The Princess and the Duke.

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  1. Silia was getting ready for the galla that was scheduled tonight withing the halls of her mother's castle. Her dress was in the fabulous new style, short in the front long in the back. Slightly permiscuous yes, but fitting of a princess who had no fiance and was also a mage. For female mages now aday's wore short dresses, but she was also a member of the royal court so she compromised with her mother to be able to wear this dress.

    Silia looked at herself in the mirror and nodded, perfect! Her hair was down and gorgeously played at her back in wonderous curls. She twirled and her maids clapped and giggled, "You will be the highlight of the ball Your Highness" one said. "Gorgeous! simply DARLING. You will start a new trend!" another giggled while clapping. Another fussed with some ribbons on the dress.

    When Silia left her room she walked with grace and confidence through the magically lit hallways. Her dress didn't even touch the floor as she walked alone to the ballroom. As she entered, a butler called out her name, "Her Royal Highness! Princess Silia ana' Raisa!" and instantly everyone bowed down except her mother who smiled up at her daughter.

    Please rise, you are all recognized by the princess." she said as she walked down the steps. When they looked up from their bow's and curtsies and stood up, instantly chatter started back up. Though she was sure new conversations were started about her dress as well. She padded over to her mother.

    "Hello mother" she greeted with open arms allowing her mother to pull her into a hug. "My dear, you look wonderful." she said, a smile on her face. "thank you mother, and so do you." and she did, she had on a silk gown that fell to the floor beautifully accentuating her curves and her dark skin. Silia and her mother and a few of the courts women started talking, geting into different conversations. Enjoying themselves.

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  2. His name was Sterling Acker Stafford, but to most people, he was known as the Machine Duke, due to his extreme investments into the latest inventions of man, something that many found strange. Sterling, however, cared not about the rumours that started about him, nor about the opinion that he was insane for investing into the machines that ran on steam, sweat and the hard work of people. He found that these machines worked just as well as magic, but they did not have to be build for many years to use, not to mention that using them was easy. Even an idiot could operate a steam machine if he was shown how it works, but magic users had to know what they are doing to make their spells work. But even if he was the Machine Duke, the business empire that he built could not survive long without the support of mages.

    Because of his excessive use of machines and technology, Sterling was falling out of the favour of the royal family and the mages, something that he could not afford if he was to expand his influence even further, so today was an excellent opportunity to make a good impression on the royal family and the other nobles. For on this particular day, there was a large gathering of nobility in the castle of the new mage princess, to which the most influential parties of the current business world were invited, not to mention the powerful mages that would be also attending. Therefore, it was the best time to try and gain supporters for the new plan of Sterling, a plan that would require cooperation between the world of magic and human science: building a bridge over the previously impassable canyon of the Death Valley. It was a project that neither his technology nor the magic of the royal court could complete alone, so he intended to gain supporters, and through them, assure the mages that they have not been replaced.

    This plan was the only hope for the continously expanding business of Sterling. He knew that if he did not get back in touch with the royal family, he would lose a lot of the rights that allowed for his factories to expand, and eventually, the company started by his father would collapse, bringing the whole duchy with it. Such was the weight of Sterling's problems, so he decided that despite urgent matters, he needed to take part in this party, and had to make an impression in people. Therefore, he dressed in his best clothes: He wore a fancy, dark grey tailcoat decorated with a lighter grey trim that, on his chest, turned into a symbol of arcane power. He had chose a white shirt, white gloves and an almost black tie to go with it, but the most essential accessory was the small pocket watch he held in his hand. It was a golden watch, at the core of which was a small, eternally functioning engine powered by a combination of the new machines and lightning magic, not to mention that he had the simplified version of his family crest engraved onto the back of it.

    As usual, he arrived at the scene exactly at the time he was requested to appear. He was not a second early, nor a second late. As he made his way up the stairs, into the ballroom, he started wondering what the new mage princess would be like, but his thoughts were interrupted by the harsh voice of the announcer.

    "The Duke of Venilra, also known as the Machine Duke, Sterling Acker Stafford!"
  3. Princess Silia heard the announcer again and turned to look at this man who was spoken of so ill within the castle walls. She looked him over, quite a stunning sight in grey. She raised a brow and whispered to her mother sideways, "I thought he would look older, I never really believed he was as young as they said until now." Her mother just chuckled, knowing what she meant. Castle gossip was not always quite true, actually most of is was exadjerated truths or lies, it just depends on who starts it and how it's interpreted by the listeners.

    She looked away before they could make eye contact and let a kind gentleman, who happened to be her father, take her to the dance floor for a dance. It was a calm and proper waltz. Though, not slow at all, quite fast actually, and people around them were tripping up. The princess and her father however, barely noticed as the practically glided across the floor with ease as they spoke to eachother.

