The Vicar of Darkness

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 16 (v.1) - XVI.

Submitted: April 26, 2019

Reads: 31

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Submitted: April 26, 2019

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Eloise didn't realize what accepting Prince Cyan's invitation completely entailed

Eloise didn't realize what accepting Prince Cyan's invitation completely entailed. She walks through the corridors of the palace in formal wear instead of her Vicar uniform. It is different, she can't say if it's bad different so far.

Without her Masking Spell too, she hopes she doesn't run into anyone from the Royal Guard. She would have to explain why Prince Cyan's date is wandering the halls of the Light Palace unaccompanied. If she explains using sign language, members of the Royal Guard that know about Electra's temporary impairment could put two and two together.

That being said, her hesitation doesn't stem from a fear of being recognized as Electra. No, she is more afraid of being recognized as Eloise Desmond. The Desmond heiress is technically 'missing'. The only person who knows of her location is her cousin Cecilia. 

The idea that she will be recognized is a ludicrous one, she knows. Her parents made an effort of keeping her public appearances to a minimum. When she did make an appearance, nobody paid any attention to the girl in the wheelchair. She was a Desmond yes, and she was an invalid. People were very conscious of those facts, but because of that they resolved to never stare, never make eye contact, or any contact for that matter. With the exception of her cousin of course.

Eloise brings her attention back to her attire. Seeing that she was ordinarily in a wheelchair, she didn't own any gowns customary to that of the latest fashion. Her dress is a simple empire dress that looks rather plain in contrast to the decorated prince she is accompanying tonight.

"You look very refreshing." Prince Cyan tries to assure her as they walk together to the ballroom. He is wearing the colors of D'Hiver Nero, a navy blue jacket, with accents of aquamarine and gold. His hair is not as messy as usual, and hints of a recent trim. "I like it, not too lavish and it's tasteful."

"This attire would be appropriate if I were here with anyone else. I am far too under-dressed to be here with the prince of our country," she signs, irritated with herself for not putting more effort into her appearance.

The prince, amused, laughs. "Eloise, truly, you look perfect. I admit it is a little intimidating to meet you as Eloise... you are lovelier than I could have imagined. Furthermore, I never paid much attention to how tiny you are." He can't picture anyone as dainty as Eloise punching a Creature of Darkness into the depths of its own making.

Eloise decides to give him the benefit of the doubt. Anyhow, there is little she can do now to change it.

"Ready? Or do you need a second?" He holds his arm out to her.

The music from the other room dips into a softer sound in anticipation of their entrance. The theatrics for celebrations at the Light Palace, made those of Desmond Manor into tea parties. She is nervous but a part of her was dying to experience this from a different perspective. One where she can participate, and for once live like any other girl her age.

She takes his arm, and together they walk out onto the floor.

---

"Lady Electra is that you?" Princess Lilith's hushed voice makes Eloise jump, she had forgotten about her truly       

"Lady Electra is that you?" Princess Lilith's hushed voice makes Eloise jump, she had forgotten about her truly. Not many people knew that Electra was going to be accompanying Prince Cyan tonight. To most, Eloise is the prince's mysterious date. "You're precious!" 

Eloise curtsies and signs a gesture to thank her. Lilith is glowing, the eyes in the room follow her and she's very conscious of it. The dress she is wearing was made with her in mind, a compliment to her solid dancer frame.

"She's too pretty for you cousin," the heiress jokes with a wink. "I tease, you are both gorgeous, quite a power couple actually, Cyan you should give it some thought!"

Prince Cyan laughs with good humor. "Cousin with all due respect, in reality the Lady Electra is far out of my league," he says in a hushed voice.

Eloise maintains her smile and shrugs, unsure how to add to the conversation. Unable to shake off the vulnerability she is feeling without her Masking Seal.

"All jokes aside, you are a real wonder," Lilith admits giving the girl another look over. She then recalls her reason for coming over and turns to her cousin. "Say have you seen Sir Ain?"

The prince's date pretends to be distracted by nearby dancers. They have been trying to get a peak at her face for the number of minutes they had been standing there. When they are unable to figure out who the prince's elusive date is, they shrug it off and return to the festivities.

"Is he not with you tonight?" Prince Cyan remains engrossed in the conversation.

"I'm afraid not, he told me Sir Errol had him watching over something tonight."

"Oh, do you wish me to send for him?"

"Oh no, I was simply curious." The princess's frown twitches into a half-smile, she brushes her peach colored hair out of her face before looking at Eloise again. "Honest, you look lovely Electra. Now I must excuse myself."

The princess takes the skirt of her silky teal dress and curtsies before striding away with grace. The room's attention leaving with her to the blond's relief. Prince Cyan and Eloise wander outside onto the patio that leads into the garden. There are guests here as well, but less than that inside so Eloise is more inclined to sign without worry.

"I didn't consider that either when I asked you to accompany me, I apologize," he admits to her as they lean over the railing.

She smiles and shrugs, it didn't bother her. Even if she were able to talk, she wouldn't know what to say to anyone here. 

