Scorpio’s mind was racing just at the sight of her. She was a goddess. Her bobbed black hair had electric blue streaks that shimmered in the light of the meeting room. Her dark hazel eyes showed confidence and high rank. This was Ava. This had to be Ava. Please let this be Ava!
"You must be Ava," Scorpio grinned, keeping his cool. She really was exquisite. "My name is Scorpio."
"Have you a surname, Scorpio?" Ava blushed as he kissed her hand like any proper gentleman would. He might have been shocked to meet such an attractive woman, but he wouldn't let that stop him from displaying his manners.
"Clemmons, Scorpio Clemmons," he replied. He could see a certain dread on Ava's face. Had she not been expecting an answer? Most of those he met didn’t.
"And you?" he inquired, worried he had made a mistake. The last thing he wanted was to give Ava the wrong impression.
"I... I haven't got one. When you grow up in the castle, surnames aren't necessary. I'm simply Ava of Moriendum," she explained, embarrassment turning her pale, freckled cheeks flush. Scorpio wasn't shocked. Most royals didn't have last names, and most castle-dwellers were royals.
Scorpio and Ava took time to get themselves acquainted, and he hung off every detail of Ava's life. She had been raised alongside Queen Cecilia in the castle. Her father had served in the Royal Army of Moriendum until he had been killed in battle several years prior. She dyed her hair with ground irises and a list of other items she refused to disclose. Scorpio was completely and utterly intrigued.
“I’ll show you around, Scorpio,” Ava smiled coolly, rising from her seat. Scorpio nodded, trying not to seem as eager as he was, and followed her as she led him through the door and into the wide, stone corridor. The walls were decorated with swords, tapestries, and paintings of a great variety. It reminded Scorpio very much of the castle in Folmay until he noticed a coat of arms that graced the archway at the end of the hall. It was a rounded, jewel-studded shield with a diagonal arrow piercing an apple, the crest of Moriendum. He had never understood the symbols, but it was easily recognizable after fighting the Morienduman army for several years.
"Do you know the meaning behind the Morienduman crest?" Scorpio thought aloud. Ava heard him, and she didn't realize he hadn't meant to ask. She stopped for a moment, leaning against the wall and staring up at her country’s crest with a definitive sense of pride.
"Of course, I do," she began her explanation, delving into the history. "Moriendum is not solely based on agriculture like Cottonand, and it isn't solely based on military like Folmay. Unlike Tertius, it isn’t based on mining, either. Our main cash crop is apples, and it has been since King Justus founded Mala in 2717 when the crest was first designed. The jewels represent the mining that takes place to the east; and the arrow symbolizes our great military force, which was well-known for our abundance of archers during that time. Finally, the shield is round to symbolize the fact that our country is well-rounded."
Scorpio was amazed at her great detail and knowledge of her country's history. She must have really loved Moriendum. Scorpio figured that was what made her such a renowned warrior. She was fiercely loyal to her country, if nothing else.
Ava turned a corner. Her black cloak billowed around her, sweeping against Scorpio’s feet. She pointed out certain rooms and explained some of the paintings that covered the walls. Everything about her demanded respect. Scorpio couldn’t help but think it was no wonder she took over for her father as head knight of the Morienduman army. It wasn’t a woman’s position, but she filled it better than any man ever could.
Scorpio couldn’t focus on anything but Ava. She was a distraction, a fatal consequence in the army. She wasn’t like the girls in Folmay or from the border of Moriendum, who usually grew their hair down to their waists and kept it in multitudes of braids. They wore long, colorful dresses that twirled when they moved; but Ava wore black battle-dress and chain-mail. She had thick, leather boots with steel toes for heavy combat. Her streaked hair was a Morienduman custom for the military. The blue symbolized poison, and Scorpio had no trouble believing she was as deadly as a snake.