We got to the clearing in record time - considering I wasn’t riding alone and it was a lady I was riding with.
Zigra, anyhow, wasn’t like any other lady and made an amazing riding companion. She did complaint about the speed with which I spurred Rousse. She didn’t even hang on to me every tightly, it was like she was used to riding at this speed - which, now that I think about it, she probably was.
Anyway, getting to my destination, I reined in Rousse announcing that ‘we’re here.’ The place I stopped wasn’t any more different than the rest of the forest we’ve been riding along the whole way, but still. Zigra slipped off the horse as graceful as a swan. No questions asked.
The way she reacts to nothing is mind-boggling sometimes. How can a person not react to anything.
I mean, she doesn’t even startle!
“Come.” I said, holding out my arm for her to take, after tying Rousse to a tree. This time she took my arm, no hesitation.
“Aren’t you even curious as to where I’m taking you?” I asked her conversationally when she didn’t strike one up. She cast me a glance, but then looked back front so she wouldn’t trip on a tree root. “I could be taking you to some abondened place to kill you in secret.” I went on before she could reply.
“Oh well... I would have made a grievious mistake, but it would be too late by then.” She told, nothing in her tone giving away that she was teasing me right back. In fact, I truly believed she was serious in what she said.
I whirled to face her, with every intention of making it clear to her that I had been spectulating and no being serious. But as soon as looked into her turquoise eyes I almost saw the amusement shining through her closed off eyes, I stopped short.
“You are teasing me... aren’t you?” I asked her questioningly,unsure whether I was reading the look n her eyes right. Obviously I couldn’t tell by her tone and her facial expression remaind passive so I couldn’t tell by that either.
She looked down without answering and went on walking - forcing me to hurry back to her side. I decided to let it slide - she was so apathic maybe she wasn’t used t anyone really realising when she joked around, maybe that made her uncomfortable. I was only specutalong, but I could be right and that was the only thing I could think about he odd behaviour. It wasn’t like she was a very expressive person to read what she felt by her moods - which she hid pretty well.
Actually, a little too well, if you ask me.
“You still haven’t answer my original question you know?” I asked once I fell on step beside her. Had I been Vincent I would have guessed the answer by what she hadsaid in reply to me - it would have been plain obvious to him.
But I wasn’t as insightful and Zigra was the most hardest lady to read. She could at one thing and mean something entirely different. I have n idea how Vince can understand her so well, but she remained an inslovable puzzle to me.
She looked up at me, her turquoise eyes almost shining brightly in the sunlight, they almost glowed with something I wasn’t sure I wanted to place.
Of course, looking at me she wasnt looking where she was walking and she accidentally tripped on a tree root.
It just so happened, that instead of toppling over face first, her skirt caught on a bush behind me and she lost her balance she fell side-ways... on me.
Of that had been anyone besides Zigra, I’d have at least doubted that the was done on purpose. But as she is Zigra, the passive, apathic lady who raised no nonsence frokm anyone, and so definitly didn’t seem to be interested in anyone of the opposite gender, the thought didn’t even cross my mind.
She took a deep breath and quickly pulled away from my, swiftly pulling her skirt free from the bush, all in one smooth, graceful move.
“Are you alright?” I questioned her, my arms still on both her elbows - where I had caught her from when she fell.
“Yes, I’m rather fine.” She told me, sounding... well, no exactly uncaring, but... she did sound slightly out of breath and her voice didn’t exactly sound emotionless. I’m not sure how to say she sounded as she didn’t sound apathic, but her one held nothing of how she felt either. I felt like I’d gotten a glimpse of her emtions, but it was gone before. Could really professor what of seen and when I realised I had no idea exactly what emotion I’d glimpsed.
It was frustrating and rewarding at the same time.
So I decided that I’d not think about it, I’ll probably tell Vince when I get back and he’d fill in the blanks for me.
Also, it just so happened we’d reached our destination. “Alright, you ready to be awe inspired?” I questioned, smiling up at her all mysteriously.
She cocked her head, like a bird. Then she shook her head, motioning me to go on with her hands. Smirking devilishly, I pulled her into a clearing with beautifullest meadow on all of Vensilvania - the beautifullest meadow for miles.
If I expected to see her gasp in awe, her mouth to hang open or something, I was gravely disappointed. I’m not sure what I exactly expected her to do - I was too nervous about showing her place and didn’t know what to expect in the first place. But the one I got... it was much better than anything I would have imagined.
