Trials of Inner Trust

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    Dominic Claude, Prince of the Kingdom of Erastrae. Second son of the Stormhawk family. Blacksheep. The dirty... not so secret.

    Normally Dom slept through the mornings, he didn't want to see the sun until it was well overhead and honestly, he really didn't want to see it then either. People said that he was lazy, unmotivated, and useless. A deviant lackluster man who got by on his pretty face. Dom wandered just -who- it was he got by on his face when the entire court treated him like that.

    That wasn't entirely true, Dom had his friends of course though most of them were of the superficial type hoping to increase their own standing at the court. Still, it wasn't for friends that Dom had rolled himself out bed that morning. So early his newest guard hadn't even come to try and bother him yet. Too early to even have breakfast and for Dom that was a sacrifice. He liked breakfast. It was only good part about waking up.

    It was with a beating heart that Dom had sat off into the sprawling city wearing an outfit he'd 'borrowed' from a previous guard. Third guard, two years ago. Dom was pleased that it finally fit him and didn't sag off him making him look like a gawky twelve year old. He was also rather happy he had managed to wash it of the sweaty smell and mend the holes himself. The city was very different in the morning. It even smelled different and the streets were so strange empty. Dom got lost three times trying to find the address he'd been given while walking roads he'd taken a dozen times before.

    This was the fix. The thing he was going to do. May the gods help and aid him. His frequent leaving of the Castle and never being where he was supposed to be for the last few years had earned him an even worse reputation. They thought he'd become a lush or was going through the city's brothels and was soon going to come home with some dreaded disease. Dom thought they were all addled in the head, it wasn't like he smelled of alcohol or cheap whores. Not even of expensive ones!

    He knew good and well that the older members of the court and even his older brother wanted him to stop whatever it was they thought he was doing. If they had any idea what it was he was doing, he'd be in even worse trouble. There were rules in the kingdom of Elastrae, some of them were unspoken and only seemed to apply to him. They made him itch. Like woolen undergarments.

    It was worth it though. This price, this senseless derision he dealt with. It was so worth it. To be free of his dreams... of his desires. To be the son and brother his family deserved.

    He'd give up his very soul.

    Dom pushed open the door to the 'Wizard's' shop. “Hullo? I need your help..."
  2. In the Kingdom of Franzen he was known simply as Tactius, but here he was Gerald Maas, whispered about wizard who had been known to help merchants' daughters become more beautiful and minor nobles become able to spot any deal that would increase their wealth. At least those were the rumors. The shop had been there for some time, not that anyone paid attention to just when. In this part of the city, everyone agreed if you had a problem you couldn't solve in conventual ways, you went to the Wizard Maas. Even if his shop claimed to only sell perfumes and incense.

    The interior of the shop was lit by candles, daylight only able to enter from ceiling high windows. It made it nearly impossible for anyone to peek inside, which was how any mysterious magic user would want it. There was a spicey scent in the air, like cinnamon and cloves and the walls were lined with shelves holding strange colored bottles. Further down there was a table in the middle of the room, with a slightly hunched over man standing by it. His hair and beard were long and pure white. His robes were a muted brown with cream stitching, very clean and well cared for.

    "Help you say?" A strong baritone asked as piercing blue eyes looked upon the prince. He walked over and looked up at the young man. He might have been as tall as the prince, but the hunching of his back made him seem shorter. He did not seem to mind, his steps sure. "What sort of help are you looking for, young lord." The wizard's eyes narrowed slightly. Perhaps to judge the man before him. Surely not because he knew who Dominic was.
  3. The Prince fidgeted in the doorway for the moment, his eyes and nose getting used to the shop. It was nice. Certainly this Wizard was much more of a Wizard than the Court one was. Why, he even had the beard! The court wizard was so young in comparison and not to mention loyal to Dom's Father. Which meant he couldn't be trusted with his secret.

    Not that this one could either. No... No one could be trusted. "I have a minor problem." Dom slipped into the shop and looked around, clearly a little nervous as he rubbed his hands together. "I need something... No matter the price.. It's about a matter of the heart." Dom went pink faced, his hazel eyes looking around cautiously.

    "There's this person and..." Dom trailed off into silence. How could he tell the Wizard what he wanted? That he didn't want some love spell, he wanted an anti-love spell. He wanted to not be in love or lust or anything of the sort over this person. Because it was wrong of him, because certain things were expected of him.

