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As far as he was concerned, a plaster cast was used to encase a broken or fractured limb to restrict its movement therefore encouraging the bones to heal precisely as it should. It was a common method of treatment before the war wiped out more than half the global population, although other materials were developed to address the weight and discomfort that a plaster cast brought the patient. Needless to say, it was an ancient technology that was no longer practiced in the capital.

Luke had paused upon hearing the alternative proposed by the doctor. If a part of him believed that this man, who has the accent of one born and raised in the capital, was properly educated, such faith wavered when the doctor brought up the use of a plaster cast. He could not blame Rhiane for declining such procedure, nor for not trusting the doctor. “Which university did you get your medical degree from?” He did not mean to sound like he was belittling the doctor’s capabilities, but it might have sounded that way. What the prince wanted was to establish the doctor’s credibility if he was, by chance, an alumna of one of the prestigious medical colleges in the kingdom.

“I have no interest in the medical field, but even I am aware that medications far superior than a plaster cast have been developed in the last few decades. Flexegard is one example. It is relatively cheap and quick to be administered by a professional like yourself.” The most common remedy to a fractured bone, at least as Luke believed, was a serum injected as close as possible to the damaged bones. The fluid would then act as a binding compound that would restrict the movement of the affected area until it healed. Of course, it needed to be aligned in the proper position before the treatment was deployed. A modified silicone brace, much like the brace that supported Rhiane’s sprained ankle, would also be prescribed as an added protection to the affected area. “But if you have not had experience with medical devices like Flexegard, a sling will do.”

He was not surprised to hear that his fiancée declined medical treatment on the grounds that someone else might need it. She was the one who needed it at the moment. Should anybody else would later on, then the facility could provide for them. There was an allocated annual budget under the Health Ministry for the operations and maintenance of the government-owned hospitals and satellite medical facilities. Every year, the amount increased because of the growth of the population, inflation, and research funding. It held a significant chunk of the kingdom’s annual budget, especially after the plague that devastated the land. He should know, because although the queen’s signature and seal were the prerequisite for the approval of the annual budget, Luke actively participated during the budget hearing.

Unless the doctor told Rhiane that it was the last set of splint, of bandages, or of the sling, she should not be worried that the next patient would be left with nothing. In fact, if the person running the facility was more aware of the developments in the medical field, then the team should not be relying on outdated methods. Then again, Rhiane had always shown how little she thought of herself, as if she deserved only hardships and not the comforts that the world could offer. Luke had tried to talk her out of that mindset, but each time that he brought the issue up, the couple ended up debating on the topic of poverty and privileges.

“Go on. Nobody needs to talk to her if your team will do it while she’s asleep,” Luke prodded the doctor. “I’ll make sure that she doesn’t take off the sling until she gets proper medical attention. She might accidentally hurt herself if her movement is not restricted.” He remembered her efforts to nurse the gash on his thigh or how she must have been in pain as she popped the child-resistant cap off the bottle of pills. “But before you go, I need to borrow a mobile device.”
There was not a time when Luke enjoyed the feeling of consciousness clawing its way into the peaceful trance his mind was in. Yet just like every morning when the sun was just about to grace the western world with its presence, reality dragged him back into the real word where he was supposed to hold an audience with the peasants if his intended would keep her side of the agreement. If she would have the courage to kiss him in public.

Slowly, drowsy eyes focused on the worn-out floor-to-ceiling curtain. It was supposed to be light blue, but the combination of bad lighting and several trips to the laundry room made it an odd shade of gray. His eyes followed the fabric up to the white square panels and the dimmed lighting fixture that made up the ceiling above the bed. Where was he again? Thunder pealed in the background a few seconds after the room pulsed with borrowed light. Somebody’s voice caught his attention.

Luke turned his face to where the voice of a man came from. He did not recognize the face of the person sitting near his bed, but the person’s attire blended in quite well with the scent that emanated from that place. The doctor’s accent did not, though.

“I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.” It was quoted from the Hippocratic Oath that his sister would practice reciting to him when they were younger and she still wanted to become a doctor. The statement implied that Luke expected the doctor to treat the princess elect no matter what she said or did, because it was obvious that she was not fine. “Did you not commit into your heart and soul the same oath, doctor? Or perhaps it was just another sentence from your textbooks which you have committed to memory in order to pass an exam.”

Callista once said that it was not a good idea to piss off nurses and doctors when he was sick simply because these people were authorized to stab him with a needle and make it as uncomfortable as it could get. She might have a point and maybe it was plainly not wise to show hostility to the person who did his best to treat him. Then again, the doctor could have already treated Rhiane while she was asleep. Such disregard for the welfare of his patient must be the reason why he had to be far away from home to be able to practice his profession. Luke had lived most of his life in the capital to recognize the accent. The doctor might have an office in Loncia, but the prince guessed that the doctor was born and raised in New Florence.

