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Time: Morning, 10am
Location: Shooting Range
Interactions: Nahir @Rodiak
Mentions: Verrick @Aerandir, Thea @Tae, Sadie/Ezra @Potter, and the mysterious Cassius Vael @PapaOso



Leo only gave a casual and indifferent bit of applause as Verrick was announced the victor of the second match, he’d have much preferred to have seen the woodsman defeated, but Verrick’s win was at least a win for Varian. A small disappointment, but not a surprise, if Leo were going to bet money on this contest he’d have bet on Verrick because for men like Verrick archery was more than a hobby, it was a part of his way of life. Without mastery of his chosen weapon, a woodsman and a royal bodyguard would not last very long. Despite knowing Verrick to be one of the finest marksmen of Varian, Nahir had given the woodsman quite the competition.

Leo stood from his seat as Shehzadi Nahir approached, bowed, and sat back down again after she had, even in a more casual setting respect for royalty was never forgotten. Once again it seemed, he was deemed worthy company for the Shehzadi, and he would have to try not to disappoint. “Such an eventful morning,” Nahir had an enchanting smile, one that compelled him to return the expression without thought.

“Indeed, your highness,” Leo nodded. “But a well-shot match, especially given how apparently eventful last night was, a shame to now remember none of it.” Leo said, and it was a shame, something about the party felt important like there was something he should remember but to think about it only brought forth a headache just as he had discovered this morning. The memory loss was troubling, the likely cause, that they had all been drugged, was even more troubling, because it lacked an obvious motive. None of them had mentioned anything being stolen, and they were all more or less doing well, so if not to harm them, if not to steal from them, then why go to all the trouble of drugging them? That seemed almost an even more pressing question than who had done it.

“And my apologies for the distress last night caused you and your family, suggesting that party was reckless of me, a habit I should not have brought to court.” Leo spoke sincerely, even though the Alidasht royals would’ve likely gone with or without his involvement, he had suggested it as a good idea without knowing anything about it, and that had been reckless. His judgment last night had been poor, but there was one good thing to have come from last night, and that was knowing that Thea had chosen not to go. Based on Thea’s behavior, her now choosing to stay out of trouble, was something he was going to take as a good sign.

The archery contest continued forward as the next competitors were announced.

"Lord Cassius Vael of House Damien against ...Isaac? Who's Isaac?"

Leo’s attention turned from Nahir to the announcer. Another mistake, anything less than giving one’s full attention to a royal when given the honor of speaking with them was rude, but a new and unknown player from House Damien was something that demanded attention.

Nevermind who Isaac is, who the hell is Cassius Vael? Leo was not the only one in the crowd wondering that, he was sure of it. Many faces around him seemed equally puzzled, and many, did as Leo did, and strained to catch a sight of Cassius Vael as his name was called.

“Strange, a Damien I’ve not heard of, makes one wonder where they’ve been hiding him,” Leo said, his head turning back to Nahir. And why. He thought. This Cassius was close enough to the Damien family to be competing under their name, and this was a clear announcement of his presence in court, but who exactly was he? A cousin? Leo would’ve figured he’d have at least heard of him. Had Count Calbert taken a ward? Did Calbert even know this man was here? Calbert was a hard presence to miss and Leo was sure he hadn’t seen Calbert at the archery range. He had a lot of questions, but more than confusion, Leo found himself excited by the thought of additional drama for House Damien.

“Seems Sorian plans to be full of both mysteries and surprises this summer.” He added. Something else briefly grabbed his attention, Ezra the insufferable baker slinking and stalking about as he drew nearer to where Princess Sadie sat beneath a tree. Sadie looked to be trying to enjoy breakfast in peace and away from attention, though with her bodyguards it was hard not to notice her. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise much in the same way they would when out in the wilderness, when even if he couldn’t see it, he could feel when a dangerous animal was lurking nearby. That was exactly the sort of feeling that followed Ezra.

Though too far away to overhear any of the conversation between baker and princess, Sadie’s reaction gave away that whatever Ezra had spoken, had been unpleasant. Leo remembered the way Ezra had spoken to him, in a hushed voice that prodded at known wounds, no doubt he was trying to expel the same venom towards the Varian princess. Another mysterious ‘why’ hung about the air, though for Ezra chaotic deviance could simply be the explanation.

