Does anyone truly remember the promise one has made since childhood? And are we truly expect to remember said promises despite the threat of time and adulthood? For the two childhood royalties of differentiating kingdoms the answer to such questions are a simple yes. Meeting at a dance a long, long time ago the two fell in love and both declared that they would get married ten years into the future when they both come of age. it was a sweet promise which mean something to the both of them.. However such a kindness does not exist in this world.
Four years before the vows were to be made and the two were to be wed in holy matrimony a bitter war broke out between the two kingdoms. Once friends now made enemies, the war has a nasty habit of changing those who were once beloved friends into bitter and hated foe. During the final years of the war the Princess family was capture by the father of the Prince. The king of the demanded that they'd be no mercy for a year early his youngest son, the brother of the prince, was executed by his father. So an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The king ordered the entire royal family hang, however, as fate would have it, the King's son remembered his promise to his beloved and ask the king to spare the daughter's wife. But.. He would do so, but he would not marry the girl.
The girl you once knew is now brought before you in chains in shackles. The once happy arrangment you guys once wished for is forever lost. Now only is she to be your slave, she is also to bare witness to the fact that you are to marry a woman of a proper birth. Not one whose family betrayed the kingdom and brought destruction upon itself. Even though the dream of a happy marriage is still in your minds, you wonder how will you acheive that promise?
Of all the moments within the Prince’s life there were only a few moments which he’d swore to never forget. The first happened before the war, before the loss of his younger brother and mother.it was a tender and sweet moment which happened when he was no more than eight winters old. At this time he’d often had to attend lavish balls and gatherings which were hosted by his family. Many other royals from outside of the kingdom also attended this gathering to ensure that peace would happen between the nations. It was at one of these balls that he saw the figure of a girl whose beauty was something mere words could describe. The tenderness of her hands and the intensity of her eyes as she danced with him throughout the night. The moment he asked her to the dance was the moment which the two seemed to be inseparable.
That one moment in time was the beginning of a summer's worth of memories which the Prince held closely in his heart. Sitting behind her on his horse, his arms wrapped around her tiny frame as he flicked the reins and watched the world pass them by as they gallop off through the woodlands between the two countries. The scent of her hair filled his nostrils as they rode the horse for what seemed like hours. After that the two ate dinner together and were seen walking the halls of her father’s castle hand in hand. At the time whispers could be heard that the two would surely grow up to marry one another. Why else are they so close together? Two days before the war was the second memory which the Prince swore he’d never forget.
A year had pass since the first ball they intended and already the next one had happen. This time it was to celebrate the birthday of the Princess with whom Leo had been infatuated with. Nine years of age and he felt clearly that this was what true love must felt like. Cupping her face within the palm of his hands he watched as the lanterns were being lit and the night darken. They were outside as the wind blow around them. The music was muted by the close doors and as the Prince’s heart beat he looked at her and wrapped an arm around her waist. “I want you.. And only you.. In ten years time it is the custom of my Kingdom that a man be married in the last year of his teenage years. So; I will marry you and with this kiss, I swear to keep this promise.” Prince Leo waited as he watch the princess hesitate before accepting his promise. That was the sweetest kiss he had. His lips pressed against hers and as he leaned backwards he pressed his head to her head. That had been the last kiss which would bring with it the promise of life.
Eight years would pass before another moment would happen which he swore he’d remember. The walls of the castle town were being laid siege to. Huge balls of flames and fire came crashing down upon the walls yet still they held sturdy. The war had turn bitter; for some unknown reason not told to him, the father of the Princess whom he’d had been promised had declared war on King Henri and the flames of war had burn brightly throughout the land. His father, desperate for help, had written to other monarchs promising enormous wealth for those who could lead a helping hand.
As the sound of splintering wood echoed across the town along with the screams of the people it didn’t take long for the castle town to be broken into and the sound of steel cutting into flesh and the screams of others filled the air. Leo had been upon the front lines and had been fighting with that of a young man with everything he had. The armor which he wore protected him, it was steel and heavy. Only a few weak spots could be penetrated. Even than he wore chain mail underneath his armpits and groin area to stop death from happening. Lifting his sword, he grabbed the edge and jammed into through the visor of one man, stabbing through his skull before kicking him downwards. Half swording, otherwise called Halbschwert, was a technique crucial for war. Grabbing both the hilt of the sword and the blade halfway upwards, he’d used it as a spear to ram through the vital spots of the armor and kill his enemies. However, as the bodies slammed into the line of defense and as the he felt his breath getting hot and his lungs unable to pull in air, he stumble backwards.
This was the end. The line was falling apart and there was no hope. In the mind of Prince Leo the sound of trumpets announcing his fathers arrival and the sound of soldiers coming from the back to ambush the invading army was like a distant dream. As his breath became more rapid and anxiety and panic steep him, he pulled off his helmet and struggle to his feet. Several soldiers came to his rescue and pulled him onto a horse and brought him to the castle. Unbeknownst that the several soldiers had already slipped into the castle.
The scene which awaited was a scene straight from hell. Maidens had there dresses torn and as men plunged themselves between their thighs, the male servants had slit throats and blood ran upon the stone floor. Enrage Prince Leo and those who followed him fought back those who had done such vile thing. But it was two late. They had found his mother and brother hiding within one of the closets. Prince Philip was not even five years old. Yet they took rope and tied it to the balcony before throwing him over and hanging him. The fall was so brutal that his neck snapped instantly and his face bloated till his eyes looked like they would pop out. Than they amused themselves with the queen.
A week afterward his mother was found with a vial. After being raped so brutally she decided death was a better option than live in the shame of being take by enemy soldiers. The funeral of his mother and youngest brother was forever branded into his mind.
The last memory he’d swore he’d never forget was the end of the war and the final hanging which would come with it. The victory had come two years after his city had survived being besieged. It was exactly ten years to the date when he had kissed the Princess. Sitting out amongst the crowd he’d looked on as the man responsible for so much death and pain was led to the hangman’s noose along with his entire family. None were to be spare, not his four sons, his wife, his servants, or his daughter… His princess…
Rising up from the his chair Prince Leo made his way to gallows his body moving on his own before he stopped and looked at the king. His eyes narrowed as he turned towards the crowd and addressed everything and everyone.
“King Edward, two years ago your men, while sieging my city, hung my youngest brother. He had not even seen five winters. Then they turned towards my mother and had their fun with her.. Seeing your family hang would not be punishment enough for you, nor would it be revenge enough for me.” Turning his head towards the princess he’d knew long ago he paused. His eyes looking at her, before he snapped his fingers. “Bring me a collar. I’ll have my revenge satisifed with the knowledge that you will know the following. As your hanging within your family, gasping for your final breath.. You precious, pure daughter.. Will have her maiden head stolen from her.”
“Bastard!” King Edward screamed as he launched at the Prince only to be held back. As the guards restrained him he screamed and kicked, his eyes wild with anger and despair as he watched his youngest daughter have a heavy slave collar placed around her neck instead of the noose. As a rope was tied around her wrist and handed to the prince, he paused temporarily. Grabbing her chin he looked at the King and he kissed his daughter. With hatred, with passion, with lust, with anger, his fingers held her tightly against his as he only paused to exhale, before going back. “Come on Bitch…let’s not keep your rape waiting.”
Standing before the woman who had chains around her wrist and neck Prince Leo closed his eyes and open them before he stopped replaying all of the events which he swore he’d never forget. No one stopped him from bringing her into his chambers. Just as no one stopped the hanging of her entire family. Prince Leo could’ve. He supposed that he could’ve saved more than just the Princess, but his bitterness and hatred wouldn’t let him.
“Apologies for the shackles you wear and threat of taking your maiden head. I know what happen to my mother and brother is not your fault.. But when I look into your eyes, I no longer see the beautiful girl I loved all those summers ago. I see a reminder that your father took my brother and drove my mother to her suicide. So you will suffer. You will be my slave, you will fetch my food, clean my room, the fire place, and I promise that you will be well fed, clothed, and you can keep your maidenhead. I would never force myself upon the unwilling.” Prince Leo spoke.
Lahela wasn't sure when her life had decided to crack and crumble so hard. She wasn't sure when the dream had ended, truly. But she did know that this was not the life that she had envisioned for herself, for her people. She had been a foolish woman in love. Not even a woman, she had been girl. A silly promise made between children, and she had been made to believe it meant something. She would never forget the summer that ruined her life.
She had been but six years old that first ball. She had been so nervous and so afraid that all her dance practice was going to flop on her. She had practiced nonstop for months for her first ball, to make sure that she did well. Her brothers had even helped her practice. Her brothers were all older than her. Lucien, Ronan, Rhett and Zayden, her big brothers. They were so protective of her; she could do no wrong in their eyes. She was the youngest, and the only daughter to the Arrington Kingdom. And she had been swept away at six years old by the Prince that saved her dance. He had come up to her, and asked her to dance, and she had been excited to accept and show her practice off. But her nerves had won, and she was misstepping to the point she nearly cried. He never once complained or made fun of her. Instead, he would change up his steps to balance out her mistakes, and it was as if they were meant to dance together. His help let her regain herself and soon they were gliding along the floor as easily as children could. She had gone from nearly crying, to laughing excitedly. The night had been a wonderful dream she hadn't wanted to end.
And in ways, it hadn't. Her parents had decided they would stay the summer in the Palace they visited, and it meant she would spend every day with her dearest Leo. He took her riding, though she had been too small to learn yet. He proved to be just as protective as her older brothers, despite the age differences. Leo was eight where she had been six. Her brothers were all older than they were, with Lucien at fifteen, Ronan and Rhett had been twins at twelve, and Zayden was ten. Her brothers had seen her crying when she had tripped in the stables and had gone for Leo in repercussions. It had taken her throwing a grooming brush at Lucien before they realized Leo hadn't hurt her but had been helping her. Leo had been her best friend that summer. He would take her to the library, and dinners in the garden. And getting yelled at for chasing one another in the halls. He'd even helped her practice her dance lessons more so she could improve. She had been so upset to leave for the fall back home.
A year later, she was now turning seven and him nine, and they had come together for the summer once again. He had gotten a little taller, but his eyes had been just as warm and kind when they arrived. She had run to him, to embrace him, and he had nearly fallen over catching her. That summer there had been another ball, and they had been inseparable all night, though there were those that tried. Before the night was over, Leo had taken her hand and led her out into the gardens away from the ball held for her birthday. He had cupped her face so gently and taking her into his arms. She had been so nervous she thought her heart would beat out of her chest. He then made her a promise, there on her birthday, that they would be together forever.
“I want you… And only you… In ten years' time it is the custom of my Kingdom that a man be married in the last year of his teenage years. So, I will marry you and with this kiss, I swear to keep this promise.”
It had been her first kiss, though he had waited for her to accept before kissing her. Ever and always her charming Prince. And that had been the summer that ruined her. They had spent every summer together the next several years, growing closer and more and more in love. Growing together each year until she thought that nothing in life would ever harm her or those she loved. She had been a foolish child. She had been foolish for six years. Leaving that fall, she hadn't known it was the end to her dream. By Spring on that seventh year, things began falling apart. Her mother had grown ill, and doctors weren't able to figure out how or why. Upon a deeper investigation, she had been poisoned. Her father and brothers had hunted through their kingdom for the culprit and had found a man baring the colors and crest from Leo's kingdom. She had pleaded with her father, saying it couldn't be true, it had to be a mistake. When her father got tired of hearing her pleas, he sat her down with the letters and parchment found on the man, as well as payment in gems from their neighbored kingdom. Complete with the seal of the king.
She hadn't wanted to believe it. Her heart had shattered in betrayal. She had been so close with her mother, and they had taken her away from her. She tried not to believe it, but over the years of the war, it got worse. Her father had declared war on Leo's Kingdom, and the fighting had started. At some point her father had remarried, despite still grieving for her mother. Each time their city was under attack, she and her stepmother were hidden away in the palace to keep them safe, her father and brothers off to fight. It all came to an end when the palace was overtaken, and she and her family were taken captive.
There she sat in a cage on the platform used for public hangings. They had been stripped of their finer clothes and dressed in tatters, at least keeping her and her stepmother modest. The crowd around them were jeering, screaming at them. Men made gestures and remarks at the women, even tried pawing at her cage. She crowded herself to the far edge away from them, tears streaming. Her brothers tried to reach for her, just out of reach of her hands. They told her to look to them, not at the crowds. They told her everything would be alright, but she knew better. This was to be the day she was engaged to Leo. Her very birthday no less. And instead of a romantic fairy tale night, she was being screamed at, accused of being monsters when they had done nothing but defended themselves.
She couldn't bare to look out at the dais that held the thrones. She had seen Leo sitting there when they had brought her out to the cages. Her heart had broken all over again. She had trusted him, loved him, given him her heart, and now he watched on as the people of his kingdom berated them. She was seventeen today, and to celebrate her birthday and becoming a woman, she was to be put to death. She was reaching for Lucien once more when the crowds grew quiet. Her heart skipped a beat and she turned to look. Leo stood on the platform as they were being snatched form their cages now. They were lined up, her father, her stepmother, her brothers, and then herself. She was trembling, tear tracks through the dirt on her face as they were each held by guards, bound in ropes. Leo began speaking, accusing her father of his attack two years prior. He claimed his younger brother - a child - had been hung and she gasped. She hadn't heard of his brother's passing. She had heard whispers of his mother's suicide, but not this. She looked to her family to see if they had known, but no one showed anything other than rage. She couldn't believe they would allow a child to be hanged, or such an appalling thing to happen to a woman. It couldn't be true.
Leo claimed that their deaths wouldn't be enough. Leo looked to her and paused. She didn't know what he seen, what he thought, she only knew that this wasn't the boy she'd fallen in love with. He snapped and demanded a collar. She paled and tried to back away but ran in to the guard behind her who held her in place. Leo claimed that her family would spend their last moments fighting for air and knowing that he was to force himself on her. She nearly dropped to her knees. He wouldn't - couldn't - do that. She had never thought him the type to force a woman. She could only stare at him in disbelief, fresh tears falling as her chest ached and her fear had her heart pounding. Her father snarled at him and lunged for him, but the guards caught him. Each of her brothers had also raged and fought their captors for freedom at his words. As she was held in place, the collar was locked into place, and her ropes were replaced with shackles instead, linked together with a chain that reached her collar in a connected set, then handed to Leo.
He pulled her forward, nearly tripping her, and with that he grabbed her chin and forced a kiss from her. It was nothing like the stolen kisses from their summers together. There was nothing sweet and warm of this kiss. It was hard and angry, demanding and unyielding. Then when he pulled away, he called her a bitch and it was as though someone ran ice through her veins. He wasn't her Prince, not anymore. He all but dragged her behind him, guards helping to push her to follow as they began hanging her family. They screamed for her, and she screamed for them, pulling at her bindings. Once inside the Palace and the doors closed on her family before, she could see them hang, she felt her knees try to give if not for the guard catching her and forcing her to walk as Leo pulled the leash bound to her. Through the palace he all but paraded her until they reached a room, his private quarters. She had never been inside this room before; it was improper, and they had not wanted a scandal before their wedding. Now it didn't matter. He would never marry her. And she would never see her family again.
She stood numbly before him, knowing that very moment, her family was dying, and he did nothing to stop it. She couldn't look at him, tears burning her eyes, and ached in her throat. There would be no one left, not one of them. He apologized for the shackles, and for threatening her with force. He claimed that he knew his brother and mother was not her own fault and she glanced up at him as he claimed what her new role would be. She would be his slave. Forced to do as he said in payment to suffer for her family's misdeeds. He would feed her, clothe her, and would not take her virtue by force as he claimed he would. She looked away from him again, dropping her eyes as her world fell apart around her. “I did not know about your bother…… or your mother….. our people look down on killing children, on claiming force over a woman….. i do not believe that my father allowed this to happen….. I know my brothers would never let such a man live…..”
