For Country and Peace (Watase Yu x Eternalsinger13

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  1. Today was the day. The day that the beginnings of the stipulation within the treaty was to be fulfilled. An arranged marriage between the two kingdoms to signify the peace. The hope was that the marriage would bring about a restful peace between the two very different kingdoms. Originally she was suppose to be marrying the eldest of the two brothers, but he quickly refused to marry a human. So, her betrothed ultimately became the younger brother, Arikizo. Today, she was officially being sent to the dragon kingdom to begin the process of fulfilling the marriage.

    Frowning, Evelynne would let her sapphire gaze drift around her room. Her clothes and personal items were already packed and being taken to the carriages. Hugging her book to her chest, Evelynne jumped as her mother's voice hit her ears. "Eve, love. It is time ..." Her mother was saying as she arrived at her daughter's side. Looking to her mother, Evelynne frowned. "Must I marry him? I do not even know him. Please, don't make me do this ..." She would say quickly. Smiling sadly, her mother replied. "You know I can't do that. I do not like this either, but you know there is nothing I can do. Now come. The carriages are waiting." Frowning, Evelynne would take one last look at her room before hurrying after her mother.

    Unable to leave the kingdom, her parents stayed behind. However, they sent her brother Isaiah, her chamber maid, and several guards along with her to escort her to what was to be her new home. Her chamber maid would stay permanently with her, her brother and guards would stay a couple days to make sure she got settled and to make sure a date was set. He would return home until the wedding, when all three and other various important people and nobles came for the wedding itself.

    Looking to his sister, Isaiah would frown gently. "I know you do not like this little sister, do try to make the best of it would you?" The brunette, 6'2", green eyed 20 year old would say as he smiled lightly. "Easy for you to say when it is not you in this position." Evelynne would say with a scowl. Her mother had requested that she wear one of her finer gowns. A blue silk number that fell off the shoulders, subtle golden embrodery at the hem and neckline. Accenting her slender waist was a decorative golden belt, with layered loops that fell to her hips. Before Isaiah could respond, the carriage slowed to a stop, a few moments later the door would be held up. Glancing to his little sister, he would squeeze her shoulder before he stepped out. Taking a shaky breath, Evelynne would follow, accepting her brother's extended hand as she climbed out of her carriage in the courtyard of the dragon kingdom's castle.
    #1 Watase Yu, Jun 10, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 29, 2016
  2. "Unhand me!" Arikizo hissed, trying to struggle away from the firm grasp that the guard had on his wrist. "Rovan, please, a little help." Rovan stopped the guard, who explained the situation at hand. "He claimed he was just going on a walk." "A walk?" His brother echoed, his eyes narrowing. "When your bride is expected to arrive at any moment?" He turned his gaze toward the man that was still holding tight to Ari's wrist. "You may go. I shall deal with this." "Yes, your majesty." The two princes watched the guard continue down the hall, the younger one rubbing his sore wrist. "I should have let him bring you to mother and father. It would have been quite entertaining." "I'm sure it would have been hilarious for you." The younger dragon muttered, folding his arms. "I've been stuck in this damned castle all morning. Being preened and fawned over like I'm the bride to be. Couldn't I have just shown up in my natural form and called it a day?" Rovan chuckled, shaking his head. "You're as stubborn as ever, Arikizo. But really, our parents would toast you alive if they had even the slightest suspicion that you were trying to avoid this engagement." "You avoided it first. And look where that got you. Still sitting with the crown floating above your head." "Being the heir has it's perks. The spare can't claim such immunities, because they do not have to bear the burdens that accompany the crown." His sibling grinned and ruffled his sibling's hair, dodging the swats that were sent his way. "Besides, I thought you liked humans. Why are you so bitter? Isn't this what you wanted all along?"

    Rovan walked away, chuckling to himself. Ari was boiling like a pot of water left over a fire too long. He stormed back to his room and found a mirror, sighing in immediate frustration at the mussed state of his hair. It had taken forever for the servants to get his hair to look the way his parents desired. He would never hear the end of it if he appeared before his parents, and he fiance, in such a state. He set to the task of trying to fix it himself, knowing he wouldn't have long before she arrived, and calling for a servant would waste time. No matter how he tried, it wouldn't return back to it's original position, neatly pulled up into a bun behind his head. So finally, he just clipped it up, his light brown hair flaring messily behind his head. 'I swear, if this woman is a spoiled brat, I will personally lock her in a tower. To hell with what my parents say.'

    The noises signalling the arrival . A heavy knock on the door resounded in the bedchamber. Followed by the thick wood being pushed open, and the king and queen walking swiftly in. "What happened to your hair?" "Leave it be, mother." Arikizo mumbled, but the woman persisted, releasing his hair from the clip that he'd used. It fell to just below his shoulders. "Must I do everything for this wedding myself?" "Well, you aren't getting married, so no. Not everything." "Arikizo, watch your tongue. You're acting like a spoiled child. A man of your age should not be so disagreeable." The prince glowered at the ground, not wanting to upset his parents further. "Now come along. The princess has arrived. And please, try to be pleasant." "When have I ever been unpleasant?" The prince muttered sarcastically.

    "You should feel honored, Arikizo." The queen pressed as they headed through the halls to get to the courtyard. Down staircases, through more hallways. Sometimes the castle seemed more like a maze. "If it's such a grand honor, then why didn't Rovan get betrothed to her? He's the heir." "Exactly. And we cannot have a mortal ruling beside a dragon king, can we?" "Your marriage is the symbol of peace for our people." "Great. I get to be a flag of peace." "Please, just behave." His father said exasperatedly. "For our sake. You may not be the crown prince, but this is nearly as important." 'And that is supposed to make everything okay.'