“Let her sleep,” Luke commanded. “I need you to do what is necessary to treat her now while she is asleep. Forget about ethics, take this as an order from your crown prince.”

“Jupiter is still missing,” said the message. It passed from one device to another using a private communication line. The alert status had unconsciously raised not only the activities of the royal guards, but also that of the unknown party that they had been striving to get their hands on.

“Somebody reported that Jupiter and Ganymede are in a medical facility in Loncia,” another message replied. The senders were protected by neutral codes and it were even restricted to upload a display photo. However, no matter how careful they were, the Forensic IT team would at least have something to work on.

“Copy. Finish the job.”
A single raindrop touched his cheek, and it didn’t matter from which crack it entered from. Luke barely even noticed its existence as he listened to the soft voice confessing words he believed she would otherwise have kept to herself if not for the drug. It was an information he would not have wanted to learn about, because by knowing he was obliged to respond. And he was about to say something – for he had been raised, educated, and trained to think on his feet – but the chemicals in her body rescued both him and her from an answer that would have been half-meant and possibly regrettable in the future.

“Go to sleep, princess. It’s just the drug,” he reassured himself more than her. Would she even remember what she told him when she woke up? Rhiane couldn’t have fought against chemistry even if her brain had the most outstanding resolve to go against his demands. Against her will, her body was ushered into the comforting lullaby of unconsciousness, slowly shutting down her ability to think rationally as her pulse slowed down and her breathing calmed. He wondered if her brain realized that she was speaking to Luke and not some creation of her brain that spoke and appeared to be him. Nevertheless, it was an earnest confession from a woman he ought to not even consider worthy of his attention.

Gently, he pushed the dark locks away from her face and tucked it behind an ear. Rhiane was a pawn of his mother, somebody she believed she could use to salvage the image that she and her predecessor had raised for themselves and the nobility. She was not a person to Queen Camilla. The farmer was a piece in her game that was of the smallest value, somebody she could afford to lose despite the positive reception of the general public. Luke might have amused himself in the meeting of his and Rhiane’s minds, but the queen would rather keep her son from playing with her toy.

As if the thought about his mother suddenly reminded him of the thing he needed to do, the prince unclasped the device on his wrist. He had thought of managing the situation without alerting the palace, but with a looming threat and his fiancee’s condition, he was left with no choice but to explain everything to his mother while assuring her that he was alright. Sticking the device into tight space between the passenger seat’s headrest and backrest, he broke it in two by applying force parallel to the backrest. It would raise a distress signal to the prince’s bodyguards and the palace security. The feature was secretly installed in the heir’s device as an added emergency measure should the device shut down or a malicious party tried to cut off the traceability of the heir by destroying the device. Receiving such a signal would trigger a special extraction protocol, which placed the military and the police in high alert status. Though in reality, it was just his mother overreacting.

He did not lie when he told her that help was coming.

“Control Tower this is Rook. Vehicle sighted. Wait out.” The tires of the 4x4 dug into the muddy ground as Tobias carefully piloted the vehicle down the steep slope. The crown prince’s signal was a matter of the kingdom’s security that would not be less important than either a thunderstorm, a landslide, or their lives. His team was immediately dispatched against all odds to locate the missing royal. Tobias had driven like a blind mad man, navigating dangerous curves with pure luck and a little bit of driving even when the downpour made road visibility an issue. Safety on the road was not an issue when the crown prince was worth more than all their lives combined. Besides nobody wanted to be summoned by the queen for allowing such an incident to happen under their noses.

When the two arrived at the site though, the thunderstorm had thankfully abated. Both men immediately unbuckled themselves and flew out the vehicle. Nolan wrenched vehicle 014’s rear door open. But what he found was empty seats and an open emergency kit.

He must have fallen asleep. Luke slept very lightly even when he was tired, but it could be that the painkiller he took not only signaled his brain to stop recognizing the pain but also dull his senses. Even before his consciousness resurfaced, he felt that he was moving. The realization jolted him awake. Where was Rhiane? He pushed himself up before his eyes even had the chance to focus.

“Don’t get up.” A hand touched his shoulder then gently urged him to lie back down. His eyes shot to the face that owned the voice. It was a woman in scrub suit with her hair pulled up in a ponytail. Did she now know who she was talking to? Who she so casually touched? But even if he asked, her attention was not to him at that moment. He was apparently lying on a gurney led by 2 nurses, heading somewhere.

