forum Kingdoms of metallic scarlet ((one-on-one//private// 18+))
Started by @ElderGod-Carrots

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Here is Dominic:

Name: Crown Prince Dominic Algeron
Age: 24
Gender: Cis male, he/him

Appearance: Dominic stands at 6'9– he's a very tall man with a very well-built and toned body. He has strong muscles with defined abs and biceps, and broad shoulders with strong veiny hands/arms. He has dark almost black hair, slightly curly with what would be something similar to curtain bangs that frame his face. He has golden skin that looks as if he were to be kissed by sunlight. The man has strong, defined features, a chiselled jawline, and a sharp nose. His eyes are golden, honey brown, the type that looks dark in shadows but are as bright as gold in the sunlight. Long lashes, soft pink lips with strong brows. When he does smile it is charming, though can come across as forced but when he is smiling from the heart his features light up in a way that deems him almost magical. He is clean-shaven pretty much all the time because he can't stand the feel of facial hair on his skin. Dom has a tattoo on his back, and a tattoo on his right arm. He also has an array of scars across his body, ranging from small slash marks across his wrists/thighs to a large jagged scar right down the centre of his chest. The prince tends to wear black pants with combat boots and button-up shirts mainly in navy blue with gold accents/embroidery on the collar and sleeves when it comes to casual wear– sometimes he will pair this with a vest. When he is dressing for an event he'll wear a suit with a sword dropped to his belt.

Personality: The crown prince is a fierce, hardworking young man who is feared by many due to his short temper. He is quick to rage, quick to ready his sword and quick to argue. Dominic loves an argument and would be ready to drop everything if it mean fighting it out in order to win. He is stubborn yet determined, loyal to the bone and would fight tooth and nail for his people. He comes across as an asshole, not wanting much to do with people unless he has to because most of the time, they only annoy or anger him. But being the crown prince means that he has to deal with advisors. He loves his people, only wanting what is best for them no matter what. Nothing could get in his way when it comes to the man getting what he believes is best for them. Underneath all of the rage, the scowls, the fights and the sharp insults, is a man that only wants to be loved. A proper, true love that melts his heart and has his head spinning. A love with someone who would care for him through and through, be there to kiss his wounds and tell him that it would be okay. He is a man with deep-rooted insecurities and fears, not that you would be able to tell from the demeanour that he puts up, often seeming cocky and arrogant, yet under the surface, he craves a deep, real connection.
Likes: Fighting/physical training, getting his hands dirty, he loves anything to do with nature and would love to spend all his time outdoors if he could (secretly an avid gardener), horses, cats, astrology
Dislikes: the quiet/silence, people who treat him like an idiot or speak down to him, grapes, the cold
Hobbies: horse riding, hand-to-hand combat, archery, gardening

Fears: Being alone forever, the dark, his father
Conditions: Dominic suffers from depression. He often is very good at hiding this because if anyone found out they would surely cast him aside and look for a 'healthier' potential ruler. Has suffered with it his whole life. Extreme self-worth issues. Has survivor guilt.

Background: The Algeron family has ruled Verillia since the kingdom was founded. The line has been passed down from father to son (with one exception when there were only daughters born) and they have ruled and thrived. The kingdom is wealthy and well-known, and they do good to continue to make their people feel loved and cared for.

Dominic was the eldest of three, having two younger siblings Ezra (the middle child) and Otis (the youngest). His mother was a kind soul, too pure for the world and his father is a raging dickhead behind closed doors and is the reason for Dom's mental illnesses and the reason why he is how he is to this day. The reason for this is that his mother and his brothers were killed in an assassination attempt against the family when Dominic was six years old and this is the reason why he has a large scar across his chest– he nearly died that day. His father changed with the loss of his wife and other children and, when Dominic was healed from the physical wounds of the attack, his father began treating him differently. He was cold, harsh, closed off. He didn't seem to care for his son's feelings only that he became a warrior and the best prince he could be in preparation for becoming king. The abuse was physical and verbal, and even though he is older now, his father still likes to engage in some of his old ways when Dominic is 'misbehaving.'

Dom spent his teen years becoming the warrior that his father wanted. A soldier. A prince. Often he wonders what life might have been like had his mother and brothers been around but knows that is a foolish thought.

Other: he has created a little hideaway in the attic of the tallest tower in the palace that is his safe space. No one knows about it and often at night he retreats there for some alone time where he listens to the night and watches the stars.


Name: Princess Ariella Callistar, 11th in line to the throne
Age: 21
Gender: Female
Appearance: Ariella stands at an impressive five-foot-one. It seems the rest of her family inherited the tall genes and left nothing for her. Her body is lithe and she has just enough curves to her to keep her mother from berating her body type. The rest of her, however, was on the table for discussion. She has seemingly rather dull features compared to her siblings. She is of course, still beautiful, but her ash brown hair is in no comparison to the vibrant chestnut hair or the stunning blonde of just some of her sisters. She's played with the lengths of her hair, being so far down the line of succession, no one scrutinized her hair choices as much as the others. Well, until they all started moving out, leaving as the last remaining daughter at home. Her hair has currently grown out half way down her ribs. Her mother had ordered for all access to shears to be taken from her and no one was to cut her hair under any circumstances. She needed to look presentable for suitors. While the hair does tangle easily, she can't deny the exciting things she can do with it. Her eyes are pale blue, just another comparison with her siblings. Their bright shades of blue and warm browns. She looked almost ghostly, and her skin didn't help. It was paler than it should be. Partly because she got the short end of genetics, and partly because she rarely spent any time outside these days. Her skin is practically flawless, were it not for the faint, thin white line on her lip. Well, that's a story for another time.
Personality: Ariella isn't shy, she's reserved, and yet everyone always mistakes her for the former. As the sixth child born to the king and queen, she was relatively overlooked most of her life and left to her own devices. While she was educated and taught courtly manners and deemed suitable to make a wife, no one really cared what she did. She decided to stick to the books. She would comb archives and libraries and was always up to date with the latest releases. She would read just about anything she could get her hands on. Politics, education, fiction, romances, war strategies. Anything. She preferred the company of her books and those considered "lower" by the others at court. And thus always labeled a bit odd, even from some of her siblings. She did get along with some of them but none of them would ever truly understand her. They had just accepted their roles, while she rejects them. Though there's little she can do to free herself from these obligations, it doesn't mean she doesn't actively sabotage any attempts to marry her off. To those few she deemed worthy enough to know her, she's quirky and witty and a loyal friend. She would do anything for the people she cares about.
Likes: Reading, playing the piano, knowledge, cats, most animals actually, irritating her parents
Dislikes: the thought of marriage, her food touching, the feel of velvet, getting her hands dirty
Hobbies: reading, the piano, helping in the infirmary
Fears: marriage and the idea of being tied to someone, losing her freedom
Conditions: Ariella has social anxiety. And while she is able to hide it most of the time, if you truly pay attention, you'll see her fidgeting in highly dense crowds. She'll leave as soon as it's sociably acceptable. It's not that she's afraid of the people there. Most of them are idiots in her opinion. It's that she feels like she's suffocating. There are too many people and she feels like she can't breathe. It feels like the crowd is pressing in on her and she's going to drown.
Background: Ariella is the sixth child of seven, and the last of six girls. Their parents had their first girl shortly after they were married. A girl was no problem, boys would follow. Only the next one was a girl. And the next. They had child after child, hoping each one would be a boy, and yet they were only gifted with girls. A disappointment, the lot of them. Each of the girls felt it heavy on their souls. Until finally, finally after over ten years of trying, they finally had a boy. A baby boy who would now be heir to the throne. And now all the other girls would be a ploy for political alliances. One by one, they were each married off until all that was left was Ariella at home along with her brother. Some of her sisters were married to kings, others to lords. Some had bore children, some not. Which is how Ariella kept getting pushed further back down the line. Boys were always taken over girls, any day of the week.
Other: She may or may not be currently in a prank war with her brother.