Her voice was hoarse from screaming and crying, so it broke in places, but was still soft. She buried her hands in the tattered skirts she wore, causing the chains that connected her collar and shackles together to clink and rattle softly. She had tried to be in denial over the whole war, but everyday with her mother gone, and the fighting becoming worse and worse, left her seeing that things were never going to be the same. The boy she loved was no more, and the man in his place was cruel and cold. It hurt to see his eyes watching her, those eyes that had laughed with her and looked to her as if she were the only woman in the world. Those eyes that had lit up when she agreed to their promise so many years ago. Now they held anger and betrayal, cold and hard, and dark. “Maybe you should have let me die instead…”
“Maybe you should’ve let me die instead.”
Such words stung the prince in a way which he’d hadn’t even thought was possible. If she was going to be ungrateful and bitter then perhaps he ought to stay true to his promise then. Shaking with a rage he looked at the shackled woman which was once the girl whom he’d had been madly in love with. Nineteen years of age he was now an adult and everything which he’d spoke to he would be held responsible for. Closing his eyes he turned away from her and spoke softly. “You have no idea how long I’ve waited to see you… You’ve no idea how long I’ve dreamt of this moment..”
The sound of hooves pounding thundering down upon the castle of Arrington filled the ears of Prince Leo as his father led the advancement towards the castle. The banners of surrender had just flown and the treacherous king and his filthy family had been captured. King had pulled his reins back and looked upon the forces of King Edward as he pulled out his sword and raised it up high. There would be no mercy given or shown to the family with whom he had entrusted and loved very much. Lifting his sword he shouted out to all of his men who were there. “Bring out the royal family and we will behead them all here and now and carry their heads on pikes back to the kingdom!”
This brutality was raised up by a cheer and for a moment Leo’s heart was hardened and his hands were set to the task. Till his eyes fell upon her, Lahela being dragged out beside her mother and brothers. Gripping the reins of his horse his heart seized in his throat. Words caught in his throat before he suddenly screamed out no. That was followed by another scream and another No. Turning upon him his father suddenly looked upon him with anger and shouted. “What madness seizes fucking tongue? That you’d deny me my revenge?”
Gulping Prince Leo spoke frantically trying to save the Princess from immediate death. “We need to demoralize his troops fully.. But having them publicly humiliated. In our Kingdom hanging is reserved for slaves and criminals while death by sword is reserved for the noble and rich. Let us then hang them like the dogs they are.. Instead of giving them a proper end.” As the other soldiers heard this, they cheered and began shouting in agreement for Prince Leo’s plann. The king was thoroughly outmatched and he agreed with it then. The royal family was to be hanged.
Sheathing his sword the King looked at Leo and spoke in a low and deepened whisper. “I am not stupid boy. You did this because of your stupid childhood dreams and promise you made to the girl. I forbid it, You are to marry Aria, the Princess of Vandale; they came to the aid of our kingdom when Arrington betrayed us. The only way I’ll allow you to keep your little childhood friend alive is as a whore for the men to use.”
“When I heard that my father was planning on having you turned into a… slave for nothing more but based pleasures….. I had to act quickly to save you from a fate worse than death. Every day of the bitter war I dreamed of seeing you alive in my arms again. So as your new master I command you to never, ever speak of wanting to die in my presence. I couldn’t bear the weight of losing another loved one.”
Leo didn’t look at her as he spoke. Instead he walked around her and wrapped his arms around her slowly. Her hands were still tied behind her back and as he placed his lips to her ears he inhaled her scent slowly. “My second command is that you are to lie and tell everyone that I took you against your will tonight. My father made it clear that I was to force myself upon you… so that my love for you would turn into nothing but scorn and hatred. If word gets out that you are still a maiden, then he will send others to make sure that you are no longer pure. Am I understood? These are the two rules that must be followed. I will not unbind you into I’ve had your word that you will never wish for death in my presence.. And you will lie and tell everyone that you were taken tonight.”
Despite the fact that he hated her at this moment, he couldn't deny that he was relieved to see her alive and well. IIt was a contradiction that he did not know what to do or how to handle it. He didn’t mean for it to happen, but his hands slide from her waist upwards, just beneath her bosom and he slowly touched the string that would pull apart her dress in seconds. “Am i understood?” He repeated. As he began to pull it down slower and slower..
Before his hands could expose her any further the door opened up and in came a redheaded woman with eyes that were the color of green. Cocking her head back she blinked once before she clasped her hands together. “Leo.. my beloved… What are you doing with this trollop? I know that our wedding is three days away But I was not expecting that the thought of you slipping into me would have you so pent up that you….”
Her voice paused for a moment before she recognized the girl before he and suddenly Aria busted into tears. “Lahela!” Throwing her arms around the girl, Leo’s betrothed openly wept as she hug the woman who was bound in chains before sniffling and looking up at her. “The gods are cruel to bring about this jest! I’ve not seen you since before the war; we met at the ball do you remember? Your oldest brother, Lucien introduced us. I.. I… this is to awful… I was suppose to wed him but this war turned us into enemies and now… Come, you will be sleeping in my chambers tonight. We have much to talk about. I refuse to believe that you or your family were the villains and this war was a farce! And we will get to the bottom of this.”
Grabbing her by her collar, Aria led her towards the door before he she spoke loudly. “Prince Leo, I sincerely hope that you were not about to give into your lust. And harm our childhood friend. Fate has brought us together. And we will not see it abused so roughly.” With that she left Leo alone with his thoughts and his head cloudy in judgment.
Afterall, what would he had done? Had his betrothed not enter into the room? Why was his hand reaching for her string?
Outside of his bedroom chambers the sound of furniture being smashed and things being thrown was drowned out by Aria’s sweet singing as she led her former lover’s sister away from her current and her former lover
She had kept her head down, and he turned away from her. His words cut her, broke her heart all over again. He wanted to see her? Had waited to see her? And yet these last four years had been nothing but unwarranted bloodshed between their families and kingdoms. She had written him, when everything had started. She had sent letter after letter, unanswered, returned unsealed, even lost and never seen again. She had pleaded with him to listen to her, to try and speak with him on what was happening, how she believed it to be a misunderstanding. Nothing came of her trying.
She had seen him the day her home was overthrown. She and her stepmother had been dragged out once her brothers had been captured. He had been on his horse, the one she remembered from their summers together, beside his father. She had struggled and fought to be let go that day until the guard carrying her had ripped her skirts in threat and she cowered away in whimpers and stopped struggling. They had been pushed to their knees in wait of being beheaded. Lahela had sobbed silently as she sent prayers above for mercy. That was when she heard Leo's cries. She looked up in hope that what she heard was true. In hope he had come to his senses and could stop all of this. But then he claimed that they deserved the death of slaves and criminals and her hope shattered. It had been the same feeling as when her letters had returned. Some letters had just disappeared.
He spoke up again, claiming that his father had only spared her life to make her nothing more than a plaything for his men. She would be good for nothing more than to lie on her back. He claimed he had to save her from such a fate, that he had dreamed of having her with him again. She had dreamed of their summers together, missing their afternoons in the pasture with a picnic and a book from the library. The horse rides around the city and countryside. But then he started in on being her Master and her chest tightened in pain. He ordered that she never speak of dying to him again, that he could never bare to lose another loved one. How could he say such things to her when if he had loved her, he would have spared her, her family, and known that this was all wrong? Her eyes burned from so many tears she had shed, and still now she couldn't stop them.
He walked around her and soon she felt his arms around her. So many years she had wanted him to hold her again, and irony would have her get her wish, as he commanded her as a Master, and not caressed her as her lover. He demanded that she lie of her purity. That it would be the only thing that saved her in this palace. Would her lies really be all it took? When they checked for purity of a bride, the sheets were checked the morning after the wedding. Would they check his own for proof of her defiling? His breath on her ear was hot and she was filled with confusion. Despite the years of war, she had missed him, still loved him, though she tried not to with each betrayal he had caused. She felt him pressing against her, her hands behind her back feeling the press of his pants against her palms.
Her breath hitched in fear as his hands moved along her body, and then reached for the ribbon of her tattered gown. He demanded she answer him, to promise to his demands, because no matter what happened, she was always one to her word. Before she could make the promise, the doors to his chambers opened and a woman walked in. She looked familiar as his hands paused, and the woman began to speak. That was when she remembered her. “Aria…?” She asked softly, she was sure she wasn't heard. The woman went on speaking, calling her a trollop.
And then mentioned their wedding.
In three days time.
Lahela's heart couldn't take anymore. She had truly lost her charming Prince. She felt as if her very soul at this point had shattered. He had moved on from her, and with him gone, and her family dying as they stood there, she had no one. She couldn't breathe, everything was too much. She had missed anything more Aria had said as she all but broke there in her love's arms. He had let her go at some point, and then she was nearly knocked off her feet as she was hugged by Aria. Aria had always been a talker, and Lahela had once thought it cute, her brother had thought it funny. She had always been sweet, and Lahela was looking forward to calling her sister before this war.
She prattled on about the cruelties of war bringing her to this fate. She asked if she remembered her, and Lahela could only manage a nod before she was off again. Aria claimed that they needed to speak and catch up and grabbed her by the leash of her collar and all but dragged her from the room. She nearly fell, her hands trapped behind her back kept her off balance, thankfully she hadn't fallen, though she had whimpered as she was pulled from standing still. She could feel Leo's eyes on them as he said nothing of their departure. When the doors closed, loud crashes came from his room, though she couldn't turn to look in her bindings. Nothing made sense to her anymore, and all she wanted to do was curl up and cry until she couldn't cry anymore. Aria seemed all but oblivious to her demeanor. Lahela hadn't even said a word yet.
One thing that crossed her mind was with her being dragged away, was she still meant to lie of her situation? Aria had stopped him before he could have exposed or disrobed her, so if she lied, would Aria claim otherwise? She had a mother of all headaches, her throat ached, her eyes burned, her bare feet were sore and cold along the floor of the palace. Her wrists rubbed in her shackles, and she was sure that the yanking on the collar would leave marks along her pale skin. Between their capture and the way she was treated up to presently, she was and would be more covered in bruises by morning.
She couldn't even watch the halls they walked, she didn't dare meet the gaze of a guard, whom she could hear snickering about “Leo's bride had stolen his plaything and left him blocked" as they passed by. She was to be held captive, the last living member of her family, and forced to be a slave in the home that she had dreamed of living in for years, watching the man she had loved with all of her heart marry a woman she thought of as a sister while she could do nothing more of it.
When they reached Aria's room, Lahela felt that now the fate's were just dying of laughter at her and her life. The room she was in had been the room she had used every summer when she stayed in the palace. She had loved this room because the windows gave a view of the gardens, brought the sweet smells of the flowers up to her room, and beyond the palace walls she could see the vast rolling countryside that Leo and she would ride. Anytime she thought she couldn't hurt anymore; the palace drove her a new blow. This would be her life. She would have rather died by her family to spare her such torments. She looked around the room as she felt her heart and soul breaking from her in pieces. Looking to Aria as she settled about her room, she could only drop her gaze to the floor, bowing her head. She knew Aria would have questions, but what could she say that would make anything better?
She would be forever known as the traitor's daughter. She was nothing more to anyone here but a flower for pricking, and even if Aria still seen her as a friend after all this, it wouldn't help her situation. How long before Leo was no longer able to keep her under him and his word? How long before others start vying for Lahela as she was supposed to be used for? She was feeling sick as she waited for whatever it was that Aria wanted answers to.
"My dearest Aria,
The world has all seemed to flipped upside down upon its head and I no longer can come to find any meaning of it. The summers which my beloved sister had spent playing with the foreign prince of Jordan… was it all just a lie? Rouse to turn her against us when they plot to strike the crimes blow which they could ever be conceived? This morning an assassin had been apprehend and his mark was found to be our beloved mother. Right now as we speak he is in the middle of being torture but we've found jewels and diamonds that are found only in the mines of the kingdom of King Daniel..
My father is confused and as am I. What would cause them to strike at one who was tender and loving. My world is flipped upside down and it seems as though we are on the very verge of war. We do not wish this. However it cannot be help. Blood must be answered by blood. I wish that this will end quickly and that our war will not prove to be fatal. Yours forever, L."
My heart burns black with hatred that your kingdom has been drawn into hated war. At first I doubted my resolve in wanting to seek a truce between the kingdoms of Arrington and Jordan. But all the hope that I have had for peace has died and in its place is nothing more but bitter hatred. A darkness grows in me and I wish nothing more but to devour all who are the cause of this.
I know my sister loves Prince Leo, but the villain must die! Upon the field of combat I met him whilst we laid siege to his castle. It was a grueling day. Upon seeing him I charged him upon my horse and he, grabbing a spear, thrust true aiming at my breastplate. Falling off, I rolled around and grabbed hold of my sword. I blocked with my shield as he brought down his sword. His eyes were filled with pain and sorrow. At first I thought this was in mockery for it was his father whom had started this war. In anger I fought back against him violently. Each blow we exchange in the heat of battle made me angrier and angrier till at last he flipped his sword over and slammed his hilt into my helmet.
Lifting up my visor I screamed at him. "VILLIAN, COME TAKE MY LIFE AS YOU DID THAT OF MY MOTHER AND SEE YOUR SOUL DAMNED TO HELLSFIRE. And in the moment he paused. I could tell within my heart of heart that he had no idea of which I spoke of. Instead he stepped away and turn and fled. I was at his mercy he could've easily have ended my life but instead he choose not to. And to this day I don't understand why.
Why didn't the Prince knew of my mother's end? And Why did he halt the dealing the death blow?"
Lifting up her eyes from the letter Aria looked at her once familiar friend who was stilled bound in shackles. She had read aloud the letters with her sent to her and now she wanted to see if there was truth within these letters or not. Heading towards the captive, she went behind her and unbound her hands. The bruising on her wrist and neck were good signs. It showed that she had struggle and the chaffing brought about by iron could be mistaken as her trying and failing to fight off the unwanted advances of the Prince.
Looking her deep into her eyes Aria tuck a stray strain of hair behind her eyes and she spoke softly. “I've been waiting two years for confirmation of what was written in these letters. When I saw that you and your family…. I was scared that the truth would forever fall to obscurity but now I need to know if what happen in these letters are the truth.”
“The rumor is that your father one day went mad with paranoia. He couldn't trust anyone and decided that the kingdom of Jordan was only interested in stealing his family away from him and that was what led him to rage war. But no one knew of his first wife being murdered. We all were fed lies that his first wife had also been affected by paranoia and was sent far away to help her mental affliction.. Prince Leo never received any of your letters. His father was sure that you would turn him against him with lies… so is it true? Was your mother murdered.”
Aria's eyes darken as he lean in closer to the girl. There was nothing but sincerity and pleading. In order for her plan to work she needed to know that she was in the presence of an innocent girl that was swept away by the currents of war and not a manipulative snake. While it is true that Aria had no carnal interest in marrying Prince Leo she had grown to view him as something more than a friend. She was older than him by quite a few years. And it bothered her that she would be married off to someone younger than her. It made her feel like an old lady.
Sitting back she waited for her answer and as soon as the truth was discern she nodded her eyes and let out a slow breath. Everyone knew that the Slave, once formerly known as a Princess also told the truth and was incapable of telling lied. True to her words she was about to let unbind her hands but paused. There was something left she had to intend to.
"You need love marks. It's a way most people check for a woman's virginity being take without it being intrusive… men are stupid and think that bruises and bite marks are proof enough that a woman has been…" Aria said nothing more. Moving closer to Lahela she whispered in her ear. "Forgive me.. this will hurt a bit. But it's much better than he alternative.
