I and Vince were looking for Princess Zigra, but she was no where to be found and no one had seen her.
Vince suggested we look for Lord Ilarion, since she has a special bond with her cousin and he had a feeling she'd be with him. Asking around, it was the stables master who had an inkling to where the two were.
Patch said that Lord Radoslaw had taken his horse out for a ride and that Princess Wenceslava had been with the young Lord. Then one of the knights said that he would guess that Lord Ilarion would be on the nature trail - because the man had been rather curious to know where the trail led.
So getting out own horses we set out to go looking for the two, but had just gotten to the trail when we spotted them heading back, sharing Lord Ilarion's horse.
"Prince Vasilios! Sir Vincent! What a surprise seeing you two out here so early!" Lord Ilarion exclaimed as soon as he saw, waving a hand in greeting. Princess Zigra nodded her head in acknowledgement to us, no smile of greeting.
"We were looking for the two of you, actually." I told them and I slowed Rousse to a trot beside Serene - yeah, I had met the horse before. She was a true beauty, one any horse lover could appreciate. "Well... more like for Princess Zigra." I added sheepishly, because we were looking for Lord Ilarion only to find the princess.
Zigra looked at me, waiting for me to go on. Her face was expressionless and had no question in her blank expression. In fact, I didn't know whether I should going or not. Then, considering that it is for her Vince had gone to the trouble, so I should tell her anyway. Besides, this was my chance to make an impression on her, so I went on.
"I have good news." I started, motioning for Lord Ilarion to follow as I turned my horse the same way they were heading - the Castle. "Vince got moms and dads permission to go out of the Castle."
Zigra turned her head to me so sharply, for the first time the shutters on her eyes lifted to show the spark of interest my sentence had caused. I admit that this gave me hope that persueing her won't be a waste of my time and I might have a chance with her. But first, I would have to lower her walls. Her impenetrably tall walls.
"When can we go?" Her monotonous voice asked, betraying nothing of her sparked interest as she questioned me.
"Any time we want." I answered without missing a beat.
Zigra cocked her head up, looking at Lord Ilarion with no expression at all on her face. A silent conversation passed between the two - how he understood anything with her face looking so blank was beyond my comprehension - she looked back at me.
"Can we go now?" She questioned. "This way, we'd have a lot more time to spend away from the Castle." She added, with a glance behind her at her cousin.
I exchanged a glance with Vince and he shrugged his shoulder. I could tell her honesty was taking him by surprise as much as me. Honestly, we weren't used to ladies asking us anything with genuine interest but for sake of conversation. She asked me nothing to impress me, she did it because she wanted to and she was upfront and honest about it. It is rather startling.
"Sure we can go now, but don't you want to take your guards with you?" Vince asked, watching her puzzled. He watched her with the same kind of intensity that had men - criminals - spilling their guys out and fessing up to their crimes. It was surprising to see the princess subjected to such a stare and still keep herself perfectly in check. She didn't so much as squirm under the intensity of his stare, or react in anyway - unless you counted her blinking at him.
"Not really. That'll just make everyone pay more than the desired amount of interest in us." She said in answer to Vince.
Lord Ilarion smirked at her answer, like he had been expecting her to say so.
"You might want to keep in mind than this isn't Mangandaall." He told her matter-of-factly. Princess Zigra only looked at him and he shrugged his shoulder in a whatever way.
Now I was really curious to know what her look meant.
I wasn't going to tell I could read people well. That is Vincent's cup of tea, but I had never needed to read a girl before. I always knew what they wanted from me and that was for me to court them, ask there hand in marriage. With Zigra, everything was new and different and this piqued my interest.
"I think Sir Dwayne and yourself can keep all of us safe just fine." She told, mostly to Lord Ilarion than to either me or Vince.
"I'm rather flattered my lady. That you have never seen me fight with a sword but is certain of my ability to protect you." I didn't need to look at Vincent's face to know he was smirking.
