Looking up slightly at the staircase, a bespectacled young man finds himself gazing at a petite blond in a wheelchair. “I’m Arthur,” he answers softly, his honey pink eyes fixing to the boy’s light violet.
The blond boy is gazing at him carefully, a look of slight worry on his features. His is head bandaged, there is a puffy band-aid at his cheek, and a few cuts and bruises are visible where he shows skin. His arms are scratched up and are also bandaged in a few places. His hands rest gently in his lap, and a few of his fingers are covered in bandages and silver medical braces; a medical blanket is draped over his shoulders.
Arthur waves at the youth, smiling lightly, “Are you Lady Ventuswill’s son?”
The younger blond looks away in what appears to be shyness, as his tanned cheeks flush a rosy pink and his eyes narrow. He nods once, gaze hesitantly flickering back to Arthur’s.
“I see. It’s very nice to meet you,” Arthur says, a warm smile rising to his lips. “Do you mind telling me your name?”
“.. Lest,” Lest answers quietly, “Lest d'Selphia.”
“.. -ir..? Sir Lest!”
Quick footsteps sound from the upstairs hallway, and an azure haired young man comes running up to the young blond. “Sir Lest, I..-” He stops when he sees Arthur standing in the foyer, and immediately bows, “I am so sorry! I didn’t know we had a guest!” He is clad in formal butler attire, gloves and all. His clothing is almost immaculate, except for a few green patches on his jacket.
“It’s quite alright. I was just speaking with your young master,” Arthur says, gesturing to Lest, who visibly blushes in embarrassment at the title. “I’m Arthur D. Lawrence. The thirteenth prince of Norad. I sent a letter to Lady Ventuswill that I would be arriving today.”
“Yes, yes of course! Please, come upstairs. I’ll take you to her,” the butler says, carefully turning Lest’s wheelchair around in the direction he had come running in. “Lady Ventuswill also wants to see you, sir. And Mister Volkanon, as well. It’s time for your checkup,” he tells Lest, who nods and turns his head to watch Arthur come up the stairs. He starts to gently push Lest, walking alongside Arthur who matches his slow, cautious pace.
“And what might your name be, if you don’t mind me asking?” Arthur asks the butler.
“It’s Vishnal, your highness!” Vishnal answers cheerfully.
“Ah, please, just call me Arthur. There is no need for titles,” Arthur says, smiling rather clumsily at the young butler. His gaze flickers to Lest, who shyly looks away from him once more.
“If that’s what you wish. It’s nice to meet you, Arthur.”
“And you, too.”
They stay quiet for a few moments, Vishnal leading them throughout the castle-like mansion.
”.. Lest?“ Arthur calls gently, causing the younger blond to look back up to him, "May I ask what happened to you?”
“Oh, erm..” Lest lightly bites his bottom lip. “We fell through the glass roof. I’ve been asleep for two weeks. I only woke up three days ago,” Lest says softly, light violet flickering up to now-wide honey pink, “I’ve suffered a concussion, bruising and cuts, as well as slight damage to my ribcage. That’s why I can’t walk.”
“I-I see.. are you feeling alright? I don’t want to force you..-” Arthur starts to say, visible worry gracing his soft features.
“I’m fine,” Lest says, smiling for the first time.
Arthur feels his face flush. How adorable, he cannot help but think.
“Vishnal has been a tremendous help. As well as Mister Volkanon and Clorica,” Lest says softly, now smiling up at the young butler, “Ven says I’ll be able to walk soon.”
“.. ‘Ven’?” Arthur questions.
“A-ah, I mean, Lady Ventuswill!” Lest corrects himself, looking embarrassed, “She says I’ll be able to walk in seven more weeks, once my ribs heal.”
.. he calls her formally, instead of calling her ‘mother’?
“Pardon my asking, but are you adopted?”
“Yes, I am.”
Ah.. that’s why father didn’t mention relatives.
"By the way, Vishnal, have you seen my sister?”
“Miss Frey? I believe she is with Clorica, in the dining room,” the butler answers, “Are you hungry?”
“I am, but I can wait.”