"Do you wish to dance? I understand if you don't want to." Prince Cyan turns to the blond and gestures to an empty corner of the patio. The music remains audible from where they stand. 

"I must tell you that I do not know how to dance," she signs. "I have, however, spent twenty-one years of my life watching others dance enviously."

They wait for the ongoing song to end before wandering over to the corner. It doesn't take longer than the first four notes, for Eloise to recognize the following song and recall the dance that accompanies it. Valse de Viento. It is a traditional dance from the East, not romantic but hypnotic. It was enchanting to watch, and one the reasons dancing appealed to her so much in the first place.

"I can't imagine Electra of the South being envious of anybody," Prince Cyan tells her middance. "You won't believe me when I say that you are a marvelous dancer. Some people have a natural sense of rhythm, I wasn't one of those people, but you are."

"You're right, I hardly believe you." Eloise signs quickly, but Cyan's reading has improved since her return to the guard. "But no one has ever asked me to dance. So thank you for that."

Prince Cyan's face reddens, he shrugs meekly. "If anything, I thank you for accompanying me tonight. I would have been too anxious to enjoy myself had I come with anyone else. Not to mention far too self conscious to stuff my face with nooseberry tarts." His lips curl into a teasing smirk. "You see, I don't have to worry about you judging me for that because you've already caught me doing that thrice."

Eloise's eyes brighten,"Not only will I not judge you, but I will join you in that venture," she signs with promise.

The heir blinks fascinated, "Eloise this is why we are friends."

---

 

"Ain!" Princess Lilith exclaims when she nearly walks face first into the Vicar of the North. "You're here after all?"

"Ah yes." Ain's eyes are scanning dance floor, "Sir Errol sent for me- Have you seen him by any chance?" He doesn't see Cyan or Eloise either, who he was assigned to keep an eye on. 

"Oh...I haven't." The princess scans the floor as well. Her face lights up when she gets an idea. "Say while you're here I insist that you dance with me. Sir Errol will find us eventually."

The Vicar's focus remains on searching for the Head Vicar, he hesitates. He is not particularly concerned about Eloise or Cyan, but Sir Errol might object. "I suppose it would be rude of me to decline but-"

"Yes! Very rude! To refuse a dance with a dancer of my reputation? Unheard of!" She jumps to pull him onto the floor. Ain senses the attention of nearby guests shift from the princess and onto him. The atmosphere quickly reminds him of the celebrations at Desmond Manor. 

The dance that starts next is a quicker paced waltz that Princess Lilith is eager to skip along to. Ain keeps an eye searching the room for any sign of Sir Errol.

"I would have never pegged you for a shy one Sir Ain," she giggles after a minute of his distracted silence.

"Sorry," the young man apologizes, "I was spacing off... How have you been this evening? Have you enjoyed yourself?"

"Quite!" she nods.

"That's marvelous-" Something in the corner of his eye stops the Vicar mid-sentence. He glances back to catch the Desmonds walking into the ballroom. They are guests tonight. Somehow this is worse than a Creature of Darkness, he thinks.

"I am terribly sorry Your Highness." He guides her to the side of the room while anxiously searching the crowd for any sign of the prince or Eloise. "You must think I am the worst, but I have to speak to Sir Errol at once."

As he is mentioned, Sir Errol appears at their side. He had been looking for the Vicar as well.

"Ain-"

"Sir," Ain leans out of Princess Lilith's hearing range, "The Desmonds are here."

"Is something wrong?" The princess pops her head into the conversation. She notes the sense of urgency in their mannerism.

"Nothing to worry about Princess Lilith, Sir Ain only needs to escort a special guest home," Sir Errol assures the princess then turns back to Ain, "Discreetly, I will work to keep the Desmonds at bay. Don't worry about returning to your post, keep an eye on her tonight."

Sir Ain nods and weaves his way towards the other side of the room.

"Is Lady Electra okay?" the curious princess inquires.

Sir Errol's eyes widen shortly, "How did you-?"

"She wasn't on duty tonight, and I knew my cousin would find a way to avoid talking to a real girl," she explains smartly. The Head Vicar is impressed. "Not that the Lady Electra isn't a real girl, on the contrary she's quite lovely."

"Right." The man nods, "The Lady Electra is okay, we are simply trying to protect her identity." He trusts the princess to be discreet, but figures reminding her won't do any harm.

Princess Lilith accepts the answer, but after some pondering persists.

"Wouldn't it be more convenient for another guard to escort her? Were you not looking for Sir Ain to assist you with something?" Sir Ain had made such a brief appearance, the princess doesn't wish for him to leave so soon.

"Ah yes, it is true, but since they both reside in the same camp, this arrangement is better."

"Pardon?" Lilith is a bit surprised.

"Yes, Lady Electra's health has never been ideal and Sir Ain has been tending to her for many years now. He and Sir Francois take turns caring for her," Sir Errol explains mindlessly. He then spots the Desmonds in the room. "Sorry Your Highness, if you will excuse me-"

---

"You remind me of her," Prince Cyan speaks up mid-waltz. "Lady Basma of the Southwest."

