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Because of how long the princess had been ‘missing,’ the sparring event had been delayed till she was found. It had been four hours since the jousting had ended and really there wasn't much of a point to try to get it started before the dance began. So the guests of the castle were allowed another hour to themselves before attending the dance. Intending not to be late again the Dracoi party arrived early with one of the human emperors, speaking to the young man of their expanding territory and vast hold of many resources. That conversation however paused upon seeing Valencia alone in the ballroom, dancing by herself like a scarlet spectacle who immediately took the betrothed ruler’s attention.
“Is your own dance partner here?” Eric mumbled to the ruler since Valencia hadn’t noticed them yet and he received a smile of thought.
“Actually, no. And it seems the fair princess doesn’t have one of her own either.” With that the ruler crossed the ball room to take the chance and ask for her hand during the first dance. The crowned prince tried to keep his unamusement from his face while the rest of the parties filed into the ballroom.
“Prince Eric,” Tsar Claud’s oldest daughter spoke snapping him out of his discontent state. “I see you’ve made it on time for once.” She remarked gruffly, giving the Dracoi a sideways glance as his just smirked and shook his head.
“I’ll try not to make it a habit if this is the attention I get for it.” He quipped and she tilted her head up, making a disgruntled sound before turning away and leaving Eric be.
“I think she was wanting you to ask her to dance.” Joseph remarked, having walked up as the princess walked away and giving a sideways look after the Tsar’s daughter. This had both Dracoi’s looked after her for a few moments before the other royals and their parties began to file in. The two princes stepped aside and they began looking for their own suitable partners for the first dance. “I’m surprised you aren’t going straight for Valencia.” Joseph said rubbing his arms since they were still sore from the jousting.
“Mmm, I just wasn’t quick enough in asking her first.” Eric replied back, turning to set his sights on the High elf Princess. “But the night is young and there will be other dances, more chances, plenty of time to speak with her.” Pressing his lips together, his brother just nodded and they waited in the wings both being asked by other family princesses to the first dance of the evening. Joseph ended up with one of the human noble’s daughters, a pretty brunette who was after seeing him joust even though he’d lost, And Eric partnered with King Garbhán’s eldest daughter, Serenity. She’d arrived just before the dancing began having seen her younger siblings off to bed before joining to ball. “Your family is the biggest here.” Eric began lowly, bowing at the start of the dance before taking her arm in arm.
“Yes. The biggest but by far not the flashiest.” She replied coolly, noting the crowned Prince’s sleek uniform and stunning cape with a dragon stitched into the back. It was clasped to him by a golden chain and Eric rolled his eyes slightly, stepping back while leading in their dance.
“It’s called making a memorable first impression Princess.” He said and to this she just chuckled, turning with the rest of the dancers.
“Memorable indeed, to say that the Dracoi’s ruler came to the peace talks and put on quite a show away from any diplomatic discussions.” She said, moving closer and aiming to step on his toes at least once before they switched partners. “However, we can’t let you have all of the limelight.” She added, lowering her voice to a whisper. “Good or bad, there are other shows to be watched and… Leverage to be gained.” That last part was said right before they switched partners mid dance leaving Eric to turn away from that ominous statement and face his next partner, which was surprise, surprise. Valencia.
“If it’s worth anything, my mother said the sons are the reflections of the man their father is. I trust that your sons are no different from you. And some of my ladies have taken a liking to Prince Niul.” She chuckled before he dropped the major question. Would she be a good empress, that was a question she asked herself sometimes. King Garbhàn was right, having an unwed empress wasn’t something the nobles wanted. It was a lot easier to get a woman to submit than a man when it came to succession. Something Valencia wanted to end herself. She took made a small sigh before going to grab a glass of water from a nearby servant.
“A bad king can believe he is the best king some have ever seen. A good king can think of themselves as someone who doesn’t do enough.” She took a sip of the water. “It’s not whether or not I think I’ll be a good empress. It’ whether or not I actually try to be the best ruler. I will try my hardest to be a good leader, but unlike my father, I won’t be so quick to close the doors on outsiders. The threats lie both outside and inside the palace walls. So, it’s not that I believe that I will be a good empress, it’s the fact that I will stop at nothing to make sure I serve my people to the best of my ability.”
Valencia was happy with her answer. She went to go say something before a panicked king’s guard rushed to her side. “I have found you at last. You were gone for three hours and no one knew where you were. Oh, this makes me happy, the dancing portion of the day will start within an hour.” He expressed with joy. He looked over to see King Garbhàn and bowed. “Your queen was also concerned about your whereabouts your majesty. Although, she thought you may have put the child for a nap. Anyways, you must get ready.” Valencia turned to the king and smiled before bowing.
“I hope to speak with you again soon. I’ve found that I’m always being taught how to be a high elf queen. I feel like you can give some advice on how to be king.” She said with a smile before leaving with the king’s guard.