"Here is Lady Ventuswill’s room. I will inform her that you have arrived, Arthur,” Vishnal says cheerfully, carefully stopping Lest’s wheelchair. He steps in front of the two, gently knocking at the door before he lets himself in, closing it quietly behind him.
“If I may ask..” Arthur starts to say.
“You can ask me anything,” Lest says with a small nod.
“.. how.. how did you fall through the glass roof?”
Lest blinks at the question, looking up at the young man. His gaze slips moments later however, and he brushes a tuft of platinum blond behind his ear. “We..”
Arthur notices Lest’s ear is also bandaged, with a large, puffy, square shaped bandage gingerly covering the top of his ear.
“We fell out of a zeppelin. That’s what we were told.”
"And by 'we’.. you mean you and your sister?” Arthur asks, earning a small nod from the young blond. “I see.”
"And your sister.. is she doing alright?” Arthur asks, watching as the corner of Lest’s lips relax into a warm smile.
“She just has a broken leg and a few bruises. I broke her fall.”
Arthur feels his heart rise to his throat. That’s why he’s so hurt, he thinks, The glass and his sister.. He took the brunt of the damage. "May I..-”
“Arthur! Lady Ventuswill is ready to speak with you!” Vishnal says cheerfully, opening the door enough for the older blond to pass through.
“Thank you, Vishnal,” Arthur says, nodding politely to the young butler. He walks toward the door, fingers gently resting on the knob. “It was nice meeting you two. I hope you feel better soon, Lest,” he says softly, smiling warmly at the younger blond.
Lest shyly looks away again, “Thank you..”
Ah. He got shy again, Arthur thinks, gazing momentarily at the youth, I wonder why? He seemed fine..
“Can you.. come and see me again..?”
Arthur blinks at the question, taken by surprise. “.. of course. I’ll be seeing you, then,” he answers gently, causing Lest to smile somewhat.
“Lady Ventuswill?” Arthur calls, taking a few steps away from the closes door behind himself.
He looks around the room, finding it to be mostly devoid of furniture aside from the simple carved wooden chair in the center of the room.
There are a few potted plants scattered about the room, all of them in varying shades of blue, green, purple and pink. The blue ones all seem to be some kind of cornflower, what with their abundant, thin, feathery-like petals, and their gorgeous purple centers. Mixed near the blue ones are mint green roses and bright, vivid green carnations. The greens share their similarities in that their petals are extremely delicate and thin, fragile and soft to the touch. There are several kinds of purple flowers, and their quantity outshines all the other flowers. There are purple irises in tiny, square shaped pots. Their buds and petals are darker violet in comparison to the other purple fauna, and their stems are kept short and neat. Lavender blooms keep the room’s ambiance relaxed and soothing. They are the tallest of the plants, standing at four feet tall, and are even taller because their circular pots stand on various small tables sitting about the room. The last purple flowers, bellflowers, lie neatly in tiny three by three pots that sit beside gorgeous, pink flowering azalea shrubs.
All in all, the room is very.. natural. Peaceful. It is absolutely breathtaking. The floor is almost all white, except for the center of the room which has an odd, golden crest that has a dragon in the center of a circle. The walls themselves are also white, painted and not covered in wallpaper like the rest of the mansion. The only colour in the room lies in the dragon crest and the flowers.
“.. Lady Ventuswill?” Arthur calls again, raising his voice slightly.
It is hard to believe that the duchess disappeared in such a short time frame from Vishnal leaving and Arthur entering the room.
“I’m over here,” a feminine voice calls from the balcony, causing Arthur to tense up somewhat in surprise.
The prince walks forward slowly, pushing his glasses up a bit to cover his eyes once more. He stops when he sees Ventuswill emerge from the balcony and bows slightly to her, lowering his gaze, “It is a pleasure to finally meet you, m'lady. My father speaks very highly of you.”
Lady Ventuswill is.. beautiful. Even for an older woman, her long, silvery-grey hair and her stunning, dark hazel eyes make for quite an intimidating presence. She is dressed quite simply, despite her title as reigning duchess: she has on a plain, emerald green gown adorned with not jewels, but silver lace and delicate creme coloured embroidery. Like Lest, she has various cuts along her exposed skin, but other than that, she appears to be perfectly well.
Ventuswill only smiles slightly at the young man, staying seated in her wooden chair.