    He asked her how her studies were, both in magic and other subjects. She answered, always smiling, as she looked him in the eye's trusting her father to lead her. In this matriarchal society, her dad was second in line, and at first, people didn't approve of him as the king, but people came around enventually. Silia loved her father, he was the reason she had magical powers like this in the first place.

    She giggled and gabbed with her father until the song was over and her brought her back over to the side, and he went off to talk to other wizards. Silia sighed, and sat at a table, alone. Her mother was busy now with something, and she didn't want to gossip with the girls, but she also didn't want to bother her father and the other mages, but she didn't know anyone else to talk to. So she just sat there drinking cider. A drink with very low alcohol content.
  4. The death glare that Sterling gave to the announcer was strong enough to make him take a few steps back, but instead of scolding the man or reminding him about the use of proper titles, he just looked away and took in the sight of the party room. It was quite magnificently prepared, and even though there were not too many people yet, conversations have already started up, not to mention that some of his associates were also invited to the party, nobles who could not afford too much magic, and have started to rely on the new inventions. As much as he would have liked to meet the mage princess, Sterling knew that prioritising her over his already-existing market would be a bad idea, so he approached them and engaged them in conversation for feedback about the inventions they bought, not to mention that he wanted to hear how the construction of the railroad went from a first-hand report.

    Fortunately, most of the nobles were quite statisfied by the inventions of Sterling and the conversation quickly turned into palace gossip, but with the patience of a saint, he sat through most of it until he managed to steer the topic towards local politics. He listened to the new developments eagerly, but it proved to be ultimately fruitless when he realised there were no opportunities to expand his business even further that presented themselves. Then, the discussion turned back towards palace gossip once more, so Sterling politely excused himself, then started searching for his true target for tonight, the mage princess. Unfortunately for him, she was dancing with her father at that moment, so Sterling approached a group of nobles he had not met before and introduced himself. He was not so amused to discover that most of them were supporters of mages, but he grabbed the opportunity to try and convince them of the fact that science and magic could coexist, in fact, they could help humanity make even greater achievements.

    But as always, it was as if he was talking to a ridiculously stubborn donkey. Some of the nobles actually showed interest based on their body language, but due to the group mentality, his arguements and data were always deflected by them. He did make a note of whom he managed to impress, though, then tried to move the conversation to a more neutral ground, however, the nobles set their minds on convincing him about the evils of science. It soon became clear that neither party was willing to give up on their standpoint, so after a while, Sterling promptly excused himself to get some food to fuel his ability to argue, so he went to one of the tables and sat down. Only then he managed to notice that he sat himself exactly beside the person he was looking for, the mage princess.

    Realising how impolite it was to sit down in her presence without her permission, Sterling quickly stood up, and bowed a deep, apologising bow towards Princess Silia.

    "I am sorry for not noticing your majesty's presence earlier, princess Silia," said Sterling as he touched his right hand to the place where his heart was while still bowing. "I hope you can forgive my atrocity," continued the man as he rose up. "I must confess that I feel incredibly lucky to have met you right now, princess Silia, and I hope I can present my cause to you. If I may be so bold as to introduce myself, my name is Sterling Acker Stafford, the Duke of Venilra," said Sterling as he observed the mage princess. She looked quite beautiful as she was dressed in the latest fashion, but even if it was not for that, she would have been a stunning young woman. With long, violet hair and sparkling yellow eyes, she captured his attention, however, he knew his objective and did not let appearances get in his way. He had to gain her support right here, right now, or he would lose everything.
  5. Silia hadn't even noticed the man sit down next to her. So when he suddenly bowed and introduced himself she jumped a little. She placed her hand on her heart and breathed, then noticed Sterling was doing the same thing, so she quickly put her hand in her lap. She looked straight into his eyes as he introduced himself. "I know of you Duke Stafford. I must say, I have heard some interesting stories about you." She paused not sure if she should go on.

    She decided to do so as she looked him over, "Yes, very... interesting stories. Though, you can't believe half the rubish you are told withing the castle close anymore. Exadgerated gossip and the like." She smiled at him, "Seeing as I have nothing to do, I don't see why we can not talk. Honestly, I would perfer it to the castle gossip the girls would drag me into if I may say so myself."

    Silia chuckled lightly, she tucked a clump of hair behind her ear and smiled more. She was living up to her reputaion, a lovely, caring princess, but that was just her personality, she wasn't putting on a show for anyone. She was just, being herself. It's what her father and mother taught her, and it was what she would do. Be herself in everything she did.
  6. "I am honoured that you allow my presence," said Sterling as he bowed slightly. "As for me, I prefer not to pay attention to palace and castle gossip at all, princess Silia. It is merely misinformation, bits of sentences that may have been true originally, but have been distorted beyond recognition. They are like fragments that remain on ancient structures: they can be decyphered, but the original meaning will likely be lost or misinterpreted. As mere shadows of themselves, these fragments no longer hold the value that they used to have," continued Sterling with the metaphor. "However, I am not here to make great allegories, metaphors or even similes, and I apologise if I have bored you with my long-winded simile," said Sterling, bowing slightly once again.

