Crystal curtsied towards the eldest prince and slowly backed up towards prince Auguste unknowingly. Distracted with herself as she thought that the previous talk went well. Proud of herself for not making a fool of herself.
She was sure nothing would probably come from it. He seemed polite and Courteous but she still couldn’t help but feel something was… off.
Auguste had just escorted a noble to the exit before he began walking back to his table. He raised his eyebrows as Crystal almost crashed into him. He gently grasped her shoulders and held her aloft. “Lady Crystal, are you alright?”
He said with a smile, it seemed that she was a tad ditzy.
Crystal tensed up, her hands instantly covered her mouth to cover the shriek that caught in her throat and didn’t escape. Her eyes wide and her face as red as crimson. She slowly turned around and looked up to see Prince Auguste smiling down at her. Her heart fluttered as she stood in shock. Fear, and embarrassment crept up that turned into anger at herself for making a fool of herself once again.
She attempted a few times to reply, her voice seemingly getting stuck each time in her throat. She shook her head. “P-Prince Auguste! I-I’m quite alright!”
She was a little confused at first why he was asking that. She glanced down and realized she was going to bump into him, by the way the chairs were positioned. “Yes! No.., perhaps a little.”
She took a breath and turned around completely. Her face still as red as before. “Perhaps a touch overwhelmed at the moment,with all this.”
she said with a nervous smile. Motioning the entire room slightly with her hand.“Accept my apologies, I didn’t mean to give you such a scare.”
Auguste apologized, realizing that it wasn’t polite to surprise people like that. “Assuming this is your first time at this sort of event, I can’t blame you. You can come to my table, I’ll have them bring some water if you’d like?”
He offered. Judging by the timing, he could converse with one more woman before the event is to close. “Ah, it’s alright if you do not want to, it is no issue.”
She blinked and listened to him. Her head lowered a little with a nod when he offered the water, but froze when he said his table. She glanced to the side to see the line of ladies still wanting their moment with him. She could see many not happy that she essentially cut in line. She would feel guilty… but he did offer. She looked back at him and nervously smiled. “O-of course! A glass of water sounds wonderful. Thank you, your highness. A-and please do not worry about scaring me…It was not your intention.”
She didn't know if she heard scoffs in her head or from the ladies who were waiting. Crystal cleared her throat and ran a finger over her left ear, tucking a few strands of hair behind it.“You can just call me Auguste if you wish,”
Auguste said with a playful wink as they made their way back into the table. He whispered the request for water from one of the maids. He pulled the chair opposite of his own outwards, beckoning her to sit.
Her shade of red deepened when he offered to just call him Auguste and gave her a wink. She looked down with a smile but it was more to not look him in the eyes. She felt her heart pound a little more. She followed silently to the seat before saying softly. “Thank you…I'll try your h- Imean- Auguste…”
Oh dear…she wanted to shrivel up and die. She sat down and wrung her hands in her lap for a moment, as he moved to his own seat. She tried to calm herself down. She also tried frantically to figure out what to say to him, while the time waiting for him to sit and look back at her seemed to take forever. It at the same time seemed to be not enough time to think. “S-so besides being a charming prince…and s-scaring ladies, what do you like to do?”
WHAT DID SHE DO. She groaned inwardly at her stupid attempt at a joke.“Scaring ladies… well that's not a skill I'd like to cultivate,”
Auguste chuckled. She still seemed a bit hurried and frantic, his attempts of levity seemed to have failed. “Well, I am a bit enamored with the blade, er I am sure you already knew that, seems like I am known as a sword fanatic locally. I plan on attending the dueling competition later in the day. If I am able. Many skilled swordsmen will be present, it will be an interesting event.”“What about you, Lady Crystal? I do hope you're enjoying yourself in this event, I know how it can be a bit stifling and overwhelming at times.”
Auguste broke eye contact with Crystal and smiled at the maid who placed a glass of cool water in-front of Crystal. “Thank you, Steritta.”
The stern looking red-haired maid bowed and left.
Crystal sighed softly, at least he chuckled. She managed to keep her eyes up on him as he began with the basics. It was true, Everyone knew he was a sword fanatic. She had heard many times of his victories in duels. She nodded and blinked when he turned the question on her. She didn’t really learn anything.
