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Elphanor: Tipping the Scales of Fate

Ballroom

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a part of Elphanor: Tipping the Scales of Fate, by Ravelin.

This is where all the characters first meet not only each other but also their future husbands/wives

Ravelin holds sovereignty over Ballroom, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

540 readers have been here.

Setting

Where the engagement ball is being held, but the ballroom is use for a wide varity of other parties or celebrations through out the year.
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Ballroom

This is where all the characters first meet not only each other but also their future husbands/wives

Minimap

Ballroom is a part of Elphanor: Tipping the Scales of Fate.

11 Characters Here

Chadwick Markellos Hearthel [0] "It seems that this life is truly inescapable, no matter how far I run away."
Xei Val Airis [0] It's a simple life we lead, but often times is very dull. I just bring a little... excitement to it every now and then.
Akilah Oriole Valentina [0] Gai Commoner
Nair Romanth [0] Iroldak Prince
Rima Cybelle Vallombrosa [0] The Lost Princess of Gai
Escasriet Leona Xandar [0] "The High King must be a few coals short of a forge fire if he thinks that I'm going to marry some spoil brat of a prince."
Ai Quen [0] If you swim effortlessly in the deep oceans, ride the waves to and from the shore, if you can breathe under water and dine on the deep treasures of the seas; mark my words, those who dwell on the rocks carrying nets will try to reel you into their catch.
Anne Everdeen [0] I am the princess of Elphanor.
Kordoshi Tei' Sai [0] I've gotten myself into a lot of trouble before... but nothing like this

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#, as written by Kenzi
"You sure you don't mind doing this free of charge? I can try and scrounge up something for you."

Akilah looked over her glasses, amber eyes kind as they regarded the elderly woman before her, "Don't worry about it, Mrs. Holmes." She replied softly with as much confidence as she could muster. The truth was that she really did need the money. Her father, though rude and terrible towards her, had been right about at least one thing: she was too softhearted. Everyone in the kingdom knew that if they wanted the best potions, for cheap, they would come to her. Those who had no money, or pretended not to have money, often came with sob stories that broke her heart and convinced her in an instant to make them the potion free of charge. By taking pity on every person who walked through the door she was running out of money quickly and had been forced to eat nothing but stale bread and water all week because she could not afford anything else.

"You're an angel, sweetie. The pain has been so bad that I've hardly been able to move!" Mrs. Holmes croaked, taking a seat in the rickety old wood chair as Akilah began making the potion that would help numb the pain from her old joints.

Akilah smiled at the compliment, "You'll be feeling better in no time." She said before dropping her gaze back to the ingredients on the counter. Narrowing her eyes, Akilah used her hawk-like eyesight to measure the perfect amount of each ingredient into the cauldron in front of her. After all eight of the ingredients had been placed in she removed her glasses and stirred the pot twenty eight times clockwise and thirty six times counterclockwise, waited for it to boil for five minutes, and then carefully poured the potion into a glass bottle. It was dark violet in color and smelt strongly of birch trees and plums.

"Wait an hour for it to cool completely and then you can take a spoonful. Once you run out you can just come back and I'll make you some more, alright?" Akilah said, carefully handing the warm glass vial over to Mrs. Holmes who took it with equal care.

"Thank you so much Miss Valentina. You really are a sweet girl." The old lady said, patting Akilah on the head before hobbling out the door with her cane thumping along beside her.

Akilah sat down in the old chair, running her hand through her thick blonde two-toned hair. The feathers growing between the strands of hair twirled around her finger, making a soft rustling sound as her fingers brushed past them. She was starving to the point that she could barely think and her clothing had begun to feel quite loose around her usually curvacious frame. She dipped her head low, burying her face in her hands in exasperation at herself, when the sound of birds drew her attention.

"Galvin?" She called, her mood shifting dramatically as she sat up from her chair and dashed to the door. Her had found the handle and pulled it open to reveal the tall auburn haired Gavin standing before her with a basket in his arms. She was smiling brilliantly and self consciously fixed her hair despite the fact that she knew his white-blue eyes could not see her.

"Good morning, Aki." Galvin said in his deep charming voice, four sparrows chirping and flitting around him. His long sandy brown wings were folded behind him, the morning light reflecting off the feathers in a mesmerizing way.

"Morning. What's in the basket?" Aki asked, taking his arm and leading him into the shop. He followed her with ease, trusting her completely, and took a seat in the old chair with a grin on his face.

"I brought you breakfast." He said, hand feeling around the edge of the basket until he located the edge of the blanket and pulled it back to reveal fresh bread, juice, eggs, potatoes, and sausages that all looked delicious. Aki hugged him, thanking him endlessly, before taking the basket to begin cooking. She cooked quickly, adding herbs here and there for extra taste, and then set the meal down on the table infront of Galvin and herself.

The pair talked and ate, recalling fond memories, and were nearly done breakfast when Aki heard something odd. There were a number of men, heavy in their footsteps, approaching the shop. Her faaras hearing was strong, but she had managed to block out most insignificant sounds yet she could not block out this. Something about the purposeful way the foot falls were gave her the impression that they meant business. Not wanting to worry Galvin she quickly finished her food and began cleaning the dishes. She was just placing the final plate back in the cupboard when the door to her shop opened to reveal a dark elf and several men who looked to be tauras.

"Miss Valentina?" The dark elf asked, regarding the shop with distaste.

"What's going on?" Galvin asked, standing up unsteadily as he grasped for Akilah's hand.

Aki reached out and grasped his arm, steadying him, and watched the dark elf cautiously, "Y-yes?" She managed, her voice weak and hesitant. The colors on the man's suit suggested he was from Elphanor, but why would anyone from Elphanor come to see her?

"Let me begin by introducing myself, I'm Badic Pharalnup, the assistant to the High King. I am here to let you know that you have been chosen, by the High King himself, to be wed to one of the princes of the great kingdoms. The marriages are to act as a union between kingdoms to help prevent war." Badic said, walking towards her in slow confident steps.

"W-what?" Akilah gasped, eyes wide from shock, "I can't poss...ibly." She said, voice dropping to a whisper as Badic got closer to her. His eyes flickered to her hand which grasped Galvin's, and he frowned tightly.

"Yes, miss Valentina, you are to come with me immediately. The ball is tonight and it is there that your engagement will be announced. You will gather what ever you want to bring with you from your..." He trailed off, wrinkling his nose in dislike as he looked around the room, "home... and then join me outside in ten minutes so that you can make it to the castle in time to change for the ball." He said and made his way to the door, expecting some sort of protest but there was only silence from both Akilah and the winged boy next to her. "You're not going to fight about this? That's a change." He commented dryly.

"No... You said I have to go and that it will help prevent war. I-I have to go." Akilah said, staring at Badic with a mixture of confusion and pure shock. She was going to marry a prince?!

"Hmm... I'm glad you were last on the list. Your cooperation would have made me unrealistically hopeful for the others." He commented before turning and exiting the shop, leaving a stunned Akilah and Galvin behind.

The silence hung between the pair until finally Galvin spoke, turning to face her the best he could, "Are you really going to go and just leave all of this behind?" He asked. He wanted what was best for Akilah and if that meant she would marry a prince, then so be it.

"I have to." Akilah responded, giving his hand a gentle squeeze before leaving his side to gather her things. Within minutes she had gathered her few belongings, tossing them into an old potato sack, and returned to his side to help him out the door, "I will write to you and your mother can read the letters, okay?" She said, leading him down the steps as she relished the feeling of his hand in hers for the few moments they had left, "I'll be back to visit, I'm sure. Please take care of the shop." She added softly as they reached the ground, the carriage with the Elphanor colors emblazoned on the side sitting just down the path.

"I will but you need to promise me that you won't let some prince make you forget who you are, okay?" He said, reaching out to find her body. Once his fingertips had found her frame he pulled her into a tight hug, "Good luck, Aki." Galvin whispered into her gold and feathered hair.

"You too." She said, hugging him tightly back before releasing him and taking off towards the carriage, with tears spilling down her cheeks, without a glance back. Very few memories from Acci were good ones, so she need not look back. The only thing she would really miss would be Galvin, but she knew that one day she would see him again.

----------------------------------------------------

Akilah sat in an elaborate bedroom decorated with fine furniture and brilliantly colored paintings. She had been waiting quietly for nearly half an hour, having been told that someone would bring her a gown to wear for the ball because she would not be allowed to wear the tattered dress she had on at the moment. The ride to Elphanor had been uneventful and lengthy, during which she cried softly and tried to convince herself that she was doing the right thing despite how upset she felt about leaving Galvin. They were not dating and had never confessed any feelings for each other, but she still felt like she was leaving the most important person in her life.

