A World Apart

/ By d1gn17y [+Watch]

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Alexandria was not ignorant to the confused look upon his face and she mused to herself quietly as he spoke and then when he followed it up with a pose that made her chuckle. She continued to show the horse some affection as Lucas went of to find some food so that she could feed the beast who had seemingly taken a shine to her. She had to nudge him away gently when he tried to eat the material of her dress.

[b “I’m not sure you will find that as tasty as an apple.”] She said with a smile as Lucas returned and she could almost see the horses attention wavering from her when he caught site of the apple. Alexandria was surprised to hear the this kind natured horse might be considered unruly. [b “He has a kind soul and I believe that horses are an excellent judge of character. Things might be very different if I had other motivations being here but he trusts that my intentions are pure and so we have a mutual trust.”] Alexandria reached out to take the apple from Lucas and then look towards Shadow, stroking the side of his face carefully. [b “Gently now boy.”] Her tone was calming and the horse seemed to react to that as he gently wrapped his teeth around the apple, avoiding making any contact with her skin. She smiled to herself and rewarded him with a soft pet before looking to Lucas who was inviting her back tomorrow.

[b “Oh...I do not know if I will be able to return again.”] It really did depend on what her father was doing with his day and how many handmaidens or knights he would send to guard her room. Then she looked down at her dress. [b “I do not own anything less extravagant and I have no idea where I might acquire something like the you suggest.”] She sighed and looked back to the horse, stroking him once more.

[b “You asked for my name. It’s Alexandria.”]
  Alexandria~ / d1gn17y / 7d 13h 51m 11s
What ever did she mean by that? Why wouldn’t she tell him more about herself? He took care of countless horses in the stables, so he was certain one of them belonged to her or her family that she either didn’t trust him enough to tell him about or didn’t want to for some hidden reason. Either way, she was a noble, so he wouldn’t question her much more. [b “You will not even offer a name to go by? If you do not feel comfortable then I will share mine. Lucas Harlaw of the Royal Stables at your service.”] He plastered a cheeky grin on his face and put his hands on his hips then bowed deeply.

[b “In that case, wait here. I will bring you something to feed him with.”] Lucas walked to the store room with apples and hefted a bright red one from the batch to bring back to the skittish young blonde woman. [b “Shadow loves these. Believe it or not, he is one of the most unruly horses in these stables. Somehow, he connects to you. Perhaps he trusts your judgement?”] The Harlaw held out his hand with the apple, not trying anything sudden to scare her off.

Running a hand over Shadow’s neck, he spoke again. [b “Don’t bite her hand. She isn’t Aidan.”] Lucas laughed heartily at the thought of his best friend attempting to feed his horse that didn’t end well. Lucas stayed by the Black Beauty in case he tried anything to hurt the blonde. If that was the case, he would step in.

A smile was brought to his lips as Shadow nudges at her hand when he hears the word food. The smile only broadened at the sweet laugh that erupted from her lips as a result. [b “You should return in the morning then around the afternoon hours. Most of the nobleman are done with morning rides by then, and I will busy myself grooming them. In fact, I am certain you will find no trouble sneaking in if you wear a less expensive dress. Perhaps you will find time to do so?”]
  Lucas Harlaw / bubbles12 / 7d 14h 15m 7s
Perhaps it was a silly question to have asked. His dress would suggest that his job did indeed entail him working in the stables since he seemed to be dusted in dirt like she imagined one might find if they were to work with the animals in the stables. She couldn’t think of another reason why he might be allowed to house a horse here either. There were times when Alexandria longed for a simpler life and she mused on the thought of how much she might enjoy caring for these animals. To come in here day after day and care for them and find herself covered in dirt like she had once as a child. Even then her mother had been so concerned about her appearance, chastising her because a Princess had to look perfect all the time. She pushed the memory out of her mind and looked back to the horses. They really were fascinating beasts and once you earned the trust of them they would do anything for you. She wanted that for herself.

Perhaps she craved the trust and friendship a horse could offer her because she didn’t have any real friends. She had handmaidens of course but it was their job to dress her and keep her hair looking nice and listen to her talk should she ever need someone but they were not her friends, not really. Alexandria has also grown cautious about what she would say around these women, knowing that it was their job to report back to her father.

When the man before her spoke again, it became apparent that he didn’t know who she was and for a moment she felt free. She was no longer scared of consequence because if he didn’t know who she was then he couldn’t tell her father she had visited the stables.