    Dominic wasn't a good actor though and certainly couldn't keep a lid on his feelings. He looked worried and fearful and sad but mostly lonely. "I really like them... but...."
  4. "A love spell?" The wizard asked with the raise of his eyebrow, then he shook his head. "No, you do not ? You want something for yourself." Gently he guided the young man's further in. Going passed the large table, to a smaller one in the corner with chairs. He indicated for his customer to sit and then moved away.

    He came back a few moments later with a small purple bottle, then sat down. He kept the bottle in his hands. "You seem very much uneasy. I do not think it is my reputation that is the problem. Ah, no, it is your own." The wizard then leaned in. "You want something. Something within your self. Is this correct?"

    Behind the beard and the wrinkles, there was a mind at work that cared nothing for Dominic's problems. Only for who he was and what him coming to the wizard had bought him. The lamb had come to the wolf, but he would not eat the lamb, for he wanted the herd.

    "I have something that will change you. Your price, is twenty gold." He placed the bottle on the table. "This might not be for you though. I do not want to sell this under false pretense. If you want to change, if this is for you, then you must drink this here. It is far too dangerous otherwise." He sat back and nodded. "I would say it was a tough choice, but you made your choice I think when you walked in my door. Should you agree, should you say no and walk out the door, in either case we never saw each other. Agreed?"
  5. "Something to change me?" Dom swallowed. Had the Wizard seen right into the heart of the matter? The truth? Had he used some spell that had turned the prince into an open book? He chewed on his lip as he let himself be led into the shop. He was fretting as the Wizard spoke. "Yes... I'd... not a love spell, no. Something for me. Something..."

    Another swallow. "Something to change me?" He repeated again like a small child asking if it was right when he had a good idea it wasn't. He fingered the smooth glass bottle. Purple. A royal color. Did the Wizard know who he was even? "My reputation is perhaps tarnished a little but this will help me?" He took a deep breath and clutched the bottle to himself.

    "I'll drink it. Wizard." The Prince fished out his coin purse and counted out twenty shining gold coins, emptying the purse completely. Dom found himself uncorking the bottle with trembling fingers as he stared into the inky abyss he could see. His gut tightened and rolled as his eyes pinpricked. This was for the best, wasn't it?

    To not be in love. To not need someone like a garden needed the sunshine.

    The oily liquid called him and he quickly turned the bottle up and pressed it to his lips. It was down his throat so fast he didn't even get a chance to taste it, only the oil remained on his tongue.
  6. "Prince Dominic Claude Stormhawke know thee are cursed. By day you shall be a most unnatural beast. You shall have no voice but that of a beast, no hands but paws, but your mind will still be there. Only by the grace of the moon's light by night will you be able to regain your form. Use that time, for the nly way not to go back to your beastly form when the sun rises again is to tell of the curse, and in the telling will you have one day free. The one that hears of your curse will bare your curse for the rest of their life. If you tell no one of the curse you will become a beast again. A beast with the mind of a man."

    The wizard grinned as the bottle fell from the prince's fingers. "Thank you," a most benevolent smile on the wizard's face. "Remember you don't want anyone knowing you came here." He started moving the prince to the door. His mind fully awake, but his body no longer under his control. "One last thing, you also don't want to remember you came here. Once you're out this door, you will not recall anything that happened here. Oh, worry not Prince Dominic, for when you wake, the curse full upon you at tomorrow's dawn, you shall awake. Please try to stay alive until that evening or I will have to do this all again. Maybe this time to that little cousin of yours. Duke Lucas wasn't it?"

    The wizard lightly chuckled as he opened the door, grinning as Dominc walked through it.

    The city was quiet in the morning, but it was waking up. Prince Dominic stood by a warehouse wall, looking up at the cloud speckled sky. It was an average day in the city with little to remark about it.
  7. "A cuuuuur-" Dom muttered and for a moment he was frantic, his entire body and mind and sense of self rebelling against the Wizard's words. This. This was so wrong! "But!"

    And then Dominic was gone. His sleeping mind and awake body being led to the door, the instructions imprinted on him like a stamp that he would remember eventually. But for now, for now he'd forget.

    Dom found himself outside a warehouse and blinked rapidly and yawned. He felt tired of course he did! His search had been completely fruitless and all his money was gone! What a waste of the morning when he could have been asleep. He felt guilty, surely this was his own fault for being so gullible. If there was a rogue wizard in the city, something would be done about it. Or maybe he didn't have the right connections yet. Whatever it was, he felt a fool.

    With a growling stomach and a despondent pout, the Prince headed back towards the castle. Nothing had been accomplished. All Dom wanted to do was to go to bed and stay there. Maybe forever.