“Where is this place?” He demanded. Based on the smell and the attire of the woman, he was in a medical facility of sorts. The problem was that, the room they entered was a cramped space with about four spaces for beds parallel to each other separated by slightly stained, worn-out curtains. The aggressive smell of bodily fluids and antiseptic greeted him, grabbing his attention more than the walls which were not white and the tiles on the floor which were cracked, and a couple of flickering lights. The gurney was led to a spot perpendicular to the wall, then the curtains were drawn shut. “Is anybody from among you not deaf?”

From the corner of his eye was a male nurse holding a syringe. “This is Loncia, your royal highness. One of our own found you and brought you here.” The female nurse gasped. Of course, his face would be recognizable, but perhaps the common people were not used seeing him in a less than perfect condition – sharply dressed with his hair brushed to one side and his face sporting a carefully calculated expression. The male eyed his blushing colleague. “This will sting for just a bit,” was the only warning he got before the nurse buried the syringe into the vein on his left hand and pumped whatever chemical it contained into his body.

Luke tried to get up again. He did not trust any of these people or any of the medication they were giving him. He twisted his body and swung his legs to the side of the bed in an attempt to get away, but then the world seemed to spin and his vision blurred. “Rhiane?” He managed to blurt out before the strength left his muscles and he felt himself slump on the bed.
Every single question, every ounce of logical reasoning, flew out the window only to be drowned by the torrential rain. It happened before the chemicals in brain had time to process the whats and whys of his prejudice against the common people, most of all his fiancee. He may have teased her time and again with the use of intimate gestures, but it was only because she had consistently shown displeasure towards such affection. So much so that her face would turn red and her usually persuasive lips would find difficulty in catching the next word. To say that it amused him to toy with her was not untrue.

But what would happen when she finally put her foot down and take him up on his challenge? When she suddenly stood up to him to prove that she was braver than an awkward schoolgirl confessing her love for the first time? When she was ready to make it known to him that she had no weakness that he could use against her?

The rain prattled on, and so did the hammering in his chest. Luke’s confidence quickly withered into uncertainty as the crown prince was caught off-guard in a position where he neither desired nor loathed. And as logic fled him, he was left in the middle, grasping for reason and answers to the whys that lingered inside his head. Why? Why? Why? But all he knew was that the pressure of her lips against his brought shivers down his spine, took away the pain, and muddled his head. He had no answers to the whys, but the prince did answer to her demands.

Luke could not tell how much time had passed, whether it be a second, a minute, or an hour. He was enchanted by the unsolicited affection from the woman who openly rejected every intimate advances that he had made so far. But as he felt her conviction waver, he reluctantly pulled away. Her eyes were soft and sleepy as they tried to focus on him. His were darker perhaps than the first time he laid her on her back and fed her the pill. She looked beautiful even with mascara smudged on her cheeks and her hair undone by the rain. He could tell that she was defying the pull of sleep, daring the sandman to sprinkle his magic sand onto her eyes. It was one thing he admired about her – she was a fighter. Rhiane was stubborn, argumentative, and he could not count in his hands the times that she had driven him mad because of her misplaced courage, selflessness, and wit. Yet despite that, Luke could not understand why he thought about her when she was not around him. He remembered her when he was watching the sun rise from the clouds and thought that she would enjoy it if she drove the 4x4 up the mountain.

What just happened?

He pushed himself up as far away to her face as his hand on her back would allow him. Rhiane was not Sophie. To be honest, he had toyed with the idea of using Rhiane to plug the hole that the actress left behind, but… “It wasn’t so hard, was it?”

With his right hand tucked between the cushion and her back, he carefully helped her sit up and lean against the backrest. Lying on her back was awkward as her torso was in an odd angle with her waist. But then, he noticed how the material of her shirt clung to her skin. In the middle of his acting, he had neglected to notice how uncomfortable she must be in that shirt that was drenched in rain. Luke slumped on the seat beside her. He plucked the painkiller from his pocket and then popped it in his mouth, avoiding her eyes.

There was no way he could take the wet clothes off without hurting her, but perhaps he could help shield her from the cold winds. The prince lifted his shirt over his head and then offered it to her. “Wear this over your shirt. It isn’t as soaked as yours.”

But he did not wait for her confirmation. He could see how hard she was fighting against sleep and understood that in the space between sleep and wakefulness, it was often difficult to make a clear judgment. The prince just volunteered to put his shirt on her. Carefully, he pulled it over her head then let it drape on her shoulders and then down to the seat. Her arms were not forced into the armholes, nevertheless the shirt was a layer of protection from the cold. He was larger than her, so it shouldn’t be restricting enough to hurt her arm.

“What just happened?” Luke asked quietly, unable to contain his curiosity. He avoided her eyes as smoothing the material of his shirt, making sure that it covered her arms and hid her hands. “You broke your own rule.”
Luke was surprised to feel the coldness of her palm against the warmth of his skin. She was out in the rain longer than him because of the innate obstinacy that made it difficult for her to believe that he was not blaming her for what happened. The breaks were off, the airbags failed to deploy themselves, all the other mandatory safety features of a vehicle were absent. If it was not a sabotage, then he did not know what it was.