From then on Leo did his best to stay present, and keep most of his attention focused on Nahir and anything she had to say, but he did track Ezra’s movements. He kept a careful eye on the baker to ensure the man did not stray too close to Thea, with every intention of intervening if Ezra did so.
In Avalia 13 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


Time: Afternoon
Location: The Nest
Interactions: Tigerlily@Potter, Barbuda @Alivefalling, Helio @princess
Equipment: A cutlass, 2 knives, 1 dagger, a spyglass, a wayfinder, a pouch of amas, and various jewelry.





“To be expected, guessin’ there ain’t much to find.” Nym replied to Tigerlily. No murmurings of Helio's lost friends and after four months, and now, after seeing everything that was happening in Roshmi, his best guess was that they were far too late to find much of anything. He studied Tigerlily for a moment before he continued.

“I appreciate yer efforts, sorry fer the wild goose chase. I’ll break the news to the lad once he’s dried out a bit. This place ain’t good fer any of us, we’ll grab us some worthy hands and leave soon as we can.” He added. Roshmi had become a shithole, that much was clear, and it was taking far too much a toll on Tigerlily for him to justify looking for folks who were likely long dead.

He glanced back towards Helio and Barboda who seemed to have settled their dispute without a fight breaking out. Disappointing, Helio could use some sense knocked into him, but there’d be plenty of others roaming Roshmi City willing to oblige if Helio kept looking for a fight. Nym glanced at Tigerlily, nodded towards their other two crewmates, and headed over there.

“Any headway on findin’ yer mates?” Nym asked Helio. “If not, we best stay busy, get The Harem stocked and ready, find us a few more hands. This ain’t the port to be gettin’ too relaxed.”


Time: Morning, 10am
Location: Shooting Range
Interactions: Ezra @Potter
Mentions: Nahir @Rodiak


Leo had given a smile and returned the sentiment when Nahir had wished him luck. He’d been wondering if he should ask how she was after last night's bizarre party, immediately apologize for suggesting said party, or simply refrain from mentioning the disaster of last night, when he’d heard his name being called.

“Hey, Leo, Leo sized up the man who spoke, his competition was the baker from yesterday’s ball, hardly someone worth having a conversation with but he headed over to him anyhow.

I’d wish you luck but I heard you may not need it. I’ve heard great things about your kingdom. And how quick your mother got over your dad’s death. I’d say it’s a shame, but I guess the heart wants what it wants. Your sister looks like she’s taking it well though. Looks great today.” Ezra’s words hissed out, a venom that only aggravated old wounds. Leo paused to look around as if confused for a moment before whispering back to the baker.

“And where might your family be seated? How strange, I don’t see anyone here to cheer for you. No parents, no siblings, and not a single man or woman around who seems to want your pitiful name on their lips. That’s awfully sad, to be loved by no one.” Leo made a show of smiling widely as he returned the less-than-friendly goading.

The first round began, Leo notched the arrow and pulled back.

Inhale.
Exhale.
Release.


The arrow soared striking the target’s red inner ring. A respectable score of seven points, not a bad first go. Not bad is not good enough. The process repeated, Leo focused only on that centered golden circle in the target, this time only hitting the middle blue ring for five points. How dare he mention my mother. A nobody. What does he even know? Nothing, that’s what, well maybe how to bake a shitty cake... Another arrow left his bow, another falter, and it struck only an outer black ring. Only three points, he was getting worse. Keep it up Leo, disappoint Varian, start now and they’ll be used to it later. His fourth arrow found its way back to the red ring for another seven points. Smithwood’s do not celebrate mediocrity, Leo. His first round was average, and even though it had been better than Ezra’s first round, it did not feel like a victory. He should've done better, he was here representing both Stravy and Varian, in a foreign city after all.

He fared worse in the next round as his first arrow hit nothing. The second and third arrow both found their way to the blue ring. The fourth arrow faired better, striking the red ring. Ezra had taken the lead as far as the points went, and Leo found it more difficult to focus on anything more than how irritating it would be to lose to Ezra.

The final round began, and his first arrow hit the outer black ring. Two more arrows missed their mark completely. There would be no win for Leo, and sure, he disliked losing, and had this been a friendly competition, it would be no big deal. He had not figured he’d be winning this contest, there were several here whose skill outmatched him even on his best day, but losing to a snide weasel-faced baker was what left him feeling bitter. There was nothing friendly here, Leo hated Ezra as soon as the baker had opened his mouth and he only hoped the time would come where they could settle things in a far less public forum and in a far less civilized way.

His last arrow, one sent flying without a thought, having already resigned to the loss, struck the middle of the target, a bullseye in the golden circle. There was no pride in that shot, just further proof that he wasted his potential.