Had Dominic been able to go back in time and tell his younger self that he would be running from his kingdom with a death mark on his head, he would have downright cut his tongue out for being so ridiculous.

Yet that was exactly what had happened.

King Octavian was an asshole. In fact, he was more than an asshole. He was a bastard, a dickhead, some even described him as 'hellish' when they realised the true man behind the fake smiles and waves that he present to his kingdom. But Dom had known since he was a child that the man was all that and more. Worse, even, and the Crown Prince took the brunt of the rage and anger that the older man harboured, and had done so for years.

Verillia was a strong kingdom, powerful and well known and, for the most part, had many allies that would come to their aid if it were needed. Whether that was because other rulers were afraid to piss off the king or wanted to be on his good side lest something happened and Octavian turned on them, it didn't matter. But regardless of how many allies they had, how much money and land, Octavian would always want more. Nothing would satisfy the king, nothing had been able to fill the hole in his heart since his wife and two of his children had passed, and Dominic knew that better than anyone.

So when the prince overheard his father plotting to take the neighbouring kingdom by force, he shouldn't have been surprised. Dom should have known that his father would do something horrible to them when things didn't go his way, he should have known that Octavian wouldn't like him storming into the war room and demanding to know what was going on. He should have known that his father would punish him for the multitude of fuck ups he had managed to rack up within a span of a minute but what he hadn't expected was his father ordering to have him killed.

And as much as Dom didn't like that he now, really, had no choice but to leave, he also had no choice but to go to said kingdom and inform them of what his father was planning. It wasn't ideal, nor was it something he really wanted to do but a part of him, the rational part, knew he had to. He had a duty. And really, they didn't deserve to be attacked when they had done nothing wrong, the prince knew that much.

The journey to get to the kingdom had been gruelling when he had ended up with a deep gash on his arm leaving the palace on a stolen horse. Dominic had travelled with little rest, only due to the pain that he was in– and fear of being followed– only stopping for the horse to rest when it needed it. How he was still alive when he made it was a miracle by some fucking God or another, but he was covered in blood and on the verge of delirious as he rode through the gates of the palace.


Ariella was on her daily walk, sanctioned by her mother. Her unusual paleness was worrisome according to her mother, and the royal physician that would rather bend over and take it than contradict the queen. Once a day, she was to take a thirty-minute walk outside and catch some sun. It was healthy, they said. Only her skin burned so easily int he direct sunlight. So instead, a steward followed her around holding an umbrella over her head, that was just transparent enough to let the light hit her without being overwhelming. It was all very pointless to her and she could just as easily catch some sun sitting in front of ceiling-to-floor windows instead of traversing around the courtyards and doing laps around the palace.

It wasn't a complete waste. Her skin had darkened ever so slightly. And instead of looking ghost-pale, she was just pale. There was a slight glow to her skin but she didn't feel all the better walking around outside, her ladies following her around and talking mindless gossip. She would rather be inside, viewing the countless books. Or even spending her time in the infirmary, researching different medicines and helping injured soldiers. While there was no threat they were facing, they did tend to rough up one another during training. Or they had a habit of getting tangled in their drunk outings and always came back to the palace to get stitched back up.

She was steady with a needle and found the body fascinating. It could do amazing things. She liked to experiment with different concoctions as well. If these herbs were both helping in inflammation, why would it not make a good inflammatory medicine? It was much to the dislike of her parents. Neither of them approved her work that she did. They believed it beneath the royal family but they couldn't very well ban her. Well, they could, but she always found a way around them. And thus they learned it wasn't worth the trouble.

As they rounded the courtyard to the front of the palace, Ariella watched as horse sprinted through the gates. The clothing was not of Araniel's regalia and it was no one she recognized. Many spies and soldiers came and went from the palace, she knew their faces. This one, she hadn't seen before. As she approached, at the protest of her ladies, she noticed the gash on his arm and the Verillia insignia. He must be a soldier, or more likely a noble.

Verillia was their neighboring kingdom. Though despite their alliance and invitations, Ariella herself had never been. She had never met the royal family. She wasn't important enough to be brought. She wasn't the heir or high enough the food chain to be considered for marriage for the prince. Last she heard, he was still unbetrothed. Curious, for his age. But then again, here she was without her own betrothal.

Soldiers were rushing in the yard at the arrival of the horse and strange man, but none were quicker than Ariella. The horse had come to a stop in front of her. Thankfully, otherwise, it would have run straight through her. And being trampled by a horse was not something she ever wanted to experience. Her attention was on the bleeding gash. The dried and crusted blood around the wound suggested that it was a few days old and the fact that it was still bleeding was concerning to her. Taking a look at it, it would need stitches.

Her ladies squawked in outrage as Ariella bent at the waist to tear a piece of cotton off of her gown. She reached forward, starting to wrap the wound tightly. "Sir, are you alright? Can you tell me what happened to you?" Her initial concern was his well-being. And the guards approaching if he was hostile had her narrowing her eyes at them and snapping at them. "Braxton, go warn the infirmary. Get a bed ready. Nico, Orion, help me get him down. We need to be careful unless there are any other injuries we can't see."

"Your Highness-"

"I swear to the gods, Orion, if you tell me you're taking him as a prisoner I will have you thrown in his cell in his place." Ariella wasn't a violent person and she was rare to give out threats. But when it came to taking care of her patients, she would fight tooth and nail for them. And this man was her patient, ever since his horse pounded into the courtyard.

"Beatrice, fetch my father and explain to him what has happened. Tell him to meet us in the infirmary." If he hadn't been informed already. It would look suspicious if she didn't send for her father. And not just to the king, but to everyone at court. It would be open defiance, which she was so careful to avoid. She didn't hate her parents. She never could. She just felt stifled by them. They didn't understand her. She would never do anything to openly hurt them or cause unrest in the palace. It made them look weak if they were not a unified front. It still didn't mean she had to fall into the stereotypical princess type.


