I: The Royal Family of Lux
“Watch your back!”
Fwoosh! The swung wooden sword against the knight’s nape came to an abrupt stop.
“Good, good!” The general applauded, smile plastered on his lips. “The spar had given us more pointers. We truly have been enlightened.”
The knights snapped out of their daze and bowed, saying in unison, “We thank the royal princess for the teachings!”
The royal princess withdrew the wooden sword, chuckling. She faced them and loudly said, “What teachings are you blabbering about? You are all proper knights. Wasn’t I joined you to familiarize myself with the arts? I should be the one showing gratitude towards everyone for letting me participate.”
They stood to their stature and only looked at her helplessly. Another general supervising them chimed in as he laughed, “Royal princess, these lowly knights of mine still have a long way to go. You only started a few years ago and you’re much reliable than them. They should really learn from you.”
She handed the sword to an attendant and faced the knights. She beamed brightly making them smile more. The royal princess has actually pondered about something before. “Would you still want to hold spars in the future?”
All of their expressions lit up, anticipating what would be her decision. “Though not obliged to actually teach everyone, I’m willing to take part in this. Since, I also need to gain fighting experience.”
“This…” The younger general was taken aback by her statement. The older general was also surprised. Murmurs started to arise among the knights.
“It wasn’t prohibited for you to do so, Your Highness. It’s just that, you also have responsibilities as a princess. We do not hope to be an obstruction to your duty.” Another voice sounded, a bit ragged and slow.
“Commander.” The knights and two generals saluted in unison. The general gestured for them to not mind the salute. The old general turned to the princess, and saluted, “Your Highness.”
“General Esquin is right. I also do have a duty to do.” She turned to the knights, her expression brighter than before. “Well, I don’t actually mind. It will be alright to have them as sparring buddies.”
Cheers erupted from the hall after her confirmation. This time, all knelt down, saying aloud, “Thank you for the grace, Your Highness!”
She laughed softly, eyes turning to crescent shapes. The knights are really enthusiastic about learning more. “Your royal princess does have idle times and willing to pamper you for a while. You should practice well!”
“Yes!” They all saluted.
The general accompanied her as they exited the hall. He then said, “Thank you, Your Highness. Your presence helped us a lot in training the knights.”
“It’s only a small matter, general. Don’t mention it. For now, I will be going back. I will see them some other time. I definitely won’t let them off easily, make sure they are prepared.”
“Yes.” The general saluted.
As she walked along the winding corridors, she cannot help but feel the excitement. She really was not an ordinary lady. This was also said by many. For a woman to be interested in knighthood, it was something their society doesn’t wholly accept. Such profession is only applicable to men. Women weren’t treated equally and only needed to stay at home to do chores and provide comfort. They were tied down, unable to follow their hearts’ desires.
When the current queen of the Kingdom of Lux set an example for all the women, inspiring the majority to do what they should and wanted do, most of them were given the courage and confidence. It’s not that no one could. In reality, no one dared to.
At that time of her rising influence, not only defying the stereotypes, she also created opportunities for other women to freely choose what they wanted to be.
“The royal princess runs off again, huh? With your presence in the Sword Hall, the place became livelier.” The man is currently sitting on the parapet; his raven hair tied up in a messy manner and robes were of white accented by red and gold.
“Royal brother.” The princess saluted in acknowledgement. The man who stood beside her is the crown prince. He’s rather tall; figure is not too burly or delicate. His otherworldly purplish eyes are always bright, like a sparkling star.
The siblings leisurely took their time to stroll while discussing some matters. When the princess remembered one thing, she didn’t hesitate to question him, “Should you really be loitering around? Tomorrow will be the thanksgiving banquet. There will be a lot of people expecting you.”
“Truth to be told, they are expecting you, not me. Don’t you know that the frequent visits of those young masters were to curry favor with you?” The crown prince asked, his expression somewhat annoyed.
“And you scared them away. I’m not even surprised if you have done such.” The young lady snorted. Her brother won’t even let her find a good man. Isn’t this clearly a sister complex?
“Of course! Steal my sister away from me? Who dares? If that happened, they needed to get through hell.” The prince spoke with tone full of conviction.
The princess sarcastically laughed. Her discontent voice sounded, “How will I find a good husband if you are going to interfere? I don’t want to grow old by myself. That’s too boring.”
