Chapter 20. First Meeting (7)
This time he wore a white shirt and light beige pants, along with a red jacket edged with gold that came to his calves. Embracing his shoulders was an embroidered white cape decorated with gold tassels.
The clothes he wore now were much more splendid than his ceremonial clothes or the modest outfit from the tea party. As he strode in the hall, the crowd stopped talking among themselves for a moment.
‘The ruby pendant again!’
As everyone’s eyes turned towards his appearance, they saw the red jewel sparkling on his throat just as before.
“He wore it again. It wasn’t just a trinket, either.”
Calian had suddenly appeared before them as if it was his day.
These small reactions had great implications, as if it were indistinguishable if this banquet was for King Rumein or Prince Calian.
Soon, Calian moved his feet and passed by Duke Siegfried, who was standing by the entrance; Viscount Brissen, who he had dinner with a while ago; the nobles he met at the tea party; and made his way towards the table of the royal family, located at the innermost part of the banquet hall. He smiled and made eye contact with as many people as he could, with Yan solemnly walking behind him.
The banquet had not yet begun, as it was still before the arrival of the king and the other princes. But the guests remained silent for other reasons than that. It was all because they were looking at Calian.
There was a confidence in his gait that caught their gazes. They all looked at Calian’s young face and whispered,
“He’s only fourteen. I don’t know whether I should look forward to him or be afraid.”
“Yes, I was thinking the same thing.”
Others reacted a little differently to the majority of aristocrats. An indescribable curiosity stirred in Slayman’s blue-gray eyes, who was observing the way Calian was silently dominating the crowd. He watched as the prince turned to say something to his attendant.
‘Huh! What spirit that young man possesses! He had never wielded a sword, yet he has the bearing of a knight!’
It was Yan, not Calian, that first noticed Slayman’s gaze. Yan glanced at the duke, read his expression and then turned to Calian.
“Duke Siegfried seems to have taken an interest in you, Your Highness.”
Calian grinned. He knew why Slayman was interested in him.
‘He’s a swordmaster. There’s no way he wouldn’t notice.’
That alone was not a large issue, as that was not grounds for suspicion. Calian answered without turning his gaze.
“Thank you, but let’s not talk to him yet. Just pretend you don’t know.”
“As you wish.”
Calian slowly softened the atmosphere about him that Slayman had noticed – the burning charisma made to catch the attention of the crowd. Gradually everyone turned away from him, and some of them spoke to Slayman again. Slayman also gave up his interest in Calian and began to talk to the other partygoers.
Soon the two other princes arrived, followed by the king and the queen.
The banquet began with a speech of thanksgiving by King Rumein, and Calian lingered only for half an hour before leaving the garden. Yan followed Calian and handed him Raven’s reins.
They were going to walk, but Yan was worried about Calian’s pale face, and so Calian rode on Raven. The attendant watched as the horse obediently bore his master.
“How unusual. He’s like a gentle sheep in front of the prince.”
Calian grinned playfully and disheveled Raven’s mane. Raven didn’t move away from his touch, and Yan was reminded of his shy younger sister.
“Raven, how nice.”
“Don’t be fooled. When the Prince is not here…”
Calian burst out laughing again. After exchanging a few stories with Yan, Calian finally arrived near the main gate of the palace and stopped at a moderate distance.
Yan stood next to him, curious as to what was going on. He kept silent, however, knowing it would be better to ask for an explanation after the prince finished his business.
And what Calian wanted was Alan Manassil.
“Good evening, Your Highness.”
Some passing guards noticed Calian greeted him. Calian regretted his decision to wear a white cape, leaving him noticeable even in the shadows. Meanwhile Yan blended in the surroundings with his black suit instead of his servant uniform.
‘I should wear something less conspicuous next time.’
Fortunately, no one asked what what he was doing there, likely out of habit from Franz. His temper always flared whenever he was asked such a thing.
‘And Randall looks too scary to ask as well.’
No one would mind if he went to the front door of Heisia Palace where Silica resided and trespassed.
“Good evening, Your Highness.”
Another knight making his rounds greeted him. After receiving six such greetings,
– Dagag, dagag.
The sound of galloping gradually began to approach the front gate. Calian raised his head and his eyes glistened with interest, and when Yan spotted the approaching figure he tensed.
“You were waiting for someone.”
Calian answered, “Yes,” then placed his index finger on his lips. Yan nodded.
The sound of hooves began to grow louder. The four palace guards who were standing at the front gate reacted quickly, with two blocking the front gate, and the other two stood to intercept the rider. Calian could see the back of the palace guards and the head of the horse, but the visitor’s identity was blocked by the thick columns of the main gate.
He wanted to go straight to the front gates, but he decided to watch the situation unfold a little more first. If it didn’t turn out to be Alan, the guards would think his behavior strange. His ears snatched the faint sound of one of the guards speaking.
“Would you mind stepping down from the horse for a moment?”
The voice was firm but polite, and a moment later, Calian heard the sound of someone dismounting from the horse.
“What brings you here?” the guard said.
At last the visitor spoke.
“I’m here to celebrate the birthday of the King of Kailis.”
Calian knew that Allan Manassil was in his early fifties, but the voice he heard sounded much younger than that. He felt his spirits drop. Until–
“I’m Alan Manassil. I’m a mage.”