Rui loved to hear gossips and rumors. However, he didn't expect that a rumor would kick start him to act. Not when he was in a hive infested with wasps.
"Don't you think we've waited too long? Her majesty has passed and the throne is empty!" One of the members of the council barked, donning an annoyed expression while the rest merely murmured. "Forgive me for the bold statement but all of us have waited from the Season of the Daisy to the Season of Lily of the Valley. Haven't we waited long enough already?"
Ah yes, the time where late spring turned to early summer. Rui nodded his head along, leaning against the velvet walls, hands crossed on top of each other as he listened more to the loud complaints and churning whispers of the nobelity. What a bunch of chatterboxes.
"Gentlemen, Ladies, settle down," Mayora coaxed from somewhere around the throne hall. "There's a whole afternoon dedicated to that matter. The throne will be discussed later on, we have all the time to talk about it."
Rui peeked behind the red colored wall that he was hidden against. The air from such bright red-gold halls decorated with crystal flower chandeliers was opposite to how it looked; glum and filled with thick clouds of frustration.
On the one and only throne, sat Sephiro, looking quite cold and composed, his piercing eyes staring rather boredly while his cheek rested on his palm. Behind him, a huge stained glass window stood at an impressive height of twelve feet.
On each side before the throne, lining up parallel from each other sat the members of the court, all composing of the second prince, three advisors. And last but not the least, Mayora and Joseph who were sat from each other, looking apprehensive.
"If I may be so bold to speak out of turn, Your Highness but isn't the first seat on your left missing His Highness, Prince Henry?"
Sephiro shook his head, finally sitting up proper, straight red hair tumbling on his pristine gold filigree patterened green jacket, crossing his legs that were clothed in white pants and dark boots. "He's not missing. Merely ordered to remain in Scaria by her Royal Majesty. It was stated in her letter that he not return to the kingdom. The queen's words, even in death cannot be broken, not until I am crowned king officially."
"Why don't we proceed with crowning his Royal Highness, Prince Sephiro then? A season has already passed! It's already the 1st bloom of the Lily of the Valley!"
Hayden stood up and glared pointedly at the rude court member. "You better keep it down and let my brother decide his own coronation! He is the first in line and you should respect his decision."
He made erratic hand gestures while he sneered at the now bug-eyed court member. "If he says he will be king then he will be. Gods! You people have no patience I sometimes wonder why you're member of the court!"
"Hayden, mind your tongue." Sephiro warned a grumbling Hayden who returned to his seat. "I will administer myself as king in the 2nd bloom. Wait until then and a new monarch will rise."
"Your Highness? May I cut in? What about the case that happened at the land of Azubah? Was it resolved?"
Rui's lip twitched, blood roaring in his ears. Azubah? His hometown where his family once lived?
Azubah, a village located in the northwest of Kira just on the borders was once filled with Oracles who prophesied about the future, Magicians able to track people with rituals, Clairvoyants knowing of your intentions and reading your fate, and Empaths who were entuned with your emotions. Many more magical users had been in there but little was kept track of.
Rui's hands clenched around each other, long white wolf cut hair hiding most of his profile as he tried to focus more on the conversation.
Would he finally hear something? After years of serving under the rule of the queen, would he be able to return? Rui itched to barge in and make himself known, if only he were allowed.
"Unfortunately, that case has gone cold. Many knights and magicians have tried to solve the mystery but not even the best of them knew what transpired," Sephiro said with an almost tight tone. "Mother herself gave up on the case. It is a miracle that we managed to salvage a survivor of that abandoned village."
Rui took in a breath, sharp and quick. What a waste.
The door to the throne hall busted open, a rugged looking messenger stumbling in. He looked like a fish out of water as he crashed on the marble floors on his hands and knees, whole body trembling.
"Majesties! Forgive me for barging in I— I bring terrible news!"
Mayora swiftly stood up and quickly ran over—pink corseted dress swishing— white gloved hands helping the messenger sit up. Her brows furrowed and her lips pursed as she examined the poor man up and down.
Rui tilted his head, pressing himself against the walls as he crept slowly like a thief in the night. His brown eyes never left the interaction going on, a part of him wishing, hoping, that it was news of his family, of what happened, or it was something so important.
"Breath dearie, breath. The danger has passed and you are safe in this palace. What news do you bring?" Mayora asked.
"You look distressed," Hayden grunted, arms crossed as he leaned against his plus chair. "What do you bring?"
"It's prince Henry, your majesties!" The messenger yelped out, eyes darting back and forth.
"Henry? What about him?" Sephiro asked quickly, back going ramrod straight.
The messenger elaborated what he recalled, adding the testaments of the people, and the mages and knights. By the time he was finished, a chorus of whispers echoed round the stained glass windowed throne halls.
Rui stared hard and let out a sigh before slinking back into the little corner he was in, chewing on his rough white glove that hid his brittle nails.
Dear heavens above, Prince Henry had done that? It was a ridiculous image in Rui's head and yet it made his skin crawl, picturing the poisoned vines and thorned tendrils wrecking havoc upon the land. The smell of burning ashes and billowing smoke— Rui flinched. No. No. Leave it at that.
"What kind of magic summons nature? Such magics are unheard of!" A roar of an adviser called.
"Blasphemous! He must've made a deal with the devil! No mortal or mage can control nature! What treachery is this?" Another called back, the swishing of robes and pounding on arm chairs echoed along with the stamp of a foot.