    "I must confess that I am here for business matters, but I have managed to finish with them quite quickly, which, frankly, leaves me with more time to spend than I ever imagined I could," said Sterling, which was partially true. He really did manage to finish his business with his associates quickly, but he still had his business with Silia. "So I looked for an opportunity to spend my time, and then my eyes found you, princess Silia, sitting here alone. It looked like you could use some company, so I have decided to take this opportunity to get to know you better. I hope I have not been too bold in my approach," said Sterling with sincerety in his voice. He really wanted to go this smoothly, so he put all his efforts into impressing the young mage princess.
  7. "Oh mister Sterling," she said as she stared at the chain attatched to his watch wondering what that feeling she was getting was, "Your fancy words fill my head with wonderful images. But I must say, very few people come up to me for no reason. And you, a buisness man, are telling me you are doing just that. Also, quit bowing, it's much to formal." she flails her hand back and forth in front of her face. "It is quite annoying actually. Talk to me like you would talk to anyone else. There is no diffence between me and them but a name, a status given to me at birth."

    She smiled at him, straightening out her dress, and took a sip of her cider. She was holding the liquor well even if it was one of the lightest in the land it could still be quite potent if mixed with the right items. She looked into Sterling's eyes, with her golden honey eyes, " Though, even if you have something to talk to me about, are you sure you really want me and not my father? He would listen you know." She put her chin in her hands as she leaned forward, "What could a labor man like you want with a Mage Princess like me?"
  8. "As you wish, my lady, I will address you the way I would address my equals," said Sterling as he observed Silia's reaction. While he knew that the princess would likely question his intentions, he did not think that she would hit so close to the mark. She seemed to be quite sharp and keen on the business world, so he had to make his intentions as convincing as possible. "But do tell me, my lady, what would I do with your father? Surely, he is not in the mood to listen to the metaphors and similes that you said you enjoy so much, yet I would have nothing else to tell him. My business is finished today as my shareholders are pleased, my associates are happy and the reports that came in are statisfactory. What else could I ask for, my lady?" asked Sterling as he looked into the princess' golden eyes for a a few fleeting moments, giving some meaning to the silence.

    "To answer your other question, my lady, I am not a labour man. I do not know what you have heard of me, but I am as much of a noble as you are, except that I have decided to embrace the way of the human mind instead of restricting myself to the way of the manipulation of nature, or magic. But, as I have stated before, I am not here to convince you that the technology I use is superior to the magic that you use, my lady. I am merely here to enjoy the company of a person I have yet to know thoroughly," said Sterling with nearly absolute certainty. Sure, he might have a secret goal, but for him to achieve that, he would have to get to know Silia thoroughly. "So, my lady, do you wish to remain in my company, or shall I retreat to my place far away from here? It is up to you, for my business is done here."
  9. "My father is closer to those of the court, the common people, and the mage's then any other I know. And though he may not be in the mood to hear your quite astonishing riddles, he would hear you out on whatever it is that is in the back of your mind." she sighed but never tore her gaze away from his. She listened to him as he continued and she gave a small smile.

    Silia put her hand lightly over Sterling's hand which happened to be on the table. "No, don't go, I'd rather not be alone tonight. Please keep me company. I appologize if anything I said offended you Mr. Sterling, it's just... I've gotten used to people trying to use me to get to my mother or father... not always in a good way. I guess that I was kind of testing you. A little bit." she gave a weak smile and looked down at their connected hands. She didn't make a move to move her hand. She didn't really feel the need, it wasn't like she was doing anything wrong was she?

    She looked back up at Sterling, "Though, I know that you have something to talk to me about, as a buisness man, I'm sure you wouldn't really come to me if you weren't interested in something I could possibly offer. I know.. I'm stereotyping, but it's hard not to, when so many fit the bill so well. I don't mind though, it'll waist my time at this darned party. I only like to come to sing and dance. To many powerful people in one room can drive anyone crazy." she chuckled lightly. Her hand still over his softly.
  10. Minute by minute, the plan of Sterling seemed to get closer and closer to being crushed by a simply ridiculously huge wrecking mace used to destroy castles, the wielder of which seemed to be Silia. He had expected to find in the palace a naive princess who would be easily influenced by the world around her, whom he could easily decieve, then turn into a weapon against her own parents. What he found instead, was a young, inexperienced, but still quite dangerous foe who has been taught some pitfalls of the business world. While Silia was still quite honest and too open for an experienced businesswoman, she definitely had a grasp on her own role, not to mention the roles of others in the society around her. It seems that her parents were not quite as ignorant as he heard, so he made a note to be more careful around her, however, her next move threw Sterling quite off-guard.