He escorted Valencia towards her room. He kept talking about random stuff, making Valencia think he was a little new with being a king’s guard. The kid soon said something that intrigued her. “Everyone was worried. Niul thought you went to the infirmary after your fall. Then he wants to go check on you and you never checked in. So, he went to your father, who was talking the dracoi boys, and he said that you’d probably be in the sun pool. Then the four went to the sunpool and you weren’t there. And then everyone was worried, even the big scary dracoi prince.” The guard said.
Valencia’s cheeks went red and her mind started to rush. He was worried, that doesn’t seem to be right. She thought to herself before seeing the guard off. Valencia changed into a dancing gown, which was a red gown made for causal days. Looking at her arms, she noticed the bruises were basically gone. Valencia took in a deep breath and left for the ballroom. When she got there, she noticed it was empty, apart from a few servants rushing around. Valencia decided to just dance by herself while she waited for others to come. Tracing the steps on the ground as she pretended to have a dancing partner
Listening to Valencia speak about her father's distrusting nature, which he hadn't asked about, Garbhán held his sleeping child as well as a cool smile, shaking his head at her question. “No, I wouldn't have done anything to you.” He replied, “But I probably won't have left you to sleep either. If I had found you alone, I would have had one of your guards wake you and we would have already had this conversation.” He still had his calm smile that didn't quite reach his eyes and he kept them on Valencia, not letting any movement or expression pass unnoticed.
"Though I can't speak for any of my allies, or any of my sons for that matter." He remarked this with a small dismissive shrug while saying, "None of them would be forceful at all towards you be.. Well how else does it sound to hear that the sole leader of a powerful realm will be an unwed empress. It sounds like an opportunity to most and I'm sure that the beginning of your rule will be no exception." He paused as if thinking on that note and glanced out off the balcony with his eyes half open in thought.
“Your father's past haunts him,” The king suddenly said, almost like he was stating fact. “The knowledge that he stole and cheated to get where he is now. So that must be how the game is played, among enemies and among allies.” He paused letting those statements sink in before continuing on. “I do not play that game. I participate in something very similar to it but that way of life is not one I lead. And I hope, for your sake, that it isn't one you take up after you succeed your father.” He said the last part with a heavy sigh and an air of warning in his voice.
“An outlier is what your father was when he became king, but I am not disappointed with how he ruled. I'm sure our diplomacy here wouldn't be as far as it is now if lord Agarmath's late father had been the one to wed the beautiful Katerina.” There was a reminiscent tone in Garbhán's voice and he looked down as his son shifted, taking a moment to make sure the little prince was comfortable before looking back at Valencia.
“Do you believe you will be a good empress?” He asked, leaning forward slightly. “Ruling alone without the upper class's support?” Before she could protest that question, Garbhán added curtly. “It is obvious that have just as many enemies here as you can assume you do outside of your own realm. The brawl that took place last night was proof enough of that. You are walking a thin line with these days of supposed peace and many are watching the future rules of each realm. So I ask again.. Do you believe you will be a good empress?”
Valencia Slowly opened her eyes, thinking it was Eric on the other lounger. She went red in the cheeks a little bit before stretching and opening her eyes to find King Garbhán across from her. She jumped in, still feeling a tiny bit of pain in her body. She didn’t know how long she was passed out for, but she noticed the sun was higher in the sky. She Sat up as he spoke to her, his son in his arms. It was nice to see a king take care of their child. Valencia just blinked a little before he asked the main question.
She looked at him with a blank look, not wanting to start anything with people around. She took a deep breath before speaking. “Well Hello to you too King Garbhán, I see the little one tired himself out.” She said with a kind smile. The words about her mother rang through her ears. It wasn’t like she meant to sleep out on the balcony. She planned on keeping the attack yesterday a secret from everyone if possible. She also didn’t want to out her weaknesses to the people who have historically not gotten along with in the past. Valencia was still a little naive in the fact that everyone here had their own agenda. “I have always felt safe in my own home. Even after the disappearance of my mother, nothing really changed. I know that the attack was a lucky strike and my father did everything in his power to make sure everything was safe. That doesn’t stop him from worrying about me though, I am the only heir to the throne.” She looked at all the guards and the ladies in waiting standing around.
Valencia fully sat up, her legs off the lounger, the arms in the air as she stretched. She looked at the ladies and motioned for them to leave. Valencia had a feeling that King Garbhàn had his own reasons for waiting for her to wake up. Having the ladies in waiting around, listening, even made her uncomfortable. Her eyes peered to the young dark elf fast asleep. Valencia picked up one of the blankets she didn’t use and handed it to King Garbhàn. She watched as the young prince got tucked in, giving the two-gentle smile before looking at his father.
