10 10. An encounter

The castle was visible, brightened by lights ignited at every place. Night sky behind the castle illuminated by stars, stars that appears dim against the torches of the castle. Soldiers guarding the palace, covering the surrounding farther than they usually do. As he got closer, eyes of soldiers were turning towards him, they gawked at him. His dirty clothes sweated hair and a patch of blood on his arm was means of attraction. He glared at them to kill their stupefied amazement, they averted their heads quickly. Moving further, he halted his horse, seeing people dressed neatly for the event. Looking down at his attire, he thought 'I am not presentable.' Turning his horse, he changed the direction to the back, avoiding unwanted stares from the people he thinks as nitwits. Surprisingly, the back of the castle was crowded as well, more with the soldiers than the guests which was favorable for him. As he got closer to the rare entrance, he found the least expected person. Zorion was standing at the gate leaning back on the wall, with one leg folded and pipe in his mouth, a hand placed on the pommel of the unsheathed sword dug in the ground.

"Tch." With a quick pull, he halted his horse and wandered his eyes around to find a loophole entrance. He was pretty impressed when he couldn't find it. Looking above him, he thought 'that is the only way.' He was exactly below the balcony. Standing on his horse, he held the bottom rail of the balcony. Lifting his weight on his hands, he raised his body. Keeping his weight on one hand he reached out his other hand to hold the upper rail. Holding on, he did the same with the lower hand. Once his hands were on the upper rail, he pushed his body forward and jumped in. His eyes quickly caught a shadow on the ground which marked someone's presence. He raised his eyes from the floor, a dress is what he noticed first, and viewing further he found a lady, dressed exquisitely. A single color dressed, with matching gloves, fitting perfectly on her delicate form. Her hair tied in a neat bun, a golden hair stick with a rose of the same color as the stick ideal for her black hair, exactly like her golden dress.

She frowned narrowing her eyes. "Lycaon Valdemar." She stated more like a question.

Straightening his form, he stood venerable. "I wouldn't have tolerated if you were not a girl."

"You mean being a witness to your confidential act?" She raised her brow.

He scoffed on her sense of humor. "Daring much?"

She sarcastically smiled at him. "I presume it's your actions Lyca-"

She stopped when he moved closer to her. They both glaring in each other eyes. Stepping close, he spoke. "Regard the Lord of the west respectfully."

She found his eyes rather strange. The first time she felt this peculiarity in the eyes of Vidaar. She slightly narrowed her eyes and brighten her smile into a gentle laugh. Stepping back, she turned away, "The Lady of the south addressed you correctly, Lycaon Valdemar."

"Lady of the south?" He raised his brows. "Why? Oh, I remember you don't have any brother."

She turned to face him. "I take your contempt as ignorance."

Narrowing his eyes, he thoroughly looked at her. He found her elegant and confident and strangely familiar. "You do have a younger brother." He said remembering correctly this time.

She gave him a smile on his remembrance. Keeping her face straight and serene, she asked. "And what does that imply?"

For a moment Lycaon was confused, 'isn't it obvious?' he thought. Specifying, he said. "Why Lady than Lord?"

"Why can't? She questioned.

"Weak."

The moment he said that she pulled out the hairpin and threw at him, her hair flew open and fell straight on her back. Averting his head right, he caught the pin in between two fingers with his left hand, exactly beside his face. Lifting the corner of his lips, he smirked at her. Smiling at him, she hopped back, sharp tiny needles flew around from the rose of the pin. Dropping the pin he jumped back whilst dodging the needles and noticed she kept the proper distance, needles were exactly in front of her but none hit her. His smirk widened by the successful dodge and he held his eyes with her. Not too soon a smile on her lips brightened and a red scratch on his cheek appeared with a droplet of blood leaking out.

Clenching his jaw, he wiped the blood with the back of his hand. 'She managed to hit me,' he thought and clenched his fits in anger. "A mare scratch," he spoke.

Exhaling a breath, she sadly smiled at him and turned sideways placing her hands on the railing. 'A scratch just because he didn't attack', she thought. She knew he will never lay a finger on any female yet his strength is admirable. "I can't even threaten you it's poisonous." She said, looking up at the night sky.

"How?" Except for some members of the castle, no one knows about the poisons he tests on his body.

Bending her head back, she glanced at him through the side of his eyes. 'Doesn't he remember?' she thought.

He gazed at her, waiting for her to answer. Her long black hair waving back by the cold breeze. Reading her eyes, he asked. "Did we met before?"

She gently laughed and again faced the sky. 'How dull his memory can be,' she thought then answered. "Twice."

"Once you were sick to death." He stated more like a question.

"You were just a kid who gave a piece of advice on that day." She turned to look at him.