Dominic knew that the royal family of Araniel had many children, at least far more than that of Verillia, but the crown prince had only met the King, Queen and eldest daughter once or twice. Even then that had been a few years ago, he didn't know if anyone would recognise him regardless. He was a secluded man with a temper and a reputation that preceded him, but even then he didn't know if anyone here but His and Her Majesty would know him. It didn't matter. He needed to get to the two anyway and warn them of the potential war.

The prince knew, however, that he wouldn't be able to get far when he was bleeding out. He had tried to patch himself up as best as possible but the piece of cloth he had wrapped around the wound to begin with had fallen off somewhere on the journey into Araniel and he hadn't paid any attention to it since. Not when it was still bleeding. It was far deeper than he had anticipated, and the fact that he had no other injuries that were pressing was a miracle in itself. There would be someone after him, his father wasn't the type to just let him go so easily, especially now when he was aware that his son knew his plans. Or at least part of his plans. Dominic wasn't sure how much he had been able to overhear, but he knew enough to gauge the basic gist of the plans.

Swinging his leg over the side of the horse, Dominic swayed on his feet when he landed on the ground. The blood loss was starting to kick in but he refused to faint and refused to do anything until he spoke with the king. It was why he shook his head, however terrible the spinning was that followed, "No-" Came the rough reply, "Need to- to see the King," He looked to the woman that wrapped his arm. Your Highness. Princess. One of the daughters.

Dominic didn't know which daughter she was, but at least it was one of them, and it seemed she was keeping the guards who clearly wanted to throw him into a dungeon at bay, "Urgent. Tell him, Prince-"

There was a sharp shooting pain up his arm and Dominic's words were cut off and he clutched at his arm. Fuck. Clearly ignoring a wound as deep as his for a few days wasn't the smartest idea he had ever had, but that was obvious to anyone with a brain cell to spare and Dominic had none for the time being. It wouldn't surprise him if it was infected, considering the elements had been whipping against it for the last few days of travel time with no treatment. Either way, he was too stubborn to give in and go to the infirmary unless dragged there or passed out. For once, he was putting the safety of others before his own kingdom, and needed to let them know about what was to come.

His father wouldn't attack without a proper military formation, but Verillia made sure that their army was already primed and prepped for an attack on themselves. It wouldn't be difficult for them to mobilise. Honestly, Dominic didn't know what his father was going to do. He already had someone attempt to kill him, the only heir to the throne, he didn't know what would happen.


The last thing this man should've done was swing his legs over the horse and climb down from his mount by himself. The bloodlost was a concern in itself but it didn't look like this man had eaten or even slept these past few days. It was almost a weeks ride by carriage from here to the capital of Verillia. She could only imagine riding by horseback cut that down by a day or two. Riding four days straight, hell, even riding two days straight was incredibly taxing and hard on the body. Add an injury in the mix and she couldn't understand how he was standing. Granted, she was clutching at his bicep now in case he lost his footing but he seemed to be holding himself up well enough.

"You'll never make it to my father like this. And even if you did, he wouldn't appreciate you bleeding all over his floor. He'll meet us in the infirmary." She doubted he would even make it past the doors before he passed out. The adrenaline and shock of whatever it was he's running from were going to catch up to him any minute now. Anyone with brains could see he was running from something. One didn't show up to the palace barreling through gates if they weren't running.

She looked down at his arm as he suddenly clutched it. Her hands left his bicep only to place her hands near the wound. She hadn't gotten a good look at it but she couldn't imagine it looked good. Several days fleeing on horseback was only an invitation for the wound to fester.

"You're no used to anyone if you're dead. Now you can walk to the infirmary or I will have you carried. Which will it be?" Her ladies made sounds of protests behind her, clearly thinking this be a job left to those classified as a lower class. She couldn't care less. Did they have no compassion? Empathy? He was wounded and in trouble. And while she worried what trouble he might be bringing to her doorstep, her first instinct was to care for the wounds on his body.

The guards around then shifted on their feet. They didn't like the princess taking control of this situation. They worried about her safety above all else. She wouldn't be surprised if the caotian of the guard made an appearance shortly in the courtyard. Or at least met then in side depending on how stubborn this man intended to be. It was a good thing Ariella was more stubborn. She wasn't very good at taking no for an answer. Besides, he was half dead on his feet and couldn't even form a whole sentence. What made him think he coukd approach the king like this?


If Dominic had been able to roll his eyes without his head pounding and threatening to cause the rising nausea in his stomach to come up his throat, he probably would have. He didn't like being bossed around, and the princess seemed as stubborn as he was and the combination was either going to have his head chopped off by her father or him being berated by the woman herself. Neither seemed like a good option, and the prince was certainly not wanting to make an enemy out of either of them when he was bringing news of an incoming war.

The prince had been in enough fights and battles to hold his own. He might have been royalty but he was a soldier first and foremost. Years of training did that to a man, especially with a father like his own breathing down his neck all the time. Well, less so breathing and more so causing him to bleed out every day. He supposed that helped aid to the ability to still be standing and walking enough to function on fight or flight. Having to pretend like he was fine and not in pain when around nobility was a skill he had quickly mastered when he was a child and it had only improved the older he grew and the worse the situation became.

And no one knew, and no one would continue to know if he had any say in the matter. The princess standing next to him was little help when it came to keeping him steady, and he knew if he fell over he could most likely bring her with him considering her size. Crushing the princess was not on his list of things to do within the first five minutes of meeting her, and they hadn't even been formally introduced. That would have to come when he wasn't in the middle of dealing with an injury, exhaustion, and the knowledge that he bore regarding his father.

Dominic looked at the guards, eying each one up with a pained glare, then the ladies in waiting who all seemed shocked and disgusted before finally, back to the princess, "Walk." Came the clipped, pained answer.

Turning up in his state was humiliating enough and had caused enough of a stain on his reputation, he didn't need to add to that by having someone carry him into the palace. Half the guards there were shorter than him regardless, he doubted any of them would even have the ability to carry him even if they tried. Maybe a combined effort, but either way, he wasn't about to test that theory. One foot in front of the other, his shaky legs began to walk. Dominic could feel the pain and exhaustion creeping up and hitting him like running into a brick wall at full speed, but he refused to give in to it until he spoke with the king.


Ariella was half tempted to dismiss her ladies entirely. They were all too annoying, handing around her like vultures. She didn't even want them and they were only there at the behest of her mother, and god forbid they defy her mother. All of them were looking at opportunities to climb the social ladder and what better way to do that than to be a lady to the princess? They would be able to find suitable husbands and were at the top of the food chain at court, after the royal family that was. Ariella just found them a nuisance and a pain in her ass. They reported every little movement to her mother. She had to be careful with what she said and did around them. Not that she wasn't able to get around them, but they still seemed to stick to her like a moth drawn to a light. It was very annoying.

