The Realm's Reverie

Discussion in 'ONE ON ONES IN CHARACTER' started by Ace of Angels, Aug 31, 2016.

  1. Dreams had plagued her very existence.

    From the day she was born, there were certain things Ava could see that others could not. Dreams that would come true... but what did that mean for recurring dreams? Her grandmother, Bella Clairdencia had told her, "You'll trust in your instincts when the time comes." That was the day before the ball.

    With milk and poppies, Avalyne drifted off to sleep despite herself. The same events had always occurred. Bright lights plagued her vision. The shining, tiled floor began to spin and even rumble around her. Avalyne felt lost as the dancers around her faded away from her. As soon as the rumbling intensified, the princess jolted from her bed.

    Goosebumps were prevalent in her skin and tears of fear appeared in her soft blue eyes. Shaking, she wiped them away. Avalyne was dressed in her slip dress and was luckily returned to her bedroom. The delicate colours and shapes of the flowers decorating her room calmed her. To make sure she was finally out of the dream, the princess felt along the silky white bedsheets and flowery blankets.

    Releasing her dark hair from her braid, she sobbed softly. The day of the ball was today and the princess had never felt so frightened in her life. As if on cue, Bella gently entered her bedroom, as if trying to remain quiet. Though, once she had seen her granddaughter in tears, the old woman rushed over to her bedside. "You poor thing..."

    Her kind blue eyes and gentle features mimicked Avalyne's. Bella was the only woman that seemed to truly understand her, and the only person Avalyne felt she could be honest around. Their uncanny nature of reading people meant that only their intuition was needed to know what the other was feeling. That, and their special abilities. "I knew you required my assistance... I felt a dark energy surrounding you, my flower child."

    Avalyne shook her head. "It's the ball, grandmother. The floor began to rumble and I was all alone... the lights were so bright..." Bella paused to hug her granddaughter, then placed both hands on her face. "My flower, you were not alone. I felt a strong presence beside you, though it was distinct, like nothing I have ever felt before." Ava looked in confusion. "A strong presence?" Suddenly, a fear washed over her. "Will I find a suitor by the time the ball ends? Is he...?"

    Bella sighed. "We can only hope. I trust your judgement to be a suitable heiress." Giving her a serious look, the princess knew what she meant. Family was important, but so were connections. Being the second and only daughter, she would need to oversee her betrothed's kingdom and represent his family. A family she had yet to know. If her grandmother was able to do this many years ago, so would Avalyne.

    Eventually, she ended up beside her ivory boudoir. Preparing for the ball was intense work. With all of the other kingdoms watching her, it seemed as if she had been preparing for this her entire life. Bella set her hair back and prepared a flower bath. Many hours later, the princess would be well-groomed for the sacred event of the year.

    Gently stepping out of her carriage, every move of the princess' was calculated to the utmost of perfection. Arriving in an ornate blue dress, her jewelry was meant to be the same colour to bring out her bright blue eyes. Flowers were spun into her curled and braided hair leading to her tiara. Long, silk gloves covered her hands and a light floral fragrance followed her every step.

    Her pin was on her dress of the Clairdencia family. It was a bleeding rose over an eye. Some of the kingdom's royalty, both male and female looked at her with both awe and curiosity. The South had done a good job of putting on a face for the likes of the North, West and East. They were all different in many ways, but seemed to find it in them to hold a continental ball for many years.

    The West were rich with mountains, gold and jewelry, the East were spiritual with many travel routes to other mystical continents. It was easy to tell them apart with their flashy dresses and unique fabrics. From the corner of her eye, there were Southern women with their hair in flowers dancing to the music. However, looking around the large ballroom, the princess was lost in her reverie.

    The lights were true to her dream, bright and overwhelming. Bella was right about the ball, the lights could make everyone look beautiful... but the beautiful only shone brighter. Avalyne wasn't sure if she was the latter or the former. The floor she was standing on shone and reflected every guest in the room. Though, it was undeniably a sight to behold, Ava was still inwardly shaking out of fear.

    The King and Queen had gone off to socialize and make connections, leaving Ava alone to attempt conversation and make one of the most important decisions of her life. She took a deep breath. Avalyne might have an impending sense of danger of the event, but that didn't mean she could not enjoy it while it lasted.

    Standing up straight, she hoped to whatever god that still believed in her that Avalyne would find someone. Scanning the large hall for promising suitors, Avalyne realized that she had been spacing out the entire time and ended up in a different part of the hall than she was before. Finally, her eyes rested on a young prince with a muscular physique and silver hair. His appearance intrigued her, as well as the aura he gave off.

    Like she was told, the man was to initiate a dance. So she waited, far from other suitors, but close enough to still be approachable. Oliver could even smell the welcoming blend of flowers from where she was standing, the roses, daisies and lilies enveloping her body. Once she had caught his attention, Avalyne smiled sweetly, as if beckoning him.
    #1 Ace of Angels, Aug 31, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
  2. [​IMG]

    "Tales of an endless heart
    Cursed is the fool who's willing
    Can't change the way we are
    One kiss away from killing"

    A warrior without a war is like a tool without a purpose.

    He had made the darkness his home, the foreign shadows that hung between each crevice reminding him of the terrors that lurked within his heart. Prince Oliver of the infamous House Elyse could seldom sleep these recent days. The silver-haired Prince would often find himself kneeling in the darkness of whichever room suited him, as if trying to find solace within the colorless corners of his bedroom.

    Was he afraid of the dark? Perhaps... but not because of the fear of what lies in the darkness, but rather the fear of what does not. In the darkness, Oliver could feel the emptiness, the silent lamentations of the dead that haunted him with each passing moment. He had killed with the justification that would suit any killer just fine - to kill for your country was perhaps the greatest honor an Ecclesian could withhold. Yet in the darkness, he could do nothing but prescribe the faces of the innocent people he had harmed in the name of patriotism. The woman... the children.

    Oliver's silence was broken when the door to his bedroom swung open, glowing rays of candlelight piercing into the darkness, driving the images away.

    "My Prince. It is time."

    Prince Oliver raised himself, turning towards the man in the doorway. "I see. Get the horses ready, I'll be out soon."

    As soon as the man had dismissed himself, Oliver turned to his mirror, making a final inspection of himself before preparing to head off. Unlike many other members that would be attending the formal event, Oliver did not see the importance of such politics. The Elyse family was hated by the other royal families, so he could not understand why his family saw it important to send him to represent both his family and country. Sighing, Oliver made sure to fix his collar, allowing his long, unkempt silver locks to remain ungroomed in typical Oliver fashion.

    Once he was ready to leave, he threw over his blue, military coat over his shoulders - the golden epaulets shining against the soft candle light as he picked up the final piece of his uniform - the pin of the Elyse Dynasty. The pin was a small silver shield surrounded by a reef of golden oak leaves, a simple design that had certainly grown to be hated by the other Royal houses.

    Stepping down the stairs that led to the courtyard of the palace, a caravan of Imperial Knights were already mounted and waiting for their Prince. Warriors clad in silver armor from head to toe, willing to die at their Prince's command. Between the rows of knights was a tall, white stallion, the Prince's personal horse that he would take to the neighboring Kingdom. While most preferred the use of horse-drawn carriages, the Prince felt that a true leader rides with his men.

    Once mounted upon his horse, a loud whistle beckoned from the front of the caravan. "Company! Move!" The man in front commanded as the horses began to step forward, slowly beginning to descend the palace and into the city below. The moon was high above the sky as the Prince's entourage left the city, and the group did not expect to reach their destination until the same time the next day.