He averted his eyes, recalling his horrible advice which he still regrets. Gritting his teeth, he looked back at her and asked. "When was the second?"

"You were sick dead on that day, your first poison test." She said and threw a ribbon to lift the hairpin. The ribbon wrapped around the pin, pulling it back. She twisted the rose and all the needles were back on its place; they were attached by the horsehair, which is naturally considered as invisible, though it exists and is visible but hardly seen.

He noticed her while she rolled her hair into a messy bun and stuck back the pin. Some strands of her hair falling on her delicate face. She again looked at him by the side of her eyes with a question on her face. Ignoring her, he opened the glass door of the balcony and marched in the hall. The moment he entered, dozens of eyes shifted on him. He wasn't expecting these unwanted visitors. He thought they all might be down in the throne room. People around him gasped and covered their mouths with their hands. They all gazed him from top to bottom, his messy hair, a scratch on his cheek, blood patch on his arm, dirty clothes. He raised his eyes on them; the diabolic look in his eyes was back. Murmuring, some of them moved back while others notably turned their heads. Cursing under his breath, he walked straight to his chamber.

He pushed opened the door of this chamber; a heavy sound erupted when the wooden door hit the adjacent stone wall. Entering, he saw none of the candles were lighted. Angrily, he shouts to the girls but none of them responded. A sleek sound of drawing sword captured his attention. Before he could draw out his sword, it swung from the left onto his neck. Lifting his sword along with his scabbard he held it defensively beside his head, holding it on both the ends. The sword hit on his scabbard with a slash sound causing a heavy vibration in his hands.

"Your sun sets pretty late." The voice in the room spoke.

"You know the reason," Lycaon replied.

Zorion pressed the sword further. Jumping back, Lycaon unsheathes his sword. He blinked a couple of times to adjust his eyes to the darkness. Waiting for any sound to occur, he was putting up his guard. When it comes to fights in the dark, he was not as good as Zorion. On hearing the sound from right, he quickly raised his sword to hit. Again, a slashing sound occurred in the room. The moment he took the action, a hand wrapped from the back holding his chin up and placing a sword on his neck.

"You distracted me," Lycaon said.

"Naive as ever," Zorion replied.

"Tch" Lycaon clenched his fit in frustration. In response, Zorion tightened his grip on his chin. "One day the positions will change," Zachariah spoke between his gritted teeth.

Dropping the sword, Zorion sheathed it back and released his grip. He walked passed by Lycaon and stood near the window. Lightning a match stick, he ignited his pipe. Orange light flickered, radiating his face which brightened his features. Sparks flew from the pipe and disappear in the air as he inhaled. The torch at the other end of the room lighted up. A figure of a girl appeared from behind. Slowly other torches were lighted up. The girls bowed to Zorion who took the pipe and inverted it out of the window, throwing the remaining weed out of it. Zechariah understood the pipe was the signal to ignite the touches. One of the girls placed a pair of neat clothes for Zachariah before bowing and leaving. Zorion walked passed by Zachariah, looking at him by side of his eyes.

"Don't make dawn to get down." He said and left the chamber shutting the door behind him.

........

The throne room was filled with distinct people from varied kingdoms. As Zachariah walked down the stairs, many gazes turned towards him. His attire was simple and modest, a black trouser perfectly fitting on his legs, not too loose nor too tight, paired with black leather boots and a white shirt with a deep V neck, seamed by the loose laces. There was no armor on his body. His thick black hair was tied into a small messy pony, leaving some flicks on the sides of his forehead and temples. As he walked down, faces of young females brighten up, their heads followed him when he walked passed by them. Whereas, young men in the room envy him. And adults were either disgust or afraid, pulling and hiding their young daughters behind them.

Leserli watched the whole scene from the above, his entrance and reaction of people. She found it unpleasant, being treated unjustly and accusing his presence. She sadly smiled at the people and their state of mind. Exhaling a deep breath, she folded her hands on the railing and placed her chin on them.

"Do you like him?" Vidarr asked, who came and stood beside her.

She turned her face at her brother and smiled, 'you both have similar eery vibes in your eyes.' "The only male I find likable is you." And answered looking back at Zachariah who ignored everyone and walked towards his father to mark his presence.

"I heard what you did." The king spoke when Zacahraih stood beside him.

"Hope you are happy, It's not just you who want me dead." He responded keeping his face straight, looking nowhere.

"They were outnumbered, they could have killed you." The king said, smiling at the people whilst raising a toast.

Zachariah scoffed 'Is that worry? Not at all.' "A dozen can never bother me." He replied and turned to face his father. "I just don't feel right to shed the blood of brotherhood."

••••••••••

H. LOCKHART

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