The door flew open suddenly and in walked three meticulously dressed women carrying gowns, shoes, and bags of makeup. They began speaking to Akilah all at once, ordering to bathe at once while they readied their things. Akilah obeyed without protest and quickly dashed into the bathroom, returning a little while later in a bathrobe that was softer than anything she had ever felt before. "Where would you like me to sit?" She asked softly, regarding the pile of cosmetics and heels on the bed as though they were weapons.

"Over here, child! Now hurry up. The ball has already begun and we have a lot of work to do before you will be presentable for a prince!" The blonde woman chirped, pushing her towards a low plush chair. Once seated the blonde woman began fixing her hair while the woman with the pixie cut began her makeup and the brunette held various dresses up and made comments like "Too short for those thighs, I'm afraid." and "My, this is cut so low that if you wear this you'll be giving everyone a free show! Next!"

Akilah sat motionlessly, not making a sound as they tugged and pulled at her hair, painted her face, and critiqued her body in every possible way until she was handed the chosen dress and shoes then told to change quickly. Not wanting to spend any more time with the women she did as she was told, pulling the dress on and doing up the low heels. "Well? Is it alright?" Akilah asked self consciously, unsure if she looked presentable for a ball.

"Darling, you look as cute as a hummingbird!" The woman with the pixie cut chimed, smiling brightly at the transformation.

Akilah wasn't sure what was so cute about a hummingbird but muttered a quiet thankyou before turning to look at herself in the mirror and nearly fell over in shock. Her usually unruly hair hung in perfect curls, the feathers in her hair curling smoothly, and lay shining against her body before stopping at her bust. Her face was dusted in a soft powder that made her skin look flawless, light gold dust highlighted her eyelids, and dark mascara drew attention to her amber eyes. Upon her feet were muted yellow-gold kitten heels with thin straps, which were surprisingly comfortable... yet the most magnificent thing of all was the dress. It was the same muted yellow-gold as her shoes with chiffon fabric that was light as air and moved like smoke around her body. It had sheer billowing partial sleeves that covered her outer arms while leaving her inner arms bare. Finally, there was a deeply cut neckline but the same sheer fabric made a panel in a front to give off the hint of her ample bosom without being indecent.

"Oh my goodness... Thank you." Akilah said, face breaking into a genuine smile at the sight of herself.

"There's just one more thing and then you must hurry to the ball. Just down the hall and on your left." The girl with the pixie cut said, walking towards her as the other two left the room without a word. The girl held our a beautiful gold filigree mask for Akilah to take, "It's a masked ball so you must wear this."

"Of course, alright." Aki said, accepting the mask. By the time she had slipped it on, using the gold ribbon to tie it securely, the girl with the pixie cut was gone.

She looked at herself in the mirror once more, still in disbelief with how she looked, and felt a self boost in confidence before she forced herself to leave her room and head towards the ball. There was no point in prolonging it any longer than possible, so she had better just hurry up and get to the ball. She walked down the halls, following the sound of music and talking, before she finally entered the ball room. It was the largest and most beautiful room she had been in in her entire life, instantly causing her to smile as though she were in a dream.

"Oh wow..." She breathed, taking in everything she could while standing off to the side so as not to bother anyone.

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Chad wasn't sure what to expect from Princess Ari. Since they were both children raised near the castle close, they grew up seeing each other rather often. Chad might have gone out on a stretch and said that they were friends in their early years. But then by the age of 11, Chad left the castle to travel around with Matthew. He hadn't seen anyone from the castle during those years, and after he met Lugh, they left for Ruthen. The last thing Chad ever did in Tibolt was help a group of pirates steal a Tiboltian trade ship and sail out of the port. He didn't know how Ari would feel about him after that. He knew from a few messages that he got from some of friends in the villages that he'd helped that the people of Tibolt had mixed feelings about him.

She didn't seem unhappy to see him, however. She turned her still startling, scarlet eyes on him and she smiled. "Chad. It’s been quite some time. The last I saw of you was the back of your head. You were passed out face first in the dirt after one of our sparring matches as I recall," she said, her smile turning into a smirk as she remembered the event. Chad cringed, also remembering the memory. Back in those days, he hadn't had the training that he would receive from Matthew and Hiess, and so he was a little...unskilled. Couple that with a bit of childhood stubbornness and a certain female Oni and you get several embarrassing memories.

Chad covered his face with his hand and groaned, looking mournfully at Ari. "Thanks for reminding me of that, I'd almost forgotten about all of those lovely times. Yeah, yeah, I guess I do owe you still. Here, I'll buy you a drink." He waved to the bartender and called him over, ordering another of whatever she was having and something not very strong for himself. When he had the drink, he tipped it at her and inclined his head. "To the princess," he said, the standard toast that he'd done many times when he was living in the castle, and took a drink.

The drink was very fruity, and almost cloyingly sweet. Chad crinkled his nose and set the glass back on the bar, resolving not to touch it again as he tried to get the taste out of his mouth. He'd forgotten how disgusting fancy drinks were, after living off what you could get in Ruthen. He'd probably forgotten several little details like that that he'd have to relearn if he was to pick back up his life amongst the nobility.

"What are you doing here anyway?" she asked, as if remembering that he couldn't have been called here as a noble, otherwise she would have heard about it. Chad shrugged his shoulders, distractedly fingering the stem of his drink glass. "Same reason you're here, I guess; to serve His Majesty, the High King's will. I was dragged outa the little home I'd made for myself and told that I had to marry a princess." Chad rolled his eyes and glanced out among the partying nobles. "And why do I have to marry one? To keep the different kingdoms from killing themselves. You'd think you nobles could keep the peace between yourselves without the help of an ol'throwaway like me..."

From his vantage point, he was able to see most of what was going on in the room. Most of the nobles were chatting, eating, dancing, or any combination thereof. Some people were being a bit adventurous, though, as Chad saw a guy and a girl tossing something from a balcony onto the people below. Chad cracked a smile at their actions, silently giving them his support. The world needed people like that to brighten up situations like these.

Chad turned to look at Ari once again, taking in her appearance. She'd changed a lot over the years too. Before she'd been about the same height as him, but now she looked to be much shorter than him. Her hair had grown out, falling down her back sleekly, just as dark as ever. She'd grown well, and had the elegant figure that he'd expect from blueblood lady. She truly looked the part of a princess now, and the fact amused Chad a it. The rough and tumble girl who used to spar with him was now really a princess.

"So Ari, have you been called here to get married too? I feel sorry for the guy that gets hitched to you," he teased, thinking of some poor guy trying to deal with her fiery personality.

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#, as written by Ravelin
The old grandfather clock was slowly ticking away inside Alexander's chambers. Unlike a few hours ago, the High King was now fully dressed in royal robes and crown and was standing in front of his case that hold artifacts of his past. The sun had gone down since long ago and the night completely controlled the night's sky. A light knock on the door once again brought Alexander out of his memories and back into the present, it seemed like visiting the past has became more frequent over the past several years. "Come in," Alexander commanded. With the grant of excess, the wooden door opened to reveal Alexander's head assistant, the one that helped with one of the last stages of the High King's plan of peace- Badic.

"It's time for the ball, High King. Everything has be prepared and all of the guests of honor have arrived," the dark elf announced after he bowed.

Alexander glanced over his shoulder at the grandfather clock, the hour and minute hands were closing towards midnight. The excitement of the ball has probably died down quite a bit and the nobles would be anxious to fine out who the heirs will wed to and the face of their future ruler couples. Thanks to Badic efforts, the news that the royals being engaged to commoners has been restricted to only the youngsters, families, and trusted servants. But the High King will have his work cut out for him after tonight. He could already see the countless meetings, paper work, and trying to explain his 'madness' to thick headed nobles that got their egos hurt by Alexander not choosing their sons or daughters to wed the royals.

The High King they gave Badic a nod and a low chuckle, "Very well. Let's make the announcement that'll either save or destroy us."

------------------------------------------

A red velvet carpet rolled itself from the open doors of the ballroom and stopped at the foot of the throne that was already set there. Then two small lines of trumpet players took their places on the sides of the carpet, bordering it. They were dressed in Elphanor's colors, blue and white. Once they took their places, the sound of blowing trumpets filled the room and silenced the large crowd.