    The three finally arrived at the front doors and ushered Arikizo out first. He gave off an annoyed sigh, crossing his arms in front of him. A tap on his shoulder reminded him to keep up a good attitude, and his arms returned back to his sides. His eyes swept across the courtyard, to all of the servants who were gathered in groups, murmuring. To the carriage that was stopped just outside the gates. And finally, to the princess that was his fiance. By her looks, she didn't appear snobby. That was a good sign. She seemed as uncomfortable and unhappy as he was. At least she wasn't gushing over how much of an honor this was, like his mother insisted on doing beforehand. No, she looked ready to bolt. Or strike him down with a glare of indignation. But that was just his first impression. Her looks weren't half bad, and her posture wasn't rigid nor too familiar. He didn't meet her eyes, and when he heard the footsteps behind him stop, he halted as well. Only to receive a firm push forward. "Don't be rude."

    Finally meeting her gaze for the slightest moment, Ari sighed. What was he supposed to say? Introduce himself? Surely she had been informed of his name, as he had of hers. Such formalities were unnecessary. And he would definitely not bow in a mortal's presence. Did his parents expect him just to take her hand and offer her a tour of the castle? Act as if they had known each other for years? Act as though they were long lost friends? This was little more than a business agreement between the mortals and the dragons. He and this princess were the collateral, each offered to the other side to represent a bond that ended the feud. Both of them, sacrifices at the altar; quite literally.
    #2 Eternalsinger13, Jun 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
  3. Glancing at her brother as she heard the doors open, Evelynne fought the urge to stick her tongue out at him as he smiled happily at her. "Stop looking so pleased with yourself, 'saih." Eve would murmur to him under her breath, earning a cough to had his chuckle. "Don't be rude. He is handsome at least. And look at it this way, at least he appears as miserable as you are ..." Isaiah would murmur back. Unable to respond without drawing attention, Evelynne would simply clasp her hands together tightly as her sapphire gaze focused on the King, Queen, and Arikizo as the finished their decent from the castle.

    The younger dragon prince certainly did not look happy about this arrangement at all. The he was quickly urged by his parents to behave by the looks of things since he was now at least trying to be respectful. Noises of her things being unloaded behind her filled her ears. As he met her gaze, she saw them awkward uncomfortableness in his gaze that she felt herself. How did they expect this to go? Introductions? Formalities? Fighting the urge to fidget, Evelynne would soon scowl at her brother as he nudged her forward. "Don't be so rude, say hello." Isaiah would murmur to his little sister.

    Managing a smile, she would bow her head respectfully for a short moment before meeting his gaze. "Good afternoon, Prince Arikizo. Your majesties." She would say, looking to Arikizo's parents with a graceful smile. All face, of course. She had plenty of practice at home with her parents. "Thank you for welcoming me to your home. I look forward to getting to know your people and kingdom." She would say respectfully, partially scripted thanks to her mother. She had known her daughter would struggle. "My parents provide their sincerest apologies for not making the trip as well, but they look forward to coming to the upcoming nuptials." Her brother would say, leaving a grateful Evelynne to glance awkwardly to the ground. Her parents literately tossed her up to the political sacrificial alter, leaving Evelynne with a knot of unease forming in her stomach.
  4. Arikizo watched the two siblings curiously. The brother seemed to be the ones pulling the strings here. The only thing keeping Evelynne from jumping back in her carriage and heading home. At least she didn't appear spiteful toward him. Or was she just putting on a kind front for the sake of pleasing the king and queen? That was always a possibility. When she bowed her head, he gave her a curt nod, which was as close to a bow as she was going to get from him at the moment. Her words were forced, it was easy to see. She was like a puppet, with her family behind the curtain telling her what to say and do. How would she act once those strings were cut and the two of them were left to their own devices? What would he do? If the awkward silence that hung in the air had any foreboding to the future of the couple, it would be a very long time together indeed.

    'You could always just kill her later.' Rovan had said once, when the engagement had been revealed. 'Make it look like an accident. Such an unfortunate thing, but hey, things do happen.' But he was not his brother. If the roles had been reversed, there was no doubt in Ari's mind that his older sibling would have done just as he'd suggested. But he couldn't bring himself to consider something so underhanded. If she was languishing by his side, unhappy, refusing any company, then perhaps he may make an exception. But he would never cause her harm for his own gain; that was just plain selfish, and he had more dignity and honor than that. Human or not, she was as much a victim of the truce as he was.

    "It's no trouble." The queen responded with a smile at Evelynne. The king cut in to answer to the prince's apology. "The war was long and no doubt a burden on your kingdom as it has for ours. They must be terribly busy." 'By that, you mean we burned their villages to the ground and destroyed everything to the point where they admitted defeat.' Arikizo thought, but didn't dare speak. His snark would be reprimanded sharply if he revealed it in front of his fiance. He heard his father clear his throat, probably prompting him to speak. He glanced toward Evelynne, trying to find something to say. "Why don't you give Evelynne a tour of the castle?" His mother suggested, nudging him forward. The prince awkwardly glanced back toward his parents, then toward his soon to be bride, and sigh. "Shall we?" He murmured, placing his hand behind her, his fingertips barely touching the small of her back. And so, he led her away from the king and queen. Around besides the castle, not into it. Toward the gardens. Now, without the watching eye of his parents, he felt he could relax a little. The moment they were out of sight, he quickly stepped away from her, pulling his hand back to his side.
  5. It was quite obvious that he felt she was lesser than him. His curt nod and lack of eye contact was enough to tell her such. She wanted to slip him. Human or not, she was royalty as much as he and deserved respect. Realizing how arrogant that train of thought sounded made her internally scowl. She never did like the servants and political games that came with her position. She was far more comfort out wandering the markets and city streets with her people than playing the political games with the nobles. Returning her focus on the task at hand, she would listen to the exchange between her brother and her future in-laws. "Yes, very busy. We have made significant progress, of course." Her brother would respond with a respectful nod. He had learned the rules of the game quickly and played it well. He would make a fine ruler when the time came. Her parents wished she had taken to it like her brother had, but they learned that their daughter was a free spirit.

