Feeling a little worried, I made a beeline for Leo.
Since she was last with him, he ought to know where she disapppeared to. At least he would have a heading for he to start searching for her - if it came up to it. Which I hoped it wouldn't come to. First day of the gala and I didn't want to have to deal with this.
Not to mention, cause an unnecessary scene during Leo's birthday gala.
I was close to Leo when I noticed the man trying to discreetly leave from aside entrance.
Sencing something fishy going on, I changed direction for the second time tonight and decided to follow the man. If anything, I was about to find out what he wanted with the princess.
I followed after the man silently, not making my presence know. Without knowing the mans motioves I couldn't ask him to kindly leave Princess Zigra alone. Especially if that wasn't what he was currently after.
Now that is bound to cause an unnecessary scene, which we truly didn't need.
That is why I silenty followed him down hallway, down different hallways. All the way until he came into the hallway leading to the ladies chambers. This was as far as I was willing to allow him to go. As I said, I didn't want to cause a scene as him entering the chamber of an unwilling lady was bound to cause something much more than that. Especially if she was the supposed betrothed of my prince - we couldn't have a scandal breaking out.
I had seen the way Leo had looked at the princess.
Adouration and love had clouded his vision as he gazed after the princess. I knew him well enough to tell the difference between him flirting for fun and him truly in love.
Okay, even I admit. The in love part was a bit too much as he had just met the lady a few hours previously.
Maybe smittens was a good word for it. Quite taken with her, but not gone as far as to fall for her that hard.
Of course, with the way things were going, it won't be long before that'll be the case.
For the brief conversation I had with Zigra, I could tell she was smart enough to keep the conversation flowing - that is, if she feels like talking. I had seen the way she made a point of not making eye contact with anyone - as I had led her to the King and Queen - this had been a discreet warning not to try to strike up a conversation.
Besides she had kept that idiot prince talking for more than Five miniutes without boring him out - which was always a plus, any given day.
Keeping that in mind, I made sure the man heard me as I approached him. Making my footsteps just loud enough for him not miss it.
"Are you lost, sir?" I asked politely as I hurried to catch up with the man.
The man, at least 5' 10" in height with broad shoulders and a buff build. His skin was rather dark and when he turned around to look at me, I noted that he had obsidian eyes.
I stopped short upon seeing whom I had been following - or realising who had been following Princess Zigra.
"Master Daarian Swen." I said, giving him a respectful bow - not like he desevered such a treatment, but my duty requires me to do so and I did so.
"That's Lord Daarian Swen to you little peice of filth." He said in a commanding voice.
I straightened up to my full height. I was an inch taller than him to just intimidate the man. Though I knew from experince that even I had been shorter than the man, I'd have easily enough intimidated him.
I don't know what he expected. Probably for me to bend double and cower in fear of him as I once had as a very young boy. What I know he definitly didn't expect me to d was to pull up to my full height and give him a cool, detached looked that was completely unimpressed - and no fear at all.
Picking a leaf out of Zigra's book, I kept the perfect pokee face, not letting the slighteat bit of emotion show. This can be seriously intimidating, truat me when I say that.
Throughout the whole night I've been watching woo many ladies start towards Leo only to stop short the moment they noticed whom they'd have to deal with. I wasn't such an idiot as the prince to notice that her standoffsihness was what brought their abrupt change of direction.
After seeing ladies fight amoung themselves to get the guys attention, I could instantly spot what kept them away.
Zigra's expressionless expression.
With someone they knew where they stood, the could easily complete. But with one whom they had no idea where they stood, much less how much they affected her, they were too scared to even try and fight against that.
And just like that, I had my answer. Where she got the nickname 'night queen'.
"I apologise, Lord Swen, but this corridor is off limits." I informed him, keeping my posture unaffected and cool, calm, confident." Unless you were about to meet someone?" I let the question hang, raising a perfectly arched eyebrow.
Daarian spluttered, lookin so taken back that he couldn't retaliate quickly enough.
"You little piece of-" he shouted, raising his hand as if he was about to hit me. Even if he wasn't cut off and interupted, he would never again have landed that hit on me. Not one more time. Never again.
The interuption came in the form of a monotonous princess. Apathic as she was, she had the worst timming ever. Or greatest timing, depending how you saw it... and saw it as the former. Worst timing ever.
"Is everything alright gentleman?" I instantly recognised the calm - or rather emotionless - voice that drifted over to us, stopping Daarian's hand mid-strike.
We both looked behind me to see the dark green dressed 'night queen' make her way over to us. Her poise straight and elegant, no flare. Nothing than would draw attention to herself, but everything than crew the attention to her from every man.
I think that thing she had going wasn't any form of witch craft. No, it was much more simpler than that. She didn't come off a desperate. She came off as uncaring and unattention seeking. Men saw this as a challenge and that was the main reason they persued her with such gusto. It also didn't help her case that she was such a great conversationalist.
I could actually see the appeal this princess presented to many men. It isn't always you find someone so uncaring they shut off their emotions. I could actually understand the gusto with which men persued her.
