A Tale of Two Kingdoms

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  1. The carriage bounced along the rocky trail as the royal entourage made their way toward the city. It had been a long journey since they left the castle, nearly a week including breaks for rest and food. For Erin it had been both the shortest and the longest week of her life. She sat within the carriage across from her father, King William Breckenridge of Natel. A frown was planted firmly on her face as she glared out the window of the carriage at the countryside.

    Her father followed her gaze, a gentle smile on his face as he said, “It’s a beautiful country, isn’t it? I always enjoy visiting Arx in the summer.”

    Her gaze flickered to her father’s face then away again as she looked to the carriage roof. She crossed her arms and leaned back in her seat with a huff.

    “Erin, don’t’ be so stubborn,” William chided her, frowning now, “You’ve been sulking ever since we left.”
    Erin said nothing. Silence was her way of punishing him for dragging her along on this venture. Not that it had been easy to keep herself from speaking for this long. She was almost proud of herself for sticking with it for so long. Unfortunately it did not change her situation.

    William sighed as he rubbed his temples, “By all the…Erin, you’re being ridiculous. This is a good opportunity for you to meet someone your own age. I thought you’d be excited to have a friend to play with. I’m sure you two will hit it off right away.”

    Adults always thought that way, Erin thought as she rolled her eyes at the comment. Whenever she was allowed to meet with other people her own age, her father always expected her to befriend them immediately, despite the fact that they were always rude and spoiled brats. She never had anything in common with the ruffians. There was only one reason he kept insisting this one would be different.

    William studied her and then glanced out the carriage. “We’re getting very close now,” he said as he looked back to his daughter with the sternest expression he could muster, “Erin, please tell me what’s wrong. Why are you so against meeting Solomon?”

    Erin could take no more. She turned her glare on her father and sat up to voice her accusation, “Advisor Rukin told me that I was b…betrothed to him and what it meant.”

    Her father seemed surprised by her response, “What? Is that all?”

    “All?” Erin repeated, as she uncrossed her arms and made her hands into fists on her lap, “He said that means we’re going to be married! I don’t want to get married to some stupid boy I’ve never met! You didn’t even ask me about it.”

    William began to laugh, a deep but soft chuckle that had always managed to bring Erin a smile when she heard it. That was whenever she wasn’t enraged. He slid forward in his seat and reached across the carriage to ruffle his daughter’s snowy white hair, “You needn’t worry about any of that, my little dove. You’re not getting married any time soon.”

    Erin pulled away, smoothing her hair while her glare softened into a look of confusion, “But Advisor Rukin said I was betrothed.”

    “You are.”

    “Doesn’t that mean getting married?”

    “Not immediately,” William replied, “You have many years ahead of you before you need to worry about marriage, my darling.”

    “But I thought that’s why we were coming,” she said, “Why else would we be here?”

    “I wanted you to meet him. That is all, I promise,” her father chuckled again, obviously relieved to see her speaking again, “You’ll understand more when you’re older. But now we must focus on the present. This is a very important meeting for both of us. I need you to be on your best behavior.”

    Erin nodded averting her gaze, “Yes, father, I’m sorry.”

    “It was a misunderstanding. What’s important now is that you remember to ask me about things like this in the future rather than jumping to conclusions,” William said as he glanced out the window, “Now sit up properly. We’ll be arriving soon.”

