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Thread: Cold Hands, War[m] Heart [Namingtoohard & Fanatasia]

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    Fantasy Cold Hands, War[m] Heart [Namingtoohard & Fanatasia]

    An Ice elemental?! That is who they could find me?! She scowled at her thoughts, as she brushed away the maids who were trying to do her hair. "Go away." She ordered softly, shaking her head. She did not want the beauties of being a Princess now--not after eighteen years of being ignored; being the lesser child.

    Once the maids had left, Aine stood quietly, circling her room. Yes, while her parents had ignored her, she had been given the beauties that every child should want--at least for a while. Never what she really wanted; and that was love.

    Aine's green hues flickered behind of her as she heard her door open. She turned to study the elderly, plump woman that entered. Coranne was a woman of great wisdom, at least in Aine's eyes. This particular woman had given Aine so much love when her parents would not.

    "Are you frightened, Aine?" Coranne asked, as she came up behind the girl to lace the gown she wore. "I know this is not what you wanted--but you're the kingdom's last hope. Especially if we're to survive." She spoke as she laced the corset, though the red-haired female stayed silent.

    Coranne smiled gently as she reached to braid the girl's hair. "I am certain that Prince Leith will be kind, child. You may never love him, but he may at least be nice." Aine was silent, as the older woman braided her long, brilliant locks into an intricate ensemble.

    As the tiara was settled upon her head, she murmured, "I hope that he is respectful." Not many were; after all, she did not call for respect with her inability to produce or control flames--she could not even do the slightest thing. As she stood, she spoke, "I believe they will be arriving any moment now... We should start to the ball, yes?"

    Coranne nodded and watched the Princess go.

    As she stepped into the ballroom; which was bustling and full of people--nobles mostly--she was announced and the clamor of voices quieted, slightly. Many people turned to leer, sneer--turned to stare at the 'dud'. She was beautiful--for once she looked like a Princess; like she was supposed too, and this only caused the females in the audience to sneer and whisper.

    Aine stopped midway down the staircase, momentarily overtaken by fear--by fear of being in front of a crowd; that paid attention to her, anyway. She did not hear when the Neve royalty was announced--standing at the top of the staircase behind her. She was so lost in her sudden stage-fright, it was not until her mother took her hand that she remembered where she was--who she was, and what was happening today.

    The gown she wore was white--as white as the snow that never fell in Sinder. The Kingdom of Sinder was a rather heated place; the occupants had never experienced the cold--seen the snow. Only in fairy-tales; tales of Neve. She allowed her mother to lead her to the throne meant for her, and as she sat down, she watched the people entering next.

    While most of Sinder's occupants were dark-haired; sporting green or brown eyes, Aine was the fiery light in the midst of the people. Her eyes were a brilliant blue. She stood, as the royal members of Neve were announced--rather, those who were attending. As she stood, the gown flared around her, drawing the eye of most of the crowd to her; however, her gaze was focused respectfully upon the royal family visiting.

    "Be mindful, you insolent girl. I don't want you screwing this up." That was the last thing Aine heard, before she moved forward on autopilot--to wait to properly greet the royal family, and attempt to sneak a peek at her intended--who had yet to be called.

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    "It's almost time, my lord. The last of our progression is just being announced now"

    The simple statement came from one of his runners; a lowly and unimportant messenger, who had only been brought with him to the kingdom of Sinder out of necessity. Upon hearing his words, Prince Leith Neve would slowly turn to face the newcomer, giving him a small nod of acknowledgement. Taking that as a sign, the man would bow to the prince, before turning and moving off once more. He would spend the rest of the evening lingering around the fringes of the ballroom, close enough to listen and be called if his services were needed, yet far enough to avoid drawing too much attention to himself.

    Normally the crown prince was right at home at these sorts of gatherings. Meetings between powers, the mind games they played, and the way they tried to talk circles around each other. He had always been good at it, but this time felt...different. Perhaps it was the clothing - much lighter than what he was used to wearing back home, specially made for Sinder's hotter climate. Still, even he had to admit that it's creators had done a fantastic job. His shirt and pants were white, but largely obscured by an overcoat in a light sky blue, and a pair of white gloves completed the ensemble. One step further still, the entire outfit was trimmed with golden thread that almost seemed to reflect the light.