“Worry not about your husband, my dear. I have already arranged someone for you and you’ll definitely take a liking to him.” An ethereal voice spoke up. They turned towards the gazebo near the pond and saw a figure coming out.
Her long black hair wasn’t tied up in an extravagant way. It was hanging loose and only a tiara was her hair ornament. The velour dress she wears has high slits on both hips, revealing her porcelain white thighs. The dress fits her well making her slender body stood out. Her figure can make every woman burn of envy. Her face showed no traces of aging despite her age.
“Queen mother,” both of the siblings saluted. The young lady asked, “This person you speak of...”
“A son of a long-time friend. You will surely meet him soon.” The queen tepidly smiled. She motioned for the two to follow. In the middle, a black wooden zither was placed on a low table. She asked, “Now that you are here, can you play the zither? I took it out to play, but wasn’t able to. The guests were suddenly appearing out of nowhere.”
“What does mother want me to play? Do you want me to sing you a song too?” The princess smiled, sitting down before the zither. Her slender fingers lightly plucked the strings. It vibrated, creating a low sound.
“Spring had passed. The Hundred Flower Dance is the most famous dance ritual for it. We were not able to perform and did not enjoy the blooming season.” The queen showed her disappointment and continued in a soft voice, “summer has come and a bit hotter than usual. Around this time, a lively song should be played while one danced.”
“I can’t dance if I’ll play the zither. Let older brother do it.” The princess suggested.
“Huh? What nonsense is this? This prince will dance? Will you risk your vision to see this prince dance? You do know of it; even the heavens will cry!” He complained. The prince really does not have the talent for the creative arts. His was average. Not too bad, not too good either.
“You’re spouting nonsense. We do know you’re not talented when it comes to dancing. Even so, it can still pass off as a good dance. Come, do it for us.” The queen insisted.
“Why should you humiliate me? I’m done with this! Farewell!” The prince retreated as he yelled out in embarrassment. The suppressed laughs finally turned to giggles. This duo of mother and daughter is formidable.
“Brother gave up so easily!” The princess chuckled.
The queen looked at his fading figure, “Seth... ever since he came back, he wasn’t unlike before. I noticed that his once carefree attitude was long gone. Still, be more understanding of him, you hear me?”
“I never angered royal brother nor fought with him. I know his temper very well and on our conversation, I talk about matters very carefully. I only tease him if he’s in high spirits.” The princess said, finally plucking the strings.
“That’s good.” The queen stood up and positioned herself.
“Mother. Get him a wife too. He should have a family by now. It would be a waste if no one will continue his lineage.” The princess blatantly spoke and started playing the melody. The Queen opened the two fans in each hand upon hearing the lively piece. She started to dance. The song and the dance is truly lively but looking closely at the queen’s expression, she’s rather displeased.
The next day, the capital city of Ruxi was more bustling than ever. In this 8075th year of the Reiames Era, the Kingdom of Lux hosted the grandest banquet ever recorded in Eucastran history. This banquet was made known throughout the continent. Royalties, nobilities, clan leaders—all of them were invited to participate. Major households were also called to attend. The common people were also accommodated in the city and nearby towns.
Since a month ago, carriages from prominent families have arrived in the capital, especially the ones who were from far away. This is only an once-in-a-lifetime chance for most. They’ve expended a great effort to be able to attend.
Sadly, the grand banquet is only to be held in a day, from the tenth hour of the morning to the tenth hour in the evening. A twelve hour banquet, still, many are truly interested.
Banquets are also considered gatherings. A gathering is where one can get acquainted with others. Such opportunity, of who among them would not seize it? For the royalties, nobles and merchants, this is what they were waiting for. As for the swarming numbers of young misses, they wished to see the dignified crown prince of the kingdom. He has many admirers in the entirety of Eucastra. Everyone has heard of him, his good deeds and contributions for the betterment of the continent.
While the young masters, they wanted to meet the rumored Luxian princess. Five years ago, the rumors got out of control. Everyone was curious of this lady the rumors spoke of. Has anyone seen her? This was the question no one can answer except for the residents of the Kraelus Castle. Then, when the past festival was held earlier this year, the Luxian people were dazed to witness her astounding beauty during the royalty’s obligatory appearance.
The rumors were true! It spread like fire, even reaching the southern kingdoms and states. They didn’t know who took the initiative, but after a week, a shocking incident happened. Marriage proposals came one after another. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was distressed as the sent letters overflowed on his table. Some letters were sent accompanied by vaults containing precious items like brocades embroidered with detailed designs or different lustrous gems; there were even top-grade crystal ornaments, and the like.
