Diplomacy Fails Again

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  1. Mana Deschain was bored. Who knew how many acres of land surrounded the family's ancestral home, and still there was nothing to do. After eighteen years, she had explored and re-explored the entire estate, and right now it seemed that there was no option but to go back inside. It was her habit to spend her time roaming about the gardens, as well as meandering about the wilder places her father posessed. All this was designed to ensure no one could summon her back to the drole life of a noble girl that was supposed to be grown into a fine young woman.

    As if to confirm her thoughts, the clouds that had been heavy all day, finally burst forth with rain as thunder rumbled overhead. Mana sighed, frustrated as she immediately found her muddy brown skirts filling with the weight of the water, as she also brushed away a strand of fly away hair that had now stuck to her face. "You win this one, weather." The girl muttered to herself, reluctantly making her way back to the sprawling castle in which she had lived from the day of her birth.

    Upon her return, now utterly sodden, Mana found herself skulking as quietly as possible to her rooms. Of course, this was all pointless, thanks to the dripping of her clothes that formed a handy trail, but it made her feel clever, ssneaking around like she used to when she was a little girl. Little did she know that this was the last day she would have free to be a child. Her father had sent out the summons, something that even she would not ignore.
  2. "Left, right, parry, advance!" A young but battle hardened voice rang out through the courtyard; the source of the shouting, Lance Hydra. He was the king's youngest and most fearsome knight so on most days he was tasked with training the new knights and drilling battle strategies into their thick heads. "Don't simply swing the sword hoping you'll hit something, become one with your blade and feel through the motions." He added as he circled his fellow knights and saw as a few had trouble. Then the young knight's attention turned to the lancers and nodded with satisfaction as they seemed to have been paying attention in his earlier lessons, each one easily hit their mark with deadly precision and he applauded them for their spirit. "Nicely done, but don't focus solely on your target, you never know if there could be foes lurking in the shadows." Lance stated and his knights nodded their heads.

    Once the rain finally started to pour, Lance stood there with his arms folded across his chest as his men continued to drill. That was until he saw a flash of lighting in the distance; it wasn't a wise idea to be training with lighting so close plus he thought his men deserved a reward. They'd been training hard for the last couple days and wouldn't stop until they had done at least one maneuver right, he moved some hair away from his face as he raised his metal ,clawed, gauntlet up and snapped; the effect was close to the sound of a miniature sonic boom. "Alright, everyone pick up your weapons and head inside. Training is over for today; go get some rest and visit your families." He stated before turning away then walking into the castle. Lance wiped off his armor but kept it on as he threw the now wet rag to the side and started walking towards the king's grand hall.

    His liege had summoned Lance to the hall, though he had not the faintest idea for his king's reason. Maybe the king was pleased with how the training was going even though most of the battles he had Lance fight were diplomatic ones, which Lance didn't mind; only a fool openly sought war. When he arrived at the doors he pushed through then walked down the carpet until he was now in front of the king who sat on his throne. The young knight smiled then kneeled before his king. "My liege, I am here as you requested; how can I be of service to you?"
    #2 WhiteBane, Apr 29, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
  3. "Will you stop fussing?" Mana complained as she attempted to escape the clutches of her hand maiden, who was currently consumed with the task of assaulting her with a comb. The daughter had changed into dry clothes, a plain green smock that thankfully didn't float about like many dresses did. Unfortunately, her bedraggled hair was still wet, loose and scruffy as it fell down her back. Needless to say, the poor woman charged with making the girl presentable was struggling to leave well alone. She only gave up as the younger swept into the great room, full of high colour and a little irritation.

    With distaste, Mana noted the grovelling soldier she instantly recognised. Lance had probably been born a stuffy old man, or else was engaged in an elaborate ruse to bring down the house. Either way, he was not a favourite of hers, though he seemed to have curried plenty of favour from her father, speaking of which, "Father." She spoke curtly, a minute bow of her head the briefest sign of respect. In recent years her previously good relationship with her father had suffered, thanks to the fact that she was now a woman - and as such expected to work in formal capacities. It was wholly unfair, or so Mana believed. In truth, her father was far more lenient than he could have been, and certainly was being outright wonderful in his handling of her marriage. She at least had a say in the match, something many women were denied entirely.

    "Stand. You know there is no need for such formalities." He wasn't one for pomp and circumstance, and demanded respect in more practical ways. He offered a small and slightly forced smile to his daughter, before continuing onto the point of this meeting. "Sir Lance, you have served me well, and as such I feel you are ready for a more senior position." Mana was about to interrupt, demanding why on earth she had been summoned for the promotion of a random knight. A wave of Roland's hand kept her quiet. "You are now assigned to the Royal Guard. Your honour is without question, and so you will be Mana's personal guard. I expect you to keep her safe, and assist her in her duties." Moments after the end of this sentence, a door slammed at the other end of the hall. Mana had apparently stormed out of the room, clearly not pleased with the arrangement.
  4. "I know, I know. I simply do this to get a rile out of you." Lance replied with a grin as he stood back up from his kneeling position. Around the king, Lance acted more like a young man speaking to his father than a battle hardened prince turned knight. When he heard the princess' voice he didn't even bother glancing her way, he detested the princess who acted like a spoiled brat and felt sorry for the king since he had such a lazy daughter. Lance knew Mana felt the same way but ,honestly, he didn't care, she was nothing but a nuisance; all she cared for was indulging in her own selfish desires and complaining when she didn't want to tend to her duties as a princess. He clasped his hands behind his back as he waited for his king to continue.

