Leo knocked on my door right on time, not a second late.
Well... who’d have figured him to be so punctual. Definitly not me. In fact, I had a feeling Vincent had a great deal to with him being so punctual.
I nodded my head for Paller to open the door, while Rayla finished pinning up my hair and fixed my bonnet on my head, angling the net to cover half my face.
Paller opened the door just enough to see who stood outside. “Your highness,” she said, blobbing into a courtesy. “If I may, your highness, the princess would be with you in a moment.” She informed him, backing away, ready to shut the door. She bobbed her head to whatever he said to her and then took something from him.
I had to force myself to hold back the smile that was threatening to break free. Talking a deep breath, I managed to hold myself in check, but not without some difficulty.
“Oh, Zigra! Look, isn’t this the beautifullest thing ever?” Paller cooed as she opened the box she had collected from Leo. She held the box in front of me so I could see it as well. On the small box sat two diamond earings. The diamond was a stud, from which a teardrop fell down, a pearl on the bottom curve of the teardrop.
A gasp left my lip before I could stop myself.
I touched one earing with a gloved hand. “It’s beautiful.” I said, more to myself than to my ladies-in-waiting. Yet, I had a feeling that though it was Leo’s gift the selection was Vincent’s.
Rayla and Paller each took an earing and quickly put it on my ears.
“You know Zigra, I know of a necklace that would go prettily with that pair of earings.” Rayla told as she digger through my jewellry box and took out one of my mothers pearl necklaces that also had tear shaped pearls hanging down.
I sighed, resigning to let her get on with it.
“And Zigra, maybe-” Paller started to say as Rayla clicked the lock of the necklace into place.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves ladies,” I told, cutting across Paller as I stood up. With barely a glance at the mirror, I grabbed my fan and parasol and left the room.
Leo was standing, leaning in the opposite wall, facing my room door, waiting.
“I thought you’d be more punctual than me.” He told with a grin, pushing off the wall and coming to stand by me, holding his arm for me take.
“Apologise Leo, my ladies-in-waiting kinda got carried away while dressing me up.” I told him, hiding a grimance, even as I accepted his arm. “Since I’m sitting with a prince I should dress to impress.” I had to fight off the urge to scoff at their behaviour. “Like you’d care either way.” I added, lightly knocking my shoulder with his. Though my tone remaind impassive, I was teasing him - and I knew he’d figure it out.
“Why my lady, I stand offended.” He told dramatically placing his hand over his heart. “I am still a prince and I’d love to show off the beautiful lady in my arms.” He told me sounding serious for all intenses and purposes.
“Are you saying that you’d have preffered if I had worn the coral blue gown Rayla originally wanted me to wear?” I asked him, letting my guard down enough to let the indulgence in my tone slip through.
Leo whirled in on me, almost making me walk into him. “Are you telling me that you actually have a coral blue gown?” He asked me incredulously. His eyes were wide open with shock as he stared at me.
“Yes,” I replied briskly and walked past him, feeling slightly annoyed by the question.
I know I wasn’t being fair to him, but he didn’t need to sound so incredulous, did he? How rude.
“This I have to see!” Leo exclaimed as he caught up to me and hooked my hand back around his. I just looked at him, unsure what he wanted to see. It couldn’t be my coral blue gown. Why ever on Earth would he want to see my gown. “You wearing anything other than dark colors.” He eleborated when he noticed me staring.
I took on a deep breath and slowly released it. “That is not happening.” I told him blankly, keeping my head straight - avoiding looking at him.
“Don’t spoil the fun Zee. I’m sure you’d look even more gorgeous than you already are if you wear something like that.” He informed me, looking excited at the prospect.
“Something like what?” I asked, looking at him sharply - even though my face remaind expressionless. Even my voice came out sharper than I intended. I couldn’t help it, the way I dressed was a sensitive subject for me. Mostly because Imogen always has something to say concering the way I dressed - which led to arguements that I’d rather not have.
I sighed before he could answer me - though I noticed he looked taken back by my sharp tone. I don’t think it’s because no one has ever talked to him like that, my guess is that he didn’t expect me to react the way I did - slightly slumping my ramrod straight posture. “Sorry, but can we just drop the subject. Please?” I asked, rubbing my temple with my glowed fingers.
Leo smiled back at me easily, his posture relaxing as well. “Sure. And I’m sorry as well. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” He told, adding the last part apologetically.
Nodding my head, I patted his arm in a ‘dont worry about it’ gesture. Then we proceeded down to where the joustling tournament was held, heading to the royal box.
