This is probably a mess.. I was in bed thinking it through last night and it seemed so clear … now I have no idea, lol. I wrote on mobile… heheh.. beware poor editing. I’ll fix undercut etc later.
I also kinda made King Theodore a bad guy (sorry Theo).
“We’re traveling to Hallarok next week, please have the maids help you prepare.” Byron spoke over dinner as we sat across from each other at the large table.
“Yes, thank you. I will.” I nodded in agreement and the conversation fell quiet.
That’s the way it had been for four months. When relations between Wysteria and Stein had grown tense do to border issues, King Theodore thought it best to offer me, Princess of Wysteria, in marriage as some sort of peace treaty to better the relations between the two countries.
Much to Giles and Leo’s dismay, I had been taken to Stein and practically dumped into the hands of Nico at King Theodore’s orders after Byron agreed to accept the marriage alliance. We had been officially married for over three months- yet we were still perfect strangers.
I was so disgusted at being Wysteria’s pawn, I had arrived alone, angry, and scared- wanting nothing to do with an arranged marriage to the enigmatic King of Stein.
Byron was emotionless, uncaring, and sometimes down right scary. So many rumors had spread through Wysteria, it was hard to know the truth in fact was. The best thing about him was the fact that he left me alone except for dinner and social occasions. He gave me my own room attached to his, but I could count on one hand how many times he’d come to my room. And he never touched me.
Picking at my food, I sighed heavily and my eyes scanned the room, finding Byron’s gaze before skittering away.
He was stone faced as usual, I could never read him, and he sure as hell was not going to tell me his intentions.
Later, I returned to my room. My routine had been to try and read in front of the fireplace until my eyelids grew heavy and I fell asleep- otherwise I’d end up crying myself to sleep, and waking up with swollen, tired eyes, which had happened the first month I had lived there.
Nico brought me tea, which was not one of his duties, but something he did out of the goodness of his heart- it was like briefly being in Wysteria again with him as my attendant. It was a small comfort I enjoyed.
“Here you go.” Nico handed me the saucer and teacup with a sympathetic smile. He pursed his lips and puffed his cheeks like he wanted to say something, but then blew the air out through his lips.
“Thank you, Nico.”
“Sometimes Byron asks about you, you know?” He used caution as he spoke. “He really does care about.”
I nodded silently, and dropped my eyes to the book in my hand.
Nico took his leave, and exited my room quietly.
Days later a group of us arrived in Hallarok by boat, and greeted by King Asgar and his wife Aliz. Hallarok, was a very different place from Stein and Wysteria. More like a territory, it was across a large lake and it seemed to have built its reputation on violence- the people of Hallarok were strong and forceful, they took what they wanted instead of joining in alliances, and was no where near as developed as either country. If Byron was successful in his treaty- Stein would be the first country to ally with Hallarok.
I sat with Byron through dinner and tried to make small talk with Asgar and Aliz. They were very open minded and pleasant people, though they did rule Hallarok very differently and they looked nothing like the royals and nobility in the South.
Albert and Nico joined us, as well as several of Asgar’s guards, one of them had introduced himself as Oakley- I only remembered because of the way he’d given us disapproving looks when he met us.
The dreaded part came after dinner, when we were shown to our rooms- Byron and I would have to share a room, and a bed for the duration of the stay.
“This is an interesting place.” Byron filled the silence as he slid his hand over the ornate sculpture that was carved into the wooden bedpost. “I heard they just outlawed cannibalism a couple years ago.”
I shuddered at the thought. “Why would they do that?”
Byron shrugged. “Sometimes for religious reasons, sometimes… just because.”
He continued to scope out the room; the bear skin rug on the floor, the violent paintings and tapestries on the wall, along with many other oddities. “It’s best to get some rest, we have a long week ahead of us.”
Byron pulled off his eyepatch and his boots, and I changed behind the curtain that was hanging in the corner. I had expected this, but it didn’t make it any easier.
When I returned he was lying in bed in his night clothes, which only consisted of a pair of casual pants. He was lying flat with his arms behind his head, and his eyes were closed. I pulled up the covers and crawled under them, keeping a distance between us as I rolled over to face the wall. A few moments later I heard his rhythmic breathing. Well, that wasn’t so bad.
It was cold in Hallarok, and as the fire died the room chilled. I awoke to find myself shivering, with chattering teeth, even under the thick cover. Byron was still fast asleep, he hadn’t moved at all, and looked comfortable. I tried to adjust myself and burry farther under the covers, but I was still shaking as I pulled them over my head.
“Are you ok?” His voice came from out of the darkness. “Are you cold?”
“No,” My voice was muffled through the blanket. “I’m fine.”
The bed shifted as he moved, rising, and I peered at him as he crossed the room to grab another blanket from a chair in the corner, which he carefully tossed over the bed and spread out.
“Thank you.” I said as a grabbed the blanket and sunk below the covers again.
It was dawn when I awoke, and Byron had already risen- he’d started the fire again and it was warm in the room, I even felt hot under the layers I’d collected that night.
We made our way around each other, my movements were more awkward and cautious than his as he finished dressing.
“I need to meet with Asgar this morning,” he said. “I’ll send Nico to escort you to breakfast.” The door clicked behind him as he left.
I got ready and made sure to bundle up, not knowing what to expect that day- the only thing I was aware of was breakfast and a day spent with the ladies of Hallarok.
The day flew by, it was a pleasant surprise- I enjoyed a day of chatting and looking over an art expo as Aliz explained the history of Hallarok.
I could not get out of my mind how Oakley followed us around, and the way he looked at me; he grinned like a predator baring its teeth- it made me uneasy. I didn’t mention it to Aliz, or the other ladies, that would have probably been rude, and they didn’t seem to notice, so I said nothing about it.
At dinner that night, I was sitting and chatting with Nico and Albert when I noticed Oakley and Byron enter the hall. Oakley leaned in to whisper in Byron’s ear, and Byron turned and eyed him back. He said nothing, but his face showed anger- it was the only sure emotion I’d ever seen from from.
The discussion at dinner was interesting.
“Hallarok is interested in changing our ways, since I gained power two years ago- I have worked very hard establish relations with other countries.” Asgar said as he cut a large piece of meat on his plate. “The reputation of leaders before me still lingers though, but we appreciate Stein initiating this alliance.”
Byron nodded as he swallowed his sip of wine. “Stein is always interested in gaining alliances. If you don’t mind me asking, what previous methods did Hallarok practice for forming relations with other countries?”
Asgar chuckled nervously. “Well, we didn’t do much as try to ally, but mostly we raided countries and took control by force. It wasn’t the best way to go about things, I’ll admit. We’re trying to change that, of course.”
Byron nodded, and a scoff came from the end of the table where Oakley sat. The room’s attention turned towards him.
“My uncle Lennox was a great leader- he led us on many conquests that contributed to the growth of Hallarok.”
Byron’s eye narrowed at Oakley’s words and
Asgar tried to settle the young man. “It’s fine Oakley, he did a lot for Hallarok. Things are just different now.”
The tension seemed to grow and Aliz whispered to me across the table. “Oakley’s uncle and his line ruled before Asgar. Oakley and his family were not happy with the shift in power.”
I nodded silently and gave Aliz a sympathetic smile.
“We need more wine!” Asgar announced as he clapped his hands together- changing the tone of the room. “And dessert!”
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep Sea, and music in its roar: I love not Man the less, but Nature more” ~Lord Byron