“The little one did a good job yesterday with the ringed tail serpent. All the children did a good job with the small beast. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he makes an appearance tomorrow night.” She said before biting her lip. “Well, I’m also sure you don’t make it a habit to watch girls from other kingdoms sleep, child in tow or not. I’m sure my father will say something like, ‘how can you trust someone you barely know when you’re in a compromising position like that? What do you think would have happened if the child wasn’t there?’ He’s never been a trusting man, even when he met my mother on that faithful boat ride. He always has a way of sniffing out the lies and always knew how to get what he wanted in a sneaky. My mother also had a way of finding out who was a loyal follower and who would back stab her.” Valencia said before getting up and going towards the edge of the balcony.
“It was the reason why she would never Aggarmath’s father and chose to marry the king of thieves. The difference between my father and my mother is that my mother is very outspoken and will ask the hard questions directly. My father does this thing where he will tell a story and get the other person to tell a story. With the story, he will make a judgment call and ask the hard questions in a casual way. It let’s the person relax. I am getting a head of myself. I guess what I am trying to ask is.” She turned around to face the king. “If your son wasn’t with you, would you have taken advantage of the position I was in?”
Eric had seen Valencia wavered again while walking away, this time almost falling but she managed to keep herself standing. Slowly his mind began to come up with possibilities for what was ailing the princess. Could it just be exhaustion or was she sick with something? Was she hurt more than he thought from the fall or could the fall have aggravated some old wound? He didn't know, but he was going to keep in mind her offer to dance later on in the day. After the theater and sparring events. For now there was going to be a break for participants to rest and either opt in or out to watch whatever play was being put on and rest up and eat some before the sparring that was taking place later in the day.
Leaving the arena Joseph and Rapha left the crown prince’s side to get a little something to eat than rest before the sparring event, leaving Eric to roam the castle grounds alone. He got a chance to congratulate the troll princess on her victory and she simply shrugged off the complement like it had been nothing. She was going to join the rest of her family in watching the play because even though the Tsar was ruthless at times, to the neighboring realms and to his own people, he had a strange love for the arts which in turn made the trolls culture rich with book and songs and plays catering to such fine things. Letting the princess had her leave, Eric walked to Niul to congratulate him as well, and the dark elf prince took it in a more modest fashion than the princess had. But he was distracted by Valencia’s swift disappearance again.
“Do you know if the fall had hurt her?” Niul asked a little too concerned with the matter than he should be and Eric just shrugged.
“Probably did.” The Dracoi replied which wasn’t helping the situation.
“Maybe I should find a healer, ask them where the castle infirmary is. I was really hoping to talk to her after the final match.” Niul let out a heavy breath, shoulders slumping slightly and Eric looked up spotting the Dark elf queen striding along with three of her children in tow. This made him nudge Niul and nod towards the Queen.
“Don’t dwell on it. Go flaunt your victory instead. There will be plenty of chances to speak with her.” A little reluctant but also sort of amused, Niul agreed and walked away to catch the part of his large family that was walking by, to fill them in on what they’d missed that morning. This left Eric alone again but he wasn’t alone for long since King Garbhán rounded the bend, trailing behind his Queen and stopped to chat, his youngest in his arms. As soon as the royal couple had gotten up, the youngest son refused to leave his parents side, not to stay with his governess or to head off in the morning with his many siblings. So king Garbhán was stuck with carrying the young prince with him, but he didn’t seem to mind much.
“Good morning Eric. Tell me, did you compete in the morning events?” He asked, noting how the Dracoi was dressed but Eric just shook his head.
“Good morning Garbhán. No I didn’t participate in the jousting, but my brother did, and so did Niul. He actually won the event.” The crowned Prince informed Garbhán who nodded with a prideful look crossing his face.
“Heh, that sounds like something he’d do.” The King remarked while his son yawned. Most of the Dark elf children were up early while the older royals preferred to sleep in as late as they could get away with. King Garbhán and his young son were both no exception but as young as the prince was, he was still in the habit of taking naps throughout the day and it was getting close to the time when he would take one. “I suppose I’ll have to go find him now, congratulate him before his ego gets to his head.” The king said this with a chuckle and Eric agreed simply, bidding Garbhán a good day before they went their separate ways. The ruler of the Dark Elves had lost sight of his Queen who he had been following with their son and walking back into the castle, he passed a balcony with a few loungers on it and noticed a curious sight that made him pause.
Now what was the high elves Princess doing fast asleep in such a public space? There were of course a few ladies in waiting on the other side of the balcony and two guards at the doorway, but no one else was there. Looking up and down the mostly empty halls and spotting no one else from his own party, king Garbhán adjusted the way he was holding his son in his arms, humming softly to the young dark elf while walking out onto the balcony and pretending not to notice who he was sitting across from till he looked up. He knew the guards would be watching him and the ladies in waiting listening for any chance to gossip about anything that they heard, but really the king just wanted to give his son a chance to sleep. Second to that was his own opportunity to speak with the next ruler of the high elves, at least when she woke up he’d have that opportunity.
