the guy in the corner who was wearing a hideously patterned outfit to puppies running around.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” She shook the poor girls shoulder and squealed. “Look at the princess! Isnt she pretty! I wish I could design a dress for her! Imagine how much credit I could get! That one shes wearing is a little too small. I can tell from here. Do you think she would let me fix it for her? OH NO- HE IS NOT WEARING THAT HERE! I WOULD DIE!”
While she was talking she didnt bother paying attention to where she was walking, more on the peoples outfits. If people really cared they would move out of her way. That was before she ran headfirst into some burly guy, stumbling back a couple steps. The servant took this as a distraction and fled the scene. “Excuse you sir-” She was about to go off on him when she looked up, making direct eye contact and she stopped speaking. He was terrifying in appearance. Bright piercing eyes and a cold aura. Not to mention his clothes reeked of something higher class.
She quickly bobbed into a curtsy and hoped he would spare mercy on her. “Hello I am quite sorry- I was not looking where I was going, I was more focused on everyone. Oh my god I forgot to properly address you- Shit- WAIT SORRY! I DID NOT MEAN TO CUSS IN YOUR PRESENCE YOUR HIGHNESS OR IS IT GRACE OR IS IT SIR? Yaknow what ima not even attempt that. You are going to behead me now arent you?” She gulped before standing back up. “...Is it too late to start over? Because I would really like to. Hello im Lady Cove of Alor. Whats your name?”
Returning back to Alor and back to his responsibilities was something Nate didn't really wanna do. He would rather be out at seas on his ship being Captain. Exploring places one could only dream of. The White Dagger was home, not this stone building in front of him.
He raised his fist and rapped harshly on the door, hoping it would be Lucille who greeted him. She was always quick in helping him get in and out without him having to hear from his father. This time he wasnt lucky. It was his own father who answered the door.
Nate nodded to him and he nodded back. He looked older than when he left. Bags dominated the underneath of his eyes, gray patches more evident in his hair and his normal neatly combed bread was a mess. “You finally return home boy?”
"You rrrrrequessssted me too sssso herrrre I am back in thissss hell. You ssssaid it wassss errrrgent?" Nate in all reality had been back for a little while now. His father frowned slightly but nodded, moving aside to let Nate in.
"We have matters to discuss and before you turn me down I have already said yes to the royal court for you. So this is more me informing you." It was Nates turn to frown as they found their way to the parlor. He sprawled out on one of the sofas and grinded his teeth, debating on how to approach this.
"What issss it fatherrrr?" As his words drawled out his gaze traveled around the parlor and the estate, nothing really changed when he was gone. While this estate was one of the more modest out of the Grey family estates he preferred it over others, his father did too.
"I am sending you to participate within this years Courting Season. Its about time you stopped frolicking out at sea and took the place as head of the duchy. With a bride by your side."
Nates carefree posture turned ridged as something gripped his heart. NO ONE insulted what he did! He was an explorer of the 7 seas! Bound to be one of the greatest if all time! He was quick to bolt up and glare at his father. "FRRRROLICK?! FRRRROLICK?! You will not belittle what I do fatherrrr! I am an explorrrrrerrrr! I am the frrrront of expeditionssss. I think we arrrre done herrrre. I will go but do not expect me to assssk forrrr ssssomeonessss hand in marrrrrrrriage." With that he stormed off to his room.
He didnt even bother changing his outfit, minus his shoes, he swapped into a pair of heeled boots and tied his hair up. Checking a mirror before he left. He looked fine in his own standards but probably not royalties standards. His shirt was half undone revealing a scandalous amount of his chest and he had tight pants on. Lovely.
He quickly left the manor and swung back onto Lune. He clicked his tongue and off they were to the castle. He had a feeling if his father was doing this to him he was doing it to his sister so when he arrived within the gates, his eyes danced over the crowd looking for you. Once they landed on her, he slid off Lune and patted her neck. Gripping the reins between his fingers as he danced his way through the crowd.
His expression didnt light up in joy when seeing his sister for the first time in possibly over a year, it remained stoic and distant. Nate bowed his head out of respect before greeting her.