    Erin obeyed, straightening the skirt of her dress as she did so. At least this day wasn’t going to be as bad as she originally thought. She still had to meet this boy, but she wasn’t getting married. If that happened, she’d never have been rid of him. One afternoon she could handle. Maybe it would even be an enjoyable afternoon. She looked out the window as the castle came into view. It looked like she would find out soon whether she wanted to or not.
  2. "I win again," Sol enthusiastically proclaimed as he placed his piece on the Shregan board. It was the fifth time in a row that he defeated the Lord-Assembler today, and Sol couldn't deny that it filled him with a little bit of satisfaction every time he saw the old man bite on his lower lip and glare at him as if it was completely Sol's fault that he was so bad at Shregan. It was, in fact, a little disappointing that despite Shregan's popularity, especially in the Arxian court, the Lord-Assembler was the best opponent that he could usually find, disregarding passing foreign nobility. It was always difficult to get the Lord-Assembler to actually play Shregan with him, no doubt partly due to the reality that he had never beaten Sol in their many matches against each other. Once they started a match, it was never that difficult to get him to play several more, exactly like a gambler who keeps losing money on the notion that they'll "win big" soon. The old man removed a handkerchief from one of his many pockets and proceeded to wipe away the immense amount of sweat that had built up on his face and forehead. At last, he gave a sigh, a sign that Sol had learned meant that the old man was about to stop playing. Sol always hated when this happened. He always had the most fun playing Shregan and talking with adults, which always seemed odd to the other boys that tended to follow him around in the palace. They always wanted to do stupid things, like steal food from the kitchens or spar in the yard. In the end, these kind of things didn't hugely interest Sol, though he often went along with it so they didn't think that he was too weird. Besides, none of them liked Shregan, or knew the rules, so whenever he did try to play a match with them, it always resulted in them moving their pieces randomly around the board. Those who he managed to get to play properly had no real skill with the game, and never planned their moves ahead. At least, with the old man, he could get around a five minute match. Sol proceeded to properly rearrange the pieces on the board, so a new game could be played, whenever that was.

    "M-my Prince, I think that enough for me for today." He wiped his sweaty forehead more vigorously while Sir Roland, a distant cousin to the royal family and the head of Sol's personal guard, couldn't help but to chuckle. Wherever Sol went, you could find Sir Roland not far behind. In that regard, Sol supposed that Sir Roland was good at what he did. After all, Sir Roland was knighted at a very young age, and Sol had always been told of how astounding of swordsmanship that he possessed, as well as the fact that he always won tourneys that often participated in. Personally, Sol failed to find that particularly impressive, and after the books he read about the many wars and campaigns that Arx has been a part of, he figured that winning a bunch of tourneys wasn't exactly representative of how he would really fare in a real fight. But that certainly didn't take away from the fact that Sol enjoyed Sir Roland's company over the past year that he had been the head of his personal guard. That was definitely more than he could say to most men that could have been assigned to the position. Sol didn't fear for his life, or really think that he was really ever in danger, so Rolly felt more like what he imagined that his father would have been like, especially after all the good things that everyone seemed to always say about him.

    Soon enough, the Lord-Assembler finally made his exit from the room, after dealing out the formalities and pleasantries that all owned the young prince. Sir Roland, whose hand was rested on the hilt of his sword, glanced down at his prince. “It's fortunate he quit at this time, your grace. Today's a big day for you.” Sol was well aware of the Natelan princess that was visiting the capital city and the grand palace. He had heard bits and pieces about her, though nothing substantial, probably so that their meeting would feel more “genuine”, but Sol always hated walking into things blind, and that was probably why he was so good at Shregan. Perhaps he could challenge her to a match. He had never met a girl who liked to play Shregan, but if she did, he supposed that she was good enough to marry, especially if she was actually good at the game. At that thought, he felt around in his pocket, and dug out the two lockets that he had been given by his mother only a few hours before. She had gotten a famous artisan to make the lockets, and a renowned artist to paint a portrait of him in one, and another of the princess in the other. He just stared at them in the hand, wondering if just giving a girl a locket was really enough to curry her favor. If so, girls were way too simple, and that was probably why they were all so terrible at playing Shregan.

    “Ah, you're to give the princess one of those lockets, yes? I'm sure she'll love it.” Rolly gave the young prince one of his wide grins, and Sol couldn't help but think of the entire notion as being silly. Why would anyone care about receiving a locket? Then again, he guessed it was one of those stupid traditions and etiquette that everyone insisted in having him do. He didn't really have to understand the thinking behind this. He had been told to not open the locket until had given the other to Erin, and he obeyed, only because he really had no interest to looking at a portrait of some girl he had never met before. Of all the things that he had read about marriage and betrothals, he knew that it usually meant that he would be stuck with her for his entire life, so he supposed that there was little reason for him to get sick of her already.

    “I wonder if she likes to play Shregan,” Sol wondered again, out loud, shoving the lockets back into his pocket. And, at that, Rolly gave one of his hearty laughs.