At least, until they were subjected to her harsh rejection - as I was soon about to find out.
"Ah! Just the lady I was looking for." Daarian quickly lowered his arm and said happily - his goal found. He shot me a pointed look that he seemed to find as enough answer to my previous question.
Ignoring him I stayed put.
I wasn't about leave a defencelss lady in the hands of Daarian. She be royalty or otherwise. That is just plain cruel. Of course if whpever she was, she is willing enough, then that's her decision and there was nothing more I could do. But I wasn't going to force himself - or blackmail - the princess into spending time with him. Not while I could do something to stop him.
Funnily enough, Zigra turned her piercing turquoise gaze to me, waiting for an answer.
I tried to hide the smirk forming on my lips, I truly did.
Then I saw the look on Daarian's face and couldn't help myself. It slipped.
As I said, I couldn't help myself.
Besides, the look on Daarian's face was priceless.
He was seriously stumped that she had completely and utterly dissed him. Over looking his words to that of mine.
This surely was insulting in many levels for Daarian.
Of course I couldn't keep the smirk from making an appearence. This was too good to be true.
"No problem here princess. We were just talking." I told her in reply to her question - which Daarian had never answered.
She nodded her head, turning her turquoise gaze to Daarian. Her face was too expressionless to make out if she believed me or not. This time, there was nothing in her body language that gave away what she was thinking - unlike when we danced.
"Kind sir. I already made it clear to you that I am not interested. I would really appreciate it if you stop following me, borderining on stalkerish. It's a nuisence and is truly annoying. Don't make me say it again sir, but I'm not interested. It would do you good to get that into that thick head of yours, for next time you will be not hear so from my lips, but from the tips of a sword."
Her cold and emotionless voice made this already cold let down down right freezing.
I wasn't the one the words were subjected to, but I felt chills run down my spine at her words. And not for a moment did I doubt her words. I don't know how good she was with a sword, but I've seen Duke Wenceslava with one.
Let's just say that if she was as good with a sword as her father, then Daarian didn't stand a chance with the princess.
Then again, she doesn't need to be good with a sword herself. A word to her father was all it would take to get the man off her back.
I didn't know enough about Mangandaall to say how much power Duke Wenceslava would hold over Daarian. But if it was a one-on-one fight.... Let's just say that Daarian wouldn't stand a chance and leave it at that.
"Oh! Little girl you have no idea whom you're talking to." Daarian took a threatening step towards Zigra. My hand tightened their hold on my sword, and I stepped closer to Daarian, slightly in front of Zigra.
Ofcourse, she didn't need me to protect her pride. She took care f that before a fight could break out between us.
"And I'm not interested in finding out either." She told, not a change in her perfect poker face. "Besides, if I'm such a little girl, what interests would you hold over me?"
She didn't say it, but the 'pedophile' that she didn't voice was clear in her tone and question.
She tossed her glossy ringlets of mignight black hair behind her and expected her to make a flashy exit just like that. But strangely enough, she stood their, staring impassively at Daarian like she hadn't just almost, kinda, called the man a 'pedophile'.
Daarian was left speachless by her nerve to insult him to her face.
"You are going to regret this you little brat!" He swore as he bustled past the two of us. He was aiming to shoulder past Zigra, but the princes simply stepped aside, side-ways, and he was the one who stumbled on his steps, not trying anything else, he stormes away, cursing expletively under his breath.
I watched him for a few seconds - until he was way out of ear shot - and turned to Zigra. She was still staring off after Daarian too. Since her face was completely expressionless I couldn't tell if she had taken Daarian's threat to heart if just brushed it away, so I didn't know whether I should reassure her that he was pretty harmless or not.
As if feeling my gaze on her, she slowly turned her head, meeting my deep ocean blues with her turquoise pair. She blinked at me, no blush, what-so-ever at seeing me staring at her. Neither did she giggle uncontrolably. She stared right back at me, as if waiting for me to ask what I wanted.
"I was expecting you to walk off after delivering that last line. You even did he whole, 'I'm about to leave hair-flip thing too'." I told, looking back at Daarian, who was no more than a fleck in the dark way down the hallway.
"I would have, but I'm a little bit lost and I was hoping you'd be kind enough to show me to my room." She replied easily, honestly, taking my example and looking at Daarian's retreatung back.
Not expecting that answer at all, my head snapped down in her direction, startled.
She looked up at me as well.
"You don't mind, do you?" She asked innocently.
A smile unconsciously slipped to my lips, as I held my arm out for her, no words were needed.
I have no idea why I felt so comfortable around Zigra. Comfortable enough to show her to her room - as second in command to the captain of guards, it was my duty to know where everyones rooms were. Maybe it was that Zigra wasn't one for mindless chatter. Maybe it was that she wasn't trying with everything she has to woo me. Or maybe, it was that she truly intruged me by the way she behaved.
So different from every lady I met, yet the perfect lady none-the-less.