Auguste nodded as he listened. It seemed that she wasn’t entirely satisfied with his short blurb regarding his love for swordsmanship. He cleared his throat and elaborated a tiny bit more. “Swordsmanship… It's freeing. The repetitive and rigorous training. The thrill of improving yourself and combating others. My worries, responsibilities, and even my titles seem to melt away in those moments. To be unshackled from my worries for a momen-”
His eyes widened slightly, he scratched his cheek “Er- don’t tell Wulfric I said that, alright?”“Oh..well I…”
She paused as the maid Steritta placed the glass in front of her. She smiled and echoed“Thank you.”
towards her. She blinked a few times seeing her stern look. Were all redheads always stern looking? She glanced over to see if she could see Liah, but couldn’t. She looked back to Auguste and took the water into her hands but did not drink as he then decided to add onto his first answer. She could see why it was such a focus in his life as he expounded upon it. She did smile when he asked her not to tell Wulfric. She nodded a few times. “Of course. Your secret is safe with me.”
She continued, “T-to answer your question, despite making a fool of myself more times than I can count, I really am enjoying my time here. It has been a dream come true.”
She took a tiny sip of her water and sighed once again. “I hope I get the chance to go myself actually. It will be interesting to see first hand, I have only seen one duel at a tournament in my life when I was really young.”
It would be fascinating to see how a real sword fight would look…it would only help her writing more.“Ah mingling in-and-around nobility,”
Auguste said. “A difficult skill to learn and improve, certainly. Don’t worry too much, I’ve made a much bigger fool of myself. You may be better than me when I’d started going around political courts.”“It’ll be good to see you there, Lady Crystal. I hope my skills live up to the rumours.”
Auguste continued, “Perhaps I may be able to bear witness to Varian swordsmanship. I’ve heard tales of Sir Matthias' skill, to cross blades with him would be a pleasure.”“Ah but enough of my personal musings.”
Auguste locked eyes with her again, “It is truly good to see you out and about. While we’ve talked about this ball, I do hope that the planned events of the Caesonian met your expectations.”“Aside from my swordsmanship, what else have you heard about me?”
Auguste asked out of the blue. “Good things, I hope.”
He joked, letting out another chuckle. The Prince was truly curious about his reputation and rumours that floated about. A hard thing to gauge, and dear Wystan wassn’t exactly an impartial observer.“You’re being too kind…”
she said softly with a smile when he said she might be better than him when he started. She doubted she would be but she kept it to herself.
He went on to hope he would live up to the rumors. She was surprised at his humbleness, but even more so when he brought up Sir Matthais. She didn’t know he was skilled enough to gain the attention of the prince, two princes in fact, thinking back to Wulfric bringing him up as well. She wondered who she would win between the three…but then she thought of Liah. She was the most skilled swordswoman in her fathers employ. What would happen if she joined the event as well? She pushed the thought to the side for now as she simply nodded to a when he hoped the events met her expectations. As he didn’t give her much time before continuing.
She blinked a few times when he then went on to ask what else she knew of him. Her mind went blank for a moment as she was put on the spot. She scratched her cheek. “Hmmm. Only that you are most popular with the common people due to your charm and how you treat and mingle with the common soldiers and knights. As well as how you treat those who serve you…”
motioning with a tiny nod to the side towards his maid.“It’s refreshing to see…”
Auguste let out a legitimate sigh of relief. “That is good to hear, truly.”
To hear that he was not as hated as he thought he was amongst the populace allowed him to indulge, atleast a little bit, in the sin of pride. Hopefully he would be able to fix the reputation of his family in his lifetime, but he would understand if they never forgave the Danroses.
Noticing how he’d made the conversation all about him, he was curious about Crystal though it would be hard to broach the subject considering how much her family had stowed her away. It also seemed like the lady held back alot of her thoughts. “... Do you have any questions for me, Lady Crystal? Feel free to ask,”
he reaffirmed his smile. “... Or would you rather speak about the festivities?”
Crystal had taken a longer sip of her water, her blue eyes flicking from the cup to the prince before her. She noticed the hesitation as he looked at her… then his next questions caused her to pause and lower her drink. Tilting her head to the side for a moment. “Maybe.” She said softly. First she wanted to fix something she overlooked in her fluster. “I-If I am to call you Auguste… then please just call me Crystal.”
She said with a warmer smile.
