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Lucy politely excused herself from the table, not trying at all to be rude, but she was slightly insulted at the outburst, and put off that anyone could dislike her without knowing her. She knew there would be those who disliked her when she came, but she thought she could change that. Most of all, she really just did not appreciate when there would be one single individual who hated her just for....just for being! Not even a legitimate reason. She practically stomped her way towards his bedroom, making her way right up to the door. And then she realized she had no idea where his bedroom was, and her entire plan practically backfired right in her face. She turned, looking for one of the maids to ask.

She knocked on his door, and stood haughtily with her hands on her hips. Nobody answered, of course, so she took it upon her liberty to enter. As soon as she turned the knob her heart began to pound. This man was sure to kill her. "Hi!" She accidentally yelled too loudly when she saw him sitting at his desk. "I think...uh, I think we may have gotten off on the right foot! Did I say right? I meant wrong, surely wrong. My mother always did tell me I had a way of messing up every saying she had ever heard." She forgot her intention, and realized she was mindlessly chatting with this man she knew not at all. She licked her lips, and began again, "Anyway, do you mind if I come in? I just wanted to speak with you about dinner. Do you always go about fencing your dinner guests? Or am I just that special? Also, I know not what credulous means, but I just wanted to tell you that at least I know what peasants go through. I can be sure that you have no idea the hardships, so whether I am Lucy Thurn, or Elisabeth Rose, I'll still know those hardships. And I am not denying who I am, but do you have any idea how....how hard it is to be taken one day from everything you knew and be told your something else?" She shook her head, "Nope. I didn't think so."
Kyier looked up from his desk at the fool of a girl. Clearly ignoring her wasn't going to be enough to get rid of her. The girl had won her first and only battle. He was going to have to, against his will, at least have to acknowledge her frivolous existence, though inane as it might seem. The Marquess sighed heavily, "Aren't you quite foolish not to come to the conclusion that I obviously would mind if you came in? Did I not make myself clear at dinner that I do not wish to be bothered by the likes of you?" he raised his right eyebrow condescendingly and walked over to his bookcase, his eyes scanning over the titles neatly organized in the very system he invented himself; Cross Reference, he had so cleverly named it. There was no bound to the subject matter the multitude of books contained. Kyier took interest in exploring all topics, and found little information that gave him pause or difficulty discerning it. His finger glided over the soft pages of a tall, black leather-bound book, guiding it by its binding from the shelf. By the Gods, she was still speaking. He paid no attention to her ramblings whatsoever, and yet his mind registered every word. Such a talent he had never cursed more than in the present moment. "Please." he stated once she had finished. "Is there a point to your incessant drivel?" Kyier sighed at her vacant expression, "Drivel, to talk aimlessly and endlessly. I hope you at least know what aimlessly means?" he smirked cynically, turning his head from his book for the first time to actually look at the girl. "And as I have found that you refuse to take your leave until I address your babble, I will tell you that credulous means naive, or gullible. Still too difficult?" he asked condescendingly, "Perhaps, 'foolishly trusting and stupid are more to your level of knowledge." The Marquess turned away again to place the book down on his desk, flipping through a few of the pages as he stood over it. His eyes
scanned the words with hast as he continued to speak...

"Now then, I am unsure as to the relevance of knowing what peasants go through stands for any of the earlier discussions, however... I will gladly partake in this discussion to appease you because, as you so childishly pointed out, you are a guest in my home." He bowed his head with a smile dripping with poison sarcasm, "I am sure that you do not know that a plague of Diphtheria is presently being spread amongst the lower class societies in Haste, nor do you know that nearly thirty children have already died because
of the disease. You would not be privy to their suffering or know anything about their reported symptoms from their family members describing in detail how they had to watch their
loved one's deteriorate until they essentially suffocate in their arms and that the disease is still
an enigma to the kingdom's apothecaries."
Kyier glanced over just long enough to see the
horrified look beheld in the ignorant girl's brown eyes. He took another breath, "And tell me, did you know that there have been increased reports of bandits
roaming the streets in all the kingdoms towns and cities? People turning to crime because they
simply cannot make it on their own and then they cry as they are led to the gallows, cursing the
"blue-bloods" because they did nothing for them."
Kyier turned another page, grabbing his
quill to quickly underline a few words and add in some newly reported symptoms of the disease
he had mentioned earlier to his notes. He tapped the point of his pen to the parchment as if
giving some thought to a new idea. Oh, right... The girl. She was still present."
"Ah, I suppose you may know of the drought in Van Hollen, and hardships that
rationing water takes on its citizens, as you do live there. You may have seen the fights that
broke out on the street, or that a man nearly murdered an old widow, to steal water because he
believed his family deserved more than she who now lives, as he described, for nothing."

He watched her curiously for a moment, a smirk playing at his lips. "No? Hm...
Such an event happened in your own little town and yet you seem to know nothing of it,

Kyier sighed again as if growing tired of this little game. It was time to spell out his point for her as he knew she would never come up with it on her own, "You may have experienced the sting of a cold shower, or a lack of heat in the winter, maybe food is scarce and you weren't granted the luxury of beautiful gowns or pointless decoration. I'm sure you could tell me stories of different hardships that your family suffered, and perhaps your neighbors as
well; the things you had to deal with growing up... But the truth is, that is the extent of what you
know. You know nothing of anyone aside from yourself."
He closed his book on his desk,
turning his full attention to the naive girl. Kyier looked straight into her eyes, "You
said that you were sure that I had no idea of these hardships? Ha. It's my duty to know. I may
not have lived through them myself, but I know far greater than you the extent of afflictions in
the lives of peasants."
he snapped. "Your last comment you made is the
very same in that it is something that only concerns you and you alone. As Giselle Thurn, as a
peasant, you know only a small amount of narcissistic information. And as Elisabeth Rose, a noble Duchess, you know nothing."
He stepped closer to her, closing the gap between them so she would be able to practically feel the warm puffs of air leaving his lips with each breath he drew, "Now then, I doubt you have more to say here. How about you take your childish tirades to someone who actually cares, hm?
With the sun setting over the horizon, Lucy's eyes maintained their stream directly towards the window. Had she really no idea all that went on? She thought she had known, but now it wasn't even the fact that this went on without her knowing, and if she had known...who was she kidding? She couldn't have done anything. She could have tried though. That water shortage, surely they could have used all the Earth Mages. She blinked her eyes, and coughed. This boy was so infuriating. How old was he anyway. He was so rude, and disgustingly smart, and his wit was nothing, just plain stupid. She turned around, and just left. She was infuriated with this stranger and she couldn't even figure out why. So she just turned away and wanted to leave. She didn't know what else to say to him. She was so angry, she stomped down the hall towards her bedroom, questioning one thing: 'Am I truly angry at him, or am I angry more at myself?

She stepped into her bedroom, catching herself in the mirror. Her hair had come half untied, and her cheeks were flushed with redness. It was only then when she heard the small cough of the duchess behind her, and she turned towards the door, smiling softly so not to alarm the kind woman of the tirade she just witnessed from her son, nor to show her how effected she was by it. "Sorry that I ran off," Lucy said, but she was surprised when Anita asked her, "You haven't changed your mind to go back home?" And Lucy looked up at her, momentarily shocked. "Not at all. I wish I could change the fact that your son has decided to take it upon himself to hate me, but...I haven't given up hope yet," She said. "Thank you for dinner, everything looked really good. If it's okay though, I think I might just go bed. It's been a really long day, and after spending nearly a week in a carriage, I could probably sleep forever." She could tell she had hurt Anita, the kindly woman not able to hide it in her eyes. She didn't meant to upset her. She was honestly tired, and the whole episode with her son had made her exhausted. When the duchess turned away, Lucy commented, "Tomorrow I am going into town, if that's okay. I can't wait to explore my new home." And she knew that helped her. Anita must have been upset merely because of the remaining fear that Lucy was about to leave. But on the contrary, she had planned to stay despite the little bump on the road now. She had a plan, and that was to make sure that Kyier Cross became her friend...whether he liked it or not!