“Lady Elssssbeth. Dearrrr ssssisssster. Glad to ssssee you arrrre sssstill alive. Howsss your morrrrning?”
Camdyn has never hated a man more in his life. Addressing the women first, then downgrading him? The prince takes in a breath as he is about to respond when he feels a hand on his shoulder. Another man had approached, this one even more threatening. Still, the pride in the prince is strong. The boy has feel his face tense up with the tirade he is about to go on when he feels an arm against him. His sister, attempting to intervene. How pitiful.
Maybe trying to behead two royals isn't the best idea, especially when there is another guard approaching with a hand on her weapon. But, retreating is in fact, not his sister's idea. He had merely planted that thought into her head, quite obviously, so the two could keep up appearances.
The prince grabs his sisters hand, laying it in the crook of his.
"My deepest apologies princess. I did not realize I was in the company of such a esteemed woman such as yourself"
He speaks calmly, though any who knew him would feel the ice behind his words. With that, he pulls his sister over towards the servant, who directs the two to their rooms.
This "prince" is awfully rude. That's all Emmeline thinks of him, figuring that he would ruin his own reputation shortly. But when she feels her brother approach, she knows things won't be that easy for this man. She stays silent during the encounter, simply giving the girl beside the awful prince a reassuring smile. Women should not be punished for the men's actions, it's as simple as that.
She does, however, place a hand on her brother's arm and give it a silent squeeze, in thanks for coming to her aid. Though unnecessary and possibly causing relations issues, it was kind, which he is known to be. She also flashes a quick, reassuring smile at Gavriel, knowing her servant and friend will be enraged at this prince.
When the king approaches, Emmeline's interest is peaked. She hasn't met this King Ronan before, but she quickly analyzes him. Strong, would be a good leader in battle. But leads with his heart, as is shown by him stepping in. He could also step into wars and such that were not his business, out of a civic duty. Intriguing.
Another king, along with a servant approach after the first, though without much conversation she can't get a good read on him. He respects his servants well enough, due to the woman seeming to feel comfortable in the presence of two kings. And he requests things for her, whereas typically a servant would just scurry off to the kitchens or something similar.
"It is a pleasure to meet you your majesties. I wish you luck in this courting season"
She smiles, curtsying as she speaks. As soon as the rude prince is out of ear shot she leans in slightly
"And thank you for the assistance in that matter"
She speaks with a coy smile, as if she were a child with a secret. Leaning back, the regal woman is once again assumed, all traces of the true woman vanished.
"I believe I know which servant is assigned to you sir. She's been in our service for a bit of time and is quite dedicated. Fitting for a king"
She turns towards the palace doors, a bit of irritation showing on her features as she calls for the older girl
Raziah's mind is well into her worries when she is called, leading her to almost trip over her own feet as she heads out the castle entrance. Noting the tall, kingly looking man next to the other royals, it's quite obvious why she is being called. She stands up a bit straighter and while walking quickly, almost floats above ground with her graceful steps.
As she approaches the king she lowers her head, the rest of her body following in a well practiced curtsy. She keeps her eyes respectfully away from his, instead choosing to nervously point them at anything else.
"You-your majesty, it will be my honor to serve you in the coming season"
She speaks, her soft voice somehow cutting through all the hustle and bustle of arriving royals.
Once she has acknowledged the more intriguing member of the three visitors, she turns to the two others.
"It is an honor to make your acquaintance as well your majesty. I see you have another servant with you. I would be very pleased to learn best how to serve the two majesties, so I would love to converse with her after our duties are completed."
She curtsies at the other king as well, taking a moment to give the other servant a soft smile.
