My hair was done, I was dressed, and most importantly I was on time. I stand at the door and nod to the announcer, the trumpets play.
”Enter Princess Ivory, ” he says and I step forward threw the open doors.
I lift my skirt so I can walk down the stairs in my heels, without stepping on it. I reach the bottom of the last step, and Im offered a hand. I look up to see a very familiar, brown haired, amber eyed, man, who on most occasions was flirting with me.
”You look beautiful, ” Liam says giving me a complement.
I take the hand he offers as I step onto the floor, he moves my hand to his arm so I can hold onto him. We start to walk, I don really think about where we are going I just let Liam lead me.
”You look well put together as well, I was starting to forget that your hair could be brushed, ” I say with a smile.
”Whats that supposed to mean? ”
”Only that I think you should brush your hair more, it looks much better when you have the time to. ”
”Well its hard to make time to do something like that when most of the time Im busy with my duties, and when Im not Im here with you, my lady. ”
”Liam, its my birthday and Im allowed to do and say what I would like, but this is also your day off, same with Cloudio. You don need to be at my side every hour from when I stand from my bed, to when I lay to sleep. ”
”If it were my choice, ” he says, ” I would spend every moment at your side, unfortunately I have many things to do, and I must also sleep. If my lady worries that she bothers me, that is untrue, I took my oath to help you when you asked, not to have a title or your affection. Even if I may want them. ”
”Liam, ” I say.
He looks down at me curious to what Im about to say, ” just call me by name, ” I tell him.
He looks surprised, ” really, I don wish to disrespect you. ”
”Everyone here refers to me in a formal matter, because I don like the idea of them using my name. The only people who call me by name is my family and Cloud. Liam, I think for the amount of time Ive known you youve earned the right. The rules I have for you are going to be the same as for Cloud, my name is for when we are alone, or if we
e somewhere no one can hear. ”
”Im honored my lady, is there something that brought this to your mind. ”
”Even though you flirt with me, a lot, and are constantly embarrassing me. You stay true to your oath, you stay at my side every waking hour you can spare, and you put up with me, play along. At this point I must say that you feel like a friend. ”
”Im glad to hear it, ” he says, ” and I know you asked me not to be to, to flirty, but I think it comes without saying that I wish you would let me be more. ”
”Don put the cart in front of the horse, especially when I am far from the age to be married. ”
”You didn say no, Im I finally wedging my way in? ”
”What Im saying is I haven had the time to think on my choice, so I can promise anything. ”
We arrive to the group and all seven of the warriors stand talking. The other 6 talk, and Cloudio stands listening. The other 5 warriors, all a master in there own field.
Katharine the Coral Snow, a master of Chinese archery, titled coral snow since she is as elegant as a falling snowflake, and chose the color coral as her official color in the group, like Liam is green and Cloud is black.
Mariam the Violet Storm, shes an X-assassin, skilled in knife fighting, the crossbow, and evasion. Her color is violet, she is called the violet storm because it is said that once she shot so many bullets at once that it was almost like it had rained, and much like lightning she never needed to strike the same target twice.
Scarlet the Southern Red Flower, a master of marshal arts, she wears a set of blades on her arms that allow her to deal lethal blows. She has the accent of someone that lives in the south, and the hospitality. Her color was red, even though it was more like a crimson, she earned her name after a battle on a field of white flowers that only grew in the south. It was said that every flower for weeks made the field glow red under the sun.
James the Blue Ice River, a master at poisons, medicine, and shooting darts. His color is an icy blue. Named the ice river, because where he studied his herbs and potion, he would often be found meditating on a rock in the center of an ice cold river.
Dennis the Golden Wind, his color is orange, and he is skilled in everything two handed, battle axes, broadswords, and so on. Called the golden wind, because he favors weapons made of gold, and it is said that they themselves are sharp enough to cut air.
”Afternoon, princess, ” Katharine greets.
”Happy birthday Princess, ” Mariam smiles.
”Thank you, ” I say as I let go of Liam to stand on my own, ” I appreciate you all coming. ”
”It was not a problem, ” Dennis says, ” I was planning to pay a visit to our little castle residences here, ” he says referring to Liam and Cloud.
Cloudio comes to attention when he notices that I was here, he then looks to Dennis with a sigh, ” I hoped you had given up on trying to win against me, when you hadn dropped by yet this year. ”
”I will never stop becoming stronger, and the stronger I get, my chances increase. ”
”Youve tried for three years now, and still haven even scratched me, how do you expect to win at those odds? ”
”Anything is possible I guess, ” Scarlet says.
Music starts to play and people grab partners to dance. The girls split off from the group to go and dance with some of the rich men. While the boys talk, well every one but Cloud, whos eyes are stuck on me.
