aintings adorned the mansions walls, and on the second floor there was even a bronze harp to further enhance the artistic mood of the place. The differently shaped balusters on each staircase did nothing but bolster that atmosphere.
Ardos couldn help but to admire the interior decorating. His room especially, had been designed exquisitely. The carpet that outstretched from under the bed pleased Ardos especially. But the view of the city was even nicer. He wanted to gaze at it undisturbed…and so he commanded the guards outside to not enter under any circumstances unless Ardos called for them.
But sure enough, just as his eyes began to rake over the bridges stretching across the citys canal… a guard burst in, frightening Ardos.
”Sir Ardos, there has been a report of suspicious activity around the general area…I advise you not to step out for the time being and be on the lookout. ”
Ardos sighed and turned towards the bodyguard. His expression signified a clear disinterest, but he quickly adjusted it into the form of a smile.
”Its actually Roger sir, Gareth is my older brother. ”
”Yes yes, Roger, Gareth, whatever. Tell me….have you ever been pestered by an insect, one which you find exceedingly difficult to swat? ”
Ardos sighed impatiently, before once again contorting his face into the falsely sweet expression he had used to engage the man in conversation.
”I asked you ” spat Ardos, ”if you have ever found yourself irritated by an insect. ”
The guard gulped before answering nervously.
”Yes sire, I- ” the man stopped to straighten his back; ”I have. Is there an insect around you currently which you would like me to dispose of? ”
”Why yes there is Reagan! Unfortunately this insect takes a rather troublesome form. He is wearing dull, heavy chainmail and his voice sounds like a strangled dog. ”
”Thats a rather strange- ”
”AND ” said Ardos, determined not to be interrupted. ”He, not even a minute after I announced that I would not like to be disturbed, decided to come barging into my quarters with some dull report. Do I not look like the kind of man who has the time to be aggravated by monotonous report? ”
The guards face was hidden by a suffocating helmet, but Ardos was sure he had a rather uncomfortable expression under there. Eventually, he bowed and took his leave without saying a word.
”And DO NOT come back again, under any circumstances, unless I SPECIFICALLY request for you to do so. ”
The man did not respond, Ardos suspected he was too frightened to do so. This made Ardos feel bad, but instead of apologizing he simply collapsed onto his bed. He actually had known the guards name, he knew the names of everyone who served him.
After all it would be simply hypocritical to not do so. After all Ardos strove to be the kind of noble who actually cared about the people around him. Nevertheless, it was certainly much easier to get a point across when he wore the guise of one of those shallow, conservative bastards who had become practically synonymous with the idea of a noble. He had pretended to be one of them for most of his life after all.
And that was the attitude he had shown to the people whose duty was to care for him. He didn like it, but it was painfully easy to slip into. Especially when he was angry or emotional, like he had been for the majority of the trip.
For the majority of his life he had put up the front as a means to conceal his true thoughts from the other noblemen, but now he feared it was becoming a part of his identity….and that scared him.
He needed a break. It was difficult to cloak oneself under a persona as toxic as this one, even if it was for a short while.
The city looks nice Ardos thought to himself. And before he could even think about what he was doing, he grabbed a cloak from amongst his things and impulsively leapt from his window on the third floor. Thankfully, he landed safely, even though he shook a little bit. But that wasn the main issue. The issue was the recklessness of the decision he had made.
As Roger had reported, this area, despite being the safest section of the city…was still prone to an abundance of thieving and murders. But yet, Ardos felt compelled to leave the mansion and any traces of himself which he could identify with nobility.
He himself didn understand why now of all times he felt so bothered, but he decided to follow his instincts and leave the mansion.
As Ardos wandered around the city, he noticed an abundance of intriguing sights. Stalls and caravans selling some of the most exotic products Ardos had ever seen, men and women with profoundly abstract and absurd fashion, the place truly felt alive. There were so many little interactions happening all around Ardos, so much movement and commotion. Scantily clad thieves jumping across rooftops, trinkets clearly visible in their hands, men smoking puffy rings from preposterously ornate tobacco pipes; even the underhanded actions taking place around him only served to fascinate Ardos.
Its so entertaining thought Ardos to himself blissfully.
It was so enchanting down there, but yet…Ardos was still unsatisfied. He was hardly even conscious of it but a nagging sensation within him made him feel uncomfortable. The way he thought about what was happening here, was almost like the other nobles. It was like he wasn even present witnessing it.
The reason Ardos had come here was to escape the burden of his status, but now, the more he thought about it all Ardos could see was the distance in between him and the people around him.
Even the men in masks, who were closest to Ardos still felt so distant. Because they still had the freedom to express themselves in whatever peculiar ways they desired. Ardos had features just as unique as they did, but his were biological.
He had been born and bred to be just as attention drawing as the men in masks, and was able to achieve that and more without even needing to decorate himself. But at the same time, those people were free to do what they liked with the abnormality they flaunted.
Ardos wished to do that desperately. He wished to have a choice in how he used his body and in how he applied himself, but if he did that he would be be unfitting of nobility, and his dreams would become impossible to attain.
And in that case, Ardos would have nothing to live for.
But yet the alienation Ardos was feeling now had seemed to go beyond the nature of his nobility and the restrictions it placed on him. It went beyond just Ardoss rank. It was as if even if all of Ardoss titles and riches were stripped away…he would still feel this cold, empty feeling that spread throughout his body and gripped his very soul.
And it kept expanding. It was as if the more he thought about it the stronger it grew.
Recognizing this, Ardos fervently should his head and pulled the cloak on tighter in an attempt to immerse himself further in his surroundings.
What is this that I am thinking about? I should just enjoy my surroundings instead of being a buffoon and letting it go to waste.
After cleansing his mind with that mentality, Ardos attempted to approach one of the market stalls and pull himself away from his self deprecating spiral of a thought process.
But suddenly he felt a tight clench on his shoulder and a sharp poke in his back. He tried to jerk his head around and see who was holding him, but a steely voice prevented him from doing so.
”I would advise against moving dangerously….you might push the blade in deeper than it already it is. Now…where is your mask? ”
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