Bashi rose early almost every morning. It was a habit they couldn't afford to break as every day was a busy one. Lots of jobs to be done around the castle. The day before it was catch kitchen mice and the day before that it had been carrying water for the castle gardener, Felix. All in all, Bashi had lots of things to do most days that were rather different from what other servants did. Bashi also ran messages sometimes and because they could read and write, they were an effective scribe when they had downtime. Today though, today was different. And Bashi was excited. They had been raving to Alice and Raziah ever since the announcement that some servants would be assigned to visiting royals. Lysan was assigned to the two siblings of the Grey Duchy and they were very interested to see what the two visiting nobles were like. So today they donned their best dress and boots, lacing up the front of the dress and tying the boot laces tight. From there it was plaiting their shoulder length black hair into a single braid and tucking the stray pieces behind their ears. Now they were standing on the steps of the palace with the other servants waiting for the Grey Duchess and Duke to arrive.
Lady Rajia Adoble of House Adoble was a rather, stubborn woman. She had manners and could play at being a gentlewoman with the best of them. With her superiors at least. Though around those of lower rank she felt less pressure to pretend to be a "mild-mannered woman" and felt much more comfortable being herself. And herself was a complicated, stubborn, independent young lady. And though her father's stipulation that she could run the estate provided she found a spouse was irksome, she realized why he had implemented the demand. Rajia had many younger sisters that could not get married unless Rajia, as the oldest did. And Rajia had heretofore been a stubborn brat and refused to even entertain the idea. And on top of that, Lise was dying to marry her longtime suitor and Bina was just entering the courting season back in their country. Rajia had to find a spouse.
So here she sat, in a carriage with her beloved dogs at her feet. Goliath sat on the seat opposite his owner while Athene sat with her head in Rajia's lap, accepting the gentle head scritches from her nervous mistress. Phantom, the youngest of the dogs, and barely just out of puppy years, sat on the floor of the carriage watching the scenery go by with a rapt attention Rajia had a hard time gaining in any other instance. The older dogs, Athene and Goliath, had made many a similar trip. But this was the pup's third carriage ride since his birth.
Rajia adored her dogs and would never had made the trip without them, relying heavily on each dog for a different reason. Athene had a calm temperament and was a compassionate thing, always by Rajia's side when her nerves overtook the poor girl. While Goliath was much more of an unrelenting guard, his size making it hard to get at Rajia when he was in front of her. And while Rajia played less and less, Phantom was still a pup at heart and easily took to grasping Rajia's own heart and making her laugh.
It wasn't a long trip from the port that Rajia had arrived in. Many people were travelling along the same path as her, going one way or another. Rajia didn't have many people with her, just her trusted servant, Kaiza, and some of her father's footmen. The others were in the second carriage, hoping the space alone with her dogs would give their lady ample time to settle her anxieties.
But it was all coming to a close as the carriage pulled up to the front of the palace, among many other horses, carriages, and people. Rajia felt small compared to the large companies around her. She had not brought much or many people. But she had to face the music. She firmly told Phantom to stay put, giving all three a final kiss on their foreheads before nodding to one of the footmen to open the door and help her out of the carriage, on the other side, Kaiza was letting out the dogs and clipping a leash to Phantom's collar, the pup prone to running off. That was all Rajia glimpsed of her pups before she was faced with the steps of the palace and the royal family of Alor. Of to the side was a couple servants and off to her side were other guests of the family.
The youngest prince introduced himself and Rajia dipped into a low curtsey, introducing herself.
"Good Morning and Farewell." Were the hushed whispers of Rovena, as she creeped out of the quarters of her lover of the night. Lord Something or Other who she had no doubt would attempt for her hand at the ball tomorrow. She'd never be with him obviously, not only did he not have enough fortune, he was an attentive sort of man who would wonder where she would sneak off to at night. Nevertheless even as a princess she still needed to appear desirable, as plenty of women and men would go for her other siblings. The youngest Augustus daughter would require every bit of work she could to get the attention of the right sort of suitor. Any paultry shoppe girl could get a measly duke, but she was different. After all royalty required certain standards. Standards she herself had yet to meet, given she was currently running late to greet the visiting royals.
After rushing to make herself decent and presentable, changing into a nicer dress and tidying her braids, she was off to the entrance. "Terribly sorry dear brothers, and sisters, I do not know what came over me as to be so tardy." She sighed, in her usual practiced sickly sweet tone. "And I regret being unable to greet you lot as well, I do hope we shall get to know each other over your time at the palace." She remarked to the visitors, conveniently eschewing language in which she would need to refer to them by name.