Slowly she bit the girls neck and pulled away leaving a red mark. Exhaling Aria spoke softly "Four or five more should be enough. Please bare it a little bit longer."
Undoing her shackles and the collar around her neck she looked at the girl whom had been a childhood friend. In her heart of hearts she had but one goal. Since her romance could not come true in this life than she would make sure theirs could. "Sleep. You'll need all your strength for tomorrow. I've sent a maid to attend the Prince. She knows her purpose and will comfort him tonight."
She hadn't known why, but Aria had started to read letters out loud. It didn't take long to understand they had been from her brother. He had loved Aria very much, had been so excited to start planning a wedding with her before this war started. He had been heartbroken when the engagement had been called off. She hadn't known Lucien had gone against Leo, not had she known that Leo had spared Lucien. Lahela stood listening to the letters, tears falling again, like a never-ending river. When Aria finished reading the letters, Lahela couldn't look to her, didn't know what to say to her. Aria had come around and unbound her wrists, letting her rub at her shackled wrists a moment to alleviate some of the pain.
Aria told of the rumors perceived outside of the Arrington walls that her father and mother had grown paranoid. She met her eyes and licking her dry lips and a shaky breath, she explained what happened. "For six years after Leo's promise…… everything was perfect…. every Spring my family prepared to travel to Jordan for the Summer. The Spring of the seventh year, Mother fell ill…… We didn't know why or what caused it. And it wasn't until she passed that it was discovered…… that she had been poisoned…… Father and Lucien went on to search for the one that dared take Mother away…. the man was found on the far countryside, between Jordan and Arrington. We knew it was him because he had stolen mother's necklace, her treasured Sapphire teardrop necklace that she always wore on her birthday and her anniversary. It had been a wedding present from Father.
"When he was caught, he had jewels as payment that can only be mined from King Daniel's lands…. there were also letters detailing that Queen Vanya be made an example of to show how weak Arrington was that they could not protect their own Queen. They were all signed with the King's seal…… He also bore the crest and colors from Jordan. Father was so furious, that when he came home…… he denounced Leo and mine's engagement, swearing that no enemy of his would marry his only daughter. I didn't believe this was true. As father fumed and raged, attacking in counter to avenge his wife, I had written to Leo, several letters, several attempts to try and get him to see what was going on. The letters at first kept coming back. Each time one came back, I added another, and sent them all back. I think I got to four or five letters before they stopped coming back. By then, the fighting had escalated.
“Father remarried, and we were never allowed to leave the palace. My brothers all joined the fight, taking turns to whom would stay behind to watch over me and my stepmother…… until the day came that Arrington fell…. and we were taken captive like common criminals…. I didn't want to believe that Jordan was capable of doing such a thing to my mother, she was nothing but kind and sweet to everyone she met. She was loved in Jordan. I tried to reach out to Leo, pleading anyway I could for his help, for him to understand what happened.
"When my letters stopped coming back, and I never got a reply, I could only give up hope…. Jordan swore that Arrington acted first, but we did nothing until Father discovered a Jordan man with seals from King Daniel were to blame…We hadn't known of Leo's mother and brother until this morning…..I swear it.….Leo was my love, every Summer I was at his side, waiting for the day I never had to leave when the seasons turned cold, I would never have betrayed him or Jordan, we were to become one kingdom, expand our homes, our cities.
"This year…. this Summer…… it was supposed to be the year…… Leo and I….” She let her words end and she stood their silently. Broken and lost, she had given her truth to Aria, the only one who would listen to her. They were silent a moment and then Aria moved to her, then paused. She mentioned love bites and Lahela looked to her confused. Before she could ask what she had meant, Aria bit at her neck, causing a whimper and a deep blush from Lahela. It was then she comprehended what she was doing. She was helping her, to keep her lie, without the need of a true physical examination, or checking sheets. If she walked around with her bruises and bites, none would question that she had been defiled. Aria was trying to help her keep her lie. In understanding, she held still while Aria bit where she thought would be right, biting back her whimpers as she did so.
Aria removed her shackles and collar, and though she was grateful for the chaffing to stop for the moment, she feared getting them in trouble for not wearing it. Aria told her to sleep, that she would need as much rest as she could get. She took a moment to resettle the tie of her ratty dress from where Leo had nearly exposed her, and then she moved to one of the couches by the fireplace. She wouldn't dare try to sleep on the bed. She might have Aria on her side, but right now she was the daughter of a traitor in the home of those that didn't trust her. It only took one wrong eye to see her being treated as she shouldn't, doing something she shouldn't it would be disastrous. She tried to look as small as she could as she curled up on the couch. She said nothing more, she was too tired, she was sore, and she would have more bruises show along her skin before morning arrived.
As she lay there, she silently cried the last tears her body could give this day, at least one for every member of her family. Her Mother, her Father, Her Stepmother, Lucien, Ronan, Rhett, and Zayden. They were all gone. By now the nooses would be cut, and the bodies left to rot in some pit, burned on a pyre, or buried in unmarked graves, never to be found again. She closed her eyes and cried soundlessly for her family until exhaustion finally overcame her, and she drifted to a deep and dreamless sleep that gave her the briefest reprieve from the horrors her life had come to endure.
Leo’s face was flushed red with exhaustion as he took out all of his anger on the woman whom his betrothed had sent. Her moans echoed across the halls and those within earshots laughed and giggled as they mistook the sounds of a servant girl for that of the captured princess. The honey-mead which Leo had been plied with did not stop or slow him down. It wasn’t till the early morning that the Prince found all of his frustrations vented and the girl was sent away in secrecy so that no one would guess the plan concocted by Aria and Leo to save his former lover from being defiled.
As the midday sun rose up from the windows Leo still found himself within his room sulking and not wanting to come out. Yesterday had seemed like a dream to him. Dressing himself he walked through the halls suspecting to see soldiers getting ready to prepare for today’s battle. Eyes saw spectors of past faces running through the halls pillaging it. The sound of voices crying out for mercy as he and his men slaughtered them in a rage echoed faintly. In yesterday’s dream he had felt himself holding someone closer and dear to him. In the foggy memories of yesterday he had dreamed of seeing Lahela. The alcohol which he’d consumed made him assume that yesterday had been a dream. He’d remember, surely, that she'd hanged with her family and it hit him.
Sinking down to his knees the weight of everything, his grief, his promise that would never be kept. Tonight was the Masquerade to celebrate his marriage to his Aria and Jordan’s conquest over Arrington. It was almost too much for him all to bear at once. Stumbling through the memories of yesterday he came across the room of his fiance; one that use to belong to his beloved when she’d visit him. How often he’d wait by this door to surprise her. His face gleaming with childhood as he waited for her to
The smell of morning bread filled the air as the Prince ran through the halls not minding the servants which were preparing breakfast for him and his guest. It had already been two years since the first time they met. The four year war wasn’t even a thing which anyone thought of. Instead Leo was focused entirely on waiting for his charming bride to wake up from her slumber. Stepping outside of her room, he hesitated as he wanted to knock on her door. During the Summers her father allowed her to spend all of her time within the land of Jordan which meant they had ample time to wait for breakfast together. Just as he was about to knock upon the Door, Lahela, whom Leo had affectionately nicknamed Lea.( He had given her that name because it was closer to his own and he was very fond of her.) Open the door and smiled brightly at him.
It had been the day after they had made their promise to get married and the tender kiss which they shared was still on her mind to this very day. Despite her being seven the young prince thought she carried herself with enough poise to be mistaken as an elderly lady. Returning her grin he carried inside of her room, only to be admonished by her. Her soft child-like voice eagerly was all too ready to tell him that it was extremely inconsiderate of him to enter into a lady’s room. She was a lady, despite her only being Seven thank you very much!
This always made Leo laugh as he stepped outside of her room and waited for her to fully come out. Bowing before her the Male smiled as he took her hand in his and softly Kissed her hand. He’d enjoy seeing her bright red and her face flush. “Thank you for being my dancing partner last night. I had quite the fun time Milady.” he voice came out gently. Extending his hand towards her he waited for her to take his hand so that the two could start their journey towards the breakfast. It was promising to be quite a feast. A feast indeed.
Leo paused as he came to the door where that memory had just played in his head. Why had he now remembered something sweet when the years had been bitter. Grabbing hold of the knob he twisted it and opened up the door. The scent of alcohol was still on his breath, as what the unmistaken smell of carnal activities. It had been a mistake to dismiss the slave girl so soon for now he desired to feel the warmth of another to mimic his desires to be with one lost forever.
“Aria… They.. hung Lea.. yesterday.. I.. thought I could..” His voice trailed off as he saw that his future bride was not in the room. No she was gone and sitting in that room, at a chair, was Lahela. Unbeknownst to Leo; Aria had told his former princess to wait in her room. She had told her that she had errands to one and to not leave the room for she would surely return.
Dropping to his knees, Leo looked up at the Princess and blinked once before stuttering. “I.. youre… but.. Forgive me.. Aria sent one of her hand-maidens to get me drunk and attend to my more… carnal needs. I cannot remember anything that happen through the haze of alcohol. I only recall seeing you lined up with your family.. Apologies for anything i’ve..”
Upon seeing her bruise and the marking of her skin Leo eyes widen in horror as he back away. “Did.. I… do those things to you?” He asked, noticing the love markings on her neck and bruising which was around her fingers and wrist..
“Please… don’t tell me.. i ..” He paused as he blinked and he remember his fingers getting closer to drawing the string and exposing her. But he’d been stopped. So no, the defilement hadn’t happened… or at least he’d thought it didn’t.
“Lea, what the fuck happen to us?” he asked her
Lahela had been so deeply asleep, exhausted from the day before. Her mind and body taking the night to try and heal and come to grips with what was now happening. Normally she would dream of happier times, of her Summers in this room, or of how she imagined the wedding would be. Last night she was too broken to dream. She woke with a heavy heart in her chest, and the stabbing feeling of a broken soul within her as everything came rushing back to her the moment she could focus.
When she had awoken, Aria was getting dressed behind the dressing screen, more proof that the day before had happened. She reached up to touch her neck and whimpered as she felt the bruises and the bite marks. It was all true. Her family was gone, and she would have nothing to remember them by. Her family, her home, it was all gone. Jordan had claimed the lands when they overthrew it. Everything within would be their claims. She had nothing anymore. And her beloved Leo was not only moving on from her, he was marrying another. He had threatened to force himself on her after saying he wouldn't do so.
Her eyes burned, she didn't think she had anymore tears to physically cry, though her soul tried. When Aria was dressed, Lahela helped her to secure her dress in the back before being told to sit there and to wait for Aria to come back. She wasn't sure what would happen should she leave the room, and Aria had not put the shackles and collar back on, so she wouldn't risk being caught without them outside the room. She wouldn't be able to explain herself if someone else found her. So she waited, watching the cold and empty fireplace where she had spent so many nights dreaming of her wedding to Leo. The many playful mornings that Leo tried to enter her room before she was dressed, claiming that she was to be his wife, so he should be able to see her dress. He had been teasing, and she never let him into her room. It hadn't been proper, and she had been a Lady.
It had been the Summer of the Sixth year and she had just turned thirteen a week before, Leo was now fifteen. He had taken her riding again, surprised her with a picnic by the river. He had been so sweet, and they had been out all afternoon, coming back way past dinner. He had snuck her into the kitchen to grab a snack, then as he did every night, he walked her to her room. And like every night, he would tease her to make her blush.
“Come on, Lea…. let me into your room?” He would grin and step closer, though he kept his hands firmly behind his back. She did the same as she backed up into her doors. It was a game they played. He backed her into the door, but they never touched one another, not with their hands. She would deny him entry and he would try to ply his way in with kisses. Only their lips would touch, but it still left them feeling hot and breathless. His kisses then had been sweet, soft, hungry, teasing, and so very warm. She could even taste the flavor of his favorite tea and sweets on his tongue.
When they were both thoroughly breathless and flushed, he tried again, seeking entrance to her room. “And now, my Lea?” But even flushed, she kept to her words, not allowing him in.
“We have not married yet, it would still be improper. What would our fathers say?” She was grinning though she gave a mock look of fear and horror. He would steal another kiss with a grin before bidding her goodnight and standing there to watch her as she would disappear into her room for the night.
Lahela was startled from her thoughts when the doors opened to the room. She had looked up expecting Aria, and instead she was met with Leo. It didn't take long for his scents to fill the room and as much as she tried not to let it affect her, it hurt knowing he had lain with a woman the night before. She knew why, and though she told herself that she had no right to be upset, it still hurt. He started to speak, and she heard it, his nickname for her. He had picked up calling her Lea, saying that it was close to Leo and made her all the more his. She had never minded, but she hadn't heard that name in four years. He was mumbling of how she was dead, he thought himself speaking with Aria. She had one arm wrapped around her middle, the other hand pressed knuckles against her lips as she watched him, afraid to say anything. He thought her dead? And he looked so distraught that he had not saved her.
When he finally looked up and seen that Aria was not there, and that she lived, he looked so shocked, relieved, and confused all at the same time. He was sputtering apologies, leaving her just as confused if not more now. His words trailed off as he tried to think past the morning's hangover, she had never seen him drink before. His eyes landed on her neck, and she reached a hand to cover her neck as if one hand would hide the bruising from the collar, or the bites that Aria had given to help her to lie. He looked so terrified that he had hurt her. She didn't understand. Before her almost seemed to be the Leo she had fallen in love with. The boy who couldn't stand to hear her cry when she fell and scraped her knee. The young man that had carried her through a field back to their horse - after it had been spooked by a snake and thrown them off it, causing her to sprain her ankle, and he had to chase it down. Her Leo that said his heart broke with every tear she shed that was not a happy tear.
She thought the haze of the night's drink was starting to fade as understanding seemed to fill his eyes. She lowered her gaze from him before she could speak up. Her voice soft, shaky, and still scratchy from the day before with raw emotion. “…N-no…. you didn't…. you told me to lie…. Aria…. helped.” It was all she could say on the matter, it was too embarrassing. Every time he called her Lea, her heart clenched. He asked what happened to them, even cursed, that wasn't like him either.
“…. I tried for you, Leo…. I tried so hard…. Is it true? You fought Lucien and let him go? You spared my Luci……and you didn't know about Mother?” She hadn't meant to ask, but the letters Aria had read had weighed on her mind. She watched him waiting for his answer, not realizing until he answered that she had been holding her breath. “We were so close, Leo…. everything was going so perfectly…… and within months…… it was all gone…… I cried for you…… I reached out to you and was left with nothing to grasp. Before I could blink, the war was on, and no letter could get through to you. I was made a prisoner in my own home. I didn't want to believe the things they said. I thought surely things would end and they would see that things were wrong before it was too late.” To her surprise, she still had tears to give, and she felt them slide down her cheeks as she watched the floor.
“I tried to reason with Father and Luci, I didn't think your father would do such things, I didn't think Jordan was responsible, no matter the proof found. It didn't make sense. But Father was so distraught, so angry, so lost in his grief, he wouldn't listen…… Every letter was ignored, and then it was too late……. None of us knew about your Mother and Brother…… not until yesterday. All we knew…… was they had passed, someone said they had grown ill and passed……we didn't…. I didn't….” She let her words fall as she covered her mouth again. She didn't know why she continued to try now. It was done. Arrington had fallen, he was marrying Aria in two days, her family was gone. It didn't matter how many times she told the story; none would believe her anymore. She was sure that Aria only wanted proof that Lucien had not lied to her in the letters and that would be the end of things.