So he sat back, rocking his child to sleep and waiting for Valencia to wake. He waited a little over thirty minutes till she stirred and awoke, having found her about thirty minutes after the jousting had finished and he chuckled softly when she jumped at the sight of him sitting across from her.
“Good morning Princess Valencia. Or I should really say good afternoon.” He kept his voice soft and low since his son was still asleep but he also did that because he didn’t want the guards and the ladies behind him or anyone else passing by to hear what they were saying. “I never realized how safe your home must be now if you feel like you can slumber wherever you please, especially with what is happening and what [b had] happened before in this place.” He hinted at her mother’s disappearance and looked back at Valencia, judging how she’d react to what he’d said.
Valencia stuck around at the sides to watch the rest of the competition, just out of sight. She wore a cloak with fur on the shoulders to hide the bruising that was forming. The cloak also hid the fact that her body was trying to heal itself from within. As the competition whined down, she first went to congratulate the troll princess on her victory. Then she congratulated Niul on his victory, although she had a feeling his eyes were digesting his possible prize. She soon went onwards towards the dracoi where she bowed gracefully in front of them.
“As someone who is a native of flying griffons, despite my earlier display. I can honestly say you did exceptionally well.” She said with a gentle smile. “I hope the two of you have your dancing shoes with you. And know how to dance, although what really matters today is the spar. Which I feel you’d guys would have an advantage on.” She then glanced at Eric with hopeful look. Her champion wasn’t here, and she couldn’t fight. She also didn’t want any of the other princes to win. She listen to what they had to say before nodding.
"I should take my leave and let you guys get ready. If anyone needs a female partner, I am here for that." She offered to the dracoi princes. She bowed, bidding farewell and began to walk away. She wasn’t more then ten feet away from the dracoi before she got dizzy and lost her balance for a few seconds. The royal guard jumped catching her before she regained her balance and got up. She didn’t look behind her because she felt even more embarrassed. She was supposed to be this strong, independent high elf princess. Instead, she turned into someone who could barely keep her footing.
Once she found her way to the main palace, she began to struggle to get to her room. It was evident, she wasn’t going to get there. She then turned her attention to out of the loungers on one of the balconies. Valencia pressed her lips together, thinking of all the pros and cons of taking a nap. Her major one was that she could be found by anyone. But that was also her pro, that there were too many people around. Valencia took the risk and laid down on the lounger, letting the exhaustion take her.
It was clear that she was not meant to take damage. When she takes a lot of damage, she ends up feeling exhausted and needing to sleep it off. Especially if her healing magic is healing multiple injuries. Between the wound she got from the minister, and falling a good 12 feet off a griffon, she wasn't doing too well. Snuggling into the fur blanket beside her, she slowly falls asleep peacefully.
The moment Valencia wavered, Eric knew she was going to fall. Even from down on the ground, he could see it. He leaned forward as she lowered her weapon slightly and looked to one side, and that was the opening the troll princess needed to in order to knock her down. One solid strike from the jousting rod knocked Valencia off of her mount and a gasp rose up from the watching audience. The sound was almost sickening when she landed, though the fall really hadn't been that far and she wasn't hurt enough to the point where she couldn't get up. Eric was sure she was simply going to be sore after walking away from that with her opponent beginning claimed victor of the match.
“Are you alright?” The princess asked Valencia after she'd landed. There was concern in her harsher voice but once Valencia confirmed that she was okay, that concern was gone. It took some time to get her out of the ring and once she was, it seemed clear that the princess wouldn’t be sticking around for the rest of the competition.
The event was slower going forward but people were going to get hurt and there was little exception to that. Joseph lasted two matches before he faced Niul who ended up dismounting him. Besides getting the wind knocked out of him, the younger dracoi prince was just fine after his defeat. Leaving ring with his griffon being taken back to the stables, Joseph found his way over to the other Dracoi’s and sat back against a wall on the ground, exhausted.
“That’s… That’s the last time I do anything like that again.” He breathed, holding one of his sides while catching his breath. “From now on I’m going to leave that kind of performing to you and, [i phew…] Whoever else is crazy enough to do this.” Joseph’s tired resolve earned a soft chuckle from his brother and a supportive look from Rapha.
“It isn’t for everyone.” The advisor said in a reassuring tone, meeting Joseph’s gaze before looking back up to watch the rest of the event. “And you did quite well seeing as this is your first time.” Joseph just nodded and after a few minutes managed to stand back up arms still wrapped around himself. Other contestants who were defeated in earlier matches had made their way into the crowds
In the last three matches, the last two competitors ended up being one of the human nobles and prince Niul both seemingly matched with their skill and vigor. The match ended after fifteen passes and Niul managed to knock his opponent off of his griffon. Trumpets blared and when the dark elf landed he was grinning like the cat who got the canary.