    As the awkward silence grew, so did the knot in her stomach. If this was any sign as to how it was going to be, she was absolutely dreading it. Hopefully she could find a spot to hide in their library in the near future. At his mother's suggestion and Arikizo's awkward, reluctant reaction, Evelynne would look to her brother. "Go on, we will discuss details while you familiarize with the grounds and such ..." He would say with a nod, nudging her forward just in time for Arikizo to barely place is hand on the small of her back. The forced closeness made her want to squirm, but she was careful not to do so. The last thing she needed was to offend him less than an hour into their official meeting. Once they were out of sight, she was stepping away from just as he was dropping his hand and stepping away as well. Another bad omen, it seemed.

    After several long moments of awkward silence, Evelynne sighed as she came to a stop. Looking to Arikizo, Evelynne would clasp her hands before her. "Look, I do not like this either. This arrangement is far from ideal and certainly not fair to either of us." She began quietly, a frown tugging at her soft lips. "But, as much as I dislike the circumstances I am willing to give whatever this is a try. My people are barely getting their lives back together, they cannot survive more open war. For the sake of my people, I will do this. Not my parents or politics, this is just a political game to them. And try as they might, I will not be their little puppet to do and say what they think I should." She would say, her tone staying even and calm. "I am my own person, just as you are your own person. If we are to be forced into this marriage, then we should have our own say in it, not everyone else." With that, she would meet his gaze, holding it for several moments before turning to continue their walk in the gardens.
  6. Evelynne's immediate reaction indicated that she was as uncomfortable about this whole thing as he was. The way she avoided his touch the moment they were out of sight, her diverted gaze. Arikizo could tell that was trying not to insult him by acting upset by his advance. He stopped a few steps from her, having taken a moment to realize she was no longer at his side. Her words about their marriage being for the sake of their people, and preventing another war, made him wonder what exactly she thought was going to come out of this situation. "Do you honestly think that this marriage really means anything?" He murmured. "Even if we were to become close and such, would our bond really prevent our kingdoms from starting another war? It may hinder it a bit, yes. A wrong move made by either of us may prompt an attack from our kind. Our union is more of an assurance of a future war than it is a peace agreement, truthfully. Whether or not our bond lasts holds nothing over our people."

    Her next statement, about them being individuals and not just puppets of their familial ties, truly intrigued him. She had seemed content with playing the role of the sacrificial bride for the sake of her kingdom. Yet she preached that they make their own decisions with this marriage, and not allow their families to run the show. This was going to be interesting. Their eyes met, and remained until Evelynne looked away. "I couldn't have said it better myself." He answered after a little while of silence and walking. "But let me make something clear, before we have any misunderstandings." He stepped closer to her, lowering his voice after glancing around to make sure that no one would be able to hear him. "I have no intentions of being truly bonded to a mortal; not romantically. For our parents, we may be the happiest pair of lovers that ever lived. But alone, you will be free to live as you choose. I will not hinder you, unless forced by my parents. They may catch on, and force us together, but I will try to avoid that." He thought over what he had said, and knew it may have come off as unfeeling and cold, but it was honest. Why had his parents been so persistent about him being married off to a mortal, after a hundred years of teaching him that mortals were no good? Had they set all of this up expecting him? To spark another war? The thought hit him like a blade.

    "Do not think me cold-hearted, princess... but when you live a life being taught one thing, it's difficult to ignore that. Surely your kind has it's fair share of assumptions about dragons. Surely you understand." Arikizo looked at her, wondering if he may have insulted her by accident. He shook off those concerns, trying to return back to a state of formality. After all, if they were going to be victims of the same crime. But in the end, he would not be the one led to suffer the inevitable ending should 'all go well'. After all, a human's life was many times shorter than that of a dragon. Even a happy marriage would end in tragedy. In the end, nothing good would come from this situation either way; so why should he bother making a bond when he could save both of them that sorrow?
  7. Evelynne knew Arikizo had many years on her. Though, despite this, she found him short sided. His lack of optimism made her frown a bit. "If it gives my people a chance to live their lives without war and unnecessary death, then yes it means something. They are good, hard working people who deserve a chance to simply live. Without having to send their sons and husbands to a war that they know they cannot win. And if this marriage gives them the chance to do that, it is worth more than you will ever know." She would say softly, her compassion for her people dropping her guard a bit.

    She knew that how she had worded it may have come across as a bit of a contradiction. She hadn't meant for it too. As they continued walking, she had closed some of the distance, however she was careful to still keep some distance. As Arikizo spoke once more, moving in so that only she could hear him, she would hold back a scowl. The more he spoke, the colder and uncompassionate he sounded. And the more she wished she could get out of this, but she knew she couldn't "Crsytal clear, Arikizo." She founded herself muttering to make sure he knew she understood. She wasn't going to take on any lovers, she found no need to. She would hide in her books and getting to know the people of this kingdom.

    At his question, she would blink lightly for a moment. "Sure, they have some. War does that." She began before shaking her head gently. "But, I believe very little of it. I have read tomes about dragons. Strong, stubborn, even arrogant, and hot tempered ... but loving, compassionate, and loyal, almost to a fault to those they trust and hold dear." She finished, looking back at him with a soft smile. "So yes, Arikizo. I do understand, however I have come to learn in my short life that bias can cloud truth. Particularly in war. I choose to believe what I have read in my books, not the biased verbal nonsense of my father and his councilors." She would finish with a soft nod of her head, wondering if this was more about human's short time spans, than her specifically. Her gift made it so that she would age much more slowly than most humans now that she was of age, however she didn't trust Arikizo enough to mention this as of yet.
  8. "I never said that they weren't." Arikizo defended, though he could tell she wasn't trying to start a fight. His tone was calm, their discussion never nearing an argument. "I do not want any more fighting any more than you do. But I am a realistic man, and a marriage to tie a treaty is only as good at the people on either side. If that is what you think to get you through this, I completely understand." He could see the change in her expression as he spoke, but it didn't shake his resolve. Even if they were to be husband and wife, he refused to let himself fall for this young woman. What if he did, and his family did what they had done before. To love a human meant breaking an unwritten code among dragons. A belief and treasured rule that had been a part of their society for as long as many could remember. Secretly, of course. They might try to do so anyways. He knew it would likely be up to him to make sure she was kept out of harms way, otherwise he would be held responsible and war would break out again.