"All rise for Alexander Dezantro, the High King!" Announced a short chubby man before he move aside for Alexander and Badic that followed three feet behind him to the throne. As the High King sat, Badic stood on his right side and remain silence as the crowd with eager ears.

"Let me start with a thank you for all of you being here tonight for this special occasion," Alexander began with his voice surprising strong for his frail body and age. "As you are all aware, we have all gathered here to celebrate the engagement of the royal heirs of the six kingdoms. I am aware that each kingdom has their own customs to choose their crowned princes' and princess' suitors that would ruler with them, but the kings and queens accepted my request to personally arranged their marriages with people I think are suitable for them. I've planned this for some years now and I sent some of my most trusted subordinates search throughout the kingdoms. By my order, they did not search the lands and sea for noble blood, but for commoners. Out of all the populations, six commoners have been chosen to be promised to the heirs of the kingdoms."

Gasps and shocked expressions were plastered on every guest and servants when Alexander revealed that unbreed people that have no ties to society were picked over their more than worthy children. Instead of the High King choosing the suitors, he picked filthy street rats that only the gods know what sewer they crawled out from. Disapproving murmurs began to fill the room as the news sank in, but not for long. Since they were all silenced by Alexander pounding his cane on the floor to regain their attention. Only three bangs were needed to have the nobles zip their howling screamers for once.

"I know that having commoners wed the crown princes and princesses is unheard of and far more than a little unorthodox, but the arrangements have already been made and the chosen six are already in this room as I am speaking to you. Now most of you probably think I have gone mad with my old age by doing this, but I do have a reason. Everyone standing in this room has either heard or read about the Great Battle of Galaonor, and heard of the events that lead up to it. The five united kingdoms started with minor disagreements that lead up to the one battle war. I do not know the least why anyone would name that battle 'Great', since there was nothing but unneeded blood shed, killing, and it could have been the end of everything that we know. Though each kingdom is different in their own way, all the kingdoms need each other to survive - like it or not. Ruthen would be worst than the tales say if they did not trade with Elphanor and Tibolt, and the same can be said for all the kingdoms.

But why choose commoners instead of nobles? The battle of Galaonor was not fought with noble or even royals, but by commoners that placed their lives on the line for their way of life, homes, friends, and families since they believed they were in danger by somethings that nobles and royals let get out of hand instead of working it out. Out of the hundreds of lives that were lost that day, only two of them were of royal blood. The High King before me and my older brother that betrayed Elphanor and tried to destroy the harmony of the kingdoms. Only two, and the rest were common people that had their own lives and people eagerly waiting for their loved ones to come home but never did. It was the commoners that were the most effected before the battle with trading stopped and people struggled and starved, and took a large toll of the aftermath with all of the lost lives and destroyed lands that will forever remained scared. For the heirs to be married to commoners, is the best way to prevent anything like that battle to ever to occur by learning to get pass race, social status, and where they came from. The heirs will personally learn how another war would effect their life partner and their family. This is the reason I have chosen six commoners instead of nobles.

I invited the people from the young kingdom of Ari to join in this plan for peace and form an alliance with them like the five land kingdoms already share. May these special engagements secure a bright future for all of us," Alexander ended his speech and gave a nod to Badic. With the signal from the High King, the dark elf took a few steps forward and unrolled a piece pf brown parchment. "I will now announce the arranged couples, please step forward and remove your mask and stand by your fiance : Prince Xei Val Airis of Aria and Escasriet Xandar; Princess Rima Cybelle Vallombrosa of Gia and Kordoshi Sai; Princess Ariadne Quinn of Tibolt and Sado Oxbaren; Prince Nair Romanth of Iroldak and Ai Quen; Princess Anne Evergreen of Elphanor and Chad Hearthel; and Prince Ikar Fearlock Rayth of Ruthen and Akilah Valentina."

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Kordoshi listened to the trumpets blare and grimaced at the sound. Though the tone of the instruments was nice, the overall volume was quite annoying.

The High King, looking quite gallant in his royal garb with Badic trailing behind him, approached the throne and sat down. He proceeded to explain why everyone was gathered here tonight and what the purpose was for inviting commoners to such an event. As he listened to the tale of the battle, he silently mourned the loss of his grandparents and great grandparents who all perished during the war either due to famine or battle. The reasoning was fairly sound, but he still couldn't see why he of all people had been picked to be at this event, let alone to be wed to a Princess as Badic had explained before.

"I will now announce the arranged couples, please step forward and remove your mask and stand by your fiance : Prince Xei Val Airis of Aria and Escasriet Xandar; Princess Rima Cybelle Vallombrosa of Gia and Kordoshi Sai; Princess Ariadne Quinn of Tibolt and Sado Oxbaren; Prince Nair Romanth of Iroldak and Ai Quen; Princess Anne Evergreen of Elphanor and Chad Hearthel; and Prince Ikar Fearlock Rayth of Ruthen and Akilah Valentina."

Since he had been told of his fate before arrival, he was not surprised when his name was called. He had destroyed his mask earlier, and made no attempt to hide the fact that he had not worn one for most of the night.

Kordoshi was a believer in fate, that there was a higher purpose for everything that happened in life. This event was no exception to him. Though he didn't yet understand why it was happening, he none the less decided that if this was to be his fate and his future, he would accept it. He walked forward to where the High King had asked them to gather, standing in front of a representative from Gai who would guide the Princess to that spot so that they would stand next to the right people. He waited to see who the woman he was now promised to marry was, with his only hope being that she was down to earth and decently quiet, as he didn't do so well with people who had a lot of energy and who always wanted to do something.

He preferred a calm and quiet atmosphere in life.

----------------------------------

Prince Xei listened to the High King's announcement, and was quite shocked to know that it was a commoner whom he was to be engaged to. Never the less, it could prove to be very interesting for it to be so. He walked forward with grace and dignity to where the High King had asked him to stand, and looked expectantly at the man as he awaited his future bride.

A few thoughts ran through his mind about who she would be. If she were calm and quiet, he wouldn't be too over the top with his usual pranks and jokes, as he wouldn't want to scare the poor thing too badly. Never the less, the quiet types made for a good laugh here and there. If she was full of gusto and pep, he'd have even more fun because she would be able to take the 'sudden occurrences' and 'mishaps' and maybe even try to fight back against them. That would be the most fun of all.

He almost shook with anticipation as he waited for his bride to arrive.

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Anne felt all her blood rush all throughout her entire body system when she saw the High King walk. There was always something about the High King that she felt so creeped out. She just couldn't put her finger on it. But either way, she paid her respect then she listened to what he was about to say. She watched him as he looked around the massive room, and everyone voluntarily stopped whatever they were doing, and all of them listened to the High King.

"I will now announce the arranged couples, please step forward and remove your mask and stand by your fiance : Prince Xei Val Airis of Aria and Escasriet Xandar; Princess Rima Cybelle Vallombrosa of Gia and Kordoshi Sai; Princess Ariadne Quinn of Tibolt and Sado Oxbaren; Prince Nair Romanth of Iroldak and Ai Quen; Princess Anne Everdeen of Elphanor and Chad Hearthel; and Prince Ikar Fearlock Rayth of Ruthen and Akilah Valentina."

Anne groaned inwardly. She really hated being engaged. And now, the high King announced it. She knew that she should have escaped when she had the time to do so. But right now, she was trapped. Dead end. She could not go anywhere else, that would be a disgrace in the presence of the High King. But instead of just sitting down there, she stood up and walked up to the front, her posture like what her parents taught her. Straight back and walk gracefully, they always instructed her to do. But right now, her mind was clouded with a lot of thoughts. Like not wanting to get married. And the guy was a commoner, which was NOT common for them royalties. But since it was the High King who told them to do so, she had no choice. But she could find a way to escape, atleast until she knew about this Chad Hearthel. She could give it a shot. To know someone other than princes. But she swore to herself that if she didn't like this guy, she would escape on her own.

Walking slowly with her head high, she just held her mask in her right hand, not wearing it. The glitter on the mask irritated her, she wanted to throw it out anyway, no sense using it now. Anne finally arrived in the front, with some of the others mentioned. She waited patiently for this guy, Chad, whom she was about to marry. ' I hate this kind of thing. I want to be myself and find my own future husband ' Anne thought as she stood in front of the High King. She wore a smile that didn't mirror her real emotions, so that no one would suspect about the things she was thinking or planning to do. ' I thought I would be able to do everything for myself. Not letting anyone decide on what path in life I would go. I guess life just proved me wrong. ' Anne thought as she looked around her, waiting for Chad to step in the front.