“You may have won this round but I will best you yet.” Niul was told in a friendly competitive way.
“Hmm, well I hope you can dance better than you fight.” He remarked lightly with a laugh and glanced up to see if Valencia had returned. She was still nowhere in sight but not many others noticed or worried about it too much.
Valencia stepped into the competitors’ ring, placing the armour on the griffon. She looked over, seeing Joseph sort of struggling with the bird. She didn’t think Eric was going to sit this one out, but the main event was going to be the sparing. Valencia walked over, giving him a gentle smile before taking the rings. “This breed is meant for speed and aerodynamics, so you want to lean into the bird a little more.” She said before taking his hand and placing it on a part of the scruff of the griffon. “If the griffon decides it doesn’t want to listen, a light tug on this area will make it stop fussing. But if you pull too hard, the griffon will come crashing down. Just keep that in mind.”
As the first match up happened, Valencia and the troll princess watched as the human and dwarf struggled to keep flight. They were up to go next, being the only females, they weren’t going to pin the two up against the males first. It was evident that the troll has a physical advantage over her, but Valencia grew up riding on the back of the griffons. As the first fight was wrapping up, Valencia wished the troll good luck as the mounted and lifted off. She was ready to go, this was her thing. The troll had some control over the beast, being that they ride giant bats.
Once the trumpet rang, everyone went as it was time. The first few passes no one hit, proving the be a specular show. Soon it became evenly matched, Valencia and the princess landing hits after hits. Every time Valencia got hit, she gracefully straightened back up. She knew how to fly her griffin and could do it beautiful. As they prepared for the next pass, whispers started flooding Valencia’s ears. She was trying to ignore them as they passed, Valencia barely missing. It was down to the last pass, who ever hit got won. Valencia was getting more distracted, the whispers getting louder. As they launched, the whispers turned into something grabbing her. This thing wasn’t visible to anyone, but when the moment came, Valencia felt a joust hit her gut, knocking her off her griffon and onto the ground.
The crowds gasped as the healers came to check on her. She just stared up in the shy, the feeling of something grabbing her was gone. She stood up as the announcer made a remark about her every move. She took a deep breath before getting up, stumbling a little bit before shaking her head. One of the healers offered his help but she refused silently. She moved into the inner parts of the arena before sliding down to the ground. She stared off into space for a little bit before looking at her hands. She didn’t know if she herself was going crazy.
Outside with everyone getting ready, Joseph was beginning to get cold feet about joining in the jousting. “This will be no good. I haven't even much experience with combat on horseback, let alone jousting on Griffons.” He shook his head, sliding gauntlets into place on either arm while Eric and Rapha both dressed in light armor for their sparring.
“Hmm, well you can’t back out now. It would ruin Dracoi’s fearsome image.” Karim chuckled leaned back next to Dara who was waiting a little while to put on her dancing shoes.
“Tsk, Fearsome image. That’s not an image I wish to uphold.” The younger prince muttered fixing his shield to one arm and straightening up ready to find whatever griffon he was going to be riding.
“Joseph.” Eric called in a soft voice, getting his younger brother’s attention and walking over. “Aim true and don’t let your nerves shake you.” The crowned prince grasped Joseph’s forearm after wishing his brother good luck, then let him go to meet up with the other jousters who were for the most part ready to proceed.
“Shall we go watch? The sparring won’t start until the jousting is over.” Rapha suggested stretching his shoulders and joints while Eric nodded and giving it a few more minutes, they both went over to the arena for the jousting.
The two advisors who weren’t involved with any of the combat events took their time to go back inside and Eric and Rapha found a place in some shade to stand and watch the jousting event. Looking around slightly, he took note on how many from the other nations were also participating and he saw Valencia, having come out from the castle dressed in her light armor and leading a striking mount. A snowy white griffon that looked more like a pampered pet rather than something to be ridden into battle.
On the sidelines, with each participant being acquainted with their mount, Joseph was given a sleek-bodied griffon, one with small dark grey feathers and short hair. Its talons, hooves, and beak were black and the animal seemed breed for aerodynamics rather than just strength or speed. The young prince was told that the animal had a great amount of stamina compared to the other griffons but looking at it, it seemed quite a bit smaller than what some of the other participants would be riding.
“Great…” Joseph muttered to himself, fixing the harness and saddle to his griffon. “It’s all in good fun huh? Let’s just get it over with and see how far it goes.” His lowered voice only got snorting from the griffon. Niul had a bronzey feathered griffon with red speckles along its shoulders and a wide wingspan. It was clearly bred for its power and the dark elf seemed satisfied with the beast that he was paired up with. The other participants were two nobles from the human’s party, two dwarfs, and one of the troll Princesses, the youngest daughter of Tsar Claud. She hadn’t spoken much during the first day but with these events, she was one of the first to jump up to compete.