    “Lord-Assembler Montecar loved to spend his time playing Shregan too, before you came along. Now he looks ready to pass out each and every time you beat him!” Sol only nodded at that. In truth, the Lord-Assembler had been a bit of a challenge early on, but he was constantly beating the old man more quickly every time, and that seemed to make the the old lord sweat even more than he usually did. At that, a serving boy entered the room and whispered in the knight's ear. Sol didn't know why the boy bothered, since Sol had exceptional hearing, and could make out that it was time to bring the prince to the main hall. Apparently, the Natelan entourage had finally made it. The knight relayed the message, and the prince nodded. He saw no reason to make Rolly's job any harder than it had to be, and he supposed a good prince should do as he is told. His mother always said that a great kings were humble, though Sol had never agreed with that statement. With that last thought, he gave the Shregan board a final look, before following the knight out of the room.

    Soon enough, he was situated next to his mother, and he was seated in the intimidating throne meant for the reigning king of Arx. It was made of gold, silver, and other precious metals, showcasing the extravagance of the Arxian royalty. It was generally accepted that the most disciplined and trained military on the continent belonged to Arx, no doubt becoming a necessity to its survival. Arx was known for its overabundance of fertile land, as well as a notable lack of natural defenses; quite the opposite of it's coastal neighbor of Natel. Such a representation could be seen in the hall itself, and in the form of the Arxian Guard, whose sole purpose was the defense of the grand palace, and all those within. They stood, off to the far sides of the room, their brilliant armor showing why they had been given the nickname of the “Shiners”. Rolly had told Sol once that he was about to be assigned to the Shiners before the queen had stepped in and personally appointed him as the head of the prince's personal guard. Truthfully, even Sol had to admit that they looked extremely impressive, even to native Arxians. For foreigners, they were often mesmerized after seeing the training and extreme discipline of any Arxian soldier. In an actual war, the bulk of any army was mostly made up of peasant levies, a necessary fact, considering that there was no nation on this continent who could afford to maintain that large of a professionally trained standing army. Even so, even Arxian levies seemed to be on an entirely different level of quality and training when compared to that of other countries, no doubt a huge contributing factor to the continued existence of Arxian independence.

    The queen gave Sol one final look, expecting the world from her son, before the trumpets sounded, marking the entrance of the Natelan king and his daughter. Once again, he reached into his pocket to feel the lockets. Hopefully, everyone would be right and she would like her locket, otherwise, it would probably be impossible for her to ever play a game of Shregan with him.
    #2 ethanjory, Jan 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
  3. The carriage came to a stop in front of the castle. Erin couldn’t believe how big the castle was. It seemed like everything in this country was bigger. The only thing they lacked were the mountains that Natel had. Instead of that, they had a lot of flat country which thought it had been an exciting change of scenery at first, was not nearly as pretty. The way the men of her father’s court spoke of the mountains, it seemed they were only a nuisance. Erin had thought they were beautiful though she doubted the men of her father’s court would think much of her opinion.

    The door to the carriage opened and Advisor Rukin peered in. He had been riding in the carriage behind them along with Erin’s nurse, Etain. “We have arrived, your Majesty. You are expected in the main hall,” he said before stepping back to give them room to exit.

    Her father went first, ducking to avoid hitting his head on the top of the carriage. He was a tall man, though too thin to be very imposing. This was largely due to his poor health which had plagued him since he was a child. Rukin helped him out of the carriage, though he managed well enough on his own. Erin stood once he’d made his way out and walked to the door. The carriage stood a little too high off the ground for her to step down without jumping. “Allow me, my lady,” Rukin said as he lifted her by her waist and set her on the ground. She allowed it though she moved out of his reach once she was on the ground. It was embarrassing to be lifted like she was still a toddler. She could have jumped the distance if it were not for this new dress that she’d been forced to wear for the day. It was simple compared to what the older women wore, but the skirt was long than most of the clothing that Erin had back home. It walked, along with everything she had to do, far more complicated. She caught up to her father and walked behind him, just to the side so she could see past him. Rukin took his place behind them, though their guard remained carriage. They had brought a small squadron of soldiers to see them safely through the journey along with four highly skill mages from the College. Normally the Head Enchanter would have accompanied the king on a journey such as this, but Enchanter Rafe rarely left the capital. No one knew why the king allowed him so much freedom, but no one questioned it. Rafe was the most powerful Head Enchanter their country had seen in years. People knew better than to cross the man.