    24 Hours Later...

    The Prince and his personal retinue of knights had finally arrived at the neighboring palace, where the formal event was taking place. Oliver stepped off of his personal horse, the sound of hard-heeled, military boots clacking against the marble tile beneath his feet. The Palace was certainly impressive, even more luxurious than those of his own Kingdom. It made Oliver wonder if that's why Ecclesia had been able to win so many wars - because the other Royal Families spent their money on fancy archways rather than training their armies.

    As the Prince began to escort himself up the stairs and towards the ballroom, Oliver could feel the angry gazes of hundreds of nobles piercing towards him. It was obvious that the Ecclesians were not welcome here. Marching up the stairs, the Prince was flanked by his personal guards, just in case a drunken noble decided to fall out of line. Once inside, Oliver was once again impressed by the luxurious beauty of the establishment, with everyone dressed in flashy garments from foreign lands. Oliver and his knights certainly stuck out in their less-than-ostentatious military regalia.

    All of the nobles were intermingling with one another, exchanging conversations, laughs and dancing with one another to the live orchestra that was playing. Yet, none of them dared approach the Prince of Ecclesia, simply finding themselves content to stare and spread gossip over the cruelty that the Ecclesians had caused the other Kingdoms. While some of it was certainly true, much of it was nothing more than ill-intentioned propaganda.

    "My lord, are you not going to converse with the nobles? You are supposed to be improving relations, not damaging them."

    "My apologies. I find it difficult to socialize with people who already believe you are the devil."

    "What about that one? She's been staring at you for some time now."

    "Everyone has been staring at us for some time now."

    "Not that one. She's looking at you differently."

    Oliver turned to see a beautiful woman with long, raven locks and a piercing blue gaze that matched his own just off to the distance. She was staring at him, but it was clear that her stare was different than those of the other nobles - it was as if she wanted him to approach her. The Prince, intrigued by the stranger, motioned for his men to stay put as he approached her, his long, blue cloak flowing behind him as he approached. Stepping before her, the Prince gave a short bow.

    "I noticed you were alone. I'm Prince Oliver d' Elyse of Ecclesia - I would like to keep you company, if you do not mind."
    • Nice execution! Nice execution! x 1
  3. Of all people Avalyne could attempt to dance with, why did she decide to choose the man of the Empire everyone in the realm hated? It suddenly dawned on the Princess, that being unaware, yet hyper-aware of their surroundings simultaneously had large consequences. For one, only now did she realize the nobles' piercing stares of disdain directed at the man. How Avalyne would do damage control for her family was unknown.

    She was able to feel her parents' disappointment, Bella's disappointment at how Avalyne had chosen an Ecclesian crown prince to dance with, much less interact with. However... it seemed as if something supernatural drew her to him. Though, the Princess of Clairdencia knew how to face with every social situation with grace.

    Pretending as if the glares and reputation were absent in her mind, she curtsied back in return. Avalyne returned to a standing position, taking in the Prince's appearance fully. How she could not tell he was from the North surprised even herself. His military regalia, his pin and his cloak that flowed behind him. Most of all, his physique and unkempt hair. The way he surrounded himself with a strange confidence and pride drew the woman in. Perhaps this would not be so bad after all? Avalyne immediately chastised herself for that thought. A barbarian... and a monster. That was what he represented. She thought again, but with diminishing confidence.

    Avalyne met his matching blue eyes and smiled again in his direction. "Pleasure to meet your acquaintance. I'm Princess Avalyne Clairdencia of Rosehaven."

    The troubling thoughts in her face were expertly hidden beneath her exterior. She gently grazed his arm with a gloved hand. "I had not expected as much, but now as you introduce yourself, I see it now. I do often find myself drawn to strong presences. Especially yours, Prince Oliver." The words flowed easily from her lips as Avalyne pretended to pay close attention to the handsome man. It wasn't far from the truth, being a clairvoyant.

    Noticing the man did not smile very often, she took it upon herself to remain kind and approachable. "I would not mind at all if you kept me company. Would you like to dance or simply talk?" Avalyne asked politely.
    #3 Ace of Angels, Aug 31, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
    • Love Love x 1
  4. As Prince Oliver introduced himself to the noblewoman before him, he could feel the glares of the entire room piercing towards him. Perhaps they were surprised to find that any noblewoman in their ranks would dare accept conversation with an Ecclesian. Oliver had heard rumors that all Ecclesians were commonly viewed as disgusting, unrefined monkeys with little intellect - so to see their Prince in the flesh must have caused waves of gossip to spread among the nobles present.

    While he had grown accustomed to such hostile feelings, he was safe in assuming that the woman before him did not - despite an incredibly convincing attempt to hide any such regret. Even though Oliver recognized that she was required to feign a polite, cordial attitude, a part of the Prince felt thankful that the woman was willing to at least attempt communication with an unrefined monkey such as himself.

    "Pleasure to meet your acquaintance. I'm Princess Avalyne Clairdencia of Rosehaven."

    A Princess? While finding a Princess at this sort of formal event was certainly easier than finding a needle in a haystack, Oliver had not expected the one person he would be able to communicate with would be a high-ranking noble from another Kingdom. Despite not being as well-versed in the ruling families, being the uneducated monkey he was, he knew that the Clairdencias were a dominant political force, known for their powerful, age-old, bloodline ability of being... incredibly attractive? No wait, that's not a power... Before Oliver could vocalize a response, or even remember his formal education on the ruling families, the Princess suddenly continued,

    "I had not expected as much, but now as you introduce yourself, I see it now. I do often find myself drawn to strong presences. Especially yours, Prince Oliver."

    Oliver was taken aback by the Princess' compliment, while her words seemed genuine, he still questioned their authenticity. It was becoming more and more apparent that he was not well-versed in the game that was both courting and social politics. The Prince could feel his cheeks warm as their sapphire gazes locked against one another.

    "You flatter me, Princess Avalyne." Oliver crossed both arms behind his form, trying his best not to overthink what was probably nothing more than a halfhearted compliment. "I would be honored to have a dance with you, if you are not currently preoccupied." Oliver extended one hand out from behind his back, waiting for the alluring Princess to accept his offer.
    #4 Valor, Sep 1, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
    • Love Love x 1
  5. Despite the apparent disappointment, confusion as well as discontent of Avalyne even attempting interaction with the young prince... there was something genuine about his reaction. It didn't hurt to flirt with a prince that ruled over not a kingdom, but an Empire. Who knows? The Clairdencias might need their protection in the future and Avalyne was looking for a suitor in the ball just like anyone else. The way his cheeks had flushed was... endearing. In an odd way, after years of being accustomed to Southerners throwing compliments at each other back and forth like a game.

    She found herself imagining what it would be like to look over the harsh Northern plains... seeing snow and ice for the first time or huddling over a small fire with furs around her body. Looking over areas of pine and feeling goosebumps on her skin made her smile without having to muster up one out of thin air. Realizing what unpleasant thoughts she had, Avalyne focused on the situation. It was strange how only now did she realize his bloodline ability of transformation.

    Noticing that Avalyne's gaze into his sapphire eyes had been prolonged longer than what she deemed normal, her focus changed to his hand. Pushing her raven hair back, Avalyne straightened her back. Her chest pushed outward to reveal her pin. "Preoccupied?" Avalyne asked softly. "For you and a dance, Prince Oliver, never." She spoke as if the Princess was proud to be dancing with a barbarian. Avalyne chastised her idiotic actions, wishing that Oliver was a noble family of the South instead.

    Curtsying slowly, Avalyne made sure to make every move matter. Before fully standing, Avalyne gave him another smile in his direction and laced her gloved fingers with his, one at a time. Just as she was taught. To make an even bigger impression, the delicate woman traced his face with her free hand, making sure to linger in his mind before setting it onto his shoulder. The first thing she had felt were golden epaulets. Golden epaulets and muscular arms... it was Princess Avalyne's turn to blush. Luckily, the large orchestra played a slower waltz. Closing her sapphire orbs, Avalyne began to lose herself.