“I, erm..” Arthur shifts his weight, resting most of it on his left side. “I met your son. He was very.. charming,” he admits, smiling at the duchess. The blond looks a bit embarrassed, cheeks painted a lovely shade of pink, “I also met one of your butlers. Vishnal. He seems very kind.”
“Ah, yes. Vishnal. He’s been helping Lest get around the house. I assume Lest told you about his accident?”
“He told me he and his sister fell from a zeppelin.”
“Right through my glass roof, yes. My head butler, Volkanon, is aiding Vishnal in taking care of Lest. He should be able to walk around normally, soon,” Ventuswill explains slowly, tone polite and gentle. She adjusts herself somewhat, brushing a tuft of silvery-grey behind her ear as she relaxes into her cushioned chair. “You mentioned wanting to help us with the town?”
“Oh, right, yes,” Arthur nods, pulling out a small book from his jacket pocket. It has a teal cover, and is shaped like a six pointed star, with the pages between the cover and back also cut to fit the odd style. Flipping through it momentarily, the bespectacled man opens up to a page somewhere toward the beginning. “Yes, I.. I would like to assist you in developing the town. Father told me you’ve been having issues economically?” He informs the duchess, earning a slight nod. “I’d like to offer my aid in any way I can.”
“Mm.. very well,” Lady Ventuswill muses, nodding again. She thinks for a few moments more, dark hazel flickering to the empty patches of earth that make up the majority of her backyard. The area seems to have once been a garden of some sort, as there are branches and small rocks scattered about the dark soil and dry grass. “I will give you full permission to do as you wish. Of course, while you are allowed to do what you want, you will still be subjected to our laws despite your title, so please do not do anything rash,” she says, smiling knowingly at the young prince. Her eyes flicker upward to Arthur’s honey pink, and the blond only offers her a small grin. “You are free to conscript Lest’s assistance. So long as he remains safe, I will allow you to request his help.”
“I.. ah.. thank you, m'lady. I swear to you I will keep him from harm,” Arthur promises, nodding affirmatively as he gazes at the duchess. He closes his oddly shaped book and deposits it back into his pocket, bowing once more to the older woman.
Despite just being a duchess, Lady Ventuswill is a well-known person throughout the kingdom of Norad, and the title is simply that: a title. Her authority actually is on par with the king’s, as is the authority of her three brothers. And as she has been around for seemingly centuries, she has gained the respect that she deserves.
A king will bow before her before she bows to any royalty.
However.. Arthur does not mind. Ventuswill is a fountain of knowledge. A well of forgotten stories and information lost long, long ago. He respects her, despite barely knowing her.
“And as for your living situation..” Ventuswill says after a few moments, gaze flickering to her room. She pauses for a few seconds, hands resting on her lap. “Ah. You can have the room downstairs, as you’ll be able to come and go easier. That is fine, is it not?” she asks, smiling slightly at the bespectacled young man.
Arthur nods somewhat, grateful that she is offering him a place within her own domain.
He had intended on staying at the Bell Inn- his father had given him more than enough money to last him a whole two years during his stay here- but staying at Lady Ventuswill’s residence is much appreciated. He can use the money toward the town’s funds, instead.
“Thank you, m'lady,” he says softly, brushing a tuft of golden blond behind his ear. He stays quiet, gaze flickering to the door he had entered from.
“You should rest. Lest will not be around for the rest of the day.”
“I-I wasn’t thinking about seeing..-”
“Lest is quite a sweet child, is he not?” Ventuswill asks, though it seems she has already anticipated Arthur’s answer. “Vishnal told me now.. animated he was, when he was speaking to you. Lest has not been that way since waking up three days ago, so.. thank you. I think you’ll be a good friend to him,” she says, voice just above a whisper. A gentle, grateful smile makes its way to her lips, features softening considerably. She looks.. happy.
Not happily amused as she had been before, but genuinely, utterly happy.
Arthur finds himself rendered speechless. He stands, motionless and awestruck for a few moments before finally tearing his gaze away. The blond brushes a tuft of gold behind his ear, softly clearing his throat. “I..” He hesitates, gaze resting on a small, untrimmed bush in the garden. “.. you’re welcome, m'lady,” he manages to say.