[b “I believe you do know my father and I am certain that you tend to his horse.”] Alexandria didn’t want to give away her identity just yet. She liked that he didn’t bow to her or that he didn’t trip over himself trying to please her. He was himself and nothing more. [b “I would love to feed them.”] She said with an expression that would only prove her words to be true as she ventured back into the barn and listened to him explain what his job was.

[b “That sounds like hard and interesting work. I would very much like to see that.”] Alexandria reach out to stroke Shadow once more as he sniffed at her hand as though he head heard food being mentioned and was now in search of it which caused a light laugh to escape her.
  Alexandria~ / d1gn17y / 7d 14h 48m 16s
The mystery woman turned to face him as he called out to wait. Lucas got a bit of a better look at her face and features, but the recognition still didn't spark in his mind. Who was she? Why was she suddenly in the stables when she had never been there before? Why was she dressed the way she was yet acting shy and unimportant? He wouldn't bow or formally address her or anything of the sort. If Lucas knew she was the princess, he would be going out of his way and probably tripping on all kinds of things and setting the horses out of the stables at the same time. He offered the ride to her because she looked longing. There was something in the way she eyed his horse that made him feel like he had to offer it. Not only that, Shadow seemed to enjoy her presence, so he trusted the animal's view.

[i “That is very kind of you and your horse is a wonderful beast but my father would never allow me to ride. I could not disobey him in such a way.”] Her voice sounded proper. She used lovely words to accentuate her dress and actions. Who was she really? [b "Your father? Who is your father? Do I know him? Perhaps I tend to one of his horses? If you will not ride, may I offer you a chance to feed them?"] His accent shown through as well as his kind nature as he even offered a noblewoman his respect.

[i “Do you work here?”] Lucas heard that and then looked to his dirty and probably smelly clothes now. [b "Every day, miss. I am a stable hand to all of the horses you see here. It never ends. Perhaps you would like to see how it works one day?"]
  Lucas Harlaw / bubbles12 / 7d 15h 40m 14s
Alexandria assumed that the man before her knew who she was. However, with how much her father shielded her from the world, it would hardly surprise her if a servant from the castle wouldn’t recognise her if she were to walk freely around the castle. It wasn’t as though he shut her in her room all the time but he was cautious about when she was allowed to roam freely and when she was expected to be found in her room when he needed her to be there. She just hoped that dining with her mother was offering enough of a distraction for her to get away with being here, now that she had company her time would be cut short anyway so perhaps she could return without anyone noticing she was gone in the first place.

Just as Alexandria was about to step out of the stables she heard the strangers voice coaxing her to wait. If he knew who she was, he seemed to be treating her with a normality that she wasn’t used to. No bow, no formality and no discomfort. It was a relief really. Alexandria turned to face him, an eyebrow raised slightly at his offer. She would have loved to accept it too. Perhaps if she were someone of less importance she might be able to but that was not case.

[b “That is very kind of you and your horse is a wonderful beast but my father would never allow me to ride. I could not disobey him in such a way.”] She looked to the floor and then back up to the man after contemplating a thought. [b “Do you work here?”] She asked curiously, wanting to know a little more about the man who has already caught her attention.
  Alexandria~ / d1gn17y / 7d 23h 40m 41s
It was a miracle Lucas Harlaw didn’t recognize her. Yes, he’d seen a blonde in the royal box next to the Queen, but it was brief. He didn’t linger on her face, just let his eyes continue in the crowd. While he knew she was certainly of higher birth, he didn’t know he was speaking to the princess herself. If he had, Lucas would certainly be stumbling over words and trying to make the best impression. Perhaps it was better for the both of them. If Lucas knew that she’d recognized him even as a stablehand, he would have been floored.

Lucas felt it strange when she wouldn’t meet his gaze. Why was she doing that? If anything, he should shy away from her gaze. She had more money and power than he ever would. It intrigued him. Lucas kept gazing at her, finding something oddly familiar about her that he couldn’t place. He hadn’t seen her around the stables before. Was it possible that one of the horses he cared for was hers or her family’s? Maybe that was why he felt she looked familiar?

The girl looked scared or nervous, and he was confused. She said something about going for a walk that didn’t make any sense. Why was she making excuses? He wasn’t even mad at her. When he heard she had a fondness for horses, Lucas started to ask her something. The woman was trying to vanish as fast as she appeared, so he knew there was more to her.

