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Chapter Five

The newly made dress hugged my torso tightly, giving a healthy view of my cleavage much to my horror. Wylan's royal colour scheme determined the dress colour with blood ruby chips lining the low V, exposing my collarbone and back. Yuki, for my sake, had me keep my hair down but did two braids on either side of my head that connected at the back.

When I left my room, I met Levi and Blaze. Levi was wearing a well-fitted coat with a low-cut neck and long pants just sweeping the tips of his dress shoes. The colours matched my dress, two blood ruby chips on either side of his coat's collar. His hair had been styled back to reveal a small scar hiding in his hairline.

He glanced over me, eyes darkening slightly before he turned his gaze to the sound of Kit's heeled shoes clicking on the floor.

"Ready for your first meeting as King and Queen of Wylan?" Kit asked, smiling nervously. Cracking a smile, I nodded. My anxiety was causing me to take deeper breaths but it was just like every Monday rush, meeting two important people would be a breeze. Kit nodded, turning on their heel and leading us to the banquet hall.

Walking with my head held high, I slipped my hand into Levi's for a quick squeeze before dropping it to my side. He gave me a side-glance and a slight smile. We were going into this as a team, nervous but confident.

As we came closer to the banquet hall, I could hear voices in a hushed argument. Both were male, muffled words edged by sharp snaps. When we walked through the doorways, the two men abruptly stopped as their gazes turned to us.

"Arla be damned, you are gorgeous," The one man said as he rushed forward and grabbed my hands in his. "Your skin is so flawless, and those earrings! When you come to Themis, we must get you some elven jewellery, they would look stunning on you."

Utterly flabbergasted, I glanced over to a smiling Yuki and smirking Kit.

"King Levi and Queen Harper, let me introduce you to King Sage and King Klaus, rulers of Themis," Kit stated, bowing slightly.

Sage still held my hands in his vine-tattooed ones, nails painted a burgundy. The vines trailed up until his wrists, where thin silver bangles jingled together. His clothing was a strange mix of metal and fabric, dainty rose-gold leaves and feathers making up for the majority of the pattern on his torso. Looking up to meet his eyes, I noted their angular slant and the iris being a dazzling green with hazel spots near his pupil. His hair was a light brown, cut shorter at the back while chin-length in the front. Silver looping earrings hung from multiple holes in both his pointed ears. A ring pierced both his nose and bottom lip as well. Lastly were the freckles splattered over his nose and exposed shoulders.

"H-hi." I squeezed his hands out of impulse, feeling my cheeks heat up. Sage smiled wider, letting go of my left hand to lead me to the table. He was tall and lithe, a scar running diagonally across his spine where his clothing exposed his back.

"Klaus, stop being rude and come say hi," Sage said in his velvety voice, a forced smile on his lips.

Klaus was also tall, wearing a similar garment that did not show off any skin. His hair was jet black, cut above his jawline and trained away from his chiselled face. Unlike Sage, Klaus's eyes were dark and heavy-lidded. Black cartilage cuffs hugged the middle of his pointed ears. Little scars could be seen from under the spread collar of his armoured shirt.

"There is no point when their Nomad has already done so for me," Came his dry response. Sage scoffed before taking a seat, gently patting the chair next to him for me to sit. Glancing at Levi, who had begrudgingly followed behind me, I gestured he take the seat at the head of the table. He nodded as Kit, Yuki and Blaze disappeared through to the kitchen.

"Introductions out of the way, why the sudden visit?" Levi asked, his voice matching Klaus's serious monotone. Klaus flicked his eyes towards Sage who clenched his hand under the table. On instinct, I covered it with mine.

"W-we could not wait to see you at the Formal Ball," Sage stated. "Wylan has been without royals for some time and I'm sure you have heard about the many conspiracies that were made in an attempt to take the throne. We wanted to make sure you are prepared for what is to come and show our support."

"Yes, well as you can see, we are slipping into our roles as naturally as we are capable of doing so," I said, bringing my hand back to my lap. "It's quite frightening when the crown has been thrust upon you at an awkward time."

"I know how that feels. So does Klaus," Sage muttered, glancing at the other king. "We have only just risen to the throne ourselves. It is indeed frightening to have so many people looking up to you to lead."

"So, you can say we are here to give moral support," Klaus added, picking up one of the ebony goblets and taking a sip. Glancing at the one in front of me, I saw a dark liquid inside. Spiced wine.