    Dom certainly wasn't paying attention to where he was going, he was much too busy rubbing his eyes furiously. Which is how he ended up colliding with that wall that surely hadn't been there five seconds ago, despite it always having been there...
  8. Dong.

    The sound of bony elbow hitting steel breastplate.

    "My liege."

    The guard made no comment about his state as he saluted and looked at the man's face again to make sure he was the prince. "If you are feeling tired I know an apothecary of good repute and stainless discretion that could fix you a tonic to give you the strength of three man and the clarity of mind of the greatest oracles. It also cures hangovers."

    Okay one comment as to the prince's state, but it was his duty to make sure eh was fit and presentable for whatever business he had later in the day and was already taking the risk of an unsolicited hand on the prince's back to move through the morning crows to the herb-seller's stall to get the stimulant which he put in the price's hand and payed. He had been told the prince would need looking after but this was new. Nothing he couldn't handle though.
  9. Oh good gods have mercy on his soul.

    There was Anterius Septor. Dom's newest guard. He found himself being hefted up to his feet and before he could even protest he was at an apothocary with a dubious 'tonic' in his hand that Anterius swore by. Or close enough. This was the first time the man had opened up as it were and said anything beyond the usual. Dom gave him a frustrated smile and nodded. "Of course Septor. Thank you ever so much..." He took the tonic from the man and drank it down.

    It was vile. Dom nearly spat it out but managed to swallow it with his eyes only watering a little bit. If he had been drunk, he could definitely see why it would fix that in an instant. "When we get back you should go and inform my purse keeper to pay you for the tonic." The prince said as his eyes roamed the crowd and over his guard. It was such a shame that he hadn't found that damned wizard... Such a shame. His life was falling apart and the heavens could only guess what Anterius thought of him.

    Dom found his stomach rumbling and he blushed pink. "It's about lunch time isn't it?" He honestly wasn't sure what hour it was anymore, it felt like his time had just gotten wrapped up in itself, tangled his hair. "I think we'll go back now... And, Septor. Not a word about my little outing, yes?" The tonic bubbled in his stomach irritably. He needed food. Food and to get away from Anterius.
  10. The guard looked at the sky, it was close enough to lunchtime and he nodded. "Of course my liege, and thank you." not a word to anyone. Not that Anterius had anyone to tell. Still he was more than happy to take point and make sure the way was clear through the crowd towards the castle and not once breath the name of the prince to prevent rumor. As a guard he had experience and training, and discretion was as big a part of it as swordplay if not bigger. Another reason why he did not wear the prince's seal on his cloak.

    He wouldn't ask why the price was here either but the reason was obvious enough, Anterius hoped she was beautiful and clean. It was unsettling some of the things you found in the brothels. Not that he assumed it was a whore the prince had been seeing. None of the guard's business, until he was asked to stand outside the while the prince did what he did to avoid interruptions.

    This train of though was going nowhere and testing his impassive mask. "Will you be dining in the hall or in your chamber?" Of all the posts to get he had to look after Prince Dom... but for duty he would do his best.
  11. Ugh, the Hall. Though if he actually made an appearance at the lunch hour perhaps that would keep the rumors down for at least a day or two. Maybe tomorrow he'd have better luck trying to find the wizard. Maybe. "I'm going to my room to change, Septor. I can't be seen in this, you understand..." Dominic murmured as they walked back towards the castle. He knew the back way and he hated to give away his secret escape path but...

    But it was Anterius. Cool and impassive and not impressed as ever. Just once, once Dom wished the man would smile at him like a person. "We're going this way, through the gardens." Dom cut back, doubling around until he reached the garden gate. The prince produced a key and unlocked the recently oiled gate.

    "Quietly... " He found himself hissing like a child playing hide and seek as they walked through the gardens. Almost there...!

    Dom raced ahead. "You can find me in a few moments, Septor." He called back and took the stairs three at a time to get inside his room. Yes. He'd change and go down and deal with the idiots.

    Clothes flying about his room as Dom undressed and redressed and tied his hair back and considered his options for the rest of the day, only to realize that there was in fact no options at all. Today was a day for Court. Which meant it was going to be boring. He considered crawling back into bed and telling everyone to shove off.
  12. The hidden way, yes it was a good idea, and would mean the rest of the day would go smoothly, though the king's reaction might not be the best all Anterius knew for sure was the prince had been in the shopping district. He was however now standing in the hallway outside the Prince's room as close to his side as he could be as was his duty. Had he known the prince better he would be even closer but he only knew him by his reputation which was by no means the most flattering.