She couldn't look at him, it hurt. To see the man she had loved, and the man who let her family die, the man who had been so gentle, and the man that ignored her when she needed him, it was overwhelming, and she didn't know what to think. Her emotions were raw, her heart was shattered. Yesterday he had been so confusing, angry and sad and hungry. Today he seemed lost and empty and sorrowful. She could barely keep up with her own emotions, she didn't know how to handle his as well, nor did she know what to expect of him.
It had been the summer when he’d turned 14. A year before the war was set to take place. Lucien and Leo had no idea that in four years time they would be meeting each other on the field of combat. In four years time. Picking up the wooden blade the eldest had pointed his tip at the throat of Leo as his sword came flying from his hand. This brought laughter from the older boys and he could see the concerned eyes of his fiance upon him as he looked up into the eyes of his fencing teacher. Jerking his head he allowed Leo to move to pick up his blade before he twirled his wooden blade and sliced it through the air twice. This was one lesson that needed to be taught and learned well.
“If you are truly set on wedding our sister then I would like to know that she was well protected, pup.” Pup was the nickname given to Leo by all of Lea’s oldest brothers and despite the fact that a year had passed since he started sword fighting lessons with her oldest, the nickname continued the same. Lifting his wooden sword up he charged at Lucien and left with a feint, only for her oldest brough to bring his blade up, and then bringing the flat side of the wooden blade roughly into Leo’s stomach. “If this had been war and you my enemy Pup, then my poor sister would’ve been made a widow. We’ll keep at this till you learn how not to die. I don’t care what any of my brother’s say. King Daniel and Edward both be damned. I’ll not have my sister’s fiance dying at war cause he couldn’t fight with a sword now up.UP!”
On that day Lucien drilled the way of the sword into Leo many times. It wasn’t till the candles were lit that Prince of Jordan finally found his footing and was able to disarm his teacher. By feigning a rush he let his opponent draw in closer to him, only for him to bring his wooden sword down upon his hands thus making his sword-master drop his blade. Blinking, the older male laughed as he looked up at his eventual brother-in-law and smirked. “Ah! Fucking finally! My word takes heed and my sister will not be an widow.” That laughter, how Leo would come to wish he could hear it once more again.
It was Springtime and Leo was just shy of turning eighteen as he saw the all to familiar armor of his former teacher charging towards him. It had been the first day of the two month long siege. During this siege Leo would find himself turning eighteen and by the end of it his mother and brother would be gone. Grabbing hold of the spear thrust hold of it and caught his former master off guard causing him to fall from his horse. He'd spent two summers learning the art of war from him and only a few times had he bested him. However, the spring before his sixteenth birthday war had been declared and he’d grown to be able to kill with deadly precision.
The battle went as expected with Lucien gaining the upper hand till Leo introduced a new technique he’d learned in times of war. Without much warning, he brought the hilt down upon his teacher's face and made him fall backwards. Leo's intentions were to never kill his mentor. Only take him captive to force a peaceful conversation between both their fathers. However… as he heard him scream about killing him like he killed his mother Leo frozen. Lucien’s mother.. Killed? What was the meaning of this? Was she not in some hospital?
As the day’s fighting end Leo confronted his father about what he’d heard. Without warning his father back handed him with enough force that Leo stumbled over and spat blood. “If you weren’t my son I’d have you hang for allowing our hated enemy to live. Here I am, preparing to leave for Vandale to ask for help and you bring up an obvious lie. Lucien is your enemy. Next you meet in battle you kill him, or I’ll kill you.”
Despite his best efforts to understand her words, they made no sense to him. None of it till he’d heard her mention the fact that he met her Luci on the field of battle. Sitting down before her, Leo nodded his head slowly as he closed his eyes and told her about their encounter and his own father’s words. At the time he didn't understand this. The war had been going on for three years. It would take another year with the help of Yandale to help in the war. Placing his hands upon the table he spoke up to his Lea as he closed his eyes.
“I had intended to capture him alive. I thought that if I had your oldest brother in chains than I could force a peace talk between our fathers. We met only one time on the field of battle and that was during the first day of the siege. Now I thank the God’s that I wasn’t so foolish because had I captured him my father surely would’ve had him killed. Why I do not know. Both my brother and Mother were alive when we fought that day…”
Leaning forward he rubbed his head as he looked at his bruised lover. It seemed almost impossible that he was sitting alone in a room with her. Memories of him wanting so badly to enter her room as a child flashed before her eyes. Of course then she’d been a proper lady. Has the haze of the alcohol sobered up, Leo remembered more and more from last night. The way he called her a vulgar man and threatened her. His eyes moved towards her dress and how he'd pulled at her string. Shifting in his seat he suddenly got up and moved away from her as he felt something harden.
Lea and Aria were roughly the same size and shape so as Leo reached for a blue dress with a red ribbon around the waist area. Sitting it down before childhood lover he coughs before speaking. “Erm.. As your master, I command you to change into this.. So that you’re less.. Exposed Lea. I.. erm.. Am still feeling the effects of the alcohol last night and knowing that all it would take is a pull of a string to expose you.. It's.. erm.. Please lea. Change.”
His back was turned from her as she changed. As she continued to talk to him through the Screen Leo expressions softened as he did so as well. “When the war first broke out I was not at the castle, I was away in Vandale at boarding school. I had wanted to be a suitable husband for you so I wanted to go to the best school. I did not learn that we were at war till the second Winter. The war started when I was fifteen and I did not return home to fight in it till I was Seventeen. It was at the battle of the River of Rohaim that I fought my first battle. Then after that I led the command at the battle of Silver’s Road. We took heavy losses and we pushed back but my father took charge and we won the battle of Justice. By then I had been fighting for nine six months and it was close to Christmas. Our next battle was at Ruth’s village. Then followed by that was the two month siege of Daniel’s Town.. where I lost my mother and brother. Afterwards Yandale came to our aid but the winter between the third and fourth year lasted till March. Then with our combined forces we marched into Arrington. We fought the battle at Eldin Bridge and won. From there we fought four battles, The battle of Yors-woods, the battle at Saint Maria’s cathedral, the battle at Arrington-town and finally the castle itself which was a few weeks ago. I’m sorry, my father kept me from war for the first two years. So it would’ve been impossible for me to get any letters if you sent then to the castle.”
“My father wanted to keep it a secret. I heard nothing of your family or of your mother. Till Lucien brought it up in the heat of battle.”
At some point he had stopped her speaking, he had gotten up and walked to Aria's wardrobe. Pulling out a dress, he tossed it to her and told her to put it on. He tried to explain why, and she understood, but it was his calling himself her Master still that cut. He still called her Lea, but still deemed her a slave. He hadn't even said anything about her shackles and collar lying on Aria's nightstand beside the bed instead of being in place. Her tattered gown had barely kept her modesty, and if she could still feel the warmth of his hands to her body, she was sure he could still feel it as well. Without a word, she took the dress and went behind the dressing screen to start changing before she spoke up again.
“I was recently informed that it had to have been your father that got the letters….. at first the letters were returned unopened. But after I kept persisting, they disappeared. And you never answered, so I gave up hope.” She couldn't help but to think back to what he had said of her brother, a lump in her throat as she pictured her brothers' faces. They had been such wild spirits at heart. They had loved to laugh, and spar, the Twins loved to race on horseback. He had wanted to spare her brother, use him as a bargaining chip, but then was glad he hadn't taken him because his father would have killed him.
“Your father got his wish in the end……”Her voice quivered and broke in emotion. “None of them live now….” She put the gown on, feeling bad for not only wearing one of Aria's gowns, but that she was getting it dirty. It was a nice gown, thankfully not one of her best ones. There was one issue with the dress, though. Lahela was more rounded in her curves than Aria was, though they were very close in size. So when she tied the ribbon at the waist that laced together the bodice, her figure was flirted into visage. She stepped out, bare feet padding on the floor in soft taps as she moved back to her seat. He had turned his back away from the screen to allow her her modesty and privacy. “I am dressed…..” She said softly as she thought it odd he had turned away from the screen, when only just the night before he had threatened to bare her right there in his private rooms before Aria had walked in.
That was one thing that didn't make sense to Lahela, something she had missed before. When Lahela was his betrothed, she was expressly told, that neither were to enter the other's private chambers, it was considered improper, and Lahela being raised a Lady followed the rules to the letter. She had not let Leo into her rooms, and she had not gone into his. But Aria, his new betrothed, had walked into his rooms without a knock or invite or anything. And Leo had not seemed surprised. It did not feel like it was the first time she had been in his rooms. And she so boldy had spoken of their wedding night, something Lahela had never been brave enough to do. She had always shied from such talk in embarrassment. Ladies didn't talk about such things so openly, even if Lahela had been only the “trollop” Aria had mistaken her for in the beginning. She had to stop her thoughts. It was made clear that he had moved on as the war had gone on. She had no rights to him anymore.
She took in a breath as she kept her eyes on the floor, all but defeated and resigned in her features, where she had used to be a spirited girl. Now she was forlorn and lost. “As much as you know how I hate lying….. seems you get your wish…. the palace thinks me defiled, and I have been commanded to keep the lie…..” She took another swallow as she tried to bare back the emotions that wanted to swallow her whole. Her hand reached to the bites along her neck. They had only been hard enough to leave the marks, they would fade in a day or so. The bruises she didn't know, some were already fading into yellows, some were still deep purples. And she was sure the chaffing to her neck and wrists would continue once the shackles and collar were back in place. She wondered where Aria had gone and why this talk had gone so long before she returned.
She needed to start convincing herself that Leo was no longer hers, and other than sparing her death at her family's side, he would no longer help her. She waited, trying to keep her composure and emotions in check as she worked up the nerve to say what was needed to be said. She had made a promise to him on the first night they met that she would only ever call him Leo. She was about to have to break that promise to him. She gave a silent apology to him as she took a steadying breath.
“Since you have proclaimed…… what would you have me do, today…. Your Highness? …..or is Master more what you wish?” She wasn't giving attitude, she was accepting her role, though it was a dry swallow. She lost her home. She lost her title and wealth. She was no longer Princess Lahela of Arrington as she had been raised to be. She had no Mother, no Father, no Brothers. And she had no Betrothed. She wouldn't say it out loud, but there was still a part of her that thought the right thing to do was to end her life to be with those that gave everything for her. But they wouldn't want her to die, no more than they would want her to be living this life now. Until she knew what the true right thing to do was, she would play her part. None would call her Princess anymore, or if they did, it would become a sneer and used in degrading her. To remind her of the pain and all she lost.
She wasn't sure how he would react to her chosen name to use for him. She had to break away from their familiarities if she was to survive this at all. She would fall apart about it later when she was alone from all of them. It would be easier then. She would have to get used to being on her own. As much as Aria seemed to want to help her, and Leo couldn't seem to make up his mind on how he wanted to treat her, maybe it was better that she accepted her fate as it was. Sitting in the chair, she kept her eyes down, hands on her lap, and waited for her new “Master's” orders.
With Lahela speaking to him about him getting his wish and her being commanded to lie everything came back to him. Last night when he saw her all he could do was take out his hatred on her. That anger and rage, had not Aria stopped him, would’ve boiled over into something which would’ve forever destroyed what little they had between them. His breath hitch as he saw the way her curves were complimented more than Aria’s when she wore her clothing. She had grown even more beautiful over these four years. Despite all this he understood how she was suffering from whiplash. The angry man from last night wasn’t who he was here and now in the moment. The calm smoothing prince was how he’d wanted to present himself for now and forever more.
Rising up from his chair he walked once more behind her. In the back of his mind he couldn’t help thinking how the title of Master now carried certain advantages. When they were younger the thoughts of others restrained them from what they could and couldn’t do. Now, even though she was the slave and he the master, the irony was that they were more free to do whatever they wanted than ever before. “Ironic.”
Leo hadn’t meant to say those words out loud yet they left his lips and now was too late to take them back. “Four years ago we were constricted by our social status. Despite how much we long to be together, we were told it was improper to be alone. We were always chaperoned, always watched over. Now that we bare another title of Master and Slave we are free to do whatever we want whenever we want. We can dance in private, ride far away from this kingdom and forget that this awful war happened. Or I can listen to you speak your mind openly whenever it is that you desire..”
He step back and paused. “I wish you to stay here in Aria’s room. Since we can speak freely finally… I do want to know you.. Intimately, with your consent. I can’t help myself how clearly you’ve filled out over the years. I’m afraid that I’ve fantasized about our first night of our wedding.. And now that I have you.. It’ll.. Take time to keep these thoughts at bay. Tonight is the masquerade. I suspect you still remember how to dance?”
“I’ll have you attend not as a servant, but as a lady. Perhaps, we can appeal to my father to have your status revoked as a slave?” Leo spoke that softly as his face was red hot after opening admitting how much he’d wanted her in this moment and now. Moving closer to her, he touched her chin and tilted it back.
“Would you forgive me.. If I had tasted your lips once more?” He paused inches from her lips. His eyes wanting to ask for her permission but once more the door to the room was open and Aria rolled her eyes.
“Seriously, Leo.. I must stop finding you in such compromising situations with Lahela. We have work to do if we are to bring about true justice and see those who manipulated this war to their due date with the noose.”
Pausing, Leo blinked once and than again.
Rolling her eyes Aria once more reached for the letter that she read aloud to Lahela..
“Impossible.” Leo’s eyes widen as he finally came to understood the events which had transpired and what Lahela had been trying to tell him as he struggle to come up from the fogginess of the alcohol from last night.
“Yes, Leo.. Her mother was assassinated and your kingdom seemingly was framed for this. We both know that your father would never have Lea’s mother killed.”
“King Daniel, my father, loved the queen of Arrington very much so.. The diamond necklace was a wedding gift he sent to wish for their engagement. King Edward and Daniel both attended school together at Vandale, not only that but when me and Aria were there we were told the rumors of the Noble Four pranksters.”
Blinking Aria looked up at both Leo and Lahela as she nodded her head. “I’ve forgotten completely. All of our fathers, and the King to the East, were truly close friends whom were inseparable. But the fourth king.. And the name of his kingdom eludes me..”
“Lea, did you father ever speak of another kingdom beyond ours?” Leo asked as both him and Aria were now locked onto her.
Lahela waited for him to say something, but he sat there silently for awhile. When he finally moved, he moved to stand behind her chair. She turned her head to keep with him, but she didn't let her eyes look to him. She didn't know what he was thinking, she couldn't tell what to expect anymore. Who was this man? The young boy she had fallen in love with? Or the angry young man the War had forged? She couldn't keep up at all. When he finally spoke, it was one word, and she didn't understand it all. What could be so ironic in this situation?
It seemed he could hear her thoughts in a way, because he continued on, speaking of how things were different for them four years ago. They had been watched very closely to keep them from scandal, so that there was no chance of “pre-wed heirs” as their parents had put it. Now none of it mattered. He had been ordered to claim her anyway, had he not? Now that she was no longer a chance of alliance, stripped of everything and claimed the lowest of castes, he was basically saying that there was no point of her keeping her purity. That there was nothing stopping them anymore from finally coming together. He had dreamed of their first night together as a married couple. To be honest, so had she, as best she could since she didn't truly know what to expect. Arrington had been all about letting the husband teach the wife of her “marital” duties.
He mentioned that they could dance in private, though they used to dance together when they went horseback riding and would find shortcuts to lose their chaperone so that they could dance together in peace by the river until the chaperone rider caught up and they had to break apart. There had even been one time in that sixth year that they had managed to sneak away into one of the spare linen closets in one of the empty guest rooms. Lahela had agreed to kiss him, if he let her tie his hands behind his back to keep him from touching her and causing them both to go down in flames. She had used the blue ribbon from her hair.