I shot him a confused look. Was he flirting with the princess. Actually flirting with her, or was he merely pointing this out to her as a fact. It sure didn't sound like he was. This was man was truly puzzling in many ways than just one.
"I'm sure the man who ran an army and defended this kingdom at the age of only Seventeen is more than capable of ensure three royals protection." Zigra replied without batting an eyes.
Vincent once again subjected her to one of his intense stare, then nodded his head like he had been testing her on something and she had just passed.
"While I do not take credit for the entire affair, it would be wise for us to bring at least another knight or two with us. In case we are ambushed and taken by surprise, there would be little I can do to protect all of you at the same time. As honoured as I am that you trust me so, I'm only a man and there is only so much I can do alone." Vincent informed her, raising an eyebrow on challenge. Challenging her to come back with a something that would counter his arguement.
"I think you are forgetting one very important detail, Sir Dwayne." She said calmly, taking the bait. "Prince Vasilios and Rion are more than capable with a sword too." She told, her voice held no emotion as usual, but I got the feeling that had they been expressing anything beisides blank, it'll be the same matter-of-fact tone Vince had used.
I grinned at Zigra, liking her more and more by how amazingly she countered his perfect arguement.
Lord Ilarion rolled his eyes like he was used to her behaviour, which he must be. I mean, he is her cousin isn't he?
Vincent now stared at her with an impressed look in his face.
"But if bringing another knight or guard with you if it would reassure you, I don't mind, as long as we don't have an entourage with us." She added with barely there lift of her shoulder - which I took as a shrug.
We had reached the Castle by then and all of us stopped our horses.
"Give it a rest Vince." I told before he could say anything and drag this conversation. He doesn't give up that easily. I had to have known that he wasn't about to retalite to her - as she had agreed with him after all. "Get the carriage ready and let's all meet here in Five miniutes and leave together." I suggested, looking a the three for agreement.
Zigra shook her head and I heard Vince groan slightly from next to me.
"Sorry to be of inconvenience Sir Dwayne, but can we go either walking or on horseback?" She asked.
Both me and Vincent stared at her.
For the very first time in my life, a lady just proved that she had a mind of her own instead of nodding to whatever we said and going along with it. It felt... nice. Strange, yes. Most definitly. But also nice.
"Very well," Vince sighed. "In that case, why don't we leave straight away?"
She had an objection. I could tell instantly - don't ask me how as nothing in her expression gave it away. And she didn't have a habit of chewing her lips in thought either, so I really don't know how I could tell. I'm sure Vince noticed so to, but Princess Zigra surprised us yet again by holding her objection back and only nodding her head at Vincent's suggestion.
At least she knew where she had to draw the line. Argueing too much would put us off and discourage us. Smart girl... Lady - for she nothing short of the perfect lady.
Zigra's comment about me and Rion being more than capable of taking care of ourselves just fine, Vince must have taken it to heart as he didn't have another guard accompany us. The four of us went by ourselves and rode through the many gardens before reaching the tall gate that led outside.
We galloped straight to the richer parts of the kingdom - wasn't that always what most of nobles (men or women) are after. We had the horses trot through the streets for a long time, often stopping - due to Rion and the princess, who looked around murmurring between them.
"Woah! Zee look!" Rion exclaimed suddenly, making all of us pause. Me and Vince turned around to see him pointing excitedly at a clothing store. For her part, Zigra didn't react in anyway - unless you count blinking at her cousin as an reaction. Rion ignoree her as he turned to face me and Vince.
"Forget anything Zee says. We have to go there." He informed us before getting down from Serene. He dragged Zigra down from the horse - not like she put up any sort of resistance.
Exchanging confused yet taken back looks with Vince, the two of us too followed them into the store - Vince stopped to tie the horses reins to a post before going inside.