    They entered the main hall to the sound of trumpets. Erin knew enough about etiquette to keep her head down, but her eyes wandered as she took in the new surroundings. She looked to the side and caught a glimpse of the knights standing all around them. Their armor gleamed like the waves in the sea on a sunny day. Erin had never seen anything like them. She was accustomed to having a few knights stationed around the castle, but not this many and certainly not in one room. They looked strong too. She could not help wondering why there were so many of them. She made a mental note to ask Advisor Rukin about it later. He seemed to know a lot about the other countries.

    Erin forced her eyes back to the floor in front of her, hoping no had caught her breach of protocol. If her father found out, she would be in trouble. She wanted to keep looking but there were too many eyes on her for that. The attention made her want to squirm but she kept herself still. She was unused to so many people looking at her at once. She wished they would look away so she could look around some more. More than anything, she wanted to sneak a peek in front. She was tired of waiting to see what this Solomon was like. She wanted the whole affair to be over and done with.

    King William came to a stop in front of her, cuing her to stop next to him and look up. At least meeting the eyes of the other people you were talking to was one rule that made sense to her. She looked up and saw a boy sitting in the throne ahead of her. He looked older than her, but not brattish. That was a small relief. A few of the other children she’d met in the past had been intolerable right from the start. The fact that he wasn’t openly complaining was at least a step on the right direction. The throne he sat on seemed a little big for him though. She wouldn’t say it looked silly, but she sure he looked quite right in it. Her eyes wandered from the boy to the queen who sat next to him. She was beautiful, at least Erin thought so. Erin wondered if she was a nice person, she seemed like she would be.

    Her father interrupted her thoughts as he called out his greeting to the queen, “Greetings from Natel, your Majesty. It is good to see you again.” A soft smile was on her father lips as he spoke. He stood tall, looking far more regal than Erin was used to seeing him. It was a side of himself that was reserved for politics. Erin did her best to stand as Etain had taught her, hoping she could emulate her father a little.
  4. Sol had sat in the Summer Throne only a few times times before, during certain formal occasions such as this very moment, and whether or not he looked silly sitting here wasn't largely his concern. When he sat in this throne, when he wore the leather jerkin that was emblazoned with the great lion, he was more than just Sol... he was Prince Solomon August, heir to the greatest kingdom on the entire continent, ignoring any who might take the time to disagree. As he had done the times before, he let himself observe the people in the main hall of the Summer Palace, this time casting his icy blue eyes over the new arrivals from Natel. The first of whom was King William himself, which, from what Sol had been told about the man, he did appear to be rather sickly, and it kind of amazed Sol that a man could be so weak and still be king. Then again, perhaps it wasn't the best to judge the king on his appearance alone, something that had been repeatedly drilled into him by his mother in preparation for this visit. Maybe Sol would have an opportunity to talk to the king in private, once he had finished all the pleasantries with his daughter and all. Not to take anything from the princess, of course, but the odds of King William being a decent Shregan player seemed to be rather high, but he supposed that was also judging the man by the way he looked. Next, he trained his eyes on the princess, who seemed to keep her head down as she made her way with her father, though he did catch the few moments when she snuck some glances to her surroundings. This amused Sol, though he knew well enough not to openly reveal such emotions. As any onlooker could see, his face was emotionless, as his cold eyes stared at the incoming Natelans.

    By the time the king and his retainers stopped before Sol, William took a much more kingly pose and said his pleasantries to Queen Claudia. Although he looked much more like a king at this time, he still lacked the impressive physical build that both his father and grandfather had possessed, at least according to his mother and the many lords whom had personally known them both. And, ever since he could remember, all eyes were on him to see how comparable he could be to his father and grandfather, and of all these eyes, the ones that he could always feel the most was his mother's, and sometimes he felt like he was constantly disappointing her, while at the same time he heard nothing but praises from everyone else. When it came to his mother, she neither praised or scolded him, but only gave him a look that peeled away every single of his layers until there was nothing left, and he had learned long ago that the only person that he truly feared in his life was her.