    Out of nowhere, the hand of Silia met the hand of Sterling, which he had placed on a table leisurely just a few seconds earlier, and as the mage princess continued to speak, her hand remained there as if it was nothing. This move put Sterling off guard and instead of merely collapsing his carefully built plan, it simply demolished it, poured water on the land in which it used to stand and made it into a swampy lake and a nightmare of any builder or engineer. Was Silia just playing the innocent? He could certainly imagine so, especially because she made such a bold move on him so that when he slipped up, she could devour him like a venus fly trap. It would all make perfect sense from her perspective, which sent Sterling into a state of panic. He made no contingency plans in case something like this happened, so he got caught completely off-guard, and without an option to turn to, he let an overly long, awkward silence fill the void between the two of them.

    In the end, though, he decided to be honest with a twist. He cleared his throat, then moved his arm slightly to grab the hand of Silia in a gentle embrace.

    "I must confess that I am surprised by your knowledge of businessmen and the world in general," said Sterling. "And I also must say that I do, indeed have second intentions tonight. But my target for the night has not revealed itself yet, and perhaps it never will," said the duke as he slowly pulled Silia towards the dance floor. "So, my lady, I would be honoured to spend a dance with you until my target makes itself known," said Sterling, a genuine smile spreading across his face. Would this night turn into a game of cat and mouse? He did not know. But he was about to find out.
  11. Silia smiled widely, glad to be up again. She allowed him to guide her to the floor, as one song was soon to end. She giggled, " You sir, are tougher then you look. Well I suppose you have to be to be able to work in the business world. Always have your gaurd up, don't get me wrong, I have my own guards up, but.. they are not so 'visible'." she sighed lightly, but almost instantly smiled again. "I appoligize.. I tend to want to break down that wall there between two people, but I realize most anyone wouldn't be comfortable with that. It's really a bad habbit, should stop really. Though I'm not sure I ever will."

    She smiles as the next song starts, one of her favorite's. The bandies must have seen her come onto the floor. She smiled as she let go of Sterlings hand only to put her readjust her hand in it. She faced him to ready for the quick steps to come. If he looked around the dance floor, he would notice it practically abandoned. Many had been dancing a while, at least that could be assumed. What most people would assume as well, but Silia knew what was really happening. They were watching, wondering why she, a princess, a mage at that, was dancing with a man who dealt in man made things, hard labor and such.

    She just sighed and smiled, her hand's in place in his hand and on his shoulder. She waited for him to start in on the quick waltz. When he did, he would find that he wouldn't have to drag her around, she was light on her feet and she followed him deftly. If he spun her she's spin with ease, he only had to flick his wrist a little bit to direct her. Or to move his body slightly in one direction for her to detect where he wanted to go. She never looked down, so sure of her footing, she looked either at the crowd or in his eyes, though she for some reason found it more comfortable to look into his eyes, so she did so without much of a thought.

    " You know," she said without wasting any breath, as she stepped in time to the music with him, "each song tells a story. Or so I've been told. Even those with no lyrics have meanings, even if they are hidden. I find that this
    song, tells of a deep story of longing, and waiting. Hope that two people long for, a fight to get to their goal. When I first heard it. I cried." She was just trying to make conversation, hopefully it would work.
  12. Surprisingly, Silia accepted the invitation of Sterling quite eagerly, which made another gear turn in his head. Was she really so good at acting, or was she not even acting? That was the question that he needed to answer before he started to dig around her persona, before he started to try and influence her. She certainly seemed to be eager to share details about herself, as she confirmed it, but were they real details, or were they merely decoys to throw Sterling off guard? Again, he did not know, but he intended to find out for sure. If Silia was acting, she would slip up sooner and later, but if she was not, then it was all for the better. Perhaps then, he would be able to get his way without many obstacles, to influence her relatively easily. However, that would probably take a long time, time that he did not think he had tonight, which was a huge miscalculation on his part. He really should have approached Silia the first thing today to get a good grip on her personality, but he foolishly engaged in matters of business, for which he now could not forgive himself.

    He shook his head lightly to clear his thoughts as both of them assumed the correct position for the upcoming dance, and as he looked around, he noticed that the dance floor was remarkably empty around the two of them, which was quite natural, given the strange composition of the pairing that now took the very centre. The Duke that was known for his fondness of machines and the Mage Princess made quite an unusual pairing, but Sterling did not care, for he had a target to impress tonight, one who was standing in front of him, and staring deeply into his eyes. He took that as a challenge and met his eyes with hers to see who could hold up longer, then when the next musical number started, he made quite a jumpstart. He started the dance as energetically as possible without coming through as blunt or brash, so he was very surprised when Silia could follow his pace.