Not long ago, Luke and his team discovered a plot that aimed to use Rhiane Black against the crown not as the rebellion’s spy, but as its martyr. The poisoning was one such attempt at taking her life, that incident with the faulty vehicle could be another. Unfortunately, the special task force commissioned to perform the investigation was no closer to solving it than the day they started. Perhaps the rebellion had become more careful since that day at Evolab. For Luke, the threat was still very real and although he was certain that his mother would find a new princess elect for him to wed, he was not about to let his enemies win. He was going to keep Rhiane alive.

“I’m driving the SUV. How is this your fault?” The prince would have snapped back at her apology had he not been in the middle of – as Sophia would call it – being in character. He had to deceive her if only to make her stay by his side. The two of them were unarmed and injured. It was not safe for her to venture out into the woods on her own, nor was he comfortable to allow her to sit alone at the front of the vehicle where snipers could easily isolate her as target. The backseat was less exposed both to any outside observer and the rain. He was not sure how he could be able to protect her with the present status of his health, but perhaps because of his damnable pride, he would do whatever it was that his injured self could.

Although any movement did hurt, it was not as bad as he was letting her believe. The damage might just be a hairline fracture on one or more bones, nothing as serious as a punctured blood vessel or a lung. He would recover just fine and would be able to continue to fulfill his day-to-day responsibilities. They just had to get out of the predicament that trapped the two of them inside the SUV in the middle of the woods during a thunderstorm. There was a way to send a distress signal even if his communication band had shut down. He was initially against using it as it would alert even the palace, but it didn't look as if there was another way. Perhaps when he was done executing his plan, he would call for help.

It was only when she offered the pill that he slowly opened his eyes. The sound of raindrops drumming against the vehicle gave him an idea how angry the heavens was, but seeing the seemingly gray wall of unrelenting rainfall was both comforting and disheartening. Comforting because no assassin would be scouting to finish the job at that rate; disheartening because any hope for rescue was most likely not going to happen within the hour. And finally, he had firmly made a decision that Rhiane was not going to venture on her own.

“Thank you.” He picked the oval white pill from the palm of her hand. There were two types of pills inside the emergency kit. Earlier, he took one of each – a small round pill and a slightly larger oval. One was a painkiller while the other was a sedative-painkiller combo. Rhiane gave him the latter. That she wanted him to fall asleep told him that she had not yet given up on her plan to ask for help while the storm was raging outside.

Without giving a hint that he suspected her trickery, he popped the pill into his mouth, but really he carefully bit it just to hold the medication in place. Surprise was his friend. Luke took a deep breath as his left arm went around her, carefully tucking her broken arm between his body and hers, while his hand found her back. He supported her as he twisted his body so that his weight forced her to her back and his uninjured knee and left arm were propped against the seat bearing most of his weight. The moment her lips slightly parted in surprise was his only chance. He sought those soft feminine lips. Then let go of the pill, deepening the kiss with slightly increased pressure but not an ounce of urgency. “Swallow it,” were the words he whispered against her lips after the act had left him breathless. He pushed himself away from her face enough to look her in the eyes. His wavy brown hair was slightly damp over his forehead. Its shade accentuated the brightness of the blue in his eyes made slightly dim by the widening of his pupils. “I won’t stop unless you swallow the pill.” As if to show her how serious he was, Luke leaned in again to kiss her tenderly that time. He tested her reaction to his advances. Was she blushing? Would she push him away? Would she finally kiss him back? Damn the pain screaming form his ribs. He would just take the painkiller he tucked in his breast pocket once he was done.

At one point he wondered if he was doing it out of his sense of duty to keep her safe or if he secretly enjoyed those rare moments with her.
Luke was amazed at how well his impromptu production turned out to be. That it melted Rhiane’s resolve to either trek back up to the highway or leave the backseat for Luke to occupy alone, said multitudes about his hidden acting skills. Although he rather not count it as acting, because more than half of it was real. The mid part of his ribcage would shoot a sharp pain whenever he breathed deeply, twisted his torso, or made large movements using his arms. Maneuvering his body out of the SUV and struggling to get back in strained the damaged bones as well as the muscles surrounding it. All he did was exaggerate it a little for her. Yet he acknowledged that the ruse worked not only because of his surprisingly convincing act, but also because of the soft-hearted woman whose hand lingered not a centimeter from his skin.