~~~The next morning~~~

Lucy woke up earlier than she was used to, which was a surprise. The blankets around her, filled with goose down, and warm to the touch came up to her chin, and her head sank low on the pillow. She looked towards the window where the gray clouds billowed thoughtfully in the sky. She stretched, and slid out of bed, her feet landing gracefully onto of the hardwood beneath her. As she stood, her nightdress fell around her ankles. Upon opening the wardrobe, she looked at the different materials of the dresses. She normally wore things that were not very flashy, used more for getting dirty, and cleaning. Now, this was fashion. She had this dream once where she was kidnapped by pirates in the arctic sea, and she was the princess whom the prince so madly desired, and fought restlessly to find his captive love. She smiled, thinking about it, and touching all the differently colored fabrics. She found the one that caught her eye the first time she spied the pastel pink and white lace of the dress. She lay it on the bed, realizing she had no idea whatsoever on how to tie it.

She left the bedroom, going downstairs where the smell of bacon, fried eggs, and toast hit her nose. She moved into the dining area, listening to the soft words of the duke and duchess. "Good morning!" She said, entering the room. She realized that neither of the two were in their sleeping dresses, and she wondered if what she was doing would have been frowned upon. "Lady Anita, could you please help me get dressed. I can't exactly, well, I don't know how to...do it."
Cederick looked up from his paper, "Good morning, Elisabeth. I'm more than pleased to see our tyrannical son hasn't scared you away from us." he grinned. "Kyier has always had a way with the ladies, after all." Anita pursed her lips, rolling her eyes at her husband's poor sense of humor. "Cederick." she scolded, shaking her head. The Duchess lay her book on the table, "Lydia, Dear?" Anita asked, "Might you put breakfast off for just a short while so I might help Elisabeth?" The young maid with soft, light brown hair smiled, "Of course, Lady Cross. Take as long as you please, and good morning to you, Lady Rose." Lydia smiled, offering a swift bow of respect. Anita glided over and placed a gentle hand on the small of her god-daughter's back. She led her back up the wooden staircase, humming softly to herself the sweet lullaby her best friend had sung to her infant daughter. Elisabeth made no mention to it, but Anita could see the curiosity it peaked in the young lady's eyes. The gentle brown pools reflected a memory so far hidden that Elisabeth no longer had the ability to reach it. "It was your favorite lullaby as a baby. Your mother used to sing it to you every night before you went to sleep." Anita smiled fondly at the warm memory, "Sometimes I would join in too... On the nights where you were especially upset. Your mother would send messengers at all hours to fetch me, and sometimes she'd show up on my doorstep with you in her arms in the midst of the night. She was always so scared to do wrong by you." Anita lay her hand on the dress Elisabeth had picked out, "It was on those nights that I had to keep Cederick from attacking her. He and Geoffrey were the best of friends, but I always got the most enjoyment out of watching he and your mother interact. Cutthroat, I tell you. She laughed then, "It's funny because I-" Anita shook her head at her own foolishness as she lifted the dress from the bed, "Gods, I've always hated getting dressed up. Don't you dare feel ashamed for not knowing how to get into these damnable things." The Duchess sighed. "Have you ever worn a corset, Sweetheart?"

Anita smiled as she went to work, making sure to not pull too tightly as her own mother always had. Her heart whelmed with happiness when Elisabeth asked in eager for her to continue speaking of her parents, "Ah, yes. You see, Dear, when Seraphine and I were your age, I had tried to set her up with Cederick." The bright eyed woman chuckled at Elisabeth's shocked expression, the young lady's mouth nearly dropping to the floor. "Oh, if there were ever two people less suited for the other. Gods, Ced would light fires to your mother's hats for fun." She blinked, waving her arms in the air, "Oh! No, no, no... Cederick would never actually hurt her. I promise, Dear. And it wasn't that he didn't like Seraphine... per say... It was just, well, together they were a match made in Hell." Anita chuckled, "Cederick's sense of humor forced Seraphine into tears and straight into my arms on so many an occasion until... Well until your Pa'pa came into the picture." she smiled. "The bustle...I know it's ridiculous." she mentioned after noticing Elisabeth's attention being drawn to the extension at her rump. "You look beautiful, though. But then, seeing that smile on your face this morning, you looked beautiful then too." Anita brought the girl in for a hug, closing her eyes as her heart just about quaked with all the love it held for this child she hardly knew. "Oh, how I wish I didn't have any blasted responsibilities so I could be the one to take you into town. I promise there will be plenty more stories tonight when you come home. I'll even see about digging out everything I saved of your parents." Anita took a moment to collect herself as she took a step back, now holding Elisabeth's hands in her own, "I'm so sorry I ever stopped searching for you. I- Cederick and I tried for a year but everyone- they were relentless in telling us all was for naught and you were probably...probably..." The Duchess' lip quivered as her eyes glossed over with unshed tears, "I'm so sorry, Elisabeth. So, so sorry."

Anita wasn't entirely sure why she was getting so worked up. Certainly the parents she had been left with loved her dearly. She hadn't been lost or hurt, she had been loved. But even still... The Duchess couldn't shake the feeling of having failed her and her best friend...She covered her mouth, taking a deep breath to collect herself. "I would have never given up on you if there had been the slightest hope that you were alive. Cederick and I wanted you more than anything. You and Kyier would have been our world." Anita touched the girl's face, "The two of you used to get along back then. Never tell him I said this if you value my life in the slightest...But being next to you was a lot of the time the only thing that would calm Kyier down." The Duchess winked. "Now then, enough chatter, the sun only warms us for so many hours, after all." Anita glided over to the wardrobe and pulled out a tiny hat that she secured to the side of Elisabeth's head. She smiled, "Your mother had quite the love for oddities in fashion, so I thought she perhaps may have passed that to you."

Downstairs, the Marquess stood scowling with his arms crossed over his chest. He didn't even privilege a single glance to that stupid girl as she descended the stairs. "Ah, Elisabeth! You look beautiful." Cederick beamed, inclining his head. "I hope you enjoy Landon, and here... You mustn't go about the shoppes with no coin." Elisabeth tried to refuse him, but the Duke shook his head. "Please. For all the Birthdays Anita and I have missed over the years. And I suggest The Secret Garden. It's a lovely restaurant, and I know for a fact it was Seraphine's favorite." Kyier groaned at his father's sincerity. It was disgusting how they fawned over her. Pathetic. "Oh, Elisabeth... Be sure to find yourself home before nightfall. It pains me to say so, but the streets of Landon are no longer safe at night. It's due to such that neither Cederick or I can escort you today. We hope to work with your Uncle to find a solution to the matter, but please do be careful." The Duke smirked, "No need to look so worried, Anita. Elisabeth will be in good hands that I assure you will get her home more than safe." Anita looked rather perplexed, "Were Chrystiem and Raina able to gain leave of the conference?" she asked. Cederick chuckled, "I'm afraid not, but it just so happens that our son as graciously volunteered to be the Lady's escort." Kyier remained silent, his eyes working on a stare so concentrated and lethal that it threatened to burn a hole straight through the bowl of fruit he seemed so very interested in upon the table. Anita blinked, her brows furrowing in a disbelief directed to her husband, "Is that...so?" she asked. Cederick only smiled, placing a hand on the Marquess' back to encourage him forward. Kyier closed his eyes and took a deep breath, "Why yes, Ma'ma. I so nobly agreed to chaperon your honored guest as I have realized the folly of my previous attitude during dinner the previous night." he growled through clenched teeth, his body tense and rigid. The great respect Kyier held for his father faltered that day...

The Duchess smiled at her son, moving in to plant a soft kiss on his forehead. "Thank you, Dear. Truly." The Marquess rolled his eyes, "Lets go, Girl." he snapped. Anita giggled, waving to her god-daughter sympathetically as she tried to convey that everything would be okay to her through her eyes. He led her to the carriage, not bothering to help her up the step like any half gentleman would. In fact, Kyier jumped up before her, his action throwing her off balance enough that she tripped backwards in the dress that so wasn't at all accustom to wearing. He had never seen anyone walk so awkwardly, so obviously uncomfortable. "Lets go, you fool. I don't have time to babysit you. I agreed to take you into town out of respect for my father, but don't think for a second you'll be getting any sort of mind numbing tour from me. You're on your own until we are to return home, then you will be at lion fountain by four." he explained with swift word. Kyier turned to the window, propping his chin upon the palm of his hand as he watched the world pass by...