    Then again, it could have just been the circumstances of this meeting, and the weight it would carry moving forward. It would be important to make a good first impression.

    His train of thought was interrupted by the arrival of one Fiora del Scanda - captain of his guard and the only member of his party who was privy to the truth behind this arrangement. She was dressed in her captain's uniform, and honestly, there was nothing that could have made a better fit for her. A set of sturdy yet eloquent black travelling pants, a red undershirt, and a large overcoat in deep blue to complete the ensemble. It was a striking contrast, but that only seemed to accentuate the effect. Several silver buttons lined the coat's open front, as well as its cuffs, and all were polished to a shine. She stood up straight, both hands clasped behind her back, and moved with both grace and poise - not the sort that came with practice, but rather, utter confidence in oneself. She might have seemed out of place, given that she wasn't wearing a dress at this formal event, but Fiora had never minded that.

    "The men are in position, sir. The heralds have been advised, and await your arrival" she announced. Her voice seemed to echo throughout the antechamber, which was largely empty now that most of the other members of court he had brought along had gone on ahead. Once again, the prince answered her with a resounding nod. "Very good. Shall we, then? There's no point in putting things off any longer, and I feel that we've made our hosts wait long enough." he answered, voice calm and neutral. He offered his arm, holding it out, and she placed hers over the top of it. The gesture was formal, but not intimate. An act of ceremony, and nothing more.

    Together, the two stepped through the doorway of the antechamber and into the ballroom. As they did so, the appointed herald announced both of them by name and title, quieting large crowd. Leith could feel their eyes on him, but paid them no mind, stepping towards the staircase and beginning his descent with a deliberate slowness. As they moved, Fiora swept her gaze across the crowd, trying to take note of any important dignitaries in the crowd. Any time she spotted one, she would lean across and mutter the name and title of said individual to her prince, pointing them out with a discreet nod - another reason he had picked her as a companion for this stage of the evening. Ever-present, she had made sure to get a good grasp of the locals and the current state of things as part of her preparation for this evening.

    As they reached the bottom of the stairs, the two would immediately make for the throne where the princess was waiting, maintaining the same slow and deliberate pace. Both of them spent the long walk with their eyes set on her, as if trying to size her up from across the room. "So that's her...the princess of the people" Leith thought to himself, trying to keep his face neutral. Even if she hadn't been so clearly presented, her features made her quite distinguishable from the rest of the crowd. It struck him as odd that the one noblewoman with no power at all would be the one whose hair looked like it had been kissed by fire; an amusing contraction. Her eyes, too - a calm and soothing blue in the midst of a nation of fire. The same could be said of his own amber eyes, though, which were a stark contrast to his family's reputation for cold and rigid formality.

    When the two were an appropriate distance from the throne, Fiora would release his arm, and Leith would step up to the dais on his own. She would come to a stop, at attention, watching how this next step proceeded from a respectful distance. The heir held little respect for this princess, given her lack of ability, but technically she held rank over him at the moment - both as the current heir to her family's throne and as the host of him and his people while they were visiting the kingdom of Sinder. Social convention dictated that he show his respect, so the prince would play along, as was expected of him...even if it pained him to do so. Slowly, he would sink onto one knee, tucking his left arm across the small of his back, while folding the right diagonally across the front of his chest. Head bowed, he would finally address the princess himself, for the first time.

    "It is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance, your grace. My people and I thank you for allowing us a place here, and the hospitality that your nation as shown us thus far" he would announce, voice breaking the silence that had fallen over the rest of the hall. His manner of bowing and the way he addressed her were both strictly Neve, but he felt the need to greet the princess in the way his own culture demanded, even if it might not have been how things were normally done in Sinder. For now, he would remain kneeling, as their customs dictated he did until the princess addressed him in return or he was given leave to rise. Crouching before one born so inferior almost sickened him, but he had little choice but to endure for now.