    He was even more surprised at the ease at which Silia moved. Not wanting to be outdone, he started to add his small, personal touches to the dance that, while they made no difference to the structure of the dance, added fluidity, motion and speed to it, but Silia could follow even that. For a second, an expression of honest surprise ran through the face of Sterling, but then he controlled himself immediately and let the rythm of the dance overtake him to match the pace and the style better. While he knew that now impressing the young princess with his skill in dancing would be impossible, it would have been rude to slow the pace down and decrease the effort that he put into the dance now that he showed his partner what he was capable of.

    For a short while, both of them were silent. Instead of Sterling, though, it was Silia who broke the silence, so Sterling took a moment to think about her statement while he continued leading her flawlessly.

    "That might be true, but it is my opinion that each piece of music tells a different story to everyone, my lady," said Sterling as he gave it some thought. "Or, for some, it does not even tell a story. Instead, it merely reminds them to an emotion, to a loved one, a hated one, or perhaps a certain moment in their lives. It could even remind them of the one they are currently with, or the one they have lost a long time ago. You see, my lady, I think that music is like poetry, or proze in the sense that it can be interpreted in many, many different ways, and while each person thinks that their variant is the right one, there is no correct variant at all. The beauty of art lies in the fact that it can be interpreted and re-interpreted, but it also shows people the thoughts of the creator to an extent," continued Sterling as he continued on with the waltz.

    "But to answer your question my lady... This music reminds me of a star-gazing night spent alone, somewhere deep in the mountains, removed from everyone. Just one and their thoughts, alone in the darkness, alone with themselves, trying to figure out their own purpose, trying to figure out the constellations in the sky, or trying to just forget everything they have experienced so far. That is my interpretation."
  13. Silia stepped lightly with his guidance and smiled when she'd seen his surprise. It was a pleasing feeling to know that he'd been surprised about something she'd done. She'd left that subject alone though and had move to her random moment of insite on how songs work. She listened to his smoth words, his briliantly constructed sentences that belonged in songs, or odes, or poems, something of the sort at least. His idea of the song was inticing as well, a whole nother view on the song she felt was her's, it made her heart lunge in a way. Like there was some connection being made that she wasn't sure was really happening.

    As the danced on Silia smiled, but then frowned as she noticed the whispers as they twirled and danced past people on the edges of the dance floor. She sighed, she'd known this was going to happen, that people were going to talk. What did it matter though? Who was it hurting, that she was dancing with a duke that dealt in machines. She got a determined look on her face and blocked out the other voices that didn't matter, right now it was just him and her.

    "That is a good way to see it too. Very beautiful indeed." she looked into his eyes softly, in an almost ... but not exactly.. caring way. Like she was worried about him because of what he said. "Though it makes it sound like you've had a very tough journey, but i will not pry into your past, for what matters is not the past, but the present. You must live in the present to move on to the future. Just some words I live by." she gave him a weak smile, still dancing with ease.

    "But that doesn't matter really either does it. I was just trying to make some small talk to make this a little less awkward and I might have failed to even do that. I appoligize for my babbling, I should stop." she chuckled lightly, another sigh escaping her lips and she continued to dance in silence. But her magic started to seep through her finger tips, a small heat exerted from it and it gradually got hotter. She didn't realize what she was doing, actually, she looked like she didn't see reality at all. Like she was just there, a shell of existence. Though it might have been a moment, or longer. It could have felt like an eternity, and it didn't seem like she was really coming back.
  14. Sterling could feel the people's stares on him, but he merely chose to shrug it off and continue dancing to the tune of the music. After all, there was nothing to be gained from paying attention to the fools around him now that he had the attention of his target, however, the roles he had assigned in his mind seemed to get hazier as hazier as the time went on. The second before he was sure that he caught the attention of one who was at least decently experienced in his world, but now, the reactions of Silia seemed to show that she was growing weary of what was going around her, all too aware of the attention that was focused on the dancing pair, but the next second, she caught somehow managed to regain her composure. Then, she looked into his eyes once again, which threw Sterling off guard once more. He did not know what was going on behind those eyes and he wanted to find out.

    However, the carefully constructed analysis of Silia shattered into a thousand pieces when she spoke up again, and this time, Sterling almost lost control of his face from the surprise. What was she trying to do by analysing him then suddenly brushing her own conclusions aside to talk about herself in an awkward way? Once again, he had to wonder if she was an excellent actor with a lot of experience behind her, and she just waited for the right moment to strike, or if she had only so much experience behind her that she did not know how to act properly, but her previous sentences disproved that. She seemed to be knowledgeable about his kind even if she did not have as much experience behind her as Sterling did and her actions pointed to the fact that she too, was a predator. Was this a game of cat and cat in that case? Because then, Sterling had little to no chance to make an impression on Silia.