' Here I am. Waiting for my life to be dictated. I am seriously not going to let this happen. But what could I do? ' Anne muttered lowly that no one must have heard her. She let her hair flow down her back, she was feeling cold, and she could not go home right at the moment. She was getting frustrated about what would happen. She had to admit, she was also feeling a little scared. She was nervous about the outcome of this event. It might even change her life, or maybe not. But it would depend solely on destiny. She could never know what was about to happen. Standing there, was a pleasure and a disgrace for her at the same time. She felt like she was being sold to someone and let her marry some random guy off, just for their own entertainment. If she finds out that that is what they plan on doing, she will never forgive them.

Soon, there were quite the number of people who will stand in front of the High King, and one of them will be her future husband. In case, just in case, if she embarrass herself in front of the whole crowd, and she prays that it will not happen, she might have to run to where ever her feet will bring her. And hopefully, she would not have the urge to do it. She will not disappoint her parents or the High King. And she will not disappoint all the other nobles and commoners around her.

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#, as written by Kenzi
Rima and Nair had just re-entered the ball when the High King was announced. The chatting and dancing, along with the music and clink of glasses, stopped immediately and the sea of faces turned to the front of the room in rapt attention as the High King and his adviser walked into the room. She knocked her hip playfully into Nair’s side to try and get his attention because he was quite drunk, “Eyes to the front, Nair.” She whispered before turning her own attention to the High King.

On the other side of the room, standing as far off to the side as possible, stood Akilah. Her heart hammered in her chest, cheeks flushed in nervous anticipation, as she listened to the High King talk. When the High King mentioned that the crowned princes and princesses of the kingdoms would be marrying commoners, gasps sounded around the room before people began making rude comments about both commoners and the High King’s questionable sanity. Akilah, on the other hand, shrank further away from the crowd and stared at her feet in absolute terror. She desperately wanted there to be some mistake and not have her name called, but with her luck that wouldn’t be the case.

Rima rolled her eyes at the outbursts around the room. She had never understood the separation of classes and particularly disliked it when people spoke of commoners as being lesser people. She stifled a laugh when the High King banged on the floor with his cane to silence the crowd in the way one might get the attention of small children.

Akilah listened to the High King explain his decision and felt herself agreeing with him. While her father and her had never been close, he had served as a Alcatraz during the war and had (on days when he wasn’t completely repulsed by her presence) recounted the terrible times during the war. Anything that she could do to help prevent that from happening again she would do... even if that meant losing whatever chance at happiness she had.

With the signal from the High King, the dark elf took a few steps forward and unrolled a piece pf brown parchment. "I will now announce the arranged couples, please step forward and remove your mask and stand by your fiance : Prince Xei Val Airis of Aria and Escasriet Xandar; Princess Rima Cybelle Vallombrosa of Gia and Kordoshi Sai; Princess Ariadne Quinn of Tibolt and Sado Oxbaren; Prince Nair Romanth of Iroldak and Ai Quen; Princess Anne Evergreen of Elphanor and Chad Hearthel; and Prince Ikar Fearlock Rayth of Ruthen and Akilah Valentina."

Akilah felt herself freeze to the spot at the mention of her name. She was engaged to the prince of Ruthen! While she had never met the man (obviously, considering she was a commoner of Gai), she had heard tales and was desperately hoping they were not true. Some of the others were already making their way forward and the sensible part of her knew that the longer she resisted the more awkward it would be to make her way to the front. So, swallowing tightly, Akilah carefully pushed her way through the crowd. The beautiful yellow-gold dress swirled around her, two-toned hair bouncing beautifully, and she tried her best to have a friendly smile on her face as she removed the golden mask to reveal her face. Her amber eyes shown brightly and intelligently, accented by the pale gold shadow. Careful not to trip she finally made it to the front and took her spot in the row of commoners while she waited for the prince to join her.

Rima, catching the name Nair in the list of royals, turned to her side to regard the handsome man. She had never met any of the other royals and had spent no time trying to memorize their names, but his suit, made out of a design of thousands of snowflakes, suddenly stared her in the face and she gave an amused laugh before carefully untying her elaborate black and gold mask, “Ah, my northern neighbour.” She said, unmasked and smiling at him with humour and new found interest.

Her emerald-gold eyes stayed locked on Nair for a moment before she glanced back towards the stage to see if her fiancé had gone to the front yet. The representative of Gai stood by a tall, tanned, serious looking man with white hair. “We shouldn’t keep our fiancés waiting. Come on, then.” She said softly, playfully nudging Nair forward before moving gracefully through the crowd. Her monarch butterfly gown stood out magnificently as she made her way to the stage, glittering shadow drawing attention to her peculiar eyes. Some whispered that they thought she was dead, for word of finding the princess had not been publically spread, but she ignored them and kept her friendly and upbeat smile on her face.

She ascended the steps and stopped in front of her fiancé, Kordoshi, and regarded him quietly for a moment. He looked to be the complete opposite of her with a serious face and unfriendly posture but it did not cause her smile to fade and she said the first thing that came to her mind in a teasing whisper, “Well, at least you’re taller than me.”

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Nair struggled back out into the ballroom while the little sober man who no longer controlled the body laughed his ass off in the back of Nair’s head. It’s always fun, watching yourself act like such a fool when you get incredibly wasted, because unless you black out you’re never completely gone. And Nair wasn’t that far gone, at least not yet. This was the good spot: very drunk, yet still able to function.

But that didn’t mean the he was ungrateful for Rima, who was basically shepherding him back into civilization. If it weren’t for his drunken desire to still seem somewhat respectable to her, he’d of made a fool of himself by now for sure. Even at that very moment there were twenty different scenarios as to how he could really turn this event into a party. But he controlled himself, which was good considering they hadn’t taken fifteen steps back into the ballroom before the High King was announced. Nair didn’t notice at first, but a light bump at his side changed that when Rima whispered “eyes to the front.” Nair turned to see what had bumped him and found his eyes on Rima’s legs, which inevitably led to them trailing up her body to her head. Quickly he began to blink and slightly shake his head, not wanting to know where his mind was only moments away from wandering to, and he turned his eyes to the High King who looked like he had something important to say.

When the speech was done, Nair realized he wasn’t quite drunk enough yet. Of course, that’s why his father sent him down here without telling him exactly why. He knew Nair would never have agreed to this. There was nothing he could do about it now though, without embarrassing both himself and his kingdom at least. Yeah, that’s exactly what he needed, rumors of the prince of Iroldek storming out of a ball like some pissed off pubescent kid. No, he’d smile, wave, but he had no intention of marrying anyone.

As he thought about it, Nair realized that he couldn’t get married for the girl, as much as reasons for himself. He would be an absolutely terrible husband because no matter how hard the girl tried to please him, she would never be Jaden, and that was the one unforgivable fault Nair would never be able to look past. But here he was, lawfully bound to marry a girl he didn’t even have the pleasure of picking.

Who knows though, this Ai Quen may be beautiful. And it’s not like one had to be a good husband when you’re a king anyway. Great kings throughout history were still known to occasionally have a mistress, some even a fully fledged harem. Now there’s an idea…no, no point going there. That would only lead to trouble. Still, the thought was enticing.

To his side, Rima looked at him and seemed to come to a conclusion about him. She just realized who he was. Was that bad? Did she like him less now? Nair couldn’t figure out why he cared so much. Even more surprising was when she removed her mask, welcomed him as her northern neighbor, and walked up to the stage to stand in front of a man already up there. Well, that was somewhat surprising, but in retrospect Nair wasn’t as surprised as he thought he’d be. She was so different than any other girl there, there just had to be something unique and mysterious about her. It seemed to fit.

After a few moments of being alone, contemplating so many different possible ways to go about this, ideas that ranged from grabbing the closest weapon type thing he could find and killing a servant in order to cause enough trouble for him to slip out to simply sprinting for the door, Nair realized that he should probably walk up there and stand like a good little noble prince. Yes, he decided, I’ll dance for you tonight. But not after.

Eyes were on him, and Nair could tell they knew how drunk he was, that he had somehow found something they hadn’t been served. Nair had to control himself from sending off any profane gestures with his hands. It was tough. He settled for simply throwing his mask into the crowd, fighting the urge to celebrate when it landed in someone’s drink. When he reached the stage, he looked for this Ai Quen girl, but she didn’t seem to be up there yet. Instead, he saw Rima, standing in front of her husband to be. He enjoyed spending time with her, and maybe if he was to marry her it wouldn’t have been so bad. As much as that thought was simply the booze thinking, it made sense to him. For a few moments Nair tried to subtly catch Rima’s attention, to have her look at him again, but soon gave up and turned his gaze out to the crowd, eyes searching for his would be future wife.