“This ought to be quite a show.” Rapha was remarking subtly to the Dracoi prince. “Eight participants all wagering for one thing....” Eric didn’t reply to this. He just stayed where he was watching as the first jousters lined up to begin the event.
She blinked a few times, watching as Niul gave her the once over many of the other heirs had within last day. Now he and others wanted some sort of wager, to make things fun. She wondered if they a wanted the same thing Eric got the night before, flirtatious bantering. It seemed that his wager would have something to do with her or maybe one of the other girls. Valencia was considering it, even though the idea was to build up a relationship. One of the human princes came up with a smile, already have a beer in hand. He wrapped his arm around hers, his hand landing right on the burn, making her jump a little. “If I win, I want you to come up to my chambers for a private dinner.” He said with a smile. Valencia took the time to sneak out of the human’s embrace and stepped back to let everyone talk. Other’s chimed in, saying who’d they want to see in their chambers. The wager became, whoever won, got to have a private night alone with whoever they wanted.
Her father announced that it was time to prepare for the jousting event. Valencia left for the stables where the griffons were to double check on them. As the stable hand went through, telling her which ones were better suited for which race. Once this was done, she went over to her own griffon and tended it. Her Griffon was a snow white, that sparkled in both moonlight and sunlight. Her people called the white griffons the light of hope. They were rare to find Brushing the fur on it’s back, glancing over to where the morning announcement took place. She pets the beak of her griffon before giving it a light peck and left the inside of the palace.
Valencia watched as the everyone else got ready for the games. The men getting their jousting equipment on and women getting their dancing shoes on. She even saw some of the women get their armour to compete in the jousting. Valencia would do the jousting, the dancing but not the sparing. As accordance to the rules of magic, in a combat setting, she was not allowed to wear full metal armour. She would normally have a champion in her place, but they were out on a mission of greater importance. She could name one of the other people competing a champion, but what's the fun in that. She knew who she wanted to win, and she had every intention of keeping that a secret.
She slipped into a private study to check on her wound. Looking around before powering the glove, it was still there but it was now smaller, and it didn’t look like a hand grabbing her. She healed faster than most and was able to heal herself, but she was one of those that did not like being healed. It hurt way too much for her to think of it as a possibility. She sighed and lifted her glove back up, listening to the commotion in the background.
“Jousting? Dancing? It sounds more like they planned for a festival rather than a meeting of rulers.” Dara said softly with a grimace. It was mostly from her older age, not being able to enjoy most of the activities herself and her two colleagues just exchanged looks.
“Ever wanted to ride a gryphon?” One of the Dark elf princes asked the two Dracoi’s that had eaten breakfast with them. The dark elf King and Queen had opted to join the activities later in the day but the rest of their family and a few acting ministers had all come out to take part.
“Hmm, griffon.” Joseph corrected, pronouncing the word the same way Valencia had before answering, “And yes but they rarely fly so far north, the temperatures are too much for them.” The prince who had asked nodded and his older sibling, Heir to the throne Niul, walked over sitting down.
“Then come jousting against me.” He offered to the younger prince, “It’ll be my first time as well and I promise I’ll go easy on ya.” At Joseph’s hesitation, Eric just elbowed his brother and nodded for him to go on, and reluctantly he did both princes as well as a few others from the other nations going up and signing for a griffon.
“... Ah don’t fret so much madam.” Karim was saying over to Dara while the prince’s mingled on their own. “I’ll win a spar for you if you’d like?”
“Don’t flatter yourself, good sir.” She replied with a huff and a cross of her arms. “I needn’t any chivalry from you.”
“Ooh, that hurts.” Rapha snickered next to the two and glanced around at the other representatives of each respective nation, watching to see if there was any sign for another fight to break out. Of course, nothing bad happened and soon enough the host sent everyone out to the cleared stomping grounds next to the castle. The area was set up for the few exhilarating events while everything else that was more mild mannered would be taking place inside.
“Princess Valencia. Any chance there will be prizes for the winner of each competition?” Niul was saying, having managed to walk by her and finally get a moment to speak with her without almost everyone else listening in. “Perhaps an incentive to raise the stakes.” There was a presumptuous purr in his voice and he gave her a subtle once over, making sure she caught the teasing look. It really was nothing but talk and really the young to be leaders just wanted to have a little fun with each other before taking their parent’s role. The oldest daughter of the dark elves was also eyeing the men of the other races, talking with her sisters about who they thought the best dancers would be and who they’d want to partner with for the theatricals events of the day.