    As Evelynne spoke again, about what she had read about dragons, and how she rejected the bias that war and hatred had placed upon his kind as a result of centuries of built up malice, Arikizo's interest was yet again caught. She had the strength of will to go against her society's beliefs, and put aside the tales that she had been told and the lessons taught to her by her parents, for the sake of this marriage. He was almost jealous of her ability to put aside their differences when he lacked that strength. He gave her a small smile and bowed his head, properly this time. "For a woman so young, you are very wise. And brave indeed." He murmured softly. "Or perhaps I am the child here." He kept a small hint of a grin on his lips. But after a moment, it vanished again. 'No bond, no emotional connection, remember?' But the more he considered this situation, the more inevitable the result seemed to be. He would either distance himself from her, and risk having her killed and him being held responsible, prompting another war... or protecting her and risk falling in love. Wouldn't it be better for only one to suffer for the best interest of the whole? 'Damn, I'm already beginning to think like her. Am I really that weak willed?'

    ((sorry it's a bit short. I'm off to bed. Goodnight))
  9. Evelynne would listen to Arikizo quietly as the discussion continued. Realistic wasn't the word she would use, but everyone has a different point of view. "I understand what you are saying. A century and a half, if not more, of fighting and hatred is a difficult thing to change. This marriage is a band-aid for a wound that needs a large number of stitches, so to speak. But I have hope that this will help give them the push they need for a positive change." She would say with a smile and a nod of her head. She could only imagine what she would truly have to deal with here. If she thought coming here would get her away from the political game, it was a naive hope that she couldn't afford to believe. If anything, she would have to become more careful, more guarded. If even a hair of the rumors were true about dragons' views and opinions of humans were true, then she needed to keep her guard up regularly. Was Ari one of them or was he different? It was to soon to tell. This thought alone pushed her to put her guard back up a bit.

    As Arikizo smiled and bowed his head, Evelynne blinked softly as she arched an eyebrow elegantly. The dragon prince was apparently full of surprises. "Thank you, that is a very kind compliment." She would say in response, as she bowed her head in return. He was similar in her in that the moment he realized his guard was down, he would shoot it back up again. "You aren't suppose to care what he thinks or about what he does, remember? This shouldn't bother you ..." She would think to herself, though she had noticed the knot in her stomach had loosened some. Was she becoming more comfortable around him? The idea surprised her, making her wrap her arms around herself as she moved her gaze around the gardens that she had been neglecting. They were quite stunning. "It is beautiful here. And quiet. It would be a good place to disappear to with a book ..." She would murmur, more to herself than anything. Biting her bottom lip, she would glance to the ground before she looked to Arikizo, loosening her arms. "So, what now Arikizo?" She would find herself asking.
    #9 Watase Yu, Jun 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
  10. "A perfect comparison." Arikizo responded, nodding. "But I suppose wounds need time to heal, and it may be a start. A step in the right direction." As much as he hated to admit it, avoiding a bond with someone that he was required to be constantly beside, for fear of something happening to her, was nearly impossible. A romantic bond could be avoided, yes; but no bond at all, not likely. The least he could do was show that he was trying to make this work a little, as Evelynne was. A one sided relationship in this would appear exactly like that from the outside, and would become a weak link. He could only hope Rovan stayed out of this. Surely the crown prince had some other duties to keep him from tormenting the human princess. She was lucky his older sibling had declined to marry her; then she would have been stuck in the middle of all the kingdom's problems and political dilemmas, on top of dealing with Rovan himself. The spare prince, on the other hand wasn't so lucky, but at least she wasn't trying to fight this arrangement. Unlike Ari. But the more he tried to fight it, the more apparent it became that fighting would only make things worse on everyone.

    The look of surprise on Evelynne's face, which he barely glimpsed once his head raised from it's bowed position, made him almost chuckle. He managed a light nod in response, a small smile quirking at the corner of his lips again. She must have expected him to be pompous and violent. Spiteful of her and what she was... well, perhaps that part was true. He wouldn't consider himself spiteful, but he knew he wasn't exactly being welcoming to her either. But she wasn't a spoiled brat, nor cold and silently judgmental either, as he'd feared she would be. Neither of them were what the other expected. But that was for the better, because if their expectations had been met they would have been at each others throats. If he had to be trapped in an unwanted marriage with someone, he was glad that it was someone like Evelynne; calm, reasonable, agreeable. Loyal; not to him, but to herself and her country. Loyalty was a trait that was highly respected among the dragons, alongside strength and power.

    As the princess spoke softly of the gardens, Arikizo was snapped back into the current situation. He was supposed to be showing her around the castle, not just walking idly. If his parents caught up to them and found that he'd only shown her the gardens, he would be in for quite a scolding. "It is peaceful, yes. And the flowers are blooming nicely this year. But you mustn't be out here alone." He glanced to her as she spoke again, trying to think where she might be interested in seeing next. She seemed to be reserved and 'keeps to herself' kind of young woman, so perhaps showing her around to places where she could relax and escape from the busy life of the castle would be agreeable for her. "Perhaps you would like to see the stable? It is reasonably quiet." 'And it's unlikely that Rovan would ever bother her there.' Nor would his parents. The longer they could avoid them, the better; he didn't feel like having to put on a front again. And so, he led her through the garden, further away from the castle, and toward the large stable that was at the furthest part of the castle grounds.