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Ai and her new found friend Duke Kai, whom she had deduced was not actually a duke and was instead a guard here at the castle sent to keep her entertained for a yet unknown reason to her, had used every olive in the bowl and currently the standings of successful shots were at 2 Ai, and 38 Kai. Obviously he had done this more often than a duke would find time to do. Either way, this was entirely unfair. Once she had gotten through pouting over her excessive loss they returned to the ballroom floor.

There they got their own glasses of alcohol, another piece of proof that he was not in-fact a duke, hers was a 22 year old scotch and his was a whiskey of unknown age. After an hour or so she and him were tipsy enough to find humor in the similarity of their names.

“Admit it, you asked me to call you Kai because my name is Ai!” the young selkie exclaimed between chuckles and sips of her drink.

“Not entirely, people do actually call me Kai, it was an unintended pun.” The two snorted in response. They were probably drawing more attention than they should have been considering, she was pretty sure, they were both just simple but very attractive commoners. Oh well, at this point she hardly cared; she had been drawing quite a bit of attention from the moment she walked into the room. Kai had mentioned something about the likelihood of her name being Quen so perhaps she would be a future queen. As unlikely as that would be it was still a humorous comment. Adding to the joke she referred to Kai as her loyal subject once or twice.

Their fun, nonetheless, was interrupted by some very rude trumpeters and the entrance of the Grand Ole’ High King. Alexander, was it? Something of the sort. With his entrance came the full attention of the crowd including Ai and Kai’s. Emanating from the crowd came this overwhelming aura of anxiousness. She got the vague feeling she was missing something. Something big. Something important that affected her in some way, shape, or form.

She swore if something happened that messed with her life, Badic was going down so hard he would be dead before he hit the ground.

The King started stereotypically, "Let me start with a thank you for all of you being here tonight for this special occasion,"

“You’re welcome,” Ai responded under her breath. The next part was something about getting the princes and princesses getting engaged to someone, “suckers.” She lifted her glass up to take a drink and right as the glass reached her lips the word commoner echoed in her ear and she froze.

Perhaps it was just a coincidence. Who’s to say there aren’t more than six commoners hidden amongst the masks? Yes that was it. She wasn’t the only commoner from Airis, ha, of course.

She took a couple of sips of her scotch and started to squirm in her hair as he said he would announce the engagements. Then Badic stepped forward and she began clutching the glass a little too hard, "I will now announce the arranged couples, please step forward and remove your mask and stand by your fiance : Prince Xei Val Airis of Aria and Escasriet Xandar; Princess Rima Cybelle Vallombrosa of Gia and Kordoshi Sai; Princess Ariadne Quinn of Tibolt and Sado Oxbaren;” so far so, good, no name and already halfway through.

Then the moment of doom, ” Prince Nair Romanth of Iroldak and Ai Quen.”

“Prince Nair Romanth of Iroldak and Ai Quen.”

“Prince Nair Romanth of Iroldak and Ai Quen.”

“Prince Nair Romanth of Iroldak and Ai Quen.”
The glass shattered in her hand. Oh, Badic was dead but that would be after she escaped the grips of this kingdom. She stood, wiping the glass off her hands as she began to make her way to the doors she entered through. 

“Ai, where are you going?” Kai asked. She ignored him, a slight stinging sensation began to pass through her hands and began to go up her arm. She had cut herself and she hardly cared, not yet. “Ai, you can’t leave.” He gripped her hand and she squeaked and turned around and gripped his hand. 

“Let go!” she grumbled, “You’re hurting me.”

“I can’t let you leave Ai.” With those words he began to drag her to the place where she was apparently supposed to stand. She gripped his wrist harder and began to grimace, it seriously was hurting, and she must have had glass pieces in her hand. It wasn’t long before they reached the designated spot; he was obviously a taura if he was that strong. With an innocent smile he pushed her forward removing her mask as he did so.

“Oof.” The curious glances she was receiving almost made her laugh, what stopped her was the man that stood next to her. He smelled heavily of alcohol and would have seemed twice her age if it wasn’t for the youth that could be seen behind his beard. So this was her ‘betrothed’. Lovely, a drunkard who no doubt was like every other lecherous drunk in the room, just what she always wished for. Immediately she looked ahead eyes fixed on anything but a person. She would get out of this if she had to supposedly 'kill' herself. She absolutely refused to marry someone that would no doubt keep her out of the water and force her to conform to the rules of her society.

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#, as written by Ravelin
Escasriet placed her empty glass on the table, her pretty little drink didn't fair too long with a strong liquor drinker. Well, the drink did live up to its name, the pathetic liquid did made her mood darker and stormier than it was moments before. It would be nice to at least have a glass or two of real alcohol before she the mad old goat comes to the room and officially ends the life that she knows. Going completely sober would only make the torment of her ideal life shattering in millions of pieces that much more unbearable.

"All I ever wanted was to inherit the smithery when Gramps decided to retire, and live out the rest of my happy days pounding iron. How simple and worry free of a life can you get? Who would ever think my life would turn out this screwed up just because some old fool thinks I would not only make a good wife but also a future queen at that- Maybe the Queen of the Blacksmiths," Escasriet muttered with a light joke at the end.

She began to play around with her empty glass out of boredom. That was until some guy thought to sit down at her table and drink his own brew that he brought to this 'celebration party'. Unlike the other guest that Escasriet had the pleasure of either bumping into or squeezing through as she walked inside the room, the man before her was dressed differently and didn't have the stench of nobility on him. He wasn't wearing uniforms like the waiters, bartenders, or guards but clothes that would be considered 'dress clothes' for commoners but under dressed to the peacocks strutting around. After taking a gulp out of his drink, the man turned his attention from his drink to her and held his canteen up with a grin on his face.

"Beer? Some of Tibolt's finest." He offered.

If this was back home and he didn't already took a drink first, Escasriet would have refused it. But the click was ticking towards her dooms day and there was hardly any alcohol in her system. Plus he did take a drink out of it first, so it wasn't drugged or poisoned. Which she really couldn't think of anyone that she know that would give her drugged or poisoned alcohol, but after tonight Escasriet had little doubt that more than a few nobles would.

"Eh, What the hell. I better get at least one glass of beer in me before that old goat gets in here and officially ruins my life," Escasreit accepted and held her glass for him to pour some beer in it.

After gulping down the first glass, with great satisfaction, the time had arrived with annoying trumpet horns to announce it. The High King made his pretty little speech.In different circumstances, she would probably agree with the loon old goat. But she's one of the unlucky commoners that gets thrown into the High King's madness. Though she had to admit, it was amusing seeing the arrogant nobles' reaction to the news. They looked like the High King suggested that they were going to sacrifice them and their daughters to some god to favor them. A fat old noblewoman even fainted at the news.

"Just please tell me that damn elf made a mistake bringing me here instead of some other girl," Escasriet prayed, not caring if anyone overheard her or not.

It was as if Badic himself overheard her and wanted to crush any little light of hope that she had, or just plain getting back at her for calling him 'damn elf'. Either way, the damn elf just had to call her name first. Hoping that all of this was just some weird drunk dream and it was going to be over soon, Escasriet rose from her chair and made her way to the center of all the blastin' attention- in front of the High King and who she thought was Xei.... Her future husband.

When she made it there, she did as ordered and took off her mask. Pretty glad to finally be rid of it, it was really starting to get on her nerves more so than before with irritating her skin. Her confident, stubborn blue eyes set on the prince that the old goat paired her up with. 'Great.... Not only am I engaged to a pretty boy I don't even know, a prince, but lives in the middle of nowhere in the sea?.... Someone PLEASE kill me.

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Xei waited patiently with a smile for his future bride to approach. As he waited he looked around and took a moment to admire the beauty of the Ballroom and smiled at several groups of young women watching him and the others as they began to congregate in front of the High King. The strange young man from before stood not more than ten feet away, waiting for his new bride to be to come forth as well, and when a brightly colored and highly spirited young woman came forth to take her place beside him, Xei inwardly laughed to himself.

The poor boy is betrothed to a beautiful, but energetic young woman. I doubt that he'll be able to keep up with her in the slightest, though it would probably make for a good laugh if he tried anyway. He thought to himself.