Her turquoise eyes lit up so brightly it looked like someone had switched on a candle in them. The wonder and awe that didn’t show in her emotionless face lit up her eyes as she gazed across the meadow. Her face remainded as expressionless and passive, but the expression in her eyes were what had me drinking in the beauty which shown from within as it did from the outside.
“This is... breathtaking.” She told, her voice neither a murmur nor a tone of wonder. It was clear and told in her normal volume, with no emotion what-so-ever in it.
“I’m glad you like it.” I told her, my voice soft as I took her hand in mine and led her deeper into the meadow. She didn’t say anything, just blinked gazing around her in awe - though her expression remaind blank.
It was sad that we couldn’t stay there for long - we had to get back to the picnic before anyone notice the two of our absence. It will not do go around creating rumours - though at this point I believe it inevitable, but we could still try to be discreet about sneacking off. Still, I wasn’t foolish enough to think our lack of presence was already noted - yet I could still hope as a man is allowed to hope.
Zigra, strangely, made no move to walk deeper into the meadow, she seemed content to stand beside me, enjoying the breeze ruffling her gown and tugging her hair out of it’s neat hairstyle.
We stood there for a while - it seemed almost too easy to forget the time when standing there with here in such tranqulity, but we didn’t have long to stay. So after what felt like no more than a few seconds - but surely was more than a few miniutes - I squeezed the hand I was holding gently to get her attention.
“It’s about time we get back.” I told her softly, hating to break the tranquil mood, but we had to get back.
Zigra tore her gaze away and looked at me. She nodded her head and surprising me, hooked her hand in mine. “Let’s go.” She said as she hooked her hand in the crook of my elbow.
Smiling, I led her back to the horses. This time around, I didn’t have Rousse race as if the devil were in our tail. Instead, opting to trot in a calm pace that Zigra leisurely made her messed hair.
When we got back to the picnic, it was very apparent that we would make an entrance. Sure, everyone was muling around while some had tea with my mother. I’m sure many ladies saw the two of us riding into the clearing on Rousse - and I’m sure everyone knew that Zigra had her own horse. After all it had been Vince who handed the horse to her so obviously all the ladies noticed such a thing.
“My your hignesses, quite the scandal the two of you are stiring.” Vince said with a teasing smirk as soon as he was by our side, the moment I stopped Rousse to get down.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were in on this devilish plot, but you couldn’t have know anything , could you?” Zigra commented, her voice passive and her expression blank. She sounded serious as she said it.
And yet, Vince grinned at her showing off his pearly whites. That’s how I knew that she had been teasing him right back.
Grinning, now that I knew Zigra wasn’t truly offended, I took Zigra’s lead. “And what might this scandal be?” I asked Vince, making my voice sound self-centered and not bothered by the lowly peasents, sticking my nose in the air.
“What do you think it’ll be, your highness?” Vince teased, smirking as he leaned towards me like he was saying a secret.
It was exactly at that time Zigra’s two ladies-in-waiting hurried over to us, skorts bundled up and paniced looks on their faces. The two fell into courtesies as soon as they were in front of us.
“My Lady, your hair.” The one on the right said, she looked at Zigra with that paniced look not leaving her face.
“It’s okay Rayla,” Zigra told the lady, not unkindly, but her voice sounded dismissive.
“My Lady, you have twigs andleaves entangled in your hair.” The other one exclaimed, her voice sounding slightly sterner than that required a ladies maid should while addressing her Lady.
I noticed Zigra’s shoulders tense, the only indication that she was shocked by what her Lady-in-waiting had said. Had I not been looking at her, I’d have missed the actions altogether and not noticed anything amiss.
I looked at Vince puzzled, for this wasn’t the first time we’d seen Zigra with leaves tangled in her hair - and when pointed out she had brushed it away like it meant nothing. That had been the reason neither me nor Vince had other to point it out to her right then - it wasn’t like she minded it very much.
“Oh dear! This -” Zigra started to say, but was cut off by one of Lord Ilarion’s guards hurrying over and almost knocking on the princess in his haste.
“Princess Zigra!” The man exclaimed, but Zigra just looked at the man with not even a hint of annoyance in her expression or eyes. “My lady, it’s lord Ilarion, he got ill while riding, you should come to the Castle immediately my Lady.” The man stumbled over his words in his hurry to relay the message.