”Cloudio, ” I say, ” are you going to dance, or just stand there and look at me? ”
”You know I don dance, my lady. ”
”I don know why you dislike it so, you dance well, and we dance together all the time. ”
”Its not that I don like dancing per say, its more like usually Im dancing with someone I don like. Im not saying that thats you either, if anything Id rather dance with you that anyone else here. ”
”Then dance with me, ” I say.
”Is that a request, my lady. ”
”It is only a suggestion, you have to be the one to ask for the dance anyway. ”
”Well then, ” Cloud walks to face me in his black suit, he bows taking my hand, ” My lady, would you care for a dance? ”
”Id love to dance with you Sir Cloudio, ” I tell him.
He stands up straight, the hint of a smile on his lips as he leads me to the floor. People move out of the way to clear a space for us.
”The Princess is initiating the guardians dance, so seven be aware of your order, ” says the musician preparing for the next song.
Cloud bows and I curtsy, he holds my right hand in his left, my hand rests on his shoulder like his does on my waist. The music starts, and like we had rehearsed it hundreds of times, we move perfectly in sync. When dancing with Cloud I hardly had to think about what I was doing with my feet, since it was mostly muscle memory.
He looks down at me and I can read the emotion in his eyes, but something about it made me smile.
”Cloudio? ” I say in a whisper, we would always talk when we danced so we had found a way to make it not look so.
”Yes, Ivory? ” He whispers.
”Do you remember the first time we met? ”
”Of corse it was only 3 years ago, it was my first time in the capital, and my first time at a ball. ”
He spins me before pulling me back in closer than we were before.
”It was similar to this, but when you walked down the stairs, much like tonight I couldn speak, seeing the most beautiful girl on the continent. ”
I blush, ” you flatter me, ” I say embarrassed.
”I only speak the truth, its what the palace guards told the rest of us, when they came to the camp. ”
”That was nice of them to say, ” I tell him and his smile fades a little.
”Do you not think so? ” His gray eyes look into mine.
”Well, its not like Ive been out of the castle that much, but there must be women prettier than I, ” its quite for a moment before I start again, ” I remember when I used to go to town with mother, given I was young I don remember it all of corse, but I remember her, the crowds. What they said about her, ” I say thinking about it.
”Most of the time Ivory, people don mean what they say, ” he tells me trying to clear my thoughts of that, ” most of them were just jealous that it was her that was chosen. ”
”Well my mother was the most beautiful person I knew, ” I say, ” and it seemed like the majority of people would disagree, so I just guessed that because I was her daughter, I, ya. ”
Cloud looks hurt by what I share, he spins me again and pulls me closer like last time, but now our bodies were touching. His black hair tickles the side of my head when he tilts down to look at me. I could feel his strong muscles under his suit, each flexing and relaxing as he steps.
”If you were born a common girl, you would still have suitors, they would go from your door all the way down the street. So believe me when I tell you that you are, you deserve every comment and every stair, ” his deep voice speaks into my ear.
Im glad we
e this close now because now he couldn see my red face. The song ends and we stand still for a moment, then I let go carefully and step back. He bows and I curtsy again, he then takes my hand to lead me to Liam next, since he was the second strongest of the seven. Liam smiles narrowing his eyes to look at me. Cloud gives Liam my hand, and the first thing he does is kiss the top of my fingers. This is going to be a long dance. Liam leads the two of us back to the floor, were we greet before getting in position for the dance. Everyone had a different preference in the type of dance they wish to do during these dances. Witch is nice to watch, but that means I need to remember all the steps to all of them, like Cloud for example, he prefers a fast pace waltz, where Liam prefers the foxtrot.
As the music starts I let him lead the rhythm, the two quickstep followed by the two slow then he turns me. I have to concentrate on the fast dances more usually, but I was slowly developing the muscle memory for his dancing, so even though it was fast, I could still remember each step as it came up.
e getting better, ” he says with a smile.
”Thank you, it must be all the dances you ask me to participate in. ”
”Ah, but you got Cloud to dance today witch is a rare sight in itself, but it seemed as if you knew his steps more anyway. ”
”Ive known him quite a long time, when he met me he didn know how to dance, and embarrassed himself when he tried to dance with me. ”
Liam laughs his brown hair traveled in and out of the sunlight as we stepped around the room. Under the sun his dark brown hair looked almost blonde, then shifted back as we passed the slivers of light falling from the windows.
”So I taught him how, and he developed his own rhythm off of mine, witch is a why I can dance with him like thats the only one I know. It surprises me that you haven seen us that much though. ”
”This is maybe the third time in a year and a half, and that is compared to the many I had with you. ”
”I see, he doesn crave my attention constantly like some other people. ”
e trying to call me out, know that it is perfectly responsible for a man to want to dance with a beautiful woman. ”
I roll my eyes, ” if we weren in public I would have got you for that, ” I giggle.