She decided to then turn the question on him. “Well since you asked what I've heard about you…it's only fair to hear what you’ve heard about me… Though…honestly it’s a shock still that both you and your elder brother knew me by name. Most only saw Violet and we did not look similar at all.” “You certainly drive a hard bargain, Crystal,”
Auguste acquiesced as he enunciated her name.
A pang of guilt reverberated within him as she mentioned Violet though he kept his expression from changing. Poor, poor Crystal, she will be devastated when she hears what’s happened to her sister. He cleared his throat before answering. “Your father, Count Damien, he is fairly… popular around the court. I am certain that the Danroses know of your existence… Many even believed you to be nothing more than a rumor. Of course, it is a pleasure to have met with the real thing.”
Meeting with Crystal, it seemed that the apple may indeed fall from the tree.
Crystal noticed a twinge of something in the prince's eyes before he cleared his throat. She didn’t catch what it really was. After his answer she tilted her head to the side. “Mmmmhmm. As much as I am flattered by you having the pleasure to meet the real me. All you heard was I was a rumor to many, but your family knew I was real?” “Indeed,”
Auguste nodded. “Other than Count Damien closeness with my father… we wouldn’t be much of royalty if we were lacking in knowledge.”
Her attempt to pry more from him failed, but she held her smile.[color=1e4fff]“True…” She looked down at her water and thought for a moment. For him to know her by name in this crowd when they never met she assumed he might have known a bit more… He could have easily seen a resemblance of her mother which he surely met before. The tiny flame excitement of possibly, perhaps…a prince had looked into her, possibly interested in the mystery isolated noble girl held in a tower.Silly little child…
As soon as that thought came across her mind she smiled more and played it off as if she was thinking of what to say next. “Well, besides soldiering and dueling and learning to be a ruler. What do you do to relax? I-I mean when you are too exhausted to work out that is…” “Ballads and written work!”
Auguste replied, as if just remembering. “I do enjoy good books and an awe-inspiring ballad in my free time, a personal indulgence, truly.”“As for genre, hmm- I enjoy all manners of ballads and books but I seem to gravitate towards fantasy and, well, books surrounding knights. As cliche as that is.”
Auguste chuckled, eyes sparkling as he spoke like a child regaling others. It really wasn’t often that he spoke of such lighthearted topics, even in this very event. Often it was words mired with agendas and hidden meanings, something he truly doesn’t enjoy about the politics of nobility. As such, he indulged.“I really liked the ballad of the dashing rogue Robin Hood.”
He continued, “But as for books, I would be hard-pressed to pick a favourite.”
Crystal smiled slightly, “There is nothing wrong with cliches. There is a reason why there are so many books focused around knights and fantastical stories… we all seek to be a part of it in some way, or try to emulate it in our own life.”
Auguste nodded, agreeing with her assessment.
Odd as he was a knight and prince, he was living the story most strove to dive into. But maybe… It was also the reason he seemed different from his father, and elder brother. “Robin hood is one of the classics. It is hard to find someone who doesn’t like it… unless you look at nobles. They tend to like to keep their riches. Do you- ”
she stopped herself. It wasn’t appropriate to ask that. Those who look to that ballad tend to be seekers of injustice and outlaws of types in their own land. Did he see himself as one? Wanting to change the kingdom?
Realizing she left herself in an awkward position she continued “ Do you like romance novels if they are centered in fantasy?”
Auguste raised a brow at her hesitation. Perhaps she had something else to ask but he moved past it as he wasn’t one to pressure others if he could help it. “Romance novels with fantasy…”
He paused and stroked his chin, “Certainly, while I prefer the focus to be fantasy, having romance in the background certainly adds depth to the story.”“Not to say I haven’t read any romance novels not entirely rooted in fantasy. I enjoyed that popular book, what was it, ‘The Princess and her Unorthodox Prince.’ I could certainly see why it was enjoyed in the kingdom… and me, luckily, being nobility, I could somewhat ‘relate’ to the Princess and her struggles.”
Crystal nodded, it was what she expected from a man. ‘If it was in the background’. So she couldn’t fault him for it. It was better than no.
She did perk up when he brought up her book. A slight flush on her face realizing a prince read her works and ‘somewhat’ enjoyed it. As it was mostly focused on romance and the action was supporting the book it wasn’t a far leap. But it was still a win for her.“I love that book! I feel like I've read it a thousand times.”
