Arin couldn't believe his luck when he found himself in the court of Lady Sylia. He was invited as a guest, in honor of his glorious deeds in the current war between the Kingdom of Eralia and its enemies as they rebelled against the current king.
He arrived in a graceful fashion, bewildering and amusing the sycophants and the courts' fawning gentries.
She was a woman of great power and beauty, and he was immediately smitten by her. As a young and impressionable man, Arin had always been drawn to strong and powerful women, and Lady Sylia was the epitome of those qualities.
The court was a place of intrigue and danger, with nobles vying for power and influence. Lady Sylia seemed to thrive in this environment, navigating the complex web of alliances and rivalries with ease. Arin was fascinated by her, and he soon found himself spending more and more time in her presence, drawn by her beauty and her wit. He fell hopelessly for her, and she made no secret that she desired him as well.
But she didn't want him. Not the way he wanted her. It frustrated and disappointed him, but not enough to deter him. Arin still admired her, admired what little he could see of her.
As the crowd buzzed in a cloud of chatter, Arin slowly approached Lady Sylia, catching her attention as she smoothly adjourns from a couple of high ranking officers and staff. His eyes met hers briefly, his gaze softening into a tender smile at the warm expression of welcome she greeted him with.
Lady Sylia's voice cut through the excited hubbub. "Ah, Arin." She said pleasantly, her tone inviting. "You've come!"
"Of course," he replied with a small bow. "To celebrate the victory, I've come. To pay my respects and wish to thank you for your hospitality."
"Oh, it was nothing." She dismissed casually, looking around at the crowded assembly hall. "All these people have done is wait until it suits them."
"And I don't suppose any of those people will be getting their chance?"
"Unfortunately not yet, all they enjoy is preening their feathers and keeping their buttons clean. I am of the ambition that cleansing the festering corruption in the kingdom would usher a new age." Arin could understand that, and nodded his agreement as he took a moment to admire her elegant appearance. The dress she wore was simple yet elegant. There were intricate embroidered designs over her chest and shoulders, with flowing fabric that flowed behind her elegantly. The dress was light grey, and looked as though it was woven entirely of fine silk. Arin snapped out of his daydreaming, curious as to why Lady Sylia wants to purge Eralia's administration. It seemed like a pointless act, since the government is corrupt already.
"Have you thought about doing so?" Arin inquired politely.
Lady Sylia looked up from where she stood, and her lips twisted slightly. Her face was composed as ever, but there was no warmth or emotion behind her gaze. It was cold, unfeeling. Like an iceberg. She gave no indication that she felt anything, even as Arin watched her closely with curiosity. He wondered why she wasn't happy with Eralia, with the way things are now, with the prosperity that comes with being a subject of such a prosperous yet oppressing country. But then he noticed a slight twitch in her left eye, and realized that she was hiding something.
"No," she finally answered, her voice flat. "I'm afraid I haven't."
Arin frowned. "Why not?"
"Because I'm not interested in ruling Eralia."
Arin blinked. "What do you mean?"
Lady Sylia gave another brief smile. The edges of her mouth curved upwards slightly before returning back to a blank and impassive expression. "I mean that I am a person who loves power and position. I do so because, unlike most of these noblemen, I have never been subjected to the tyranny of an oppressive regime. Therefore, my only motivation is to remove that which has hindered me from fulfilling that which is truly in my ability to do. That which holds me back in my quest for power."
Arin nodded, feeling a spark of recognition. This explained much about Lady Sylia. Arin knew her father as a politician, and knew of his ambitions.
"The tribes and nomadic guildsmen travelling and trading between the borders of Eralia should be grateful that I am sheperding the chaos and deceit that is this court. If I didn't keep such a tight grip on affairs, the kingdoms under my rule would fall into chaos. You all deserve better than that.''
"It's certainly true," Arin agreed, his eyes sparkling with admiration. "But the nobility… they don't appreciate you, not really. They resent everything about you. You are beautiful and smart, but that doesn't make them happy. They're jealous." Arin chuckled to himself.
"Jealousy is an ugly thing." Lady Sylia said coldly. "It is a poison, and one that must be eradicated."
"Is it really worth it? Why can't you just find a way to reform and reorganize the kingdoms policies and administration without entirely gutting it?"
Lady Sylia turned to meet his gaze, the ice melting away from her expression. For some reason, she found amusement in the question. Arin didn't mind, finding it adorable how her eyes glittered in mirth.
"Yes, indeed. It is worth it. In fact, I'll take you along to help me do it. You have much potential, and you would serve my cause well."
"I don't know if I'd be much good," Arin demurred modestly.
"Of course you would, you are a poet, you can lie your way through the skin of your teeth." Lady Sylia said earnestly. "You'd have to learn politics first hand. It requires a certain skill that many men possess."
"Then I accept, My Lady," Arin bowed formally.
Lady Sylia gave him a curt nod, and gestured for him to follow. "Let us go and speak to our host." She spoke coolly, as if discussing weather. Her eyes held no hint of humor.