    As they neared the large wooden building, the servants quickly bowed and curtsied. The large majority of the servants were human, with the exception of some of the house servants. "Good morning, your highness. Princess." Arikizo didn't ignore them, and gave each of them a small nod of recognition. While he had been taught that humans were inferior and fragile beings, he thought it was ungrateful to act as though they did not exist. He would not treat the servants as equals, in his mind, but he also would not degrade them. Only a handful of them did he know by name, and he addressed them as such. "Marsy!" A young woman, appearing to be only 16, hurried out of one of the stalls. "My apologies, your highness." "No need for that. Please, all of you return to your tasks." The rest of the stable hands- there weren't too many, perhaps about five- went back to what they were doing. "Now then, Marse, I have someone I would like you to meet." He gently put his arm behind Evelynne, lightly nudging her forward. "Oh, this must be princess Evelynne!" The young woman gushed, curtsying again. "A pleasure to meet you, m'lady." The prince smiled, and gently pulled Marsy back up to her feet. "Evelynne, this is Marseilas. But we just call her Marsy." He fixed his gaze back on the younger female. "I will talk to you more later about all of this, but I figured now would be a good time to introduce you two." The young lady nodded and smiled at the two before hurrying back off into another stall. "Now, shall we continue? I have somewhere else to show you while we are here."
  11. A smile would grace Evelynne's lips. Was Arikizo trying to be optimisic? It made her relax a bit more. She was certainly hoping for some level of a bond. Friends, if it went well. Romantic was certainly naively optimistic. And if the rumors about their opinions of humans were true, some level of bond with Arikizo was a must if she was to have any chance at surviving here. All of this had been running through her head since she was escorted to the carriage to come here.

    Seeing the laughter dance into his eyes at her surprise made her smile. He wasn't completely cut off, as she had expected. She was glad that he wasn't completely as she feared. It would have ended badly. Probably a screaming match. Scolding from her brother. Nothing she wanted or wanted to deal with. Pulling herself from her thoughts, Evelynne would glance to Arikizo as he spoke about the gardens. "My chamber maid almost always sticks close by if I am wandering about by myself. Thank you for letting me know, Arikizo." She murmured idly, glancing to him with a small, genuine smile. At his question about the stables, she would nod her head. "Yes, that would be lovely. I spent most of my time in three places at home: the library, the stables, and the market." She would find herself saying before she realized it.

    It was furthest from the main building. Every time someone would bow or curtsy, Evelynne would give them a nod and a smile. The fact that most of the servants appeared to be humans helped her relax some. She wasn't going to be complete alone here at least. To those that said good morning, she made sure to say, "Good Morning," in return. She did it regularly at home too. They were people as well, which meant to her that they deserved some sort of verbal recognition if they spoke to her.

    As they reached the stables and he called out to who must have been one of the servants, Evelynne would clasp her hands together as she waited for the young woman to appear. As Arikizo nudged her forward as Marsy was curstying, Evelynne would smile and nod her head gently. "Yes, pleased to meet you Marsy." She would say before glancing to Arikizo. "Yes, thank you. I will probably pop in every now and again, so I hope you do not mind to much Marsy." She would say before Marsy hurried off. Turning so that she was facing Arikizo once more, she would nod her head gently. "Yes, please. Let us continue."
  12. Evelynne seemed to be more relaxed than she initially had been at their first encounter, so Arikizo knew he'd done something right. The last thing he wanted was for her to feel threatened or on edge around him. Sure, scaring her off would have ensured that she wouldn't try to bond with him; but it would be counter-intuitive to his end goal, which was to give the impression of a reasonably agreeable marriage. If she appeared frightened of him, her kingdom may think he was abusing her, and that would not go well. "That's comforting to know." He murmured as she mentioned that her chambermaid was very often at her side. It may not completely ensure her safety, but it may dissuade his brother or the guards from trying any tricks. As she mentioned her most commonly visited places, his eyebrows raised a little at the last of the list. "The market?" He asked, honestly curious. "Your parents allow you to go into the market?"

    Whenever something was needed from the market, the king and queen would send a servant to fetch it. The princes were not allowed to leave the castle grounds unless on special occasions where they would travel throughout the kingdom as a family to hold court. Or grace a particularly special festival, or other such events. There was a distinct line between the royalty and upper noble blooded households and the common-bloods. "Either way, if you were to go into the marketplace here, I would be accompanying you." Ari added afterward. "It's too dangerous for you and your chambermaid, even with guards. It's not a risk I'm willing to take." He took note of how she responded to the servants, with her simple nod and smile. She didn't exactly treat the servants as equals to her either, but she offered them respect as he did. So human customs weren't that estranged in cases of class difference.

    Arikizo smiled as the two females conversed. He was glad to hear that the princess would be visiting this place to find solace, remembering that Evelynne had mentioned earlier about her liking of the stables. It gave him some comfort to know that she would be safe here, as he was going to make sure that Marsy was willing to keep an eye on her. Once Marsy had headed off, he led her deeper into the stables. Toward the back of the building, surrounded by bales of hay and attached to the wall was a ladder that led to the loft. "Be careful, it may be a bit slippery." He warned, gently ushering her to go up first so that he would be able to steady her or catch her if she fell.

    The loft had several bales of hay, the light brown strands littering the sturdy wooden floorboards that held the area over the lower level of the stables. The room extended from the back wall of the barn, and a large window opened up to show a view of the mountains and forests beyond the castle walls. Very rarely did anyone go up to this place, so it was quiet and removed from the soft bustle below. On the side opposite of the wall and window, the loft was cut off by railings that would go up to waist level. The space wasn't exceptionally large, with most of the space taken up by the hay, but it was plenty enough for a quiet retreat and hideaway.
  13. The way things were now going, Evelynne was beginning to think that her hopes for at least an mostly agreeable marriage weren't to far off. She feared what her father and kingdom would try to do if she appeared to fear him. They would make assumptions that could easily lead to another war, which she truly wanted to avoid. Glancing to Arikizo, she would smile softly from his comment. He was actually concerned. Though about her or what her people would think if anything were to happen, she wasn't fully sure. She assumed her people though.

    At his surprised reaction, Evelynne would giggle softly as she nodded her head. "Certainly. Not unaccompanied, of course, but it was either try to stop me from sneaking out alone to the market or to let me go accompanied. There is no real danger in our markets, no major crime and what not. Besides, I was a very free spirited child. Not one to be cooped up in the castle and castle grounds. I wanted to learn about my kingdom and people hands on." She would explain, a distant look in her eyes as she smiled sadly. She was going to miss home. As he explained about their markets, she would nod. "Of course. I understand. I would not mind going at least once, just to see what it entails and it is like here, but it is not something that needs to happen anytime soon." She would say with a gentle nod of her head.