He held up his composure as he turned to Ezra and offered a simple bow as the baker was announced as the winner. Poor sportsmanship was not a flattering look for a nobleman so he did his best to look cordial. Ezra’s win had been fair, and it wasn’t as if Leo had placed any bets on this contest. “Congratulations.” He said nothing further to Ezra, and the farther he walked away the less he could see the weasel-like features of the other man’s face. That only made the archery range a far more pleasant place and he reminded himself that he was now freed up to get something to eat and to enjoy watching the other matches.
In Avalia 21 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


Time: Afternoon
Location: North Pass, Out hunting
Interactions: Rue @Potter
Armor: Leather Vest with Armor of Deflection charm, Rest of outfit minus the gloves.
Weapons: Steel Short Sword with Shift Charm transforming it into a chain knife, and a small boot knife.
Equipment: a backpack containing: 1 large red potion, 1 green potion, 3 large blue potions, 2 small blue potions, a hunting knife, a flask, small tent, blanket, waterskin, rope, fire starting kit, lightmaker, matches, cooking pot, a bar of soap, some drugs (skaula and zemak), rolling papers, pipe, a gorestria gem ring and a pouch of amas.




The first shot hit a squirrel, but the moose didn’t seem to notice and the squirrel's fall was softened by the snow. Rue seemed flustered, her cheeks flushed as she whispered an apology.

“You’ve got this.” He mouthed back as she tried again. The arrow flew, and the moose gave nothing but a grunt as the arrow pierced its heart. A quick, clean, kill. Bowyn threw an arm around Rue for a quick hug. “Still one of the best shots from the ol’ village I see. Even managed a quick snack for Moony, I’m sure he must be plenty hungry.” Bowyn released his grip and headed for the squirrel first, pausing to give a prayer of thanks for the small creature and then one for the larger animal. Then he pulled the arrow out, leaving the squirrel and assuming Moony would like to eat the small snack.

The problem was now transporting the moose, they had not come prepared to bring something this large back to North Pass, and the moose outweighed him and Rue a few times over. He wanted to take the animal back whole, doubting that Rue wanted to spend the afternoon field dressing a moose, and either way, it was going to be a daunting task. He checked the moose first, a quick jab of his finger at the eye, making sure it was dead before removing the arrow and returning both arrows to Rue.

“We got a couple of options. One, you fly off and grab Ishmael and tell him to roll out here with his big fancy cart and boar, while I stay here and make sure no other predators steal your game. Or, I make an ice toboggan, freeze up some of this snow and we half push half slide this thing back into town. Unless you’ve got another idea, open to suggestions.” He offered up the first two suggestions that came to mind.
In Avalia 22 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


Time: Afternoon
Location: River Fairy Kingdom - Treeant Inn
Interactions: Yuka @princess, Aiko @CitrusArms, Xavier @Potter
Armor: Adamantine Half-Plate and Steel Chain Mail (currently in his room)
Weapons: Apricus; a Mithril longsword, a steel sheild with barrier charm (currently in his room), and a steel dagger.
Mount: Cow, a black and white Oak Horse (at the stable)
Equipment: Bow and quiver of arrows. Small backpack: 1 large red potion, 3 medium blue potions, 3 medium red potions, darksight glasses, wayfinder, and fire kit. A transmission bracelet (connected to Augus) and a pouch of amas.




Of course, she’d actually want to wear a bell.

“Sure, Yuka, we’ll get you a bell later. Can’t have you jingling around the forests.” He’d have to remember to look for one next time he was out, see if she’d actually wear it. Since they were all gathered together, Orias clapped his hands together and shared a plan for the day.

“Today is Abertha, a day to celebrate sacrifices and give thanks. We owe a lot to the River Fairy Kingdom for keeping us safe these past few months. So let us try for a successful hunt and in our success, we can offer a feast for those who have been kind to us here at the inn. That is the Avalia we fight for, Xavier, one that is unified, and one that takes care of one another. I suggest we head to the southern forests, lessen our chances of heading too close to dangerous territories.” To the south were both River Port and the Sun Elf Kingdom, both remained under light elf control, which should limit their chances of running into trouble. The northern forests led to Aldrakh which made danger a more likely possibility as did the unknown of the east which held dense forests that were much harder to keep a tight patrol on.

“Though no matter where we go it is best to remain vigilant, someone is to stick with Xavier at all times, and no one goes off alone.” He added, mostly looking at Yuka who was always the wild card in any given situation. Not that she was defenseless, but out of all them, she was the most prone to being reckless.

