A slew of young women had surrounded King Silas as he stopped to speak with the other kings and queens. All the princesses looked stared at him in awe.
"Look at those fools. Do they actually believe he'll pick any of them with the way they're trailing like puppy dogs?" Delacroix came to Timena's side, her voice sounding in obvious distaste.
"So, your plan is to lure him in by keeping a distance, I get it now, don't want to appear too eager and desperate." Timena jokingly tapped her head in realization.
An elbow thrust into her side suddenly.
"How can you not see how handsome he is? I swear you only love your sword, if you could make love to it-"
"I am going to stop you right there Dela, just go up to him." Timena said, immediately cutting her off and pushing her in King Silas' direction.
Delacroix's interest in the king was somewhat endearing. However, Timena was not too convinced that King Silas was for her sister— he'd proven to be an exemplary leader and commander but from the exchanges she could recount with her father, life's unforeseeable circumstances had rendered him somewhat cold and disturbed. Delacroix was amble innocence, expecting goodness from the world and its' people, and forever, in love with the idea of love.
"Sending the lamb in for the slaughter?" A pair of blue eyes came into view. Timena instinctively smiled. Aldus' warm face turned up in a cheeky grin.
The king's younger brother, like Silas, shared the same blue eyes and suntanned skin but appeared a little less intimidating. His black hair was longer, tied into a braid and splitting his eyebrow was a jagged scar.
"Yes, in for the kill." She replied jokingly.
"My brother seems to be taking an interest." Looking to Delacroix, she could see King Silas' attention on her, momentarily ignoring all of the other eager women. She smiled.
"It's quite, refreshing to see a princess in her breeches." Aldus smirked.
Lightly bumping past him, she began to walk towards the banquet table. There were apple and cherry fritters, sweet custards, sugar covered fruit, pudding and tartes of all kinds. Timena said a quick thank you to the Gods above before filling a plate with desserts, all the while, Aldus trailing behind her.
Now that Timena had spoken to almost the entire room, she figured it would be the perfect time to escape with her goods in hand.
"And where is it that you're running off to?" The deep voice stopped her in her tracks.
Turning around slowly, the pale blue eyes connected with her hazel ones. She must've looked like a deer caught in crossfire, she thought.
Silas and Aldus smiled, seemingly amused.
"King Silas, it's good to see you again." She answered slowly. Both men towering over was quite intimidating, but she held her head high, fighting the urge to look away.
"So it's good to see him, but not me?" Aldus feigned offense.
"I don't find him quite as annoying." She countered, rolling her eyes.
King Silas' eyes lingered on her face with a warm smile. Timena looked away, ignoring his gaze as she noticed a few of the princesses coming towards them, Hanleigh leading the bunch, with her breasts out on display.
"King Silas and Prince Aldus, it's wonderful to be in your company." All of the women bowed in front of the men with eager smiles plastered on their faces.
Timena snickered and Hanleigh glared at her before looking back to the brothers in front of her.
"What do you think of King Silas?" Adelia asked, standing next to her daughter who was near the banquet table once again.
Timena shook, almost dropping her plate at the sound of her mother's voice.
Scowling at her, she quickly responded. "Uh, he's fine, intimidating as ever though."
Adelia hummed at her response. "You don't think he's handsome?" She questioned.
Timena stopped suddenly. It wasn't a question she was used to being asked, ever.
"Mother, why are you asking?" Her tone, accusing.
Adelia played innocent, not offering anything. "Just curious as to how you see him." She smiled before sauntering away.
Timena wondered why her mother was acting suspiciously. As she looked over to the center of the room, there stood Silas, his eyes boring holes into hers as he sipped his ale. A slight shiver wracked through her body— walking away from the table she tried to disappear into the crowd.
"My warrior child." King Vassar's face lit up at the sight of his daughter approaching. He wound his large arm around her shoulder before kissing the crown of her head.
Timena smiled, feeling slightly embarrassed.
"Father, please." She looked around, hoping that Delacroix hadn't seen.
"She's my best fighter." He said with satisfaction.
"How many times has he said that now?" Timena asked the six large men in armor, they looked back and forth at one another before laughing.
"That's the fourth time he's mentioned it. We're quite intrigued to test that theory." The man came forward, he was a little less bulky than the other men but made up for it in height.
Timena heard a challenge. Excitement sparked within her now...
Once the night had come to an end, all the guests who were staying were directed to their chambers where they could rest for the duration of their trip. Delacroix had caught up with Timena, who was heading to her own room as well.
"Wasn't he just... exquisite Mena?" Delacroix pranced alongside.
"Eh the cake was definitely much better." Timena replied, receiving a slight elbow in the waist.
King Vassar and Queen Adelia said their farewells to some of their guests who were traveling back into city. The princesses lingered behind their parents, their lustful gazes on Silas and Aldus as they went upstairs. Delacroix went along happily in front of her sister as they walked to their rooms.
Looking back to see the young girl still prancing, Timena snickered. Closing the large wooden door behind her she began removing her clothing. As usual the bath had been set and she hurriedly washed herself as she could recognize the sensation of drowsiness creeping upon her.
