Chapter 7: Chapter 0
Even though she could defend herself and she wasn’t totally defenseless – Aurora decided to play the weak one and let Lancet get away with it. She answered what were servants supposed to do, which is cleaning, cooking and following orders. Lancet was pleased with the answers and then he left.
Aurora was left dehumanized and sad, Mrs Gibilis dismissed her and sent her to rest for the day. Although some of the cooks thought it wasn’t fair they had to work while Aurora gets to be dismissed, they gossiped silently for fear that Mrs Gibilis will hear.
As the hours kept going forward, the palace went more and more crazy. The excitement of the king’s first ball reached every folk in the real from innkeepers, brewers, merchants, fisherfolks and outlanders. King Artemis was set to make a speech at the golden hour just before the sunset to his beloved citizens. Hence every Maldonian girl was out to have a new dress.
One of the Princess Aeryn’s ladies was also one of the people who were excited to attend the ball, her name was Misenda. She never attended any king’s ball before and hence she was excited. When King Arteides assumed the throne she was a young girl who didn’t know anything nor what was going on. Now she was a nineteen year old girl and lucky enough to be the princess’s lady. It was a great privilege for her to be amongst the ones who were invited to attend the king’s ball and she didn’t want to miss it.
While Misenda was excited and trying dresses, Princess Aeryn wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. She seemed to be looking outside of her window as if she was yearning for something, yet she didn’t even know what she wanted.
Misenda picked up dresses and then threw them out on the bed again “All these dresses... I could lose my mind” she cried. She was constantly picking them without even testing them. Misenda was a crazy girl when it came to fabrics and clothes, she would typically lose herself and everything just for a beautiful dress with a satin scarf. “Your Royal Highness. Have you chosen a dress yet?” she asked.
As if someone who was far away with thoughts, Princess Aeryn found herself shocked and then she looked back.
“Huh?” she asked Misenda.
“Do you have a dress?”
“For tonight’s ball?”
“Yes My Lady”
Aurora moved from the window and went on to sit on the bed. She looked at the few designs brought for her and she couldn’t find the right one. They all looked the same and didn’t reflect her taste of fashion and what she wanted to go for.
Misenda noticed it “What troubles you My Lady?” she asked with a look of concern.
“It’s my brother... I fear for him. I think it’s too sudden for him to be king, he’s not ready” she said.
“How would you know? Prince Artemis has been a good prince and a magnificent knight. He’s good with his sword...
Before Misenda could finish Aeryn abruptly stood up and went to the window again. “That’s the thing Misenda, he’s a knight not a king” she said. “He was trained to be good at fighting but never good at ruling. Being an emperor is more than holding a sword and taking off a man’s head – it’s more”
Aeryn had good reasons to be worried about her brother on whether he’ll be a good king to Maldonia or burn it to the ground. “My father was thirty five years old when became king, after the death of my grandsire. He was experienced and ready to be king. Artemis wasn’t ready to become a ruler, it was sudden to him and he had no choice because duty called. Is that the king we need Misenda? One who does it just because he has to?” asked Aeryn looking at her friend.
To Misenda all of that talk was irrelevant. How could she know anything about ruling and being a king when she’s only a servant. Her parents are just local farmers at the Eastern part of Maldonia in the villages. She is a daughter of a farmer, what excites her is free food and fabrics apart from that she knew nothing. It happened that whatever Aeryn was worried about fell on deaf ears.
The door was knocked. Both Misenda an Aeryn looked at it, “Are you expecting someone my lady?” asked Misenda.
“Who could it be?” Misenda went on to open the door in a hurry.
She was met with the most sweetest flowery fragrance she’s ever sensed before. And a very handsome tall dark man standing at the doorstep, his hands were on his back with a wide smile. He had a puffy face, round shoulders and fleshy fit physique.
For a second Misenda was lost in the eyes of this strange man she just remained there looking at him, savoring every aroma he brought with him like it was lunch. His skin wasn’t too white but he wasn’t black either, and the beards made him look even darker but it was his skin tone which made him more masculine and attractive to almost every girl he made an encounter with.
This man was Lord Petrus Octavianus, of the House Octavianus which resided far east away from Maldonia. He owned just one castle and several lands from which he collected rents from farmers and settlers. Petrus wasn’t worth much and he knew he was low in status to even attempt visiting the Princess of Maldonia but he took the risk. Perhaps it was his looks which gave him the confidence that maybe – just maybe... he may have a shot at the princess.
“Misenda, who is it?” asked Aeryn.
“It’s... a very handsome man my lady” replied Misenda and giggled her way back inside the room.
Curious and eager to know, Aeryn walked to the door to see for herself who this handsome man was. At the first glance, her heart nearly pounded out of her chest and she did admit indeed Lord Petrus Octavianus was good looking and breathtaking.
Suddenly Lord Petrus Octavianus curtised before Aeryn. “My Lady... It’s an honor to set my eyes upon you” he said. Then he rose up and stood firmly looking at Aeryn.
Petrus was taller than Aeryn, just few inches apart. His brown robe coated with few gold stones which were visible made such an impression on him, it made him look wealthier while he wasn’t. It was all a show in an attempt to secure himself a princess of Maldonia.
“I’m not sure we’ve met my Lord” said Aeryn.
“Thousands of apologies my lady, I am Lord Petrus Octavianus of house Octavianus. Many miles away from here...” he showed Aeryn his impressive smile.
“Mmh-hmm what can I do for you Lord Petrus Octa -” Aeryn stuttered to finish her sentence, she wasn’t aware of the last name and it seemed to be difficult for her.
“I seek a dance with you, tonight at the ball”
That was shocking, Aeryn didn’t except that “You passed all the guards inside the palace just to ask the princess of Maldonia for a dance?”
Petrus smiled again. He didn’t say anything he was just waiting for Aeryn to decide. Aeryn looked inside and Misenda was urging her to say yes. But before she could reply to Petrus from the right side of the corridor Artemis was approaching his sister’s room followed by Lancet, his king’s guard. They seemed to be in deep conversation about something, but they suddenly stopped when Artemis noticed there was a man outside his sister’s chambers.
Quickly Aeryn closed the door behind Petrus and walked back inside, thinking she wasn’t noticed by her brother. The closer Artemis got to Aeryn’s chambers, Petrus became more and more uncomfortable. He was looking at Artemis and then at the floor, he was a Lord but somehow Artemis made him feel small.
Upon approaching Aeryn’s chambers, Petrus bowed before Artemis and he said “Your Grace” with fear look on his eyes. He knew what he did was a mistake and he could be punished, but what did Artemis have in store for him is what made him scared.
“And you are?” asked Artemis.
Petrus rose up “I am Lord Petrus Octavianus of house Octavianus”
“House Octavianus? I’ve never heard of that. Have you sir Lancet?” Artemis asked, but there wasn’t a reply from Lancet.
Lancet was caught off guard. His thoughts weren’t there but wondering around at what he did to Aurora. But the worst that could happen when Aurora doesn’t show up tonight at the ball, would that cause difficulties in his friendship with Artemis.
“Sir Lancet?” Artemis called out to Lancet and he shrugged off.
Artemis was pissed off “Where have you been Sir Lancet?”
“I’m here Your Grace”
“Here physically, your head is somewhere else. I asked you, have you heard of House Octavianus?”
“House Octavianus?” Lancet took a little bit of time to think, then as if he remembered something. He said “Yes, yes Your Grace. It’s far east... a small place with one landowner” and from there Petrus Octavianus felt like his secret was finally out.
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