Dégoulinant de bleu et d’or, ça m’attire.
If anyone had of told Damianos that his life would change in Vere, he would of laughed in their face.
There was nothing life changing about a country which was run by a family of cold blooded serpents. Although, It could be argued that King Auguste was kind, fair and certainly skilled in many ways but like any good, loyal Akielon - Damen could only believe that Auguste's façade hid something much more malicious.
"Veretian's can not be trusted," was the warning his sick father gave.
Damen knew this, he'd seen the crimes committed by Vere during the battle of Marlas. Delpha was Akielon country and it was going to stay that way.
When he and his men finally arrived in Arles they were greeted by the King himself. Auguste was riding a pure white mare that seemed to have an regal aura just like her owner. The Veretian King had let his hair grow since he last Damen last saw him - but to be fair Damen hadn't paid much mind to Augustes' looks during their last encounter,which was in the fields of Marlas. The Akielon Prince took in the long blonde hair that framed the kings face, the tightly laced clothes and finally Augustes' somewhat kind and inviting smile. Damen bowed his head.
"Our brother of Vere."
"Vere welcomes Akielos with open arms, Prince Damianos," The King replied, his smile brighter. "Damen is okay, I'm not one for formality."
"Very well, Damen."
It wasn't a long ride back to the Palace. Common Veretians opened their windows and lined the streets in silence, watching on as their beloved King rode beside one of their greatest enemies. Not a breath could be heard.
It was Auguste who engaged conversation while the rode along, "I'm awfully sorry my brother couldn't join us. It isn't like him to pass up a ride but he seemed rather sick this morning so I didn't wish to bother him." the King paused, thinking, "Although, I must admit darling Laurent might of found you quite interesting."
"Please send your brother my best wishes for his health, it is unfortunate that he could not join us today. Not to seem rude, but is he really as beautiful as they say?" Auguste laughed, rolling his eyes slightly as if he'd heard this comment many times before, "Laurent's beauty is nothing compared to his personality. My brothers intelligence might even best my own."
It had all been true then. Damen did not want to believe that Prince Laurent had been stuck in books and not courting. After all, beauty was a fair advantage when it came to negotiating alliances.However,it seemed as if Auguste enjoyed the fact his brother preferred books over suitors.
Beauties aside, Damen was actually catching himself enjoying Auguste's company. He didn't trust the King per say... but he did however, seem to like him enough to discuss issues that might be considered personal.
As they dismounted Auguste invited Damianos to spar (which Damen accepted without hesitation) before the King was ushered away by many council members seeking an audience with him. It seems as if Auguste had really gone out of his way to accompany Damen and his men to the palace.
"Veretian's are weird," Nikandros grumbled in Akielon as he led both his own and damen's horses into the stall. Damen sighed, messing up his dark mop of brown curls as he watched his friend unsaddle the horses, "I suppose, but it can't be said that I expected Auguste to be this kind. The last I saw him we were both covered head to toe in the blood, I saw him as nothing as a priceless kill to bring back to my father."
"It should stay that way,Damen,you seriously can not start to get friendly with these... with these snakes. Veretian's are not to be trusted, I mean, look at this whole place! no wall is bear of paint or gold. Simplicity is none-existent in Vere and their games are not simple either."
Damen knew very well that Nikandros was right but he didn't want to find himself causing any more bad blood between the two countries. His father was sick and he wasn't exactly ready to rule, to start a war now would be suicide.
"Come brother, Don't be a spoiled sport. You must greet Prince Damianos." As if! Why on earth would he chose to spend precious time with a giant animal when he could be in his study, reading up on battle strategies used by Vaskian raiders. Laurent had not even asked a masquerade for his 20th birthday and he certainly did not ask for his special day to be ruined by the presence of barbarians. Who knows, once the food is served those brutes will start eating it with their hands. They know no etiquette and they certainly shouldn't be attending such a traditional Veretian event such as a masquerade.