    Sir Lance huh? If they weren't going to use formalities then he would have been fine with the king calling him 'boy' or 'pup' like he used to when Lance was younger. When the king waved for his daughter to stay silent it took all of the knight's will power not to smirk. The princess needed to be taught a few lessons now and again on the principle of respect, if she wanted her knights to lay down their lives for her. Though he was surprised to hear the king would be giving him a higher position, he was still a young man and surely still had many things to learn. When the king praised the young man's honor, he couldn't help but smile happily, but he was shocked to learn he would be joining the Royal Guard. When Lance first arrived that was what he strived to achieve...that was until the king added he would be serving as princess Mana's guard.

    When the doors of the other side of the hall slammed shut behind him he glanced in that direction for a few moments before facing the king again. "Sire...surely you jest, I am not sure if that would be a wi-" Lance stopped, sighed, then nodded. The king was the closest thing Lance had to a father figure and he didn't want to disappoint his king. "As you wish, I will assist the princess with her duties and protect her with all my strength." He replied. "Will there be anything else?" Lance's expression and tone of voice had reverted back to his icy, unreadable one. He would carry out his duty regardless of his personal feelings and the princess' he owed the king that.
  5. It was unsurprising to the king that Mana had reacted in such an infantile way. Any formal protection was an insult to her, although if she were to think about it logically, she would quickly see that she was not capable of physically protecting herself out in the big wide world of political threat. Even so, he had hoped that her reaction might have been slightly milder, due to the fact that he was entirely blind to the tension between the two youngsters. He had thought that Mana would be pleased to have a younger man protecting her, rather than a gruff, battle hardened knight. It seemed that his blindspot was his daughter, something that was hardly surprising. He shook his head wistfully, "I trust you entirely. Come to me if she gives you too much grief. You are dismissed." Pride would most likely keep him from seeking help, but at least the offer had been made.

    Rapid footsteps echoed through the vast corridors of the castle. Mana didn't quite know where she was going, she just knew that her fury would not abate until the situation changed dramatically. Her face was set like thunder, her fists tightly clenched as she finally reached the security of her quarters. The girl collapsed onto her bed, glaring at the ceiling for some time. For quite a while she did absolutely nothing, only stewed in her insolent anger. This was obviously a futile effort, and as she wound herself up even further, the silly woman did eventually reach a breaking point that caused her to take some sort of action. Mana was not a stupid person, despite appearances that seemed to refute this, and she did come to the conclusion that she would not be able to avoid Lance, and so it was up to her to attempt to lay down some ground rules.

    It took a moment for Mana to prepare herself, and also a few minutes for her to give in to vanity and brush through her tangled hair, pausing also to tie it firmly behind her head. With this done, she made her way towards where she hoped Lance might be loitering. He was usually pretty easy to find, either training himself or others in the barracks, or else doing something productive in his own quarters. And here he was. After catching his attention, Mana offered a false smile, pausing momentarily before launching into her succinct demand. "I know what my father said, and what the Royal Guard are sworn to do, but I suggest you are lenient in keeping your oath." Mana spoke with articulation, something most would deem impossible, based on her usual conduct at formal ocassions. "I do not require constant protection, nor an advisor. You may escort me if father sends me away, but that is all you need do. Feel free to report back to father with some exaggerations of your work, if it helps you feel better." Her words were full of a spite that was obviously unwarranted, though in her eyes it was wholly justified.
  6. The king had a lot of good points about him but when it came to see his daughter for what she really was and reading the situation between a younger generation he was hopeless. Why couldn't he have assigned one of the older knights to guard princess Mana? Lance was happy about finally becoming a part of the Royal Guard but he wanted to be one of the king's protector, not his selfish daughter's. "You have my thanks for confiding your trust in me for some an important duty." He replied as he fixed his sword's sheath. "As you wish ,my liege, I will take my leave down." The prince replied in a dry tone. With a swift bow he turned then felt the king's grand hall.

    Once he was through the doors and walking down one of the halls he sighed and shook his head while what had just happened replayed over and over in his mind. He had been finally promoted to a high position of honor but the down side was he would have to protect the insufferable, and lazy, heir to the throne. "Now is not the time for me to be brooding." He mumbled to himself then took a left so he was now walking in the direction of the barracks. When he arrived, he stripped off his chest plate and under shirt, being shirt less he drew his blade then advanced on a training dummy. Instead of letting his anger boil inside of himself he could turn it into something useful; energy to train and a way for him to get his mind of his new predicament. He continued thrusting, striking and arcing until a voice Lance had hoped he wouldn't have to hear anymore came from behind him.