    Suddenly, a slight warmth started to build up at the hands of Sterling, but he thought nothing of it, and he continued to dance to the tune of the music as he tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Still, as he danced on, he noticed that the warmth was getting stronger and stronger, in fact, it was growing into an unbearable heat, which was when he directed his gaze towards Silia instead of being absorbed in his own thoughts. She too, seemed to be lost in her own world, with her eyes looking far off into the distance and in a matter of seconds, Sterling quickly realised what was happening, so he quickly decided to speak up to confirm what he felt.

    "My lady?" asked Sterling in a voice that was slightly louder than usual. "I hate to interrupt your thoughts, but are you all right? You seem to have lost your focus and your dance has become lifeless, as if your body has lost the will to move. I can stop now if you would like, for it would greatly pain me to see you hurt, my lady," said Sterling, putting mild concern into his voice as he watched the reaction of Silia.
  15. The look on Silia's face was one of shock, very, pale shock. She focused as much as she could to reel in her magic, but it helped only little, taking only bit's of heat away at a time. She looked as if she was struggling, and she sighed and stopped and looked at Sterling, "It seems I have done something to upset the balance in my body. Yes, I believe a pause in our dancing at this moment in time would be a good idea. I also think a simple drink would be in order, water maybe." she sighed as she kept growing paler, though she acted as if nothing were really happening. "If you could perhaps grab me some that would be lovely. I will be at that table over there." she pointed towards an empty table, waited for his reply, and then walked off to the table.

    She sat there, trying to collect herself, all the mages in the room seeming to have eyes on her. Her father passed by tapping her shoulder lightly, not speaking, just that little motion, and a transfer of magic. It helped to reign in her powers a bit, having someone elses power's go through her, but it wasn't enough, she was still pale as snow, though her cheeks were flushed lightly. Her breath was deep and she closed her eyes for a moment. She concentrated on her breathing, not the pain, and the cold that washed over her, just her simple breathing. One breath in, one breath out. A calm seemed to surround her though her magic wasn't obeying her will.

    "My lady, you do not look well. Your magic seems to be a little out of control, are you okay? Did that man do something to you?"

    Silia opened her eyes and glared at the man in front of her, about her age, this male mage was blond haired with flaming red highlights. His eyes were a tinge of flaming charcol. Son of Lord Astilan, Lord Sade was one of the young men after the wonderful princesses kingdom. No she never thought of any of them as suitors, for none of them suited her for her. They didn't want her for her, they wanted power, and that wasn't something she was just going to give. No, if her game of suitors was going to be like this, it was going to be her choice who wins, and hopefully, she'll still end up on top.

    She gave a small smile to Sade, "I am fine kind sir, he's done nothing to harm me, it seems I'm just having an off day." she was trying to gently push him away with out actually doing so physically. It apparently didn't work and he looked as if he were studying her when she turned and saw Sterling heading back to the table. What could she do? It would be rude to both of them if she decided one over the other, but she also knew that she couldn't choose neither. So, she sat, acting calm and collected, yet still, the air around her, and how pale she was, made her look quite ghostly.
  16. As the two continued dancing, Silia became even paler, but then, much to Sterling's relief, she had excused herself and requested a glass of water from him, which gave some time for him to think about what just happened. While he was no mage, Sterling knew that the princess was in seriously trouble, mainly because he had not seen a mage lose his powers during his life even though he has seen many of them work miracles or exhaust themselves to the point that they could not even move without help. Then again, they probably kept their moments of weakness to themselves, which, in turn, gave even more reason for Sterling to be worried about Silia. If she was any decent at magic, which he guessed she was because of her status, she would probably hide this moment of weakness for as long as possible, then just excuse herself without making too much of a fuss.

    In conclusion, the situation of Silia was likely really serious, so for a moment, Sterling put his priorities aside, and obediently went to get a glass of water for the mage princess. He was actually a bit concerned about her because she seemed so pale, but nevertheless, he knew he could not let his goal go now, so he continued weaving his web of intrigue in his head. He had to contruct a contingency plan in case Silia retreated for the night, but even if he knew several key mages, he did not know a single one that did not resent technology, so he started going over them in his head to see if he could potentially convince someone that technology is not inheritently evil just because it does not use magic. Meanwhile, he had arrived at the nearest table and took two glasses of water just to be sure, then he started making his way back towards Silia.

    What he saw there, however, struck him as quite unexpected. Lord Sade, one of the more influential mages was standing near Silia, likely there to ask and help her with her condition, which meant that Sterling had less of a chance to succeed now. Even if he brought water to the mage princess, Silia would surely prefer to be assisted by a mage, which, in turn, would mean that Sterling would have had to start his contingency plan. Except that he did not have one yet, so he decided not to retreat from his situation, and approach Silia with the drinks in his hand.

    "Here are the drinks you have asked for, my lady," said Sterling as he handed the glasses to Silia, then he turned towards Lord Sade. "It is a pleasure to meet you once again, Lord Sade. I trust you are enjoying the evening?" asked Sterling with a surprisingly straight face, which, naturally, threw his opponent off-guard. While Lord Sade was indeed experienced in the ways of business and court, he fought far less enemies than Sterling, which made him an easy target... or did Sterling hit.