Lucy stared at the boy from the corner of her eyes, watching him dream against the gray backdrop of the town that passed by them. She didn't speak, she just watched him thoughtfully, wondering what he was thinking. Her cheeks blushed when he glanced over at her, and glared, his eyes so fiery. He was a scary young lad, but there was something in him...She didn't think he should be scary, or so rude. She looked down at her hands, before the carriage began to steadily slow down. She watched the Marquess jump from the carriage before trudging off through the slight rain, and the carriage driver helped her to her feet. She opened her umbrella, letting it sit over her shoulder, and looked at her surroundings. She could see Kyier going off in the distance, heading down a row of shoppes. She was supposed to just go wondering off by herself, in this town she knew nothing about. She could feel the heavy gold in her purse pocket, and she feared that all those surrounding her would hear the loud jingling. Every step she took, 'jingle, jingle, jingle!' She looked around, watching the people pass by her quickly, the chimes of the clock tower in the distance chiming the hour. She heaved forward, feeling the icy stares of those around her, the smell of cookies and flowers around her, making her stop in her tracks.

In the Shoppe Apothecaire, the young man worked diligently. He twisted the herbs in his fingers, making them spin like a spiral for the gentleman's particular ailment. His large spectacle wear was heavy on his eyes, the thick lenses magnifying the small, green herb. Upon hearing the jingle of the bell, signaling the entrance of someone in his shoppe he took the glasses off, resting them on the work table, dusted off his vest, and entered the door that lead back to main floor. He smiled wildly when he saw the angry gaze of those mulberry eyes. "Well, if it isn't my best customer," He said, staring thoughtfully at his best friend. "Is that a no-go on the girl?" He dodged the ball of fire, ducking quickly and turning as it singed the wall. He whipped back around, his hair falling into his eyes. "So, she made it then?" he grinned, knowing only that his best friend wished that fireball for said girl.

There were a few rows of shoppes, and then vendors that stood around their carts, one gentleman selling soft rolled dough in cinnamon sugar. She moved closer to him, staring at the few people who stood near the lion fountain that must have been what Kyier had been talking about. She moved towards the vendor, and he looked up and smiled at her. He seemed friendly enough, and she looked at the small baskets of coloured paper and dough-balls. "May I have one?" She asked, reaching into her satchel. He nodded, grabbing her a bag, and she gave him a gold coin. He just looked at it before shaking his head and grabbing a few silver pence's from his own bad. "Have a nice day," He cheered, before she took off, smiling back at him as she chewed thoughtfully over the cinnamon. She headed down towards the shoppe she had seen Kyier enter, intent now on following him. She looked towards the sign, looking at the different bottles of colour, and then the calligraphic written words: 'Mads' Cauldron.'

"Is that her?" the Apothecary asked, watching the girl with an obnoxiously pink dress chew on the cinnamon balls as she stared at the items that had been in the main window. "She's...lovely, Kyier." The two men watched as the loudly dressed woman walked back and forth, her eyes glancing into the shoppe to see if she could see anything, before turning and walking a few steps back. She wandered into the street, before a large horse and carriage came bounding down the road. Most people were not so stupid as to walk in the cobbled part of the road, but this woman apparently was unaware of the way things were here. She stumbled over her boots, or some frilly thing on her dress, and climbed back towards the road. Not many people even seemed to notice, but others did, and they gawked at the foolish woman. She just bit the stem, and entered the shoppe.

Lucy looked at the two men. "Hi," She began, staring at the tall, blonde man, "I'm Lucy. Or, I'm Elisabeth. Are you a friend of Kyiers?" He smiled, offering his hand, "I'm Mathius. Mathius Van Aelst. And this here is my shoppe." He told her, eyes twinkling back at his friend with unsaid laughter.
The two men were quite the sight; one standing just over six foot and the other barely passing 5'6. It was rather ironic then that the small framed young man looked so very much more threatening with his arms crossed than his taller counterpart. Perhaps it was the bitter scowl he wore across his face compared to the smile his best friend wore. Then again, Mathius VanAelst, by nature, just had a gentle air about him; the air of kitten prancing through flowers on a sunny spring day. Whereas the Marquess... well... He was more of a sharp scaled dragon who need only glance at someone to set them aflame. Kyier let out an annoyed sigh, his mulberry eyes glaring daggers at his stupidly smiling friend. The Marquess was not amused, but he wasn't given the chance to speak on it before Mathius' door was nearly torn from its hinges. The bell flew from its perch, soaring through the air to crash into a glass vase on display. The whole ordeal sent the easily startled Mathius stumbling backward and Kyier turned around just in time to see the lit candle falling on top of his fallen friend. The apothecary shrieked as the sleeve of his shirt was set on fire. "You! You're coming with me you miserable little wench!" The culprit behind the terror reached out and harshly took up Elisabeth's wrist. He thrust her into him, his firm grip making her cry out in pain and panic. He was a huge man, burly with greasy hair and an unkempt beard that gave off the illusion it was eating off his face. Poor Elisabeth's feet barely touched the floor anymore. "Your little stunt on the road made me lose half my yield," the man growled. "You're going to be paying me back one way or another, you hear?!" He angry pressed lips twitched into a despicable grin as he gazed down at the young woman's form as she struggled against him.

The Marquess had made but one move since the foul smelling beast of a man burst through the door. His arm out-stretched, he absorbed the flames of his friend's affliction, watching from the corner of his eyes as Mathius backed himself up against the counter. "Back off." Kyier hissed. The man's eyes shifted to look down at the Marquess staring up at him, "Excuse me? Are you talking to me little fellow?" he snorted. Kyier said nothing more as he stepped forward. He reached out and grabbed the same arm of Elisabeth's the man held prisoner. He forced it down as he wedged himself between the two, shuffling the girl behind him, "I was indeed speaking to you, you belligerent oaf. Take your hand off of her." he growled. "You think I'm scared of a little punk like you?" Kyier rolled his eyes, "Yes, yes, we can all see that you are terribly large. Congratulations on achieving a feat that you were inborn with. Truly impressive." Kyier took a small step backwards, further lengthening the distance between Elisabeth and her attacker. "Now perhaps if you act in a civilized manner, instead of charging about like some witless beast whose mind does not have the capacity to think beyond animalistic urges, we might be able to come up with a logical solution." The man's eyes twitched in building rage, "Yeah, well if you don't want your big head bashed in, you'll step aside and give me the girl. She's mine!" Kyier couldn't help himself, he burst into a fit of laughter. This man was just too stupid. Of course, the big fellow didn't take to the Marquess' laughter all too kindly. His fist shot for Kyier's face, his eyes widening in shock when it was caught by the young man's small hand. Kyier's eyes were closed, his face portraying how very tired of this charade he was growing. "Let me try one more time. If you dare harass this girl, stupid as she may be, anymore so than you already have, you will have the Cross' to deal with. And judging by your level of untamed rage and willingness to rape a girl after a few apples fell out of your cart, we'll have your sorry arse thrown into the King's dungeons before you can steal another breath of air from those more deserving of it. Now get out of my friend's shoppe before I set your gorilla-like figure ablaze." he growled. The man's lip turned up, "This isn't over you little p***k." And with a slam of the door and the crashing of another one of Mathius' glass pieces, he was gone.

Kyier sighed, shaking his head at the idiocy of people. He realized just then, that he still held a firm, commanding grip on Elisabeth's arm. He pulled his hand away, glancing over his shoulder at her still standing close behind. Kyier stepped away, "You okay?" From the corner of his eye he could see Elisabeth open her mouth to answer, but it wasn't she he was asking. "How bad are the burns?" He knelt down beside his friend, his eyes scanning over his arm now exposed to the open air. The Marquess sighed, "You know..." Kyier lifted his head to finally acknowledge Elisabeth, "Next time you run out in front of a carriage, make sure it hits you."