    Lance sighed as he pulled his blade out from the practice dummy then padded his face then chest dry with a nearby cloth as he met her false smile with an icy gaze. He wasn't one to lie about how he felt, if Lance wasn't fond of someone he easily let them now with the actions he took. "Here we go...the princess thinks I have to listen to her." He said quietly to himself as he turned away from her to push the dummy over, sheath his sword then turned back to face her. "No." He replied bluntly after she was finished speaking. "Princess," With the way he said it made it sound the same as the word 'brat'. "Your suggestion is noted but also thrown to the pigs. I only listen to the king, and I will follow through with his orders whether you want me to or not." He continued then started circling her as he talked. "Do you honestly believe you can take on a group of cut throats all on your own or even have the courage to slay them and watch their blood dirty your hands and soul?" Judging from the look of her face, Lance could tell she wasn't. "With me being your advisor, I do believe you would need my help too; you are too quick to anger which makes it easy for you to play right into your opponents hand. Also your cocky behavior will have others come to distrust and ultimately hate you which could cause the kingdom harm because of your actions." He stated cold then stopped back in front of her.

    "As much as I loathe the idea of being by your side I will for the kingdom's sake. And also...because no matter how you act, you are still my princess and I am swore to protect you even at the cost of my own life." Lance's expression softened for a moment but harded instantly and he turned away from her. The prince walked over to his armor and began to put everything back on. "I suggest you get used to it because come when we're in the wild I'm the only thing keeping you away from death himself."
  7. Not the response she had expected. Mana was used to getting her way, thanks in part to her status and also to the fact that her temper was quite well renowned. How to deal with it. For a moment she just stood and stared at Lance, processing his refusal to obey her demands, her cheeks reddening with the rage she felt. Finally she reached her boiling point, bursting forth with a rebuttal that was somewhat staggered. Her composure was admirable, though certainly not entirely intact.

    "Yes, you answer to my father indirectly. But you are also my guard, and therefore you answer to me first and foremost." Her attitude was abismal, not that she noticed. Mana felt that her statement was entirely justified, a stubborn hand on her hip in a gesture of cocky arrogance. "I never claimed to be a warrior, anyway. That's why you come with me. But I don't need your input in anything else. Unlike you, I come from a well educated world, my talents extend further than loutish swordplay." It was a low blow, although Mana had perhaps pragmatically left out any truly biting comments that may have specifically mentioned his homeland. Such mentions were for later on, when the big guns were really needed.

    Mana sighed, looking away for a moment, before continuing on with her angered response, "You have no right to judge me. My father may think you are a gift from the Gods, but I am not so easily fooled. You are a snake, nothing more." She was almost growling now, unreasonably angry with something that had barely even happened yet, "I am not queen yet, so whatever supposed weaknesses I have are entirely irrelevant." She was apparently of the opinion that her diplomatic skills would magically flourish on the day of her coronation. As ridiculous as this was, it was as far as the naive girl cared to look. "And anyway, I have been hunting before. I hardly think it's any different to killing a person." Another display of her ignorance, though she would not admit that this was so.
  8. After clasping his armor on then refitting his gauntlet and used some of his magic to conjure flames then quickly snuffed them out, he turned to look at the princess. It seemed like she was really steaming since he wasn't going to let her have her way like the other knights did. Besides her reddening cheeks, he was impressed that she managed to hold her temper in this long; he was certain that she would have exploded much sooner. But he knew once she reached a certain point she couldn't contain herself and that would be when he would counter attack. Debating with her was like arguing with an ox- very hard but easily won.

    "Royal Guard, which means I answer to the ruler first and his heir second. Surely in your studies you at least pay attention to the smallest of details but, if you wish I will come to you first and your father second." Lance replied. He keenly watched her body posture as he once again became the cocky princess she was known to be, how naïve. "I know you never did, I am just merely pointing out facts; you wouldn't even stand a chance against one bandit. Hm...you come from a well educated world? Last I checked, my kingdom is still number one when it comes to our education and unlike you I've had an extra year to learn plus I actually pay attention to my studies. And this 'loutish' swordplay as you call it has saved you're kingdom many times over, without it you'd be living in ruins. But go ahead and continue to say what you will about my 'poor education' and fighting skills; I'm sure you'll get a reaction from me sooner or later." Lance continued. When that time would come he would reveal his true identify to her and see her reaction.