He smiles at my laugh,
” I love you
e dress it suits you, but I can say I enjoyed listening to you talk to that man about what you were wearing. ”
”Its in his job details that he is allowed to see me, nowhere in you job description does it say anything even close to that. ”
”It won stop me from being jealous of a man that is allowed to see and touch you
e skin, ” it was true and I was aware that that would make him jealous.
As a princess people generally weren allowed to touch me, and in Liams case the one way he could was to dance. Witch is why I suspect this to be the reason he wants to do it so often.
”I wouldn get to upset over a man touching me, especially if he is the type to prefer the company of a man over that of a woman. ”
”Its not only that, there are so many others who are allowed, or it is just their job to do so, but I am stuck only looking. Its like admiring a painting, you can believe its real until you hold it in your hands. ”
Im speechless, and Im not sure what to tell him. We finish the last slow step, and he spins me slowly before coming back to center.
We end the dance and he takes my hand to lead me to the next. Dennis, he used to be my guard, when I was a young girl, he was also a friend of my mother. He used to be the strongest of the seven before Liam and Cloud showed up. He was a Scotsman, so his dance involved a group, but for this small occasion we only needed one more couple. To witch Mariam and James volunteered. We start the dance Mariam and I standing on one side, and James and Dennis on the other. Since I was to be dancing with Dennis I stand diagonally from him, the music starts and we come together at center to preform the steps before stepping back and letting Mariam and James have there turn. We continue to dance while also having conversation as we pass.
”You dance like your mother, ” Dennis tells me.
”Is that a complement? ”
”Of corse, she was a natural, and her rhythm was always perfect. ”
We spit off for the other two before coming back together.
”I miss seeing you,
” he tells me,
” it kind of feels like you
e my daughter in a way. Since I watched you grow up. ”
”Well, it was similar for me in a way, I see my father as my father of corse, but you were kind of like my cool uncle, ” I laugh.
We split again pausing the conversation, momentarily, before being in ear shot again.
”You make me feel old lass,
” he says,
” I liked serving you and you
e mother here, but everyday, I think that it was better for me to go than to stay. ”
”If thats so then why is it that you
e always challenging Cloudio for his position? ”
”Im not eager to be a top dog or anything, I do it more to make sure hes well fit to be the one to protect you. ”
I smile, ” thats very thoughtful of you. ”
”Im loyal to you lass, the same as it was with your mother. Im honoring her request to see you are safe. ”
”Thank you Dennis, ” I say as the dance ends.
He spins me once just for fun, before handing me to Mariam. Mariam like, Liam is to Cloud, was the right hand to Dennis. She was like my big sister when I was young, when I was an only child, my only friends were the people that worked for the crown, or for me. Like Liam she mostly guarded me, while Dennis protected my mother. She smiles taking my hand. Her violet dress complimented her complexion well. The two men leave the floor and it is just the two of us.
”Well that was a nice warm up, ” she says with a smile, ” I hope you can still salsa with that big dress. ”
”I sure can try, ” I smile, ” its been awhile so excuse me if I get a little to close to your feet. ”
”No problem, Ill lead, ” she tells me, starting the first step on the beat.
I step back for the two quick steps the the slow, I try to remember to swing my hips, like she told me, when she first taught me this dance. After a couple of rounds my auto pilot remembers the steps and Im locked on the rhythm. I land the steps after that perfectly.
”There she is!
” Mariam say and she spins me to change the direction I stand,
e much easier to dance with when you not three foot tall. ”
”Well, its been awhile. I just had to let my memory refresh what I was supposed to be doing. Though I must say, Im starting to get tired of dancing. ”
e nearly done, though, I can say the others will be very up to slow dancing. ”
I throw my head back with a sigh, ” your telling me. ”
”Youll survive, Ill make this dance for you short, so don get too tired. ”
I nod, and focus on the music, soon the song ends and I continue with the others. Next is Scarlet, so a square dance, then it was Katharine, witch was a type of oriental dance that I don remember the name of. It was a slower movement that contained many drawn out movements which, like she was, was very elegant. The last was James, since he wasn really a warrior and more of a herbalist, strength wise he was the weakest in the group. However it could be said that he had the sharpest mind, Im not saying that he wasn strong, he was surely stronger than I, but he would have no ground fighting the others.
James was my last dance of the night, a slow dance, from what I herd from Mariam he was the same age that Cloud was when my mother swore him into the seven.