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    Aine sat in silence, as she watched the prince, and another woman; notably dressed in some sort of soldier's uniform, cross the floor slowly. Her hands rested in her lap. When the man sank to one knee, she whispered, once he had finished speaking, "Please, never place yourself below me. Rise, please," she moved to stand, and curtsy low, though as per Sinder customs, Aine settled on her knees, the gwn she wore settling around her--as if she were engulfed in the center of a snowy flower.

    "The pleasure is all mine, sire. I hope your journey was safe--and that you shall enjoy the festivities in your honor." Her gaze was fixated on the floor, her head bowed; custom in Sinder dictated that the princess, no matter her place for the throne, was always below a prince. And that to show this, said princess must settle on the floor during her curtsy, only rising when given permission. Sinder was definitely a patriarchal society.

    Silence ensued after she had settled into position--she could feel the stares that rested on her form. She could hear people murmuring about how beautiful she was--to be worthless.

    Then, her father began to speak--and though the man was speaking, she did not rise. Sinder customs were strange. "Sinder welcomes our visitors from the 'Cold Land'. We hope that the warmth is not too uncomfortable, and that you will enjoy your stay." The man did not mention his daughter--in the least.

    After a moment of silence, the music swelled within the room and the chatter began once more. When this began, Aine slowly stood, and turned her gaze onto her father, who simply nodded a gentle, barely noticeable nod. Then, he spoke out once more, "To welcome the Neverians'..." Custom dictated that the people of Sinder prepare a dance--or some kind of entertainment.

    However, only the princess was performing this time. As she made her way to the center of the dance floor, her pace steady and slow, up until she came to the exact center.

    As violin music began, Aine tipped her head forward, murmuring a soft prayer under her breath; for as long as she could before it was time. Time to dance.

    The first movement she made, caused the brilliant white of the skirts she wore to flare out around her; and by the time she had changed moves, the skirt lay on the ground, and she stood, only in tights and her corset. However, she seemed to be expecting this.

    Her dance would continue. By Sinderian standards, she was appropriately dressed--but Sinderians showed much more skin due to the conditions in which they lived. This elaborate, one-person dance ended with the princess, once again sitting on her knees, on the floor, though her gaze was focused on the ceiling.

    As she stood, claiming her skirts, her father spoke over the applause, "Though she holds no power, Princess Aine is quite skilled--from dance, to weaponry, as will be shown in the tournament tomorrow." This was most definitely not standard Sinder custom; but they had done this to showcase Aine's abilities--her skills.

    After all... Everything was about sealing the deal with Neve.

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    It would not take long for Leith to receive the bid to rise, it seemed, though the method it was delivered seemed somewhat...unusual. Naturally, the prince immediately did as he was asked and rose back to his feet as quickly as he could without sacrificing his visage, and inwardly he was more than glad to be done with the act quickly. The way the princess had spoken, though - the soft whisper and choice of words both - had caught him slightly off guard. Was she simply shy, or was there some other element at work here that he had not managed to comprehend properly, or even pick up on at all?

    Had he indeed, perhaps Leith would have said something earlier. As things currently were, though, he found any chance he had to respond to the princess' own greeting was cut off short as her father took this opportunity to say a few words of his own. Slowly, the prince turned his gaze to the man. It seemed that he made full use of everything his daughter's greeting had lacked. Clearly, whatever was going on here, this man was the true architect - regardless of their family's current state and Aine's position in the line of succession. Her will did not seem to be a factor, though the prince found this unsurprising.

    "You are most kind, good sir" Leith would respond simply, with another bow of his head, before relaxing a little as the atmosphere changed once more and the formalities more or less concluded. Then, rather unexpectedly, the lord of Sinder announced that there was to be some additional form of welcome. He stood, almost frozen, as the princess rose and began to move towards the centre of the dancefloor. For a second he wondered if he was supposed to do something, but no - he would've been informed beforehand if such was the case. To the best of his knowledge, he and his people knew nothing of what was to come next.