Lucy stared frightfully at Kyier, her eyes wide as her mind digested what had just happened. "Okay..." She said quietly, her eyes staring at him as he helped his friend. "I'm so, so sorry Mathius. Is there anything I can do?" She asked, her own small hands shaking. She had lost her hat, the pink lace article no laying forgotten on the floor, her curls all askew as she collected her bearings. She looked around the shoppe, moving towards the broken door, and picked up the bell that now missed its uvula. She placed it on the counter, where Mathius now stood on the other side, talking quietly with Kyier. "Really, I'm fine," He said. He shook off some soot from his arm before looking over at Elisabeth. He did some sort of nod to Kyier before the Marquess and the apothecary seemed to mentally argue for a moment. Mathius shook his head, looking at Elisabeth again. "Sorry that you've seemed to encounter such a rude entrance into our fair city. I hope that bastardly man didn't scare you too badly." He started to sweep some of the glass debris from the floor, and conversing with the small girl. "How do you like it here so far?" He asked, pulling up a stool so she could sit. "Quite well. I've been very warmly welcomed. Besides a few little mishaps, Landon seems like a really good place. Can I ask you a question?" She whispered. Mathius nodded, watching the girls eyes scan around to the Marquess, who now angrily walked around the store, glancing at the books. Mathius leaned in, "Of course." Lucy looked one more at Kyier, and questioned, "Has he always been so angry? Why is he not with you?" Mathius smiled, "A popular question. Kyier and I go way back, back towards our school house days. We've been friends for a long, long time." She nodded, "Why doesn't he like me?" Mathius smiled wider, "Don't take it personally, he doesn't like anyone. 'Cept for me," He laughed. "Okay, another question. What is happening in Landon where the nights are no longer safe?" She asked. Mathius' grin faltered, and dropped. "Nothing that you need to worry about right now. Just, my suggestion, stay with Kyier, or Anita or Cederick. Heed their words and you will be fine."

Mathius looked back towards Kyier, and while Lady Elisabeth examined a small journal near the till, He moved towards his best friend. "Before I forget, Kyier, your books are in." he moved towards the back, grabbing a small hand filled package, before pulling it outside, making the brown wrapping in soft twill and offering to ring up the marquess. "Always my best customer!" He said, his eyes twinkling. Lucy stood back a bit, watching the interaction between Kyier and Mathius. The Marquess didn't seem to like anyone, except for Mathius. What had happened between them? Obviously, they were friends, and good friends. But then, was it only because of his friend that he saved her from the beastly man. The fact that he saved her, she couldn't stop thinking about it, lest understand why. She thought maybe she could figure it out. "You should come to dinner!" Lucy said to Mathius, standing around Kyier now, smiling at the tall man with her invitation. Mathius looked over at Kyier, his smile wide. He could see his friend fuming visibly over the intrusive girl. "What do you say Kyier, would Anita and Cederick mind some extra company?"
Kyier shot a glare at the blasphemous girl, "You know damn well they wouldn't..." he answered Mathius. "But you," Kyier turned back around to face Elisabeth, his lip upturned in distaste, "have no right to invite anyone to a home that isn't yours. You're an intruder yourself, and a bloody annoying one at that." he hissed. The Marquess thrust the package back into his friend's arms, "Well since you're going to be coming home with us, you can carry this for me." He made his way over to the door, flipping the open sign to closed. The sun still held in the sky, but it had begun its descent early today it seemed. "Oh, oh, please, Mr. VanAelst!" A young woman came running down the path, nearly slamming into the already traumatized door. Her wavy brown hair stuck fast to the sticky sweat on her face, her brown eyes tired and pleading. "Please, don't close yet! Kylah... My daughter's medicine is all gone. She's been throwing up all day so I couldn't get away before her father returned from the fields. I have the money to pay you now, so please...please, Mr. VanAelst." Kyier sighed, opening up the door at his friend's command. He knew by the woman's disgruntled appearance that his best friend wasn't going to be turning her away. Mathius was too good a person not to help someone when he was able, despite the consequences to himself.

The woman bowed her head to the Marquess upon entering, her eyes wide as if she previously hadn't registered who he was. Mathius offered her a seat on one of the stools he had pulled out from behind the counter, Kyier silently cursing him when he explained that he would have to make the medicine from scratch as there were no more vials left upon the shelf. Kyier shook his head, "We don't have time for this. The carriages stop running at five. That is why all the shoppes have been ruled by the King to close at four, or have you forgotten this?" he asked, his eyes staring solely at Mathius, ignoring the citizen's presence entirely. "But Sire... I understand, but my daughter's fever hasn't gone down no matter what I do. Without the medicine-" "Without the medicine she may have to suffer through a fever for the night, but to grow up without a mother... That is a pain that will last with her forever." The woman's brown eyes grew wider, "I-" The Marquess lifted his hand to silence her explanation, "Nevermind, just learn to think everything through before you come running in here next time and ask us to risk our lives for your sake." He held the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, "We'll escort you back to your home. Mathius, hurry up." The Marquess began to pace as his friend got to work on the little girl's treatment. From the corner of his eye he noticed Elisabeth glancing over the apothecary's shoulder, watching in amazement as his concoction brewed. Kyier moved toward the window, his brow furrowing in worry at the oncoming darkness. It was with great relief when he turned around and Mathius finally informed him that he was finished.

The transaction seemed to take a decade, and not soon enough, they were on their way. "I-I really appreciate this, Sire. I'm sorry to be a burden. I suppose I just don't think straight when my daughter is ill. She's my entire world, Sire." Kyier waved her off, "Enough, just walk faster." he growled at her. The woman fell back in step, coming to walk beside the young lady whose name she had yet to gather, "It's so strange." she leaned in to whisper. "All I've ever heard of the Marquess was of his temper and hatred for everyone. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected him to be escorting someone as insignificant as myself through the barren streets." Kyier glanced over his shoulder, his eyes rolling at the woman's not so hushed voice. Mathius ribbed him, granting him a smile that would have, under normal circumstances, have won him a knock to the head. "You better watch it, Kyier, or else some people may end up actually liking you." he teased. "It's not far now. I can make it from here on my own. The sun is still up and I don't want to put you out more than I have already. Thank you, Mr. VanAelst, and you as well, Sire. You have my deepest gratitude!"

Mathius and Elisabeth watched the woman run off, and it was Kyier to be the first to turn on his heel. "Dammit. We never should have wasted our time." he hissed. His eyes watched the setting sun, the wind whistling eerily through the now deserted city streets. His parents were going to kill him. He reached back and grabbed Elisabeth by the wrist, tugging her forward. "Stop your disgustingly boring chatter and get your damn feet moving." he growled, now pulling her along behind him. The howls sounding in the distance sent a sharp chill down his spine that was so fierce it could have stopped his heart. And to top things off, the damn girl wouldn't shut up. First she hissed at him to release her and then she went on and on about what was wrong and the danger that threatened the town. "If you really want to find out, then hang around outside for a bit." he finally snapped, whipping around to look her in her eyes. "If you want to live, for once in your life shut the hell up and follow me."

They flew down the paths, the skies growing darker by the minute. The manor gate creaked eerily against the wind, "Marquess Kyier! Oh, thank goodness, we were growing so worried!" Lydia called as they neared the door. "Oh, Mathius! Welcome, it's good to see you again! I hope Landon treated you well, Elisabeth." the maid smiled. "Come on, come on, lets all get inside. Your parents sent a messenger earlier, they won't be able to return home this evening. Lady Cross said not to worry and that will hopefully be able to return first thing in the morning." she explained, holding her arms out to take and hang their coats. She pulled Kyier to the side then, "Also... As much as I begged her not to make me, Lady Cross insisted that you spend dinner at the table and to make sure Lady Elisabeth is not left without company." The maid swallowed, quickly taking a step backward to evade the rush of fire that burst from the young man's being. "What does she think?! That I have all the time in the world to waste on babysitting the damn girl child she never had?! If she wants her here she should be the one to keep her entertained. I do not have the time to be- GAH!" he yelled, his tyrannical rant sending Lydia running. "I-uh... I'm going to return to the kitchen now to prepare dinner." she hastily informed Mathius and Elisabeth before disappearing down the hall. A fireball shot from the Marquess' hand, the sound of the shattering vase bringing solace to his ears. He marched right over to where Elisabeth was standing and got up in her face, the heat from the flames still radiating from his body, "You will attend dinner with Mathius and only Mathius, and if... No, when my mother asks, you will tell her I was there as well. Understood?!" he growled. "And you-" he whipped around to glare at Mathius, "You will be retiring here for the evening. The guest room. No argument."