While moving from place to place, Eric made a note to look over and find Valencia, seeing that any mark her minister might have given her was healed and gone. He watched how she carried herself like nothing had even occurred and he mused how nothing like that would have ever happened in his own homelands. His people and even his opponents respected him more than that and the incident got him wondering what kind of power, if any, did Valencia really have in her own nation.
The Two watched as the dracoi bid their farewells for the night. Aragmath tried to reach out to her, only watching her take a step back. “If you even think of looking at me again, I will have you executed. Let that be your punishment for what happened tonight.” She hissed before leaving the sunpool. She made her way into her chambers. Once she entered, she locked her door and disrobed, falling into her bed and sleeping a dreamless night.
The next morning, everyone either had a choice to have breakfast alone with their parties or in the grand hall. Valencia and her father however, decided to have breakfast on one of the terraces that overlooked the city. She wore a dress that was high in front but low in the back, it was a dark blue with a giant hood. When the hood would be taken off her head, it would act like a proofed-out shoulder. She worse thigh stalking for today's jousting event for a griffins fur can be a little more rough. She also wore long gloves to cover the aftermath of last night. Karmin’s words replayed themselves in her head. Eric had something hidden in his sleeve, something he could have easily used to kill her. Valencia’s gut reaction was to pray it wasn’t for her, but she couldn’t assume. She was becoming blind to the fact that the dracoi are not allies yet.
“It’s making its way into the palace walls. I spoke to one of the advisers today, a village on the boarder was burned down.” Her father spoke. “We need to fortify the defenses without tipping off the dark elves. They will think we are doing it to keep them out.” Valencia sipped her tea before gracefully putting it down.
“Father, I can, if you want I could...” She was quickly interrupted by her father.
“No. I cannot let you use the staff. If the nobles found out that you are possession of it before succession, they will try to dethrone you.” He said before sipping his last sip of tea. “Come now, we shall tell our guests about the festivities today.”
The two got up and walked towards the garden where everyone was to meet after their meals. Everyone was there, chit chatting away about possible deals. Valencia even heard a possible marriage proposal in the mix. She didn’t pay attention to who was asking who. Her father tapped on a glass to gather everyone’s attention. When everyone turned to face Valencia, she began to speak.
“Good morning. I hope we have had some pleasant dreams. Today, we are going to have a day of fun fill activities. There will be jousting, sparing, dance lessons, theatre and more. I want everyone to have a good time, and yes you can take out your anger with non-lethal force.” She said. One of the human princes raised his hand to question. “Your Majesty, I really haven’t seen any horses for us to joust with.”
Valencia cocked her head to the side, looking at the man with a puzzled look. “Jousting with horses, we don’t use horses we use griffons.” There was a mixed reaction. She looked at her father who chuckled to himself, silently asking him what. She turned back to the crowd before speaking again. “Those who want to joust, there is a sign sheet and you’ll be assigned a griffon.” She stated, before her and her father bowed, letting everyone get back to their conversations.
“Hey!” Eric was on his feet as soon as Aragmath pulled Valencia away. “Let her go. You aren’t much of a high elf when you’re just as low as whatever’s crawling in the dirt.” His irritable tone made the nobleman look up glaring at him, and in that moment, next to the light of the sound pool, the dracoi began stalking forwards. There was a glint of something in his hands now and the golden look in his narrowed eyes gave pause to the High elf in front of him. He walked forwards till he was next to Valencia’s form, but he didn’t stoop to help her up. The glinting in his hand was from a long bladed dagger, the metal having a dark shineless look to it, almost like it wasn't reflecting any light at all.
“Tsk and what is this? An underling pushing around the future ruler of this nation.” He scoffed a bit at both High Elves and kept his gaze fixed on Aragmath. “But hasn't anyone told you that not ever reign needs a king to rule it… So what,” Eric left Valencia's side with a clear intent to attack this Noble even though he really had no business in doing so. “Makes you think you have any more worth lying with her than I do?” The only thing that got him to stop was when Aragmath stepped back, huffing and stuttering some sort of retort. The prince was now sneering at the furious Elf and before he could say anything else, a voice called out from the corridors.
“I think that's quite enough trouble for tonight Sire.” Karim said, the older advisor slipped out of the shadows and his blazing eye looked at everyone of the figures in front of the pool. “Your majesty.” He murmured in greeting to Valencia before glancing at Aragmath and Eric. “It is too late to be starting such quarrels and we [b all] have reputations to be upholding… How would it sound if other nations found out the men in the highest class had no self control and threw tantrums like little children? Hmm? It would be a disgrace.” With a pause he looked fully at Eric and said in a slow can voice. “Sire. You are tired. It would be best if you sought after sleep rather than bloodshed.” To this Eric gave a cold look, still sneering but it was now out of annoyance. However with a quick look around he takes and shook his head begrudgingly.