    Slowly, he stepped aside with the rest of the crowd as they cleared the larger part of the dancefloor, giving the princess some space. As the violin kicked in, it finally seemed to click, and the prince relaxed a little, eyes now set on Aine as she began her routine. A soft gasp escaped him as she shed her dress within the opening moves of the dance, with an action that seemed so practiced and natural he had not even picked up on how she had managed to release it, let alone without interrupting the flow. For a few moments, he half expected other dancers to join in, but it seemed that was not to be the case. The lesser levels of clothing was indeed a shocking contrast to Neve's own culture, but not necessarily a bad one. He had that much of an open mind about other cultures and the way they did things, at least.

    "Its almost like they're parading her around like a show animal" Fiora suddenly muttered, from his left. The prince did not have to look across to know it was her, though he had been so entranced he had not noticed her shuffling across to meet up with him again. "That's exactly what they are doing" he muttered back softly. Hopefully, to any bystanders who caught a glimpse from outside earshot, it would seem as if they were simply discussing the performance.

    Once it had ended, Leith briefly considered going over to help the girl up, as seemed only polite - a move he should make to put on a positive showing, if not one that wanted to. He refrained after her words from before, though, fearing it might be against their culture once more, and simply applauded along with the others until her father's next presentation.

    "A tournament? Strange. Still, I have no doubt our pretty little prize there will win. Even if it hasn't technically been rigged, would any of the other fighters risk injuring the princess of the people? They'll all hold back, even if not ordered to do so. If we weren't the guests of honour, I'd almost consider jumping into the ring myself". More muttering from Fiora.

    "They seem desperate, like a broke merchant trying to make a big sale...but so are we, not that we want them to know that. Don't discourage these little shows, but don't encourage them either. If we can keep our lordly friend over there thinking that we are uncertain, things will go all the more smoothly for us when the time comes" Leith responded, before sinking into thought.

    He was left with a somewhat strange situation, now. He needed to speak with both the lord and his daughter, but approaching the former while he was standing by the throne was a general no-no. The girl was another matter - he had no idea if she was to be approached until she rose, and he would have preferred speak to her in private, so he could get a better grasp of her personality than in public at this farce.

    "A most impressive performance, truly. My storyteller's pipes feel like a child's magic trick in comparison" he would announce, a little louder this time - he wanted those around to hear of his supposed approval. Fiora took her leave at this point, with a small nod. She had her own role to play, just as he had his.

    As the ball broke up into smaller groups again, with the guests resumed their own little social gatherings and the sound of polite talk, laughter and soft music once again filling the air, Leith would take advantage of his relative proximity to where the lord of Sinder was standing after having made his big announcement. Turning to face the man, he would speak up once time in more the manner of a proper conversation. He didn't wish to interrupt the ball as a whole this time.

    "I would much like a chance to converse with you properly, Lord Sinder, now that the fanfare is over. An opportunity to meet the princess on more personal terms would be appreciated, too. No rush, of course - I await you at your leisure. If you would prefer to discuss things later, I shall simply focus on enjoying the evening. Perhaps try and find myself a nice glass of wine in the meantime". An attempt at being respectful, and not too forward, while still getting his message across to the true leader of the nation in which they now stood.

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    Aine had hid a slight scoff as the prince's words reached her ears--about her performance. She highly doubted he had enjoyed it; though who was she to judge so harshly so soon? When the ball broke back into the small groups, and the princess was once more ignored by all, she disappeared--out towards the gardens.

    "Please, we'll save all of the talk for after the festivities," the king said, offering a smile to the boy. "I do hope you find my daughter pleasing." He added, before he was claimed by another noble for conversation. This would leave the prince free to do as he wished.

    Aine would be found with a glass of water in one hand, settling near a fountain in the center of the gardens--which connected to the ballroom by a small stone path through the back door. Many of the nobles children played in the gardens while their parents danced and enjoyed themselves inside.