Now fully clean and dressed, she practically leapt into bed, almost instantly into a satiated slumber.
The sunlight had shown its' face and Timena couldn't have been less pleased. She would search for the culprit who drew away her curtains every morning, but first she would eat.
A bowl filled with oats sat on the kitchen table.
The cooks and kitchen maids busied themselves, bustling about to ensure there was food prepared. The maids and servants had been attending to their duties from before the sun had risen. Everything had been set in motion, from the very depths of the castle to the outside— there were people at work.
Norman, the butler and the head cook, Eurina worked hand in hand. They saw to it that the castle was being maintained regularly by all staff. They had worked there long before Delacroix and Timena had even been conceived.
"Eat up Timena, you've got men to spar with shortly." Eurina's voice pulled her from her thoughts.
Timena smiled in return as she continued to eat.
"And I expect you to beat every one of them." She looked up to see Eurina with a knowing smile.
Norman nodded his head in agreement before traveling up the steps. Timena's excitement was boiling over as she quickly finished eating. Eurina could be heard wishing the best of luck as she soon ran upstairs, knowing Timena would not need it.
When she finally reached outside, she could see the King's men huddled around in amusement. Her steps neared so she too could view the match.
It was Samuel and, Silas. Timena held back laughter, he would defeat Samuel undoubtedly. Silas was a skilled swordsman, as was Samuel to a certain degree, but if she could so easily anticipate his movements that would mean Silas would already have-
A heavy thud sounded, Samuel lay on the grass in defeat. She felt badly as she went over to help him up. He grunted now, holding his lower back in discomfort as he then hobbled away slowly.
Timena snorted, preparing herself for whoever would challenge her.
Aldus stepped forth, adrenaline rushed through her now.
They moved a small distance away from one another before respectively bowing their heads. Swords in the air, he lunged first and instinctively she faded. Her moves in the beginning would only be to ward him off so she could properly assess his weaknesses.
He wasn't fond of his opponent not fighting back which caused him to try to taunt her, one. He positioned too much weight on his left side when striking, two. Timena saw two weaknesses she could use to her advantage, it was only a matter of when.
The pressure against her blade was a shift in his manner, he was becoming increasingly aggravated, an opening. The sword darted forward, narrowly missing him— taken back he now jolted forward repeatedly, advancing on his left side as Timena avoided each blow while moving back, two she repeated mentally. Now it was her turn to counter his movements, her blade purposely clamored against her contender's as she then rotated her arm away from her body halfway in a quick motion, knocking his arm away and leaving his chest exposed.
The sounds of cheering and laughter were almost deafening. Aldus did not appear to be too pleased but bowed his head towards her.
"You may be victorious this time young princess, but next time I will prevail." He jokingly bumped past her, returning to his comrades.
As her eyes followed in his direction, Timena quickly spotted Delacroix along with all the other princesses ogling him and Silas from the doorway, she laughed. Looking to the king she could see he was staring at her, seemingly amused and she quickly turned away.
As Timena approached the girls, they surrounded her suddenly. She looked around in slight confusion.
"What was it like being face to face with Aldus?" A little dark-haired girl's voice spoke out. Timena chuckled at the realization.
"It was like a dream come true, I don't even know how I managed to not fall at his feet." Her obvious sarcasm had gone over their heads completely.
Looking towards Delacroix, a knowing smile passed her features.
"I know I'm admiring from a distance, leave me be." She rolled her eyes before turning away.
At that moment, another opponent stood a few feet away, waiting to spar. Timena's eyes lit up.
Delacroix listened intently as King Silas spoke, she could see his face as she peeped through the crack of the door.
"Will you be watching as he bathes himself next time?" Timena's voice sounded from beside her.
Delacroix's hands quickly moved to cover her mouth as she gingerly backed away from the door, Timena doubled over in quiet laughter before nearly being pushed to the ground by Delacroix.
"That wasn't funny." She finally said before stomping away.
Footsteps caught up with her as she rounded a corner and continued down the hall.
"Dela I'm sorry, I was only teasing." Timena said sincerely.
Delacroix's shoulders relaxed, she offered a weak smile. Continuing down the corridor together, they ended up back outside on the court. The princesses were talking amongst themselves and Delacroix walked over to where they sat while Timena made her way over to Samuel.
Samuel sat under the shade of a large tree, eating fruit.
His eyes followed the direction of Timena's hand pointed next to him. "Mind if I join you?"
He shook his head with a smile. Leaning down,
Timena sat and rested her back against the bark of the tree.
"All I've heard those fools talk about today are Silas and Aldus, occasionally Hanleigh will insult one of them and they give her dirty looks for a few minutes. That's the only distraction they get Mena." The fascination in his voice made her giggle.
Looking over to the girls, she snickered. "I believe you." She said.
"How does your back feel?"
Samuel looked up to see Timena smirking, he pushed her lightly, holding back his own laughter.
"It's fine thank you, he just... caught me off guard that was all." He replied.
"Of course, of course." Timena said, immediately bursting into laughter right after as Samuel huffed loudly.