    But it wasn't a guard's place to pass judgment on his charge. He was to protect the prince and follow his orders, in that order. And it was only right for a father to care about his son.
  13. Dom knew that everyone expected him to crawl into the bed of anything that opened it's legs and to sleep the day away in drunken stupor after a hard night of whoring. So he found himself adjusting his vest in the mirror before going to the door and letting himself out. Even if he couldn't find the wizard to make him a better, stronger person, maybe he could do it on his own.

    "Septor." Dom nodded at the Knight standing outside his door. He swore once when they were children that the then boy had smiled. He had smiled at him. "We'll go to lunch and then to court." He didn't add on the other words about how the court was stupid and stifling and dull - full of old men with older ideas. Dom just wanted some freedom. From himself, from the gossips, from his family...

    The black sheep of the Stormhawk family pasted his 'public' face on, a daft airheaded smile and a bounce in his walk. "Come along! We mustn't be late for lunch. I'd hate for my food to be cold." Dom singsonged at Anterius as they walked, hazel eyes roaming over each and every serving girl they met and any sort of noble woman, partial to husband or not.

    No matter what else, Dominic had to keep up at least one of the illusions though. At least with lunch, Dom could let his eyes roam where they actually wanted.

    The Royal Family's dining hall was massive and full of courtiers and most of them stared at Dominic arriving because even if he was a 'hopeless womanizing lush', he was still royalty.
  14. Anterius would not be eating in the hall. He followed Dom as his guard and let the prince lead the way. It was expected, it was the norm. In fact usually the guard would let the prince enter alone and stand outside the hall but he had been told to keep an extra close eye on the prince and when Dom sat he stood against the wall, melting into the scenery, another guard, another suit of armor, another sword.

    He was used to standing for hours at a time and not moving but remaining alert enough to spot trouble. Not that there ever was trouble. Still it weighed in him that a suit of armor hung on a post could do his job, provided the post was tied to the back of the prince to be dragged around after him and all the long hours he had put into training and tournaments seemed... wasted.

    His hand rested on the pommel of Glodryn, his sword, well one of his swords. She, as he thought of her in the feminine sense was a longsword. Light enough to carry around all day but big enough to be intimidating. He had his own rack in the armory with a wide array of compliments of death and each one had a story but he was getting sidetracked... and hungry, meat and bread in the barracks couldn't come fast enough once he was relieved when the Prince entered into court and Anterius could disappear for a few minutes.
  15. Dominic ate as he always did, which was at a steady pace with an assortment of whatever was close by. The prince didn't seem nearly as picky as brother who would only eat things like fine meats and breads with very little vegetables and even less fruit. Dom piled his plate with stewed and roasted vegetables. He was ravenous and at least if he was eating he couldn't see Anterius who was behind him, against the wall and undoubtedly glowering.

    Lunch was soon over the the prince was off to court, dismissing Anterius with a wave of his hand. After all, there was at least fifty well trained knights who sat at Court guarding the King and Queen and the Heir. Nothing was going to happen to him in there that wasn't authorized by the King. Though these days, Dominic wasn't too sure that his Father wasn't about to send to send him off somewhere far far away.

    Court was boring but Dominic did sit through the entire session and he even paid attention. Philip, Dom's brother and the Heir apparent, was even impressed with him. Not that it took much, if Dom was doing anything other than what they thought he was doing, they all considered it a vast improvement.

    Truth be told, Dom's mind wandered and he wished he'd found the damned Wizard... With dinner fast approaching, Dom's attention span was wavering more and more...
  16. Racquel was bored. Court was one of the things she liked least about coming to the capital, but the daughter of the Duke of Gryffon would not complain, nor would she need to stifle a yawn. She had trained herself to stay alert in the forest for hours, waiting for the right moment, and this was little different. Instead of studying the trees, and the weather and the sounds of the woods, she studied the people. How they talked to each other, and more importantly to the royals. It wasn't the words she was interested in, but the behavior behind it. If asked what was said at Court, she would of have had a more difficult time, then if she was asked who was untrustworthy and who was nervous in big crowds.

    The lady, with auburn teased brown hair down to her knees, was most grateful as Court was wrapping up. Yes, there was dinner to come. Her mother had reminded her today they would be dining at the royal table, so she made sure not to come to Court in any disheveled way what so ever, not that she ever had. She knew when to be a ranger, or pretended to be so, and when to be a lady and the capital was a long ways from her home. Secretly she wished though her preparations would be worth it someday, but so far bringing her gear had been fruitless.