One small girl stood there shivering in fear at the fiery man, while the taller of the two watched him march on in a comical mischief. Mathius looked over at Elisabeth, giving her his soft smile. "It looks like it is just you and I for dinner," he said. He headed over towards the dining room, washing his hands in the guest toilet, and finally sitting down as maids began to bring out the food. Elisabeth had gone upstairs to freshen up after all that had happened in town today. She redressed into something softer, not as bulky, and washed her face of the dirt of the day, before coming back down stairs with her hair pulled back into a badly clipped horses tail. She moved towards the table, smiling politely at one of the maids. Before she even began to eat, Mathius watched as she piled on some food onto another plate, and he grinned. Although he knew the answer to this foolish girls quest, he still pertained to ask, "What are you doing?" She looked over at him, seeming rather startled, and politely said, "Regardless of his beastly attitude towards the world, I don't think he should starve." She finished by pouring a medium amount of gravy on the mashed potatoes and then almost ran from the room. She had the tray of food, thoughtfully handed over by a maid, and walked quickly towards Kyier's bedroom as her owns stomach rumbled. She set the tray on the floor, knocking gently at the door before she turned to head back towards the downstairs table.

She and Mathius and pleasant conversation. Lucy got rather tipsy on wine she had never had before, more accustomed to her parents mead or ale, rather than the finer wines that the Cross's had in their stores. She laughed, and chatted with the man across the table, watching as the darkness began to swallow the outside world. She asked about Kyier, about his shoppe, back to Kyier and his fiery disposition, and then she asked, "What about your family?" Mathius stopped with his fork halfway to his mouth. "My family..." At once Lucy knew she had asked something wrong, and began to correct herself, "Mathius, I apologize...if I asked something too personal, you don't need to answer." Mathius smiled, and shook his head. "My parents died when I was very young. And basically I grew up here in the manor, and Anita kindly took the position of my mother. She and my mother were good friends. My mother was actually the former Apothecary, and her name was Madeleine, hence..." Lucy smiled, "The name of your shoppe." Mathius nodded, with Lucy continuing, "That must have been so hard, growing up with no family...I mean, no, I just meant with no parents...and being all alone." She bit her lip, gnawing on the soft skin as she watched the wretched sadness dwell within those deep pools of green across the table. "I wasn't totally alone. I had...well, I have a sister. We're estranged now, though, and I haven't seen her in years. She left shortly after she became of age, and I lost contact with her. " Lucy nodded again, silently wishing she had more tact. This poor man seemed to have a rough life, though he seemed so happy, so at ease with everything now. Eventually, the food disappeared from their plates, and Mathius and Lucy bid one another good night. She watched him go down the hall towards his bedroom, and she smiled. She was happy to have a new friend here.

She was thinking of exploring the grounds, looking around the manor, since now she was not at all sleepy. She moved down the hall, at first avoiding Kyier's hall as she moved towards the dining room. She saw a nice office, filled with books, thinking it must belong to the Duke, and then a small art room with an easel, and books, and paintings that lined the walls. She smiled, closing the door behind her. The maids were gone by now, and though she remained alone in the house, she was not afraid, the place seemingly never empty with the feeling of the loving Duchess. She found another door, opening it and surprised it lead outside. It was a small path, with stone pathways that lead towards the gardens behind the manor. She followed it, despite being barefoot, and entered into the surprisingly warm night. Her breath was taken away, watching the colorful flowers sway softly in the wind. The night sky was lit with millions of shining stars, brothering with the flight of the small lightning bugs, that flew above the garden. She walked forward again, her eyes watching the flowers. She felt her lips pull back as a gentle breeze encompassed her. And then, she heard the humming melody of the keys of a piano. She looked towards the gazebo, watching the piano and its master. Kyier, no mistaking him, sat with his back towards Lucy, and she felt powerless to move. Her heart beat with every hymn, hum, and harp of the keys, and she drew closer to him. She thought he was some monster, some horrendous human being, but now it was clear he was anything but. He was beautiful, and he had emotion. As soon as the soft melody ended, she clapped, moving closer. "Oh, Kyier, that was grand! Where did you learn to play like that? Do you think I could learn?!"
Kyier's eyes opened slowly as he began to sense that someone was watching him, of course that was made painfully clear by the obnoxious clapping that sent a sharp irritated jolt down his spine. He just about growled. How much clearer could he make it to her that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with her? Kyier's fingers had long since stopped moving, and now rested gently upon the ivory keys. He closed his eyes, mentally preparing himself for the herculean task of conversing with the horrendously dull, caustic girl. "Why are you here?" he asked in his usual hostile tone. Kyier stood up from his bench and sighed, "No matter. You don't have to answer, I do not really care. Dealing with you has exhausted my caring." He walked swiftly past Elisabeth and down the steps of the terrace, not bothering to look back at her. His attempt to brush her off didn't seem to have much affect on her, however. She continued to pursue the answers she sought. Eventually he gave in; solely an attempt to get her off his back. "I taught myself how to play as a child by watching my mother. It really isn't that amazing a feat. Anyone with half a mind can play the piano." He rolled his eyes, "So to answer your last question, no. I do not think you are capable of learning the keys. As you are, I don't think you are capable of much of anything." Kyier smirked at her insulted gasp. He slammed the door in her face, breathing a sigh of relief now that she was locked out and he was rid of her. She tried to shout something through the door, relentless at first. But from his silence, she eventually gave up and he had the pleasure of listening to her feet stomp down the hallway. Ah, the sereneness of sleep.

The next morning came all to soon, just as the Marquess listened to Elisabeth's footsteps carrying him to sleep, it was his mother's hurried, eager steps passing his room that awoke him. "Elisabeth?" Anita knocked before entering the girl's room in an excited flurry. "Oh, good, I'm so happy you are awake!" The Duchess cheered, quick to encompass the girl in an embrace. "I am so sorry Cederick and I missed dinner last night. The council is truly a horrid creation. Bunch of ignorant bigots. But anyway, tell me how your first time in town was!" she beamed. She rooted through Elisabeth's new wardrobe, pulling out a much less frilly dress than the one from last night. The Duchess didn't want to completely overwhelm the poor dear. This was one much more like those she was used to. "Here, here, here, let me help you, Sweetheart." Anita sat on the edge of her god-daughter's bed once she was through zipping her into her dress. She beamed at the perfect fit, "I know you and Kyier got off rather poorly, but I hope he wasn't too horrible an escort." she laughed lightly. Cederick's voice echoed down the hall, sounding as though he was conversing with- Oh! She very well knew that voice. "Mathius! Good morning! I was not made aware you were here." She jumped up, running over to huge the tall man. "How have you been, Dear?! Oh!" The realization hit her suddenly, "Have the pair of you already met? Wonderful!" Cederick moved to Elisabeth's side, offering a nod to acknowledge her. He smiled, "I apologize, Elisabeth. I may have allowed my wife coffee this morning..." he smirked.
Lucy smiled as she watched the Duchess fly with a flurry of quickness. Laughing at the Duke, she shook her head, "Don't worry. She's still less of a fright than my mother on coffee." She watched as the woman bustled around, collecting this and that, in attempt to pull together some outfit for the girl. She wondered, besides the coffee, what had gotten into her today. She just smiled, watching her go, and when she looked around, the Duke smiled so lovingly at her. Even though he was joking around with her in a way that was not common for a man to act around his wife, the Duke clearly loved her very much. It was refreshing, in a way, and it made Lucy's heart ache for her parents back in Van Hollen. She wanted that love, and she had always dreamed of it, and so seeing it here before her was like a breath of fresh, minty air. "What exactly it is that's on the agenda, today?" She asked, half with a girlish smile. Her mind was still in a whirl from Kyier the night prior, but the presence of the overactive Duchess was calming her down, and her night of sleep on those overstuffed pillows calmed all of her nerves.