Time was infinite and without a flaw, it was everything and nothing at the same time. Time was the only other thing that was certain in life, that was superior and held no resistance, not judgment. Harry often found himself at the clock and wondering what it would be like if he controlled it all, if he had time within his hands indefinitely. Would he feel as though he truly could conquer all he desired? Or will the crushing feeling of never feeling the cooling touch of death settle in as his new tribulation. As the pendulum swung and the little prince's eyes followed, his mind just for those few moments went still. As if there was something that sat him down, something that hit the brakes on his usual rampaging thoughts just for a brief moment in time. So young yet his mind grew older ever codex completed and stored in his mind, every lesson of combat, every steady study of the people he found interesting. Yes, one day this little boy would show the world what he was made of... even if they didn't want to listen.
"Harry," a familiar voice had called out to him, but the effort to grab his attention fell on deaf ears.
"Harry!" the voice said, now in an elevated voice.
The force broke his daydreaming, which caused him to hit his head on the roof of the ride they were in. A hefty grunt was his response as he rubbed the top of his head gently before looking over. "My apologies, Valica. It seems as though my mind desires to drift this evening." A look of frustration had plastered across the seamstress's face before she fiddled and straightened out the outfit he was wearing. "That's quite alright dear, just be sure to keep your head on straight at your invitation tonight. Ah, perhaps if so astray, we should postpone your arrival?" she merely suggested, the final addition to the prince's wardrobe was draped across her lap with care. Harry gave a wave in disagreement as he shook his head, "Nonsense, it would be rude of me to do so now. Besides, we are only a few minutes away from Alor now," he said, grinning over at her slightly. She gave a soft sigh while placing a small curl of his back into place, "As fireflies shimmer, so shall your mind falter away."
After half an hour had passed by, they were now at the main entrance of the castle. This was a place he had not visited in quite a few years, so much so that his English would inevitably crack as he spoke to the others in attendance. As he stepped out of the carriage, Harry stood still and took in a deep breath of fresh air while Valica followed suit in placing his cape upon his shoulders in its rightful place. The smaller figure went around him in a few circles, straightening and fluffy our areas of the ensemble before sighing in completion.
"Here goes nothing."
As soon as he walked inside, the lighting caused his eyes to flicker as he adjusted to it, the inside lining of his cape subtly sparkling under them. Valica stayed by his side as he studied the room, a nudge in his side followed when Harry carried on for an extended period of time. He glanced over at her before she motioned over to the bar area, "Ah, right. Very well, go ahead I've got it from here," he responded, which Valica curtseyed before walking over to it. That action caused him to laugh lightly as he made his way deeper inside the gather hoping to see a familiar face roaming around, perhaps one that he has been longing to reconnect with.
Zev stared at his reflection as he ran a hand through his halo of pale blonde waves, smoothing them easily thanks to another restless night. He barely slept at all, plagued by nightmares of his late wife. Not that it was out of the ordinary--he always had nightmares about Lora or the baby, every time he attempted sleep. On particularly bad nights it was both of them. Although if he had to choose, he'd take the most awful nightmare over a good dream.
The good dreams were far worse, the ones where Lora was alive and happy with him, safe in his arms. Especially the ones that were so vivid and real he could feel her silky, golden locks slip through his fingers. His own mind tormenting him even more by making sure every detail was carefully and lovingly replicated, right down to that ever-present kittenish glint in her velvety brown eyes. And of course, Zev would always wake alone in his cold and lonely bed. The absolute dread of waking up this way is what drove him to avoid sleep at all costs.
Zev finished off the flagon of wine that was left in his chamber from the previous night, cursing himself for not requesting more. There was no time for that now though, as Victoria was already rapping on the door. "Oh yes, wouldn't want to sully the illustrious Malachite name," Zev sneered sarcastically as he opened the door to greet her, giving Maxi a quick pat on his head. Despite his foul mood, he couldn't help but smile at the sight of his younger sister, all dolled up in blue and gold. "Well well, look at you. Already trying to make the menfolk sad they'll never win your hand?" Zev teased, draping an arm around her shoulders to playfully pull her along before linking arms as they walked side by side.