She said with a genuine smile.” I feel you would enjoy the sequel “Shattered Oaths” more due to having more action and adventure than the first.”
She paused for a moment thinking how he would relate to the heroine more. “Do you have an unorthodox guard?”
In a softly jesting tone.
Auguste smiled at her jubilance, it seemed that she enjoyed books. “I did know that there was a sequel. I will have to pick one up-”
His eyes widened, slightly giving away his odd habit of dressing up as a commoner and going around the city. He cleared his throat, “Er- have it picked up for me. I enjoyed the first one alot, even if the swordfighting wasn’t the focus, it was thrilling. If it is more action-packed then I will likely enjoy ‘Shattered Oaths’.”
She tilted her head in slight confusion, wondering why he would hesitate and change his wording on picking up a book. Wouldn’t he be able to go and pick up a book if he wanted to? He could do anything he wanted essentially. She smiled and nodded again before he continued. “Keep it a secret from others, but I’ve tried mimicking her guard and style. Even won a duel with it, certainly unorthodox, but that makes it hard to pin down in an actual duel.”
The Prince had even incorporated some of the ideas into his own style. “But more to the point, the author had portrayed royalty well while not capturing the entire nuance, it was written through the lens of someone in the know. It wouldn’t surprise me if the writer was of nobility!”
She was confused for a moment. His answer wasn’t at all what she meant. Wondering if he had a female guard who was his unorthodox princess. She held in a giggle, but was surprised he had used some of her techniques she used for the princess in her book. Not totally surprised as she copied text books on fencing from the Varians style, and mixed it with liah’s style. Asking her to show how it would work so crysta could write it out. “I meant… if you had an unorthodox princess…”
she said with a smirk, “but that is impressive! I heard Violet Columbine researches all topics to be as authentic as she can. Perhaps she is a duelist as well?” “Ah that’s what you mean, my apologies.”
He replied, “I certainly do have an unorthodox guard, dear Wystan is unorthodox, atleast thats what many others have told me in privy. I always rebuff them, however, Wystan is as reliable as the Knight-Captain being a guard if you ask me.”
He nodded as he said the following words, “It does seem like Violet Columbine is, at the very least, versed in dueling and swordfigthting.”
When he brought up the writer being apart of the nobility she fiddled with her thumbs in her lap. “Hmmm perhaps. Or perhaps they gained their knowledge of how the court works through books which could explain why they didn’t quite capture it?”
She blinked… as it was what she did, that and asking her parents for insight. “That makes sense.”
Auguste said, “At times it does feel like a second hand account, as some parts are well detailed while others are more sparse.”“But it seems that you enjoy literary work, do you have any books you would recommend?”
Auguste asked earnestly.“I do enjoy reading, it helped me explore the world while being stuck in my bed. My theater says he is sure we have the second biggest private library in the kingdom to sate my appetite.”
She said fondly. “I recommend all of the Violet Columbine books personally.”
She said a little selfishly. As she had to advertise her own books. “‘The Thirteenth sword” by William Ferrigan might be a great book for you. He was a duelist in the Varian kingdom a hundred years ago who used his experiences to write a book.”
Auguste made mental notes of the authors' names and books. “I will give Violet Columbine another look then and read William Ferrigan’s works. A real-life account of a duelist from a century’s past is a must read for me.”
A butler whispered something into Auguste’s ears. “Ah it seems that we’ve ran out of time.”
The Prince eyed Callum walking in the direction of Wulfric’s office.“I am sorry to run out like this on you.”
He said with an apologetic face, “I would very much like to continue our conversation about literary works another time.”“Would you like me to escort you out of the palace?”
Auguste offered with a smile.
She smiled when he confirmed he would look into her recommendations. She looked to the butler as he whispered into the prince’s ear. Taking a final drink of her water and setting it on the table between them. She looked back to him as he spoke up again. She smiled as he mentioned he would like to continue their conversation, and then offered to escort her out.”You do not need to apologize, I understand. I would love to continue our conversation as well. I look forward to it already.”
She stood up and looked towards the door, seeing her guards and then looking to Auguste once more. ”As much as I would love that, I don't want to keep you from your duties. ”
She said with a small curtsy. ”I Hope we meet again soon to continue this conversation. ”
She added before making her exit.