[b “Wait! I’m not angry. If you own a fondness for horses, then why don’t you take mine for a ride? I wouldn’t mind.”] He offered, standing still by Shadow.
  Lucas Harlaw / bubbles12 / 8d 2m 24s
What she wouldn’t give for a horse of her own. She had been taught to ride as a child because all royals were taught certain skills such as riding, reading and writing and languages. She could speak at least four languages and she remembered that she was a good rider when she had been permitted to learn but it was not as though her father would allow her to ride. He would be angry if he was to learn of her time outside of the castle so she just hoped that no one would catch her here. Just as the thought passed her mind she realised that her wish would not be adhered to.

There was movement behind her and the sound of feet upon dried hay but she hoped that it was perhaps a stallion shifting their weight but as she turned she noticed the figure of a man who was now leaning over the side of the stable. She recognised the man almost instantly as the man she had noticed standing behind the main gates during the jousting match. Alexandria looked away and started to panic slightly wondering what would happen when he saw that the Princess was alone in the stables with someone else’s horse. The horse that he was now petting. She noticed that it was a horse that hadn’t been out on the field either and she was sure that was because he was petting his own horse and he had not taken part in the tournament.

She knew that he would have been skillful at the game by looking at his physique. It was clear that you had to be strong to take part in the games and he clearly was but she hadn’t seen him amongst the other knights. Alexandria wondered how he would react to seeing her and that was when he looked up towards her and her heart felt as though it was about to burst out of her chest and she looked away, not daring to meet his gaze with her own. This was clearly her horse.

[b “I…I was just talking a walk.”] She said telling him nothing but the truth. [b “I have a fondness for the horses and I just ended up here on my travels sir. I humbly apologise. I shall take my leave.”] She said lowering her head and making her way towards the exit.
  Alexandria~ / d1gn17y / 8d 2h 15m 18s
[i “You owe me.”]

Aidan jabbed his friend and fellow stable hand, Lucas Harlaw. The King won. Lucas knew it wasn’t a good bet when he put money on the other knight, but he had done it none the less. [b “Alright Alright. Just give me until we get paid. You know I always pay up.”] With a quick handshake between the two, Lucas was back to work. The horses would need to be taken back to the stables as everyone left the arena. Today, he was going to be busy. Every joust he was.

Lucas took hold of the reigns of the horses, even the Kings most trusted Snow White steed. Leading each tired horse back to the huge stable that massed a large amount of the castle grounds, Lucas watered each one of them. The nobles were lucky in their kingdom since they could house their horses in the span of stables that he worked. In fact, it was so large that they paid dues for their horses to be groomed and fed and taken care of there by the many hands.

It was hard work. Many men quit and decided to go into bakeries or farming instead to avoid the opinions of nobles. Lucas stayed even through the tough times, mainly for the horses and the money. He did care for the horses, no matter who their pompous owners were. As he finished up grooming and feeding the Kings horse again, Lucas closed the stall and started for his own horse. As son of the stable master, he was allowed the smallest stable for his pride and joy, Shadow.

Except this time, she wasn’t alone. There was a woman with flowing long golden blonde hair and soft features touching his horse. She was dressed in exquisite fabric with her hair done up in braids, so it was clear she was a noble or higher born. Clenching his jaw, Lucas started at her until he realized Shadow was nudging her for more attention. There was a reason for his name, and he was well known for being hard to tame and irritated with most people except Lucas. How was this woman doing that?

Making his way to her, he threw one arm over the stables and leaned against them. [b “Do you always go around touching other men’s horses as if they were your own?”] He spoke and ran a hand over the jaw of Shadow who leaned into him and neighed.
  Lucas Harlaw / bubbles12 / 8d 2h 41m 48s
The event neared its start and the crowd began to display their support for the King. She looked over towards his opponent and felt almost as though the tournament itself was rather pointless. The King would win as he always did and the opponent’s pride and perhaps parts of his body would end up becoming damaged from entering into the duel but men did not allow such things to deter them from proving themselves. Sometimes it was about the fight, not the outcome.

As predictable as the tournament had become, the excitement was not void, nor was the support and all eyes were upon the King at the end of the tournament as he climbed down from his horse and made his way towards his beaten opponent. He showed his respect for his participation and agreed with many that he was a well suited match for him, regardless of the fact that his skill was flawless. Their stalls where they remained seated until dismissed, were close to the exit of the arena and it was no surprise that the King began to walk towards them and she noted how he looked towards his wife, her mother. She was not an expert in love but she thought that the two had a mutual respect for each other and it could be detected from just one look. Alexandria she was able to detect the love that her father had displayed for the woman that he had chosen to take as his wife and spend his life with. It was curious but there was someone else who seemed to catch her attention. Just beyond the gate she could see a man stood with who he assumed was his friend. She began to look in his direction but only quickly and discretely knowing that it would not be appropriate to be looking directly at a man. Her father would not like that one bit so she allowed her eyes to wonder to the horses who were being paraded around the small space as a victory walk and she allowed that view to distract her mind for some time until she was satisfied that her wondering eyes still remained unnoticed to anyone in her presence.