What the maidservants and the crew said about Rhiane was true, that she was a person overflowing with kindness, that she would not leave a person who was in need to fight his battles alone. When he learned how she had invited her maidservants to have lunch with her in Luke’s residence, the prince was peeved. The maidservants were not meant to share the same table with a member of the noble houses. They were the privileged few lowborn people who had passed a strict screening process which qualified them for a job in the palace. Regardless, he thought it was absurd that she would eat with those people. Just as it was absurd to try and look after him when her condition was as bad as his. That morning, he was the benefactor of Rhiane’s gentle heart, he appreciated that she chose to stay. Not many would do the same, and most would perhaps find their own comfort before considering to help the one in need.

Therefore, Luke remained still as her knuckle accidentally grazed the skin of his abdomen while she carefully lifted his shirt to inspect the damage. Not a single word left his lips even as thr chilly air assaulted his skin. Rhiane would have noted that his breathing was shallow. The discoloration of his skin at the left side of his body was due to multiple bruises sustained not an hour ago, but there was no open cut or lesion of any kind. The bruises, though, stood out against the smooth fair skin of the royal. A concealer could hide the bruises, but it would not take the pain away.

If she would try to touch the area though, he would bite back the wince or cry of pain, but he could not hide the agony from his fiancee. “Painkiller, please,” was his strained utterance. She could find the pills inside the emergency kit, although there was also a two-in-one pill which combined a sedative and a painkiller. He hoped that she would retrieve that one, because while he was exaggerating the experience, it really was painful and difficult to move around and breathe.

He kept his eyes shut and his arms limp at his side. Although, ever so often he would crack an eye to see what she was doing or if she had not yet ran away. Fortunately, she had not. As for Luke, he did not plan to move a muscle on his body for these transactions. It was part of his plan for her. So, he waited.
In The Betrothed 10 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
The crown prince that the kingdom learned to both love and hate was not usually described as a kind man. He was a very passionate debater, an intelligent speaker, a shrewd businessman, a dedicated soldier, and a certified player. Those who had the pleasure of working with him would have described him as a stubborn opinionated elitist. But very few would actually say that he was a nice man. Luke could attest to that, because in truth, it was very tiring to be nice to people. It was very tiring to be nice to a person who seemed to challenge his resolve by displaying, either purposefully or naturally, the trait that he so despised in a person.

His brows furrowed into a frown and he was about to ask her whether she would feel better if he treated her like the peasant that she was instead of trying to take her as his equal when she leaned away from him and forced the door open. Raindrops spattered all around the mountain, sparing not the wrecked SUV. It tapped on the remains of the broken windshield and trespassed the vehicle through the gaps. He watched her pull herself out then opened the backdoor for him. Like one of his servants, he thought.

Shaking his head, he started the painful maneuver from the passenger seat to the next. She might notice that his left hand cradled his midsection while he labored to move from one seat to the other. Much as he would have wanted to hurry into the backseat and save her from being drenched by standing in the open, the prince paused for a second at the driver’s seat to catch his breath and pull the latch underneath the passenger’s seat so that it was as close to the dashboard as possible.

By the time he had made it outside, the droplets that drummed his shoulders were more pronounced. He used the body of the vehicle as his crutch and limped his way to the backseat. Good thing it had leather covers, else the two of them would be miserably wet and cold. But as he allowed himself to crash inside, Luke clutched the side of his shirt where he feared might have sustained fractured bones. He struggled with gravity as he grunted and pulled himself into a sitting position behind the seat that he previously occupied, his legs stretched out as far as it could. It was so Rhiane could join him if she so decided. However, it was not as if he was about to give her a choice.

Luke leaned his head against the slivered glass pane with his eyes tightly shut and his jaw clenched. He angled his body so that he was partially facing her. His right hand clutched his side as his chest rose and fell in quick but shallow breaths. “I -- can’t breathe.” Changing the angle, the prince allowed his back to fall flat against the backrest. He was not asking for help, but was offering the opportunity for her to do an act of kindness.

Acting was not so difficult when half the work had been completed for him by the very unfortunate circumstance that they were in. It was true that his side hurt, and it was true that the injury had made it difficult to laugh or take a deep breath. All he needed to do was add a little more emotion, just a few more creases in between his brows and strain in his voice. It was true that he had no talent in acting, but some things came naturally when the need arise. He could not count on her to stay inside the vehicle and wait for rescue. When she got tired of waiting, she might insist on braving the thunderstorm, forcing her legs to carry her as far as the implants would allow, and hoping that she would reach the road and that somebody would pass by to help them. Unfortunately for her, Luke would not allow it.

It was for his own good, he thought, that she should stay near and not do more harm to herself. Because if she did get hurt while outside, then he would be forced to look for her while he was struggling with pain himself.
In The Betrothed 11 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
“Liar,” he scowled, but without real conviction. “It’s more than just a little tender and you’re certainly not fine.” It must have hurt when she yanked the arm away, because her face failed to hide how it really felt. The bruises that discolored her skin which otherwise resembled that of a smooth caramel could not be fine. It could be a sign that she had fractured a bone or worse. But her attitude was not something that surprised him. In fact, he kind of expected her to belittle the severity of her condition and brush off all of his concerns.