    As she turned away from the monarchs, her day brightened and she smiled at what she saw, through she was unsure she had been seen.
  17. After watching the prince eat on an empty stomach Anterius was more than ready to eat himself. And once the pewter plate was cleaned of gruel and the bread was gone he had a little watered down ale to wash it all down. The he was donning the Prince's crest and heading for the throne room to wait in the terraced garden in line with with a cohort of other guards all of them waiting for their respective charges. Then the doors opened and they began to trickle out.

    Anterius had arrived just in time and there was the sound of armor moving as the guards snapped to attention, one by one leaving the line to rejoin their charges, many of whom were lords of distant provinces. Anterius waited for the prince but before he saw him he saw someone else, a lady he had once saved from a brigand, or so he thought, and had seen several times since. She wasn't the highest ranked lady but she was still above him, and yet he still entertained the notion of asking permission to court her romantically, he had the letter written out but wanted to do it in person. Her father was a difficult man to get hold of.

    He shouldn't have been smiling, not with his visor up, and not in such a wistful way. Chancing upon her and her attacker had been the one time he had felt like a knight rather than a glorified armor rack and she had always been pleasant to talk to since. Maybe her father was here and he could request and audience.
  18. Dominic was quietly conversing with one of the younger Lords as the doors opened and the Court was 'released' for the evening meal. Dinner at last! Dom hoped that he could get the Lordling away from him so he could enjoy his meal at least without having to hear about Lord whateverhisnamewas's holdings and his new wife and whatever else the man was prattling on about.

    He found his eyes seeking out his Knight and watched the man smile. No, that smile wasn't directing at him but it made his gut wrench around in pain and longing. He followed the gaze though to the Lady. He remembered Lady Racquel a little, she was a nice woman. She wasn't terribly pretentious and she neither ignored him nor tried to stick his hands down her shirt. Both of which were nice. She seemed ... sturdy and dependable, much like Anterius.

    It was a good match, even if their ranks weren't as close as they could be. Still, it made his eyes prick a little a little and he rubbed them hard. Should he interfere to help them? Dom didn't know but somehow he didn't think that Anterius would approve of him within a five yard radius of Racquel, honorable intentions or not.

    "Lady Racquel seems to be without an escort, Septor. Will you see her to where she needs to be for me?" Dom remarked offhandly, knowing that his Knight would do whatever he was told. Plus, Dom didn't have to get close to her and deal with any ire from his Knight. Besides... If Anterius got married off, perhaps he'd stop being his guard and then perhaps Dom's heart could get a rest.
  19. When the prince spoke and Anterius finally noticed he was there he almost went pink and nodded. "Of course my liege." had the prince seen where he had been looking or was this a personal request, it was hard to tell but Anterius wasn't one to question orders. He bowed his head and stepped out of line then moved into the crowd leaving the price under the watch of the countless other palace guard and moving to intercept Lady Raquel.

    "M'lady." he said with a bow, with so much nobility around he had to remain impeccably on form even if she had given him permission to be more casual around her. "Prince Dominic has ordered me to escort you wherever you may be going." he was glad that the crows was moving on and mostly disinterested in them. "And I have something personal I'd like to talk about, of I may, with you and your father while you're in the capitol. I've been made the prince's personal bodyguard but I'm certain I can arrange a stand in when you have time."

    Okay he was cracking, the facade of duty slowly giving way to a smile that he fought to keep under control. "Where might i me escorting you to?"
  20. She thought she saw him smile her way. It made her feel light. There was a time that she had not been happy to see him. Their first encounter as far as she could recall. Thankfully he must have taken her quietness for lingering fright or shyness, not the frustration of a ruined set up for a lesson in combat while in a dress. He had redeemed himself in her eyes by the time he left her at the manor gate.

    Raquel was easy to smile, but no one made her feel light like Sir Septor did.

    As people milled about to leave court, she did not think she would see the knight again that evening, but at least she knew he was in town. Being wrong was never so lovely as he appeared before her. The surprise was written on her face when he said the price had requested Anterius to escort her, but she had little time to comment upon that.

    "My father?" Despite wishing she wasn't, she could feel her cheeks warm up. "I, yes, of course. Um, could you come an hour after breakfast? Father is always most agreeable early in the day." And if what was to be discussed was what she thought it was, she wanted her father most agreeable indeed.

    "I am to sit with my parents at the royal table tonight for dinner. Some business of land I'm sure." Answering his smile with one of her own she walked with him down the hall.
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