    Lance titled his head to the side and folded his arms as she looked away then back at him. "Maybe that is true, I should not judge you; maybe you have good qualities, though I highly doubt it." Lance told her. Then he took a few steps forward, he was a foot and two inches taller than her so he had to look down at her. "I have fought tooth and blade to protect you, your father and your kingdom. I have watched my friends be killed before my eyes and I have slain; in return all for your family. If I was a snake then you would be a lazy rat who has everything handed to her." He replied with an icy and almost deadly tone. He decided not to even bring up her diplomatic skills and instead focused on her idea of hunting and slaying another human were similar. "Well then princess, have you slain a foe in front of his family? Watched as his children and friends stare in horror as his blood flows toward them? I have slain three hundred men, and many boys around my age who knew nothing about war, why do you think I am also known as the Dread Knight?." Lance expression turned to one that looked to be of pain but quickly vanished as he took three steps back. "If they are so similar would you like me to go fetch a prisoner from the dungeon that is scheduled to be executed and instead you can kill him in front of me and prove that hunting and killing another human is truly the same?"
    #8 WhiteBane, Apr 30, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  9. It was so unfair. Lance had no right to talk back to her in any way, he ought to just accept what she said and get on with his life. It would make things simpler for both of them. Unfortunately, it seemed that this knight was a free thinker - no doubt one of the key factors in securing his promotion. As admirable as this trait was, it hardly suited Mana's purposes, and his stalwart arguments threw quite the spanner in the works of her efforts to manipulate him. She had not before come up against a barrier quite like this one, and was unsure of how to proceed. As far as she could tell, she could either cave in and let him have his way, continue this futile rampage or simply declare herself flabbergasted by his idiocy. It was unsurprisingly the latter that suited her best, enabling her to act with wilful blindness and at least superficially maintain her status and inflated head.

    "You are deliberately missing the point. For a start, there is no shame in just killing, not that it matters anyway. We live in a dog eat dog world, so a little bloodshed is hardly something to worry about." Mana followed the movements of the knight, becoming increasingly frustrated with the way he circled her, like a hunter eyeing up its prey, or else just a man intentionally trying to dizzy a woman. In short order she snapped, "Will you stand still? At least I can hold a conversation without fidgeting." Hardly relevant, and definitely not true. Mana usually spent any lengthy meetings tapping her feet or twiddling her thumbs, something that must have been annoying to those around her, although of course they usually managed to tune it out. Mana wwas a whirlwind of anger and petulance, something that really shouldn't have happened, given her upbringing, as well as the supposed influence of her calm and just father. Whatever had caused this insolent girl to grow into a potentially dangerous young woman, it had yet to be identified.

    Her final flourish of speech came abruptly, her unplanned and somewhat helter skelter response the hallmark of a person living on impulse. "If and when I take the throne, I am sure that no harm will come to the kingdom. My father's legacy will make sure of that." Of course, love for her father would protect her for a time, but sooner rather than later Mana would find that familial ties only went so far. Whether the people rose up or the weakened kingdom was invaded, the end would be the same. Perhaps if she offered it some thought, Mana would realise that she did not fancy her head ending up on a pike. Unfortunately, this revelation was not going to be made at this moment in time, and so it was that the princess swept back out of the room, head held high as her feet tramped away down the hall.

    It would come as no surprise that the princess returned to her rooms in order to sulk away her anger. What might have come as more of a surprise, was the fact that the girl was not entirely conceited. Mana often had moments of doubting her behaviour, though these chinks in her armour were swiftly boarded up with further infantile antics. The reason for this was not something even she was sure of, though of course she had never searched her soul for the answer to this mystery. Certainly, today was no different, and so she lay on her bed for some time, sighing heavily as finally the door was tentatively opened, a sign that it was time to make herself presentable for dinner. No doubt, they had company of some sort or another, and so the girl had to be pretty enough to be shown off. What a drag.

    After being forced into a lilac gown that was much too tight for her tastes, and having her hair braided into a style more suited to a concubine than a princess, Mana reluctantly made her way down to the dining hall. Although it was customary for a woman to be escorted, this was another rule that she was usually capable of flouting, even though it was seen as rather uncouth. Mana would honestly rather be seen as an uncultured fiend than the ornament hanging onto the arm of a man.
  10. "Maybe I am, what of it? You hardly ever go beyond the castle and ride into battle unlike myself and the knights, like brothers to me, do. A little blood like you say is nothing to worry about but over time those small steams trickle into rivers, then those rivers into lakes and finally, those lakes turn into an ocean of blood. And who would be standing at the center of the ocean, well I'll tell you; it would either be you or I." He replied as he continued to circle the young princess. When he heard her order he mischievously smirked then stopped, "As you command." Lance replied dryly, with mock respect. Then he moved his arms behind his back then cocked his head to the side. "It's usually wise to circle an impressive opponent and stay one step ahead of them, are you sure that you are not actually the snake?" He asked.

    "You father's legacy is his own and will only protect the kingdom for a short duration. Not even my reputation will keep invaders at bay for long, outsiders will soon become lustful to expand their land for new riches and see you as nothing but a minor nuisance trying to fill her father's shoes." He responded. Surely once her father died many of the adjacent kingdoms would be immediately contacting Mana hoping to marry her to combine kingdoms or some would even offer her threats of war to get their way. As princess Mana turned to leave the room Lance thought it would be best to tell her something. "Remember this also, during your years you have insulted and belittled the other knights too much. Their love and loyalty for your father is the only reason why they stay, when you become queen I am certain many will leaved one you are crowned" He said just as she passed through the doors. "And I very well may be one of them..."