It was only when Anita spoke those words, "Oh, to finally meet your uncle today!" did her heart begin to pound and her throat started to close, and her palms started to sweat as if with dreaded mononucleosis. She looked up, "My uncle? Are you sure...now, maybe I should attempt to hold of on meeting him, because I-," Of course the woman berated her in attempts to cease her speaking, telling her over and over again in her quick, excited words at how it was the King who didn't rest, and it was the King who sent out the guards, his own special guards, because it was the King who had been informed on her whereabouts. She could not argue with the fact that Anita seemed to seriously wish her to go, but her palms only continued to sweat due to the sudden nerves. This peasant girl was going to meet the King of her country. Anita was quick to help her dress, the Duke leaving to check on their son, and then she was dressed in a polite, white and purple ensemble with embroidered silk linings. The cameo pendant was pulled around her neck, and her hair pulled back from it's normally wild curls. "Thank you." She said, looking at herself in the mirror, "May I have a moment alone?" She asked. Anita was quick to smile and bow out, and Lucy pulled open a drawer to the vanity. There was a set of inscribed parchments in there, that she had seen the other night, and smiled. They were topped with the initials E.F.R. .

She sat down, pulling the quill softly against the scratchy parchment. And she began to write:

Dear Mama,
This place is so huge, everything about the royal city is more than I could have ever imagined. The city is bright with people who shop just about every day, and when you walk the path, you can smell the constant cinnamon, bread, and meats that are freshly served. I always thought that a place like this was going to be so fake. So...so desperately annoying because everyone was so stuck up. But it's not Mama, it's not. Everyone here has been so kind, especially Lady Anita Cross. She is my godmother, the best friend to my...my birth mother. The stories she has told me are clear indicators that I am who she seems to believe. I still hesitate to think I am anyone other than Lucy Thurn, especially some noble. I am going to meet my uncle today. I'm dreadfully nervous. I remember everything you told me, though. I promise I will do my best to bring peace to you. Don't worry about me, Mama. Tell the same to Papa, too. I love you both so much. I will write again as soon as I can.
With all my love and heart,

She sealed the letter in the pale envelope. unsure of how to use the sealant, and after a few attempts of searching for twine, decided to just hand it over to the Duke in request of assistance. She meandered down the hall, slowly again, taking in the sights of the paintings and portraits. There were a few there, ones she paid closer attention to. She saw one that was clearly an infant Kyier, and she half smiled. Who would have thought such a beastly gentleman could have ever been a sweet child? And then she saw another picture, a surly Kyier with his hand over a tall, lanky boy. Kyier and Mathius. But in that picture was someone else, a young woman, who resembled Mathius quite the same, and had an expression almost as the Marquess did. She was so sourly and distraught, the high intensity of pain was scratched across her poor face. What a childhood they must have had. She took off, running towards the stairs in stride and taking two at a time.

Anita and Cederick were downstairs, both putting on their trench coats over their day clothes, and in a frenzy to begin their day. "Are you going with me?" Lucy asked in hopefulness. She was heart stricken when they told her they had business to attend to, and it was Kyier, once more, who would be escorting her to the castle. So, she made her pan officially set off into action. This man didn't like her, and clearly he hated the forced time he as being told to spend with her. He set fire in her heart, but she was sure there was some good within him. She had to get him to like her. She handed the letter to Duke Cross, politely asking him to send it away to her mother in Van Hollen. He, of course, politely took it and put it in the inner pocket of his coat. She stood by the door, watching as the Duke and Duchess walked through the torrential downpour under their large black umbrella, the Duke placing a hand around the Duchess's petticoat. She turned, and went, for all intents and purposes, "Ahh!" in some sort of scream, because a very irritated looking Kyier stood huffing behind her. "Don't huff at me like some beast!" She said, before grabbing her own coat and watching as Kyier took the last umbrella and went out the door. She looked around for some sort of shield from the weather, but luckily the driver from the carriage came up to her rescue, holding his own umbrella over her head.

The carriage ride was silent, Kyier brooding over how he could care less if she made it to the castle, she was sure, and she was not about to apologize for being his hindrance. So, once more, they had a battle of silence as the carriage rattled on and on, this time, instead of going on through town, towards the southern border, it headed east, towards the castle. At first they headed through a thicket of tall trees, before the road started again and the castle, standing before the mountains, and the large gates opened, and then they entered. The castle was huge, with dark gray stone, and turrets that shot up towards the sky. The whole thing was incredibly overwhelming. In the midmorning light, the rain shined as it glossed across the ultra green shrubbery that lined the front walls. She smiled, letting her eyes glance over to Kyier only once. The carriage came to rolling stop, and the man held open the door as Lucy climbed out into the rain. Kyier followed, adjusting his jacket and Lucy moved much more quickly. Kyier seemed only intent on getting out of the rain.

The foyer of the castle was grand, with a double staircase that lead upwards onto a balcony-esque hallway, and from their, a large single set of stairs leading to a third floor. She looked over to where there was a room where a few women sat drinking tea. They glanced over at the intrusion, merely in wonderment, and then went back to speaking in their hushed tones. Lucy was ushered, by a maid upon her request, to her uncle. They went up both sets of stairs, though Lucy found it within herself to explore, wondering where the hallways under the grand staircase lead, and the two halls on the second floor. There was a third floor, where the King's office was, and three three walked silently down the red carpet, covering the wooden paneled floor. The maid bowed down, talking strictly to Kyier. "Your Uncle has been awaiting your arrival. Please, go right in," She said. Kyier moved in first, and as she listened to them greet one another, she took a deep breath, and entered the office.

"Your highness?" She asked, bowing down. She looked up, watching his eyes watch her. "You...you most certainly are my brother's daughter," He said, his tone so wonderfully kind. She smiled, able to breathe, and she entered closer, moving to Kyier. The King came around, his large frame much bigger than hers, and he pulled her into a hug. "Our lost Elisabeth. It's so wonderful to have you back." It was not a tone that was frenzied, or frantic, but orderly and calm, like a loving father. "Our Elisabeth is back." The kind king almost barked at a passing maid, "Fetch Vivian!"
Kyier stood back, blending in with the woodwork. He crossed his arms over his chest, closing himself off from the conversation his Uncle led with the damned girl. Such a fuss over someone so pathetically useless, it was absurd. His eyes shifted between the pair, paying particular attention to the uncouth mannerisms of Elisabeth. There wasn't a single elegant thing about her. At least the idiot had been smart enough to bow. Her right arm was crossed over her chest, leaving her hand clenched into a loose fist, resting against her chin. The other, he noticed, couldn't seem to remain still at her side. The fingers danced tirelessly, Elisabeth's nerves getting the better of her, he presumed. Her tone became loud and excitable as she soon became more and more comfortable in the King's presence. She carried on and on about her life in Van Hollen once prompted, and it seemed like hours passed before she finally shut up so someone else could get a word in. He noticed her eyes wandering about the room, even when the King addressed her. The Marquess doubted she even knew she was doing it. Pitiful. It was much to his surprise then, when she suddenly spun around and to look at him. She didn't realize her eyes were gawking about the room while another spoke to her and yet she had sense enough to feel the force of someone's stare? He was taken aback by the action, his eyes wide as she called him out for it. The King himself looked as stunned as he for in common society, it was never acceptable to turn your back to someone you had been conversing with... Much less the King himself! "Quite the nerve you have, turning your back on the King to call me out on such a ridiculous notion. My eyes are very important to me. I would never put them in such jeopardy as to allow them to gaze upon your scrawny, homely figure lest they fall right from their sockets in attempted escape." he whispered, being sure to keep his voice low enough that only she would hear. Kyier smirked then. Her expression of absolute shock at his comments never ceased too amuse him. The King coughed to redraw he attention, "You best apologize, Fool." he mentioned idly. "You just turned your back on the King." Judging by her expression now and sudden outburst of apologies, Kyier found that even she recognized the severe folly in her actions.