The box of first aid supplies sat alone on the console. There should be a sling or something he could use as a splint. It was difficult to tell without an x-ray reading which part was fractured, but it also was also not helpful to leave it alone. “I don’t want to be king. The Air Force is just fine and the rules are tolerable. Besides, there’s a vast difference in flying just an aircraft compared to flying a fighter jet.” He avoided her gaze and instead took the emergency kit and placed it on his lap. In addition to the antiseptic spray and bandages, there were painkillers and a drug that he identified as a sedative. He took one of each and placed it in his chest pocket. A neatly folded piece of cloth at the bottom of the box was perhaps the sling he was looking for.

Up above them and beyond the canopy of leaves, lightning streaked the sky followed by the rumbling roar of thunder. Luke followed her gaze out the window. The woods had dimmed significantly, and the crisp autumn air had somehow shifted. Nature and its nuances were not his cup of tea, but he had experienced enough thunderstorm in his life to sense that there was something different in the air when the sky was about to pour its wrath onto the earth. He opened his mouth to explain what he had planned to do with her arm, but she beat him into speaking first.

Luke frowned at her bold declaration. A simple and direct ‘NO’ lingered at the tip of his tongue, ready to fire away, but then he was reminded of how she reacted to such a word – how defiant she would most likely be if he said the word out loud and then summarize the reasons why she should not embark on a trekking trip at the side of a mountain on a day when it appeared as if a thunderstorm would ensue. He let his hand find hers, stopping her before she found the latch on the door. “It’s about to rain.” Or maybe it already was raining. “And you’re hurt. You’re not supposed to move that arm, but it can’t be helped once you try to climb the slope. The soil is damp, slippery, even muddy.” She would need both her hands to navigate the woods and find the road, something that she was not capable of that afternoon. It was not that he worried that she would hurt herself further, it was that he did not want to be looking for her out in the rain if she went missing.

He raised his left hand, the same that was holding her good hand. His communication band peeked from the cuffs of his sleeve. “Freya,” he called out. Waited. But there was no response, except for a droplet that hit his cheek. Luke let go of his fiancee’s hand then shook his wrist. Sometimes the AI did experience lag in between commands. So, he repeated the name, but again he was answered by silence. Frowning, the prince pushed the sleeve of his left arm up to his elbow and inspected the device. Sometime ago, he had reminded himself that he needed to charge the thing, but then he got busy and Sophia dropped by, so he basically forgot. Even the back-up supply was already used up.

“Rescue is on its way,” Luke lied confidently. “No need to wave for help.” As if on cue, raindrops shot through the canopy above like thousands of tiny missiles assaulting the SUV. Fortunately for them, the roof of the vehicle was intact, however the windshield was not. Splatters from the outside and the rain from above trespassed the passenger’s and driver’s seat. At the rate that rain was falling, they would both be drenched in no time. The backseat was intact though, and the door beside Rhiane seemed to work fine unlike the passenger door which was sealed shut by a dead tree trunk. Although even without it, Luke doubted if it could still be opened after the battering it received. They could both exit through the driver’s door or crawl from the center console. Both options were challenging for him, but he thought it might be easier if they exit through the door.

“Let’s move to the back. It should be more comfortable back there. Then please let me do something about that arm. Nothing invasive.” He held up the piece of cloth and bandages. “Just something to help you keep it still.”
In The Betrothed 12 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
“I can manage.” He fought for the control of the medical equipment, because he really could manage to fix himself. A mandatory training at the Royal Airforce included emergency response and more importantly, first aid. It was a course where recruits as well as commanding officers were taught about the emergency kit, its contents, and how to use each. Every year was the same, except for the section that discussed the latest development in the medical field. As such, he believed himself capable with what to do and how best to treat the laceration. The problem was that he was putting pressure on the injury using his right hand, while struggling with unboxing the syringe using his left hand. “Fine,” the prince grumbled under his breath.

As she strained her body to reach her target from the driver’s seat, Luke wished that he was ambidextrous. If he was, he would not have allowed her to administer the treatment that he knew he could do by himself. Out of pride, perhaps and not out of pity. Or the other way around. Because while Rhiane earned no laceration or deep cuts from the accident, it was apparent that she was hurting. A person who was just fine would not find it difficult to crouch, lean, o sit on the console to reach the bleeding mess that was his thigh. That Rhiane had shown struggle and unnatural motion as she carefully looked for the best position told him that she was in more pain than she let out.