    After cleaning the barracks, he headed for his room let sat down with a light huff as he drew a gauntlet finger through his hair. "Bloody princess is more stubborn then a bull and more prideful then a dragon." He muttered then poured himself a glass of water and took a sip. Then he took out a book and started reading for a time...that was once he got to a good part he heard a knock on his door then it opened. A servant entered his room then bowed, the young maid informed Lance that he would need to be present in the dining hall since he was now the princess' guard and most be at her side during such times. With a soft sigh, he laid his book down then dismissed the maid as he left his own room and strode in the direction of the royal dining hall.

    With the stealth of a feline, he entered the room with his usual expression then walked over to stand on the right side of the princess' seat, which was unsurprisingly empty, he was a few steps back but was close enough just incase something happened. One hand rested on his sword's hilt while his hand wielding the gauntlet clenched lightly, it was his role as her royal guard to look frightening and show that he would strike down any who would insult his princess; even if he detested her immensely.
  11. So, first she's a rat, and then a snake? How on earth could that man bring himself to insult her like that? Mana could barely fathom such audacity, though she did not make much effort to do so anyway. At least he had acknowledged that she was a worthy opponent, though this was hardly enough to make up for his awful words. Mana wondered what other bright and colourful insults they would be throwing at each other over the next few days or weeks, imagining the day that he finally cracked and begged her father to reassign him. That had to be the way it would work out, for Mana was far too stubborn to request a different guard, though her father would most likely refuse such a request anyway. In truth, they were most likely stuck with eachother for the long haul. For the first time in her life, Mana cursed her fathers good health.

    On her way to the dining hall, Mana paused in one of the many corridors, dreamily gazing up at one of the many tapestries that adorned the place. The one that caught her eye was not one of the gargantuan masterworks that depicted epic scenes or fables. No, a small square of fabric on which a pair of proud hounds stood on alert, apparently ready to give chase to some prey or other. It was nothing special, and quite dull in comparison to most of the others, but it held a special significance to the girl. "Good evening, mother." She spoke quietly, bowing her head in reverence for the dead. The only clear memory she had of her mother was of the woman sewing this particular little scene, heavily pregnant with the child that would ultimately kill her. It was a warm memory, though most likely idealised by a child that had wept bitterly for her mother. With this little nightly ritual completed, Mana felt herself somewhat galvanised, though of course she still had no intention of behaving herself at dinner. At best she would maintain a sullen demeanour throughout, or else she would be outright disruptive to whatever else might be going on around her.

    Finally, Mana arrived in the dining hall, glancing around sternly as she deliberately missed making eye contact with anyone present. Why bother? Usually they only wanted to chat about serious matters or else preposterous ones such as her imminent betrothal. The somewhat idiotic girl maintained that if she ignored a situation, it was impossible for it to catch up with her. She would undoubtedly learn the error in this way of thinking when it was already too late. For now, she was content to remain blind, sweeping through the room as if no one else was there - until her eyes settled on Lance. Her blank expression turned to a scowl as she moved toward him, intending to give him a good hiding for a misdemeanour she would invent on the spot.

    Unfortunately, just as her mouth opened to scream at him, Mana found that there was nothing left in her head to say. She hadn't considered that the knight had such a sterling reputation, effectively rendering almost any accusation preposterous. Mana knew that her father would see through her in moments, not something she particularly wanted to discover the consequences of. And so she stood there, mouth hanging open as she glared at the knight, eventually coming up with a supposedly saving sentence. "Stop looking so grumpy. You'll kill off the elders." He did look pretty intimidating, which was really the point, though Mana ignored this fact as she settled into her seat. Needless to say, she picked at her meal, barely uttering two words throughout, despite the fact that her father insisted on attempting to converse with her about her future plans, eventually giving up with an exasperated glance toward Lance.
  12. Lance sighed to himself as he listened the king, his advisors, and guests just ramble on about politics. Diplomacy was one of the skills he had along with a know how for politics between the surroundings kingdoms but he honestly didn't think they'd bring up such a dull topic during dinner. He would have thought it would have made their food and wine taste sour on their tongue and in their stomachs. They addressed the knight-prince, asking him questions or his advice here and there; he provided them with polite answers that satisfied each person. Though as the conversation went on his mind wandered towards the princess, why did she hate him so? Had he done anything in the past to offend her before now?

    He mentally slapped himself and instinctively gripped his hilt before allowing his grasp to soften. Why did he care about her reasoning for hating him? She was just a spoiled brat that he was just supposed to watch over and make sure she didn't die some unsightly death until she got married. Though he did understand her anger about having issues forced on her, he himself had experienced the same when he was still a prince back home. It was a dreadful and boring time; especially since his swine of an older brother was going to become king instead of him. Lance was the better brother out of the three but had no ambitions, so he had been ignored until he was needed to be seen by the people.