The seven were a group of warriors that usually served most of there life to the crown, if they were strong enough to do so. The seven is comprised of warriors chosen by the oldest ruling female in the royal family. My mother sore in Mariam, James, and Dennis. When she died I was only seven, so Dennis as the strongest warrior was the one to add in new members. He put in Scarlet when I was ten, then Cloud when I was fifteen. The next year I was old enough to take the job back, that was also the year Cloud took the title of strongest. Katharine was my first warrior to bring into the seven, and that was also the first time I had to choose someone to leave. Then only a year and a half ago is when the top students of the training camp drop by to see if they have what it takes. It was also the way we found Cloud but this time it was Liam.
Unlike the others Liam managed to fight well against Cloud, and stood his ground. Liam was also the first to land a blow on Cloud, giving him a cut across the side of his arm. No one but Cloud knew I was observing their fights. So at the end after Liams long drawn out defeat, they were surprised to see me walk out onto the battle ground. They all dropped to a knee, and Cloud looked at me as I walked, giving a bow while sheathing his sword. I walked up to Liam, stand soldier, I said to witch he complied hesitantly. What is your name?. Liam he answered. That was the day I swore him in, he was so happy, unlike the pore boy I had to released. Since then I hardly had to worry about it.
”You seem as if you
e thinking on something, ” he says looking at me.
”Just recalling old times, ” I say.
e an adult now, must feel good. ”
”Well, you know, each year with a job like mine just entails more work. ”
”Youll do well, and youll have to find a husband soon anyway. So you won have to do it all on your own. ”
”I guess thats true, ”I say feeling kinda embarrassed.
I was only just thinking of the past and now I was discussing the future, with someone I didn even know that well.
”I wish my mother could be here, ” I say a blank expression plastered over my face.
Hes taken aback at the mention of my mother, ” Im sure she is watching, people never really die until they are forgotten. They live in those who knew them in life. ”
”I guess in a way its true, ” I say and finally the song ends and he leads me back to Cloud. They bow to each other before James walks away.
”How are you feeling? ”
”Tired, ” I tell him.
”I thought that might be the case, ” he says leading me over to were my father sits in his thrown. Cloud sits me down next to him, and he steps away going towards the table lined with food and drinks.
”How are you my dear? ” Father asks.
”Im ok, just a little tired from all the dancing. ”
”Well if they all just wanted a slow dance, it would be much easier on me, ” Cloud returns with a drink and hands it to me, ”
Thank you Cloudio. ”
”Anything for you, my lady. ”
I sit and watch the party till it gets dark.
I yawn and Cloud looks down at me, ”tired, my lady? ”
I nod, and he smiles at me, when I yawn again covering my mouth with my gloved hand.
”Let me walk you to your room, ” he says offering his hand.
I take it and stand, I walk around to his left side, so I can hold his arm with my right hand and lift my dress in my left. We walk down the stairs and head for the door when Liam walks up next to us.
”Hey, where are you two going? ”
”I was taking her back to her room, because she was tired, ” Cloud answers.
”Ill take her, I was just about to leave anyway. ”
Cloud looks to me, ” its alright. ”
Ok Cloud mouths before handing me over to Liam. He leans down to whispers too me, ” Ill come check on you after I finish up here. ”
”Bye Cloud, ” I say.
”See you later, ” Liam tells him after.
We exit the ballroom and walk down the quiet hallway, lit by the sconces on the right wall and the moon light threw the window on the left. I stop walking and Liam looks to me as I hold his arm.
”Sorry, these heals are killing me, ” I tell him.
He watches me struggle for a moment before getting down on his knees. He takes my foot in his hand, and I lift my dress out of the way. He unbuckles the small strap that wrapped around my ankle and gently slid off the shoe. He lets my foot go and I stand, my foot flat on the ground, and instantly my feet feel much better. He lifts the other and does the same. He stands holding my shoes in his hand.
”I don know how all you women walk around with these on all the time. ”
”For this event it was required that I wear them, otherwise Id be tripping all over myself. ”
I was wearing white stockings on the floor, so I knew the bottoms would be quite dirty when I took them off later. I didn really care though, its not like I only have one pair.
We walk down the hall, and its quite again. We walk out into the open balcony hallway that was a short cut I often used to get to my room faster.
Liam looks up to the sky, ” magnificent moon tonight isn it? Its so bright. ”
”Yes, its nice this time of the year, and its not to cold that you can sit out and watch it. ”
He opens the door to go back inside and we walk threw, he leads me to my room then inside.
”Sleep well, Ivory, ” he says my name as if it is the most sacred word to ever be created.
”Ill see you tomorrow, Liam, ” I tell him and he shuts the door.
I undress on my own, since I didn feel like calling my maids. I undo the braids at the top of my head, and brush out my hair. I take every thing off but my panties, stockings, and chemise. I stretch before getting into bed. I get under the covers and lay on my side towards the wall closing my eyes.
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