He listened to her instructions and followed her lead. Afterwards, he watched her act on instinct without fear or hesitation. The precision which she applied the solution was commendable. She might be a farmer, but she had the steadiness of a surgeon. If she wanted, perhaps she could follow that career and he would support her if only to make herself busy after the buzz about the coming royal wedding was over.

The lips that always had a spiteful comment ready was at a loss for words. He knew that he could have done it himself and that he didn’t need her, but as he felt Rhiane’s gentle touch as she was applying the topical anesthetic, there was a weird and unwelcome feeling about something he could not tell. Maybe it was because even though he had everything he could ever need in life, Luke was so used to being on his own, in not depending on anybody, or not trusting even his bodyguards. Then there was this nameless farmer girl who refused the riches he offered but argued freely with him rather than concur that his ideas are brilliant. A girl who had stared death in the face only to rise-up and eat the unhealthiest heap of sugary treats he had ever seen all his life. A peasant who had nothing to gain from enduring her own discomfort and pain if only to make sure that his injuries were given first aid.

Luke was smiling unknowingly when she told him that the cut on his forehead should be treated the same way. With a nod, he leaned back and closed his eyes, listening to her voice as she narrated the bittersweet reality of her life. “Why did you stop?” He could not understand. The Ministry of Higher Education was established to uphold the rights of the citizens to free education. As such, people of Rhiane’s economic standing should have gotten to a university for free. “Why was it not possible for you to be an accountant or a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer? Did you even take the exam? Year on year, the royal treasury allocates a budget for free education, especially to those who are deserving.” He cracked an eye open. “You are an intelligent woman who could have been a good lawyer, because your arguments know no end.”

But then if she was a lawyer, would the queen choose her as his betrothed? Would she be leaning her face so close to his own, dabbing fresh bandage around the cut on his forehead, careful not to allow infection to worsen it? Perhaps if she had been a lawyer then she would have seen him in a different light, argued against ideas on an intellectual level if only to satiate her thirst for a good debate, and neither jumped off a cliff nor drove like the devil.

Luke pulled himself up so she was forced to retreat to the driver’s seat with the bloodied gauze on one hand. He plucked what looked like an adhesive strip bandage to him then peeled the adhesive off the paper. “What is likable about this Luke?” he asked as he carefully twisted the remains of the rearview mirror so that he could see part of his face. Brushing back brown hair from his forehead, he applied the adhesive bandage on the cut. “If I was not born a prince, then I would still join the military. I once dreamt of being an air force pilot because I wanted to fly and see the world. The palace had very strict rules and I was not allowed to see the city outside its walls whenever I wanted to. There had to be an occasion, a reason to leave the palace, but whenever I was allowed outside there was under the condition that I had to follow the rules.”

It was his turn to play the doctor. Luke reached for the arm that hang limp from her shoulder. “Come closer,” he commanded, because it hurt to twist his body further, but he needed to see if there was any bluish discoloration on her skin that might indicate a broken bone or an odd angle that shouldn’t have been there. He started to carefully roll up her sleeve. “My father told me that I could be a pilot,” the prince continued in an attempt to distract the woman. “That I could be anything I put his mind into, because I am special. But as I grew up, as I understood my place in this world, I realized that my dream of living a normal life of a free man outside the palace will not happen. I am my mother’s son.” He looked at her in the eye. The words that followed need not be told. She was smart enough to understand what he was arriving at, that he was nothing if he was not the crown prince.

An awkward pause followed as they stared at each other, trying to read each other’s mind. They were worlds apart – him and her. She worked the land while he ruled it. There should have been oceans of differences between them, but when one looked closer, Luke and Rhiane were more alike than they would admit.

“Does it hurt if I --” he carefully raised her arm a little, breaking the silence. Then he touched her shoulder, feeling the bones for any abnormality.
In The Betrothed 13 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
Nolan had been squinting his eyes on the winding road ahead of them, raising his mobile device and using its camera to zoom into the distant road hoping to find a moving vehicle much like the one they were on but to no avail. The speed of the vehicle they were on and the bumpy terrain made it difficult to positively distinguish the image taken. He grabbed at the overhead handrail to steady himself even though he was already strapped to the seat. Tobias, the designated driver, did his best to catch up with vehicle 014, which the prince and princess elect had taken to themselves. But again, it was to no avail.

“Nolan shouldn’t have given him the keys, right Tobias?” The voice of a second passenger spoke from the back seat, echoing the sentiment of Nolan’s conscience.

It was common knowledge among his personal guards that the crown prince loved speed, therefore Nolan was not surprised when the former asked to be given the keys and drive the SUV on his own. The idea sounded harmless when Luke proposed it, but when the SUV roared into life and sped past the other vehicles, he very much regretted indulging the prince. Especially after it seemed to disappear from their view entirely. Tobias was a good driver, but the prince could be reckless, and in his recklessness could have accelerated to a speed that neither of the three gentlemen would consider as safe.