Unfortunately, it might not look too well if the princess was without her ladies while being with this man. Even if all they were going to do was go to the infirmary to be surrounded by nurses. But her mother might take it the wrong way and suspect that Ariella was up to something. Which wasn't far-fetched but she truly wasn't up to anything. This time that was.

Ariella failed to hide her smirk as he gritted out his answer. She had a feeling that's what he would choose. Now the question was if he would make it to the infirmary without fainting. She hoped he didn't. If he passed out on her there was no way she could them both up. And there was no way she would be able to catch his body to prevent his head from smacking on the marble floors. The guards were close enough that they should be able to catch him in time but she didn't trust them too.

She nodded her head once to the guards, signaling she was ready to go. One of them took up the head while the other two took up the rear. And her ladies fell in between her and the guards. One foot in front of the other, they walked into the palace. Based on the shocked but unsurprised faces, word had traveled fast about their visitor. The maids in the hall scurried out of their way and the guards posted on the wall watched them carefully as they moved. The captain of the guard fell in step on the other side of her, keeping quiet but looking as her and the stranger with a watchful look. She was sure he would have something to say to her later. Another one of his lectures about safety. And then she would smile at him and bat her eyes and everything would be fine. She was like a daughter to him. She could get away with just about anything.

The infirmary was prepared for them as they entered through the doors. A bed had been prepared and supplies were set out. It was only when the stranger was sat on the bed that she finally let go. Usually she would dawn on an apron and help the nurses but not only where there enough staff, her ladies were present and the captain was already pulling her away. She would step aside but she wasn't leaving.


Dominic knew he was being watched with a careful eye under the guards. To be fair, they had every right to do so, he was a stranger who had shown up bleeding and demanding to see their king with no explanation, it was fair that they would be concerned and worried, especially standing next to the princess. He still hated it, though. It was like being at home and having one of his father's men watching him every second of the day for no good reason. Well, for making sure that he stayed out of trouble, or did something that would result in his father's displeasure.

As much as half the guards in Verillia were sympathetic to the crown prince, the other half were loyal to their king through and through. There were the select few, those in his father's inner circle, that would no doubt know about what went on between their leader and his son, and probably even enjoyed it. The sick bastard only kept the fuckers that liked abusing others around him at all times. And they were the ones that seemed to be lurking around every corner of the palace waiting for Dominic to fuck up. But the pain of his injury and the days of travel to get to the kingdom, to begin with, were overwhelming his senses and clouding his mind, so for the most part, he could ignore it.

Having the princess holding onto his arm was little comfort as they walked through the palace, and he didn't stop his glares at anyone who looked too long in his direction in curiosity. Attention of unwanted eyes was not what he needed. It didn't help that there were one too many guards surrounding him and their princess, and who he assumed was the Captain who had fallen into step by them, along with the ladies in waiting. Gods, was this what it was like in a normal palace? He couldn't imagine it, people were not his forte.

Each step grew more difficult as they made it to the infirmary, and Dominic was glad to be seated even if he didn't show it. He was half tempted to tell the ladies in waiting to piss off, but instead just shot them a pained glare in hopes to convey the message enough. People were fretting and hurrying around him and Dominic stayed still until a nurse stood in front of him, explaining that they had to take his shirt off to assess for other injuries, "No." No way. In a move that was probably irresponsible, the crown prince tore away the sleeve of his shirt in a move that had him biting back pained groans to reveal the rest of the injury. Blood dripped down his golden skin staining it red. Half had dried from the days before but there was clearly a growing infection due to the lack of treatment. The nurse was displeased at the prince but began her work cleaning the wound. Dominic turned to the princess, "Where's the…" He swallowed, "The King?"


Ariella might have laughed at how her ladies shrunk away from his withering stare. They never were really suited for the harder things in life. They were best suited for drinking tea and gossiping in hushed tones. She pursed her lips, turning to them. One of them was already queasy in the face, looking at the sight of blood. Weak stomachs. While she may enjoy seeing them in discomfort, she wasn't cruel. "Leave us. There's more than enough people in here, it's beginning to get crowded."

Their usual protests were gone, likely more in fear of this stranger's gaze. They turned and scurried out, likely to tattle on her to her mother but she couldn't care less at the moment. She turned back around, watching the scene unfold as the stranger refused to let them take off his shirt. She pursed her lips but said nothing. It wasn't as if they were trying to get him naked, it was just easier to assess the wound without the clothing. And to check for any other injuries that could be hiding under the clothing. The captain was quiet next to her, his eyes trained on the man. the other soldiers had taken up post in the room. She would have dismissed them too were it not for her father on his way.

"He won't be long now," she replied. Her father was a busy man. He was constantly surrounded by his advisors and busy with meetings or combing through mounds of paperwork. And on top of that, teaching her brother how to become a king. He had likely been caught in a meeting when she had sent her lady to fetch him. She could only imagine how that conversation had gone. Her father did not like to be interrupted.

She strayed from the captain's side to rinse her hands in a clean bowl of water. She had some blood on them she'd rather have rinsed off before her father arrived. He's noticed the ripped gown, likely, and already know what she had been up to. But she didn't need to wave it in front of his face. She dried her hands on a spare towel before moving back to her position next to the captain. The doors to the infirmary flung open and the king arrived with his own group of guards, taking post along the walls. Who she wasn't expecting was her brother, Everand, to join them as well. Her eyebrows flickered up in surprise at the sight of him as he came to stand next to her. He towered over her, but as most people did. He gave her a look conveying concern and she waved him off. She was fine. Annoyed but fine.

"What is the meaning of this?" King Galen Callistar strode forward. As he caught the sight of the man, his feet paused. "Prince Dominic, what are you doing here?" Because even in his bloodied and dirty state, the king recognized him. He made it a habit to know what all the surrounding monarchs looked like. Especially ones of importance, like reigning kings and their heir apparents. And this man was clearing the prince, even if he was older than the last time he saw him.

Ariella froze, her eyes widening only slightly. The only indication of her surprise. Prince Dominic. Prince. This man was a prince. She felt the horror fill her. She had spoken to a prince like that? She prayed he said nothing about it to her parents.


Dominic knew that they were only trying to help when it came to checking for injuries elsewhere on his body, but he knew there were none and there was no need for everyone to see the amount of scars and still healing wounds that covered his body under the navy blue and gold of his kingdom. His arm was the only important thing, there was nothing else that needed to be seen to. Well, that was a lie, but there was nothing pressing other than the arm that needed to be cared for.

And the nurses worked at him while Dominic tried to keep ahold of his consciousness. He wasn't going to pass out when he had requested for King Galen, that would be a bad start to an already terrible introduction to one of his daughters. He also had no doubt he would be less than pleased if he had been taken away from more important matters to find him unconscious in his infirmary. Black was beginning to cloud his vision but the prince blinked them away, willed them to leave as he focused on staying awake, on staying alive. He had no idea how bad his wound was, all he knew was that it was a pain in his ass and shooting pain throughout his arm and chest and he wanted it gone.