Going outside of the city was a risk, a calculated one, but still a risk. But they couldn’t stay safe and hidden for the entirety of the war, they needed to do more than training and sparring and a small risk was the place to start.


Any objections? Anyone need anything else before we head out?”
In Avalia 22 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


Time: Morning
Location: Dugmaghord - The Pit
Interactions: Pâsh@Alivefalling
Weapon: Meliora a cobalt glaive with unbreaking and returning charms
Armor: Just the clothes on his back
Equipment: Lockpicking kit, small knife, 3 large red potions, and a pouch of amas.




Leaf studied Pâsh as he spoke, watched as a fire lit up the orc’s bright eyes as he spoke of battle and victory. Pâsh was not haunted by it, he was strengthened by it. This was part of what made an orc so strong, it wasn’t just being born all big and bulky, it was the way they accepted what they were and used it to their every advantage.

Now Leaf could go about spinning just about any adventure he’d gone on into a tale, most folks he knew did that sort of thing and it was what kept fireside conversation interesting. But orcs weren’t so indulgent, and Pâsh’s story was simple and to the point. Leaf emulated this.

“Today was a good victory, today I was my nature, a predator, it has been too long since I was what I was meant to be. Orc and predator, we ain’t so different, designed to shed blood, I will embrace this now.” Leaf spoke with confidence. He had once seen the image of a demon and shrank in fear, and that was not what a cat was meant to do. He was built to fight; from claws to fangs a cat was made with a purpose in mind, to take down prey and threats alike. Battle was no different than a hunt, he would embrace warfare as the orcs did and he would be a better cat for it.

An orc returned with a massive tray of food and Leaf wasted no time as he grabbed an Ergin rib and tore into it. Being around orcs was freeing, he did not have to worry about how he ate, no expectation of table manners here, they welcomed the part of him that was wild and savage.


Time: Morning, around 10am
Location: From outside Danrose Palace, to the washroom, and to the Shooting Range
Mentions: Riona @JJ Doe, Princess Sadie @Potter, Verrick @Aerandir, Thea @Tae



Would ya look at that?

It seemed Riona was entirely capable of proper behavior, today, it seemed, was just irritate Leo day for no reason that he could see other than their paths had crossed at the wrong moment.

Verrick’s foul presence was only a further aggravation. The nerve, to hang around my family, after the stunt he pulled. Thea and his mother might be willing to forget how Verrick had thrown the now missing Duke through a window, but Leo would never let a slight against any of his family go.

“I’m surprised you believe a little mud is going to ruin your day.” Verrick went about running his mouth as if his very presence wasn’t insulting enough. “And I thought you were an outdoorsman.”

Leo extended nothing but an eye roll in the Woodsman’s direction. Time and place for it, you’d think you know that, smug bastard. His jaw only tightened, it wouldn’t do to outright insult the princess’s bodyguard in front of her. He didn’t trust his temper enough to keep his tongue civil.

Thankfully, Princess Sadie dismissed him, and Leo wasted no time hanging around.

The Gossamer was no longer an option, the servant had managed to sully his shoes, hand, and more than likely his clothing following the unfortunate forced hugging incident. There was no time for a full and proper bathing before breakfast and he could not show up at The Gossamer with the slightest bit of his attire out of place.

He was a reflection of Stravy, and he would not be seen as some sort of half-civilized podunk nobleman. But that was fine, Leo was adaptable, and an archery competition was just as good as a fine breakfast.

Better even, a bit of competition and sunlight out near a peaceful park. It would clear his head up and a bit of dirt wouldn’t be out of place there.

First, he headed to the washroom to rid himself of the most obvious reminders of this encounter. He scrubbed furiously at his hands, then shoes, tried to remove any traces from his clothing, then his hands again.

He focused on letting it go, one unpleasant encounter would not ruin the day. And it was going to be a good day. Archery competition, an excellent start, plenty of competitions to watch or take part in after that as well. Sorian excelled at providing entertainment.

He made sure he was calm and presentable before leaving the washroom. He reminded himself why he was here, despite everything happening within his family, to show the world that Stravy was strong, that Smithwoods were strong, and even under pressure, they did not break.

He caught a carriage to the shooting range and entered his name for the competition. His day was already feeling brighter, outside in the fresh air, warm rays beating down, and a soothing banjo being strummed nearby. He spotted Thea, almost impossible not to in a dress brighter than an oriole, and noted she, at least, seemed well today.