"Rion you're acting like a Five year old peasant who got his hands on some candy." Zigra informed her cousin balantly honest. It wasn't like she sounded accusing, her voice was as monotonous as ever. "You seem like you've never seen a clothing store in your life." She added at his excitement as he dragged her - literaly dragged her - off to the store.
"Don't you read signs Zee? This is probably your favorite store in all of the ten realms." Rion told her laughing.
"Your highness, Sir Dwayne, my lord, lady, how can I be of assistance this fine day?" A lady in her late twenties appeared infront of us, bowing respectfully.
I looked at lord Ilarion, waiting for him to say what he wanted as he was the one who had dragged all of us here.
"Thankyou my sweet lady, but we'll be fine on our own, we'll call if we need anything." He told the lady with a polite smile, but one that had the lady all flustered.
I noticed Zigra studying her brother, even as the lady giggled and bowing to us, disappeared back behind the many racks of clothes.
"Don't look at me like that Zee. You..." then he lowered his voice with a smirk on his lips and whispered something in her ear. He didn't look to see if we were still there, but whatever he said shocked Zigra. Taking a step back she stared at him with wide eyes, though her expression remained blank.
"I was Seven when I wore that Rion." She told him blankly, before walking away, looking at the clothes around her.
"You also look really good in breeches!" Rion called after her, but she didn't so much as glance behind her. In fact she walked away like she hadn't heard a thing he said - she had been close enough to head him loud and clear.
That's when something weird happened. The moment she was no longer within earshot, Rion's smile dropped and he frowned at her. Rubbing his temple with his forefinger and thumb tiredly.
"Everything alright?" Vince asked the man before I could, laying a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"I'm not even sure anymore." He replied, more like talking to himself than Vince. Then he shook his head and gave Vince a tight lipped smile. "Someone really needs to teach Zigra that she is only Eighteen years old and live it up." He told us, then shrugged like it was no big deal before following the princess deeper into the store.
I looked at Vince and he at me.
Whatever on Earth did lord Ilarion mean?
Sure, the princess doesn't show much emotion, but doesn't she act the very epitome of what everyone says his a lady should behave. Only with a lot more smiles.
Vince shook is head, he hadn't understood what the man meant any better than me. And he was better at reading people than me, so I let the matter drop, opting for following the man deeper into the store after his cousin.
"So Zee, have you heard the rather amusing for me, but bad for you news yet?" Lord Ilarion questioned near the princess as she browsed through the cloths hanging throughout the store. He had a smirk playing on his lips as he leaned against the rack the cloths were held in.
Zigra looked at him as blankly as ever, before shrugging her shoulders and went back to browsing through the cloths.
"Well... did you know that the sixth day of the ball requests all unmarried ladies to be dressed in pink?" He asked, his eyes drinking in her reaction with rampant attention. All three of us were doing it. Watching her reaction.
In which case, we were sadly disappointed.
At least, I was.
She looked up at him calmly, her face held no horror or disbelief. I was cool, calm, collected and most of all blankly expressionless as ever. She stared at her cousin for a moment, hummed in reaponce and went back to looking for a gown.
She pulled a dark, velvety red gown out and held it against her body, looking in the mirror a little to the side. "I'm sure mother would have thought of that before hand, I will not have buy anything." She answered, finally, examining the gown she held.
"Red is truly not your color." Lord Ilarion stated, gently taking the gown from her hand and depositing it back where she found it. "I'm sure mom would, but I'm not talking about your gown dear sister." He added as he hand her a butter scotch yellow gown and gently pushed her in the direction of the changing room.
I felt Vince' aura shift around Mr than saw it. Truning aorund I found his eyes in slits, staring at the princess and the young Lord with suspision. I raised my eyebrow at him, but besides gritting his teeth he didn't say anything.
"Then what could you possibly been refering to?" Zigra questioned, keeping the gown back where it belong without so much as a glance at it.
Lord Ilarion rolled his eyes at her actiones but took her by her arms and turned her around so she faced outside. "That." he said, poiting at something only the two of them seemed to see.