“Very well Karim. I will see you in the morning.” He turned bidding Valencia goodnight and giving one last golden eyed look at Aragmath, making a show of sheathing his dagger before stalking off the back to the guest chambers. Watching him leave, Karim spoke over to Valencia without looking at her.
“I've heard you made some rather bold comments this evening, your majesty. The trust in my kind if appreciated, however you may want to be carefully with who you show that trust to. We aren't all heros in our stories.” He finally looked over at her, ignoring Aragmath till after he'd bid her goodnight. He gave the nobleman a judgemental look before also departing and leaving the two high elves be to straighten out their own grievances alone.
A blushing sensation came across her cheeks as he kissed her hand. Valencia laughed as she sat next to him in a side saddle. She didn’t feel like taking her shows off this time around. Their arms barely brushing each other. “It just means you aren’t supposed to be a healer’s wife. There’s no wives’ tales about healer’s husbands. There aren’t a lot of female healers here.” She chuckled before placing her head on his shoulder. “It does take a lot of energy to heal someone. Especially if they are strong willed.”
Valencia listened as he explained the type of animal her little pet was. He moved over to sit on Eric’s lap, curling up in his lap. “Poor thing was in the woods, I brought it here to nurse him back to health. Ever since he’s stayed here. He also still needs a name.” She looked at the tail on her pet, noticing the ring around his tail for the first time. Without realizing it, she leaned in more into Eric, wrapping her arms around his. “It’s kind of funny, this tiny creature is classified as a dragon, but it in the end is a very loving soul. It makes me wonder what else have we’ve been wrong about before.” She said.
She closed her eyes while the silence fell upon them. She took in the sounds of the water, feeling him breath. When Eric spoke, she lifted her head to look at him. “You want more? Hmmm…… well there’s one that says that if you use too much dark magic, you start to go crazy. If someone can use fire, they are told that they will stay warm. Which the fire one is not true, at least for me. But my magic is a balance of shadow and holy. The fire I produce is a holy magic, not from an elemental stand point.” She explained. She happened to look past Eric’s face to see a reflection move behind him.
“This is unbecoming of a princess.” The voice ringed through the hall. Aragmath came out of the shadows, looking at the both with rage. “How dare you be lustful in the sound pool. With a Dracoi of all people. If you’re going to open your legs, do it for someone who is a high elf.”
He walked up to her and yanked her off the ground. When Valencia tried to get him off her, his hand turned bright red. It started burning, making Valencia reacted right away in pain. "You have the worse trait from your father, that being you fight back." She tried to get his hand off her as he kept burning her. Aragmath tried to land a kiss on her when he was met with her hand. He got enraged, throwing her to the ground before looking at Eric and turning his attention to him.
As Valencia healed his injuries, specifically a small cut across his arm having sliced through his sleeve but it hadn’t bled much. Eric watched the glowing pool while a shiver ran through him. The healing didn’t feel bad necessarily, but it wasn’t like a cup of tea or burning knives… “Hmph, too bad.” He mused once she’d finished, looking back with his brilliant eyes. They almost looked golden in the glow of the pool. “I was never was much of a fan of tea.” Holding her gaze, he took one of her hands and freely kissed it since none of the overbearing guards were around to stop him, and she didn’t seem to mind too much either, at least not enough to stop him.
Lifting his eyes and spotting the little dragon around her other wrist, he nodded with his head towards the pool in a small gesture for her to come sit with him. “Tell me, where did you find such a creature? I’ve only seen them in the hollow ground of Dracoi territory.” He reached the edge of the pool, waiting for her to join him by it but he didn’t make any move to touch the water. He could feel the holy aura radiating from it, but he was blind to any evil that the Princess felt around them.
“It must have traveled quite a ways to end up here, or maybe it was brought as a pet and abandoned by someone else.” He shrugged with the suggestion and finally Valencia managed to ask what her little pet was. “It’s a common ring tailed serpent. See there?” He made a motion at the end of the creature’s tail, pointing out the splotchy discoloration of scales which made a small ring. “They’re considered a lesser dragon since they can organize themselves like us, or the greater dragons from so long ago, no better than animals really.” He paused after saying that, an awkwardness sweeping between them with the slight reminder of what the Crowned Prince was. A Dracoi, from a line that had once helped the greater dragons in their war of magic and bloodshed. There weren’t any greater dragons left that anyone knew of but their kind still remained in the form of their lesser feral cousin breeds.
“Hm, tell me are there any other wives tales you know that are about magic?” Eric asked, bringing up a topic from seemingly out of the blue after the brief moment of quiet between them. Now the dracoi prince had no aura about him, none whatsoever, but his brother, Joseph and two of the other advisors both had their own unique auras and magical signature. Some leaning more toward holy magic and others towards the darker practices. It was another conversation starter and it distracted them from whatever or whoever was watching them.
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