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    Day 02: Floral Garden

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    Lilac
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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:33 pm

    Wait, was he not supposed to say that? Oh no. Aleph almost frowned for a moment, before smiling again as Duke spoke. It seemed that he believed Aleph, although not for the reason Aleph thought. He was about to open his mouth and say no, when Aspen immediately spoke up. Hot springs. Hot springs? In Eisleyn, of all places? The coldest place in all of Esterelf? Impossible!

    Of course, Aleph smiled when Duke spoke of his homeland. From the sound of it, it seemed that Eisleyn was actually a pretty nice place, even if it was mostly cold and snowy. It really made him want to see the land soon, and discover its true natural beauty.

    However, Aleph soon frowned when Duke mentioned his brother, who had apparently attempted to court the princess...and met his end. A shadow fell over his face for a moment as he shifted between sadness and rage. A young and probably naïve man who thought he could beat the odds, but had his life snuffed out of him in the end.

    Aleph was always one to admire beauty. And he knew that the princess' head would look good on the end of a pole.

    Aleph calmly placed a hand on Duke's shoulder and looked at him. "I'm sorry about your brother. He must've been a good man." He said, consoling Duke. "Also, we're fine. We wouldn't want to be a burden on you."


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:33 pm

    "Oh, it's fine," he reassured them with a smile. "It won't be any trouble. I may bea country bumpkin at heart but I know a lot of people and I live right in the capital. You're the only ones who seem to appreciate my baby here so I must show you the beauty of my country as thanks. So anyway, what was that about seeing the princess?"

    Aspen's attempts to redirect the conversation seem to have failed as the man was too focused on the statement.


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:33 pm

    Aspen touched the ends of her hair before looking sideways.

    "Well...if you insist, we could use a guide," she said. "It would be helpful to know which paths are still usable and if there are any places we can stay in if the travel takes long."

    She stiffened a bit at the mention of the princess again and merely glared at Aleph in warning to not screw up whatever answer he was going to give.


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:33 pm

    Oh, dragon balls. Duke still insisted on inquiring about Aleph's motives regarding the princess. He supposed this was the inevitable punishment for blabbing about wanting to get to the princess. Aleph scolded himself mentally before looking at Duke, searching for what would be a better reason than just 'I want to kill her'.

    Which was true, really, but that would defeat the point.

    "I, uh..." He said, awkwardly, briefly shifting a glance over at Aspen as she glared at him. He sighed. I just have to be subtle about this, Aleph thought. He took a deep breath, then spoke.

    "I want to marry the princess!" Aleph shouted. He then paled and frowned.

    That was not subtle at all.

    Aleph nearly broke into a sweat, but then smiled and continued speaking. Better to not leave an awkward, open silence. "Yes, I too wish to court the princess." He said, fluttering his eyelashes and flourishing his hands passionately. "But only because I want to be king! And bring Eisleyn back to its former glory, banishing the harsh chilled winds and building a civilization that will stand the test of time!"

    While it wasn't the best reason in all of Esterelf, everyone could pretty much agree that it was pretty much better than just outright assassination. That, or starting a rebellion.


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:34 pm

    "You're going to die."

    The statement came about as blunt as humanly possible, spoken in a tone similar to talking about the weather. Duke stared blankly as he said this, not even a hint of jest. His arms were crossed and his knees together, making himself looking even taller than he did before.

    "Take it from me, you're better off going after real love," Duke stated. "A nice village girl or hell, a noble lady. You'll have a better chance. The concern is appreciated but it's not needed. Trust me. From my mother in the farm to my nephew in the mining town, we're a strong people. We'll get by, so live a proper life and marry for love. Take it from a guy who can't do the same, you're better off."

    Duke seemed to be speaking with honest concern. He brushed a long lock of silky hair behind his ear. Then in an instant, his foreboding deadpan turned into a bright smile.

    "You know, my brother Harking was a scholar. The life of a village farmhand wasn't enough for him. And beyond that he was confident in his skills. He wanted to be a cartic doctor with all that fancy magic. He thought if anybody could outsmart the princess, it was him. Yes, he was confident... confident enough to bring me along to witness him."

    Duke still kept on his calm smile as he recounted his memories.

    "Ah well, fable with a lesson, right?" he said with the same expression. "Y'know it's funny. I wanted vengeance right then and there. I was lucky I got off with my head intact. I like my head! It's a real lady winner."

    To exemplify, he tucked his chin between his finger and thumb and turned to the side, flashing a cocky smile.

    "Ah well, that's in the past," he said. "Anyway, I won't show you to that castle and especially not within camera view distance of the princess, but I do have a distant cousin with a hot springs. You'll have to mind some local mountain monkeys but you'll like it."


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:34 pm

    Aspen shrugged.

    "Listen, I've tried to convince this guy as much as I can, but he seems set on it," the huntress said while raising her hands up in defeat. "I can only continue trying to convince him otherwise until we get there so I can say I at least tried. As for hot springs, I'm glad to hear that."