    When he heard someone arrived in the dining hall he turned his head and quarter to see the new arrival. Like usual it was princess Mana acting as cocky and snide as usual, it was one thing to not make eye contact with her father but not meeting her guests' gaze was high insult. But that's just how the princess was; she cared for no one but herself. When her eyes met his and her face turned into a scowl as she approached him, his eyes held what seemed to be amusement at seeing her. He looked at her with a calm and collected face as he waited for her lecture...though he knew it would never come.

    Upon hearing what his princess said he nodded his head then bowed as his expression soften and a small smile could be vaguely seen. "As you wish ,princess." For now he'd follow her orders just as his role dictated for now. It was a wise idea not to get her more stressed than she already was so she could get used to him being around her since sadly they were going to be spending a lot of time together, thanks to her father. The knight met his king's gaze then lowered his head slightly. "My apologizes you majesty, the princess and I had a chat earlier today; I'm afraid to say put her in an even worse mood then usual." He admitted.
  13. There was nothing for her to say at this dinner, for her interests tended to be wildly different to what might have been expected of her. The older men tended to either talk of politics and battle, or else past conquests and triumphs in their hey day. While these often raucous tales continued, the women leaned towards the gentler subjects, often posturing over children and husbands, competing with one another in sometimes thinly veiled good humour. Perhaps if she were a little older, the princess might have bothered to join in, but unfortunately she was the only maiden left in the court, and as such remained somewhat lonely. However, Mana had to admit that these reminiscences on the part of her father were often quite amusing, although as she listened to what was occasionally brought up in a colourful guffaw, she barely allowed herself a smile. One such tale that was a particular favourite spoke of the day a bull headed and fool hardy prince had for some reason thought it a brilliant idea to prove himself in that age old sport of jousting. Needless to say, the boy had been unhorsed at the first blow and had not shown his face for weeks afterwards. Maybe that little nugget was a brief window into how Mana had inherited such stubbornness.

    Mana remained quiet for some time, speaking up only when absolutely forced to, usually as guests took their leave, until the fateful moment when Lance had the audacity to accuse her of being in a foul mood - or at least one fouler than usual. Immediately she launched to defend herself, "I am not! I am in a fine mood." A swift look from her father did cause her to back down - ever so slightly. He was not a stupid man, and knew that such a rapid outburst was not the behaviour of a contented lady, or man for that matter. "Maybe I have been a little...sharp. But, father, you have no idea what it is like to live here, I feel like I'll go mad stuck in these walls." Of course, for politeness' sake she kept her voice as hushed as possible, also adding to the melodrama that her father eagerly lapped up. Of course, Mana didn't know that she had somewhat shot herself in the foot.

    He didn't speak immediately, seeming to deliberate for a moment before coming to a conclusion, "You always were one for wanderlust. I had planned on giving you time to acclimatise to one another, but I suppose I could allow you to go as soon as this week, if you feel ready for it, Lance." He was of course referring to the trip that had been looming for some time, and in truth was long overdue. Mana had met a few suitors before, as they had visited the castle on other errands, but now her engagement was a serious matter, something that could be put off no longer.

    "I hardly thhink this is the time to discuss such things. It's a private matter." For her part, that really was true, although it was certainly no secret. "Now, if you'll excuse me. Good evening, father." It was her usual habit, if she had got herself into an uncomfortaable situation that she couldn't turn in her favour, Mana fled. At least this time she left with a little good grace, though she was quite pointed in her refusal to wish Lance a good night.

    With her gone, once again it was that awkward moment between Lance and Roland. "Perhaps I am pushing a little too hard." He spoke in a confidential tone, aware that although many had left by now, a few devotees of fine wine still remained, "I have to admit, I have never been able to handle that girl. I always seem to get it wrong." He sighed deeply, ruefully shaking his head, "Do you think she is ready for marriage? Responsibility? I really have my doubts." She was still a child, in mind if not body, and as all fathers would attest to, they remained little girls forever. But at least now he had a figure that was almost a son too him, with whom he could speak freely and with great trust.
  14. Unlike like Mana, Lance participated in the conversation when he was allowed to and offered valuable insight on problems. Even though he was an 'uneducated barbarian' by the princess' standards the king and his guests seemed to appreciate his comments and knowledge. The young prince-knight actually seemed to be enjoying himself as eh conversed with the others but now and then glanced back at Mana; just in case she had need of him or wished him to be silent. A few of the elders and older men asked if a young maiden had caught his eye yet, which he denied and resulted in them offering him their daughters hands. Which he politely declined. Soon their talks of politics and other 'boring topics' moved onto the king telling stories about a young prince. Just from hearing he knew that instantly were the princess got her sparkling personality.

    When the princess had her outburst, Lance turned toward her and bowed. "My apologizes then ,princess, from the way you've been acting and haven't touch your food I thought something was wrong." He replied in a polite tone. The knight saw having the princess embarrass herself a little as repayment for the comment of him being from an 'uneducated world'. Though he didn't look like it Lance actually got enjoyment from getting revenge on those he wasn't too fond of. 'You've already gone mad.' He remarked in his mind.