We arrived at the pavilion and took our seats to the right of the seats reserved for the King and queen. Princess Imara Waldrifrid, Leo’s younger sister was already sitting to the left of where the King and Queen would sit, the royal advisor beside her. I admit, throughout my stay in Vensilvania I’ve been too busy gallivanting around with Leo and Vince that I never really took my time to get to know the princess.
Honestly, the only times I’d really seen her was at meals, and that also only when I dinned with the royal family.
“Zee this is my sister Imara, Imara you already know Princess Zigra Of Mangandaall don’t you?” Leo introduced the two of us when he saw his sister sitting there talking to the royal advisor.
“Yes Leo I know the princess.” The princess told her brother giving a kind smile. She had her mothers same orangish-red hair and same warm brown eyes as her mother and brother.
I returned her smile then let Leo turn me in the direction of our seats.
We were making pointless conversation when Vince finally joined us. As Leo’s personal guard he was to be in the box with us. Seeing him I hurriedly stood up and faced him.
“Vince, have you seen Rion?” I asked him the moment he was standing behind our seats.
“Ur- yeah, he was sitting somewhere over there.” He told, pointing discreetly in to the northwest from where we were sitting. “Don’t worry, last I saw him Lady Marillia was taking good care of him.” He reassured me, gently taking my glowed hand in his and patting it soothingly.
Rion was feeling much better than he had yesterday, and had recovered from his hunting trio rather very well, but I didn′t want him to tire himself. Truthfully, I let him come only after he promise that he wouldn’t over-exert himself. Sure, by far, he was doing very well, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
I sighed, taking a deep breath and slowly releasing it. I felt more relaxed now that I knew Rion will be in good hands. I’m not saying I knew lady Marillia very well, but from what I’ve seen of her... let’s just say that she wasn’t like those ladies who’d cornered me with the pretext of getting to know me better and an invitation to have tea with them.
“Thankyou Vince, I was starting to worry when I couldn’t find him anywhere and he didn’t even come to see me before he came down here.” I told, glancing behind me at where he pointed and searching for that very familliar blob of midnight black hair and tan skin.
“Don’t fret, we know very well what’s keeping you on edge.” Vince said with a light laugh, giving the hand he still held in his a gentle squeeze before releasing it. “And next time, try not to get up as soon as you see me. We are having quite an amount of spectators.” He added lightly, but I knew he meant every word he said.
Let’s also not forget the fact that the princess and the royal advisor could hear everything we were saying - not like we were talking anything secrets, but still...
I felt heat rushing to my face at his words, but I stamped down the blush with an effort. Nodding my head, I sat back beside Leo, who had the good grace not to stand up and greet his friend.
It didn’t take long for the King and Queen to join us and then the games began. First everyone who was participating were introduced, everyone standing in front of the King and Queen in a form of respect. Once everyone cleared the floor, two knights remaind, each in their side of the arena.
I was lucky to be sitting with Leo as he kept a running commentary for my benifit - since I had no idea who was who, or how guys game is judged (because jousting wasn’t a big hit in a small dukedom like Mangandaall).
I’ll admit, the tournament was rather interesting to watch and Leo adding comments inbetween the commentary that kept the whole thing rather interesting. I was sure that if I weren’t for him, the I’d be sitting rather borely, waving my fan in front of my face.
It was strange that Vince wasn’t joining in on our conversation, but he proffessionally stayed out of our conversation.
The tournament dragged late into the evening and it was just about time for the sun to go down when the last two opponents were competiting for first place.
Sir Liment - one of the knights of Vensilvania - and Commander Gregory Laynheart - commander of the guards of the city center.
The two faced off as everyone watched with batted breath for the winner to emerge. Even Leo was looking on with anticipation as his running commenary stopped so he could watch with rampant attention.
The horses charged forward, both knights with their lances at the ready. The met in the middle and a paused followed where the two knights were lost amoung the splinters and dust.
And then the dust settled and we could all see Sir Liment on the ground, knocked out of his horse, while Commander Gregory came out victorious.
The crowd cheered as the commander had his horse trot around waving to everyone and at last came to a stop in front of the King. He bowed as low as his mount on the horse would allow him to, a smug smile permanently glued to his face.
“Congratulations Commander Gregory Laynheart, that was a hardly won victory!” The King boomed. He was standing up with his hand raised to quiten the crowd. “Tell me young man, what prize do you want for this marvelous victory of yours?” The King question, settling back on his seat and staring down at the commander with piercing eyes.
“You are very humble my gracious King.” Commander Laynheart started, his tone as humble as sweet-talking as his words. “I would like to ask for nothing more than the honor of having the first dance tonight with the beautiful Princess Zigra.”