    Again, he cast his eyes back down at the princess, who was doing her utmost to stand straight and tall, like her father. This made him wonder if they were trying to impress him, but that thought was cast away when he realized that they were obviously doing all this for his mother, who had silently been sitting next to him during this entire affair. At that, he felt the locket that he was to give the princess in his pocket, while the one with her portrait contained inside now hung around his neck. He supposed that it was finally time for him to play his part, by walking down to meet the princess, and tell her all kinds of sweetness. Before he had any opportunity to do so, he felt a soft, yet firm hand that he knew all too well. He turned his head and saw his mother's smiling face, and to someone who was unacquainted, they would probably see it as a lovely mother reassuring her only child. Sol knew better. He could easily interpret what her eyes and facial features were trying to tell him: “Don't embarrass me”. Any nervousness and uncertainty drained out of him, and he finally knew his part.

    With a brief and quick motion, he removed himself from the Summer Throne, which resulted in a tiny jump since the throne was so large that his feet didn't reach the ground, despite him being quite tall for his age. However, it was with such a grace and presence, that there was no one in the room that could have called it silly, or see the prince who stood before them all as a mere child. His cold stare surveyed the room before he started to descend the granite stairs to the waiting king and princess below. Once he was at the same level as the rest, he was immediately flanked by Sir Roland to his right, and a shiner to his left. Every step that the three made was in unison, and their unified steps were the only thing in the great hall that could be heard, as everyone had fallen into a hushed silence immediately when the prince arose from the throne.

    He stopped several feet from the king and princess, and when he stopped, so did the two men on both his sides. He had to look up to King William, who was considerably taller than the six year old prince, though Sir Roland was at least as tall, and bulky enough that he looked like he could snap the king like a twig if required. Sol briefly bowed his head out of respect, only because his next actions would be reserved only for the princess herself. Finally, he turned all of his attention to Princess Erin herself, analyzing every inch of the girl before him, all through those icy blue eyes of his that many found to be unsettling. He immediately thought that the princess was rather pretty, but he was much too young to actually be enamored by a girl's appearance, and finally his own eyes met hers, and it seemed to be a clash between winter and spring. Although it was only for a few brief moments, it felt like an eternity, until Sol finally broke the growing tension by reaching into his pocket and pulling an exquisitely made locket. He straightened out the chain and placed around Erin's neck. With a smile that was impossible to tell whether or not it was truly sincere, he spoke.

    “Welcome to Arx.” Once those words escaped his lips, his right hand closed into a fist and slammed into his left breast. As he did so, his action was emulated by every Arxian man in the room, almost in unison. It was the Arxian Salute. He took precise backward steps to return to his previous position, whilst maintaining the salute. In a loud voice, though it couldn't be heard throughout all of the hall, only due to the fact that he was many years away from maturing into a voice that could achieve that, he said, “I, the Crown Prince Solomon August ve Arxeon, first of my name, do formally welcome both His Majesty King William of Natel, and his daughter, the Princess Erin as guests to the Summer Palace.” He paused for a moment, before looking back at Erin, and placing his arm back to his side. “The Kingdom of Arx welcomes our greatest of allies and most valued of friends.”
  5. Erin kept her attention focused on the prince, though she glanced back at his mother once. She was often told what was expected of her as princess, but she had few examples in her life. The queen looked like the model of a cultured woman, everything Erin would need to be once she’d grown up. Erin doubted she would ever be as beautiful though. She felt too awkward and plain for that, though her father always laughed when she said such things and told she was too young to worry about appearances. He would then ruffle her hair and tell her how she was just like her mother, whatever that meant. Her father had adored her mother and the other members of the court had approved of her, but there were many whispers about her, mostly about her brash nature. Some called her brave and graceful beyond her station, while others said she was shameless and a disgrace to the king. Erin only hoped she shared her mother’s good traits rather than the bad.