    As she was led deeper into the stables, she would glance to the ladder for a moment before looking back to Arikizo. At his warning, she would smile and nod before grabbing the first rung. Once she had gripped her dress, lifting the hem enough so that she could climb without worrying about slipping from her dress, Evelynne would begin to climb. Her left foot only partially slipped once about half way up, but she quickly adjusted her footing before continuing the climb.

    As they reached the top, Evelynne would let her sapphire gaze drift around slowly as she took it all on. It was a cozy space filled with mostly hay. Quiet and secluded, it appeared as if not many people came up here. A perfect hideaway easily within reach. Then her gaze fell on the view from the window. Moving forward, she would pause at the window, a hand resting on the window sill. "A stunning view. Your homeland is filled with subtle beauty, Arikizo. I can only imagine what it looks like from above." She would find herself saying, a smile tugging at her lip. The first, full on, genuine smile since she arrived. "Thank you for showing me this place. It is cozy and surprisingly quiet. I will try not to hide away here to often." She would say teasingly as she turned so that she was looking at Arikizo.
  14. Arikizo listened intently as Evelynne spoke of her travels to the market in her kingdom, wondering what it was like. Having never seen the market himself, he had always imagined that it was busy, full of peddlers selling wide varieties of foods and trinkets and clothing. Perhaps merchants from outside of the dragon kingdom even lived within the country's domain. He wouldn't know. Truthfully, he knew very little about even his own kingdom, let alone anything outside of the borders. All he had was books and tales from servants that he remembered from his childhood. "How nice it must have been." He murmured wistfully, falling naturally into conversation. How easy it was to forget about this whole situation. Until the royals catch up to them and start discussing the details of their wedding, of course. But that was going to be postponed as long as possible if the prince could help it. "My brother and I have not been allowed out of the castle walls. My parents believe it is unseemly for royalty to be among the common folk." He sighed softly, lowering his voice. "Sometimes I wish I hadn't been born a prince. It must be nice out there."

    Ari stood at the bottom of the ladder as Evelynne began to climb up. "Whoa, careful." He cried as she began to slip about halfway up, shifting to catch her if necessary. Once she'd made her way to the top, he clambered up behind her. A smile quirked at his lips as he watched her inspect the loft, the look on her face telling him that she was pleased with the setting. As she stopped by the window, he walked up beside her and leaned against the frame, looking out. "It does have quite a view." He murmured softly. "When I was younger, I would come up here all the time, and climb on these hay bales and watch the sun set. Wondering what was out there. What life was like outside the stone walls of the castle grounds." He quickly realized he had fallen into reverie and blushed a bit, looking away. "But that's unnecessary information. I apologize. I'm letting my mouth run away with my thoughts again." "Thank you for showing me this place. It is cozy and surprisingly quiet. I will try not to hide away here to often." He glanced back over at the princess, the smile beginning to return again. "Honestly, this would be the safest place for you to hide away. So please, make use of it. At least I would always know where to find you." He let out a soft chuckle.

    Perhaps this marriage wouldn't be so bad after all. He gained a constant companion, one that his parents couldn't punish him for spending time with. Someone who wasn't like him, but was open to accept him like no one else had before. Looks like this was an agreeable sacrifice in the end.
  15. Evelynne would smile softly as she nodded her head. "It was. Peddlers sold all sorts of things. Books, trinkets, jewelery, or art. A vast variety of foods. The smells were tantalizingly delightful. In the main square you could find various musicians and people dancing. I loved being amongst them. Learning from them." She explained wistfully before her focused turned back to Arikizo as he talked more about his parents. "My parents were big about being one with the people, my mother more than my father though. My brother takes after him in his ways of playing the political games. I take more after my mother ..." She said vaguely, glancing back to the view. Her gift came from her mother's side.

    She knew she would have to tell him eventually, but she wasn't quite ready yet. "It all depends on your point of view. For some out there, what we have would be amazing to them. All you can do is make the best of the life you are given. For me, it is helping and being amongst my people. What about you, Arikizo?" She would find herself asking, a soft smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. As she listened to him talk a bit about his childhood, her smile would grow. It seems she wasn't the only one becoming comfortable. "It is giving me a peek into your life and who you are, of course it is necessary information Arikizo." She would say with a grin as he blushed. Giggling, she would nod her head gently. "Fair enough, I will do just that then."

    Maybe this wasn't going to be so bad afterall. Her hope was renewed about this marriage. Maybe not romance and love, but at least friendship and companionship. Which in an unfamiliar kingdom with a bunch of people she knew little about and would possible harm, if not kill, her when they got the chance, she would take it. Seeing that a comfortable silence had fallen over them for the first time that day, Evelynne would smile. "Well. You have shown me your lovely gardens and stables. And my new, perfect hideaway ..." Evelynne would say, looking to the mountains again. "What is next?" She would ask as she glanced back at him.
  16. Arikizo held onto every word that Evelynne spoke, trying to imagine the market place. How wonderful it sounded. What harm did going outside of the castle gates do anyways? He'd never bothered to question his parents, but the more he thought about it, the more high and mighty the royal family seemed to be. The other dragons must be envious of their wealth, and embittered over the fact that they were being ruled over by a family that knew nothing about the troubles of the kingdom beyond politics. If he was king, he would change that. But he wasn't the crown prince, so he couldn't claim that desire. "My parents are opposite." He said as she spoke of her family. "They seem to think we are above the other dragons, and should therefore be removed from them. Isolated. I wish we could be more involved. Maybe our kingdom wouldn't have so much infighting." Even when they weren't at war, Ari often heard news of other dragons fighting among themselves for territory and power. The biggest losses in the war had been due to some of the soldiers refusing to listen the command of another because of status, or sabotaging another comrade for political or monetary gain. For a race that holds loyalty dear, there seemed to be a lot of traitors.