"Ah, you are, dear sister? That makes one of us, I guess," The blonde fellow joked in response to Victoria's chipper assertion that she was happy he was alive and hadn't somehow met his demise overnight, though the sweet sentiment did lift his spirits some. With a shake of his head Zev chuckled at his little sister's order for him to smile so not to scare the arriving ladies, jokingly plastering a ghastly, overly forced grin on his face. "There, happy?" He asked, reluctantly following as Victoria took them headlong into the crowd gathered in the courtyard.
"If only something so interesting would happen," Zev quipped back with a smirk at Victoria's joke about a would-be suitor's castration. He glanced idly at all the different faces of the crowd around them, stifling a sigh of boredom as he allowed himself to be lead around by his sister. Wonderful, Zev thought to himself. Here we go again, another courting season. His patience for the ritual waning more and more each passing year.
As Victoria spoke, Zev's attention was suddenly pulled from his thoughts, finally noticing the familar duo standing before him. "Ah, Xander," He grinned at the sight of his old friend, giving the fellow a playful whack on the back. To the pretty brunette standing beside her sibling, Zev flashed a charming smile, forcing the most debonair swagger he could muster this early (and sober) in the day. "Xena, how lovely to see you again. You look stunning." Taking her hand in his, he bowed down to place a gentle kiss upon it.
"Are you gonna shut that door sometime today, bunny?" Lilibeth stood in the open doorway of her mother's shoppe, gazing wistfully at the road and bustling market across the way. She just sighed at her mother's question, continuing to peek out the open door, still clutching the broom in her hands meant for sweeping up the shoppe.
There were guests and nobles and royals from all over arriving today for the courting season, after all; mother seriously couldn't be expecting her to work all day without pausing to watch their beautiful, ornate carriages go by. The young girl heaved another sigh, thinking of her older brother and best friend, Imogene, who both worked at the palace. They got to spend all day in the presence of such important, prestigious people. It really wasn't fair.
Just then, Lilibeth's wide, blue eyes were greeted by one of said carriages arriving. The girl perked up, letting out a soft gasp of excitement to see the young highborn girl inside practically hanging herself out the window to wave at all the townsfolk and shopkeeps on the street. Lili waved back at her with glee, and her mother, Aelyss, couldn't help but wander over to glance curiously over her daughter's shoulder, idly smoothing Lili's golden curls back as she watched the carriage and its eager passenger go by.
Aelyss chuckled at the young girl's enthusiasm, also waving back as the carriage curiously paused in the road. She was about to turn and wander back over to finish her task of stocking some shelves with various little glass jars and vials when Lilibeth suddenly thrust the broom in her hands and scrambled out the door. "Wait, Lili, where--" the brunette stammered, watching her daughter bolt towards the bustling marketplace. "I'll be right back, mama!" Lili called back as she ran to catch up with the noble lady, who had suddenly sprinted from her idling carriage and made a beeline for the market booths. An opportunity to rub elbows with real live nobility, right here in their own little town square? There was no way Lilibeth was going to turn that down.
Lili was beaming with excitement when she caught up with the girl, who looked to be about the same age as herself. She was struck speechless the other's ethereal appearance, however, suprisingly tiny up close, with gorgeous, snow white hair, and a flowing, white gown with fluffy fur accents and sparkling lace, like some sort of fairy princess from the North Pole. She just has to be royalty, Lili thought to herself.
"Your grace," The blonde managed to squeak out when she finally found her voice again, dipping her head respectfully in a shy curtsy. How does one even speak to a fairy princess? Was all Lili could think. She found herself struck silent again, and all she could do was smile dumbfounded at the princess and the older woman standing before her. "Uh...I--hello! "
Courting season, it was finally here. Sure the royals may have it hard, needing to court someone, but this season was hard on the servants as well. 'We're the one's serving here.' was what Alice would think whenever they said courting season was easy for servants. They also had to wear fancier clothing that the loose fitting dresses, she was used to wearing, but luckily that was only needed for the balls. Right now she was wearing a simple white and green dress, she tried to lace it up herself, although she doesn't know if she did it properly. She was probably one of only servant, out of the people she knew, that wasn't going to be serving a visiting royal. She has been Robert's personal servant for quite some time now. As of right now, she was on his way to his chambers to clean up the remains he had of last night.