He mentioned leaving this land behind, going away and forgetting everything the war had done to them. Her heart gripped hard for that option, but she knew deep down that it would never happen, and so she crushed that hope down before it hurt her anymore than she was. He said he could listen to her speak her mind. He had always asked that she never hold back her thoughts from him. But how could she do that now, in this predicament? He came back to stand before her, and she still kept her gaze down as he said he wanted her to stay here in Aria's room. She wasn't sure if he meant for the moment, or as her sleeping rooms. Which if it were that, she didn't see it as fair to Aria. He claimed he wanted to speak freely with her, and to get to know her. Intimately. Her stomach clenched hard at this and images from the night before were in her mind and she was filled with a mix of arousal and fear. She still held attraction to him, but it was now confused and mixed with fear and pain.
There was to be a masquerade ball this evening, and he spoke of taking her. Not as a slave but as a Lady, that surely they could appeal to his father to make her a Lady instead of a slave. She didn't understand where his thoughts had gone. There was no chance that his father would make her a Lady after one night with the Prince, not after all they went through the last four years. “Your father would never agree to such a thing…..Your Highness…..” She said softly to his thoughts on the ball. He stepped forward and took her by the chin until she was made to look up into his eyes. It hurt to see that face, the gentle gaze of the man she had loved, the heat of those eyes that she used to tease until it was like fire lit his eyes.
She felt her breath catch at the familiar heat he used to instill in her, the butterflies in her stomach. But there was still fear that he would become the enraged man from the night before. She could smell the alcohol on him, as well as the perfume from the woman he had been with that still lingered on his skin. The perfume had cooled her heat and replaced that arousal with hurt and sorrow. She still loved him, she couldn't deny this, but their love would never be the same as it was before the war.
He leaned in closer, a breath away as he asked to taste her again. She was again saved from answering when the doors opened and Aria walked in. She closed her eyes as she chided him for being in the same predicament yet again. Aria spoke of finding the ones who had truly started this mess, finally getting understanding through to Leo that this whole war was a plot on their Kingdoms. When he let go and turned to Aria, Lahela sat back in her chair with a shaky breath as she tried to compose her confused roiling emotions, dropping her eyes to the floor as they went back and forth.
Her heart clenched when Aria explained how her mother had been murdered and she lifted her gaze to the two as Leo defended his father against the death of Queen Vanya of Arrington. Lahela hadn't thought it possible either, and that was why she had tried to reach Leo via letters, but he never got them. They spoke of learning that their fathers had all gone to boarding school together in Vandale, then asked if Lahela had heard of another kingdom.
She blinked a moment confused before she frowned and thought it out, trying to forget her own personal turmoil for the moment. “F-Father would-- ….used… to talk about his days in Vandale…. he would always have stories of King Daniel and King Mikhail……numerous stories…. he would share them every Summer…..” She frowned until a memory came to her a moment. “There….. was one winter…. father had been too friendly with the wine bottle….. instead of his usual antics, he sat infront of the fireplace….. and would go one about his friend…..Eric…? Aaron…? ….. no…. Aiden! He called him Aiden! Said he was a quiet man, but had a mind like iron…..” She supplied. She wanted to give a bit more, but that Winter she had only been ten and she wasn't supposed to be up that late in the first place.
Whatever was left of his hangover disappeared when Leo heard that name Aiden. His hands shook as he went a ghostly pale and his eyes seem to fill with a dim horror. He'd heard that name before and he'd also seen that king once when he was a child. He'd always referred to that man as the "Scarred one." His face bore the marks of war despite the fact that he'd tried to hide it with a jolly demeanor. The way he moved ad walked chilled Leo to the bone especially when he'd had shown up. It had been a year ago to the day when his Mother had been killed during the third year of the war.
The funeral procession was a Melancholy one and there were weepers and criers. Leo's eyes had been bleary from mouring the lost of his brother whom He'd barely had a chance to know and his Mother, Esther. Daniel had been so in love with his wife and despite his best to led the procession stoned face and harden it was almost as if it were an impossibility. That night as they laid her to rest in the cathedral Leo heard a low and sinister chuckle.
It came quietly from the rafters than it seemed to consumed then all as the male came closer and closer to the pair. Turning towards the figure, Leo couldn't control his rage. His father had called him to halt but he'd lunge at the figure with his small knife drawn. Lunching forward he'd attack the man whom was chuckling at their lost only to sound him gone. He'd been absorbed into the night only to find cold fingers Gripping the back of his neck.
Blood filled his mouth dripped from his nose as he felt face slammed into the concrete tile. The lighting of the candles of the cathedral faded into darkness as his head was brought once more down unto the harden floor. When next he woke he was in his own bed with a bandages wrapped around his head. By his side was the scarred face man who eyes were peering inquisitively at him. Before Leo had a chance to scream, those cold fingers went to his mouth again. “Scream and you will join your mother.”
It was at that moment his father walked in. "LORD AIDEN." His voice growled and before it began to tremble. "Will you take everything from me?"
Lifting his hand away from the young Prince the cold man turned his gaze towards the his father and he murmured softly."A blood price is owed. It demands an entire lineage to be paid. All I have is but to kill father and son and balance will be restored."
"You've already taken three people whom I loved dearly. Must I suffer more for the crime of ignorance?" King Daniel spoke as he looked at the the cold men. “How was I suppose to know what Lahela was!? How was I suppose to know…”
Exhaling Aiden looked at Lahela and than back to Aria before he explained to both of them what had happen when he last saw the King of the North. “My father eluded that Lea.. was… something not normal.. I do not know what it was. But from the conversation they made it clear that King Edward was not her father.. not by blood. And our being betrothed was a grave sin in the eyes of God. So in order to correct it an entire lineage on either side had to be wiped out..”
Leo's face was still pale as he recalled that night. He had thought it nothing more but a mere dream, a perverted one that was brought on by fever and desperation to find meaning in why such a war had taken place. Taking a seat by the fire place he turned towards Aria and Aria looked between he both of them. She bit her lip and spoke softly her words coming out slow at first..
"I…. I… It was when I was no more than six years old that i stumbled upon something which I hadn't even realize was a thing. It had been at the castle of Vandale, Leo would've been barely two years of age Lahela wasn't even born yet. In the halls of the castle I've seen King Edward and his wife sharing a bottle with my father, Mikhail. His voice came out softly as he spoke in a hushed whisper. His voice pausing before speaking."
"How, how do I explain this to this to my wife? That I've lain with another woman and this… whore.. is now pregnant with my daughter or son? My fourth child. And worst, this woman isn't a just any other whore.. she's a a whore from the kingdom of Jordan. This child may have my blood, but she is no child of Arrington. I'll never consider her my own child. She's as good a bastard to me than anything else."
I was shocked. I couldn't imagine a king being unfaithful to his Wife. But I think that King Edward was lying about her being a whore. Because as we all know there are no brothels in the kingdom of Daniel. The only brothels are here in Vandale, and Arrington. What if…"
Before Aria could finish the sentence the door flung open and in step the King himself.
Moving closer towards the pair the King took one step towards Lahela and saw that her chains were taken off but as he saw the bruises on her neck and seen how exhausted his son looked along with Aria standing there he nodded his head before grinning.
"Ah. I remember when me and my wife had our first threesome.. Nothing like inviting another girl into your bed. I'd heard that the halls were filled with Moaning deep into the morning and now I see why. Leo, you lucky bastard. Don't forget to thank my properly at tonight's masquerade….. and do not even think of trying to bring Lahela tonight. Her place will be with the slaves in the Slave quarters. I've brought our head female slave to take her there now.."
The moment the name left her lips, both Leo and Aria looked tense and afraid. She didn't understand. Leo then went into his actual meeting of King Aiden at his mother's funeral. She was glad she was sitting down, because she didn't think she would have kept standing. What was he saying? Aria spoke up then, something she remembered from years ago, overheard as a child. They had to be wrong. She was raised in the Palace, born there! They had to be wrong. There's no way what they were saying was true. She was starting to feel sick.
She remembered once before that someone had made a comment to Lahela's hair color. Such a “beautifully earthy tone, nearly chocolate in its deep rich tones” they had said. Where her father was a Golden blond, as was Lucien and Zayden. Her mother had been Raven haired, as were the twins. Her mother and father had simply laughed, and her mother claimed that her grandmother had had the same deep chocolate color hair and that had been the end of it. Was her mother lying? She had to take a moment to breathe as she felt light-headed. It had to be a lie, it just had to be. She couldn't take much more of her life spiraling from what it used to be.
Aria was still speculating over it when the doors opened, startling them all. Lahela paled when King Daniel strode in. This man used to look at her like a father looked to a daughter. There had been a time he would have hurt someone over her protection just as fast as her father or brothers would have. Now he looked to her at first with disgust and anger, and she felt his gaze to her neck. Her hand flew up to try and hide her neck. Then King Daniel smirked, and she remembered what Aria had done to help her and she flushed a deep crimson as she dropped her gaze to the floor.
He congratulated his son and made mention that he could thank him properly at the Masque. He also made it very clear that Lahela would not step a foot near the Masque. A glance to Leo then back to the floor was all she needed to convey her thoughts. She had known his father wouldn't let her go. He sure as heaven wouldn't consider reinstating her as a Lady. Leo was only giving empty wishes and promises.
He made it clear where her place was to be, she didn't doubt that soon she would be back in shackles and that chaffing collar. She had always hated that people were treated as slaves, and she had always tried to be kind to them no matter what happened. Lahela glanced up at the door and she seen a familiar face. His head Slave was a woman named Emma. Emma had been one of the ones assigned to watch over Lahela when she was visiting and had always been sweet to her. Lahela had even snuck her gifts every summer to show her appreciation over the years. The woman's eyes met Lahela's and she was filled with sorrow and sympathy. She let her head bow forward softly, her heart was in so much pain, all she wanted to do was fall apart.
She couldn't do that here. She couldn't do that in front of them all. Especially not in front of King Daniel. She couldn't give him the satisfaction of that. He already had her in chains and bruised nearly head to toe. He didn't know she still kept her virtue. Because her virtue had been all she had left. She had been saving herself for her marriage with Leo, he was to be her first and her only. King Daniel was determined to ruin everything about her until she was broken and mindless. At this rate he was succeeding.
She couldn't say anything, she would be punished if she tried to speak out in front of him. Despite what Leo had said of her speaking freely with him, she had to be careful of what she did, or she would end up worse than dead. She truly wasn't feeling well, there was so much weighing on her heart, rushing in her thoughts and her mind, and physically she felt that if she had tried to eat something, she would lose her stomach. She could feel the eyes of King David boring into her with rage and hatred and disgust. She remained silent as the rest of the room spoke, best to not make anything else worse. She had started to slowly open up wtih Aria and Leo, but she needed to remember that things were different now.
She couldn't be open anymore. Leo was marrying Aria in two days; she couldn't have him anymore. Aria was to be his Princess and would have to be treated as above her now instead of her friend and almost sister. She didn't care that she was no longer Princess, she didn't care that she didn't have the gowns and jewels that had been gifted her over the years. What killed her the most was that despite what Leo and Aria might do for her, she had no one left in the world. She had to relearn how to live her life, or things were going to crash hard and fast around her.
Aria shrieked in horror as Leo was sent crashing to the ground by the back hand of the King. As soon as their childhood friend left Daniel had set upon her fiance with a fury. Grabbing hold of his shirt he brought his fist down upon his face and again and again till blood splattered and his eyes were bruised and one was nearly swollen shut when the beating stopped. Aria covered her mouth as she watched the king drop his son. She wanted to say something, anything, but her voice was lost in the horror of the scene between father and son. Pulling away from him he looked at Aria and lifted his hand and backhanded her as well. Knocking her to the floor he watched as the fiery redhead rose and spat blood from her mouth. She’d had bruises but the King knew full well that it would heal within the two days.
“Did you not think that a King does not know all which goes on in his house? Or that I would’ve forgotten how dearly you two loved that treacherous bitch! How long do you think I’ve sat outside the room, listening to you tell her what she already knew from the time she first was sent here to seduce my son. Lahela knew from the beginning that she was a whore’s bastard. Taken in by Edward.. I once loved Edward and wife as if they were my own blood. And now, after dealing with their betrayal, I have to put up with another?”
Reaching into his belt he pulled out a knife which held the crest of the Kingdom of Jordan. The animal which represented the Kingdom was a Dove. it was a sign of prosperity and that the kingdom would never ever falter. Turning towards his son the king knelt down before him and spoke to him. “Everyone already knows of Vandale’s loose morals. Aria, your wife to be, has long since lost her purity. On the night of the wedding you will take Lahela or I will personally have her throat slit understand me boy?”
Turning towards his father Leo was about to speak but a swift open palm to the face prevented him from saying such a word. “Do you understand me boy?” King Daniel sneered as he slapped his son across the face again, this time with enough force to make his ears ring from the blow. Nodding his head he said nothing as his father rose up and looked at Aria before he spoke again. “And don’t think you’ll be able to get away from this you little slut. King Mikhail, your father, will have you skinned alive if he found out you co-conspired with the daughter of the man who tried to have his best friend murdered. Being royalty does not exempt you from execution, a fact I’d thought I'd made clear yesterday. Or perhaps you wish to burn on a pyre as another example to those who’d commit treason.”
For Leo the following hours leading up to the masquerade passed in a haze as he fumbled through the motions. A special mask was applied to his face to hide the bruising along with make-up. No one was able to tell how rough his father had been. And the worst part of it all is that After the masquerade ended the Castles slaves were ushered in to clean up after the party. Among them he found Lea in her collar cleaning with the other slaves
Waking the next morning the male looked at himself in the mirror and saw how one eye was still bruised. His father had given him explicit commands as to how to explain away the bruises. Heading down towards the slave quarters he barged into the room and asked for Lea to attend to his needs for the day. Today, as his father had told him to explain to everyone, he needed some fresh air to clear his head for the wedding tomorrow. Lahela, his personal slave, would accompany him on his horse ride.
Bringing her towards the stables he got on the horse behind her and once more they took off towards the countryside. The only people who’d seen the bruises on his face were the slaves and the servants who had been ordered to keep quiet about it. As Prince rode almost far away from the castle, through the wooden paths, he took the pair to a wooden cottage in the woods. This cottage belonged to his mother. It was a two hour ride away from the castle and it had a well for clean drinking water and lake to bath in.
Taking Lahela into the cottage Leo couldn’t look at her. Spoke to her softly and relayed what her father told him after the masquerade. “There will be no more lies passed between the two of you to me. For every lie that passes from Lahela’s lips, I will have a lash applied to Leo’s back with a cat of nine tails. And for every lie that passes from Leo’s lip, I will send a soldier to take Lahela by force. Consider his face a warning of what is to pass.”
After relaying his words Leo spoke once more of what his father had expected them to do on their wedding.. How both Aria and a male servant will be in the room to bear witness that this time the deed was done. If King Dainel had a desire to see the two broken then this was an excellent way of doing so. His other order was that Lahela was to tell everyone that Leo fell from the horse and that was how he got the bruises on his face. Of course with the bruises from the shackles and the chains which the former princess had, everyone would assume as well that she’d gotten those from falling from the horse now.
After explaining all this Leo stoked the fire in the cottage and looked away. Leo had packed them a lunch to eat together some ham and cheese with bread. There was nothing more Leo knew what to say or do and so he ate in silence with his former lover. As much as he’d wanted to make advances towards her, he was unsure how to. Tomorrow night would be the night which Leo had promised would happen in his anger and the night they’d both had been fighting to avoid.
The horse ride back to the castle was silent and as Leo escorted Lahela back to the slave quarters he looked at her and closed his eyes.