    "I am enjoying the evening," said Sade with a smile slowly spreading across his lips. "But, Machine Duke, I want to inform you that trying to poison the mage princess is an act of treason."

    "I am well aware of the laws of my own country, Lord Sade," said Sterling, still keeping his face straight. "And I assure you that I have not poisoned princess Silia in any way, nor do I intend to assassinate her. I am merely trying to enjoy my evening along with expanding the circle of my acquaintances. I believe that does not count as treason, Lord Sade."

    "Of course it does not," said Sade as he literally snatched a glass from Silia. "But I still have my suspicions about you, and you are not going to murder her if I am here, Machine Duke. I have heard of what you do; they say you make men work for countless hours then you do not give them their rightful compensation, leaving them behind to die on the lands you own so that your own profits will grow. Such tactics will not work on me," said Sade, grinning, then he took a look at the glass of water. "So, tell me, Machine Duke, what kind of poison is in there?"
  17. Silia sat there, grabbing hold of the water, and raising it to her lips, when Lord Sade took it away from her. She had been listening closely to the conversation and still was. To no surprise of her own, she was getting very angry, and her magic started to seep out even more. Had Lord Sade not listened? How DARE he take a drink away from her, even if he FEIGNED worry over her. Most mages actually wanted her out of the picture. For, how would a matriarcal society work without a matriarch? Silia had always suspected that mages were after her for one reason. Power, and she will never forgive the betrayal of her last love.

    Her magic and anger flared even higher when Lord Sade out rightly accused Sterling of attempt of assasination. She glared at Sade as she moved to stand up. She wobbled a bit, but she stayed up. She snatched the water back and splashed it into his face, dousing him. There were gasps from all around the room. Silia didn't care, she was tired of it all. She stood herself a little taller and yelled, really yelled at Sade, "I will NOT tolerate this kind of treatment to a man who was trying to be kind, and doing his duty as a subject of the kingdom I am to rule Lord Sade!" she turned to the rest of the guests as she looked Sterling in the eyes, "I will CERTAINLY not tolerate any more gruesome rumors about this kind sir who was just concerned about his future queen and did as was requested of him! If I hear one more PEEP about the evils of technology, or how much of a MONSTER this man is, EXPECT punishment! There is NOTHING wrong with wanting to advance our ways of living!" She took a wobbly step foreward. "And MARK MY WORDS! If I hear so much of a whisper about someone planning an attempt on his life, so help the WOLF THRONE I do not rip every brick out of this tower, this city, THIS KINGDOM, to find the one behind it!" she was breathing furiously, and mildly surprised at herself, but she knew why she'd said those things, and she knew that she would keep those words, though maybe not in such a dramatic way.

    She had kept her eyes on Sterling, the whole entire time, to make him understand, she wasn't using and tactics, she was being real about this, she was telling the truth, no lie slipped past her tounge. That each word that passed her lips were something that would help him in the long run and that he'd know what side she was on. She really liked the idea of technology, much of it fascinated her, and that's what made her dangerous, she wanted to learn all different sorts of things. Kind of a book worm really, but this wasn't what mattered. She'd made her point, and she had relaxed. Almost to much. It was absolutely quiet in the room, her outburst shutting them up, but also the fact that she was now falling to the floor also added to the dramaticness of her outburst.

    Silia fell to her knee's, her breathing still hard, she dropped the other glass that she'd never realised she'd had in her hand on the ground next to her. It shattered to pieces and almost at the same exact time, her hand landed in the shards. She bit back her yell and her tears and focused on taking even breaths as she felt the room spinning. Magic continued to leak out of her, she was like a living heater, it was a wonder her dress wasn't burning up. She focused her magic as best she could on her hand as she lifted it up. Pieces were pushed out by the magic and slowly her hand healed up, and she got up again, accepting no help from those who came to help her and she stepped up to Sterling. Now only able to whisper, "I would... greatly appreciate.. it.. if.. you could, escort me, back to my room, kind sir." She wobbled again, barely catching herself, she looked around slowly, catching her fathers concerned eyes as he mouth, the words I will come to check on you later. Silia just gave a small nod and looked back at Sterling waiting for an answer.
  18. Sterling would have reply to the accusations of Lord Sade, however, before he could formulate a response that was polite enough, he found himself in the centre of a chaotic storm of anger that originated from Silia. He found himself utterly stumped by this sequence of events and even as his wit tried to catch up with the happenings, he found that he was repeating the same question in his head. What was Silia doing? With this explosive outburst, she merely damaged her reputation, not to mention that she insulted one of the most prominent mages and... Did she seriously just douse Lord Sade in water? This new piece of information that just sank into Sterling's brain, even though it happened several seconds ago. He just simply could not believe that the mage princess would act this way, and if nobody was looking, he surely would have poured a bucket of cold water on himself to convince his consciousness that he was not dreaming.