    Erin looked back to the prince when he stood up and walked toward her. He was followed by a pair of guards, one of which seemed to be different from the other soldiers in the room. He looked stronger to even her untrained eyes. If her father had not told her these people were their allies, the tall man would have been frightening to see this closer up. As it was though, Erin did not focus on him long. It was the prince she watched as they approached her. He was much taller than she’d first thought, which she realized now that he stood closer to her, so much so that she had to look up to see his face. He was not the kind of person she’d been expecting to meet. He had an air of authority that the other people in the room respected. It was surprising to meet someone her own age who was already so confident. When he looked her in the eyes, she met his gaze, her green eyes filled with determination. Her heart began to race, making her realize just how nervous she was. She would never have admitted it to anyone, but she was afraid the prince wouldn’t like her. The whole way here she’d told herself it would not matter and that it would be him who would need to impress her, but that had only been her way of coping. She had no real friends to speak of because of her position and the few people she’d tried to befriend in the past had refused. No matter how hard she tried, she always did something wrong but she refused to let today be like the other times. The moment between them ended abruptly when Solomon came forward and placed a necklace around her neck. In the blink of an eye, he went from cold and calculated to warm and welcoming. Erin do not know if that meant he accepted her of if he was still putting on a show for the rest of the room.

    Her father seemed impressed by the way Solomon handled himself, bowing his head to the young prince as he returned his greeting, “You do us a great honor, your Highness. Thank you.” Erin bowed her head as well to show her thanks, taking the moment to sneak a peek at the necklace. The locket was beautiful. When she looked up again, she noticed a similar locket around the prince’s neck. She wondered if it was a tradition of their country to give one’s betrothed a necklace, or if he was just being kind. She would have been lying if she said the gift did not make her a little happy; it was the first time she’d ever received jewelry from someone other than her father. Perhaps the necklace meant that he liked her, unless that too had been planned. She hoped it meant more than that. A slight smile found its way to her lips, though she was careful to hide it. She had to be calm and collected or he would think she was too easily impressed.

    Erin wondered how much longer the ceremony would go on. She felt like a bundle of nerves now though she managed to keep a calm expression on her face. She never enjoyed such formal events. They always dragged on for so long and most of the time she had to keep silent while the adults did all the talking. Even if seeing all the new people was a bit exciting, there was always a point in the ceremony when she began to grow bored. Not to mention she wanted a chance to speak with the prince and see what he really thought of her. Just looking at each other did little to tell her anything about him other than the few things she had picked up by observing him.
  6. Sol bowed his head once King William finished saying the kind words to him. He suspected that it was mostly politics behind it, and even though he could read most people quite easily, he certainly didn't make the claim that he could read the actions of kings, but he was certain there would soon come a day when he would. After receiving her locket, Sol thought he saw the princess' mouth form into a smile, but it vanished so quickly that it was nearly impossible for him to be completely sure. He'd just assume that she liked the gift that he had just given her, mostly because he honestly saw no reason for her to find issue with it, and it was more symbolic than anything, considering that he had a matching locket, albeit with her portrait contained within rather than his in hers. Despite the conclusion of their brief exchange, the ceremony between the two allied kingdoms was destined to continue for some time. Important individuals mingled, including Queen Claudia and King William, who actually spent most of the event with each other, save from the occasional interruption from prominent lords who wished to pay their respects to one of the monarchs. The children probably suffered the worst from this ceremony, being forced to meet with foreign lords that they could care less about, though Sol found the politics to be especially interesting, he was definitely the exception, and even he started to be annoyed when his input on certain issues were ignored. This was to be expected, of course. Even if he was the crown prince of Arx, he was still only a boy of six, and no matter how intelligent he happened to be, no adult could ever possibly consider the opinion of a boy of his age. During the whole ceremony, Sol and Erin didn't get a chance to actually interact again, though they had plenty of opportunities to see each other having to deal with overbearing nobles. Sol probably fared better during this ordeal, since he had Sir Roland present to scare away the less eager nobles from swarming him. As for Erin, he hoped she had tools at her disposal to do the same, but if not... then he pitied her.