It seemed a nurse could sense that he was beginning to feel the pain more so now that the adrenaline had worn off after the days of running and riding with no end. A small wooden bowl filled with a mostly clear, slightly green liquid with herbs of some kind was presented to him, and Dominic took the thing with his other hand and downed the contents. At this point he would take anything in order to try and combat the pain. He didn't know what was in the drink, nor did he care, but he hoped it would do something to ease the shooting pains. She continued to clean the blood away to reveal the extent of the wound. There was some infection building, that was obvious, and she wiped away puss from the inside of the skin. Dominic, despite tensing, was as still as stone as she continued and shortly began stitching him up.

Had he not been so concerned with his reason for being there, Dominic would have been more than a little embarrassed at his state before the king. Bloodied, dirty, on the verge of passing out. It wasn't how he wanted to see him after not meeting for years, "Your Majesty," He dipped his head in a bow, the best he could do, "Sir, I-" He hissed when the needle hit a particularly tender spot, "I'm sorry, Sir, for the intrusion but-" Dominic swallowed, "My father he- he's planning to attack. I do not know when but- he wants war- your… your land, people. You're all in danger."


Ariella took a deep breath, watching the man, the prince. A nurse was currently stitching his skin back together after having cleaned it. She could only imagine how painful it was to have a sharp needle sewing the skin back together. She could imagine it was uncomfortable at best. She had stitched plenty of soldiers together. She had a surprisingly steady hand. Surprising in that she seemed to never sit still as a child. She was always doing something. It took until she reached double digits that she finally started to settle down and take to the library instead of climbing trees in the courtyards.

She couldn't help but feel this impending sense of doom as she awaited Prince Dominic's answer. There should be little reason for a prince, a crown prince at that, to be in her kingdom in this condition. Something bad to have happened. He had to have been fleeing something. Fleeing something close to his home or else he would have sent word of his arrival. It was only proper to send word tot he kingdom you planned to visit. So he couldn't have already been on his way before fleeing… something. Which meant that this was closer to his kingdom. Or perhaps in his kingdom.

King Galen was still and quiet, processing the words ringing in his ears. War. King Octavian planned to bring war to his doorstep to take his land. Land. There was nothing special about his land. They were an agricultural state. They had rich land and made a decent wealth but they were not wealthier than Verillia. There was nothing special about this land that inspire anyone to take over his land and kingdom. Unless the goal was to spread out his reign and make an empire. He didn't have another explanation. "And how did you come about these plans? How can we trust your word?" He stood straight. "You might very well be whispering in this my ear to start a war for your own gain."

Ariella was frozen in her spot. Her expression was schooled and no one would even know if it hadn't been for the fact that she wasn't breathing. The only indication her brother made of this was placing a comforting hand on her back. He didn't look at her, he didn't say a word, he just touched her back. She didn't think she had ever felt so grateful for her brother than she did right then.

War. War was coming because of an ambitious king. Were they ready for war? Could they mobilize quickly? She didn't know. She wasn't allowed to know these things, even if she tried to listen in on meetings. The soldiers that came through the infirmary didn't talk to her much about actual soldiering or the army.


"Because warning the kingdom that is going to be attacked and that they should prepare for war is, of course, a brilliant war strategy." Dominic knew that speaking to Galen in such a manner, with clipped, slightly harsh and demanding words was not the brightest idea. But he couldn't help it, not when his response to being informed of the storm that was brewing miles away was stupid at best.

Verillia large kingdom, one of the largest on the continent. They had more than enough land, more money than they would ever need for hundreds of lifetimes, but Octavian always wanted more. Ever since the death of his wife and youngest children he had changed. On the outside, he maintained the facade that nothing was wrong, that he had healed from the past trauma of his family's passing. But anyone with a keen eye and who could look below the surface could tell something was wrong. The glimmer in his eye was not one of happiness and content, but one of hellish intent, bubbling away under his skin waiting for the prime moment to attack and take everything. It wasn't just Araniel that was in danger, it was everyone.

Octavian wouldn’t stop until everything was his. The man was too greedy, too ambitious, and all the craved now after the loss of majority of his family was power. He had enough as it was, he didn’t need anymore but he wanted it. For a time, Dominic had thought he wanted it, too. The thoughts were ingrained into his mind over and over by his father until the mantra would repeat for hours on end. But the prince wasn’t about to attack an innocent kingdom. Sure, maybe if they had wrong him or his father in some way, it would be different, but it wasn’t. Araniel had done nothing of the sort and there was absolutely no reason for his father to want to attack. All expect craving the power he would hold to have all kingdoms bend to his will, to rule everything. The war was going to be bigger than that of just Verillia and Araniel, it would involve so many, too many.

It didn’t help that they were known for their temper. At least Dominic was. The crown prince who refused to marry or let anyone into his life lest they get too close. The man who stood by his father’s side, stoic, a solider more than a prince, and did as he was told no questions asked. This was different, he was defying his father outright, shown in the wound he now spotted to display his defiance and change of heart. Dominic pointed to it, “My father tried to have me killed. If I was lying I certainly wouldn’t be here out of all places. If it wasn’t serious I would be back in Verillia. And Gods forbid, if I was helping with the plan this is the last place I would want to be.”

The nurse finished stitching and the second she did, he stood, wobbly legs giving away how he felt inside even if his gaze was hard and serious as he looked to the King, then to the heir, to the princess, and back to Galen once more, “If you do not believe me, then that is your choice, but the blood of your people will be on your hands, Your Majesty.”


Galen bristled at the tone Dominic used. His jaw clenched and his fingers flexed. He was a reasonable man and a fair king, and somewhat absent father, but that did not mean he would be tested or put up with such blatant disrespect. Especially from a prince who had no jurisdiction here. He had half a mind to throw him in a cell. He wouldn't, but ut be all too tempting after hearing how he almost ran over his daughter. His daughter whom he stoll hadn't even acknowledged. "Watch your tone, prince. I do not have to take you in." He could just as easily throw him out.

The prince may have come with news kf impending war but Galen didn't quite believe it. Not that it all wasn't true but he would need to speak with his spymaster and see what their little birds were hearing in Verillia. Because of course he had spies planted there. He had after the king had lost his wife and youngest child. Not to take advantage of this vulnerability but, well, grief did things to a person. He had them planted to make sure the king didn't decide to march on Araniel or blame them for the two deaths. Eveb though it had been several years, he just never pulled them out

He crossed his arms, watching as Dominic stood as the nurse finished up with his stitching. He was pretty sure the nurse's eye was twitching right there as she had only stepped away to grab some guaze to wrap around the wound. If looks could kill Primce Dominic would be dead. It would have been amusing to watch had the situation not been so dire. As the nurse wrapped the wound, Galen spoke. "Rest today. You have had a long journey. I imagine you're exhausted and hungry. Ariella will show you to your room." It was the first time he had acknowledged her since entering the room. And he had given her a task for a servant to do.