    But, unfortunately, what was unfolding before him was very real, and by the time he managed to accept this fact, Silia was already on the floor, and an unhealthy aura of heat that even Sterling could feel radiated from her body. Upon seeing this picture, Sterling just shook his head, then threw the entire plan of impressing the mage princess right out of the imaginary window that was located in his mind, for this was no night to be playing the games of business. Already his games have ended up in a rather catastrophic event, so continuing them would just escalate the whirlwind that was already forming around him, give fuel to the fire, thus, he came to the conclusion that he needed to excuse himself and leave the party. This plan was promptly shattered when Silia asked him directly to take her up to her room, which was yet another move that left Sterling speechless for several seconds.

    "No, he will not," said Lord Sade, angrily wiping his face with his handkerchief. "You..." started the mage, but Sterling interrupted him.

    "This is no time to be arguing over ideological matters, Lord Sade," said Sterling with an unusual, cold edge to his voice that literally froze the spine of Lord Sade. "If you have problems with my person, then we shall discuss them in private and not when there is a life in danger, especially one that belongs to the mage princess herself," continued Sterling, pressing the words 'private' and 'mage princess' to make his intentions clear. "And while I mean no offense to you, Lord Sade, the princess has clearly requested my assistance, but unlike you, I am not one to disobey and question her wishes, as I am her loyal subject, and as such, it is my highest duty to protect her. I would never dream of poisoning or assassinating her, Lord Sade," said Sterling, bowing slightly before the now speechless mage, then he turned towards Silia to shut the rude mage out of the conversation.

    "Please excuse me, my lady," said Sterling, then without warning, he lifted Silia into a princess carry, not caring about what was going on around him. Her well-being was in danger, and for now, everything was secondary to that. "Could you please direct me to your room, my lady?"
  19. Her stomach lurched into a furry of butterflies when Sterling suddenly picked her up, with the princess style no less. She shivered slightly, his body like an ice pack to the firey warmth her body was giving. She took a deep shuddering breath, trying to gather her senses to her. He'd asked her a question, her room? That was a good question, where was her room. Something inside her snapped and her mind cleared for a moment, "Past the garden entrance, there is a staircase, take it, and once you come to the second landing, go down the hall, it'll be the 4th door on the right." she rasped quietly. Her breath quite harsh as she leaned into him a little closing her eyes just wanting to rest for a moment.

    She felt the swaying motion of him walking, though she didn't see where he was going. She particularly didn't care. She felt all her energy and magic drain away by the second, she was tired, her eyes fluttered a bit. Getting a small glimps of Sterling's face. She let out a small chuckle, "Well, I'm sure that today.. has not been.. what you expected eh sir?" Yep, she was out of it, but she could still feel the tenseness of her holder, maybe, she had just enough energy to stay awake until he got her to the room.

    She forgot, how far away her room was, and she struggled to keep her eyes open. She focused on looking at Sterling, not in a scary way, more in a I must stay awaked way. She was sweating like a long-hair dog in the middle of the field on a hot summer day. Slipping into her conciousness, but every time she got close a warning bell went off and her eye's jolted open. This was more serious then she thought, she needed care and she needed it fast. Were they there yet?
  20. Silia's body was burning hot. That was the first thing Sterling noticed when he picked her up, in fact, it was so obvious that he could have not noticed it. This was far worse than a fever, in fact, it was probably worse than any sickness he has ever seen in his life, so he increased the pace of his steps to move as fast as humanly possible without dropping Silia in the process. For some reason, Silia tried talking to him even after she told him where her room was, but he simply was too busy concentrating on his own centre of mass, the way to the mage princess' room and something that he could do to make her feel better. The words simply buzzed by his ears, going through his skull. He heard the words, but right now, they did not make sense to him, however, he could feel that Silia was getting weaker by the second.

    Luckily, they have arrived at her room in a short time, but instead of putting Silia down and opening the door so, Sterling merely pressed the doorknob down with his elbow, then pushed the door in with his foot. In the room, he went to find the bed immediately, then, he put down the suffering mage princess, after which he glanced at his surroundings, took a glass from the nearby table, then rushed to the washroom to fill it with fresh water, without Silia even saying anything. He returned within seconds, and put the glass down the table, unsure of what to do. He never treated a mage who suffered from something like this. Would drinking water even help? He had no idea, so he decided to ask.

    "What should I do, my lady?" asked Sterling in a calm voice as he closed the door behind them, but he was only calm on the surface. If Silia was to come to harm now, he would be surely blamed for the events regardless of what he had done to her, however, he could simply not leave her suffering. After all, he took his duty seriously.
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