"He should be trialed! Find him and question him for what he's done! If he doesn't get caught, this will ruin the image of the royal family!"
"Order! Order in the court!"
Rui bowed his head, ducking away from the room that spit with harsh venoms and poisoned fangs, done with listening from such foolery. An interesting take of events that made Rui worry. A whole lot.
When he had been approached by Mayora, Rui had been listening in on the gaggles and gossips of the maids while he cleaned the carpeted floor of the hall in the left wing.
It hadn't been much, just the normal discussions of what to eat for the day, or what kind of sleep schedule they were getting. He even picked up that they'd be fresh bread and soup for dinner today.
That made Rui smile anyways as he continued to clean, whistling a happy tune to keep up the good mood he was in— forget what happened earlier. Just keep the good vibes and continue on with the scurryfunge.
But Rui's mind froze when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around, dressed in black and white butler's outfit, staring straight at the face of Lady Mayora who looked almost... Distant.
"M'lady," Rui bowed from the waist up. "Forgive me for staring, I didn't know it was you."
Mayora shook her head and gave him a smile, although her eyes looked away from him, as she presented a boquet that had white showy, cup-shaped, four-petal flowers and oval, serrated edge leaves.
"Help me carry this to the gardens now, why don't you?"
"These are..." Rui took the frail clothed flowers, abandoning his washcloth and pail of water. He followed Mayora down the crimson coloured halls leading to the garden. "If I may ask, Your Ladyship but what are these mock-oranges for? My apologies for my unlawful tongue if I spoke out of turn."
"Those are for decoration purposes, merely to deceive myself of what I've heard from the mess in throne room. It has been a fruitful day."
Ah yes. If he were in Lady Mayora's position, hearing your nephew causing havoc on the land he ruled and as well as the pressure of the crown, Rui was certain that he too would want to fool himself into thinking he heard no such things.
They arrived in the gardens that were filled with flowers fresh in bloom for the summer, a lone table with filigree patterns on its legs was placed underneath a white dogwood tree while chairs of the same kind surrounded said table. The smell of lemon tickled Rui's nose, mixing into the dizzying aroma of sickly sweet flower dew.
Mayora sat down and in her gloved hands was a finely crafted wooden box that had many golden lace patterns on its edges— since when did Her Ladyship carry that one?
Rui put down the boquet on the cold metallic table, presenting Mayora with what he hoped was a comforting smile. "Do you need anything, Your Ladyship? Tea perhaps?"
"No, but I do have a favor to ask of you."
"A favor?" Rui asked.
"I want you to track my nephew down. Last I heard, he ran away after he made those monstrous plants lose control," she opened the gold-threaded wooden box and took out a bright opal shell necklace, presenting it to Rui. "May I ask you of that? You'll be paid with gold and riches as long as you return him home and safe."
Gold? Riches? The thought was tempting and Rui contemplated it. What could he buy with gold? Lots of things really but no. He wasn't after that.
Perhaps... He could ask for another instead.
He made a small headshake, putting out his hand in a 'stop' motion.
"I am afraid gold cannot buy what I ask, Your Ladyship. I may be one of the survivors in the Azubah Village but my skills are not for free and they cost a lot of my mental strength. Are you willing to give me time if I am to track Prince Henry down?"
Mayora's expression showed no change but her fingers twitched, still holding out the shell necklace. "Our family is desperate. We'll give anything that is demanded. You may ask any of what you want as a reward. Silks, golds, a place in the court or temples. Anything, just as long as my nephew is back in the palace walls."
Rui took off his white left glove, showing his pale and delicate snow white hand. On the back of it sat a blue colored jagged C both facing parallel from each other, a single blue dot in its center.
"I ask for no golds, silks, or a place in the court and temples. All I ask is one simple thing," Rui kept up his smile, calmness washing over him as he gently took the necklace away from Mayora's grasp. "I will demand the payment of my favor when I find him."
"When you find him?" Mayora froze in her seat, staring up at Rui as if he himself committed a crime. "Why wouldn't you wish to tell now? Surely it would be easier for us to fulfill it if we are to be told."
"Your Ladyship, you know what kind of person I am. My skills are of high price, the days and weeks I spend on tracking someone down will influence the demand I will request. The harder the task, the sizeable the reward shall be."
"Oftentimes, Rui, you make me forget that what you have really isn't just one magic. And that is one thing that perhaps influenced me in saving you."
"And I am most grateful for that even if I am a servant in this palace." Rui's shoulders shook with laughter. "A horse, some money, and food on this journey will suffice. Tomorrow when the sun rises, I will depart with haste."
Mayora looked up at the clear blue skies and let out a deep wooshing breath, hands folding neatly on the silver pleated table. "I will do my best in convincing Prince Sephiro to wait for your request then. Surely he will grant such wish."
And perhaps that was enough for Rui.
When the yellow-gold rays of the sun timidly peeked behind the distant mountains, Rui—dressed in a cowl with diamond and vertical 's' patterns on its hems, icy blue cassock with royal blue horizontal silhouettes of diamonds on its front plaids—took up the white horse waiting for him on the stables and went out the golden gates.
A leather traveler's bag was on his back and a long spear that had a dangling ribbon on its handle was strapped on it as well.
The shell necklace dangled 'round his neck, making a small glittering tinkle as Rui rode away from the castle town.
Rui, the local eavesdropper makes a drastic move that sets all the chains in motion.