Prince Joseph Rockwin had never seen so many people show up for a royal feast before. He was seated at the royal table located at the front of the room, which was set horizontal, while the other tables faced vertical from the entrance way. His father, Lord Marquis Rockwin, sat in the middle with a seat larger than the rest. His mother, Lady Kristal Rockwin sat to his left, while Prince Joseph sat to his right. To the right of Prince Joseph, was his best friend, and personal body-guard, Aelged Stillian. To the right of Aelged, was his younger sister Milillia, who Prince Joseph had only met for the first time earlier that day. To the left of Lady Kristal Rockwin was Ser Stillian, the father of Aelged and Milillia, and personal protector of Lord Marquis. To the left of Ser Stillian were two more men, probably men that were loyal to Ser Stillian, squires or something, but Prince Joseph wasn't sure.
The Great Dining Hall was restless, people were dancing about, laughing and speaking loudly, men were horsing around with each other, women were gossiping and snickering loudly, everyone was having a good time. Even the royal table was contributing to the excitement. Lord Marquis, Lady Kristal, Ser Stillian, and one of the other two men to the left of him, were actively speaking to each other and others who approached the royal table, but Prince Joseph couldn't make out much of what they were saying, due to the commotion all around.
There were serving girls that paced about the Great Dining Hall with silver trays that balanced small silver goblets filled with rich red wine. The torches that lined the Great Dining Hall were glowing bright, leaving every inch of the room illuminated.
"Gods be good, with so many children, I wonder how you still function!" Lord Marquis laughed loudly, he was speaking to the one of the gentlemen to the left of Ser Stillian. "I think it's about time you met my son, gods only know when I'll be seeing you again! How long has it been? Ah, nevermind that, Joseph, come here, boy."
Joseph rose from his seat, as did his father, and they walked around Ser Stillian and stood before the two men.
"This," Lord Marquis began, "is Lord Ryei. Lord Marcel Ryei of Wind's Valley. And this…" he said, pointing the second man, "well, I'm not sure who this is? Lord Ryei?"
Lord Ryei also rose from his seat and held out his hand to Joseph. Joseph shook the man's hand as he said, "It is a pleasure to met you Prince Joseph Rockwin."
"Thank you, Lord Ryei, the pleasure is mine."
Lord Ryei chuckled, "Very polite, this boy. He obviously gets that from his mother." Lady Kristal smiled and waved her hand at him, without replying. "This…," he continued as he pointed to second gentleman, "is Blacksmith George Vexton. Although, I do believe he prefers to be called just Vexton."
Vexton rose from his seat, and bowed to one knee. "My lords, I am honored to be in your presence."
"You may rise, Vexton. Lord Ryei, this table was put aside for those of high birth.
"I'm aware of that, Marquis." Lord Ryei said, firmly, "and he is with me, the lord of a royal family. I offered him this seat in place of my own protector's so that he may meet you."
Feeling a little awkward and out of place, Vexton said, "My lord. I didn't not want to offend the royal house with my presence, but Lord Ryei insisted -"
"Throw me under the wagon, why don't you, Vexton?" Lord Ryei laughed lightly, "You have nothing to fear from Lord Marquis, boy."
Lord Marquis smiled warmly, "Certainly not. I'm sorry if I cause you offence, I was unaware. To what do I owe the pleasure?"
Lord Ryei replied, "Well Vexton here, is one of the finest blacksmiths I have ever come across. I mean it, Marquis, you should see the beauty in this man's work. He's crafted me several blades over the years. I wanted to take him back to Wind's Valley with me, maybe have him craft a couple of swords for the men of my guard, but he wasn't having it."
"As I told Lord Ryei," Vexton stated, "my place of work belonged to my father, and his father before him and -"
"He doesn't want to break the tradition. He feels it's the bread and butter of his craft or something," Lord Ryei said plainly, "but I figured if he was to remain here, then he should be put to work… for you. I'm sure his talent would be more than acceptable, and Vexton wouldn't mind pocket fulls of gold, would you?"
Vexton was speechless. "My lord, But…I-I-"
"Spit it out," Lord Ryei said, but it was just then that Vexton realized he had no idea what he wanted to say. He just looked at Lord Marquis.
"How very kind of you, Lord Ryei. Well, Vexton, I'm sure that I can find a couple of jobs for you. How are you at crafting armour?"
"Swords and armour are my specialities, my lord."
"Good. I'll send a rider out to find you with instructions of what I'm to need."
Prince Joseph looked up at his father, "Father, can I have a sword an armour crafted?"
Lord Marquis looked as if he wasn't sure, and Lady Kristal turned and said, "Absolutely not, Joseph. Your are too young for such things."
"Now, now, my lady," Lord Marquis said, still thinking, "he wouldn't have to use it just yet." He looked at Prince Joseph, who's eyes were screaming with desire. Lord Marquis looked at Vexton with the question on his face.
Vexton had put a lot of hard work into crafting the blade for Lord Ryei, just to have to prepare another one? "How about a dagger? The finest dagger in the world, hand-crafted for you and you, only." Vexton asked the young prince.
He looked back at his lady mother, his lord father, and back again at the blacksmith with a bright smile and an energetic nod of his head.
"Then off with you," Lord Marquis said, and Joseph returned to his seat near Aelged and Milillia. He leaned a little closer, so Aelged would be able to hear him over the constant buzz of chatter.
"That guy over there, at the end of the table, he's a blacksmith."
Aelged put down his glass of wine, and looked over at the left side of the royal table. He was a couple years older than Joseph, so he could drink as much wine as he wanted. "Who's that other guy, sitting next to him? I've never seen him before, either."
"That's Lord Ryei, of Wind's Valley. I've heard my father talk about him a couple times, but I'd never met him before. The blacksmith, Vexton, he said he would craft me a dagger and armour, the best in the world. Maybe we can get you some, too."
"That's nice of him," Aelged replied. "I'm sure it'll be pretty incredible, he seems eager to please, that one."
"I sure hope so, I'm excited."
"Why? You have no reason to use a blade, and if you did, that's what I'm here for." Aelged stated.
"That's true," Prince Joseph replied, "but in case there's a time where you can't protect me, I can protect myself." Aelged understood so he nodded in agreement.
Nothing more of interest really happened that night. The feast was a huge success and almost everyone left drunk. All the members of the royal house were escorted back to their rooms, and all the others had squires, or found their own way home. Once back in his room, Joseph stared at the candles burning on his stone windowsill and thought about Vexton and his soon-to-be dagger. The blacksmith had left the feast extremely drunk, speaking about black rubies and how they were magical, but still respectful and rather decent. Prince Joseph had seen plenty of men who would get drunk, violent, loud, and then sick. I hope he doesn't forget, he thought to himself, and before he knew it he was sleeping…