The minister shook his head, yet pleading to the heavens, “A calamitous beauty! I hope no wars would be fought over the young lady.”
The proposals never stopped coming. It was now endless. Up until the banquet, there are still few coming in.
Every guest has a goal in mind to attend the banquet. The others only came for it was obligatory to do so; mostly want to gain favors and establish connections. After all, it’s the Kingdom of Lux that we’re talking about. It’s the most prosperous and powerful kingdom in the present time. Establishing connections and allying oneself is an absolute must.
“Ah, I’m getting excited. This is my first time here.” A young miss voiced out. The other young misses accompanying her also said the same thing. Some were even squealing out of excitement.
“What are they getting excited for? Isn’t this just a banquet?” One among the lines of men complained.
“They’re probably here to see the Luxian prince.” One young master answered. Their group sighed in unison hearing the statement. No one will spare glances at these young men for those young misses only has their sights set on the crown prince.
“Ah, infuriating. Would someone also spare a glance at us? Only a glance is enough.” One of them grumbled.
“Don’t beg. It’s as if there are no more ladies around.” The other flicked his forehead. The latter held his throbbing forehead and asked about the Luxian princess.
“Look who’s talking. Aren’t you here just to see her?” The other raven-haired man said.
“Our family was invited so I came on our behalf. It’s also my first time coming here. My father only told me little about the Luxian royalty.” He scratched his head.
“Some did say there’s a Luxian princess but it wasn’t confirmed by the royalty. We might get to know the details later on.”
Another man following them in line interrupted the small talk, “She’s a stunning beauty. Once you see her, you’ll think that a goddess has descended from the heavens.”
The four young masters turned around and asked with brows furrowed, “Who are you?”
The young man was about to introduce himself when a knight stopped in front of him. The knight respectfully bowed to him and said, “Your Highness, I’m afraid you don’t need to line up for the banquet. Kindly leave the line and I’ll escort you inside instead.”
“No need. I’m not in a hurry.” He waved his hand, ignoring the request.
“I insist, Your Highness. I don’t want to be punished later on. Please have mercy on this lowly knight.” The knight bowed sincerely.
He could only sigh in defeat, “Lead the way then.”
“Who’s that?” The group of young men asked. They only looked at each other before staring at his fading figure.
At the very entrance of the Kraelus Castle, the dignified king of the said kingdom, Sedari le Reviant, personally welcomed the guests one after another. He stood out from the crowd not because of his white royal uniform accented with black, gold and red, but because of his height. He was taller than the average man and his figure a bit muscular. His jet black hair was combed nicely in a formal way and the rest of his long hair is braided.
As the last of the guests had finally entered, King Sedari briskly walked towards the platform. His booming voice gathered everyone’s attention and the murmurs came to a stop. He did make his remarks short and officially started the grand banquet with a wine toast.
The banquet hall was filled with music after the toast. The performers gathered at the center; they prepared themselves for the dance. All of the guests enjoyed the two lively dances performed. After the loud round of applause, they all settled down. King Sedari stood up from his throne and spoke: “This grand banquet marked the fortieth year of my family’s enthronement. Honestly, we celebrate this event with a table full of meals, a good wine paired with music, and then it’s all good. As for today’s grand celebration, this was planned accordingly and would like to express my gratitude for those who contributed a lot.”
A round of applause was heard. Next thing they heard was, “I’ve been seated on the throne for four decades. In a few more months, I will be abdicating it.”
The statement caused everyone to react in surprise. This banquet wasn’t just a thanksgiving or building up connections, it was to declare to people of what the Luxian royalty’s plans are.
“The crown prince and I had already discussed this matter. Whether he does want to sit on the grand throne or not, he will still sit on it. I’m just afraid that this son of mine will be lax in ruling. Ah, son. I do not hope that will happen. Learn from my mistakes.” He glanced at the crown prince with a tepid smile. The Luxian prince at the side smiled bitterly to himself. He really cannot escape his duty.
“As you know, we are from a merchant family. We owned land properties, different businesses and the like. We had scouted talents, trained people, and let them work accordingly to what they’ve learned and what they excelled at. We observed for us to see what should be done. We are already that experienced.” He loudly said. It was a harmless statement but this caused some guests’ brows to twitch. The king has known most of them came with ulterior motives on hand and subtly warned everyone that they cannot escape under the royalty’s watch.