    Even Sol became bored when eventually all the conversations directed towards him degenerated into only being about his relationship with the princess and their betrothal. Obviously, he had no real way to satisfy them, since the truth of the matter was rather bland at best, so they all left his presence rather disappointed. He supposed he could have told them what they wanted to hear, but that was a good way of spreading rumors, and rumors floating around a palace was anything but a good thing. Any offhand remark or unhinged statement could plague you for months to come, and Sol had absolutely no interest to catering to the gossipers. Since the ceremony was showing no signs of winding down, at the first chance he could find, Sol took his opportunity to slip away undetected- though that is hardly true, since Sir Roland was still by his side. He took the hand of the princess and managed to successfully escape from the sharks that surrounded her as well, and quickly he found himself pulling her through the intersecting hallways and corridors that made up the Summer Palace. The architecture and décor was stunning, but almost all of it was foreign in nature, emulating the more established norm of what “regal” was supposed to be. He much preferred the Winter Palace because of this, though he figured it would be a long time before Erin got the opportunity to visit there.

    Finally, they made it to their destination, which happened to be Sol's chambers that he spent playing Shregan, reading, and studying, and it pained him that he was finding less and less time to do the first two. As such, there was a Shregan table position dominantly in the room. It didn't look impressive, at least when compared to other things that the palace had to offer. It was simple, and the pieces were worn from excessive use. It had evidently seen much use over its lifetime, and that would be an accurate assessment. Lord Edwin had been an active Shregan player himself, which could possibly be the reason why Sol had become so enamored with it so quickly. Sol had heard stories that his father wouldn't negotiate with any ambassador or diplomat unless they played a game with him, and it seemed almost as if it was a tool used by his father to get to know better the men that he had to deal with. When Sol became king, he doubted he would play Shregan that obsessively but he perfectly understood how you could learn a lot from playing someone else.

    He turned to Erin. “I don't suppose you know how to play?”
  7. The formalities drew to a close soon after the children exchanged their greetings, but the event was far from over. Erin found herself stuck mingling with the nobles, trying very hard to keep the boredom from showing. She’d promised her father she would behavior today, even if the long-winded adults were working her last nerve. Advisor Rukin stayed by her side the whole time, often picking up the conversations for her after the nobles had greeted her and asked a few standard questions. She knew how to play her part well, always sweet and quiet just as a young princess should be. It never ceased to amaze her how little adults expected of her. All she had to do was smile a little and look down sheepishly, and instantly she was in their good graces. None of them cared that she found the whole affair boring as watching paint dry or that she had thoughts at all for that matter. The event was not a complete loss for her though. It gave her a plenty of opportunities to watch the other noblewomen. She found their behavior fascinating, mostly because she realized it was a lot like how she acted at events like these. None of them seemed completely honest with anyone, other than the looks they shot at their family members, some loving, others annoyed. Very few could keep their emotions completely hidden, save for some of the older noblewomen. Her father remained with the queen for most of the event, chatting with her and the other nobles that approached. It seemed he was enjoying spending the evening with his old friend. Erin couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen him this relaxed.

    Eventually, Erin felt as though her boredom had reached its peak. She was ready to just storm out of the room and find some quiet corner without pesky adults constantly asking her stupid questions, when someone took her hand. She turned to protest when she saw Solomon standing there. Realizing this was her chance to escape, she let him lead her out of the circle of nobles and out of the room. For a moment, she wondered if she should say something to Rukin, but when she turned back to call to him she realized there was no need. He kept his eyes focused on the person he was talking with, but the smirk on his face showed he’d seen their escape. There was no reason for him to follow her so long as she was with the prince. The king had assured her before they arrived that she was just as safe in this kingdom as she was at home. When they left the gathering, Erin took the opportunity to look around the castle. It was very pretty and she would have loved to just wander the halls for an afternoon. No doubt there were plenty of fun places without any boring adults there to behave for.

    After going through enough twists and turns to completely throw off Erin’s sense of direction, they seemed arrive wherever Solomon had been leading her. She started looking around once the stopped and she was immediately drawn to the books lying around though she kept herself from going to pick them up. Back in her own home, she was constantly reading anything she could get her hands on, though there were still many volumes that were too much for her. It never stopped her from trying to read them though until she became bored or the book was taken away from her. She didn’t noticed the Shregan table until Solomon asked her about it. She bite her lip for a moment before she admitted, “Not really.” She’d never had the chance to learn since there was never anyone to play with her. Still, she didn’t want him to think she wasn’t interested. She walked a little closer to the board, “I’ve always wanted to learn how though.”
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