As soon as her father had removed himself from the scene, many others began to filter out, including her mother and Alexandria followed respectfully knowing that she would be expected to retire to her room, knowing her father wanted some alone time with her mother. Instead., Alexandria took the opportunity to get down to the stables to spend some time admiring the horses that had played a pivotal role in the people's enjoying of jousting.

The stables that resided upon the grounds of her home were abnormally large. Most stables could perhaps hold up to five horses but this was big enough to house the stallions of everyone who resided within the walls. Most of the men of the court had their own horse and they were all looked after well here. There was hired help that groomed and fed the horses daily and she sometimes wished that was her duty. At least then she would be doing something she enjoyed rather than observing the lives of those who seemed to have much more exciting lives than her. She knew that she shouldn’t be down here alone, especially since her position beyond the walls meant that she could be at risk according to her father.

As she entered the stables she noticed that only one horse had noticed her presence, looking up from the evening meal that had been prepared for them. She made her way towards that particular horse to pay his recognition with her kindness. This particular horse hadn’t been out of the field today. She recognised most of them but this horse had no rider who had taken part in the jousting tournament that day and Alexandria wondered if that was partly the reason why he had sensed her presence. Perhaps the other horses were more concerned with recouping their energy. Her hand moved towards the snout and allowed him to take in the scent of her and make a decision about whether he could trust her or not first before nudging at her hand as if her craved her attention and she found herself smiling as she allowed her hand to run along well-groomed coast of the horse.
  Alexandria~ / d1gn17y / 8d 23h 50m 49s
The day of the big joust was upon them. Lucas Harlaw wasn’t really excited for it for it meant noblemen would berate him for grooming their horses the wrong way or missing one strand of hair that needed to be clipped. He’d spent that morning taking a few of the stallions out on strolls down the riverbank of the forest to stretch their legs. Lucas was a seasoned rider, so it wasn’t frightening to push the steeds to their top speeds. Jousting was always a huge event in the kingdom, especially now since the King himself was participating. The royal family had to make sure everything ran smoothly, including the grooming of the horses. The lowborn man was in charge of the stables, taking over after his father, the stablemaster, had fallen ill. Back home, Lucas knew his mother and sisters as well as lone brother needed the income he brought from his work. It was meager, but it brought food and drink to the table as well as shelter over their heads.

As soon as each of the finest horses were taken for runs, Lucas brought them back to give each a full bath. Bathing horses was not always the easiest of tasks. With a large pair of water he continued to refill from a well near the stables, Lucas would soak the horses from head to hoof, taking soap and a brush to their hair until they shined. He lathered them down in many rounds, making sure there was nothing to scrutinize when the time came for the tournament. Each horse neighed loudly at the scrubbing around their eyes and tears, but Lucas was good with horses. With a small pat of their necks and then placing his hand over their beating hearts, they would eventually ease.

It was only after the tedious washing that he worked the tangles out of their hair with a coarse brush. Next, he got on his knees and polished each of their hooves, making sure they shined brightly. It took hours upon hours, but the royal family expected the best of their men, and he needed the job. When the grooming was finished, Lucas went to pick up heavy buckets of wheat and apples, his muscles straining under his tunic as he did. He was built strongly after taking round trips carrying heavy supplies to and from the stables. With one look at him, it was clear he worked hard for a living from his hands to his arms. Feeding each horse a specific diet as given to him specifically by hands of the King that oversaw the Joust, it was finally the last step, Fitting.

Lugging each armored and created horse armor on top of the correct horse, Lucas checked the straps and assured there were no dents in each metal fitting and harness. Wiping the sweat from his brow, Lucas waited silently although not pleasurably by the doors as he lead nobleman after nobleman to his horse. Some looked at him with disdain and some said nothing at all. Lucas would sneer at them, jealous but also angry at their unjust treatment due to a simple thing such as random birth. They didn’t know the brunt of what he did for them, and they never would. They didnt know struggling for food and drink or living homeless. All they knew was that they work up with food prepared for them and their clothes laid out and warm for the day. It was life of course, but he would be insane not to wish for more.