    The way soldiers lost themselves at battles, her smaller victories came in the form of dancing. Avalyne danced as if she was in love with the music and the movement, showing dramatically in the way her facial expressions changed. Instead of simply dancing for the sake of being polite, the Princess of Clairdencia was enjoying herself, fully and truly. Allowing herself to be twirled and guided across the floor, the Prince was a surprisingly good dancer, capable of leading her. At least, she thought so, being lost in the music. The audience, contrary to the hatred they had shown Oliver, they stared in awe at her expressive dancing. That was her obligation, her role. To become a face, a pretty little doll for the rest of the Southern Kingdom to stare and admire. This conjured spiteful thoughts from the Princess's psyche that dancing took away like a healing salve.

    Her moment had been quickly halted with another rude awakening. Clouding the music, she heard the floor rumble again and several strange presences in cloaks watching her. Goosebumps ran down her spine as her blood went cold. It started with her dainty hands beginning to shake as Avalyne found herself clinging onto him tighter. During the next spin, the dance began to fall apart. Feeling the illusion of the ground shaking, the Princess found herself falling over. Avalyne was suddenly clinging onto his chest and arms to keep herself from landing on the ground. Realizing her predicament, Avalyne turned a light pink.

    "My... apologies, Prince Oliver. Please forgive my clumsiness, I..."

    Avalyne felt a strange urge to look up in his direction. Feeling his blue eyes meeting her own, it became a quick instinctual reaction to hide her face. In this moment, Avalyne had not realized many things. Firstly, that she had not bothered to let go of Prince Oliver. The next, that the threat that would come to her would arrive much sooner than Avalyne had anticipated.
  6. What was he doing? Conversing with a Princess from a foreign land... with ideologies that conflicted so heavily against his own existence. Politically, the Kingdom of Rosehaven had been enemies with the Empire, the lands and people that Oliver himself would one day come to rule. Yet, the Princess had been the only one to treat him like another human being, despite the stares and gossiping of the other, less-than-cordial nobles in the chamber. While he knew that the Princess must have felt some regret in having to deal with the elephant in the room, her charity brought a weak, but ever noticeable smile to the Prince's lips - something that he had not caught himself doing in a long, long time.

    "For you and a dance, Prince Oliver, never."

    Oliver could feel his cheeks warm once again as the young man did his best to conceal such embarrassment. While such compliments were probably quite common in the game of politics, the Prince was unable to differentiate between a genuine compliment and one given out of necessity. To be honest, the Prince didn't mind, as just hearing them come from the Princess' lips was enough to add extra beats to the tempo of his heart.

    As Oliver stepped onto the dance floor with the Princess, he felt encapsulated by each one of the Princess' movements, her fingers slowly interlacing with his, her hand brushing against his exposed face. It was all a surreal, blissful feeling that made the young man's face turn every shade of red and back. As she finally rested her hand on his shoulder, his gaze locked against her own, only to find that the Princess was now blushing as well. Perhaps his awkwardness was beginning to rub off on her.

    As dancing was seen as an incredibly potent, political tool - one would assume that the Imperial Prince would be a poorly-practiced amateur at best. Dancing, however, was among the first skills that each Ecclesian, from noble to peasant, would master. For without the graceful, perfectly timed footwork involved with the basic waltz, one could not expect to wield a castle-forged blade with similar balance and precision. It was because of this that Oliver perhaps had more experience in dancing than anyone else at the formal event.

    The Prince lead the pair through the dance with the same graceful movements he had practiced alone for hundreds of hours. Surprisingly, this would be the first time he would actually dance with another person, as his formal dance training had originally been done with swordplay in mind. Oliver watched as the Princess closed her eyes as the two moved across the dance floor... Was she bored? Oliver worried to himself as the pair flowed back and forth gracefully. The dance seemed to be going well, or so he thought.

    Suddenly, he could feel the Princess' hands beginning to shake, her gloved fingers tightening their grip around his neatly pressed military uniform. Oliver quickly leaned over as the Princess fell backwards, clinging to him as she fell. What happened? Oliver worried that he had done something wrong to cause this. Without a word, the Prince laced his arm behind the Princess' waist, pulling her back to her feet and away from the ground.

    "My... apologies, Prince Oliver. Please forgive my clumsiness, I..."

    Before the Prince could ask what had caused such an event, he noticed an unfamiliar figure approaching from behind the Princess, a hooded figure that had passed through the crowd of nobles like a phantom. Suddenly, the man was silently charging towards them, the glint of a dagger reflecting off the lights around the hall.

    "Avalyne!" Oliver tightened his grip around the Princess, pulling her backwards as the man jabbed at the air, the sharp blade just missing her back by inches. As the assassin took a step back, regaining his footing, more hooded figures began to appear in the hallway, blades extended. Panic spread throughout the hallway as the guards quickly flung themselves into action, trying to hold off the figures as people tried to figure out what was going on.

    "Get behind me. Grab the back of my coat and don't let go." Oliver commanded, waiting for the Princess to do as she was told. Once she was behind him and he had both arms free, the Prince looked at his attacker. "A gentleman waits their turn to dance with a lady." Oliver growled teasingly, "But since you persist, I'll dance with you."

    After several moments, the armed assassin came charging towards Oliver, swinging his blade through the air in a wild, uncontrolled motion. It was clear by his movements that the assassin was nothing more than an amateur. As the pointy end of the blade came crashing down towards Oliver's face, the Prince grabbed the man by the wrist. In one sharp motion, he twisted the arm behind his back, audible cracks ringing through the air as Oliver twirled the man like a dancing partner, breaking the assassin's wrist in the process.

    "My Lord! Are you alright!?" A familiar voice rung out in the distance. From behind, several of Oliver's knights had come to his side.

    "I'm fine. Take Princess Avalyne to safety. Now!" Oliver barked

    The Knights paused, staring at the Princess, then back towards their Prince, "But your safety should be paramount!"

    Oliver turned towards his men, "NOW!" He exclaimed, tossing the wounded assassin onto the floor like a ragdoll.

    The men, unable to convince their Prince otherwise, turned to the Princess. "Your highness, please come with us. We will keep you safe. If you have your own men, we will try to get you to them."

    As the group discussed what they would be doing, a dozen more armed figures approached from the crowd, their blades already bloodied from the nobles that they had killed. While there were hundreds of nobles running back and forth, it was quite apparent that they were after only a select few - possibly those with direct claims to the throne.
  7. Avalyne looked on nervously, her intuition telling her something extremely bad was going to happen within the next few seconds. Without knowing what to do, she held onto him tightly, wordlessly. Not noticing the knife approaching her, she shrieked in shock. Her heart was racing as she immediately went pale. Quickly, Avalyne followed his instructions, holding onto the back of his blue coat for protection.

    The fight between the Prince and the assassin was almost mesmerizing. She had been to many a joust, but a true fight with his prowess made Avalyne think of what other things he was capable of. His apparent danger was obvious to her now. What was she thinking by choosing to beckon him? To get him to dance with her? The way Oliver spoke sent shivers to her spine. Never had the Princess seen anyone's bones being broken. Avalyne almost yelled for him to stop, but controlled herself. The assassin was trying to attack Avalyne... but the Prince had defended her, watching the assassin fall to the ground.

    The knights' discussion with Prince Oliver had went by like a flash, before Avalyne could truly process the fact that they were being attacked. Ignoring the knights for a few quick seconds, Avalyne had to do something... to at least give him a thanks of some sort. Gently pulling him to face her, the woman gracefully pulled out the biggest rose in her hair. The dark tresses fell to her waist as she held it out towards him. "My Prince Oliver... you have my thanks and my remembrance." Avalyne hurriedly announced, giving him the large white rose and a sweet kiss on the cheek. It was only then, that she followed the knights, disappearing into the crowd.