“I have high hopes for you. Please endeavour to do your best to help him and the town.”
“Of course, m'lady. I will do my best,” Arthur says softly. He gestures to the door, “May I..?”
“Yes, yes. If you encounter Vishnal or Clorica, ask them to escort you to your room. And then you are free to do as you wish,” Ventuswill nods, smile turning polite once more. She settles back into her chair, gazing out at her empty backward.
Arthur lets himself out of the white bathed room, breathing a quiet sigh of relief to himself. He rests his back against the door, looking down the now empty hallway.
Lest is unhappy and the town needs help.
One of those things is easier to do than the other..
Straightening himself, the blond prince starts to walk down the hall he assumes Vishnal had taken Lest down, adjusting his tie as he walks. “It seems.. I’ll be in Selphia for quite a while..”
“I didn’t know we had a monarchy..” Vishnal hears Lest quietly say from his position position just outside the door. His hands are behind his back, fingers lightly drumming against the wood. The butler softly clears his throat, responding slowly and clearly:
“Our nation has had a monarchy for a couple of hundred years, now. The Lawrences gained the throne after the two sons of the last king and queen went missing.” Brushing a tuft of azure out of his dark violet eyes, his gaze fixes to the plain, creme wall across from him. “The previous king’s and queen’s children, Raguna and Ivan, went missing in a shipwreck. Prince Raguna was never found, but Prince Ivan was discovered in a small town somewhere near the Sechs border.”
“The Sechs..?” Lest echoes, clearly having no idea about such locations or any type of history.
“If I may interrupt..” an older, masculine sounding voice says.
“Ah, yes, of course, Mister Volkanon!” Vishnal says, immediately agreeing to relent to the head butler.
“The Sechs Empire is a nation located beside our own. We have had disagreements with them in the past, and there is evidence of small armies invading various towns in an attempt to start war. An emperor rules over the masses, an ‘Ethelberd’. Prince Ivan was found in Kardia, a town that borders the Sechs Empire. Although Prince Raguna was never found, Prince Ivan claims that he is in good health and is married with children,” Volkanon explains, trying not to miss any important information for the young master.
Lest stays quiet for a few moments, presumably taking in the new information. “Is Selphia near the Sechs Empire?” he asks softly, concern clear in his voice.
“We share a border with them, yes. But the pass is in the mountains, south of here,” Vishnal answers reassuringly. “Do you have any other questions, sir Lest?”
“.. no, I don’t think so..”
“.. and.. there. All bandaged up!” Volkanon says proudly, “Vishnal, you may enter now.”
The butler turns his head slightly, catching Lest’s lighter violet eyes. Vishnal enters the room slowly, approaching the immobile youth sitting on a bed. “How are you feeling, sir Lest?” he asks, looking a bit worried as his gaze flickers to the newly-changed bandages covering Lest’s chest.
“Better. Although I can’t..” Lest starts to attempt to lift himself from the bed with his arms, something that immediately sends both Volkanon and Vishnal into a panic.
The butlers gently push Lest back down, Vishnal carefully holding his shoulder should he attempt to try that again.
“You are still too weak, sir Lest,” Vishnal says softly, deep violet eyes filled with uncertainty and worry, “Please don’t try that again.”
“.. okay,” Lest murmurs, nodding slightly. He gives the two a faint, clumsy smile, a guilty look on his features, “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
“Good,” Vishnal breathes, features softening as he allows himself to smile in return. “Let’s get you dressed. Then you can finally speak with Lady Ventuswill, and I’ll bring you to the dining room for dinner,” he hums, grabbing Lest’s white button-up shirt from the bed. He helps the blond into it, being careful with his scratched up arms and broken fingers.
Lest complies easily, moving as best he can to allow Vishnal to redress him. His gaze flickers between the azure haired teenager and the older gentleman for a few moments, until:
“Ah, there you are!”
Blinking in surprise, the three males look to the door, finding a smiling, lightly red faced Arthur standing in the doorway.
“I’ve, erm.. been looking for you, Vishnal,” Arthur says slowly, realising that the three are in the middle of something. “I’m sorry, am I..?”