    When he was addressed Lance turned toward the king and nodded his head. "I am ready to leave on this journey whenever the princess is ready and wishes to leave." He said to the older man. Though this wasn't an assignment for him to slay some kind of creature or ending a dispute; which got his blood pumping, he would still complete the task at hand. When Mana got up and started to leave Lance glanced in her direction. "Good night princess." He knew that would get a rile out of her since she wanted to ignore her.

    "I don't think you are, she's just a stubborn, cocky girl but flighty when she's in a bad position." The young man told Roland as he turned to face him. "in all respect ,sire, I don't think even a dragon could handle your daughter." He lightly chuckled with a grin. "In all honesty, no. I don't think she's ready for either but that's part of growing up and maturing, if you give a flower room to grow sooner or later it will bloom." It was an old saying Roland used to recite during lessons. "Even if she's not ready I will stand at her side and help; as is my duty and the debt I owe you."
  15. Sometimes, Lance really was wise beyond his years. It was probably his sensible and conscientious nature that had helped to forge the great bond between the two men, as well as the fact that both of them were quite simply good men. It all boiled down to that simple truth, in any situation, it was a mans morality that ultimately decided his fate. It was this that would also hopefully save Mana from herself, when she was eventually forced to face the music. As troublesome as Roland found her, he was sure in his heart that during her schooling in the world, Mana would find herself once and for all, and perhaps finally allow the good woman that she was to show to the rest of society.

    "Thankyou for your insight, and confidence. Now, tomorrow will likely be a long day for you, especially if we have the sun." Roland shook his head, knowing that another noble was due to arrive tomorrow morning, and as such would expect to be shown a good time. Given that it was just the beginning of the game season, they would likely be travelling out to the King's wood, and god knew that Mana would be champing at the bit to go along too. Unfortunately, this was not an activity she was permitted to take part in any longer, for she really needed to spend more time being prim and proper, rather than the more typical rough and ready. "Attempt to find some common ground with her, if it is possible. But for now, goodnight." With this, the king made his exit from the hall, himself more than ready for a good nights rest.

    The following morning, still fuming from the way Lance had been so horrible as to wish her a good night, Mana sat up in her luxurious bed, her schedule for the day decided the second she glanced out to the glorious day that greeted her. She knew that wanting to partake in a blood sport was wrong for one of her apparent class and gentility, but the exhiliration of charging through the woods in a ragtag jumble of horses, of feeling equal with the rest of the riders, it was like a drug. Of course, she hadn't hunted for a few years now, since she had become a woman, but this hadn't stopped her trying. Today the wily girl was attempting a new tactic in her never ending quest to be part of the real world.

    In an effort to throw her father and anyone who might be watching off the scent, Mana allowed herself to be dressed in a floaty little blue dress, leaving her hair loose for the time being. She reckoned that dressing properly for once would please her father, and hopefully calm him a little. Of course, this was all a ruse that she would maintain until the last moment, or so she hoped. The second part of this plan involved avoiding Lance like the plague, excusing herself from the room in which she took breakfast as soon as her so called guard appeared.
  16. Lance's face faltered a bit and a slight frown formed before turning into a small smirk. "Indeed it probably will be, spear something for me during the hunt while I wrangle a dragon tomorrow." The young man told Roland with a chuckle then fixed his chest plate. Trying to find common ground would probably be the hardest feat the knight would ever attempt; but hopefully not impossible. He did remember the princess was a fan of hunting so maybe he could bring up that topic and find something that could lighten the tension between them. "Good night my king."

    Lance had stayed for another hour, simply chatting about odd topics with the guests and advisors until he excused himself to leave for his quarters. Before going to bed, he made sure to clean his armor and sword so he wouldn't have to waste time in the morning to do so. In the morning when the prince-knight awoke, he did his usual practices and stretches before adorning his armor and blade before leaving to find the annoying girl he was supposed to protect. Hopefully she wouldn't be too much of a problem but knowing her sorely doubted it. Essentially, the princess was a child in an older body; acting on her instincts and her own personal desires. Yet he would still lay down his life to protect him even if Princess Mana hated him.

    Though he wasn't hungry and rarely ever ate, Lance made his way toward the dining hall where the princess would surely be. Upon arriving he noticed Mana was wearing a dress that normally she'd be throwing a fit in and declaring she wanted something more comfortable and practical. She was probably up to one of her schemes again, when she noticed him and started to leave he took a few steps so that he was now standing in her way. "Princess, I have a matter that I need to discuss with you and it cannot be delayed." He told her politely as he watched her face.
  17. Mana was wired up and ready to go, but felt strangely relaxed as she made her way to the exit at the sight of her new best friend. Everything was going as planned. She was blending in, being what she was always supposed to be, and so far no one seemed to have noticed her. Everyone was wrapped up in preparations, busy bees running here and there as they worked hard to ensure everything was ready on time. There wasn't too much time left until it was time for Mana to get ready and go for it once again, and Mana was of the opinion that she might actually manage to sneak onto the tail end of the hunt. And then Lance went and ruined it all.