    Aspen looked around for a moment and her eyes narrowed on Duke.

    "I know it's probably an uncomfortable topic but...why do people want to court the princess? Is she really all that fair? I mean sure being king is a tempting thing, but hasn't all the, well...failure not convince anyone? Or do you think something else is at work?"


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:35 pm

    Aleph frowned as Duke responded as bluntly as expected. He almost wished he was dead at that moment, because at the very least, he would no longer have to suffer the brutal awkwardness of the entire moment.

    Of course, Aleph frowned even more as Duke dismissed his ambition to help Eisleyn. It was admirable that they were a strong people, but it still didn't excuse the unforgivable atrocities that the princess had committed throughout her entire reign. If Hiroko had ever been killed, then Aleph would fly into a fiery rage and annihilate the killer, and also exterminate everyone who got in his way. And he knew, deep in his heart, that Hiroko would do the same.

    Aleph clenched his fists and gritted his teeth as Duke elaborated more on Harking's tragic fate, going on about how he had personally witnessed his brother's death. And yet he did nothing? Or rather, he couldn't do anything. It still made Aleph all the more furious.

    "How can you simply put up with her, though?" He asked in pure disbelief. "How can you put up with the fact that she taxes the livelihood out of you, forces you to do her bidding, kills hundreds, maybe thousands of men who propose to her, and treats you all like dirt?! No, worse than dirt. Like slaves!"

    He felt angry, but at the same time, he also felt like crying. Duke's passiveness just seemed all but unreal and inhuman. This wasn't how one responded to adversity. This wasn't how one responded to injustice. It just wasn't right!

    Of course, Aleph looked at Aspen as she spoke of people attempting to court the princess, despite the multiple tragic failures to do so. It actually was bizarre, now that he thought about it. This went beyond just the temptation of being a monarch. No, clearly, something else was going on.

    "Maybe...it's because they think they can do better than the other people who tried." He said. "Maybe, it's because they don't think they could possibly fail, like everyone else did. They don't think they'll...end up like them. That's why they keep trying."


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:35 pm

    "And you think you're different?" Duke asked in curiosity with the same tone of a person talking about the weather, his arms still crossed and his body leaning casually on his left leg. "Heh. I suppose that's one reason. Personally, I think it's karma."

    Duke smiled with almost a knowing look in his eyes, as if he had witnessed such experience far too many times and considers this an everyday normality.

    "Do you truly think men who pursue power in such an easy way would make good kings?" he asked rhetorically. "Travelling by carriage, confident in your gold bars paid education, meeting a young lady for the first time, a decade younger than you, and yet you plan on taking her as your key to power? Is that the mindset of a true king?"

    He turned his head to the side and huffed a small laugh, his silken hair whipping in the air.

    "Do they not care that they shackle the hand of a young lady too young to even choose her own partner? Do they truly plan on giving her their devotion? Travelling across desert and mountains on horseback and slaying mighty beasts in her name is the only kind of king worthy of even being considered. Greedy mongers driven by ambitions of power do not deserve such. Take it from me... you're better off pursuing true love."

    He looked back at the two and flashed a princely smile.

    "Now, whenever you make it to Eisleyn, be sure to look me up. Just ask for Duke Charmr."


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:35 pm

    Aspen placed her hand firmly on Aleph's shoulder.

    "Hey," she merely said. She didn't say anything after it, but her gaze was trying to tell Aleph two things: "Calm down." and "It's not worth arguing over."

    She listened to what Duke said as she let go of Aleph and crossed her arms again. She simply nodded.

    "We'll be sure to keep in mind of the name," she said nonchalantly. She looked at the other flowers. "So, do you mind showing us the other beauties you have around here?"

    The conversation about the princess had gone on long enough. It they continued it was probably going to draw attention. Sure, everyone probably thought the same about Eisleyn's situation, but talking about it was a different matter. Plus one was never sure who was in the crowd just listening.


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

    Post by Lilac on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:35 pm

    Aleph bit his lip as Duke responded. Was he honestly implying that Aleph was just some power-hungry idiot, looking for a quick way to rise to the top? Oh, now Aleph was getting miffed! His face became red with anger.

    Aleph wanted to say so many things, most of which would probably have not been very kind, when Aspen placed a hand on his shoulder and spoke. He looked at her, noticing the rather unmistakable gaze she gave. He opened his mouth, then immediately closed it, and sighed. He was still angry and depressed about the whole situation. How anyone could just sit down and give up just like that was just plain baffling to him.

    Aleph nodded as Aspen took note of Duke's name, while frowning. He then looked at the flowers for a brief moment. Although he was still depressed, the flowers actually cheer him up a little bit. They really did look amazing.

    He turned back to Duke. "So, how long will it be before your giant flower blooms?" He asked.


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    Re: Day 02: Floral Garden

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