Ariella straightened her back as she heard her name being said. She looked at her father who had yet to look at her. Everand gave her a little push on her back and took a step forward. She had no idea what room to put him in. Most were not prepared at this time. Most guest rooms sat around collecting dust until they recieved word of an arrival. But this was last minute and jt would take the maid's too long to prep a room unless Dominic decided to spend the night in the infirmary. He should, given how injured he is. But he was stubborn enough he wouldn't.

The only rooms that were really available would be the rooms on her floor. Seven bedrooms for the seven children of the king and queen. One of then was occupied and five of them still remained as her sisters had left before leaving court. Each room was available to them when they visited. However, most had yet to visit. However, Everand no longer lived on the floor with her. He had been moved into a bedroom in her parents wing a floor above. Something about being surrounded by too many girls or something. While all the belongings had been emptied out, the room gave a masculine vibe and would work for the time being. Unless father kr anyone else decided to move him, the power seemed to be placed with her.

She wanted ti argue that Dominic should stay here in the infirmary iver night, just ti ensure he woukd be alright. And she didn't think he would be able to make it to the bedroom. But she wouldn't say that in front of her father. And he was stubborn. She had a feeling he woukd say no to staying in the infirmary. "If you'll follow me, Your Highness."


It wasn't wise to speak to the king in the manner that Dominic had done, but he couldn't go back on his words now. They were true no matter what. If Galen chose not to believe him then it would be his fault for disregarding it. Dominic knew what was on the way. He knew what his kingdom was capable of, what his father was capable of, and if he had been in Galen's boots, he would have been preparing already.

Dominic wasn't phased by the stare that was levelled at him. His father had sent him worse, hell, he had probably given worse to others, and the man wasn't going to back down. He knew the truth, and he wasn't about to change how he felt on the matter simply because the other king didn't like his tone. Stupid? Definitely, but Dominic was battling the fatigue of the day's travel, plus the pain of his injuries and a king who didn't believe what he had to say. Any filter he might have put on himself had this been a normal situation was long gone.

But Galen was right. He was exhausted. Sleep on the road, no matter how many times he had done so, would always be uncomfortable. Only this time around he hadn't had any supplies to try and make the journey midly more comfortable. All he had were the clothes on his back and the horse, which he hoped was being tended to correctly. The animal had served him well over the course of the last few days, and Dominic practically owed the beast his life. If he hadn't been so willing to continue to fight and ride for him, the prince would still be out there, most likely dying of infection. He never would have made it to Araniel. Hungry was only distant considering he was focused more on the pain than he was anything else. Either way, the thought of eating had nausea rising in his throat. Sleep and rest and water would come first. Now that it was mentioned he was uncomfortably aware of how dry his throat was feeling.

"Thank you, Your Majesty." Dominic bowed his head, body bending with the movement more so now that he was standing. There would be time to discuss the matter of war when he was feeling more normal, and hopefully, Galen would believe him about the oncoming threat the next time they spoke.

Ariella. Second youngest. Not exactly the best start having nearly run the woman over and she seemed just as stubborn as he was out in the palace grounds. Clearly, the presence of her father was enough to change her demeanour. Then again, Dominic knew he was the same around his own father, too. He didn't speak as she instructed him to follow, keeping his mouth shut for the first time in his life as he was led out the infirmary.


Ariella barely waited for Prince Dominic to approach her before turning on her heel and walking out of the infirmary. He had long legs, he would easily be able to catch up with her. he could overtake her if he knew where he was going. But he was at her mercy, as she was his guide. Perhaps after he had rested she would give him a tour of the palace. Or better yet, pass it on to someone else. Maybe her brother Everand or one of the ladies at court who would be sure to swoon over him the moment he was clean and refreshed. He was the heir apparent. And it looked like he might become king sooner than anyone else thought. Assuming Araniel won this war. There were plenty of women at court looking to raise their status. And how higher could you get than queen?

While she refused to turn her head to look back at him, she did keep an eye on him. She listened to his footsteps, trying to hear if there were any missteps or the sound of a thud if he fell. She was distinctly aware of her shadows as two guards followed behind them. They were quiet and discrete enough that it wasn't as big of an annoyance as it could be. She didn't usually travel with guards unless she was leaving the palace grounds. But she supposed being in the presence of the man who had come sprinting through their gates warranted her an escort. Even if he was the prince. It was likely because he was the prince, that they followed her more closely. Her reputation, of course, would not look well either if they weren't accompanied by someone. And while she couldn't care less, her parents did.

The path to her floor felt longer than usual. Likely because she was watching his every move just as he was watching her. She could feel his eyes on her and it made her bristle. Finally, they climbed the last set of stairs and entered the floor for the royal children. The bedroom she decided on was at the end of the hall, Everand's old bedroom.

She turned the knob and pushed it open. She stood to the side, allowing Prince Dominic to step inside. She hung outside of the threshold. "I'd suggest you bathe first. And not just because your scent is hurting my nose but the maids will throw a fit if you get the sheets dirty." Bold. It was very bold to be speaking to him like this, especially if he told her father. But he had just delivered news of war. She wasn't in a very kind mood at the moment.

Back in the infirmary, it was just King Galen and the Captain of the Guard, Erick left. They looked at one another, faces grim. "If what he says is true, we need to prepare sooner than later," Eric spoke. "We cannot waste a second."

Galen let out a breath. "We will wait until tomorrow to speak with the prince. We'll call a council meeting. Send Azriel to my office after this. I would like to have a word." The king's spymaster. He needed to confirm if this was true.

"Do you think it safe to leave him in the care of Ariella?"

The answer was obvious, no. Galen might have been an absent father but he knew his daughter well enough. She had a very good streak at scaring others away, particularly men. But he was more worried about what Prince Dominic might do to her. He was twice her size and was known for his temper. And his sweet Ariella made a point to trigger everyone's anger. "Assign a guard to the prince. He doesn't go anywhere without us knowing about it. And I certainly don't want him alone with my daughter, ever."


Each step was growing more and more of a struggle as they walked throughout the palace. Dominic took in every entrance and exit, felt the eyes of those guards on his back and he resisted the urge to turn around and glare at them for staring. Or maybe he was simply still angry at the situation, and at how Galen clearly assumed that leaving his daughter alone with the prince was a bad idea.

And he knew, the prince was more than self-aware enough, to know that he was probably right for that assumption. Well, at least right then and there. He was exhausted, thirsty, more than famished and on the brink and passing out. He was doing his best to be nice. As nice as he could be to strangers and those that treated him like an incompetent child, or even worse, an awful prince. He was doing his duty, helping others. That was what princes did, was it not? Dominic had only ever looked out for himself and his kingdom, never anyone else's before today.