    Immediately another man snuck up on Oliver, as they began to accumulate. Perhaps they wanted the stronger, more powerful victims. Eventually there were nine or ten of them by the time she had ran.

    Soon, they had led her outside, the cold air making her shiver. The assassins seemed to be on the inside, while others evacuated outside. Overall chaos in the palace was rampant as she held back tears of fear. She was a girl and they expected her to cry. So she didn't. Her family was waiting outside, more specifically her mother and father. Gently curtsying the knights goodbye, the tall raven-haired man, Ava's father, pulled her closer to him. The two adults looked at the knights with disdain. After the moment of dancing, Avalyne had nearly forgot of the overwhelming dislike of the Northern region of the realm. Before getting into the carriage, she mouthed, "Thank you." to the knights and entered.

    The whole ride home was silent, to her surprise. Perhaps, they were more concerned that she was safe than who she was with, in the ball. Though, Avalyne was almost certain that they would ask later during the night or the morning after. However, it was odd that Avalyne was also certain of Prince Oliver making it through the assassination. Whether it was because of her clairvoyance or just her own faith was a blur.

    It was fortunate that Rosehaven was only a couple of hours from the large palace via carriage. It was early in the morning but late into the night, around 2 or 3. Avalyne's brother had been worried sick for his sister. While Avalyne took her appearance from her father, it was clear that Elliot Clairdencia took after her mother. Hair like spun gold with emerald green eyes. The Clairdencias were also famous from marrying to other families. Many generations ago, before the big takeover of the north, there were even marriages between the North and the South.

    Married to a Western woman had made the Rosehavens wealthier while the Rosehavens provided agriculture, a way to spin their jewels and valuable connections to other kingdoms. Their parents, Henry and Muriel Clairdencia were also a cross-realm marriage. Henry had been born in Rosehaven while Muriel was born in Esaria of the East. Why couldn't a North/South pairing have such benefits? Life was simply unfair.

    Despite the many quiet hours passing by, she could not get her mind off the Ecclesian prince. Her first reaction was frustration. This wasn't right. How was she supposed to be a face for a kingdom like this? Their reputations were to increase after the great ball, not the opposite. Her second reaction was intrigue, curiosity. Why couldn't Avalyne get the barbarian out of her thoughts? It drove her to near madness. She twirled the flowers around her fingers impatiently.

    "Ava... my sister, I am glad you are alright." Avalyne sat by her mirror, disheveled hair and all, staring blankly at nothing as her brother poked his head through the door and entered her chamber. The last person, as well as the first person she wanted to talk to. The Princess accepted a hug with open arms. Avalyne could not look at her brother as small tears fell from her face. "I..." She shook her head. "Are you aware... of?"

    He nodded. "The Ecclesian prince, yes." Elliot's voice grew stern. "Avalyne Clairdencia... what were you thinking? I know you must have been aware of the consequences that dancing with him have brought you and our people. If they think we're barbarians, then, what will they think of the South?" There was still a protective concern to his voice, the same protectiveness that reminded her of Oliver.

    Gritting her teeth, it was time for the Princess to put on yet another show. "Elliot..." She shamefully buried her hands in her face. "He... asked me to dance. If I had said no... you are aware of how powerful they are! His men were there as well, simply watching me. I felt overwhelmed... imagine how rude I had been if I had refused. The only good thing that Oliv- that monkey has done for me was distracting those assassins from attacking me." The only time she took her hands away from her face was to place it on Elliot's shoulder. As if on cue, Elliot's features softened exponentially.

    "I apologize for being so... unsympathetic. I have not known, merely..."

    "No, I understand." Avalyne smiled. "You are my brother, sweet Elliot. I would never expect harm from you or Princess Madeleine."

    Elliot touched her head gently, as if reassuring her. "No, I should have never expected bad from you, my flower sister." He stepped away from the vanity and leaned out of the doorway.

    "Do not get me wrong, dear sister. I'll make sure they won't underestimate the South. No shame... simply killing nobles." Elliot shook his head, about to speak with his father. "In the South, my flower, social disgraces do not go ignored." His authoritative voice returned to him. Kissing his sister on the forehead, he quickly walked out. Their father, Henry Clairdencia was waiting outside the ivory doorways of her chambers. Avalyne's face was devoid of emotion, it was a good show put on, but... what were they talking about? Ava thought.

    It didn't bother her to know. Still groggy from the lack of sleep, the Princess looked to her poppies by the large windowsill. She wondered what it would be like if they were gone. Flowers didn't survive the harsh north. Neither would she. Wiping stray tears from the corners of her eyes, she stared at the villages and towns mingling with the guards. Several dancers with bright colours that reflected the moonlight spun around gracefully, reminding her of the ball. Drowned out voices as she sat by the window could be heard on both sides. It is not worth all the trouble. She shook her head.

    Stripping down from her dress, she was glad nothing was dirtied as she watched the dancers wearing just a white slip. Allowing the nightly winds to brush over her pale skin, Avalyne sighed. Madeleine had prepared her another glass of poppy milk. The Princess did not need it this time. It was just a ball. A ball. It was just a ball, Avalyne drilled into her mind. Crawling back into the blankets, she tried to forget about the ball. However, her dreams didn't reassure her of otherwise.

    It was just a ball.

    They would learn to call it the Reverie.

    A white rose garden had surrounded her. The same ones she had given the Ecclesian prince. Avalyne was wearing her bue ballroom dress, with all the same jewellry. Her hair even looked the same. Normally, with clairvoyant dreams, Avalyne would have to lay back and watch something happen. The skies, nor did the world around her feel any different. It felt like her kingdom, without any buildings whatsoever. Seeing a familiar silver head and blue coat, she rose. "Prince Oliver!" Avalyne cried, almost happily, but stopped herself before saying anything else.

    This was odd. The Princess never had any autonomy in her dreams... "Prince Oliver!" Avalyne suddenly had a feeling of danger. "Behind you!" She cried out, waving her hands. A large, black hound came after him in his direction. However, when she had called the hound, it would have been much to quiet or far away for her to notice. Incredible... she was almost 10 seconds ahead. Covering her eyes as she watched him slay the mighty beast, the hound simply... disappeared into thin air as the Princess watched. No blood, nothing seemed to be broken. Shaking her head, Avalyne knew something was wrong.

    Attempting to be graceful, she lifted her dress up to follow him. The thorns of the surrounding rose bush dug into her dress, leaving undesirable tears. Undesirable tears near the end as well as a large, yet shallow cut to her delicate leg. Avalyne bit her lip to prevent crying out as a large trail of blood stained the flowers and the light green grass she tread upon. Leg shaking from the injury, Avalyne pretended that it did not affect her. It was only a dream after all... Putting an all too familiar hand on his face, her sapphire eyes met his own. "It seems I am still inconveniencing you even in my dreams, Prince Oliver. You must smile more… it brings out your eyes." She smiled it off, but eventually fell on the grass.
    #7 Ace of Angels, Sep 2, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016
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  8. "Thank you."

    The last words the Princess silently mouthed as she slipped into the carriage brought a sense of relief to the Knights, who were now able to redirect their attention back to their Prince. As Princess Avalyne's carriage quickly departed the scene - the dozen knights now turned themselves back to the palace. "Back to the hall... Now!" Without even taking a moment to catch their breath, the Knights quickly forced their way back into the Palace. As they attempted to reenter the building, they found themselves confronted by countless groups of fleeing nobles, forcing them to push through the endless tidal waves of people running in the opposite direction.

    The event was a massacre.