"There is no need for such apologies, Elisabeth. I never had a wish for you to act as one of my subjects. I'm actually quite pleased that you seem so at ease in my presence." he smiled warmly. "And please disregard whatever my brazen nephew might have remarked. He was quite careful to keep his words from me, so I can only imagine they were ones of disrespect." His eyes turned scoldingly to the young man who tilted his head up and to the side upon his acknowledgement. "Not at all, your majesty." he smiled handsomely, falling into a swift, flawless bow. "Oh, dear." The Queen's soft voice carried into the room. She stepped gracefully from the door way, inclining her head to greet her company. "Kyier, Dear, you aren't giving Elisabeth a hard time now, are you?" she asked sweetly, her voice the same quality of beautifully chiming bells. The Marquess actually allowed a small smile to escape his lips in his aunt's presence. Vivian Rose looked every bit as elegant as his own mother. The two would have easily passed for twins had it not been for the three inches Vivian had on Anita and their differing hair color. Her curly lockes of shimmering dark brown were pulled up neatly into a coiled chignon and adorned with tiny lily's and forget-me-nots. And unlike the Duchess, the Queen actually put to use and demonstrated the elegance and grace she possessed. The Queen reached out her hand, gently taking Elisabeth's into her own. She carried the girl's hand to her lips, kissing it softly and holding it for just a moment to her cheek. Kyier rolled his eyes, smirking at the rush of redness that greeted the stupid girl's cheeks. His Aunt tended to have that affect on people, and for once, he couldn't find fault in Elisabeth. "Elisabeth, my husband and sister have not ceased speaking of you since they heard of your survival. I'm not sure which won out in the game of excitement." she laughed softly, her mulberry eyes sparkling the same as Anita's and Kyier's. The Marquess rolled his eyes. He knew damn well who had won out...by a landslide. "Have you told her yet, Dear?" Vivian asked, as she turned her head toward the King who shook his head. "If it pleases you, Elisabeth, Vivian and I were hoping you'd allow us to throw a Grand Ball in your honor. We wished to announce your return to us to the entire kingdom."

The small smile from Kyier's face faded away as quickly as it had come. He subtly shook his head behind all the attention. He respected his aunt and uncle a great deal, but putting the girl on display at a Ball for all to see was the worst possible move. She wasn't ready for that. But then again, she wasn't his damn problem...despite his mother sure seeming to think so. "A Ball, huh? That sounds fun." Chrystiem mused as he joined the others. Of course the fool would say something like that. Idiot. He bowed deeply to the royals before lifting his head and presenting a charming smile to the Lady Elisabeth. "I ask your pardon of the intrusion your highness, but the maids are gossiping all over the place and I couldn't help myself but to come and see how Lucy was doing." he grinned. "Lucy?" The Queen questioned before quickly coming to the conclusion that that had been the name given to her niece by her adoptive parents. "That is truly an adorable name, Dear. It suits you. Would you prefer us call you as such?" Kyier's eyes narrowed, curious of the answer himself. He dare not speak out against his or her majesty, even he wasn't brazen enough for such an act of disrespect. "Oh, hey! And you brought Kyier with you too. I guess the pair of you are getting along much better now from when you met at dinner?" A cynical grin grew slowly over the Marquess' face, "But of course, Chrystiem. It only took but a little forced time spent together before her delightful charm took hold of my heart." The Left rose an eyebrow and shook his head. "I'm so glad to hear that." Vivian smiled sweetly, rather oblivious to his tone. She leaned in toward Elisabeth, "Don't let him try to fool you, Dear. Kyier wants everyone to believe he's an awful human being, but in reality... Well I'm sure you will find out for yourself. "
Lucy smiled over at the Queen, "Oh!" She requited, stumbling over herself as she attempted to bow again. "Excuse my, stupidity!" She said, jokingly slapping herself in the forehead. She let her tongue slip out and wet her bottom lip as she panicked slightly. The King shared a gentle smile with his wife, and finally pulled out a seat for his niece. "Elisabeth, would you have a seat?" He requested, watching as she sat, the way her arms sat uncomfortably at her sides, and her legs parted gently under her skirt. Her feet sat flat against the floor like stone, not at all crossed like a delicate lady. He knew his wife saw the same thing. "You never answered, my dear. To which name would you like us to call you by? This is really nobodies choice but yours." Lucy thought for a moment, watching from the corner of her eye as the Queen moved to sit next to her. She was so beautiful, like her sister, and had more grace than Lucy could ever think to imagine. "Please, call me Eliza...Elize....Elisabeth. I mean, it is my legal name. Not just the name grew up with. I should start to get used to it. It's hard for me to think that it's my name, but I want to to do my best here, and that might be the best way." Another smile, and then, "So, Elisabeth...are you ready to meet the kingdom?" She reddened, feeling the blush creep to her cheeks. "I suppose. I'm scared." She admitted, and then admitted more, "I can't imagine that they'd like me much. I'm just....not the royal type," She said. "I am just a country girl, born and raised. Whether or not my blood says that." The King was so kind, listening to her words, watching her actions, her eyes, listening to her voice. He could see his darling brother in her very much, especially when her eyes brightened in excitement. Her voice and hair, that was all his sister in law. They spoke quietly, the King informing her of protocols, the way things went, Kingdom issues that she asked about, and finally, before it seemed as though Kyier could take only less before imploding of positively admonished boredom, the king stated, "I suppose I can let you go. Safe travels home and all that. Thank you for coming to see me, Elisabeth. It's...it means more to me than you will ever know that you are alive and well...and here," He added. He hugged her, tightly against him, and then the Queen hugged her, softly.

Leaving the castle, the sun was setting off into the distance, and Kyier began ragging on her relentlessly with words she didn't actually understand. He used such big words, words that really went over her head, but she had to act offended. "If you are so tired of babysitting me, find your own damn way home, Kyier. I'll find hoe myself." She finally hissed, fed up with his attitude towards her. "I don't know what I did to you, but I have been nothing but nice and I am downright tired of you harassing me every chance you get. And yes, I know exactly what harassing means." She stormed off into the distance of what she thought was town, watching the sky grow darker as the sun set in its blanket of warm reds and pinks. She smiled, feeling the chilly air surround her. She was close to town, the main square in view as she stomped forward. It was much different this time, the town feeling so desolate and gray, the stones on the ground echoing with every lost footstep. She realized she was alone now, nobody was outside. The storm shutters on every door were now closed, and only a sliver of sun still shown. The wind began to howl, and she kept moving forward. She was breaking a rule of the duke. She was outside. She began to walk much faster, and she wondered if Kyier was home yet.

Suddenly, as soon as the last kiss of sun disappeared, a howl was heard off near the forested area. She turned to look, clutching the umbrella that she had from Kyier after they left, and she held it tightly to her chest. She kept walking, hearing another howl. She took off running, not caring that she was in a skirt, or trying to impress anyone. She saw Mathius' shoppe, and tried to open the bolted doors. Locked. She kept running, and the sound of someone behind her startled her, so she turned, thinking she saw someone, but it was a dog. It was big, black and drooling. She gulped, the animal growling as it began to run at her. She took off, but knew it was catching up and there was no way to outrun it. She turned in a second, and using the umbrella like a bat, she slammed it into the monsters gullet, smashing its face. And she cried out, turning and stumbling, and doing anything she could to get home.
Raiya was breathing heavily as she lept down behind Chrystiem; the two standing back to back now. "How did they make it all the way here?!" she asked, her chest heavy up and down. "The castle's barrier should still cover at the very least a 10 mile radius and the sun hasn't even fully set yet. What's going on?!" Chrystiem reached into his pocket, twirling the gleaming silver knife around his finger. ""I have no idea...but this is ridiculous." As he spoke, Ryst unleashed an immense gust of wind that sent three of the creatures flying. He reached back, drawing Raiya's sword from it's sheath, ducking down to slash he beast after its hind legs propelled it airborne. Ryst dropped it from his hand the second the blade cut through flesh, pivoting his foot in the guard as he and Raiya spun around one another. The sword fell back into the hand of the Right, "Chrystiem duck!" Raiya yelled, her arms linking with his as she flipped over his back and used the momentum to propel herself onto a branch of the tree that stood behind her partner. "Redundo eluvies. The ground rumbled as the flood rushed through the trees, "Hand!" she ordered, extending her arm. Chrystiem tightly grasp Raiya's hand as she lifted him with an impressive ease up into the safety of the tree. The two stood on one of its highest branches as the flood waters wiped out the remaining enemy popuation. The Left was the one to break the chain of gasping howls, "This can't be good for the vegetation..." he sighed, shaking his head as Raiya glared at him.