The only difference now was that his father was now after his head.

Disobeying his father's wishes had always been an awful idea, he had the scars to prove it, but never before had it resulted in the king going after his son's life. There had always been some form of punishment, that was clear, and it had only grown worse as the years had continued and Dominic had grown older, leaving the king to resort to harsher methods whenever his son stepped out of line. Usually, that was enough to get Dominic to change his mind, or fall in line enough that he didn't speak out against him. But outright war was a line that wasn't to be crossed for no reason. There was no point, not when they had trade routes and were civil.

When Ariella opened the door to the room, Dominic would have run to the bed had he not been in the presence of another. Gods, he didn't care how hard or soft that mattress felt, it would be like sleeping on a cloud compared to the rocks and dirt he had been on the last few days. Instead, he stopped not far from the door and turned to Ariella.

"The maids can suck it up unless they want to drag my unconscious body out of the bath." Because the painkillers were kicking in making it more comfortable to walk and breathe, and it wouldn't be long before he passed out from exhaustion. The minute he hit warm, relaxing water he wouldn't be able to get out, he knew that much, not when his feet threatened to give at any moment.


Ariella was far from the right choice for this. Her brother would have been a better option. Two heir apparents. Everand should be the one taking Prince Dominic to his room, forming that bond there. He would be the perfect choice to give him a tour of the palace as well. Yet, Ariella had a sinking feeling this job would be given to her. Because her father believed it to be a woman's job to introduce someone to the home, and her mother certainly wasn't the right choice. Which left Ariella. She would still likely plead with her brother to join them. Not only did would it be good for the two to get along, she didn't particularly feel like being with Dominic alone. Or the guards they would undoubtedly place with her.

Her relationship with her father was strange at best and complicated at worst. And today would be the latter. Her body was tense and her mind was reeling. The king hadn't even the decency to look at her. He hadn't acknowledged her until he had ordered her to give Prince Dominic a room. Sometimes, she felt nothing more than a burden to him. Everand tried to reassure her she was wrong, but, well, when the evidence was right in front of her, how could ignore it?

She watched quietly as Dominic crossed into the bedroom. She had heard of him before. Heard of his reputation. He had a bit of a temper on him. And yet her father still entrusted her to take him to his room? Perhaps that was why there was a guard at her back. In any case, he wasn't capable of doing anything to her today. He was exhausted and she could see the pain medications starting to kick in. The most she was in danger of was him falling on top of her. And event hen, she believed herself swift enough to get out of the way.

She might have smirked had not she not been feeling so upset. She could just imagine Agatha coming in to take care of the room and seeing the sheets a mess. She was going to throw a fit. Agatha was not a woman to be trifled with. She could be scary when she wanted to be. Dominic would be on his own when dealing with her.

"I'll have clothes sent for you. Hopefully they fit." The seamstress would likely be along tomorrow to take his measurements so she could make clothes that would truly fit him. With the assumption that her father decided to believe him and struck up an alliance. Her father would be a fool not to.

She closed the door before striding down the hall. She needed to change out of this ripped dress before doing anything else. Even if it was a small rip, it would be noticed. She would instruct her maids to take it to the seamstress to see if it could be fixed at all. She hated the thought of wasting a perfectly good gown. She changed without calling on her maids to help her.

She went to the one place that helped calm her mind. The library.


Dominic ran his fingers over the cotton linen on the bed, feeling how soft it was under his calloused fingertips. It already was like heaven under his hands and he had only touched it for two seconds. He was going to sleep well tonight. Well, he hoped, at least, that the exhaustion of the days travel would knock him out enough that he wouldn't dream and have to deal with the bullshit of night terrors on top of an already painful wound. At least the painkillers were kicking in and he could sleep rather than simply lying there in pain waiting for himself to pass out. Anything was better than nothing.

But even though he was tempted to fall right onto that little slice of heaven, Dominic did as he was told and headed for the bathing chambers adjacent to the room. As much as he hated to admit it, he needed a bath, and he knew he smelt awful. Sleeping in a dirty bed wouldn't be helpful, either, and as he was a guest in this kingdom, he was going to try not to piss any more people off than necessary.

Back home he wouldn't have cared less. Everyone knew he had a temper, and knew not to piss him off, but as he stripped down as gently as possible once there was a bath of warm water before him, he knew this wasn't a situation where he could simply let himself yell. No, he was going to have to take control of his temper, at least a little. This wasn't just an average visit to another kingdom, this was war they were talking about. If he wanted to stay and not be sent back to Verillia where he would be met with his inevitable death, he was going to have to keep his composure, just enough to stay on the good side of the royals.

So, he scrubbed himself down, fighting off the drowsiness for the sake of making himself as clean as possible. At some point, a maid made herself known and left a variety of clothes for him to change into whenever he needed. For the time being, all he needed was a pair of loose-fitting shorts to change into so he could sleep, which he easily found once he reluctantly climbed out the bath and dried himself off. Dominic did his best not to anger the wound and the bandage, but it did become a little damp throughout the ordeal.

Either way, the prince was more than glad to be able to climb into bed and settle into the mattress of feathers and clouds. The moment his head hit the pillow he was out like a candle, no longer having to hold off the tiredness that had been on his ass for the last few days, and especially in the last few hours. Even if the palace began to burn down he wouldn't have heard the commotion from how deep a sleep he entered. His body needed it way more than food or water, and unless someone shook him awake, he would stay asleep. The crown prince wasn't good at taking care of himself but he couldn't fight how much his body needed the sleep, and almost as if it knew, he had no night terrors, too exhausted even to dream.


The library had always been Ariella's sanctuary ever since she was a child. She came here for solace, for peace, for escapism. It was the one place she could be herself. It was the one place that allowed her to be free from this life she was stuck in. Here, she could be a peasant's daughter marrying for love or a powerful queen taking back control of her home. Here, she could soar.

And the library was the one place her parents hated above all else for Ariella spent most of her time at. A woman was not supposed to be well-read, at least not for a woman of her status. She was meant to be on her back birthing out heirs for her husband. Perhaps they would think differently if she wasn't so against their plans for her. Or if she didn't spend every available second in the library. However, they couldn't very well stop her. They had tried before and failed. Maybe the reason they kept failing was because they weren't as well-read as she.

As Ariella entered the library, she couldn't help but feel a sense of calm rush over her. Most of her guards had since departed and only two of them remained, taking up post at the entrance of the library. She'd never really had guards follow her around unless she was visiting the city. This was likely Eric's doing and she would have words with him later. Right now, she needed to forget, just for a little while. She needed to forget about her father and the guards and Prince Dominic. She needed to escape.