    The children were the ones who paid the most attention to the princess; often asking her to tell them stories, or to play with them. Currently, the children were gathered around the woman, who was scantily clad, and she was telling them all a story. A story of adventure--of true love. A childish story for a princess to tell; but these children had more of a chance at these dreams than she ever had--and so, this was the story she told.

    She was kneeling next to the fountain, laughing softly as the children gasped and squealed at a frightening portion of her story... Aine leaned forward to whisper, "And then..." Her story would continue, and at the end, she whispered, "I'm hoping that, someday, all of you will be allowed to live your dreams."

    As the children dispatched, Aine claimed her seat once more, fingers trailing through the water. She murmured, "How can fire and ice--enemies from birth--simply up and unite..." Her musings were to herself, mainly, however she was not paying attention to see if there was anyone else around. Her gaze was focused on the ripples her movements were creating in the water.

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    With a gracious nod, Leith would respectfully withdraw as the lord of Sinder declined his invitation, quite content to respect his wishes and focus on pursuing other avenues for the time being. Perhaps it would be more fitting of their culture for him to enjoy himself during the festivities and hold off until anything more serious until tomorrow, or perhaps dven the day after, considering how this tournament turned out. As eager as he was to move forward with his plan, patience was a virtue, and the prince was intrigued by their culture, if nothing else.

    In his efforts to move throughout the party, the heir found himself stopped by representatives from Sinder on occasion. Most of them proved to be relatively unimportant - they all felt the need to introduce themselves, thus implying that they did not expect him to know who they were - and after a brief chat with each he continued on his way, under the guise that he had many more people to meet and chat with. He also managed to secure himself a glass of wine on the way through, though it was nothing like what he was used to drinking at home. He found it less enjoyable, perhaps just because he was unused to it, and had to sip frugally.

    Before long, the heat of being stuck inside this one space with so many people in this naturally hotter climate started to get to the prince. At the next appropriate moment, he excused himself from his current conversation partners, begging their pardons and asking where he could get some air. Rather unknowingly, the couple he was chatting with sent him in the same direction one princess had vanished earlier, after her performance.

    Emerging from the hall and out into the gardens, the prince let out a content sigh as he immediately felt the temperature drop somewhat, accentuated by a gentle breeze. For a moment he simply sipped his wine in silence, while looking up at the sky, before a few hushed words reached his ear. A quick wander after their source, born out of curiosity more than anything, revealed their source.

    "Princess Aine. Just imagine my surprise, finding you out here like this" he would open with, speaking in a rather calm and neutral tone. Hopefully he would not startle her too much. Without regard for her wishes, he would draw a few steps closer, pausing only when he was standing perhaps a metre away from the fountain by which she perched. He made no move to seat himself beside her, content to stand above her for the moment. An act of politeness, or a move symbolic of how he believed he stood above her?

    "I had been hoping to speak with you at some point this evening. I had not expected you would vanish as soon as I turned my back. Tell me, is it customary for all Sinder nobles to put on such a fiery show, and then disappear like smoke? I am afraid I am still quite ignorant about your traditions, so you will have to enlighten me" he would muse simply. There were a few other things that the prince wished to ask her, but they could wait for a moment. There was no rush on his part.

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    Aine turned quietly, surprise in her eyes as she studied the man. "Prince Leith," she began, a shy smile claiming her lips at the way he described her disappearance... "Well, I suppose it is the closest I will ever get to having my element." She shifted, peering upward as she watched the man.

    "But yes. It is customary. Most nobles use actual flames--and actual smoke, though. I make do, though." She rested her hands in her lap. "Sinder tradition... you really wish to learn more about Sinder, sire?" She turned her gaze upward, as if waiting for the man to confirm that he was indeed interested in Sinder and the culture the people believed.

    Her gaze flickered to the children as their laughter floated through the garden, however they were soon gone. "In Sinder, women are just objects, really. Princesses, valued less then princes..." She shifted in her seat, her gaze focusing on her hands. "My mother, you know, was born the heir of Sinder--and upon marrying my father, a lower-tier noble, he took the Sinder name." She moved to study the man before her, "But none of the Sinderians have ever been wed to someone of another nation. I do not think our culture dictates anything about this."