Eloise shows clear discomfort at the mention of the name, but she see that the prince's demeanor is serious. 

"Sorry... you two were close." He chooses his next words carefully. "I know you are not her, but I do think of you as a close friend despite our professional relationship. I looked at Basma in a similar way, and your personality I find resembles that of hers uncannily. Which of course makes sense, she was your partner, but it scares me. It is my last wish for you to walk the same path that leads to the same fate."

The tension on Eloise's face eases.

"When I heard that you were hurt that night in the library-" The prince laments turning the mood but he had meant to address this sooner rather than later. "I'm so sorry Eloise. It is my duty to protect the people of D'Hiver Nero, and I failed you. I understand that being a member of the Royal Guard means putting your life on the line for the crown, but the reason I have to take care of the Royal Guard is because we are stronger as one. You shouldn't have been alone out there."

Like Basma. Eloise swallows hard and nods slowly before signing, "I understand, I know you were close to her as well."

He takes a deep sigh before returning to his usual composition.

"I know she would hate us talking about her in this manner." He grins and shakes the melancholy off. "So enough of that, I apologize for bringing it up."

Eloise smiles too and thanks him, not only for his concern but for his ability to confide in her his sentiments about Basma. She would never blame him or anyone for the loss, but there is a comfort in knowing that she is not the only one who blames herself.

"I apologize Your Highness, but Eloise needs to come with me." Ain approaches the two, Eoise recognizes his tone as urgent. "Your parents are here," he whispers.

"They're here?" Prince Cyan is alarmed, "My apologies Eloise, I had no idea."

"It's okay," she signs reassuringly. She had gotten caught up in worrying over the possibility of her parent's friends recognizing her, that she hadn't considered the possibility of her parents attending. They hadn't attended in the past, but Montpec is closer to Surt than Osten. "I am sorry that you have to be on your own for the rest of the night."

"I'll manage, thank you for everything." The prince wishes her farewell, "Have a safe night, both of you."

Eloise nods and Ain walks her out. It is not until they are about half of the way to their cottage that he appears to relax.

"I'm sorry that you had to leave the event early," Eloise signs. "You can return if you desire- I'll be alright from here I think."

"I'm alright, those sort of events are always a bit draining for me," he assures her. "I have an early morning tomorrow anyway. If anything I'm sorry for cutting your night short."

"Although I do wish I could have stayed for Danse Aurora, I am grateful for the dances I did get to enjoy," the younger Vicar signs.

Danse Aurora traditionally is the last dance of the night at all festivities. It is the Dance of the Dawn, a departing dance to thank the night for its service. Ain is surprised that a dance he finds rather exhausted could be that important to Eloise. It makes sense upon further consideration, she spent every night in a chair- watching the people around her turn, glide and dip, a music-lover like her, the dance would make an impression on her.

He is taking the matter into account when they arrive back at the camp.

"It's a little early for it, but it is the end of our night. If you like to, we can dance Danse Aurora?" Ain offers before they get too close to their building.

Eloise smiles looking up at him. She hadn't seen him all night, he had removed his Masking Seal a couple feet back. 

"I didn't think the day would come, when Preston Nordkov would ask me to dance," she signs with a glitter in her eye that again is reminiscent of their previous friendship. She offers her hand to him and he pulls her back into the night.

"Preston Nordkov that dense fellow," he mutters jokingly.

"Preston Nordkov that dense fellow," he mutters jokingly       

 

"Prince Cyan mentioned Basma earlier," Eloise signs moments later.

Preston frowns recalling a dream he had recently. They share a disheartening expression.

"Basma." He clears his throat, "he was a friend to her as well no?"

Eloise nods, "He said I reminded him of her. It's strange because Basma was leagues beyond any of us." The dance concludes and she steps away from him.

The night is a forgiving night, warm, with the big round moon giving everything a fluorescent  glow. In their silence, the insects of the night chatter around them. In the distance, one of the prince's horses snorts and paws at the ground.

"I think Basma is the reason I often trust you to take care of yourself... and I shouldn't." He fidgets with the cuff of his coat.

During formal events, Vicar's wear a different uniform. These uniforms are all the same despite the Vicar's rank, this creates less confusion for visiting nations. This is Eloise's first time seeing her partner in the attire she realizes.

He continues, "On several occasions- out on the field- I've let you fend for yourself. I assume that because you are stronger than me, that you will be fine. But if anything Basma is an example of how that is not always true." He blinks away thoughts of Basma.

"What happened to Basma-" She begins to sign, she stops midway and searches for the right words. "It was an accident. It was no one's fault."

"I know that's true- but sometimes it doesn't feel like that was the case." He drops his gaze to the ground.

"I know." Eloise stares at Preston with remorse. Four years. Had four whole years gone by already? How haven't they spoken about this before. Why is it still hard?

She places her hand on his shoulder and squeezes it. He looks up at her again, meeting her gaze. They are both haunted. Four years, and the anxiety remains.

"Good night Preston," she mouths before turning and heading inside. He follows seconds after.

That night they both dream of Basma.


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