Walking up to his door, she noticed a red haired girl rounding the corner near his room. "Hmm." Alice hummed to herself, having a guess who was in Robert's room last night. Knowing Robert was already downstairs, greeting guests, she didn't bother to knock, pushing the door open. The room wasn't as messy as she expected, at least she didn't have to clean more things. She did the usual, the change of sheets, making of the bed, and other things. However as she was collecting the dirty clothes from around the room, she noticed two things. One, strands of long red hair littered his sheets, and two, a white carvat was sitting a top a dresser. If Alice knew the prince's outfits enough, she knew that this carvat was something he usually wore for formal events. She grabbed it, knowing he probably forgot to put it on this morning, and went out of his room. She had finished cleaning already so the room looked spick and span. She knew she had to get the carvat to Robert, so she went out to give it too him. She stopped a servant on her way, asking them to grab the laundry or dirty sheets she was carrying with her and bring it her servants quarters for her to wash later.
She ran throughout the castle to reach its grounds, there wasn't may people around, most were probably busy preparing for the mass amount of royals coming to the palace. She decided to use the door at the servant's quarters to exit the castle, making her more discreet and to not cause a scene. Once she was out on castle grounds, she saw a group by the main entrance of the castle, she assumed that those were the visiting royals. She quickly walked up towards the group, once she got near the group, she curtsied. "Pardon my intrusion." Alice said as she bowed her head down while curtsying. After that, she quickly made her way over to Robert and presented him with his carvat with both her hands. "You left this in your chambers, Your Highness." She said politely towards him. Once he took the carvat out of her hands, she walked so she was beside him and whispers so only he could hear, "Was it Dalia from the kitchens this time?" She smiled slightly as she said her predictions. "You may want to give me orders, Your Highness." She said to him, still whispering.
Robert was not fooled by the sudden charming display the visiting prince put on. He could tell that this young royal was a snake in the grass and during his stay in the palace, Robert would have to keep a close eye on him. He certainly felt bad for the young princess that was forced to endure her brother and made a mental note to try and persuade her to take time away from the young man and perhaps take up a reading circle with the other ladies of the visiting court and his sisters. He was certain he would be able to convince Emma to invite her to a few small events. She was also quite pretty so perhaps he could enjoy the fun of flirting with her as well, though that came second to her safety.
As Prince Camdyn and his sister passed on Robert settled his eyes on the kings and servant who had also witnessed the event and stepped in. “Your majesties, you have my thanks for stepping in when you did.” He informed Ronan and Draven with a smile and a nod of his head. “I do hope I can make it up to you with some fine sport and perhaps a drink during the events.” The eldest prince added with a promising smile that he would treat the kings to a good time. His eyes then settled on the servant who came with them and he took her hand to plant a kiss upon. “A radiant beauty you are Camilla.” He complimented with a charming smile as the words rolled so naturally off his tongue. “I hope you and your Kings find great joy in the events to come.”
As the trio departed Robert looked over to his sister and gave her a caring gaze. “He had no right to treat you that way, not in your home.” He whispered to her with hidden anger towards the visiting prince in his voice. No one would treat any member of his family so poorly if he had anything to say about it. “Give the word and I can have Brandish deal with the matter.” He whispered half-jokingly when they had a moment in which no other being was around or within earshot.
Their private conversation came to an end however when the pattering of feet sounded behind them. Robert turned his head slightly and smirked when he noticed Alice rushing over to him, slowing once she was within plain view of everyone else. As she presented him with his cravat he chuckled, “Saving my life and my fashion at court once again; what would I ever do without you?” His smile only grew when he heard the young woman mention her guess as to who had been in his bed this morning. “I do believe I owe you a gold piece.” He replied with a cheeky grin.