    What could he possibly want? There was nothing for them to discuss, nothing that Mana had any interest in speaking about anyway. She stood before him, having abruptly been forced into a halt by his interception, something she did of course consider rather rude. The princess let out a deep huff of breath, a stony face meeting that of her guard, one hip cocked as her foot tapped impatiently, "Fine. What is it?" She eventually conceded, knowing that the easiest and quickest way to get rid of him would be to give him a small morsel of what he wanted. "Walk with me." Mana had never been one for sitting or standing still, and as such felt the need to walk the halls almost constantly during the day and night, not to mention wandering about the grounds. It could hardly be considered a good habit, and perhaps was simply testament to her flighty nature, though Mana would not ever admit this.

    With a swift step to the side, Mana began her antsy walk, her steps stiff and rapid as she tensed up in the presence of the man she truly disliked. Really, this was not a good working relationship, and both parties surely knew it, though it was likely that only the one of them was going to bother to do anything about it, and even he only did so for the sake of the girls father. But, they were stuck with it, something that Mana was beginning to accept, even if her actions and attitude had not perceptibly changed.
  18. Really? Could she act any less like a princess and more like a shrew? He was starting to think maybe Roland was out of his mind thinking he'd be able to get any sane man to marry Mana. Even just being around her this short period and he was already feeling edgy and wanted to take the snot nosed girl down a peg or two. But for now he'd swallow his pride, dance to her tune, and hopefully find a common some kind of common ground to make this this relationship bearable.

    "As you wish princess." Even though he detested listening to her orders or following her around it was something that had to be done for the king's sake and mostly for hers. Even though he hated to admit it, their opposite personalities and quirks made up for their misgivings. Though he did have to admire the energy the princess possessed though seeing her being antsy did bring a light smirk to her face. Very few things brought him amusement but somehow just watching how the princess acted lightened his mood.

    "I wish to apologize for how I acted yesterday, I was completely out of line and what I said was uncalled for." He admitted. Though he was a few feet away from her his voice sounded like it was right next to her and he let out a low sigh. "I wish to find some common ground so we can at least be able to bear one another's presence. That's why I wanted to ask you if you'd like to go hunting in my own private woods while your father is away in his own." The knight stated. "I remember how you said you were fond of it so I thought this could possibly be a way for us not to hate each other too much."
  19. She still wasn't looking at Lance, just carrying on with her aimlessly meandering walk, almost responding to his apology with a particularly snide comment, though thankfully she held her tongue. It was a rare occurrence, but on a day like today, Mana was attempting to be relatively well behaved in order to maintain her precious freedom. And as it turned out, it was a good stroke of luck that she had not turned on the knight when he offered words which couldn't have been terribly easy for him to express.

    The second the proposition left his lips, the princess turned on him with a face that was an odd picture of suspicious shock. "What are you planning?" Mana was not a trusting woman by any means, and as such did not believe that the offer was genuine. She believed there was some ulterior motive, other than trying to find some ground on which to build some sort of peace. This was the fundamental flaw in the girl, her inherent mistrust of the world around her, that led to this facade of a childish, and sometimes outright stupid little girl. It was her way of protecting herself, though from what it was difficult to say.

    After some deliberation, Mana did eventually speak in what was perhaps a more rational light, "If you really mean it, then yes. I will go hunting with you." Her words were actually a little hesitant, something incredibly rare in the woman. "Is that all?" And the impatient, rude princess was back. Her features, which had been momentariy soft, hardened up almost instantly, her mannerisms once more entirely stiff and practiced.
  20. As they continued to walk he was one, surprised that they were still walking; were they heading for the other side of the kingdom or something? And two, that she didn't have some comment about his apology being fake or part of some evil plan for him to gain her trust and take over the castle. Like that could ever work, she wasn't a very trusting person not would Lance ever want to rule when her father was an excellent king he respected more than anyone. But that didn't stop him from being wary of the young woman.

    When the princess stopped then turned to face the knight, he cocked his head to the side and watched her with a curious look. Really, what could he be planning by taking her hunting? Did she think once they were alone in the woods he would corner her and tie her up before selling her to a tribe of barbarians so she was no longer a problem? "I was planning on taking you hunting." He stopped then added. "If you'd like to go and would be able to put up with a detestable man like myself." Hopefully insulting himself would help her see his motives were completely innocent.

    After he heard her answer his features softened and a small ,delighted, grin was plastered across his face. "Of course I do, I wouldn't have asked if I didn't mean it." The way said it showed he was actually happy the princess accepted but when he realized he let his mask slip his expression became staid once again. "Yes ,your highness, I already have the supplies and horses readied; we can leave whenever you wish." He replied then bowed. "I must return to my chambers, when you are ready just send a servant to fetch me." The young man stated before turning away and walking off in a different direction.
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