    Hundreds of unfortunate people were slaughtered by the hands of their masked assailants, who seemed content to butcher the unarmed members of the aristocracy. As the Knights made their way back into the building, they were confronted by hallways littered with the dead. Nobles, guards and assailants alike piled against the once grand furniture that decorated the palace - and their blood lined the golden walls and marble columns that lined the room. "Prince Oliver!? Damnit, I knew we shouldn't have left him!" The Knights continued to comb through the building, until they had finally made their way back to the main ballroom, where they had previously left the Prince..

    Upon entering the room, the Knights were shocked to find a sea of red, almost three dozen bodies mangled and strewn out across the room. Decapitated, limbs dismembered from their bodies, blood painting the entire dance floor like a canvas. At the center of the holocaust was the Prince, on his knees, desperately clutching the white rose he had been given between his blood-stained finger tips. "My Lord, are you alright?!" The Ecclesian Knights formed a perimeter around their Prince, with two of them crouching beside him.

    "Sir Hector... is she safe...?" Oliver's eyes stared quietly at the ground, his voice soft - almost a whisper.

    "Yes, My Prince. We saw her carriage and her guards escape safely. She is probably halfway to Rosehaven by now."

    "Can you believe that I did this?"
    Oliver felt as if he was beginning to strain with each and every word, his eyes beginning to feel the pain that he had inflicted on the bodies around him.

    "Your powers are young, my Lord. You still have yet to learn how to control them."

    "Just imagine..." Oliver paused for a moment, his sad eyes turning towards the Knight beside him, "If Avalyne knew that she had danced with a demon... If she saw..." Before he could finish that thought, the Prince felt his voice leave him, his body unable to support his own weight as he fell against the blood-stained floor. As he lay limp on the ground, the last thing the Prince would remember would be the white rose, still clenched firmly between his fingertips.

    If she saw what a monster I was...

    "You must smile more… it brings out your eyes."
    As sapphire eyes drifted back open, they were met with a familiar image: a white rose firmly clenched between his fingers. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the night had turned to day - and that he was surrounded by nature he had never experienced before. A sea of white roses, supplemented by the warm, gentle breeze - a vastly different land compared to the inhospitable cold and the imminent lack of greenery of his homeland.

    "Am I... dreaming?" Oliver thought to himself. While it would certainly explain the sudden, improbable change in scenery, Oliver wondered how he could imagine such a place if he had never experienced such a land to begin with. Oliver could not remember the last time he had been able to dream, his rampant inability to sleep forcing him away from such experiences.

    Pulling himself up, Oliver realized there was something strange - his body felt unnaturally heavy, making it difficult for him to stand. As he hoisted himself up, standing among the seemingly endless rows of white roses, Oliver wondered what this strange dream could possibly be. Before he could gain a good foothold of his surroundings, he heard an all too familiar voice suddenly ring out from behind.

    "Prince Oliver! Behind you!"

    Turning in place, Oliver was met with the snarling teeth of a large, black hound. Oliver had barely any time to react before the hound jumped towards him, snatching its teeth in an attempt to strike at the young Prince's face. Unfortunately for the hound, the Prince was faster, a lightning draw from his waist exposed the blade which hid underneath the leather scabbard. In one, graceful strike, the blade dashed through the beast and out the other side. While Oliver was well acquainted with the feeling of blade meeting flesh, he was surprised to find that the creature simply... disappeared as his blade passed through - like a ghost.

    Still stunned by the phantom hound, the Prince took several moments before looking towards the direction of the voice. Sure enough, Princess Avalyne was there, running towards him. Prince Oliver did not move to meet her, still confused by the situation that he found himself in. As the Princess approached him, he noticed tears rolling down the side of her cheeks. The Prince took hold of the Princess as soon as she was in arms reach, her weight shifting towards the ground as her legs seemed to be suddenly giving way.

    "It seems I am still inconveniencing you even in my dreams, Prince Oliver. You must smile more… it brings out your eyes."

    The Prince blushed, shyly averting his eyes away from the Princess as he tried his best to crease his lips into a smile. "You were never an inconvenience, Avalyne." Oliver remarked, turning his gaze back towards the woman in his arms - this time with a weak smile etched across his face. Although he was holding her, the heavy weight of his own body combined with the Princess' buckling legs caused the both of them to fall onto the patch of grass Oliver had awoken from. Careful not to crush the Princess under his weight, the Prince held himself above her on all fours, staring down at the woman beneath him.

    "If you had not already injured yourself, I would have told you to run far away from me." The Prince's smile slowly retreated to a frown, "I am not someone that you should be near... dream or not."
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  9. "You were never an inconvenience, Avalyne. If you had not already injured yourself, I would have told you to run far away from me. I am not someone that you should be near... dream or not."

    The Princess carefully noted his shyness. Nothing new, but that would make him rather easy to sway. He was smiling, to Avalyne's pleasant surprise. It seemed to be genuine, but with hints of pain laced in. She had never seen anyone smile like that, Southerners were experts at hiding their feelings and true intentions, herself included among other people. Even if he didn't mean it, the action was what counted. And again, he was holding her.

    Too close.

    "Thank you.... that speaks volumes for me," Her eyes went wide in surprise. He called her Avalyne without her honourific. This had only happened when you had formed a bond with someone, either familial or through friendship. Had Oliver gained this privilege yet? If anything, it was Princess Avalyne that was indebted to him, the barbarian he was. "...Oliver." She tentatively spoke his name, with increasing confidence near the end. The raven haired woman enjoyed the sound of his name from her lips. Oliver, she mused silently.

    Oliver was too close. Avalyne knew that he was not the most socially-adept person in the realm. Even when you were dancing, there was a distance barrier you kept between each person. He wasn't the only person that had broken the barrier. The dark haired Princess still remembered the ball, with the assassin attacking her with the way he had acted. The saying "Rumours stem from truths sewn together," was quite popular among the South of the realm. However, an odd part of her was not against the close contact.

    It never failed to surprise her how strong the man was, but Avalyne could not deny the overwhelming aura exuding from Oliver. Something that went beyond physical strength. Mentally, the Princess felt small spikes of pain and another form of... power. From many a painful lesson, she was slowly learning to trust in her instincts. Leaning on his shoulder, she propped herself beside him in a sitting position to give them both some distance. He then spoke of running away from him, Avalyne realized and continued.

    "I disagree. You have been ensuring my safety ever since the ball... there is a chance that I'd have died without you. I still marvel over your strength as a Prince." Avalyne gave him a weak smile, "You have rescued me many times before, if it weren't for... kingdom relations, I would reward you with our best gardens, pastries, and... warmer skies. Similar to this." She gestured to the sky and the bed of roses near them. Once their eyes met again, Avalyne felt the presence getting stronger. Eventually, putting two and two together, she sighed. Clairvoyance was a tricky thing to master.

    "Oliver, do you happen to have inherited a strong bloodline ability? And... do you happen to have knowledge what a Clairdencia's ability is?" It was worth asking. Avalyne wasn't sure what the Ecclesian ability was that made his aura so overwhelming. Was it something to do with war? She could not put her head around it.
    #9 Ace of Angels, Sep 3, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
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  10. "Even in my dreams you still flatter me, Avalyne."

    Sapphire orbs carefully studied the Princess' own. This had to be a dream, as the Princess was still dressed in the same ballroom dress she had wore the night before. His hands... his gloves were still as white as the Northern snows - when they had been previously dripped in blood. It all felt surreal, like a dream - but the Princess that was in his arms, calling his name... she felt too real. The Prince listened quietly to Avalyne's words, speaking of the rewards he could have had if their Kingdoms had not been at odds with one another.

    "Oliver, do you happen to have inherited a strong bloodline ability? And... do you happen to have knowledge what a Clairdencia's ability is?"