Zigra blinked rapibly, yet still there was nothing in her facethat gave awaywhat she was feeling or thinking.
I looked at Vince completely confused, but he didn't seem to have a better idea than me, not even when we peered over the ladies head to see what it was her cousin had pointed out to her.
"I'm not buying anything like that, thankyou very much." Zigra stated, her voice blank, but I felt it should have sounded incredulous. This made me wonder - didn't she ever show the slightest bit of emotion? It was almost as if she was made of stone, she didn't react to anything. She was as apathic as a person could possibly be. But why?
Why was she so shut off from the world?
This was very puzzling and seriously interesting. I will had to ask my mother about this. She seem too know the princess well. Not to mention, she wouldn't have brough a proposal to me without knowing everything there was find out about the lady.
A talk with my mother was long over-due.
"Don't Rion. I will have a better chance at making Harriette wear that than, you making me agree to such a folly." Zigra told him firmly, holding up a really silly neon pink gown up for Rion to see.
If I'm not wrong, Princess Harriette Wenceslava is Zigra's sister, six years younger to her. I don't know much about the little princess, but I knew for sure that she must hate dressing up for Zigra to bring her up in such a way. Not to mention, no same lady would want anything to do with the gown princess Zigra just picked up to show her cousin.
Lord Ilarion started laughing at her statement, even Vince manager a smile. I'm guessing he knows more about this sister of hers than I do.
"Fine, fine. You made your point." He pouted at her once he got his laughtr under control. "Hmm... you used to love dressing those things Zee." He added as he doing an arm around her shoulder and they started out of the store.
"I was seven Rion. Get over it." Zigra informed the man, but not unkindly. The way she said it was more in the sibling banter way. The way I and my little sister got along. Not mean, but not exactly friendly.
They were out of the store before they even remembered that me and Vincent was accompanying them. "Now where did the prince and his knight get to?" The man questioned, casting a glance around tea agree but not behind him where we were standing.
"Very funny, hilarious." Zigra muttered before shrugging off his hand and starting towards where Vince had tied our horses.
Turning around puzzled he saw us, but then looked at Zigra again with a puzzled expression. Then shrugging his shoulder in a not bothered way, followed Zigra.
Vincent huffed making me chuckle.
"Why Vince, frustrated by the princess already? And here I was thinking you got along so well with her." I said mocking hurt by placing a hand over my heart. "How can I ever hope to ask he hand in marriage if my most trusted knight doesn't even like her!" I exclaimed in a low voice so it would not carry to the two ahead of us.
"Stop mopping around Leo. I have no problem with the princess, it's her cousin that grates on my nerves." He added looking at the two with consealed suspition.
"Whatever, could you mean?" I questioned as we started following her, keeping our voices low.
"Don't tell me you did notice that he called lady Stavita 'mom' and he called her 'sister'." He informed me, shooting an annoyed look my way.
I hummed in thought staring at the two. Sure, even I noticed there was something off in the way they interacted. For two people living miles and miles away from each other, they did seem very close. Almost like sister and brother. He might be her cousin, but the easy banter and how he seem to understand what she said with her very blank expressionless looks was astoundinbg for two people who were supposed to barely see each other.
I guess I could see where Vince was coming from.
Anyhow, before I could reply, lord Ilarion called back to us. "Hurry up you two slowly pokes, we have a lot to cover in one day!"
Vince gritted his teeth audibly and walked stonily this horse. I only smiled. Infuriating Vince was way to easy sometime. Even princesss Zigra noticed it - I saw. She looked at the knight with her head cocked t the side, but once again no emotion in her face but for 'nothing'.
Hurrying back to my own horse, we saddled up and made the horses trot at a walking pace.
"I also want to talk to my mother about something, why don't you join us? This way I won't have to re-tell everything I learn and you can have your musings solved." I suggested once we were off again, letting Lord Ilarion lead as we fell behind him.