Despite the fact that Leo and Lea were slave and master, no one stopped Leo from having her close by his side. For the rest of the day he did not let her out of her sight. Even at dinner, despite the fact that she had to stand beside him. Leo fed her fine foods and wine. When asked why he’d allow her to eat from the King’s table Prince Leo used his fear of poison as an excuse. King Daniel, despite his earlier warnings, nodded his head and agreed to this. Calling Lahela over to his side, he ordered her to sip from his wine cup. As she sip, the king didn’t miss the chance to grope her rear in front of the guest. “It’s a good thing Leo spared you after all, with an arse like this and good hips like this, you’d make a fine breeding bitch.” Giving her a slap on the rump, Daniel, ordered her back to Leo’s side.
Leo seethed and almost lost his anger then and there but he did nothing. Instead he continued on playing the role of the good prince.
On the day of the wedding both Aria and Leo were surprised to see Lahela dressed in a fine white dress and roses adorn her hair. Despite the beautiful dress and the roses Lahela still had a collar around her neck. The night before King Daniel had ordered her bathed and scented with lavender. To the outside world, the former princess was to be the wedding Maid to the Bride. She was there to help carry her dress behind her so that it would not get dirty and attend to every one of Aria’s needs. Fetching wine, food, and other needs.
If that were not enough she was even made to dance with whoever asked to dance with her after the vows were exchanged. It was all to build to the cruelest jest of it all. Clapping his hands king Daniel addressed the crowd and spoke. “Ten years I’ve waited for this day. This day was to be the day between my beautiful son, and the former Princess of Arrington. Yet her father betrayed us. I’d hoped, prayed, that Lahela would do the right thing… Renounce her family and come to our side. But she never did. In my heart I feel as though I should be merciful. If Lahela does here and now, renounce and condemn her family. And declares before God and all of Vandale and Jordan that she was forced into supporting her traitorous father.. Then I will be moved to bless her as a servant instead of a slave.. And pay her a wage so that she might slowly rebuild her life. But if she refuses.. Than let it be known that she will spend the rest of her life as a concubine to my son and the once proud Princess of Arrington will forever be branded as a whore.”
As night fell upon the Kingdom Leo held a sobbing Lahela in his arms. Fingers brushed through her hair as he tried to console her. In the end her father thought the best way to get his revenge was to mentally torture all three of them. There was no servant to watch over them. Yes, Aria was in the room with the two of them, but so was the king. As he looked at the three of them he grinned a darken smile and purred. “Let this be a lesson to you all. A king will always know what happens within his walls. The bitch has fully been broken in. And her defilement wasn’t even necessary. And My son and daughter in law have learned a most valued lessons to never go behind my back. With this, I’m satisfied with my vengeance. And I’m no longer interested in a my son’s bitch. Do with her as you please.”
Looking upwards into his eyes, Aria trembled before she whispered. “One day.. You will pay for all the pain and suffering you’ve caused King Daniel. And when the day of your atonement comes.. Know this, none will mourn you"
Lahela was made to leave the room, following Emma down the hall. Lahela said nothing for a while. Emma moved to walk a little closer to her and spoke under her breath. “It will be alright, Lahela……not everyone in Jordan believes you to be a traitor. But we cannot speak out against the King….” Lahela simply nodded, keeping her eyes down as she followed. Emma went over the rules of slaves and where she would be allowed to take her meals, where she would sleep, and where she would bathe. Emma would have her measured for proper clothes so that she wasn't drawing anymore trouble her way. She had no idea what was to come in the next two days.
Most of the slaves were welcoming to Lahela, kind, and even hugged her tightly, glad that she was alive. She thanked them all, and tried to smile for them, but she just didn't have a smile in her anymore. Once she was settled, she had gone with the others to start getting the Grand Hall ready for the Masque. What no one expected was for the King to stomp his way into the room and up to Lahela with a guard. She had to bite back her panic that threatened to make her drop to the floor. The Guard carried another collar, and shackles. The collar marked her as a slave, her shackles marked her as a traitor. He then kept the keys with him so that they could no longer be removed. This collar was tighter than the first, and she was sure he had done so on purpose.
When everything was finished, they were sent to their quarters to wait until the party was finished. They were given their supper, and then they were to clean up the remnants of the Masque. The night was late when they started cleaning, and it would be even later before they were done. She never had her chance to truly breakdown as she needed. She didn't want to bother the others, and she refused to breakdown where the King might see. So, for now, she let things sit, which wasn't a good thing to do. She didn't sleep well, or long. She had just finished dressing, a simple gown a bit like the one she wore the first day, though it held better fastenings than a simple string. This didn't mean it didn't have a way of easy access should someone choose to take advantage.
They were to start decorating for the wedding, but as soon as she had slipped on her slippers, the doors opened again. She flinched as she looked up, expecting the King, but finding Leo. She gasped at the look of the bruises along his face. Before she could say anything, he ordered that she was to tend to him that day. She thought he was taking too many chances, and the look of his bruises had her thinking she was right. She followed him without a word, and he led her to the stables. She didn't understand why he was taking her for a horse ride, it wasn't her place anymore. She had missed riding with him, and now sitting against him as the horse galloped was a bittersweet moment that she wished were in better circumstances.
They reached a cottage a couple of hours later, one he had showed her when she was ten, it had been his mother's. She didn't say a word the entire ride, and she didn't say a word once they were inside. She had started to tend to the bruises on his face, but he gently waved her off and looked away from her as he confirmed what she thought when he brought up his father. King Daniel had beaten him over her. She stood listening to him as he explained what would happen if King Daniel thought they were lying again, that he had claimed that Lahela had known all these years of her birthing. She tried pleading with Leo to believe her that she didn't, and he soothed her fears. But sadly, he had to create new fears as he told her what had to happen the night of the wedding.
She dropped to her knees then. She had dreamed of giving her purity to Leo, but never like this. Her purity was all she had left, she thought they had gotten past this. But the King knew he had been lied to. He explained how they were to explain away his bruises and spent some time at the cottage for a while before having to return back to the palace. Leo had promised to be careful, to be as gentle as he could with her, so that her first time at least wasn't traumatizing, that he would rather her first time be with him than with one of the guards who would be rough and unapologetic in hurting her.
She had done as she was told, if someone asked her, they had fallen off the horse when it was scared by a snake. She didn't have to lie; it was the same story she gave when they were kids, and she sprained her ankle. He had returned her back to the slave quarters, but before she could enter the room, he changed his mind and ordered that she was to stay at his side for the rest of the day. This included standing beside him as he ate his dinner.
Again, he was taking risks. Feeding her from his plate, letting her sip from his glass. She fought the urge to look up at King Daniel, she could feel his hatred glaring at her from down the table. She didn't understand why Leo would jeopardize himself like this over her. She couldn't take seeing him hurt again over her, Which King Daniel knew, and was why he had given the punishments he had. He seemed to accept Leo's reasoning of checking for poison. She wondered if Leo regretted it as quickly as she did. King Daniel called her down the table to taste test his own cup. She kept her eyes down and took the extended cup, giving it a tentative sip. The moment she sipped the glass, he had a handful of her backside, and she was thankful it had only been a sip of wine, or she would have choked on it. She had to catch herself so that she didn't drop his wine all over him. She didn't breathe as he held her by her backside, claiming she would be good for breeding. She bit back a whimper. Returning his glass to the table, he gave her backside a hard smack, hard enough she was jostled, and then sent her back to Leo. She couldn't meet Leo's eyes.
The next morning, she had been dragged from the slaves' quarters and taken to be dressed in a beautiful gown of white. She was so confused, she thought she was dreaming of her wedding to Leo again. They even ornately decorated her curls with matching white roses. When she was dressed, the others were sent away, and King Daniel made his way to her with a sneering grin. He explained that she was to be the Maid to the Bride. She would see to Aria's needs, keep her gown from dragging down the aisle, and she was to serve Aria through the entire ceremony.
At the ceremony she couldn't look to Leo or Aria. She had done her job, keeping Aria's dress from the ground, and she ignored the hushed whispers at her. She kept her chin up during the entire thing. The only thing that broke her stone-faced mask was when King Daniel said all she had to do was renounce her family as traitors and she would be elevated to servant, given more liberties, and even paid a wage. He knew she wouldn't do it; knew she would never speak in such a way of her family. She dropped her eyes and remained silent. He gave her a chance, and she didn't take it.
It was even worse when the festivities were over. Instead of the male servant waiting to bare witness, King Daniel had come himself. There was nothing they could do. She couldn't look at anyone, though Leo tried, telling her to look only to him. She could only look to him for so long before she had to look away in shame of herself. Despite him trying to be gentle with her, it hurt. When it was over, he held to her as she silently sobbed into his chest. He brushed her hair back and she tried to curl into as small of a ball as she could.
The King claimed this to be a lesson to them all, and that he no longer cared what happened to Lahela. To do with her as they wished, she didn't hear what Aria said to him, she just wanted to get away from it all. Her body hurt, she was bruised from her collar and shackles, and she could no longer stop the trembling from her body. Leo had tried so hard to make this monstrous night better for her, and she knew he had tried, but now she was a broken mess.
What happened in the following nights after Leo’s wedding? The Young Prince could not tell anyone because his mind was in a foggy haze. Everything followed routine and the only thing one could be grateful for was that King Daniel had been true about his not caring about Lahela anymore. In the first week after the night they first laid together Leo only saw her in passing and at all of his royal meals. The King had insisted that Lea continued to be Leo’s poison tester, and so whatever fine meals and delectable wines were served for the King, Prince, and his new daughter in law, Leo’s slave was asked to taste the meal and drink from his cup.
In those first weeks Leo apologized hundreds of times. His voice threatened to break with each time he uttered an apology for the crime of robbing her of her most precious gift. Eventually it was Lahela who had to tell him that by apologizing he was throwing salt in the wound. Aria, the new princess of Jordan, had tried her best to make life easier for Lea. Oftentimes she would take her out of the castle and allow her to get some fresh air as they travel to market. In these trips she would buy her a small gift as well as one for her now husband. Eventually the prince could no longer bear the silence and had his former childhood brought to his own room for her to stay permanently.
The entire castle saw less of her. Except for meal times when they forced her to eat with the royal family, the slaves and servants only saw their fellow newly-made slave coming and leaving from Leo's room with the collar and shackles around her neck. Daniel had given the key to his son and so in the hours she’d spent in his son’s room, her neck and wrist were free from the chaffing of the irons.
Eventually the weeks passed into months and the prince felt himself still slowly nursing Lahela back into the girl she used to be. He did not force her to clean his room, nor did he forced her to do her work as a slave. He’d allow her her space in his room and many times he took up reading to her underneath the candle light late into the night. This was all he could seemingly do in order to ease the weight of it all.
It had been six months in the winter time when Leo felt himself holding Lahela in his arms. Snow had fallen onto the ground and the fireplace was burning with heat. Despite his best efforts to comfort her and not repeat that night, spending half a year with someone you’d absolutely loved and adored in close proximity was hard for the prince to bear. He had asked for her permission but he wondered if she heard him as his hands lifted up and off her dress. Whether or not she had, Leo couldn’t hold himself back and he had Lahela that winter’s night unto the fire died out and the sun rose high in the sky again.
Holding her in his arms, he shifted so that she couldn’t feel himself against her. Breakfast had been brought up by the servant and Leo had ordered them to leave them alone. Perhaps this had been his father’s plan all along. To give his son a taste of what he could have as Master from his slave till, eventually over time, his resolve broke and he had to have that taste again? If that was his plan it took six months of Leo’s will power to hold himself back before he broke.
“I’ve had the slaves searching the castle for the letters which you wrote to me Lahela, and it is as we’d thought. They’d all been burnt or destroyed. Save but one. They found it one day whilst cleaning out King Daniels studies, an unopened letter which dated back to the time when I would’ve first came back from boarding school.”
He said nothing more as he continued to stroke her hair some more before he murmured. “I’ve been.. Thinking over the last few days of all the past mistakes I've made. Of all the memories I’ve sworn to never forget, and I’ve committed one more to memory which I’ll never forget. My father, King daniel, always referred to all of the other kings as that titled. King. However, for King Aiden, he called him Lord. As though he were noble and not a king himself. When I ask my father how he’d come to find out…. He told me it was Aiden whom had first told him. Later on King Mikhail had confirmed that your father, drunk, had confessed something similar.”
“I swear to you that I will find the true villain who started this war and I will see justice delivered. I swear this upon my love for you.. And when justice has been deliver I will restore all which was lost you.” Pressing a hand softly to her stomach Leo closed his eyes and murmured. “Is it wrong that I still wish to have a family with you.. And call you my wife?”
She had done the one thing she hadn't wanted to do. She had broken, and before them all. Soon as the King had left that night, Leo and Aria had held her the rest of the night and until she woke the next morning. She had slipped out of the room without waking them, which had been hard as she had to untangle from them both where they held her protectively. She didn't say a word for days, answering on with nods or shakes of her head. She went about following the others in doing chores, and at meals she would stand beside Leo as was her “job” as taste tester, only now she did so for both Leo and Aria, though her main place stood beside Leo.
Any chance Leo got; he was trying to apologize for what he had been forced to do. She finally broke her silence, kissed him softly, and told him that she didn't hold him responsible, and that with every apology, she felt the pain all over again. It was not his wrong to apologize for. She thought that maybe it was more so that she had finally spoken to him than what she had said that got him to stop apologizing. Aria took her on shopping trips, and they each would take her riding - even got her a horse to ride on her own, taught her to ride - whatever they could do to help her. She was thankful for them both as she slowly came to accept her life as it was. Leo and Aria, despite being married, didn't share rooms after the wedding night where they all three shared a bed.
One night as the castle was settling for the night, Lahela had just finished bathing and dressing for bed, when Leo had come barging in despite the late hour, and he all but carried Lahela to his rooms. He didn't try any advances, as she had feared at first. He claimed that his rooms were her rooms, and she was not to return to the slave quarters. That night was the first night she had her shackles and collar removed since the day of the Masque.
She spent her days either with Leo or Aria, she played the dutiful slave to them outside of their rooms when being watched. But behind closed doors, they worked on helping her through the trauma and emotional stress she had broken down with. Most nights were okay, some nights were great. Leo would do as they had as children, reading stories to her by candlelight until she fell asleep in his arms. If she wasn't with one of them, she was either in one of their rooms, or she was running an errand for them, and she spoke to no one outside of Leo and Aria unless she had to.
She had seen the way some of the guards and soldiers had been watching her, but she pretended not to notice them, and she didn't make eye contact to them. She wouldn't encourage anything from them. She did mention it to Leo but only because she wanted him to be wary, not to say something unless they tried something. Time passed until Winter came upon them. Between Leo and Aria, Lahela was given proper clothing, especially when the colder months came.
Though she still had a ways to go to get through all that was done to her, she was slowly starting to heal, and would speak more, even joke or laugh with Leo and Aria. And at night, she would enjoy being free of her confines, and trade them for better ones - Leo's arms. She was even smiling more. Some nights she still woke startled and screaming from nightmares, in which Leo immediately had her in his arms and whispered to her until she came out of her panic.
This night had been sweeter, they had been cuddled by the fireplace, and had just finished a book together. She was content to lie there with him, the warmth of the fireplace chased off the chill of the room and they were wrapped in blankets. For the first time in months, Leo had asked for permission. She was terrified, but she didn't want their intimacy to be tainted in fear as his father had tried to make. She asked that he go slow, and he spent the entire night showing how gentle and loving he could be despite the disastrous first time they shared.
They were silent awhile the next morning as they shared breakfast, before Leo spoke up of having the Palace scoured for the letters she wrote him so long ago. All had been destroyed save for one unopened letter. He then spoke of King Aiden, his father, and her own father, and how they all claimed somewhat of the same thing. She was not fully royal in birth. But one side had to be wrong. One side that King Edward was not her father, the other said Queen Vanya was not her mother. She wished she had someone she could go to and ask if it was true. But anyone that would have known were killed, and Arrington was no more, it had gone under the workings of being claimed as part of Jordan now. Her family lineage was gone.