As for their family, they are landowners before becoming royalty. They’ve bought lands to toil and hired farmers to do the labor. They first milled wheat and rice. After being successful, they put up livestock and poultry. In a few years, they were also able to plant different fruits and vegetables. They were also famous for making different variations of wine. As they expanded more of their businesses, merchants all over the continent buy their products and resell them in different markets. They became suppliers of different households, establishments, restaurants, etc.
As one gets wealthier, they do rise in power and influence. This caused the former royalty of Ruxi to take action on them. If the le Reviant family will grow more in power and influence, they will be able to topple them—this was the former’s thoughts. Afraid of what they can do, assassinations attempts were done. They even forcefully took away some land properties which once caused the farmers to riot.
Having enough of the former royalty’s oppression, the couple decided to flee their residence and took with them their weapons. With just a duo, their servants are truly worried for them. Who knew they were able to take down the royalty within just a few days. Rumors had spread; they had used underhanded means to ascend to royalty. The witnesses, the citizenry of Lux, knew about their situation beforehand. The royal couple endured the oppression and fought back to have peaceful lives.
King Sedari called his wife, Queen Elrise, up the platform and let her stood beside him. The guests were stunned by her. She really looks like a twenty-year-old young lady!
The king looked at her endearingly making the guests jealous of their relationship. They all requested of him to kiss the queen in front of the crowd. He complied and the crowd roared in joy, some envious of their intimacy. Queen Elrise lowered her head to hide her flushed face.
“All right, that’s enough. There are more things to say.” King Sedari said as he laughed. The crowd laughed with him.
“And so, I wanted you to know too, that I’m not a secretive person.” The crowd laughed once again.
A young man with raven hair suddenly walked up beside King Sedari. He donned the same royal uniform but with different design. He almost has the same height as him and has broad shoulders. His long black hair was tied up in an elegant manner, adding to his appeal. His purplish orbs gleamed brighter as light reflected on them. “This is Seth, my heir to the throne.”
“I’m pleased to see you all here,” Seth greeted, gracefully bowing in front of everyone. The ladies squealed and the others applauded. Seth was regarded as one of the most skilled princes. He was given the title Prince of the People; he interacts personally with people, hearing and helping them out in any way he can. He had also participated in different political and economic conferences and contributed a lot in the said fields.
After introducing Seth, the murmurs didn’t stop. They all looked at him like he’s a precious piece of gem; most of them wanted to approach him but contained their excitement and saved it for later. The king slightly nodded at the crown prince. From the side, the prince aided a young lady to come up the platform. Long, silky black hair like a continuously flowing waterfalls, slender figure and stunning beauty—it’s like a goddess made a descent from the heavens. Her eyelids enclosing the same purplish orbs fluttered slowly when she stood. Sizing her up, she’s even taller than an average woman.
“Is that the Luxian Princess?” Most of them asked the same question.
“This is Elise, our princess.” King Sedari announced. The guests are totally dumbstruck at what they saw. Only then they did realize, it’s their first time hearing her name.
After looking at the entirety of the hall and the crowd, only then Elise bowed down gracefully, silky long hair following her moves. When she stood up, the Luxian royalty were standing together. Their family is truly a sight to see. Looking closely, Queen Elrise and Princess Elise can be considered as twins.
As they once again introduced themselves, the crowd applauded. The people didn’t continue to stare at the royal couple or Prince Seth; they all stared at Princess Elise, watching her graceful moves.
“Is there something wrong? Why are they looking at me like that?” She asked her brother, tugging at his clothes. Seth giggled then flashed a grin, holding her hand to assist her down the platform, “Not really. They’re just charmed by you.”
Stepping down, the younger raised an eyebrow and scoffed. “I don’t want to hear that from you, lady killer.” Elise pointed her finger on his forehead. Seth only chuckled awkwardly.
Coming back to his senses, he saw the younger walking away from him. “Royal sister, where are you going?” He asked as he grabbed her arm, stopping in her tracks.
Princess Elise whispered diligently, “I won’t be participating.”
She traipsed away from the crowd, not minding her behaviour at all. She only just wanted to finish the book she’s reading as soon as possible and a banquet cannot stop her from doing so.
Her action caused him to smile bitterly. The lady cannot be stopped anymore and let her be. She wasn’t even interested in this banquet in the first place. So, why bother to let her stay.