Sneaking to the back is easier than I thought. I give a little smile as I squeeze in between a bickering set of knights throwing insults on one side and a beefy, glaring knight on the other. His countenance is enough that even the most daring of men wouldn’t dare to match it. I’m just a crazy girl, so I do.
He gives me a smirk and a wink, earning a slight chuckle from me.
A hand grabs hold of my arm and jerks me out of line. A richly dressed attendant with hanging jowls and a top hat that would look better on a peafowl glares at me, still holding my arm in a vice-like grip. I'm tempted to break his little finger and make him let go... but that wouldn't look good with so many folks watching.
“WHAT do you think you are doing?” he hisses in my ear, causing the knights to abruptly stop their insult war to glare back at me and the attendant.
We-elll, excuuuuse me.
The attendant pinches me. I give a slight yelp and glare at him.
“What were you going to do back here, you little idiot?” he asks.
I stare for a moment then give my sweetest smile. “I was going to moon the audience, what else would I do?” I ask innocently.
He turns all sorts of mottled red, making him slightly resemble a lobster I had seen in a fancy dining inn. No, that’s unfair. The lobster was prettier.
I watch in fascination as the red extends down to his neck and his mouth flops open in sputtering outrage.
Then a hand sets down upon his shoulder. Strong fingers with one small golden ring on the thumb.
“I’ll handle this. Thank you, Gerald.” Gerald puffs his cheeks out like a bullfrog before bowing deeply.
I watch Gerald waddle off with a smile of amusement in place.
“What’s his problem?” I ask, slightly bemused.
“He’s a bit stressed, understandably since our crowd favorite has been an absentee for the past days since winning the first challenge. I do suppose you had a good reason for missing the ball—which was in your honor.” I abruptly stop looking at the retreating back of the shuffling official's coattails. That voice—I’ve heard it before. I slowly look up... and gulp. I meet eyes of sparkling lapis lazuli.
I quickly descend into a bow. “My Prince. I—uhhh—umm…” That was so intelligent. Great job, Aria.
But how do I explain I missed it because I was kinda fighting for my life against a monster out of legend?
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