The Demon Wolf (Book 1 of The Devil and the Huntsman)

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Chapter 19: Distant Relations

“Ah, Julius. You’ve returned,” Harald said. Julius’s brother was already exhausted from doing so much to the palace and making sure that the marketplace was decorated with flags and signs.

“Hello, Harald. You look like you’ve seen everything. Not only have I brought my daughter with me, but my wife also is with me,” Julius said. He was just as eager as his older brother, but not as tired as he was because of how much work he has been doing.

Then Harald said to him, “Well, you know what they say, ‘What gets around, comes around.’ I take it you would like me to show you what’s been going on for the past two days. Everyone has been hard at work and they make sure that the city looks exactly as it did for the past couple of years. Can’t say I’m too proud to see it all fall to ruin the minute we have to take it all down. I don’t mind making this feast in our father’s name, but it’s quite a relief to be doing this instead of having to hunt down demons. But, have no fear. Today is a great day for all of us.”

Before Julius could answer him, Harald looks over and sees Lagertha standing beside her father. He has known her ever since Lucy gave birth to her, and he has always known that Julius was a proud father and a good husband.

“Hello there, little one. Remember me? I used to visit you all the time when you were an infant,” Harald said.

“It’s nice to meet you, uncle,” Lagertha said. This time around, she was satisfied to see her uncle after not seeing him for such a long time.

“Wow, look how big you’ve grown. It almost felt like yesterday when I last saw you,” he said.

“Yeah, I had that feeling you were going to say that,” she said.

“So, what have you been up to?”

“Oh, nothing much. Usually, I’m walking around and watching the fields. And I’m usually in my room drawing some sketches. Yeah, nothing major has been happening lately.”

“Glad to hear it. Anyway, the feast begins in a few hours and I gotta make sure that everything goes according to plan. And while you’re here, do you all want to stay in the palace?”

“As long as if it keeps them company, then yes. We’d love to stay there,” Julius said. He knew that his wife’s legs were tired and Lagertha wanted to have a sympathetic look around the city.

“Well, it has been a while since I’ve last been here. It doesn’t bother me if I sit down or not,” Lucy said.

“Very well. This way, please,” Harald said. He led the way to the estate and everyone else followed behind; Lucy and Lagertha stayed mostly behind Julius as he was following his brother.

Nobody said anything else because they did not want to be carried away as the afternoon was still upon them. They all had a moment to share, but they preferred to share it with their other family members when the feast starts. The banquet was already being filled with so much wine for everyone to be drinking out of. The streets were already being filled with so many decorations and special kinds of items used to be hung up on walls. Julius could already feel the warm air of excitement when the celebration would be filled with so many people.

Then Harald opens the front doors and watches as it slowly opens all the way, and they all watched how big the tables were. Each table had about twenty people to fit in each row, and everyone would have a place for themselves to sit. Then Julius takes Lucy by the hand and leads the way to the table that was the closest to the throne. The other tables were facing each other from left to right, and so many candles were attached to the ceiling. Then, Lucy sits herself down on one chair and Julius walks all over to see the same type of occurrence that usually happens every single year.

“It feels so nice. I’ve seen nothing quite like this,” Lucy said.

“Loftain has always had the best seats for anyone. Some people spend most of their time trying to make sure that their seats are soft to use for everyone,” Julius said.

“Are you quite certain that these people are doing the job, right? It can’t just be the preferable seats. What about everything else?” She asked.

“Were they not preferable, they wouldn’t be here. There’s usually the right way of running a banquet, and there’s a wrong way of doing it. Few people complain that much about how they should sit in front of a table, and those people are often the casual type of people. You have the type of people who come here to eat and not stay for that long until Harald’s speech comes along. And then you have the aristocrats, the ones who come here to have fun while telling their many tales of victory. You must be new to this sort of thing.”

“I’m not new. I have done this before when you were here. It was one of the first banquets your brother has ever started. Don’t you remember the first time we have done this?”

“You and I became best friends, and you wanted me to take you out. I introduced you to my brother, and we have gone on for about three hours about our life. I have not forgotten when you wanted me to dance with you at the sound of the bards playing their lutes. You were the most fascinating of all the dancers, and you were drinking a bunch of wine that night. My brother watched on with his wife and became merry at the sound of music. So no, I have not forgotten.”

“Wow, I’m already feeling so nostalgic just by thinking about that night. I could go on all day why that must’ve been one of the best nights I’ve ever had.”

As they were sitting next to each other and talking about that night, Lagertha was looking at all the sculptures and statues of the first kings of Midland. All she ever felt like doing was walking around and exploring the enormous palace before more people came through the door.

“Hey, father. Is it alright if I walk around the place?” Lagertha asked.

“Of course. Just don’t go too far. Be sure to come back here if the sun goes down,” Julius answered.

“Thanks,” she said. Then, she walks away from her mother and father, and she walks towards the steps to go up to the next floor.

Julius and Lucy were left to talk about their earlier lives as Harald was with them to step into the conversation. While it was a very charming conversation to be having, Lagertha did not want to be a part of something that might make her fall asleep. She more than likely had her problems to be dealing with, and she never explored such a fascinating place before. She wanted to get her first look at what a palace looked like and what things were to be discovered. Admittedly, there was not too much stuff to be explored because most of them were already on the first floor.

Then, Lagertha looks out a window and sees the city in all of its glory. It was one of the most fascinating cities on the earth and one of the more protective defenses out of any city. As she looked out there, a young man was coming in her direction and wanting to see what she was doing. The man looked like he was about Lagertha’s age and was very gentle towards anybody he comes into contact with. The man was Brant, son of Harald, and he felt as if he had this odd connection with her because she looked very familiar.

“You’re staring,” Lagertha said.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I was just looking outside. Kind of like what you’re doing,” Brant said. His face was blushing, and he was never really an expert at being with other girls because they usually come to him.

“Is something wrong?” She asked.

“Nothing is wrong. I need to be down there because my father demands it. The people are always wanting to see the son of an earl these days. It gets kind of annoying when he makes me do it constantly.”

“Well, if you need to be down there, I would go to your father if I were you. It’s for the best that you do what your father tells you. And I came up here as well because I wish it.”

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