"You are one of our allies, right?" Levi asked, crossing his arms over his chest as he blankly looked at Klaus.

"Yes, we are. The alliance between our kingdoms has been active for many years before Queen Nesryn and our predecessors." The way Klaus spoke reminded me of a stern businessman, getting straight to the point. "I'm here to make sure it stays that way."

"Is that a threat?" Levi growled, causing me to tense in my seat as I got ready to interject. Instead, I watched as Klaus smirked. The action even caught Sage by surprise.

"Not at all, King of Wylan. But, why don't we speak more about this another time? My fellow king and I need to get going before it's too late to travel."
"If the dark bothers you, why not stay in one of our guestrooms? You can leave in the morning after breakfast."

"Klaus," Sage said, voice dipping and eyes widening. "You know I don't like the dark..."

A tic formed in Klaus's jaw before he sighed and pulled his chair closer to the table as he nodded. Sage was happy, asking us how we found day two of our ruling as the first dishes of the night began to come. All throughout, he would glance at Klaus who mostly kept silent, only adding his thoughts now and then.

"You think they are still worth keeping the trade and peace treaty with?" Levi asked as we walked back to our rooms, Yuki and Blaze too far behind to hear our conversation.

"They have given no reason to cut it and I don't think they will even with given time," I muttered, tucking my shoes under my arm. The tight confines had caused my feet to ache. "You heard Klaus in the beginning, the treaty has been on for centuries, why change it now? Plus, it does not seem like they get along with Talay- Sage?"

Sage was standing outside the guestroom he and Klaus had been allocated. As soon as he heard his name, Sage stood straighter, wiped at his eyes and plastered a smile onto his lips. It looked like a red mark was puffing up his right cheek the closer we got. Did Klaus hit him?

"I'll see you in the morning," I hastily said, hurrying my steps so I could grab the elf and take him to my room before anyone else saw the state he was in. As soon as my fingers clasped around his, I dragged him away. When the door was closed, I ushered him to the bed where he promptly began crying softly as he sat down. Standing in front of him, I did not know what to do.

"Sage, what happened?" Hesitantly, I touched his shoulders. He glanced up at me, causing me to touch his cheek gently. "Why did Klaus hit you?"

"I... I had it coming," He muttered, closing his eyes as tears slid past his eyelashes. "I've been pushing him too much... Expected him to accept me as his king and equal, but hoping too much only kills the hope eventually."

"That does not give him the right to abuse you," Muttering, I glanced around my room for words to say but nothing came. "I get your situation is difficult and way more complicated than mine, but you can't be the only reason resorting to him taking out his frustrations on you. What has him so miffed about?"

"Themis is placing a lot of stress on him and he won't allow me to help in the slightest. We have both been groomed into our roles but I was the spanner in the works in his plan." Sage gave me a sad smile. I returned it with confusion. "I guess you haven't had time to learn much about everyone else outside of Wylan. Elves have this gene that only affects men. Once in a generation, an elf like me will be born. A Vesper. We have the ability to give birth, provide an heir to the throne. However, Klaus is the very definition of straight. He already has the stress from being king and now he's been forced to be married to me."

"I'm sorry, Sage. I can't do much when my own forced wedding is in two weeks and I don't know if getting a divorce is a thing here." Rubbing his shoulders, I let him rest his head on my stomach. He had calmed down considerably, making me wonder if he had someone to talk to about this. "I have an idea. Why don't I go give him a matching mark on his face, would be kinda cool."

"N-no. He'll apologize when I go back to the room, he's feeling guilty for what he did."
"How do you know that? You were outside the room and now in here."
"A Vesper gift you could say, but elves once paired form a bond of emotions. He feels how I feel right now and vice versa."
"Well, he better be feeling it or I will personally go tear him a new one."

Sage chuckled, moving to stand up. He hugged me tightly before bidding me goodnight and leaving my room. Levi took the chance to walk in, holding my gaze.

"I had a chat with Klaus while you were with Sage. The guy was pacing in front of the hearth and muttering about what he did and how could he be such an idiot. I'm guessing Sage told you?"
"Yeah... It seems like this is the first time with the way he was handling it. I worry it might happen again. Though, I can't do much when it's not my jurisdiction."

Levi sighed, glancing at the floor then back at me. "I'm not like that, so please don't be afraid of me."

Before I could say anything, Levi said goodnight and left my room. Gritting my teeth, a let out a breath before falling onto my bed.
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