    She sounded quite worried. After a second of silence, the woman inquired softly, "What does snow look like? Is it cold, like the stories say?" Her brilliant gaze flickered upward once more, and focused on the man this time--she was going against so many of her own customs. Customs dictated the females must never speak unless spoken too--unless addressed. And that they should never, ever change the topic without permission. She scowled quietly to herself, brilliant red tresses tumbling into her face as her gaze focused onto her lap. Part of her felt guilty; though another part of her felt liberated.

    She focused on the man, once more, simply waiting to see if he would tell her about snow--about being cold. She wanted to learn about the weather--the climate... After all, she was most likely moving to Neve with the man before her. Sinder laws did not require the princess, if the only heir, to stay in Sinder until her husband could take the throne--therefore upon her father's death. Though, the laws did not dictate that the prince could not decide where he wished to live--be it Neve or Sinder.

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    The prince's calm visage flickered slightly as the princess once again mentioned her own lack of powers, clearly seeming quite downtrodden and remorseful about the fact. For good reason, honestly - could a noble even truly be considered as such if they did not have the one thing that symbolised their bloodline? At her question, though, the man would give a curt nod, urging her to continue. If he was to play his part in this, he would need to learn what he could of their people.

    The news that women were treated like objects was one that Leith had mixed opinions on. It was the tradition of virtually all ruling houses to place the man in a position of power, but it seemed that Sinder exacted these beliefs one step further than his own homeland. It also explained a fair part of what he had seen so far. To avoid dwelling on it, though, the man decided to focus on the other part of her statement.

    "Never? So we are well and truly in uncharted territory, then. Both a blessing and a curse, in its own right" he mused softly, more to himself than the princess directly, before snapping back to the present as she asked him about what snow was really like. Again, the noble paused. How did one describe snow to somebody that had never witnessed it before? Needless to say, some part of him doubted that she wished to hear of blizzards and the likes, so he quickly decided to focus on its more gentle counterpart.

    "Snow is...hard to describe. Yes, it is very cold to the touch. It falls from the sky in little drops, but slowly, as each individual piece is very small and very light. On some days, there are so many of them that they seem to cover everything in a giant, fluffy blanket of pure white. Whenever the sun comes out though, or they are exposed to any kind of heat - even a person's body heat - they melt into small puddles of water" he tried. The description felt...awkward on his tongue, like he had not properly portrayed it, but it felt like the best he could do in the spur of the moment.

    As he spoke, the noble had moved to sit beside the princess, lowering himself onto the outer lip of the fountain and perching there for the time being. With his description finished, he would fall silent for a moment, eyes turning downwards towards the very same water that Aine herself had been watching earlier. After a few seconds, he would once again begin to speak, though in a much more hushed tone than before.

    "...and therein lies the answer to your question, princess. How can two polar opposites, born enemies, come together and unite? We try and get along, just like this. To lead by example, as nobles are meant to do. Even if we must end up forcing it, we do our best to convince the commoners that this way, a better way, is possible. If we play our parts well, then perhaps they will begin to follow suit, and that beautiful lie we show them can slowly become the truth" he would mutter, before slowly turning his eyes upwards to meet her gaze again. A single question would leave his lips, hanging in the air between them in the now-silent garden.

    "So, tell me, princess of the people. Can you act as well as you dance?"
    Last edited by Namingtoohard; 11-15-2016 at 01:39 PM.

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    Aine studied Leith quietly, tipping her head as he mused about their marriage. She blinked when he began to describe snow--rather, attempt to describe snow. She inquied quietly, following the man as he settled beside of her, "Will I ever get to see snow?" She inquired, pausing when the man spoke--stating that they must lead by example. She'd study him blankly for a moment, before murmuring, "I suppose I can act. Did you really like the dance? I wasn't sure if it was good." She admitted, quietly, studying the water in the fountain once more.