“Oh, no, no! What did you need? Mister Volkanon can assist sir Lest while I attend to you. I can’t pick him up anyway,” Vishnal says, smiling somewhat clumsily at the fact. “Is that alright?” he asks, shifting his gaze back to the younger blond.
Lest nods slightly, tanned cheeks dusted with a red blush.
He has grown shy once again.
“Alright. I leave him in your care, Mister Volkanon!” the young butler hums, smiling happily at his older superior, “I’ll see you at dinner, sir Lest. Please don’t try and eat again without my assistance.” At this, he frowns knowingly at the youth, deep violet catching guilty lighter violet.
“Okay..” Lest says quietly, easily giving in to the simple request.
Arthur watches as Lest looks to him for a few moments and then quickly turns his head. “Erm.. I’ll be seeing you, Lest,” he calls, smiling slightly. He allows Vishnal to escort him out of the room, observing the butler as he closes the door behind him.
“What might I help you with?” Vishnal gestures for Arthur to start walking down the corridor, back to where the staircase and foyer are located. He starts walking slowly, gait relaxed but proper; it seems he does not drop his guard even out of Lest’s sight.
“Lady Ventuswill has allowed me to reside here during my stay. She told me to ask you to show me my room, downstairs?”
“Ah! So then you’ll be able to spend time with sir Lest!” Vishnal exclaims, seemingly excited by the notion. He visibly lights up, hands put together in a clapping motion, although he did not actually make any sound.
“I.. Perhaps?” Arthur manages to say, smile turning sheepish, “Did he, erm.. mention that? Wanting to spend time with me?”
“No, but you’re the very first person he’s met,” Vishnal points out, earning a confused look.
“Sir Lest hasn’t been allowed outside since his accident. When he woke up, we were all there, so that would make you the very first 'outside’ person he’s met,” Vishnal explains, falling quiet, seemingly thinking the explanation is good as is.
Arthur also falls quiet, mulling over the new information for a few moments. His gaze flickers from Vishnal to the polished tile, and his honey pink eyes widen in sudden realisation, “Is that why he’s so shy when I speak to him?”
“Oh, yes. He was very shy the first two days upon meeting all of us. He’s yet to meet any of the townspeople, either.”
It all makes sense, now.
“He seems to be better at speaking when he’s with more than one person, or if he’s answering questions. But other than that, he’s a shy person. Ah, you know he cannot use his hands, right?”
Arthur nods slightly, “Yes, I’ve seen the braces on his fingers.”
Lest’s index and middle finger are braced on his left hand, and his middle and ring finger are braced on his right.
So, he shouldn’t be able to pick things up or hold anything..
“Yes, well, during mealtimes, I feed him food. You should see how shy he gets! It’s absolutely endearing!” Vishnal gushes, a happy smile on his lips, “Sir Lest is so shy, but he is very sweet and kind. I hope you can befriend him, Arthur.”
“Of.. of course. I’d be glad to befriend him. He seems like a very nice boy,” Arthur says, smiling slightly in return.
“.. yes, mister Volkanon?” Lest responds quietly, gaze firmly set to his own lap.
Volkanon can be somewhat.. intimidating. When Lest had first awoken, the older gentleman had nearly crushed the poor blond in his arms, crying out of pure joy.
Vishnal and Clorica stopped him.
“It seems you’ve been getting along well with Vishnal and Clorica,” Volkanon points out, taking care to push Lest’s wheelchair slowly and carefully. He pauses for a few moments, letting the comment sink in, “It seems sir Arthur is going to be staying here on an extended visit. Starting tomorrow, I would request that you go out to the town with him and meet the citizens of Selphia.”
Lest feels his heart rise to his throat, nerves taking over.
Alone? With Arthur? A person he has just barely met?
“Do I..” Lest hesitates, chewing on his bottom lip, “Do I have to? Can’t I go with Vishnal?”
“I’m afraid not! It is the duty of a lord to know his future citizens! And sir Arthur is more primed for greeting the public. It would do you more good to see the town with him.”
I guess I must..
“.. alright. I’ll go visit everyone tomorrow, with Arthur.”
Although, this isn’t what I meant when I said I wanted him to come and see me..
The fourth chapter may not be out for a bit because I've been working on other things, but I will definitely continue working on this story!