"Contain yourself, Laurent. It's only for a night and few days, then they'll be going back to Akielos and you might not have to hear from them ever again!" Auguste grinned as he removed the book from his younger brothers' slender fingers. Laurent stared up with pale blue eyes in defiance. "I had to lie to him Laurent! I told him you were sick, now what on earth is he going to think when he sees you perfectly healthy at dinner tonight?"
"He will think nothing, because I wont be having dinner tonight," The younger said as he snatched the book back from his brothers hands. The reply only earned a disappointed look from Auguste, "Brother." The king said, his tone changing to something more serious, "I understand this is hard for you, It's hard for me as well but for once I'd like you to act like the prince you are. I've done nothing but protect you ever since Uncle's doings were discovered yet you repay me with this attitude?" Auguste took his brothers hand's, running his fingers over the small knuckles. "I would give my life, my crown to keep you safe my darling Laurent, I wish I could of gone back and woken myself up to your silent cries when uncle did those things to you. But locking yourself away is not the way to heal, believe me, I tried to do it when father died. I tried to run away from my responsibly and then look what happened. My own brother got hurt because of me."
Laurent gave no reply, just diverted his eyes from his brother. Auguste gave a defeated sigh.
"Laurent, at least come to dinner. Engage, I promise you now that Damianos isn't as bad as you imagine. It was not his hand that killed our father, I want you to remember that." Auguste left.
As soon as the door to his chamber shut Laurent relaxed. He was so damn weak when it came to his brother, with anyone else he would of fought, he would of denied and voiced disapproval. However, this was his brother and Auguste was the last of his family. With that thought in mind, Laurent asking a servant to help him into his riding leathers. He would not be attending dinner, for his brothers sake he did not want to ruin things.
Auguste seemed displeased while the two sat for dinner. It was just them and they could enjoy conversation without the watchful eyes of courtiers and council men. Without any hesitation, Damen found himself asking rather quietly what was bothering the king.
Auguste's brows furrowed in response and as he massaged his temple he let out a sigh, "My brother is being stubborn, he promised to come to dinner but it looks like he stood us both up this time," Damen smiled, pouring another glass of wine for his newly founded Veretian friend. "I'm sure he just wishes to rest, you mentioned he was sick right?"
"Yes well- you see he doesn't really enjoy the company of Akielons. He was only 13 years when our father died and his distaste for Akielons was not hidden even before the battle at Marlas. He's retained the idea that Dalpha is Veretian country, not Akielon." The feelings of the young prince were not unjustifiable, Damen thought. After all he had the same views, who was he to judge?
"I'm sure he will understand soon enough, we both only want peace. Surely I'll see him tomorrow night at his own party."
"That's if you can find him. It's a masquerade, Damianos, it's not easy to recognize anyone when their face is covered by a mask. That is the game of this tradition, I suppose." Auguste said, laying his hands flat on the table.
"Yes, you're right." Damen had no choice but to agree. He was in no way seeking to meet Prince Laurent, he only wished to see if the rumors of his beauty are true and the only way he could validate the gossip is with seeing the Prince with his own eyes.
With food finished, Auguste showed Damen around. They chatted politics and women as they walked the hall. Damen could now most certainly tell that Auguste was a honest man, or just very good at deceiving. Either way, he could not deny that Auguste was an exceptional leader who's wit and kindness truly reflected in the peoples love for him and what an honor it was for Damen to be learning such simple things off him.
As they passed the royal library Auguste's head turned to the open door and he gave a soft smile to whoever was occupying the room. However, as Dame turned his head to look in all he could see was the flash of white gold hair as the person turned down one of the many isle's of books. Whoever it was had been playing chess and had left an open book on the side of the table as if they'd been trying to figure out every possible strategy to win a chess game no matter the opponent. As Auguste strolled along Damen decided to follow, there was no point in disturbing the chess player especially one deep in thought.
Auguste had walked him back to his chamber and wished him a good night, he also mentioned that they'd have time to spar in the morning and Damen gladly agreed to be in the training room well before dawn to warm up. Auguste smiled before he left and Damen couldn't help but smile back.