She knew just the book for it as well. She plucked it from the shelf. The familiar weight of it in her arms allowed her face to soften. There was almost a skip to her step. This was one of her favorite books. She could get lost between the pages and immerse herself in the story. She nodded at the librarian in acknowledgment as she headed over to the back corner of the library. This was unofficially names Ariella's Corner. This was where she went escaped to in the library. There was a couch and a love seat. A rug and coffee table. And a desk positioned behind the couch where Ariella preferred to do her work. She wanted nothing more than to curl up on the couch and burrow under a blanket as she read.

However, her plans were interrupted as she reached her corner.

Prince Everand, youngest child of the Callistar family and now currently her biggest pain in the ass. He knew exactly was he was doing, coming here. He knew what this place meant to her and what it was for. And yet there he was, splayed along the couch as if he lived there. Ariella narrowed her eyes at him. He didn't even blink.

"Why are you here?" She asked, clearly irritated. Her relationship with Everand was complicated. Then again, all of her relationships were complicated. They had a love-hate relationship. And it was currently in the hate part.

"I wanted to check on you. You looked upset." Everand crossed his ankle over his knee, his expression sympathetic. "I know these past few weeks at been hard, throw today in the mix-" He shook his head.

Ariella scoffed. "Ah yes, I'm perfectly fine." She was, in fact, not fine. "Nothing like the threat of war to liven up my day. Now why don't you run back to father like a good little pet and leave me alone."

Everand's jaw clenched as he uncrossed his legs and made to stand. "Just because you're mad at mother and father doesn't give you an excuse to take it out on me." He started to leave before turning back to her. "One day, you're going to push everyone away until you have no one left." Then he left her alone with her thoughts."


For the first time since his mother died, Dominic was blessed with a dreamless sleep. No dreams. No nightmares. Nothing. Pure and utter darkness in his mind with nothing to wake him. Gods, he was tired. More tired than he had been in so long. If planning and preparing to become king wasn't already exhausting enough, combining the news with his father's war plans, the trip to get to Araniel on top of that, and the crown prince was ready to go into a coma. Honestly, if he had a choice he probably would have picked a coma over a simple sleep, or maybe a coma without end. Then he wouldn't have to wake up and deal with reality.

Because even though Dominic hadn't felt at home since the death of his family– with the palace being too dull, too empty and tense – now he was truly without a kingdom. He couldn't return home to Verillia, not unless he was going to sign his own death certificate and kneel in front of his father, head bowed as it was taken clean from his neck. There wasn't a chance he was heading back there, not without good reason, not unless he was in desperate need for reconciliation with the king if shit went south in Araniel. Something told him, though, that even if he attempted to go back to Verillia, he would be dead before he even crossed the borders.

And his father… Octavian was fuming in his palace of gold and marble. The king hadn't expected his son to get away, nor had he expected to be disappointed by the news that he wasn't dead. Really, they didn't know, because Dominic had escaped before they had a chance to find a body or search for him in the areas of the kingdom surrounding the palace. Half of the king thought that his son had lived. Dominic was crafty, smart, he knew his way around the elements and could survive in the wild if needed. But at the same time, he hoped he was dead, if only to save his own ass and maintain the element of surprise.

It was hours later when Dominic finally woke to a knock on the door. He had been tossing for a few hours, the painkillers wearing off and leaving him in throbbing, aching pain and the knock was the final straw to waking him completely. Groaning, he pushed himself off, groggy and wanting to go back to sleep, but he wrapped a robe around himself that had been sat to one side near the bathing chambers before he opened the door. On the other side was a maid holding a stack of clothes and a nurse with another round of painkillers.

He mumbled a thank you and took the clothes and painkillers, being informed that he had been invited to dinner with the royal family in half an hour before he gently shut the door in their faces. On the other side, he could hear them huffing about being dismissed so rudely. Dominic didn't care, and instead downed the painkillers before began to dress himself slowly. He didn't want to anger his wound, and it took a while longer than normal before he was dressed in a soft, neat navy blue shirt and black pants. He looked at himself in the mirror, noting the drained look on his face, how his usually golden skin seemed slightly more pale. A mess, messier than he had been in a while.


Ariella was rooted where she was standing for a lot longer than she would like to admit. Her brother's words had struck home and they were ringing inside her head. She was flooded with guilt and shame. Things were difficult for her right now. Her mother was breathing down her neck and her father seemed content to ignore her more and more each passing day. She was agitated and irritated and constantly on edge. Her every move was being watched by everyone right now. Hoping that she would take to a suitor. Watching to make sure she didn't scare off any of the suitors. Again. Her mother was working over time to try and find an acceptable match for and Ariella just wanted her to stop. She would be more than content to retreat to a cottage turned library and live out her single days there. Her mother hadn't taken that very well.

She eventually sat down on the love seat, bundling herself up in a blanket and opened her book. It took her a lot longer to admit for her to immerse herself in the novel. Her mind was running. thoughts kept circulating in her head and her brother's words kept echoing inside. It took a lot of willpower to block them out. She had to read the first chapter three time before she was finally able to move on.

The clock ticked on the wall and rays of sunlight shifted in the room as time passed and the sun began its descent in the sky. She knew she would be running out of time to get ready for dinner and yet she was pushing her luck. She didn't want to go to dinner. She didn't want to her parents. She didn't want to Everand. And she certainly didn't want to see Prince Dominic. Not only was the prince a reminder of certain doom, but the moment her mother laid eyes on him, it didn't matter his reputation, she would seek to set him up with Ariella. Something she heavily opposed. Not only was his reputation a brutal one, he was the heir. If he lived long enough to take the throne, that would make her queen. A responsibility she didn't want. A responsibility she wasn't prepared for. And then, of course, there was the matter the Prince Dominic would likely refuse her mother as well, so it didn't even matter what Ariella wanted.

It never mattered what Ariella wanted.

It wasn't until the guards came to fetch her that Ariella set aside her book and rose. She debated going to dinner as is but her mother would throw a fit for wearing a day dress during dinner. She didn't see why it was such an issue when she would be dining with family, and Prince Dominic she supposed. But she wasn't trying to impress him. She didn't want to impress him. The more he was put off by her, the better.

Her maids were fussing as she returned to her room, grumbling about how little time they had to dress her and prepare her. The gown was lavish, but then again, they all were. One of the perks of being a princess. And one of the perks she didn't quite mind. That and her endless supply of books. The gown was a deep navy. There was gold embroidery along the hems. But the one thing that stood out to her was the neckline. "My mother chose this didn't she?"

The silence itself was a response. She pursed her lips. The sweetheart neckline was much lower than anything she would have chosen for herself. It wasn't low enough to be scandalous but it was certainly a statement. And it meant her mother already knew who exactly there little guest was. And had already made up her mind on what she was going to do.

Because there wasn't much time left, cosmetics were light and her hair was left down. They applied an oil to make her hair shine without the oily appearance. Perfume was applied. She looked beautiful, truly. But she couldn't help but despise it because of what it meant. Without a second look at the mirror, she strode out of the room to join her family for dinner.