But the competition was set to begin soon, which left little time for a chat, so he used any remaining time before it started to warm and become acquainted with the provided bow.
In Avalia 25 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay


Time: Afternoon
Location: North Pass, Out hunting
Interactions: Rue @Potter
Armor: Leather Vest with Armor of Deflection charm, Rest of outfit minus the gloves.
Weapons: Steel Short Sword with Shift Charm transforming it into a chain knife, and a small boot knife.
Equipment: a backpack containing: 1 large red potion, 1 green potion, 3 large blue potions, 2 small blue potions, a hunting knife, a flask, small tent, blanket, waterskin, rope, fire starting kit, lightmaker, matches, cooking pot, a bar of soap, some drugs (skaula and zemak), rolling papers, pipe, a gorestria gem ring and a pouch of amas.




“No,” Bowyn said, hesitation in his voice as he looked at the moose. He didn’t need first dibs, hunting was never about bragging rights for him. “But before you shoot, I have to ask, how do think we are going to carry that back?” He asked, his voice barely above a whisper. It was a huge animal; if they could bring it back to the village, it would feed many people, and that was a good thing. Maybe if Ishmael were here with his fancy cart and boar they’d be able to lug that creature back but there was no way the pair of fairies, even if Moony was helping, could drag that carcass around.

And, he didn’t want this excursion to be over.

If she shoots a moose now the hunt is over, there was more than enough meat for them, the group, and plenty left over to give some away to others in North Pass. Then what? Back to the village when all he wanted to do was be in the peace of the forest? Well, that was selfish, he shouldn’t be like that. “I guess we could use the snow and ice to our advantage, bit of magic to get all that back to town. Gods, Rue, we could feed a lot of hungry people with a moose.” He whispered with a smile. That was the sort of thing old Bowyn used to like to do, and it felt good to think like that again. “Go for it.”

Time: Morning
Location: Callum’s Room
Interactions: none


If there was one thing Callum excelled at, wallowing was it.

He stared out the window of his room. He drank. He imagined what life was like for a bird. A life spent flying free through endless, open, skies. A solitary bird, one that knew how to be alone without feeling lonely. He drank more. Or maybe a cat, or a fish. Something that didn’t have to think far beyond the moment.

If Callum was most like any animal it was a dog caught up in chasing his own tail, running in circles for something always out of reach until he tired himself out and accepted defeat.

Had Wulfric helped him because they were brothers or because it was an easier way for Wulfric to deal with him?

How long would it take for him to forget what his mother had nearly done today?

How long would remember feeling accepted by Auguste and Ana?

How long before only saw Auguste’s unwillingness to stand against Edin and Ana as casually careless again?


He’d love them, until they let him down. Then he’d hate them, and he’d hate himself for being one of them. They’d all be a family tree that bore only rotten apples. Until he needed something, or he wished for love and acceptance and he’d look for them. Then he’d remember how kind Auguste was, how brave Ana was, and how his mother loved him in her own, flawed, way. Then only Edin would be the rotten branch that kept trying to spread his venom through the tree. He’d love the rest of them until they let him down.

It would be so much easier to let it go, accept what he had, and be grateful for it. Just be a normal family all the time, to not live under crushing tension around them. A life spent somnambulant.

Maybe he could just accept them for who they were, in their faults and strengths, but it wouldn’t close his eyes to how much everyone else around them suffered at Danrose’s hands.

He couldn’t be on both sides. He couldn’t live in circles.

He tried not to fidget with his clothes or hair. Callum settled with picking and chewing at his fingernails. He over-picked everything, until it was ugly and flawed, in his thoughts, and towards his fingernails.

He messed so many things up. Maybe he should leap and take flight from the window, pretend he was a bird for a moment. Thoughts like that used to scare him, but now he found them strangely comforting like there was always a way out if he needed it.

“Try until you get what you want. Mess up until you get it right.”

And why did that piece of advice scare him more than anything?

Callum walked over to his desk and pulled a small knife from his desk. He would be decisive, there would be no more forgetting, no more living his life in circles. He dug the knife into the wall and carved into the walls of his bedroom things he was going to remember.


He did not carve these words anywhere hidden and each letter ran the length of his arm. Callum would see this every time he set foot in this room. Edin lived off the suffering of others, his every success was to another’s detriment. But that was only the start. Callum had stopped thinking of Edin as his father a long time ago, the man who had sired him was a rotten soul beyond hope, and he’d never forgotten that, but that old realization had been the start.