Moments later, a gorgeous young woman with bright pink hair came forth and removed her mask. She took her place beside him and gave him a look that practically screamed, "why me?". Xei smiled to her warmly, and bowed his head to show her respects.

Inside he was laughing uncontrollably. His bride to be was a serious young woman who would more than likely begin to hate him if she found out about his pranks, which made him all the more determined to make them count while he could for she would likely kill him if she found out he was behind them.

"Greetings my lady, my name is Xei. I am the Prince of Airis, a land founded in the seas. I hope sincerely that the two of us will get along well, as a country can only succeed if its rulers are as one with each other and their people." He said in a casual but happy tone.

This is going to be veeeeeeeery interesting. He thought to himself.

-------------------------------

Kordoshi had noticed the man from before looking over at him and he scowled back, letting him know he didn't appreciate the man's eyes on him. His attention was drawn away, however, as a beautiful and tall young woman suddenly appeared by his side.

The thing that he noticed first were her eyes. They were amazing, and somewhat captivating to him. The way the colors swirled and mixed in green and gold at first looked almost fake, but they were very real and he was taken aback by her appearance as she stood beside him with a smile.

“Well, at least you’re taller than me.” She whispered to him.

He could feel his face flush slightly as he continued to look at her, and so he turned his head away and looked forward, but slightly down to hide his eyes and his upper cheeks behind his long beige hair. He had never in his life spoken to a Princess, nor had he met or seen one so beautiful. He was speechless that this was the woman who was chosen to be his bride. If this was a joke, just to laugh at Kordoshi for his rough and isolated lifestyle, than it was a joke taken too far by the High King.

This can't be happening... it just can't be happening!... Not to someone like me... He thought.

Kordoshi had always been nervous around women, having been separated from normal society for so long. He had always been alone, having had his family taken from him as a child. The memories came back in a torrent of unpleasant visions and illusions. He involuntarily flinched at the thoughts, clenching his teeth and closing his fists as they shook by his sides. After a moment he was able to calm down, after he forced the memories away. He had to work very hard to stop a tear from falling down his cheeks as the image of his little sister walked in front of him as she had done the day before her death.

Kordoshi heaved a sigh as he finally gained control, and looked over at the Princess beside with a smile.

"I am pleased to meet you, Princess... I am far from perfect, but I hope that you'll be able to put up with me long enough for us to at least be friends." He said in an even and warm tone, his expression soft and kind.

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#, as written by Ravelin
Sado arrived to the ball.... Surprisingly, he didn't look like his average lazy ass self with his unbutton shirt, baggy shorts, or sunglasses. Instead, he wore a white long sleeve button shirt with a black leather vest, fitted trousers with black boots, and in replacement of his glasses a black mask. But he refused to give up on his droopy hat with the argument that it went along with his outfit since it was black. It might not have been a very good argument, but hey at least it worked. For some reason, not wearing clothes that suited his carefree style upsetted Sado's stomach. That or queasiness from the whole flying trip to Galanor still didn't left his system. Never in his life that Sado experienced such a nerve wrecking event as flying in a carriage.... Let's just say that he had to go through four gourd fill with alcohol to calm his stress enough to somewhat properly sit in his seat instead of curled up in a ball under it.

Before he left his room, Sado made sure to refill one of the gourds with his own personal supply of homemade alcohol. Only 1/4 of his luggage was clothes, shoes, tooth brush, etc while the rest was either already made perfectly aged whine, beer, rum, and ale that was 'cheated' with his family's aging potion. Other than the personal items and alcohol, were ingredients to make more aging potions and his nighty-night gas also his unfinished projects and tools.

Armed with his rum filled gourd and funny outfit, Sado walked around the ball room around the room. He might as well enjoy the party, but when he approached people. They would stick their nose in the air with a little 'hmph!' and acted like they didn't hear him. With the last person he tried to socialize was, which was an elderly woman that had way too much make-up on to try to appear decades younger than she was but had the opposite effect, she rudely questioned about his 'tacky, unrefined, ugly hate' before she done what everyone else before had done and sticked her wriggled nose in the air and ignored him.

"Well, that was just plain unfriendly-like of them." Sado joked to himself, shrugging the arrogance of nobility like it was nothing special. Why go out of your way to please someone that's never going to be please, and why go out of your way to prove something to someone in hopes of changing their minds? Either way sounds too much hassle for Sado to deal with.

Instead of going through the polite hello, in other words a "Hey, what's up? You folks got invited too?", and just ended up being ignored, Sado went to sit at one of the tables. There were a few nobles already seated and were boasting about something or another over their fruity little drinks that they call alcohol. The nobles' behavior really didn't effect Sado even if they were mocking and looking down at him, but calling their weak drinks alcohol was a little more than a disgrace to his family's art. Instead of taking action to their ignorance of what makes a real drink a drink, Sado likes to plan around with the idea of since they drink those funny looking cocktails, they probably couldn't handle the weakest of beers and lose their lunch back up where it went down.

Less than half of the table had people on it but they were all on one side of it. So, the orange haired funky hat wearing man took a seat the opposite end. When he sat, the nobles at the table stopped talking and shot glares at him. "Do you mind? We were in the middle of a VERY important conversation... Not that I expect the likes of you to understand," a silver haired gentleman with signs of age directed at Sado, who was already gulping down some of his homemade rum from his gourd. Sado simply rose a confused brow and looked at the small pack of annoyed high class people.

"I'm pretty sure me just chillin' out here for a few moments isn't going interrupt you fine folks' business. Maybe some rum would help smooth out any bumps in the road? It's one of the best darn things that would ever touch your lips, I tell you what. So how about it, folks?" Sado offered with his huge lazy grin while holding up his gourd.

The expression of shock was plastered on all the faces of the nobles, Sado's improper and inform speech just offended them to no end. Not to mention offering them a drink that probably already had his back wash in it, actually made one of the young ladies of the group dash to the nearest restroom. The silver headed gentleman cleared his voice and gained the attention of his wanted company.

"I say, we better journey else where before this ruffian's crudeness infects." He suggested with a murmur of agreements from the small group before they got up and left Sado all alone with his gourd.

Still confused of what actually happened, "Was it something I said or do I just smell?" With a quite pit check while no one was looking, "Nope, I guess they had something to go to. Oh well, more rum for me~"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sado must have dozed off from boredom, since the next thing he knew was falling out of his seat and crushed into the floor when loud trumpets suddenly started to play. In the process of falling, his gourd also fell into the floor and round under the table. It only took a few moments for Sado to get back to what little sense that he had and dusted himself off as he got back to his feet and took noticed of the High King walking into the room.

As the High King was making his speech about something or another, Sado's hand went to the place on his belt that he always keeps his gourd to only to find it missing. Turning his back towards the crowd and the High King, he looked on and around the table he was napping at moments before and somehow ended up under it and located his gourd. With victory of finding the drink holder also comes disappointment when he tries to take a drink from it. Empty as a desert during the hot season, as his Grandpa always said. "Aww, why's all the rum gone?"

"Princess Ariadne Quinn of Tibolt and Sado Oxbaren"

"Huh? Did someone just call my name?" Sado asked as he got out from under the table and once again stood to see what was going on. It seemed like his name was called to join the some people in front of the High King. "Oh! Don't tell me it's time for the engagements already?" He said to himself, clearly not hearing what was said before Badic called his name.

It only took a few minutes for him to get through the sea of stubbornly placed nobles and take his place on what he thought was the commoners side.... Since the girls that were there didn't look to happy to be here. His gaze went from the faces of his fellow commoners to a familiar strict expression on a certain dark elf.

"Hey-ay! What's up, Elf Dude- I mean Mr. Badic. The last time I seen you was after than crazy weird flying carriage travel hours ago. So whatcha doi-" Sado's easy going conversation was cut off by a glare of all glares from Badic, even making Sado realize that this was quite the right time to shoot the breeze. Taking off his mask, Sado quietly waited to finally see the woman that funny fate decided to match him up with.

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Chad and Ari's conversation was cut short. The entire ballroom, which had been just moments before filled with the chatter of the kind that only a roomful of nobles could make, was stilled by the arrival of the High King and his entourage. A red carpet was rolled out (overkill, Chad thought), and several trumpet players lined on either side to fill the room with their noise. The crowd was effectively hushed, and their entire attention was drawn towards the entering king. One man who was following the king told them all to stand for the king. Chad stood without hesitation from his slouched position on the bar seat, being one of the first to rise in acknowledgement. The rest of the nobles followed very quickly afterword, but there was a slight delay before some of the foreign nobles did so; most likely they weren't used to acknowledging any leader's authority but their own.