He made promises of finding the real villain, of making them pay for all they put her through, swore on his love for her. Swore that he would give her back all she lost. She knew what he meant, but there was one thing he could never get back for her. She held to him closer, not saying anything at first. His hand touched her stomach and he spoke up again, claiming that he still wished her to bare his children, and he wished to call her his wife. She sat up softly to look into his eyes. “All my life, since we were children, it was all I ever wanted, Leo….. but how am I to be your wife when you are married to Aria? Your father would never allow an annulment, he would sooner my death come…. I hate that we have to hide our affections outside of these walls as it is….. I've gone through hell and gotten you back…. and you're not even mine to claim….. not publically…. Please don't misunderstand me….. I want that for us…. to be a family together…. Aria has become like my sister, despite everything that has happened around us…… I want to be yours…… but I don't know how we can…..” She lifted a hand to caress along his cheek, watching his eyes softly.
As the pair laid in bed together, Leo looked at her ad gave her the softest of smiled. There was still a way for them to be together. Taking her hand in his he softly kissed her hand to his and spoke softly. “I have a feeling that the answers we both see lies within the boarding school all out fathers went to. Vandale is a liberal kingdom. They do not hold closely to placing a woman's sole purpose in keeping her virtue and social standing. If you were to come with me to boarding school come the first month of spring than we can maybe find respite. We may not be as husband or wife but you will be free from the collar and shackles. Not just at night but all times.”
It was a promise which Leo could this time. He had often spoke with his Mentors about the loved one he'd left behind in child hood. There was one man whom had been willing to meet her. An elder man in his older years who had tutored All of the former kings when they were young teens. His name was known as Master Yohann. A strict task master the balding man was pushing seventies yet he moved as though he were much much younger.
Looking at his Lea he leaned forward to kiss her softly and whispered. "Give me three months and I'll will take care of everything." And true to his word Leo and Lea found themselves in a carriage heading of together towards the foreign kingdom of Vandale.
The kingdom of Vandale was radically different from that of Jordan. While Jordan was a kingdom which located in the south it had hills and mountains but mostly flat lands. With it the land was predictable and boring but the same could not be say of the Kingdom of Vandale. It's buildings were bright yellow and golden banners flied high.
As the pair made their way through the kingdom their destination was a building which seemed to be like an old castle mixed with an old cathedral as well in truth the boarding school was the original castle of the Vandale royalty which had been expanded and built up. As the carriage came to a halt a certain old man paused was waiting for them.
As the pair stepped out Yohann gasps as he his eyes fell upon Lahela. Blinking he slowly spoke as he murmured. "By the God's, Leo you should've warned me of your childhood friend beauty. I feel as if I've met a ghost. She is the spitting imagine of her father, he use to wear his hair long like she does. It wasn't till I told him that no one would take an feminine ruler that he cut his hair. But I can tell, without fail, this child is the daughter of King Edward."
He hadn't mean to but his face darken and as the older man saw the pain upon their face he exhaled and spoke softly. "I see I've missed alot. Fill me in."
She watched his eyes as he explained that he thought they would have some luck in Vandale. He wanted to go back to finish his schooling, and he wanted her to go with, explaining that they wouldn't care of their situation. And she would be free of her collar and shackles. It sounded wonderful, even if it was only for his schooling. She feared what would happen when they came back, but it would be a slice of paradise for now. He asked for three months to get things ready. In that time, Aria helped Lahela to produce proper clothing to take with her. True to his word, and despite the glares from his father, Lahela was loaded into the carriage with him, and they were off to Vandale. Once they were out of sight of the palace, he removed her collar and shackles, putting them in a bag for now.
Despite everyone's being allies over the years before the war, Lahela had never been to Vandale. It was a long trip, but she enjoyed it, holding to his hands and watching the views as they passed. Once they were in Vandale, she was in awe of seeing its city. It was bright and golden, where Arrington had been more Earthy and green in colors. They pulled up to the school and were met at the front steps by an older man. She was nervous, despite Leo's promises. She was afraid that things here would be the same as Jordan. She was seen as a traitor. Now that the carriage had stopped, her stomach was tight in her nerves.
Leo helped her step down as others started to take down the luggage. She watched biting her lip as she thought that was supposed to technically be her job. She didn't know what she was supposed to do at this point. One moment she's a slave, and then a door closes, and she was considered free and Leo's lover. She was confused with her life. Someone began to speak and captured her attention, breaking her of her thoughts. He claimed her beauty and then spoke of how she looked like her father. She grabbed Leo's hand tightly as she took a shaky breath, looking to Leo with hope.
For the first time in months, something unclenched in her stomach, she felt almost light-headed. The old man spoke of needing to be filled in, and Lea was trying to take a deep breath to compose herself. Someone knew, someone had answers. Someone might help them. “Could…. could we go inside? I'm sorry, I just….. ” She offered an apologetic smile to them both. “I… I just need to sit down for a bit… I don't think you understand just how much you just gave me in that one sentence, Sir….”
"Of course My dear of course."
Leo couldn't help but exhale and inhale as he sat once more among the familiar furniture of the campus which he'd had been a student at. Taking it upon himself the male had given them something to drink in order to satisfy their thirst. His eyes closed a bit as he hummed to himself before he open them again. They'd had been in his office for an hour and Leo had filled him in on everything which had happen the past two years.
During the retelling of the histories Yohann's face had twisted and contorted into frowns. Than it changed to another expression before finally the color drained from his face. Of course Leo excluded some things for he felt as though his old teacher would never forgive him if he'd known what he'd done to his childhood love. He could still barely forgive himself and it had been nine months since that unfortunate event.
Setting down the glass the old man huffed. "I am very disappointed in both my former pupils. Especially since I always taught them to use diplomacy first before making any rash decisions. At a far away glance one could tell that such a thing would be impossible. For.. starters, you say your mother's necklace was a gift from King Daniel? Why, than, would king Daniel use the same necklace to pay the man for assassination. And letters? Easily forged.." Now the male was reaching for his pipe.
Reaching for a match he struck it before he started to lit it. "Annd.. annd.. you say your mother was killed by soldiers from Arrington? Poppycock! The.. castle Town of Daniel is an oval within a circle with overlapping walls. It would be impossible for anyone to sneak into the castle without having extraordinary knowledge before hand and if that knowledge was well-known than King Edward would've had won the war before intervention. No.. I suggest a third party was orchestrating this fiasco. A man with the most inner workings of the kingdom of Jordan mixed with the ability to get close with the Queen of Arrington so that she'd trust him to hand over her necklace . Yes. Her necklace wasn't stolen,it was given over freely.. perhaps a she'd thought he would send it to King Daniel to have a replica made in order to celebrate a far off wedding?'
Leo blinked once as he looked to his teacher. "Are you suggestion were looking for someone with both close ties to the royal family of Arrunftin and the kingdoms of Daniel"
"Precisely. A noble, a royal dress maker, or even royalty it's self. There were four little boys who grew up to be royals. And two of the queen met those boys here as well.. back when we had a sister school.."
Furrowing his brow Leo frowned as he blinked. "The necklace my father gifted did take nearly two years to make. Forging for the right diamonds took time.. so I guess to complete replica would and longer if you wanted to customize it for… a wedding gift."
Aye there we are. Yohann though as he helps Leo through his first clue
Lahela was led into Yohann's office and set down in one of the chairs next to Leo. She felt better to be sitting down, and she reassured both men that she was fine and let Leo fill in what was needed to know. She was thankful that he had left out the events of his wedding night, the closer he had gotten to that, the tighter she had held his hand. When he skipped over it, she relaxed almost instantly. She didn't look up as he went over what all has happened in their lives, catching the man up.
Yohann had made them something to drink and she had thanked him, and sipped on her tea as Leo went on, adding in what she knew of her side of things as he went. When all was finished, Yohann looked severely disappointed, and she found that she was glad such a look wasn't aimed at her. He started rolling through their story and picking things apart in a way they hadn't thought to do. He spoke of what they had believed, that there was someone else that started all of this.
He started in on how her mother's necklace hadn't been stolen. It had been given away, possibly to be recreated. Lahela didn't understand and she glanced to Leo as they spoke back and forth. To get that close to the Queen and to get her most cherished necklace, someone was trusted very highly by her mother. Leo spoke of how her mother's necklace had taken two years to make. A replica, especially a custom designed one, would take as long if not longer to finish. When she realized what they were saying, Lahela's eyes burned with tears and she had to set her teacup down as her hands started to tremble.
Her mother had given her most cherished necklace away, entrusting it to be taken care of, to have one just as special made for her only daughter for her wedding day. Knowing how long it would take, she had sent for it to be made four years before the wedding, so that it would be finished just in time to make it to the wedding. And her trusting mother had lost her life with her trust. She pressed a hand to her mouth as she tried to bite back her emotions. She was better than she had been months ago, but she still had a lot of trauma to handle. Thinking back to such a gesture from her mother had made for her for her wedding. It started with a gesture, and it ended in a war that destroyed nearly everything for her family.
She didn't understand who would want to do such a thing when her family had never been anything but nice to everyone. The people always spoke of how peaceful things were, that Leo and Lahela's marriage was going to be like a fairy tale. And someone sought out to tear everything apart after so many years of peace between Kingdoms. “Everything started when Mother fell ill and passed…. Father was beside himself with grief. When it was made clear that it was murder and not just sickness, he was enraged…..searched all over Arrington with Lucien to find the one at fault. He found the courrier with mother's necklace, and letters with the king's seal. That was when he lost it, and made the attack on Jordan to avenge Mother……not even Father knew she had given the necklace away…..” She said softly as she looked between the men.
The elderly male nodded his head as he rubbed his chin with careful consideration. Here in the kingdom of Vandale the war was known but it hadn’t really hit home the fact that a royal family had been hanged. It wasn’t as though the four kingdoms had an alliance with each other, in fact, in past history’s war had been common amongst the four kingdoms. Peace was a temporary thing and now that it was here and it ought to be better preserved. Nearly three hundred and fifty years ago the Kingdom of Vandale had built this very school as evidence that peace and knowledge should be the cornerstone of this continent instead of violence and bloodshed. And ever since then wars had been infrequent and briefly fought mostly resulting in both royal families being kept alive. Now, however, it seemed as though the four kingdoms would become three.
“It is quite fortunate that this is my last year of teaching.. Mikhail has promoted me to sit upon the king’s council. An opportunity one gets when he’s proven himself a life long friend to the crown. There are still talks as to what to do with the people of Arrington and her kingdom. Some are saying the loss of the royal family is enough. So the people needn’t suffer anymore. There is a vote to be put to by the end of the year to make the Kingdom of Arrington a vassal state of Vandale which will be ruled by an elected Magistrate.”
Yohann did not know if the pair would take comfort in that; however as he finished smoking his pipe he stood up and clasped his hands before he reached for a parchment of paper and spoke softly. “Apologies but I must require the signature of Lea. As evidence that she has consented to staying in the same room as Leo. We do allow our students to have one attended with them but we need to document that it is consenting and no abuse is happening whilst their time is here.”
With the paperwork done he began to show the children of his former pupils the way to the room which they would be staying in. It was rather spacious and had a writing desk, along with a balcony and a bed. The hearth was made of stone and it also had a stone basin which was to be used for bathing.
Nodding his head the elderly man looked to the two before he clasps his hands and spoke. “Tonight you two shall rest. Tomorrow, I shall begin to tell you what I can recalled of the Time Esther and Vanya both first arrived her. The two girls whom would grow up to marry my finest pupils. Perhaps we can discover who the person was that she gave the necklace to through the past.”
The man spoke up of how Arrington was undergoing votes and changes of a sort since the Royal family was gone. She dropped her eyes. Despite the time that had passed, it still hurt to think of her family. “As long as the people are treated properly, and ruled fairly, it is the best anyone can ask for….” It had meant to become her brother, Lucien's, terrain to rule, joining Arrington and Vandale in marriage, as she would join Arrington and Jordan with her marriage. Such a thing will never be able to happen now, as Arrington was all but no more. She had to set her tea down again before her hands would start to shake. She was getting better with her fears, her panic attacks, and the nightmares mostly didn't come for her as long as Leo was at her side when she slept, but she still had some ways to go.
Her thoughts were interrupted when he mentioned that she needed to sign some consent forms for co-habitation between student and their attendant. She nodded and leaned forward, taking one of the pens and signed each paper that was needed. Returning the pen to its place once she finished, she sat back in her seat once more to finish her tea before Yohann chose to show them to the dorm room they would use. Their belongings were already brought to the room, and Lahela made a mental note to make sure she placed things in their proper places for their stay. Yohann bid them to rest for the night, and that the next day they would start in on trying to figure out the answers needed to begin clearing her family's name.
She thought it a sweet gesture, and though part of her heart held hope - especially after hearing how much she looked like her father - there was still a part of her that knew that nothing would ever be the same, and that she would never be able to go home again. Not to Arrington. She would never be the Princess again. And though she had her Leo back, there was the chance that she could never be his wife, despite what they wished and talked about by firelight. She thanks Yohann and when the door was closed, she moved to their bags as she would at home and began unpacking things into their proper place. He may not be making her wear the collar and shackles while they were here, but she was still his attendant.
She would be lying if she said she wasn't mentally and emotionally confused by their situation. They only made her wear her “vices” - collar and shackles - in public when they knew that someone would see that would undoubtedly report back to King Daniel. If there wasn't that chance, even Aria set her free from the chaffing metal. They knew he wasn't stupid, though. Other slaves' vices were cleaned for rust many times as they could not remove them to bathe. Lahela's wasn't needed to be cleaned for rust nearly as often, a sign she didn't bathe in them. And here, Leo wouldn't make her wear them, so her bruises would finally heal completely for once.
She started with starting a fire in the hearth to chase the chill of the room away, and then once that was roaring, she went to their bags and began unpacking. Placing clothes in the armoire, brushes and things either near the washbasin, on the hearth's mantle, or on the desk, or in its drawers. Finding the proper places for things and putting them away, then stacking their luggage out of the way in a small closet, the bag with her vices still within their luggage. When she finished, she covered her mouth in a slight yawn, the ride had been long, and sometimes a carriage ride could leave one tired. She needed to speak with Leo about what she was to be doing while he would be in his classes.
To the blonde haired boy who grew up by the coast of the sea this city was all that he’d known of the world. He had neither a father nor a mother but he did have a patronage who just so happened to be the King of the land. For some reason or another, the king took a liking to him and through his charity and good will the boy had grown up to be a fine lad, educated and grown to have a knack for getting into trouble and things. Eventually his wildness led to him being sent to the elite boarding school of Vandale and that’s where, as fate would have it, he ended up running into someone whom he’d grown to be absolutely fond of.
When he first laid eyes upon Leo he was a young boy of 15 years. A foreign prince who had come to study. Being a bastard, at first Sebastien made the assumption that the prince had come here to study and goof off just as he had. Afterall, he’d met the other Princess of Vandale and she was quite the beauty, a redhead lass who did and slept with whomever she pleased. So the question on his mind was whether the prince would be just as much as a whore as his royal colleague. However, to his surprise, Leo was a man that was full of surprises and contradictions. Over the two years that the two had gotten to know each other they formed a bound like no other and when Leo left Sebastien had stood by his side, their farewell was bitter to the both of them.
“When do we leave for war, Sire?” Coming into Leo’s Room unannounced he watched as the male sat by the fire. His face was contorted into a painful look and as he stared blankly ahead at the fireplace he looked to the male and spoke softly. “Surely you jest. I go to fight against the people who I’ve once called dearest in my childhood memories. Now… my father expects me to raise up arms against a family I’d once long to call my own. Lea.. she’ll never forgive me for this..”