"Mathius, Sweetheart?" Anita called, knocking softly on his door despite her panic. She would have fallen into the home if not for her husband's arm wrapping around her waist when the door suddenly flew open. The young man hurried them inside before hastily slamming and bolting the door back up. Anita brushed herself off, smiling thankful at the young man who had become another son to her over the years. "My goodness... I swear we blinked and the sun was gone!' she cried, shaking her head. "We met with the Lanvalderian ambassador on behalf of the King and Queen today. Lovely couple." she mused. "But anyway..." she smiled, obeying Mathius as he motioned for them to take a seat in his living room. Anita walked over to the mantle her finger gently touching over her dear friend's face. She had been taken from them much too young and to a fate fit only for foul-hearted murderers and rapists; not one so pure of heart and loving such a Madeleine VanAelst. Anita inclined her head when Mathius came into the room with a tray of freshly brewed tea. As an apothecary, the man had a supreme command over herbs and spices. His tea was a true delicacy."Thank you, dear." she smiled, taking a seat next to her husband on the couch. "Cederick and I went to meet with the Lanvaldearian ambassadors today. Two very lovely people." Cederick nodded in agreement, "So lovely, in fact, that Anita here lost track of time despite her husband whispering of the coming night in her ear. And then refused to stay the evening in the Inn because she wanted to be home to speak with her god-daughter the very second she walked back through the doors." he drawled with a smart grin plastered on his handsome face. "We sped home as quickly as we could, but by the time we arrived here, the carriages were all abandoned." Anita shrugged, "We would have kept on our way if those damn howls hadn't sounded so close. I fear those beasts have begun their coming into town." she frowned. " We don't mean to impose upon you, Dear, but..."

The Marquess stepped inside the manor after taking the long way home to survey the severity of the present situation. He sighed, drenched down to his very bones. From the corner of his eye he could see Lydia creeping up beside him, worry etched all over her face. "Um... Marquess, Sir... The Lady Elisabeth she-" Kyier closed his eyes, inhaling deeply, "She's not here, is she..." he groaned, massaging his brows. His parents were going to kill him if that idiot died. Damn it all. Without saying another word, he turned back on his heel, the door slamming behind him... What the Hell was she thinking?! How many times had they warned her? He stormed to the stable, snatching reigns from the hook and quickly situating them on the black stallion that watched him in eager. He hadn't the time to bother with the saddle. Kyier jumped onto the creature's back, pressing his heels into its sides. The stallion burst from the stable, its hooves pounding down on the dirt path that led through the woods. The rain stung his eyes as they tried to peer through the darkness. It wouldn't be long before they reached town, the sound of the blood thirsty howls making him cringe. She was dead. She was definitely dead. There was no question in his mind.

"No way..." he gasped. There. She was actually there. That is to say, Kyier could just barely make out a female form in the distance. He couldn't see anything specific through the storm, but seeing as no other citizen would be so bloody stupid to be caught by the hounds...He thought it safe to assume. As the stallion closed in on the woman, Kyier could see the umbrella he left at the castle flinging about wildly through the air, "Gods help me." The stallion sped up to Kyier's command, beating passed the hounds trying to take bites from its legs, "Suicide...no matter what I do is suicide." Quite honestly, he'd rather allow the beasts to eat him alive than have to return to his mother if the girl happened to die. The black horse quickly rounded the last corner, Kyier ducking into the curve and holding for dear life. Kyier directed the frightened creature toward Elisabeth, which wasn't an easy task. The hounds were trying to sink there teeth into the poor horse by any means available. Another dog jumped into the air in an attempt to take a bite out of Kyier who fleetingly kicked the thing back down to the ground. It yelped, drawing the attention of its pack. The stallion rose up on its hind legs, whinnying as its legs kicked the air. Kyier held fast to the reigns, leaning forward to try and whisper calming words into the stallion's ears. His eyes watched in horror as Elisabeth tripped to the ground, falling defenseless against the beasts. Drool and chomping jaws snapped in her face for but a quick moment before a roar or fire set the dogs ablaze. Kyier drove the stallion into the pack, and Once the girl was finally in grabbing distance, Kyier took her by the hand and whipped her up off her feet and onto the back of the panicked stallion, "Hold onto me." he ordered harshly.
The Duchess held onto the Marquess tightly, the horse beginning to pound through the dirt towards the cottage. She turned, watching as a mangy beast began to tear relentlessly at her hat. She put her face into Kyier's back, her eyes misting from the sudden attack and having a final moment of possible safety. "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry! I didn't mean for any of this to happen," She whispered through the wind attacking her face. "Please, please forgive me." She knew he was going to be infuriated, she could see his reddened face in her mind already. She was going to lose him as a friend, and she had just been about to make leeway with him. She heard him gruffly tell her, "Not now." And it was finalized that she had to cease speaking. She didn't have another chance either, before she knew it one of those beastly dogs had used its teeth to grab a hold of her boot and began to tear it from her. She almost lost her balance, trying to kick the thing off, before a set of flames sent it yelping away.

The black stallion flew at a pace most unthinkable for a creature of this sort, and Lucy questioned the path that they flew down. She knew it was not the way to the manor. She looked behind to watch a group of no less than eight of these hounds, were chasing them. Despite the situation, she shivered. Eight. The Devil's number. After a quick turn, Kyier was off the horse, and the fire began to burn the dogs to ash, the soft particles of flesh humming through the air. She turned for but a moment before a quick shadow from the corner of her eye, and suddenly she found herself sprawled over the dirt road, and suddenly the dog above her exploded, like fire hit it within the insides, and the sharpened fangs disappeared into the air. She heard the painful howl of an owl off into the distance, and she tried to scramble upward into an erect position. She could feel her head pounding. She saw Kyier, staring at her with such hate, such disdain for her living. She swallowed, looking downward. "I'm sorry, I-I'll get back on the horse." However, such was not an easy task for a woman of such petite structure.

Gruffly, but still not as rough as she was sure he wanted, he pulled her up onto the horse, and she was once more relieved with the soft thumping of the horses hooves against the dirt, as they two of them made their way to the manor. She could feel how dirty she was, and as the tears began to fall from her eyes, they scraped against her face, making clear, parallel lines. It was weird, laying her head against the surprisingly strong shoulder of the Marquess, who sighed with worry as he careful manipulated the horse into getting them both home safely. She didn't want him to know she was crying, and she didn't want him to see her. They got off the horse, Lucy waiting patiently for him to breach the horse once more in the stable, and she followed him quietly into the manor. It was so quiet, and surprisingly dark, like some sinister presence was there. Or, rather, there was something missing. "Kyier, I'm really, really-" She tried to apologize, following behind him, but he didn't even turn to look at her. He just shut the door to his bedroom, leaving her alone in the quiet, dark hallway of the deserted manor.

Elisa held her sleeping clothes and her dress in her arms as she headed towards the bathroom. She hadn't hear anything about Kyier for quiet a while, and needed to shower. She couldn't get the images of those monstrous animals out of her mind, and she still felt frightened. She was honestly, too, afraid to stay here in the manor. She felt so alone. She wanted Anita to be here for her. Or her mother. She remained in this foggy stupor, her head still pounding from falling off the horse, and she found the bathroom. Through her mind, she could faintly register the water, but her mind reverted back towards the dogs, those demonic eyes, the horrible growls. No wonder she had been warned. What were they? And why were they here? She opened the bathroom door, and set her clothing on the counter, turning and beginning to unbutton her own blouse, pulling open the curtain and thinking about how nice it was that the maids had ran her a bath, and then she realized she must have been in the wrong bathroom, and it was Kyier who was showering. She could see him turn, blush crimson, and begin to yell, but she went deaf, only able to watch his wet face moving as if in slow time. His lips moved quickly, but his eyes, they spoke volumes. She covered her eyes, and turned, muttering some sort of apology that was half garbled by her her, half by the water. So, she tripped, and realized she must have been screaming. He was really going to hate her now.

The Apothecary opened his door, looking out into the front garden. "Anita? Cederick? Come in, come in!" he exclaimed, happy to see them, but now worried at their sudden appearance. "What are you doing so late?" He looked out the door, listening to the howls that sounded so foreign. They had been getting much louder as of late. There was a book to the side of the table, held over so he hadn't lost his place, and next to that was a steaming cup of tea he had been enjoying. The steam rose steadily from the pale golden liquid, and the bag of mint still resided inside. "Have a seat. Let me get you some tea?" He said, Cederick making himself at home as he gathered up one of his favourite books that Mathius had bought especially for him to keep in his home for his visits. Anita offered help with the tea. "I'll make a bed for the two of you. Fresh sheets and linens. I don't want you to think it's safe to go home," he told her, like he was scolding his risk taking mother.

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