Taking his time, the High King ascended to his throne, several people-his advisors, Chad guessed-stood around him. After giving everyone a moment to get over the shock of his arrival, he started right into his speech. Chad was impressed by the way the king spoke and how he held himself; even though he was much older than the rulers of the other kingdoms, he found a way to be even more imposing than them. His voice was firm and loud, and spoke of the authority that the man wielded. Chad had only seen the king once before, as a little boy sporting a black eye from a fight with his twin, but even at that young age he had felt the same way upon meeting him. Chad smiled wistfully, finding it odd the way that the king connected both of Chad's lives in a way that no one else really did.

The king went on to explain the reasoning behind why they were assembled there. Many probably already knew why, having been invited much like Chad had to come, and several others had probably been able to define the purpose of the meeting. Many people didn't know why, though, and they were shocked when they heard. Considerably more people were even further shocked when he spoke off who was being married, meaning: that lowly commoners were to marry the assembled princes and princesses.

Chad couldn't help but correcting the king in his head. You mean your team gathered five commoners and one baby blueblood that you dragged here against his will to play the role of a commoner.

Noticing the forming uproar, the king promptly called for silence by banging his rather dangerous looking cane. Chad cringed at the noise it made, knowing that he wouldn't like to be on the receiving in of a whack from that. As everyone quieted, the king went on to explain himself. He started to explain about his reasons for marrying the commoners, saying that it was to prevent another conflict like the war that they had ravaged the land before. He spoke in rather great detail about the war, explaining about how terrible it was and how much they needed to prevent it from happening again.

As the king spoke, Chad tried to picture it in his head; he tried to envision the continent engaged in one giant battle, with everyone fighting for one goal. He tried to picture hundreds, even thousands of people like Matthew, dying each day trying to protect the land that they loved...but he couldn't. He couldn't think about nameless people in the same way he thought about Matthew. He didn't know them; he didn't owe them anything, and owed Matthew the world. Why was he even here, trying to prevent these unknown people from killing themselves? None of them could possibly...no one could possibly be as important as Matthew.

And then a face came into Chad's mind, and it stilled his protests, replacing the rising anger with sickening dread. He saw a younger Lugh sprawled over the body of an older man whose chest was covered in red that matched the red shade of his hair. The older man had been run through by at least a dozen arrows before he fell, and Lugh was desperately trying to pull them out of the corpse of his father, cutting his fingers on the spiked shafts of the arrows.

Chad gritted his teeth and clenched his fist, suddenly wanting to kill someone, anyone, who caused that. A few of the nobles were snickering quietly, joking amongst themselves about the old king and his outdated beliefs about preventing war. One of them piped up, saying that a war like that was exactly what they needed to change the way things were.

That's why you're doing this, to prevent these people from killing all of those people who love their home so much they'd die for it. To protect them from their rulers who would expend them just to get more power, he told himself, resolving to not waste the chance he'd been given to finally atone for Matthew's death.

"Princess Anne Evergreen of Elphanor and Chad Hearthel," Badic called out among the other pairings, making Chad look pointedly at the elf as a smile begin to form on his face. He didn't know if he had invoked the power of either God or the Devil with his vow, but one of them seemed to have heard him. This was how he was going to assure that no war would break out; he was going to marry the princess of Elphanor. One day, that princess will become the queen, and then her husband will become the king. Meaning, one day, Chad will become the king of Elphanor...one day, he'd sit in the High King's seat.

Chad looked at the High King and saw the smile forming on his face from the princes and princesses assembling in front of him with their matched commoners. Chad nodded slightly in his directions and spoke out to him with unvoiced words. Don't worry King, none of these nobles are going to kill each other once I take the throne. If I have to do it by having my men on every street of every capital, by shadowing every noble from each kingdom and hushing the outspoken ones, then I will. If I have to play the politics game to control them, then I'll become an expert at it. I'll prevent another war if it takes everything I have. The king had just set up a mercenary to inherit his throne, and when he did...

Chad made his way forward, pushing past the crowd to get to the throne. He looked at the others who were gathered there, noticing the ones that were already paired up. Then he spied one little lady who was obviously a princess, dressed as finely and looking as pampered as she did. She was young and beautiful, practically exuding an innocence that attributes to one that doesn’t know how the rough world tumbles.

God was smiling on him again; she'd be easy to manipulate once he learned how to control her. He approached her and tapped her shoulder, drawing her attention to him, and then bowing to her slightly in the customary way. He took her hand and placed a chaste kiss to the back of it, glancing up at her and tipping an imaginary hat on his head. He introduced himself with an excitement that was genuine, elated as he was at the opportunity before him.

"Chad Hearthel, at your service, Princess Anne."

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Well, at least she was pretty. While having sobered up somewhat, Nair was still a bit too drunk for any kind of public affair, so he began to look for a reason to get out of everyone’s eyes. The entire party had their attention on where all the recently betrothed now stood, and despite Nair’s history of public speaking, to his civilians and armies, it was still a little unnerving. He was unsure just what these people wanted. Did they want some sort of speech? Gods knew that the High King wasn’t the greatest public speaker in the world, having surely left everyone in the room unsatisfied.

Nair didn’t bother himself with them though. At the moment, he was trying to figure out what he was supposed to do with her, this Ai Quen, his, for the time being, future wife. Gathering up all the sobriety he had left, Nair gave a small, personal bow, and spoke at a volume which only she could hear. “This isn’t how I thought I’d meet my wife,” he began, still in his bow, staring at the floor. There was a tint of sadness in him which he couldn’t control, considering he had long since proven himself to be a rather emotional drunk. “And I doubt this is how you’d meet your husband. For now, please, just smile for them, and we can figure this out, yeah?” Nair looked up at her from his bow, his eyes meeting her own.

There was so much running through his mind that Nair wanted to tell her, but he knew he could not at the moment. What she must be thinking! She had no reason to view him as anything other than any of the many pompous, drunk nobles in the room. Peasants usually have a negative outlook on life as it is, and Nair was already ruining his first impression on her. Finally Nair stood from his bow and looked around the room. There was no point staying at the party, for now.

Raising his voice this time so that everyone in the surrounding area could hear, Nair addressed Ai. Except this time, unlike when he bowed and spoke only to her, his voice had a sense of power behind it, the kind of power one would expect out of a prince and future king. “I believe it would be best if we retire for now, to become further acquainted. We’ll be sent for if we’re needed further.” Nair extended his arm, and thanked the stars when she took it, before leading the two of them away from the party. On his way, he turned to the High King. For only a moment he allowed his anger to show on his face. It wasn’t the anger of a pissed off teenager, but that of a prince who did not like anyone meddling in his own affairs.

They walked in silence out of the party into a corridor until they reached Nair’s quarters. Seeing as they were soon to be wed, there was little reason for social boundaries anymore. Once inside, Nair poured himself a glass of water and collapsed onto a chair. The room was lit by a few candles spread out throughout the room, though the main source of light came from the fireplace near where Nair had sat down.

Nair looked up at her from where he sat, drinking his water, trying to sober up. In the blink of an eye she wasn’t Ai anymore, but instead his own love. With the next blink Ai had returned, and Nair covered up a single tear that he prayed she hadn’t seen. “Well,” he said. Then he realized that he had no clue what he was going to say next and fell silent again.

“Fuck,” he whispered to himself, and then looked back up at her, “this is just fucked up, isn’t it?” He laughed. “I’ve no idea what to do now.” Try as he might, Nair couldn’t find any more words. He wished he could hear her speak. What she thought actually mattered to him, especially now when everything was so fragile. Nair finished off his glass of water, and leaned back into his chair. “Not exactly what you were expecting, either?”

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There was something not quite right when Chad stepped forward as he smiled at her. Something wasn't right. She smiled back at him, but keeping in the back of her mind what she felt about it. She was sure that this guy was plotting something. She had seen lots of other princes do it. But what if her instinct was wrong? Then everything will go wrong too. But she just can't shake off the feeling. She looked at him in a way that no one would suspect that she was secretly spying on him. " I have to make sure that this guy doesn't marry me. I have to do something. " Anne thought as she smiled sweetly at him. No one can ever read her real thoughts. It has been a gift to her to learn to mask it. Mask her emotions from everyone else, even her parents. She only pretended that she wanted to go to this stupid ball. It was all an act. So if she did it once, doing it again won't be a big matter for her.