The grin that spread across Ronan’s face when Draven and Camilla caught up to him was quite the sight. Many not of his kingdom thought it odd that such a fierce looking man could come across as so warm, but Ronan knew when it was time for battle and when it was time for peace. During time of peace, he could smile and be happy, it was a wonderful time but not one that lasted forever which meant he needed to savor every moment. So yes, when his best friend and the servant that was like a sister to him showed up at his side Ronan met them with a grin that seemed more genuine than most others seen at court.
When Princess Emmeline drew his attention back towards her by addressing his question Ronan nodded his head. “My thanks.” He informed the princess politely as she called for the servant who would be by his side throughout the courting events. His gaze swept over the growing crowd as he waited to see who would approach at the sound of the name called. It was a beautiful and unique name that Ronan felt rolled nicely off the tongue when spoken.
Speaking of tongues, Ronan almost swallowed his when his eyes settled on the beauty who approached him. Though it didn’t show outwardly Ronan was absolutely starstruck by the woman who stood before him and told him it was her honor to serve him this courting season. Without hesitation, he bowed to her with well-practiced respect and took her hand to gently kiss in greeting. Such a reaction from a kind was unheard of to most but Ronan didn’t even give pause, in his eyes everyone deserved respect and he wanted this young woman before him to feel appreciated and welcome in his presence. “The honor is mine Raziah.” He replied with a gentle tone to his voice. “I look forward to having you by my side, let me know if there is anything I can do to make your duties any easier.” He informed her, wanting her to know that he valued her input and opinion. As his eyes danced across her features he was only finding himself further and further enamored by her beauty as well as her voice which was like sweet honey to his ears.
The seas had been calm in the days leading up to the start of the Courting Season which meant Marya and her crew had faired well and made splendid time getting to the ports of the Alor. Arriving early the day prior the Pirate Queen and her men had taken over the port town in one giant celebration that brought much coin to the bar keeps and wenches, perhaps more than ever before in the history of the town. Marya herself had enjoyed the company of several beautiful beings during the day and into the night all while keeping her goblet full of fine wine and ale. Her men had fun and the only thing the town had to complain about was a few things being broken here and there and perhaps the non-stop noise, but she was certain no one would dare raise a fuss when the night ended with the pirates happy and not robbing them blind.
Now a well-rested Marya rode atop a fine-looking bay stallion with a line of carts and men all bearing gifts behind her. No one on the road dared to try and rob the party of their treasure when it was clear each and every soul was armed to the teeth and had certainly killed before. Marya trusted her men, the small party taken from her much larger crew, to behave themselves at the palace. They might be pirates but they were also business folk with Marya the head of the largest spice and tea trade company in the world. It was really no surprise that she had been invited to the courting season, though the real surprise came when she actually accepted.
Riding through the gates Marya looked around at the fine palace and pretty dresses the women were wearing. Her stomach rolled as she remembered a time when life in a gilded cage such as this had been her fate but luckily, she took her destiny into her own hands and reshaped it into what she wanted her life to be. Now she was a leader, a queen, a fighter, a captain, she was feared and loved, and every day was another adventure that she didn’t know if she would survive but that was a good thing. The beautiful brunette ignored the looks and whispers as she rode comfortably rather than ladylike on her saddle with her leather pants showing off her curves and her white sailing shirt unlaced at the top with a leather corset covering her core area. For formality reasons, she wore the gold crown encrusted with rubies that her men had presented her with years ago when she became the true pirate queen. She would have preferred a simple captain’s hat or no headpiece at all but her first mate insisted that it would be best and so she did. Because of the crown, she did not put much effort into the rest of her arrival outfit and truthfully didn’t give a damn about the looks she received as she road past.
As she followed the path towards the palace, she noticed a small group gathering out front, just ahead of where she was on the path. Two young women and a man seemed to be greeting one another and admiring each other’s outfits. She couldn’t quite make out their features, but she did have to admit that from afar the outfits looked quite fetching on the young ladies. Her eye remained drawn to them a moment longer before the dark raven on her shoulder took off and landed beside the group.