It was the wine talking. Leo had gotten drunk all by himself as he reached for another cup, sebastien step forward only for the male to fling himself at him and break down in his arms. His tears wet his shirt as he sobbed and sobbed and shook with each one. Patting his head the blonde stroke the male as though he were a child and he spoke softly. “Shuush, you fool. Lea will understand that you must do what must be done. I know you. You will find a way to rescue her and bring her back here to safety. And upon that day I will great you both with fresh food with fresh wine and cheese.”
Pushing that memory away the blonde met his way towards Leo’s hold room. He had heard rumors that the prince had finally returned to the school. Not only were those rumors swirling around, but there was also another rumor that a beautiful girl was with him as well. The tale of childhood romance between Leo and his beloved Lea was a rumor that many had thought was made up. Only a few truly held it to be of true value and Sebastien was one of those whom thought it to be true.
So just as he promised, he had a furskin of wine and a platter of meat, cracker, and cheese and as he walked into the room and saw the two people setting about to unpack his face lit up. His outfit accented his hair and eyes. Bright gold and darken blue made his beauty stand out and as he shouted out in a triumphant voice he spoke. “Ah the fated couple has arrived. Leo and Lea! As foretold by the Gods of Cupid and Eros themselves! War could not keep the two beloved ap–”
“Ah shut the fuck up you blonde bastard.” Leo snapped as he turned upon the male before he burst out laughing.
Chuckling out loud Sebastien moved to set the trey of food down upon the table as along with the wine before the two embraced and hugged each other. Without warning, Sebastien suddenly picked Leo up and he let out a shriek, kicking his legs in protest before his friend set him down and pinched his cheeks. “Still as womanly as ever! If i was not so sure that you were truly a man, than I’d have you.”
“Lies! Everyone knows that you’d have any man or woman who glances at you.”
Tossing his head back Sebastien laugh as he spread his arms. “God made women and it delights me. God made men and that too also delights me. And as a man who was born a bastard in this world who has no obligation to carry on his name… I am free to be neutral and enjoy both sides of the coins when it comes to love.” He growled playfully, before he turned and looked at the woman.
At the time, Sebastien hadn’t known it, but his demeanor mirrored that of a young king Edward. His cadence, his mannerism, even the stern look he gave Lea. As he blinked his eyes he moved towards her slowly and spoke softly. “Are you alright Mi’lady? You seemed to have seen a ghost? Perhaps… I shouldn’t have sought my friend Leo out as soon as I heard his return.”
It was then that Leo blinked once and than twice again. There was a reason why Leo had been drawn to Sebastien when he first arrived. A memory buried by time resurfaced as he stared at the two.
Lea had just turned thirteen and Leo was fifteen years old at the time. It had been the first time Lea had rode a horse by herself. Of course Leo wouldn’t have mind her riding her horse, but this time King Edward was chaperone. Before the ride had began Leo was getting ready to help his daughter up onto his own horse before her father had come and coughed. “And what do you think you’re doing young man?” His voice had come out Stern and as Leo turned upon his heels he stammard thinking he was in trouble. But the king pulled his head back and laugh.
Those blonde curls shook around his head as he gave Leo a firm slap on the back. “Normally, I would have no problems with Lahela riding with you.. But as you can see.. She is no longer looks like a child. Her figure has started to fill out, and i know temptation when I see one. I’m afraid that if I continue to let her ride on the same horse as you, that you’re hands would begin to wonder. And I can’t have your hands on my daughter. Not till you’ve exchange your vows. Than, afterwards, you can be handsy all you want. Ha..ha. A handsy husband produces many children, and I want many grandchildren to warm my home when winter comes.” Once more King Edward laughed hard moved to his daughter. “Come little one, its time you finally pick a horse of your own. Together all three of us will ride till the sun comes down!”
“How I have not noticed this before.. Sebastien…. How old are you again?”
Looking up at Leo he blinked his eyes before he smirked. “I know that I’m a bit old for my age, but I’ll be turning Eighteen soon, in a few months.” The same time as Lea will turn Eighteen. Leo thought but he didn’t say anything at all.
Once everything had been settled and put away, Lahela had excused herself to the bathroom. Being a Lady it took a little longer in the bathroom than it would for me. Struggling with skirts was not always easy, despite what others might think. So it was a bit before she came back out of the washroom of the room, not expecting a guest already. At first she could only see the male from behind, tall broad shouldered, blond curls, and a vibrant personality if the laughter was any indication. Lahela smiled seeing Leo so joyous with a friend, it made her happy to know that he had friends like this.
The way they spoke to one another also proved of their deep connection and bond as schoolmates and she felt a little envious, but not in a bad way. She dried her hands on a towel as she let them catch up, though when she turned to watch them, she finally caught a view of the male's face and her entire body felt as if she'd been plunged into ice water. She couldn't breathe, couldn't move. She felt the blood drain from her face, and her stomach felt like it took a lead ball hard.
She tried swallowing the lump in her throat, and tears brimmed hard in her eyes as Leo asked the male, apparently named Sebastian, how old he was. He was roughly her age. Her world was starting to spin, and she felt lightheaded. She hadn't had a panic attack in months, not one of this level. She remembered the story Aria had told them the first day in the Palace of Jordan. It was true, her father had been unfaithful to her mother, but it wasn't Lahela who had been illegitimate.
She was staring into the face of whom could have been her father's clone. Right down to the dimple on the left side of his mouth when he smirked. And his eyes, blue eyes like a clear summer sky, so piercing even when he smiled. The same eyes Lucien and Zayden had been given. Rhett and Ronan had been given green eyes by their mother. Lahela was the odd one out, taking the far more recessive genes and taking after her mother's mother with dark chocolate hair and golden-brown eyes. “L-Leo….” was all she managed to choke out through her panic attack as she reached out for the nearby desk for support.
Her hand missed and she dropped to her knees, the towels long since dropped to the floor from her hands. When she finally managed to breathe, it was short and choppy breaths as she began to shake. She was remembering the look of her father at the gallows. Trying to free himself to save his only daughter from being taking forcefully, going to his grave believing that she would be raped and abused. Her brother Lucien, almost the spitting image of her father save for his mother's skin and nose, had been right behind him to try the same, but once her father had lunged, her brothers had been held back.
She felt nauseous, as her panic attacks usually did to her, and she didn't want to be sick in front of either of them. She'd done so before in front of Leo and had been embarrassed by it, though he had cared for her through all of it. He and Aria were the only ones who could truly help her through her panic attacks. Once she had one in a hall on her own, heading back to Leo and Aria after having gone to get food for them as a snack in the library. Her attack had snuck up on her. She had dropped the tray of food and drink all over the floor, and when a guard had come to see the commotion, it had freaked her out more, leaving her a sobbing mess in the corner until Leo and Aria had come to her aide.
She hated these attacks, and though she had gotten better over the months, having fewer and fewer attacks, they hit hard when she had them. A thought managed its way through the panic, and she didn't know if this made things better or worse. She had another brother. She still had family. All this time, she had had another brother and they'd never known. It was too much for her mind. Between the revelations, the memories, and the adrenaline slamming her heart into her chest, she couldn't handle it and tears began flowing unchecked along her features. She felt so bad for falling apart before this stranger whom was a close friend to Leo, but she couldn't catch herself, no matter how hard she tried.
Leo was no stranger to her once attacks. In fact, he'd grow accustomed to helping her through it.. however, they both had been taken aware by the his friend Sébastien. Leo hated himself. How? How could he have not seen it sooner and why did he not do anything to stop it from coming? Rushing suddenly over to her side Leo moved to wrap his arms around his beloved and instantly he moved to stroking her hair.
Stunned. The blonde male stood there unaware of what was going on. Taking a step back he called out to Leo, "I'll run and get master Yohann! He'll know what to do." But before Leo could even call for his friend and warn him that that was a terrible idea, he was gone. The blonde boy was always fast as lightening and as Leo held on to her tightly he hushed and stroke her hair softly.
Velvet fingers ran through velvet locks and pretty soon Leo was lifting his beloved up and sitting her on his lap on the couch. Slowly he rocked her back and forth and it wasn't till Sébastien returned with the old man that Leo looked helpless to the Wiseman. In his hand was a tiny bottle of liquid and as he came closer to the two pair of lovers he hesitated before watching the two. Through the rocking and soft spoken words from Leo it had appeared that Lea had calm down but those wound were still deep.
Leo eyes looked helpless as he looked to the sage who was out of breath. Yohann knew diseases and remedies but he wasn't the one to cure them. That was lady Meredith who was the woman that could cure ailments. Looking to Sébastien and than back to Lea and than back to Sébastien again he closed his eyes and frowned.
"I've failed all three of you. I should've known.. it's obvious now, but why did I not catch it before." Yohann spoke and it was than that the blonde male blinked before asking.
“Why does everything keep looking at me as though I'm a ghost..”
"Because we know who your father is…" Leo muttered and the blonde scoffed. “Impossible.. I'm a bastard remember?”
Closing his eyes Yohann spoke softly. "King Mikhail and The king of Arrington came to me 18 years ago.. King Edward had met a woman from the kingdom of Vandale who was living in Jordan.. it was a one time thing but she had gotten pregnant with his child.."
"King Edward.. a…woman.. what are you saying?" Sébastien spoke as he looked at the pair.. "I'm… the son of a king… and… Lea… this girl is… my half sister?" As no one responded to him he knew within his heart of hearts that this was true.
Dropping to his knees he blinked once and than twice. The world seem to spin around him and as he spoke softly he blinked. "I have a sister…"
Lahela wasn't seeing what was in front of her. She was seeing the war, and all that had happened. She was hearing all the accusations that had been thrown at her, and the look of her father and brothers as she was pulled away and they were condemned to their death. She had started to gasp for her breaths, as was the usual when she had her panic attacks. Lately her attacks had been minor ones or small ones, nothing more. She'd been getting better with Leo and Ariana's help. But this attack was too much all at once. She hadn't even noticed that Leo had come to her, or that he had moved her.
Not until he had her cradled against him and was petting her hair as he always did to try and calm her. She hadn't heard Sebastian leave, her mind was a rush of voices and thoughts and emotions as she tried to make sense of everything. Soft spoken words in her ear started to chase the rush and rumble of thoughts and emotions away. It was Leo, and the more she listened to his voice, his words, the more she was pulled back from the terrors.
She could then feel his arms around her, his lap beneath her, his hand in her hair as he tried to calm her down. She turned to bury her face against him, wrapping her arms around his waist as she focused to him, letting him chase the bad away. She prayed that this time the nightmares stayed away, though it probably wouldn't be the case since this was one of her harder hitting panic attacks. When she finally was able to calm the panic, she cried softly into Leo's chest before Sebastian came back with Yohann.
She turned softly to look to the others as she kept pressed to Leo, wiping at her face as their conversation was the last thing to come through as the attack started its fade and left her with a headache. They were explaining to Sebastian why things suddenly shifted and changed, and the male dropped to his knees in surprise as he worked things out. She watched him as she wiped at her face, and he looked almost in awe of having a sister. As she leaned into Leo, she had her own sudden thought.
She had family. She hadn't grown up with him as she had her other brothers, but she had family. Of course, she considered Leo family, always had. And Ariana was now a part of that as well. But she had blood family. She wasn't alone anymore. Then she began to think of what if he wasn't happy to have a sister. What if the whole situation sent him off pissed and he wanted nothing to do with her.
That thought brought a pain to her heart. Her only brother left rejecting her? She was too vulnerable and messed up right now to try and dwell on that thought, so while he tried to figure his own emotions, she buried her face against Leo again to save her from seeing the look on his face if he chose he didn't want a sister.
"Master Sébastien, Master Sébastien! YOUNG MAN!"
The voice of the instructor resonated within the head of the young blonde but still he took time to answer when he was addressed. Lifting up his eyes he looked into the face of his instructor whose patience was being tried. Tapping cane against his desk the male coughed once more before the male stood up and answer to his name. Here, at the academy, once a student turned 18 the use of corporal punishment was no longer viable. Still, the the young male hadn't yet reach that age yet. So the teacher spoke once more in a loud voice.
“Young Master, just because your birthday is a few months away does not mean that I will spoil the rod. Fall asleep in my class again and you will get a painful reminder that class has started again. You should learn from our returned student Prince Leo. He left us to fight a war but look at him. He's still as diligently focus as ever. Now, Prince, can you answer this question. When should the application of bleeding with leeches be used?”
Throughout the past week the normally rambunctious and wild male had walked through the kingdom with a more thoughtful demeanor. It had only been a week ago that he'd met his step sister and found out that he was the last male hair of King Edward. As explained by the good mental and elder Yohann who sat upon the council of Vandale this meant that the Kingdom of Arrington was rightfully his to inherited and so now there were ongoing talks to hold his coronation three weeks after he graduated from the school this year. From going to a bastard to forgotten Prince to a king in less that six months was enough to make anyone's head spin. On top of his daily classes he had a weekly night class where Yohann taught him about the histories and customs which he inherited and would be expected to uphold.
The pressure of it all was enough to make any one male stumbled and fall. Instead, Sébastien deflected from the issue and took everything in somber silence. Often times he'd looked as though he was far off in a daze. Other times he was busy scribbling away at his notebook. Several words were crossed out. Even more were underlined with question marks surrounding them. Not only this, but the blonde could not deny the beauty which was his half sister. When Leo and Lea first arrived on their classes, everyone flocked to them.
Everyone just assumed that Lea was Leo's lover. The rumors of what happened between Arrington and Jordan had spread. Everyone knew that their own kingdom of Vandale had enter the war in support but no one cared to know what had been the bargaining chip. Sure, many of the boys were sadden that Princess Aria had not return for many had share her bed, but that was old gossip.
Many times, both Leo and Sébastien had to step in front of the crowds and ask them to give Lea space. That still did not stop several misty eye girls coming up to the former princess and saying she was blessed and treating her as a something more. By the end of the second week that the semester started, a full blow rumor had gone around that if you asked Lea to bless you than any young maiden would find love stronger than the grave. After all the fact that Leo rescued Lea from death just to bring her here was proof enough that love triumph over death.
Eventually the blonde settle into accompanying the pair everywhere they went. Due to the almost nonstop harassment four soldiers were assign to walk beside and behind the pair. The blonde was in front of the pair with his had resting slightly on his rapier. He, and he alone, was given special permission to be arm just incase someone became too overzealous and tried something.
After all, not everyone took to kindly to their story. There were those who felt like Leo could've done more. And in Leo's third day back several people had rush to attack him. He had been alone and told both his lover and his friend that he'd would be fine. War had taught him to defend himself but one man could only do so much against three. He had bruises and a bloodied lip when he returned. Those who attacked him were promptly expelled and a warning was issued that violence would not be tolerated.
Throughout the two weeks Sébastien had had plenty of time to talk with both the pair. Eventually the blonde had come to accept that Lahela was his half sister and the trepidation that was there faded. Many times the Prince would get carried away and chat too much about his past. But whenever he felt he did, he'd try and correct that and ask about her child.. her family. It brought him comfort and soon he took her aside and looked her in the eyes before breathing in and out.
"Me and Leo had been talking about this in secret… and despite him asking me not to tell you because of your anxiety.. I wanted you to know that.. it is official. King Mikhail has recognized me as the heir of King Edward. Despite the fact my mom was an unknown harlot. I am to be crowned king of Arrington. I don't plan on keeping your birthright from you however, after a year of ruling I plan on giving up the throne to you and naming you the sole Queen of Arrington. But you must not tell anyone this plan. You are my sister, and I've sworn to protect you with my life."
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