Anne looked at her watch and sighed. If she was back in her kingdom, she could have been training with the palace knights. Of course, without her parent's consent. If they were to know about this, she would be so dead. Only her private maid and the knights know about this secret. She would currently be having a combat with a knight, if she was not at the ball. " God, how I want to go back to the palace " Anne muttered so low that she was really sure that no one heard her. She looked again at Chad, not showing what she was thinking about him. If it weren't for her kingdom, she wouldn't really be marrying anyone. She would just have fun ruling her own kingdom and helping other people like commoners and being like one of them, if possible, even just for a day. She didn't trust this guy beside her. And she didn't trust the High King too. She might be sadistic sometimes, but it does not really matter to her what other people think.

She glanced at everyone around them. The nobles were pointing to her, for whatever reason they had, she did not know. Like it mattered to her anyway. But then it doesn't. Currently, the boredom was killing her. She would happy to literally kill a person randomly just to get out of the place. Deciding that there was nothing she can do, she decided to talk to Chad.

" Good evening, Mr. Chad Hearthel. Are you enjoying the evening right now? Tell me more about yourself " Anne asked him in an innocent way. Yet, something tells her that her sweet words have some poison in it. She do want to know more about him, hoping that she was wrong about Chad. But her instincts were never wrong. It happens all the time. And she turns down every guy all the time. She just could not do it here, where everyone is watching. She would be a big disgrace to her family if she does something not appropriate. Especially when she has this certain attitude where when she is enjoying doing something, whether good or bad, she won't be able to stop herself. And in her case, she has the urge to do something really ...devastating.

" And anyway, are you happy to be here? Or are you just pretending to do so? " Anne could not resist the urge to ask the question. Whether it will surprise her or not, it doesn't really matter for her. Many people did say that she can be stupid sometimes. And everyone knows that stupidity can be very dangerous. This was a part of her personality that she kept well-hidden, until now. She had never been this disrespectful to anyone even to commoners. But now, she just had to keep herself protected from all the people around her.

She won't be pushed around anymore.

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#, as written by Kenzi
Rima had not expected the playful comment to embarrass Korodoshi so much. His tanned face flushed with color as he looked away and hid his eyes behind sheets of beige hair. The other couples were assembling around them and while she wanted to glance and see who Nair was paired with, her curiosity was peaked by the man in front of her. He seemed to go through a variety of motions very quickly, clenching his jaw and fists while seeming to fight back some sort of deep sadness.

Her dark brows knit together in confusion, wondering what on earth he was thinking about. She was about to say something when he suddenly sighed and looked towards her. His previously serious face broke into a smile as he spoke.

"I am pleased to meet you, Princess... I am far from perfect, but I hope that you'll be able to put up with me long enough for us to at least be friends." He said in an even and warm tone, his expression soft and kind.

Rima returned the smile with a brilliant one of her own, pleased that the man before her was no longer wrapped up in dark thoughts and emotions, "Nobody is perfect, Kordoshi." She responded with a laugh, as though his modesty were very cute, "I imagine you'll be the one that will need to put up with me, if this conversation is any indication of our future interactions." She added, reaching out and taking his hand without a second thought. The electric connection she had felt with Nair was not there with Kordoshi, but holding Kordoshi's hand was not unpleasant.

"Come on then, let's go to our room and get some rest." She said, leading Kordoshi off the stage and down a long winding hall while still holding onto his hand.

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Ai was vastly annoyed, though no one could tell it unless she looked directly at you. Her smile was brilliant, her eyes remained closes so no one could see the vast hatred for her current situation, nor her already plotting mind. Eyes were the windows to the soul, so when she didn’t feel like people should know how she was really feeling she closed them and smiled.

The only time her hazel eyes opened was when the prince before her, what was his name, Fair Romance, spoke. He was slightly bowed his eyes focused on the floor rather than her, something many of the women in the carnival found annoying. She was one of them, if you were going to talk, talk to her face, not her feet, not the floor, and most certainly not her chest. However, for the first time, she recognized to show of respect in the act. He was a prince, she was a peasant and she hated to admit it but this was the ultimate way of showing respect in the world of nobility. She’d let him off the hook, this time.

When she did actually listen to the words he said he did not slur as one would have thought a drunk to do, he was actually, almost, crystal clear though he was speaking a bit under his breath making it a little hard for her to hear him. “This isn’t how I thought I’d meet my wife,” he started, she almost missed the slight hint of sadness in his voice that she wasn’t entirely sure he meant for her to hear, then he continued, And I doubt this is how you’d meet your husband.” She almost scoffed, ‘you got that right, honey,’ she thought to herself, “For now, please, just smile for them, and we can figure this out, yeah?” She was already smiling so that wasn’t much of an issue. The ‘figure this out’ part was a slight problem considering she already had a few ideas in mind that she wasn’t planning on sharing with anyone.

He then announced that he and she were going to retire, the authority in his voice, it was amazing, attractive even. Lana would have gone goo-goo-gah-gah over it. Ai, if she weren’t as annoyed as she was probably would have made a move on him just for the fun of it; that is if it was necessary, though she was already temporarily engaged to him. Although, now that she thought about it, seducing a prince would not end well no matter how she looked at it.

What most people didn’t know was that Ai has never even kissed a man, except on the cheek but that hardly counts. Lana told her once that the greatest gift of all is the gift a girl could only give once. Thus, the funniest part of the game of seducing was the end, the part where she shuts the man down completely. Now a prince probably would be a lot harder to shut down without insulting him and causing some sort of international crisis. Now let’s add some alcohol. Men were touchy as is, a drunken man is worse than a woman during a certain time of the month.

So, when Fair Romance offered his arm to her an internal crisis occurred, she didn’t want to give these nobles the pleasure of associating her with a barbarian but she didn’t want to lead the prince on. Decisions, decisions. In the end she took his arm with a severely clenched jaw and a grin to hide her annoyance. The only real thing driving her was that she had absolutely no idea where to go once outside the ballroom and she was hoping he did.
She decided quickly that, though he did know where he was going, he was most certainly not taking her to her room. Internally, she violently kicked herself, and twice considered kicking the prince but decided against it. He was bigger than her, more than likely stronger than her and her dress was heavier than the world.

They reached what she assumed to be his room, it was larger than his room and even contained a fireplace; she snorted slightly. He plopped himself down in the nearest chair, allowing her to remain standing by the door. She watched as he poured himself a glass of water.

Then he looked up at her. For that one moment she felt as though he wasn’t looking at her, but someone else. Unconsciously she took a step back. He blinked and all was normal again, well except for remaining awkwardness and heaviness of the air in the room. Something caught the fire and danced for a moment, a dance that seemed like something she would do. Was that a tear? Alas, it was gone by then and she was left wondering if she had indeed seen one at all.

He spoke, at least he was straightforward. He admitted freely that he had no idea what to do, she had some ideas. Just none he would share. For another moment he seemed at a loss for words, and quickly asked her a question. ”Not exactly what you were expecting, either?” Most definitely not, for a moment she looked at the dancing flames of the fire place, why did she feel as though they were dancing in celebration of her current misery. Perhaps their celebration was of something else entirely something only the short lives of the fires could know.

She looked the prince in the eyes, her own gentle, as they would be in a dance of the unknown. How else would she greet the great unknown of destiny? She answered simply in a quiet voice barely louder than the crackling of the fire, she would prefer not to be talking but on some occasions body language wasn’t appropriate. “No, no it was not.”

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"Nobody is perfect, Kordoshi." She responded with a laugh, as though his modesty were very cute, "I imagine you'll be the one that will need to put up with me, if this conversation is any indication of our future interactions... Come on then, let's go to our room and get some rest." She said, leading Kordoshi off the stage and down a long winding hall while still holding onto his hand.

Kordoshi's mind raced in five directions at once. Rima was now holding his hand and dragging him away from the ceremony, telling him they should get some rest, and her energy was quite overwhelming as it usually wasn't possible to simply drag Kordoshi anywhere when he put up a fight, which he was trying to do but she was stronger than she looked.

"W-wait a minute Princess!" He called to her, trying his best to stop her.

It was no use, she had her mind made up as to what they were doing and he couldn't get his footing fast enough to stop her from dragging him down the hallway. It was somewhat embarrassing for him really, but at the same time her willingness to do what she wanted without question was rather cute.

Still...

This is going to be a long few days while we wait for the ceremony to officially come to an end and await the weddings... He thought to himself.