    The Prince paused, certainly a strange question to be asked in a dream. He had almost forgotten that each of the noble families had a bloodline ability, meaning that Avalyne herself was no exception. Unfortunately, he could not remember what the Clairdencias were known for, their limited interactions with the Ecclesians causing them to stay mostly hidden from the Elyse family's wandering eyes. Yet his own ability... was something that he could not yet understand.

    "Yes." Oliver admitted after moments of contemplation. "I have been told that my powers are stronger than any other Elysian before me." He explained, a glint of sadness dripping from his voice. "But it is more of a curse, than anything. Avalyne, if you saw..." Oliver stopped, shaking such thoughts from his mind. "My people hail me as a god, but I feel like nothing more than a demon." The Prince pulled away from Avalyne, turning himself to the sun which hung high over the grassy plains.
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  11. Avalyne's breathing halted momentarily. Her first reaction was to choose a flight response... but listening more to the Prince, her features softened. The overwhelming power surging through her brain had meant something. She carefully interpreted and listened to every word he said. A curse...? A part of her fear somehow dissipated from hearing him more vulnerably than usual. Covering her face as protection of the glaring sunlight, it was a peaceful sight. So peaceful to the point that the hound from before looked out of place. It was merely a dream, but Oliver felt real. Taking a deep breath, she stood up. He called her Avalyne again.

    "Oliver..." She began to speak, slowly taking the seat beside him. The Princess hoped that she would say the right things, as it pained her to see the Prince in pain. "I may not know nor understand your bloodline ability, however, I think you would like to know mine." Avalyne brushed a small piece of raven hair and laced it into her ear. "We come from a line of a florist charming or flattering the likes of a god, granting our family an ability. Clairdencias... especially myself, are able to see symbols, visions and sense things that go unseen. Some of the skilled can even predict as far as their great grandchildren's future children. I can even see from the other side of my palace if I focus enough."

    "However, I am also able to sense danger." The Princess smiled and leaned in closer to the mighty Prince. "If I had thought you were dangerous... I'd have ran far away, the day of the ball. I did not sense danger... I felt someone strong and powerful." Avalyne continued, inching closer to Oliver, their faces inches apart. "Demons do not save princesses from ballroom massacres or sacrifice their men for the safety of another. Demons do not slay bloodhounds or hold another woman in their arms." Avalyne stopped to stare into his sapphire eyes.

    Finally, she pressed her lips against his cheek before gently grazing his jaw with the same gloved hand. "I might not understand what your people think of you, Oliver, but you are no demon. Far from it." Avalyne slowly pulled back, blushing. It was almost obvious that Avalyne had wanted to say more, praised more things about the Prince... but there were many things that silenced her. This
    wasn't right.
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  12. "We come from a line of a florist charming or flattering the likes of a god, granting our family an ability. Clairdencias... especially myself, are able to see symbols, visions and sense things that go unseen. Some of the skilled can even predict as far as their great grandchildren's future children. I can even see from the other side of my palace if I focus enough."

    The Prince listened as Avalyne explained the powers of the Clairdencia family - their ability of clairvoyance... precognition that allows them to see the past, present, future and more. Certainly, the power to see into the future could be seen as an incredible gift, but Oliver knew that the most powerful of gifts could also behold the most powerful of curses. But the ability to sense auras was by far the most intriguing of Avalyne's abilities, her words putting the young Prince's mind at ease.

    As the Prince attempted to formulate a response, he suddenly felt warm, plush lips tenderly pressing against his cheek, followed shortly after a familiar glove gently trailing across his jaw. Oliver did his best to compose himself, each movement the Princess made further mesmerizing the young man. No amount of discipline or political training could ever prepare him in interacting with such an alluring woman.

    "I might not understand what your people think of you, Oliver, but you are no demon. Far from it."

    Oliver's eyes studied the Princess' face, he wanted to thank her for her kind words, but his vision quickly caught wind of the rosy blush that was painted across her canvas. Nervously, the Prince found himself immediately blushing as well, a feeling that only intensified after he realized that he was becoming flustered.

    "I may not have known you for very long," Oliver began as he slowly regained his composure, "But you have been so kind to me... I'll be honest, I don't think I'll ever understand what you've seen in me..." The Prince moved his arm around Avalyne's waist, gently pulling the petite Princess closer to him: until he could feel the soft beating of the Princess' heart against his own chest.

    "...but thank you..." The Prince said finally, a smile drawn across the young man's face.

    Sapphire eyes locked against one another as the Prince held Avalyne against his form. The grip behind her was both strong and powerful, reflecting the aura that Avalyne sensed from him. Without warning, Oliver's face slowly navigated downwards, his lips edging dangerously close to the Princess' own. This was a dream, right? Holding the young woman against his chest, Oliver hovered there for several moments, his gentle lips practically pleading to connect against Avalyne's. Yet, something felt wrong about this...
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  13. If Avalyne had thought that Oliver was too close, she would internally fanning herself to cool off. That was what she had attempted doing, taking deep breaths but suddenly a stronger hold grabbed her waist. The feeling had felt familiar, though, no one had held her so closely before other than family. Avalyne had never felt such strength... though she should be running. A comparison between a graceful, vulnerable deer chased by a wolf could be drawn if it were not for different circumstances. With predator and prey, there would always be a sense of meddling in things that should not be...

    While the young man could feel her heartbeat, she felt his own pounding into her chest at the same time. Whether hearts were able to beat at the same time was a different matter. Princess Avalyne could not draw her eyes away from his eyes or his smile. Of course, Avalyne could not understand what drew her to Oliver. If it had been a regular kingdom day, she'd have been fearful of just brushing across the man on a street or been disgusted at his lack of manners.

    There was a strange sense of relaxation his grip had on Avalyne. The petite woman felt safe, protected and relaxed in his arms. They had not known each other for very long, so why did fate have to take its course? Don't ask a clairvoyant, you're not going to get anything. As their lips nearly connected, Avalyne decided to bite the bullet. For this was merely a dream, and first kisses don't count in dreamworlds... right? Leaning in to bridge the gap, the raven haired woman found herself losing the moment.

    The Princess' kisses was gentle. It was as if with every press of the lips, Princess Avalyne expressed her sweetness, her loving side and part of her allure in multiple kisses. She gracefully traced his hair and face with her gloves. Within seconds that lasted for hours, the Princess had finally realized what she was doing. Slowly pulling away, Avalyne had to breathlessly speak between pants, "Oliver... you feel so real... I don't know what I would do if you were..."
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  14. Although Oliver had never in a million years would have completed such a connection, he suddenly felt the Princess' familiar lips press gently against his. Surprised, the Prince's cheeks burned an even intenser red as he stood there - stunned by the kiss that had been planted so lovingly against his lips. Yeah, this has to be a dream. Oliver tentatively bit his lip, preparing to part his lips to speak when suddenly the Princess came closer once again, planting yet another kiss against his lips.

    While Oliver was rather stunned by the first couple of kisses, the young man eventually found himself melting against the tender sweetness that the Princess showed him. This had to be a dream. Oliver kept telling himself, yet everything was so vivid, so real. His spare hand cupped the side of the Princess' face as they passionately brought their lips against one another. The Prince had never felt attracted to anyone before, yet here he was, completely enchanted and his heart completely captured by the sweet, alluring Princess.

    After what seemed like a blissful eternity, the Princess's lips slowly retreated backwards. His face lingered close to hers, his lips desperately wishing for more of the Princess' own. As they both attempted to recuperate from the passionate moment, Oliver could feel the gentle breaths that escaped Avalyne's lips brush against his face - almost as if they were teasing him, begging him to kiss her just one more time.

    "Oliver... you feel so real... I don't know what I would do if you were..."