    "I'm sure everyone else looks at the castle and thinks it must be such a easy life, maybe even a fun one, to be royalty." Arikizo responded thoughtfully. "And I'm just stuck here, looking at the common houses and thinking it must be such a fun life not being trapped in your own home." As she spoke, in her usual optimism, he couldn't help but smile. "You always have a bright side to everything, huh? I guess you've seen a lot more happiness than I have. It must be nice in your kingdom, with such caring and devoted leaders. I'm sorry that you got pulled into all of this mess." He blushed even darker now, flustered that she was laughing at his embarrassment. She was so friendly now, unlike before. More open and bright, more curious about him. She had seemed bitter over this whole situation, as did he, but now they both seemed to be enjoying things.

    "Well. You have shown me your lovely gardens and stables. And my new, perfect hideaway... What is next?" "Perhaps we should head back to the castle, and I'll show you around in there." He suggested, smiling and straightening up off the wall. "I just hope my parents won't find us just yet. Your company is enough. They'll only ruin the mood." He was being playful, which was uncharacteristic of his typically guarded personality. He just felt more free with Evelynne, like he had escaped the dull, monotonous life he'd been living up to that point. He climbed down the ladder, standing at the bottom, ready to catch her if she fell. "I'm sure you'll love the library. But it's not as quiet as the stables. My family has taken a liking to books over the years, so you may end up with several uninvited conversations if you stay too long in there. We do have quite the collection of stories, though."
  17. Evelynne would listen quietly as Arikizo spoke more about her parents. It didn't sound like a good way to rule your people. How can you rule those you know nothing about? Nothing about their needs or lives. "With all due respect to your parents, but I agree with you. Maybe if the royal family was a bit more involved, the fighting within your borders would at least lessen some." She would say in agreeance with him before she listened further.

    "To a certain extent, I believe it is fun. For those who struggle financially, however ... It can certainly be a hard life. In that sense, we are blessed. We do not have to worry about what we will do for our next meal or how we will take care of other needs. That is another reason why I spend so much time with our people. I try to help where I can. Which generally is donating food and other needed items to those who truly need them." She explained thoughtfully. At his comment about her optimism, Evelynne would blush lightly at she smiled. "I try, yes. And overall, perhaps. I have seen plenty of bad as well." She replied. At his apology, she would smile gently as she met his gaze. "As much as I appreciate the gesture, there is no need for you to be sorry. Not like you made the decision for the arranged marriage." As he blushed more, she bit her bottom lip, though the corners of her mouth were tugged up as she fought the urge to giggle more. She found it quite endearing.

    At his suggestion, Evelynne would nod her head. "That might be a good idea. Knowing where I am going when I am walking around the castle would probably be for the best. As fun as it would be to wander aimlessly for hours ... definitely wouldn't work out to well I'm sure." She would say as she met his gaze. Was he being playful? Apparently he was warming to her, as he was to her it seems. "Don't forget my brother. I'm not quite ready for the all business mood killer just yet." She would say as she drifted towards the ladder. Glancing to Arikizo over her shoulder, Evelynne would smile. "Your company is more than enough at the moment. And much more preferable." Once he was down the ladder, she would fall suit, doing her best to be more careful.

    Misjudging the last step, she would slip slightly, making her trip right into Arikizo's awaiting arms. Looking up at him as she rested in his arms, Evelynne would blush brightly as she straightened. "Sorry about that. Generally I wear dresses that have do not so much extra length. My mother insisted, of course." She explained, a bit flustered as she gazed to the floor. "I will keep that in mind. I do look forward to seeing the library though. I brought a handful of my own books along, but certainly not as many as what is in your library ..." She would say as she regained her composure, meeting his gaze once more.
  18. "Exactly. But they insist on having a go between." Arikizo responded. "Perhaps they know more of the everyday lives of the rest of our country than I know of, but from what I've seen they don't leave the castle much either. And what is the purpose of me being stuck here? I'm not even the heir to the throne. The least I can do is become an adviser and see to it that the common folk are provided for." He hated being useless, which often time he thought his position was. What good was a spare when the heir is perfectly well and primed already for the throne? His royal education was undoubtedly lacking compared to his older sibling, so even if there was some freak accident that forced him under the crown, he wouldn't be as prepared for it. As Evelynne spoke of the difficulties of the common folk, at the very least those in her kingdom, he nodded. "I didn't mean to imply that all had it easy. There will always be those who are less fortunate, and those kinds need to be aided, yes." He sighed. "But my kind isn't as merciful as your kind is. Here, it seems like weakness and an inability to help oneself in times of trouble reflects a weakness that is not accepted. No doubt you've heard that dragons are fearsome and mighty beasts. Well, that is mostly true. Because those who aren't so mighty don't last very long from what I've heard and seen."

    Her response to his apology made the dragon prince realize that he'd spoken the words out loud. He had meant to keep that thought to himself, but it must have slipped out. The princess's reaction made him laugh a bit at his own embarrassment. "I just don't know how to control my mouth, do I?" He mused, rolling his eyes. "I must seem ridiculously uncouth to have said such things without thinking first." But she seemed amused by it, so it meant no harm. They headed toward the ladder, him waiting at the bottom. When she slipped, he quickly shifted to catch her, stumbling only a step as she fell into his arms. "Haven't I warned you to watch your step, Evelynne?" He teased, smiling at her, letting go of her after a moment when he was sure that she'd regained her footing. He had only spoke her name twice since they'd met, most often calling her princess up to that point. But he had decided at that point that such formalities were unnecessary for an engaged couple. "But I suppose it is quite difficult to climb down a ladder in such an outfit, so perhaps I'll overlook it." He added, giving her a cheeky smile. "Now come along."