Once all the horses were out, including the Kings prized white horse that he took extra time with, Lucas made his way to the arena. Women and men dresses in their finest lines the stadium seats, many noblewoman hoping to push to the front to receive a knights favor. Lucas just scoffed at that, putting one hand on the top of the gate entrance and leaning forward. He let his dark brown eyes search the crowd. From the bottom of the stalls then to the royal box where the kings wife and children as well as highest advisors would sit.

It was all a game. There was one good thing about the whole process and that was the fact that he had the best seat in the whole stadium. As a head groomer, he waited just behind the gate to where the noblemen would run out on their horses. He could see the action almost as close as possible without participating in it, and he would never be able to do that. The horses intrigued him. He did truly love seeing their beauty and magnificence in the sport. There he stood, alongside some stable friends as they better on who would win, him choosing the nobleman against the King rather than the should be obvious choice l.

[b “Come on. Don’t you always cheer for the underdog? No one likes an easy fight.”] Lucas mused and his friend, Aidan just laughed. [i “Alright, but it’s your money you’re losing. Not mine. Let the games begin.”] With that, Lucas watches the spectacle, hoping his man would pull out the win against the odds.
  Lucas Harlaw / bubbles12 / 9d 16m 25s
Alexandria’s father wanted to protect her from everything; from anything that the work might throw at them, mostly because she was his only daughter and to him, she was the most precious being in the world besides his beloved wife. Alexandria's father was a great king of a kingdom who adored him as much as much as he adored his people but that certainly did not mean that he was without enemies. Every man in his position had enemies and it was without a doubt that was the reason why he was so protective of her.

[i "There are cruel people within this world Alexandria and I will not allow any one of them to take you from me. That is why I have employed more guards around the castle. I do not want you going anywhere alone.”] His justifications were irrational but she never wanted to displease her father so it was not an issue that they often debated.

It was perhaps because of her own sheltered experience that she enjoyed watching the courts jousting. Her senses were always heightened when she watched the men take part in a battle to fight for the honour of their houses and in some ways it made her realise how boring her life had been. Those who were the happiest from her experience were those who had faced some element of danger at some point within their lives. For weeks she had been attending the same games to watch as the different men represented their houses. Today was different as the King himself would be upon a horse, ready to joust and defend his honour and the honour of his family.;4

Alexandria felt the buzz of excitement and her mother beside her was beaming with pride as the king appeared in the distance in full armour, ready to mount his horse. A member of the house that would be defending against him approached one of the ladies amongst the crowd, asking permission to wear her favours upon his lance for luck. It was brave of her to accept to do so as he would be jousting against the King, but it was tradition for women to show their support in their men by tying their ribbons around their lances. Alexandria had allowed her hair to flow freely and picked out a dress that would suit the conditions of the sky. When her father approached them she tried her hardest not to stare at him in wonder. He was truly a marvel of a man.

As his daughter, it was an intriguing opportunity for her to observe such affairs and an attempt to absorb even the slightest bit of excitement for the gathering crowd. Jousting had not been an event in which she had been permitted to observe before now because her father was worried that something might happen to her but her mother has convinced him there were plenty of guards around, so perhaps it was the idea of something new that excited her, watching the charge of the horses and the battery of men. It hardly made sense at all. How exactly did knocking a man from his horse with an over-sized metal pole defend the honour of their house? In fact the very reflection upon this thought brought a smile to her lips and she continued to observe with her forever growing curiosity and confusion about the whole sport.

Alexandria’s mind had wondered to many a place, but today it was focused upon the white horse that acting as the King’s stallion, mesmerised by the beauty of her. The coat was clearly well groomed and the King’s coat of arms sat comfortably across the body of the horse, almost as though it was indeed a part of her. Her stance was almost as proud as her rider’s and has he began to ready himself to meet his opponent, the stallion began to move forward as if to parade herself to the crowd before the festivities began and as she strode past Alexandria she had to control herself well not to reach out and touch the horse in admiration. She couldn’t remember ever being this close to such a beautiful beast. She had an deeply set longing to be the rider of such a horse but in a completely different setting; leisurely parading down the river bank, taking in the sights of beauty that surrounded them. Alexandria would not be permitted to do so by her father, nor would he acquire a horse for her to call her own out of fear that she might take herself away from life for a moment too long and never return. It was all rather unnecessary but that was the way and she could always visit the stables to tend to the horses if she so.
  Alexandria~ / d1gn17y / 9d 22h 27m 14s

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