    "What scares me is that I probably would have kissed you either way..." Oliver held back a smile, instead biting at his lip. This was a dream... right? It had to be...

    "I..." Oliver began slowly, his cheeks feeling as if they were on fire. "I'm very fond of you, Avalyne." The Prince admitted softly. No shit, Oliver. You just kissed her.
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  15. Avalyne knew that dreams weren't real. They didn't even occur in the same plane of existence. No form of known magic could ever be strong enough to host two nobles with their own magical abilities and create a complete new world. Complete with a sky, flowers, grass... and a bloodhound. It seemed nigh impossible. This seemed to be the only real explanation. That this was a dream and that later, the Princess would wake up. Wake up sad and alone, with a new suitor to look forward to.

    She exhaled, so close to Oliver's face she could almost feel his skin against her own. To recuperate, Avalyne pulled back further, touching her warm cheeks with her hands. No man had ever been able to fluster her. It was nearly impossible, but Oliver seemed to do this so easily. It confused the young Princess that a Prince able to command and fight with such strength could possibly become flustered with an alluring woman. It wasn't too confusing, considering Princess Avalyne had much more time to work on her charms than on her swordsmanship. With such a Northern physique, who needed charms?

    What Oliver had said sounded so genuine as she spotted him biting his own lip. Fond... of me? The raven haired woman stood blankly. There were very few times where she didn't know the right things to say. Ironically, having the right things to say had led her into this predicament in the first place. Things would have turned out differently if Avalyne had told him that barbarians should hang off of the trees until they suffocate. But she didn't, and look at where she was now.

    "I find that hard to believe." Avalyne finally responded after being silent for what seemed like forever. "Thank you. I am very fond of you as well... but I am confused. What do you want me to make of this information? This is merely a dream. A dream that only feels real. You are not real, my Prince Oliver." The words began to slip out of the Princess' mouth. Everything from the breath on his lips, the speed at which her heart was beating, his voice and his hold on her before drove her mad. Mad with what she did not know.

    "How can an illusion bring me... such an odd feeling? It confuses me. The real Oliver could not possibly say such things." Avalyne shook her head in disbelief. "I-If you want to kiss me, I don't know what I could do. I cannot stop thinking of how real you are... in my dreams. It feels wrong, don't you feel it too?" Realizing that the young woman probably looked like she was losing her mind, she sighed, seemingly resigned. "No, of course you don't. Because you are not real." Her voice faltered at the shame of kissing an Ecclesian of her own free will. Wiping away angry tears from her face, Avalyne looked away.
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  16. "You are not real, my Prince Oliver."

    There was something strange about the words that left the Princess' lips... the puzzled look on her face surrendered the honest feelings she held within. Prince Oliver assumed a similar glance as he gazed down at the Princess, who seemed more than convinced that it was him that was the illusion. He found it more than odd that someone in his dream would see him as the false entity, rather than it be the other way around. Something was certainly wrong with the situation... though he couldn't understand what it was.

    "I-If you want to kiss me, I don't know what I could do. I cannot stop thinking of how real you are... in my dreams. It feels wrong, don't you feel it too?"

    Indeed, Oliver felt it. The images that were transpiring before him were far too vivid... far too clear. The Prince had no idea how he could possibly have a dream with such clarity. He could feel, see, interact with everything around him... it was beginning to seem more than just a dream. Prince Oliver trailed his hand along the Princess' face, her flustered cheeks warming the tips of his fingers. While Oliver rarely experienced dreams, he knew that they were generally far less detailed than this... and usually far more terrifying.

    "No, of course you don't. Because you are not real."

    Oliver's eyes stared at the Princess, his once passionate gaze completely overtaken by bewilderment, "I am not real...? But I..." Before Oliver could finish his statement, he noticed a disturbance in the garden. Without so much as a second thought, Oliver hastily grabbed hold of the Princess' flowing, blue dress. He immediately pulled the Princess backwards and the pair found themselves falling unceremoniously across the grass beneath their feet. As they fell, a projectile whizzed safely overhead - while it was traveling too fast to be recognized, the Northerner certainly knew an arrow when he saw one.

    His survival instincts kicking into gear, Oliver scooped the Princess into his arms, knowing that her ability to run had been hindered by the small lacerations around her ankles. What was going on? Oliver couldn't comprehend this dream. One moment he was being attacked, the next moment he was kissing the Princess, and the moment right after he was being attacked once more. What if... this wasn't just a dream?

    "Don't let go!" Oliver shouted as several more arrows fell nearby. With the Princess firmly cradled in his arms, he began running as fast as his legs could carry him, in the opposite direction of the arrows. If this wasn't a dream... who was attacking them? Could it have been the same people that had attacked during the ball? The Prince crossed the garden with great speed, the weight of the Princess in his arms barely a hindrance to his movement.

    The grassy plains eventually gave way to a long river, with a small, wooden bridge that linked the two land masses together. As Oliver ran towards the water, several more arrows crashed against the surrounding grasslands. He could tell by the number of arrows that there had to have been more than one shooter. They were being hunted, though he had no idea as to why.

    Gripping Avalyne in his arms, he realized that there would be no way for them to ford the river without crossing the wooden bridge, as the roaring currents of the water would viciously sweep them downstream. Plus, Oliver wasn't much of a swimmer, since the only bodies of water in the North tended to be giant bricks of ice. He was a bloody good ice skater though. Oliver knew that the bridge was their only option.

    The Prince ran across to the bridge's entryway, his feet treading over the first planks of wood. The bridge sat almost twenty feet above the water, the roaring currents threatening to sweep away any who dare fall into its embrace. Perhaps, if they could make it across, the Prince could break the thin bridge apart with his blade so that their pursuers could not follow.

    The sound plan was poorly executed as a loud crack could be heard over the passing waters. The wooden plank under Oliver's foot had given way, allowing his leg to be caught against the wood. Knowing that he was trapped, the Prince hoped to at least give the Princess a way out, "Go! Keep running!" Oliver shouted. He was about to place the Princess on her feet when the bridge felt less than merciful, the wooden supports buckling and then snapping from underneath.

    And so began the plunge downward.
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  17. Avalyne had felt something cold crawl up her spine. That feeling had never failed to send a clear enough message. Danger was coming once again. Oliver had beat her to the chase, her eyes going wide as Oliver lifted her body as she nearly flew backwards. The arrow had flown dangerously close to her ear, flinching as she heard the arrow zip by. Avalyne looked to the Prince in shock as she was being carried.

    I don't plan to, the Princess responded internally to his yell, gripping onto him tightly. The young woman could hear each projectile flying through the once peaceful gardens. If Oliver felt real, then... Her thoughts, like Oliver's, had trailed off to the moment in the ball as the assassins targeted the both of them. Shaking her head at the ridiculousness of a few kingdom assassins of low rank being able to craft a dream world to kill the both of them. While Avalyne herself had not come to this conclusion, one thing was for sure. Oliver was indeed real and so was this world around her.

    The Princess stared ahead at awe of the speed the Ecclesian Prince was moving at, knowing that there was not any way she could achieve the same amount of speed with her flowing dress. Dressed for beauty and not movement, this was proving to be more of an inconvenience than Avalyne had originally thought. In dreams, you never seem to control even the thoughts of the odd world around you. Looking at the long river, Avalyne looked to her left as the river appeared to have descended downwards, the current stream clear and quick.

    "Go! Keep running!"

    Closing her eyes at the sight, Avalyne shook her head as Oliver stepped foot onto the bridge. She knew what was coming, but Avalyne hated how late the news came to her. The Princess saw herself falling as well as the foundation of the flimsy bridge. Just by looking at the entryway made her feel nervous. The flimsiness as well as that there were steps missing gave the young woman a sense of unease. "We can't take this path, Oliv--" Avalyne grabbed onto his hand as she closed her eyes. Her words were silenced, later muffled by the water.