    As silence fell over the two of them, Aine's fingers brushed through her hair gently, and she moved to stand. Her blue hues flickered across the prince's face, as she inquired, "Would you like to dance? We can still hear the music from out here." She stated, studying him quietly. "I don't like crowds," she admitted, with a light shrug.

    "But I enjoy dancing." She glanced over her shoulder as a couple of people entered the gardens. She paused, her hand lowering as she heard their words. 'Look at her--she's so worthless. Do you think anyone would notice if she disappeared?' and 'Why would the Gods bestow such beauty upon such a woman? She's absolutely useless. That poor prince--he'll never have children worthy of the throne.'

    She stepped backwards, away from Leith, and settled her hands behind her back, gaze fixated on the ground. As the couple passed by them, she flinched at their whispers, 'We'll never let her rule. We'll revolt. And without the nobility, this kingdom is nothing.'

    Taking a deep breath, the girl brushed her hair from her face and murmured, "Not everyone is happy that you have come here." She shifted to curl her arms around her torso, staring out at the sky--toward the moon, in silence for a moment or two.

    That brief glimmer of who the girl was, when she was not being put down by her own nation, was gone. She was once again meek; silent and put off. Deep down, Aine knew that no matter what she did, she would never be the proper heir--no; the people wanted someone with power. Someone who was not engaged to another nation's prince. She murmured to herself, "I'll never be good enough."

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    The prince would stay silent for a moment, observing the princess from his seat with a neutral expression as she questioned about if she would ever see snow. "You will, one day" he answered simply, quite content to leave it at that. Regardless where the two of them wound up, he would at least need to make a visit home at some point once their marriage had been completed. His response to her question received a similar answer, if only to make her feel better, if nothing else.

    The question that followed was a little more surprising. A dance, here and now? The prince raised one of his eyebrows questioningly. For a moment, he strongly considered taking her up on that offer, just out of idle curiosity. The news she didn't like crowds seemed to fit, but that she enjoyed dancing instead of just being forced into it by her father was a pleasant surprise. For a moment, Leith would reach out his hand to take hers, intending to accept, before pausing. The words of their 'company' didn't go unnoticed, and in that instant it was like he had just witnessed her entire demeanour change.

    The occurrence reminded him of just how different their upbringings had been. At the end of the day, he was a raised and reared politician, bred for this sort of thing since birth. She, though, was an entirely different story, if the rumours about her upbringing were true. For an few precious moments, the prince had been taken in by her, and practically forgotten that this entire affair was orchestrated. Perhaps this meeting had been genuine, but the ball, the tournament, his coming to Sinder...it was all planned as a means to an end. One that both of their families required, for their own reasons. Still, that didn't stop him from feeling some measure of pity for the girl.

    "No...I can't imagine they would be" he would mutter, glaring after the nobles that had interrupted once they had passed. Their way of thinking was unsurprising, really, considering their position. "As you say, our kingdoms have never gotten along well, and now one they see as an enemy has come barging into their home to marry and usurp the kingdom from someone who could very well mark the end of the Sinder bloodline's most noble trait" he would mutter, sounding mildly irritated. Slowly, the noble would get to his feet, before stepping towards the downtrodden princess.

    Reaching out, he would place his gloved right hand on her left shoulder gently, eyes fixated on her downturned face. He was not used to trying to comfort people, but right now he felt the need to at least try, or perhaps give her some advice, at the very least. "Let them talk and joke and whisper all they want. Wolves should not concern themselves with the opinions of sheep. Try not to let it hurt you, at least on the outside." he started, before pausing briefly to take a deep breath. This...was not turning out the way he had planned. He decided to try a different tactic.

    "Most nobles have already accumulated some experience dealing with this sort of thing by the age of fifteen. In a way it is your father's fault, for not preparing you in any regard, then throwing you right into the deep end like this" he muttered simply, frowning a little. "Just take it from one who knows. You get used to it after a while. In this at least, time is on your side"

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