Chapter 16: Chapter 1
Artemis led Aurora between the alleys and corridors of the palace until they came upon an open space. It was quite and they were the only ones there or at least thats what they thought.
The minute Artemis pulled Aurora away Lord Balruss whore who he trained to be a spy quickly signaled his rodent who was a whore to follow Artemis and Aurora. This whores name was Yasmine, she came from the same place as Lord Balrus and their common mother tongue is what united them. Thats why it was easy for her to he hired in the palace, because she had Lord Balruss influence. Yasmine followed the two until they stopped to talk, and she stopped too and hid behind the wall listening.
Artemis looked sideways again for any sign of human being or just anything that could eavesdrop, but there was nothing. He sighed and turned to Aurora, they were under the blue moonlight which made them look like Silhouettes. At first he reached out for Aurora and hugged her tight, this was to assure her everything will be alright and she shouldnt blame herself for what happened.
“Where is the body” Artemis asked.
“I... buried him at the back of our cabins. I was so scared, I -”
Artemis stopped her “Aurora look at me! He tried to ruin us. You shouldnt feel bad for that. I just need a reason to tell people, and then um...” Suddenly Artemis stopped.
“What is it”
“Im going to summon your father to the palace tomorrow and ask for your hand in marriage. I want us to be engaged before I set out on my travels”
“Its too soon and Im not sure if your council will agree. Im still a servant...”
Artemis stopped her “A servant who is about to be a Queen of Maldonia. I will make sure we are married, against all odds I will marry you Aurora Kholin I promise you that” he finished and kissed Auroras lips.
The kiss however was brief, it was sweet but brief and then Aurora hugged Artemis so tight as if her life depended on him, which it did. Inside Artemiss arms is the only place where Aurora felt safe.
The wedding announcement was sudden and possibly not what Aurora expected, but she remained silent listening to what Artemis had to say. Things were happening all at once and they were overwhelming, even for Artemis himself. They talked for the next ten minutes and agreed to continue the conversation tomorrow.
Yasmine made back to the ball as soon as she knew Artemis and Aurora were done talking. Lord Balrus excused himself when he noticed Yasmine was back inside the ballroom. He said to Lord Dagen “I have business to take care of” and walked to Yasmine, then these walked outside slowly. Then suddenly Artemis showed up again to the ballroom but his mood was down unlike earlier when he was dancing and touching girls. He went straight to the table where he sat earlier, his guards pulled out a chair for him. This time there was only Lord Dagen and Princess Aeryn remaining while others left.
Artemis took his time to relax and stare, he asked for another glass of wine and the servants brought it to him without delay. Mind you inside the ballroom it was as if there was nothing going on or the king never left. The people danced as if their lives depended on it and the drums were so loud.
Princess Aeryn noticed how unusual Artemis was “Are you alright brother Where is Aurora” she asked.
“You dont look good. You dont seem good, what happened” Aeryn insisted.
“Well thats a first, I thought you couldnt care less about Lady Kholin and now you are here worried about her”
“Im not worried about her, this is me worrying about my brother who happens to be a king. If my presence no longer serves you I can leave” said Princess Aeryn and she meant every word.
Artemis pretended to be silent even though he heard everything that his sister said – yet he chose to not pay attention.
Lord Balrus and Yasmine walked until they were inside Lord Balruss chambers. Yasmine was half naked with only a piece of transparent soft scarf passing through her upper body, that was the usual costume for many whores of Maldonia. Yasmine however because she was acquainted with the most famous and rich man of Maldonia, Lord Balrus, hence she wasnt just a whore but a “Madam” with a whole brothel under her name. The brothel was just across the street and not far from the palace.
Lord Balrus looked sideways and when he was sure no one was paying attention to them he whispered “Did you hear what they talked about”
“Yes my Lord. Its about a dead body that Aurora has just buried behind the servants quarters. I think she killed a man”
Lord Balruss eyes widened with amazement “Good heavens!” He exclaimed. “Did they say who it was”
“I didnt quite get the name my Lord”
“Why...” Lord Balrus was persistent. News which were interesting like that he always wants to know everything from the start to finish.
After a few minutes of their conversation Yasmine proved to be of no help since she had no name. Lord Balrus excused her and then he went back to the ballroom.
One of the most important person who seemed to be ignored by everyone, Princess Sansa was keeping tracks of everything going in the ballroom. From the sudden departure of the King who seemed to be in a very good spirit, but when he came back it was as if his spirit was lifted off and he didnt come back with the girl – Aurora. Then she noticed how Lord Balrus signaled a whore to follow the king, and when she came back Lord Balrus took her away. All these were the secrets going on inside the palace of Maldonia and they interested Princess Sansa so much.
She sighed, sipped her wine and leaned over to her husband Lord Balon. “The king seems disturbed. Shouldnt you talk to him” she teased him.
“Talk to him” Lord Balon asked.
“Yes Balon isnt that what hands of the kings do, talk to their kings”
Lord Balon stuttered “I... I dont know Ive never seen a hand of the king before. Nor have I been one, its my first time bear with me. Besides I want to keep drinking this fine honeyed wine -”
There was a mug filled with red wine and Lord Balon took it. He poured some for himself inside a small glass and placed the mug down on the table. Before he sipped his wine Princess Sansa stopped him “Balon... Go to your king right now!” she ordered him. “You need to be friends with him if we are to remain in Maldonia with both our heads”
“What do you mean by both of our heads”
“Good heavens!” Princess Sansa sighed. “We are traitors Balon, we tried to trick the king into an army we dont have. If he finds out that we lied, not only will you lose your job but well also lose our heads. Its treason”
“Im sure its not that bad, well tell him we were just trying to...” He paused and failed to continue because of how evil the look on Princess Sansa was, she wasnt playing no games.
Perhaps it wasnt political to Lord Balon but being a hand of the king was Princess Sansas dreams to her husband and she wanted him to succeed. Not only will they be given lands, servants, their own castle and many other things once everything settles down but that also meant they werent penniless anymore. Maybe their daughters can finally come to the capital and enjoy the real luxuries of living in a palace.
“Do you want our daughters to starve in Nemphis” asked Princess Sansa.
“No, I would never want that”
“Then go and befriend the king. Be his shoulder to cry on... listen to him pour his heart out to you. Learn his secrets and make sure you tell him that he can trust you, with anything. Because you are his hand and you will never betray him” Princess Sansa knew everything about manipulation and lies.
Lord Balon placed his glass down and walked slowly to main stage, but he was welcomed with sour faces which didnt want anything to do with him nor listen to him. Artemis was in his own world thinking about what Aurora did, his friend Lancet who was dead and most importantly the call he was going to make tomorrow – the engagement call to Lady Kholin.
Hence even when Lord Balon called him, twice he was still stuck in his head. That was until Princess Aeryn shook him “Artemis!” she shrugged him off.
The source of this content is no//vel//bi/n[.//]net'
Artemis looked at her “Huh”
“Lord Balon was calling you but you seemed to be in your own world” Aeryn rolled her eyes and she went back to eating and drinking.
Artemis turned to Lord Balon and they locked eyes. “What is it Lord Hand” he asked.
“I...” Lord Balon stuttered. Poor man he was just doing that because of his wife but he knew nothing about being the hand of the king.