Aristia rustled in the thin blanket, wrapped around her body. The morning sun peeked out from the window to her side, while the reminisce of fire was apparent through the strong smell of burnt wood beside her.
Through the sounds of birds, Aristia's eyes slowly opened, her vision focusing on the wooden room around her.
She sat up on her bed, stretching her arms in the air, before pulling the blanket off her body, jumping to the ground.
With slow strides, she headed towards the door, opening the door to greet the chill air of the forest.
Aristia thought, her head up towards the sky as she heard the rustling of the leaves.
"It's time to get started."
As Aristia pulled her black hood over her head, hiding the distinct hue of her hair that signaled her connection to her family, her hands wandered over the arrows located on the table.
"I should be fine, right." Aristia pondered, her eyes shifting from the arrows on the table to the bow located on the chair. She saw the glistening of metal from the tip of the arrow before her hands grabbed onto the shaft.
"Better safe than sorry."
Taking the dirt road, Aristia made her way towards the city, her pace going just above a leisurely one.
With the sound of a horse neighing, Aristia's eyes adjusted to the busy streets in front of her and her ears rang with countless voices stuck in a conversation with one another.
She took a deep breath, pulling the hood even more over her eyes before walking towards the dark alley.
A single thought was present in her mind, a thought that allowed her to get one step closer to her final goal.
'I need to get more information.'
As her figure blended in with the shadows within the dark alleyway, her attention shifted to a quaint little cafe, a bright atmosphere that contrasted with the shady location.
Her hands stayed on the handle, the silver metal cold in contrast to her warm hand before she heard a familiar voice of a boisterous person on the other side, and the door was pushed open."Welcome, Tia!"
The familiar voice of the waitress rang in her ear, as Aristia made her way to the corner of the cafe, masking herself with the unlit area of the room.
"I'll get your usual!" The voice sang as Aristia heard the rustling of bags. "Thank you." Aristia let out as she placed her arrows on the floor beside her.
A few moments later, a cup was placed on the table in front of her along with a plate of cookies.
"On the house for a very loyal customer."
The young girl's face filled with a deep grin as she winked towards Aristia.
"You treat me too well, Genevive."
Aristia took the cup in her hand, the steam from the tea brushing against her face.
"Vivi." Genevive corrected, a hand on her hips as she narrowed her eyes in a playful glare towards Aristia.
Aristia stayed quiet, looking at the entrance of the cafe. "I expect you to call me Vivi next time." Genevive rushed to the front, her skirt flowing behind her.
"You say this every time," Aristia mumbled under her breath. Not low enough to go unperceived however, as Genevive's head whipped back. "I'll keep saying it until it happens." She sang, greeting the new customer, leaving Aristia to her secluded corner.
As the day moved forward, the cafe began filling up until it was bustling with energy. Meanwhile, Aristia remained in her dark corner, the rays of the sun shining through the windows unable to reach the dim nook.
Her eyes followed each person that entered the small cafe as she listened in on the conversations around her.
Her thoughts rushed through her head as her lips rested on the edge of the cup, fingers lightly tapping on its side as she got lost within the surrounding voices. Her focus on the conversation between two noblemen was diverted by the loud noise of the bells, located at the entrance, colliding with one another, causing a noisy chime to resonate within the area.
Aristia's attention was immediately drawn towards the bright red hair under the hood before her eyes locked onto the pair of golden eyes staring back at her.
His eyebrows raised slightly, before walking towards Genevive. He pointed towards the menu before his finger gestured towards Aristia's direction while his other hand placed coins on the table.
In a blink of an eye, the boy stood in front of Aristia, a hand gesturing towards the empty chair next to him.
"May I join you?" His voice held a deep pitch, catching Aristia by surprise. Aristia let out a soft cough, placing her cup down on the table before speaking to the boy.
"Do as you wish."
Those four words caused a grin to spread across his face, allowing him to slip into the chair within seconds. His face held onto a bright smile, one that Aristia believed even the sun would be blinded by. The boy's eyes rested on Aristia's face, his head laying on top of his arms that were crossed on the table.
"What?" Aristia felt her irritation increase with each passing second, his eyes boring into her face as she attempted to observe the noblemen and women around her. He held out his hand, showing the same smile once again, earning a twitch from Aristia's nose, a sign of her growing agitation.
"Kiall." His name sparked a light bulb within her mind as the familiarity of the name rushed her thoughts.
"Oh?" Aristia's voice grew slightly louder before looking at Kiall's face.
"Is the lady-killer Kiall talking to me?"
Her words resonated within the small cafe, catching the attention of the women in the cafe before Kiall pulled his hood forward and tightened his neck scarf in an attempt to hide his face before giving an amused chuckle.
"Well played, Princess."
His grip on his scarf loosened once the attention on the two passed.
Aristia's face stayed in a state of disgust, the nickname affecting her.
"Tia. My name is Tia." She did not want to be associated with the name Princess.
'Princess... she took everything.'
Her hands unconsciously wandered to the ribbon wrapped around her neck, the familiar material that Anne gave Aristia right before everything turned black. The ribbon serving as the only remainder of her position, the name Whelmorn being long forgotten in one year due to the Royal Princess influence.
Kiall's eyes flashed towards the material before he let out a cough, snapping Aristia out of her daze.
"I don't think I've seen you around here Princess, and as you are probably aware, I'm quite familiar with pretty faces." His voice lightened up, throwing a wink towards Aristia.
The wink was not well-received and Kiall couldn't help but let out a small smile when he saw Aristia's twitch in her eye.
"Quit calling me that," Aristia scowled. "I have a name." She took one bite of the cookie, before Kiall leaned forward, his entire upper body laying across the table, his eyes looking up at her face from below.
"You don't like it?" His eyes held a sparkle within them as Tia sighed.
"No." She simply replied, taking another bite while looking away from Kiall.
"Then can I call you mine?" She felt the cookie get caught in her throat as the sudden line made her mind go blank. Kiall's mouth held a smirk, as Aristia wiped her mouth.
"Is that how you got your nickname, using weak flirtation and frisky words?" She snapped back, earning a loud chuckle.
"What can I say," His hand made its way towards his face, caressing his cheek. "The combination of this face and my words leaves me burdened."
Aristia leaned back in her chair, her face displaying her complete shock of the cocky attitude of the boy in front of her.
"No, I will not allow your stupidity to rub off on me." Aristia mumbled, more to herself rather than to the boy, standing up from her seat. She grabbed the arrows on the ground before looking at Kiall.
"Goodbye." She bowed her head before making her way towards the door.
Genevive made her way towards Kiall, his drink in hand before setting it down on the table.
Kiall raised one of his arms, setting his elbow on the table while his face rested on his palm as his gaze narrowed on the departing figure.
His lips curled upwards before taking his drink in his free hand.
"How interesting, Aristia Whelmorn."
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