Zigra’s eyes widened at the mans words.
“Did he come hunting with his fever?” She asked the man, her voice remained apathic, but it sounded slightly higher than normal. She was scared.
The man nodded his head gravely.
“Lets go.” She said, her voice barely above a whisper and apologiseing to me and Vince, turned and smoothly glided over to my mother, with Lord Ilarion’s guard following her.
“Should we go with her?” I asked Vince once her ladies-in-waiting waiting courtesied to us and hurried after Zigra.
“I’m sure it’ll be appreciated.” Vince told, staring after the retreating princess. He looked worried as he stared after her. Then he looked at me, waiting or me to decide whether we are going with her or not. I sighed, then waved my hand for us to proceed and not waiting for him started towards my mother.
By the time we reached mother, Zigra was excusing herself and walked away, she didn’t even seem to notice that she walked past us as she hurried to her horse. I shared a worried look with Vince, she was acting unlike herself. She usually paid attention to everything around her. This is the first time I’ve seen her truly lost in her own head, so much s that she didn’t pay attention to her surrondings.
I smiled at the ladies who were flocking my mother and bowed to my mother. “Mother, a word.” I asked politely, a charming smile on my lips.
The ladies tittere an instantly granted us privacy.
Or rather, walked away a little, but was still within ear shot. Oh well, it’s not like it matters.
“Mother, I’m heading home with Zigra. I’m worried about her.” I told my mother lowering my voice so only Vince and mother would hear what I had to say. Mother looked at me kinda strangely, but I went on ignoring her. “She’s close to Lord Ilarion and I want to make sure he’s fine.” I added, throwing back a glance at Zigra and Lord Ilarion-s guard who were just mounting their horses.
My mother smiled, a secretive smile that said she knew something I didn’t. “Go on ahead, it’ll be fine. I’ll take care of things here.” Was all she said, patting my cheek in a motherly fashion and shooed me to go after Zigra.
Giving her a greatful smile, me and Vince hurried after her.
She was already getting down by the time we reached the Castle stables, having beaten us by riding at the speed I had a feeling she loved to ride.
She hurried past us, not even blinking at having seen us following her. She was that preoccupied with worry. We finally caught up with her at the entrance talking to a servant, actually, it was Lord Ilarion’s guard asking where his charge was while Zigra stared at the servant apathically.
“They still haven’t come back from hunting. My lady and sir is the only one to return.” The servant was informing Zigra when we reached her. I exchanged a curious glance with Vince as I slid up to stand by her. The servant instantly courtesied to me, but I ignored her, instead wrapping an arm around Zigra’s shoulder in reassurance.
“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine.” I told her, lightly squeezing her to my side.
She looked up at me, her turquoise legs hidden by her lashes, but she didn’t look as worried as I knew she felt. I smiled at her reassuringly, but I got the feeling I was not helping her in the least.
“I’m sure we headed back earlier than them in our hurry Zigra, surely that is nothing to worry over.” Vince added, taking her hand from my opposite side.
Biting her lip, she looked down at the floor, her face hidden by the bonnet still on her head.
Sighing, I rubbed my hand up and down her arm, not knowing how else I could help. Vince looked as lost as I felt and didn’t have any helpful idea either.
We were soon put out of our misery when when Lord Ilarion’s two other guards, supported the fainted lord inside, between them.
“Rion.” Zigra said, her voice not rising, but her alarm slipping. She quickly hurried over to them, slipping out of my arm easily. She touches Lord Ilarion’s face and looked up at his guards. I couldn’t see her expression, but I had a feeling that it remained blank. “You idiot, I though you knew better than to over-exert yourself like this. Now see what happened.” She chided the man, who grunted in reply.
Then shaking her head she moved out of their way, ordering his guards to take Lord Ilarion to his room and then sent the other one to fetch the court physician.
It was captivating to see her take charge, ordering everyone about with a confidence that had an air of a Queen.
Vince hurried from my side to help them, lifting Lord Ilarion’s leg.
Zigra hurried after them, stoppng only to cast a glance at me. A glance that I took as ‘are you coming?’ Zigra was kind that way, so I knew that was exactly what she meant by that glance she threw my way.
Shaking my head I followed after them, this wasn’t the time to be happy that I could finally discern her without Vincent’s help. I was making progress, but I didn’t have long to win her love. More like three more days, whatever I do, I had to hurry.