    The fall was slow, but the water was much deeper than she had anticipated. A lady never needed to learn how to swim, but it was not very hard for Avalyne to take breaths every so often. Expecting herself to fall either way, Avalyne dove her head into the clear waters. The current from above didn't sting her body as much as they had on the surface. Looking around, her sapphires spotted fish of all sizes as well as something glowing. With currents moving the two of them, she spotted a glowing light from underneath with several cryptic symbols. Symbols that almost looked like seals.

    Without any additional time to investigate the waters, Avalyne took a breath. There was yet another safe place for them to retreat. No one would ever possibly bother to shoot arrows from a cave. The stone that fortified the cavern was black with ice in the cracks. Were they in the North somehow? Avalyne wasn't sure. Shivering slightly, she crawled out of the waters to fight against the current. Lifting part of her dress up, her cut had stopped bleeding, possibly from exposure to the river washing the wound away. Holding out a hand for the Prince Oliver, she felt a bit ashamed for her now disheveled appearance.

    "Ah, it's cold." The woman looked the other way to the end. What seemed to be on the other side were pine trees, hard soil and some light snowfall. The winds were blowing in the direction of the cave. The sight was beautiful, even if it was unfamiliar. Touching her tousled raven locks, it seemed her flowers had also been washed away with the water. Sitting down on a charcoal coloured stone, Avalyne glanced at the silver haired man. "Oliver, I apologize," she began, "I was wrong. You're real. This world is real... though, I'm not sure if this is simply another form of reality, but we are real, Prince Oliver." The Princess repeated, confident in her answer.
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  18. It was probably the worst time to find out that Oliver couldn't swim.

    Rivers did not exist in the North, the frozen, inhospitable lands transforming any large body of water into ice. Even in the more southern regions of the North where such waterways existed, one would find that the water was much too cold to even swim in. The raging currents pushed against his body as the Prince attempted to bring himself to the surface, an act which was far more difficult than it sounded. At least they were no longer being at.

    Oliver crawled to the surface, desperately attempting to clear his head over the currents which threatened to sweep them away. He could not see the Princess, a feeling that only added to the stress of his situation. He was only able to remain above the water for small periods of time before being pulled back under, using the precious moments to repeatedly fill his burning lungs. This trend continued until the Prince found a familiar face only an arm's length away. Avalyne crouched above him, her arm extended out for the dying Prince to reach.

    The Princess' disheveled appearance was the last thing on his mind as he used her slender arm to pull himself up and from the danger of the inhospitable waters. As he emerged from the passing river, the Prince could feel a surging pain in his shoulder. Blood slowly dripped from the side of his coat as he knelt on the base of the cavern. An arrow had lodged itself into the blade of his shoulder, half of the long projectile cracked in half, but still firmly wedged in place. Although Oliver could not see it, he sure as hell could feel it. After all, he still had the scars from previous, arrow-related wounds on his body.

    "I was wrong. You're real. This world is real... though, I'm not sure if this is simply another form of reality, but we are real, Prince Oliver."

    "It sure hurts like it's real." Oliver whimpered under his breath, the adrenaline slowly giving way to pain. "I've never really swam before." He tried to crack a smile, looking for some sort of humor in the situation. Instead however, his breaths became slower and more heavy, something he tried to control as not to worry Avalyne too much.

    The inside of the cavern felt... cold. A feeling that was all too familiar to the Northern barbarian. Weren't they in the South, though? The sudden change in temperature made him uneasy. Wherever they were, it was certainly not a place either of them were familiar with. Still on his knees, the drenched, wounded Prince placed a hand on Avalyne's cheek, slowly trailing his fingers across her own, wet skin. "I'm not very good at protecting you, am I?"
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  19. Avalyne stared on in shock as her eyes traveled down to the arrow lodged in his shoulder. Whoever shot those arrows had succeeded in lodging the sharp steel in his body, be it his shoulder. The Princess didn't want to think of what were to happen if it landed in his heart. She had never witnessed death before the great ballroom. That day made her vow to trust in her abilities. Doubting them only ended in the two of them endangering themselves. Especially in a world where you were unaware if you were running away from danger or right into your demise.

    She shook her head, wincing in empathetic pain at the man's wound. It looked painful. She was no expert in surgery the way a healer was, but the young woman knew that many plants had medicinal qualities. Poppy's milk was able to numb pain, but render the user sleepy. However, there had to be other flowers around the strange new world. "I can most certainly imagine, Prince Oliver." Avalyne responded, almost apologetically. The raven haired woman looked down to the charcoal ground to search for words to respond with.

    The humour in the situation was quickly dismissed and soon replaced with Avalyne's own reassuring words. Looking back up at him, Avalyne stopped herself from touching the wound. "Don't say that. A prince has no need to learn to swim. At least, not for most of the occasions where a prince is needed." Her soft voice continued, accepting of the hand over her wet cheek. Avalyne attentively beckoned for him to sit down.

    "As for protection... thank you. From an Ecclesian prince, you are doing quite well protecting a woman from another kingdom." She gently pointed out, reminding him of their relative standings. They were destined to become enemies. It was easy to tell, from their respective cultures, histories and values, the feelings they both shared meant to end terribly. White snow emerged from the edge of the cave wall.

    Avalyne curiously looked at the strange white flakes falling from the wind and looked to Oliver, confused. "Do you happen to know what that is, Prince Oliver?" The petite woman pointed to the snow falling from outside. "It's beautiful." She mused idly, admiring the weather for the first time.
  20. The Prince's hand trailed across his shoulder, his fingers taking hold of the wooden shaft lodged firmly into his backside. While it certainly wasn't his first arrow, experience didn't make it hurt any less. Oliver sat himself down beside the Princess at her beckon, doing his best not to alarm Avalyne more than she needed to be. His hand gripped the shaft of the arrow as his teeth clamped down upon his lips. God, did it hurt. His hand tentatively crossed over Avalyne's own, the Prince's fingers slowly wrapping themselves around the smooth, slender digits beneath him.

    Focusing on the Princess' hand, the Prince pulled free the arrow from his body, releasing a deep sigh as he placed the sharp object on the ground. Luckily, the head of the arrow was still attached to the wooden end, meaning that he wasn't in immediate danger. Tearing off the end of his cloak, he carefully wrapped the silky material over his shoulder to stem the bleeding. It hurt, but the Prince would survive.

    "As for protection... thank you. From an Ecclesian prince, you are doing quite well protecting a woman from another kingdom."

    "We're not barbarians, Princess Avalyne." Prince Oliver frowned, remembering the political situation between their families. While Oliver had tried to convince himself that she was different... above the lies and slander of politics, it was clear that she still held his people in low regard. Feeling the familiar Northern winds blow into the cave, the soft nip of the Ecclesian cold nibbling against his cheeks, the young man averted his sapphire gaze outwards. The weather had... changed? While it was certainly something more familiar to him, he was still quite unsure what to think of the situation.

    "This is... this is what the North is like." Oliver watched as a small droplet of frozen water fell into his bloodied palm, the young Prince both astonished and feeling an ironic sense of warmth from the familiarity. "and this..." Oliver's lips creased into a faint smile, "this is snow... the water reborn." He leaned himself against the Princess, his head softly melting against Princess Avalyne's shoulder like the frozen droplets of water which cascaded down his side. "If only I could show it to you..." Soft whispers escaped between his lips as the Prince's eyes began to feel heavy, the handsome Prince reaching once more for the Princess' hand...

    "If only I could show you that I'm not the monster that you think I am."
    #20 Valor, Sep 21, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
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