This statement hurt more than just his hand as he carved the words but he knew he had to remember this one. He would not forgive his mother for what she had done today. There would be no gifts or hugs or small signs of affection that would soften him. She would’ve condemned a man to die today. He would not think of her as a mother.

He was done with trying to see them as what he wanted, they were what they had become. Poor excuse for parents, poor excuses for people, and he wasn’t going to let blood tie him to them.

Callum stopped thinking of himself as a prince a long time ago, but that had been easy, he’d hated that title from the moment he knew everything it meant. But he still thought of himself as Callum Danrose and he needed his surname gone too. He would not be his family's mistakes.


This he wrote even larger than the last two. He was not going to become what his parents were; a parasite, a monster, another rotten Danrose. He would figure out what it was to be just Callum, to know exactly what it was he wanted and how he was going to try for it.

He wrote no condemnations of his siblings, they didn’t deserve it, they were still just as much not their parents as he was. He was not going to hate everything, just the things he couldn’t live with.



Callum took a drink as he admired his work written across the walls of his room. They’d see it, sooner or later, and that was scary, but not enough so that he felt the slightest regret about this. He’d see it, he’d remember it, he’d believe in it and he’d try harder.


Time: Morning, 9:30am
Location: Outside Danrose Palace
Interactions: Riona @JJ Doe, Princess Sadie @Potter


The servant Leo had seen as simply having a dangerous streak had become outright diabolical. Muck from her shoe now covered her hand as she made a show of grabbing at his hand, and then attempting to wipe said muck onto his face. He grabbed her hand before she made contact, gripping her wrist and keeping her from any further contact.

All his thoughts, and all he saw, was red.

He was here losing a verbal battle against a stable hand who was now only tossing mud and filth about as if it was clever. And the problem was that it was working, that he was losing any patience with this, and all he wanted to do was break that hand. Instead, he let her hand go as quickly as the thought of violence had entered his mind, and then took a step back to put more distance between himself and her.

Much like dogs, servants acted out because they lacked proper training, much like dogs, beating them only exasperated this, it was not a solution, and Leo would not be the sort of man who beat a dog because it was not trained right. This was not his problem and he would not let it be his problem any longer.

“Enjoy this. Let it bring you comfort when you return to whatever hovel you crawled out of, and I continue to enjoy every comfort -” Leo stopped talking as Princess Sadie announced her arrival in Sorian.

Oh fuck his absolutely rotten luck. Of course, despite his efforts to be a presentable lord, he was now in the presence of Varian royalty with mucked-up shoes and a filthy hand arguing with the unimportant.

“Your royal highness,” Leo extended a full and proper bow at the addition of the Varian royal. He was quick to sidestep her attempt to clean his shoes. “I must insist, you are too kind, but I can attend to my own shoes.” He smiled through his utter confusion at the princess's every action. Helping in the stables? Him? Like a servant? For a source of amusement? He tried to imagine a more dreadful waste of time and failed to think of one.

Riona, he learned the servant’s name from Princess Sadie, had at least provided him an out of this situation. All he had to do was simply excuse himself to attend to his appearance and he could be rid of this conversation. Before he could do so, Princess Sadie pulled both of them into a bizarre and uncomfortable group hug. I think I’d actually rather hug a wild boar. As soon as the princess’s grip loosened he moved further from her reach as well and hoped to never repeat the experience again.

Princess Sadie had inherited all the softness her father possessed, qualities far more flattering on a princess than a king. Right now, those qualities had morphed into something detestable, forcing him to share any embrace with such a loathsome commoner, ignoring all proper boundaries that kept nobles separated from the lessers, and then she continued to ramble on as if there was nothing wrong with what she had just done. When she finally paused long enough to take a breath, Leo spoke up.

“I’d say I am looking forward to seeing the horse race, Princess. A beautiful thing, the symbiotic relationship between master and animal, to see the horse run as it was built to do, and its master lead it towards success in their shared discipline.” He spoke mainly keeping his focus on the princess before flashing a grin in Riona’s direction. “Perhaps we’ll continue this conversation on horses, though I wouldn’t want to keep you from your duties, I’m sure there are better uses for your time.” He hoped that she’d make herself someone else’s problem for the remainder of the summer.

“No need to further bore you with my thoughts, I should clean up a bit and head out. Enjoy your morning Your Highness.” Leo bowed again towards Princess Sadie but paused to wait for her to excuse him. Possibly another mistake on his part, as she was prone to rambling on, and all he wanted was to wash his hands clean of the entire situation, but it only seemed the proper thing to do here.
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