“It’s his royal highness we are talking about, Gino. I dare you to say no to him.” Nolan countered.

Gino shrugged and lounged back where he sat. He checked the device on his wrist, similar to what Luke had always worn. “No, thank you. That royal pain in the ass – I’d rather not.” The two of them chuckled, probably reminiscing a moment in time when they had said no to the crown prince and never heard the end of it. Luke was headstrong and the problem with him was that he always had something to say when the odds was against him. If negotiations failed though, there was always the trick of pulling ranks over them. “No distress signal received. Stop worrying so much.” Gino added, a knowing grin stretching his thin lips. “He might just be taking his time with his future wife. You know, take a short detour and then --” Gino made noises like the sound of kissing, wrapping his arms around himself then making more noises. It made Nolan grunt in distaste, but a sharp curve came about and Tobias neglected the breaks. He kept his foot on the gas and navigated the curve, expertly throwing his passengers off-guard.

It strengthened Luke’s suspicion that there was a malicious act done to the vehicle that was assigned to him. If the brakes were working fine, then the case might be pointing at the manufacturer’s negligence. That the brakes failed to stop the SUV opened the possibility that it was intended to harm its intended passengers, namely himself and Rhiane. Whoever was the target, it damn nearly succeeded.

“There was a time in history when the kings and queens, emperors and empresses, were believed to be divine beings. Someone who were either descendants of gods or appointed by a god to oversee the land. But I am just as human as you are. I get hurt, I bleed, I die.” Although a bit surprised by her touch and the mascara that had bled into her cheeks, he had stilled himself as she proceeded to dab his face with a bandage and watched as she discarded the bloodied piece of fabric. Tentatively, he touched the side of his face and then his brow right where it hurt. The pad of his finger was wet with his blood when he pulled it away from the cut. A laceration could explain why he was feeling dazed and on the edge of unconsciousness earlier, although it was a good thing that it didn’t feel as if it was something more serious than a simple cut.

When she mentioned about his pant leg and started sanitizing her hands using the antiseptic spray, Luke stared back at her defiantly. She was looking at her hands, one of which was evidently having difficulty in moving. He would move to help her fix the injury on his thigh or raise his concern about his left arm, but her innocent musing stopped him. “They never stopped from wanting to kill me. Being the son of my mother comes with a price,” he admitted aloud for the first time, but neglected to state his hunch that he was just the cherry on top that time and that the target might not be him. There was no point in alarming her especially when she had just calmed down. He would tell her and advise her to be more careful sometime in the future, but that moment was not the right time.

Luke slowly bent over, reaching for a latch under the seat. When he found it, he used his other leg to push the passenger seat back so he can stretch his injured leg. The leg room was not enough as he was a tall gentleman, but it helped. “The public doesn’t know much about my personal life and how many times I survived incidents much like this one, because we choose not to broadcast it. Vulnerability is seen as a weakness and a weak ruler is not fit to sit on the throne.” Such was a harsh truth that Rhiane needed to learn. The rebellion, the ambitious noblemen, the foreign powers – all these had at one time dreamed of ending the dynasty by cutting off the succession and bringing forward a new leader that would bend to their will. The queen and his heir would not have it. If not for the dynasty, then for Callista, who would surely not be left alive should the malicious plot succeed.

“If anybody asks, I am driving this SUV and not you, okay? We’ll have to switch places later before the rescue arrives.” The queen would not take lightly the fact that the farmer, regardless of her elevated status, had endangered her son’s life. Rhiane was correct in assuming that she had an expiration date, but such was not dependent on how soon she could produce an heir for Luke, but by how pleased the queen was with her. Therefore, Luke would be determined to take the blame. He was already perceived as a reckless son by his mother anyway.

Without waiting for her to respond, he used both hands to rip the material of his pants apart, enough to expose the laceration and the sharp object still embedded on his flesh. Then, gritting his teeth because it was even more painful to take a deep breath, he wrenched the glass free leaving a two-inch open cut. The depth of the injury was significant enough to inspire blood to pool to the surface. Beads of sweat formed at his brow despite the chill. “Cally is nauseated by the sight and scent of blood. It’s what stopped her from pursuing a career in medicine,” Luke commented as if to distract himself from the sudden bout of dizziness. He borrowed the spray from her and used it on and around the laceration. It was not enough to clear the area of his blood that kept welling out to the surface. “What about you? What was it that you wanted to be when you grew up?” He pulled a bandage from the emergency kit and applied pressure on the cut. With his other hand, he unboxed what looked like a syringe without its needle. It was what he told her to use instead of trying to stitch his skin shut. However, if she’d pick up the needle, injured and all, Luke would most likely want to flee the vehicle.
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