    They left the stable, heading back toward the castle. The sun had risen to nearly its peak, the late morning had turned nearly to noon it appeared. Arikizo walked along beside Evelynne, his hand lightly laying on the small of her back as he led her back through the gardens again. "Sometimes even I wonder why the castle appears so large." He murmured, mostly to himself. "We are not a family that is significant in number, and our servants surely do not take up much room on their own. But I suppose it makes for a grand appearance to guests. What is a dragon without it's fortress, so to speak. Isn't that the expectation from all those fairy tales. That dragons guard dark castles with tall spires and jagged edges?" He shook his head, laughing a bit. "I guess all kinds have their foolish stories." They entered the castle through the back entrance, which led out into halls that ran behind the main dining hall. "The ballroom is to our far left, and the dining hall is this large room on our left." He explained as they made their way through the main hallways. He led her up a staircase, and down another set of hallways. "These rooms on this side of the castle belong to the royal family, while those on the left side house the butlers and maids and other house servants. The rest of the servants and guards have rooms on the lower floor and below the castle." He stopped at a room with ornate oak doors and pushed it open, letting the princess look inside. "This is my room. Probably our room, if my parents were to have their way. I doubt your brother would be agreeable with that until our wedding is over with." He paused for a moment, glancing down the hall. "The library is further down this hall, to the left."
  19. Evelynne would nod her head, signifying that she was listening. "I can imagine how frustrating it must be. My parents are for the people, yes, but if I was the heir to the throne? It would have been a fair more difficult battle to win. I think you would make an excellent adviser." She would muse as she met his gaze. As he went more in depth as to what he had meant, she would listen intently. "I didn't mean to say you did, so my apologizes." She would begin, mulling over her thoughts for a moment before continuing. "I have heard that about your kind, yes. It is to bad that those in need are unable to get the help or push that they need to become stronger." She would muse.

    Evelynne would laugh softly as well. "It is quite alright. It is rather refreshing to have such an honest conversation with someone. Unscripted. And no, you didn't. Promise." She murmured softly in reply. Holding his gaze as she landed in his arms, her blush would brighten slightly as he said her name. Why it got such a reaction, she didn't quite know at the moment. It was only the first or second time he had addressed her by her name pretty much ever. She liked how it sounded when he said it. Chuckling as he teased her and smiled at her. "Indeed. I would love to see you try without tripping." She would tease in return as they left the stables.

    She was a bit surprised to find that they day was already half over. Had they spent that much time in the stables? She hadn't even realized. As Arikizo placed his hand on the small of her back, she relaxed into his touch this time around. As she listened, she would chuckle a bit. "Indeed, it is. I wonder why our castle is so large as well. It seems like an unnecessary show of wealth." She would say with another chuckle. As they slipped in the back door, Evelynne would let her gaze slip around slowly. She took in every detail, making a mental note of each room he pointed out. As they reached his quarters, she looked over it, committing each detail to memory. "You are correct with that assumption, Arikizo." She mused with a chuckle. "I do hope my quarters until after the wedding will at least be close to yours. I would feel much more comfortable knowing you are close by ..." She would muse aloud before blinking in surprise that she had said that aloud. Blushing, she would glance down the hall towards the library before sparing a glance to Arikizo to gauge his reaction.
  20. For a foreign princess, Evelynne's mindset was quite similar to Arikizo's. She seemed to understand him in a way that no one else had previously done; perhaps it was because she had seen the royal life first hand, and knew what he was missing out on by being cooped up in the castle by his parents. "No need to apologize, I was probably reading too far into things again." He murmured. "And yes, it is a shame." He quirked his eyebrows a little at her comment about enjoying a completely genuine conversation, but couldn't help but nod in agreement. In this situation riddled with insincerity and false bonds, such comments were rare and often half-superficial to begin with.

    Now it was Ari's turn to chuckle softly at Evelynne's blushing when she fell into his arms. And it darkened again after he had spoken her name; did he fluster her? He couldn't help but grin. And she was even comfortable enough to playfully tease back. Her comment made him laugh even more. To think earlier this morning he had been spurning her companionship because he thought it would only bring him suffering. Nay, he would have suffered more by ignoring her. As they walked, he noticed how she didn't shy away from his touch like she had before. Was she letting her guard down now that he had begun to do the same? The thought was endearing in and of itself. What would his family think of this? Surely they'd expect him to miserable, loathing the idea of being betrothed and soon married to a mortal. But he couldn't imagine a better fate for him. Had she married Rovan, he would have still been trapped in the castle, without a companion beyond his family. And they weren't exactly good company.

    As the walked through the castle, the princess seemed genuinely interested in keeping track of the locations the dragon prince pointed out. 'At least she's not so enamored by my presence that she forgot the purpose of this walk.' He thought, surprised by himself that such a thing would even cross his mind. Evelynne's hope that her room would be nearby caught Arikizo a bit off guard, but he couldn't help but laugh playfully at her blushing. Was she flustered by the fact that she'd admitted to wanting to be close to him? Or was it something else entirely? "I will make sure of it." He responded playfully, though he was completely honest. Having her too far apart from him could be dangerous, especially if his brother decided to lurk around. The moment the older male started to sense a bond between the couple, no doubt he would be up to no good. That was always how he was. "I wouldn't dare let my bride to be be kept out of my sight; if, for no other reason, only to ensure your safety. You can never be too sure how the household will act toward a guest of foreign decent. The guards can be quite disagreeable sometimes." He grinned at her playfully, chuckling quietly to let her know that he wasn't trying to frighten her. He leaned closer to her, lowering his voice. "I won't let anyone harm you if I can possibly help it. I will do everything in my power to make sure that you are well protected by those that I personally hold trustworthy."

    Arikizo pulled back again, glancing down the hall. "Now then, how about we go see the library." He said, still grinning. It was too fun to tease Evelynne, with her blushing and flustered reactions. But he couldn't risk his family catching onto this, for her sake. He didn't hold his hand behind her like before, not wanting her to feel like he had been trying to seduce her or had any disagreeable intentions. His comments had all been in good fun, but also holding an honest warning. Trusting the rest of the household, excluding the majority of the servants of course, would be a foolhardy act indeed. She could end up poisoned, mistreated, blackmailed, or worse off even. That was not a risk he was willing to take. They traveled a little ways further down the hall, reaching the library soon enough. The prince opened the door for the princess, allowing her to go in before him. "It isn't overly grand and is far from expansive in tales and topics, but it is enough to keep a bookish prince like me entertained."
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