[Arc 1] Ch 2. Vandiver

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Vandiver Reynis Ti'en

In the year of the Phoenix 1253, me and my wife were expecting a baby. Amelia was so excited I would catch her rubbing her belly and speaking with it.

I am a minor noble with no real authority, my domain consists of a small village on the outskirts of the kingdom of Teagon. Named after one of the seven great heroes, Asmos Teagon. Even though I'm basically in the boonies, I like it out here. The hustle and bustle of the big cities are too much for me, even on the best of days.

The third son of the Reynis branch family in the Zeynis house, there really wasn't much hope for me accomplishing much. I left home at a young age on a pilgrimage. I say that now, but looking back on it I just ran away.

I became an adventurer of some worth until I met the love of my life Amelia, the second daughter of the main family of the Beylis Ti'en house,

The four main families in order of power were: Asmos Ti'en, Lapvis Ti'en, Beylis Ti'en, and Zeynis Ti'en.

On my way, back from a dungeon with my party we encountered a group of bandits overwhelming a royal carriage. When I saw the main family crest of the Zeynis house on one of the soldiers protecting the carriage I leapt into action without thinking too much about it.

It was this kind of on-the-spot reaction that has saved my life more than once. However, that day I was especially grateful.

Our swift action just so happened to save my elder brother's life. The Knight sir Fredrick Reynis Ti'en, the second son of our house.

If it helps put how low on the food chain we are, my grandfather and the grandfather of the main branch were cousins.

At our intervention, I was personally thanked by both princesses. But when my eyes fell on Amelia I knew I was struck with love. We humbly guided the carriage to the capital. Thus I began my embarrassing attempts to woo Amelia all of which were both tactless and humiliating to say the least.

That journey became the formal return of the prodigal Reynis Ti'en son.

A cold bucket of water was dumped on me at the capitol when I realized just how unattainable my love was.

The Beylis house though dwindled in influence they were still one of the four main families and still had a remarkable amount of influence, money, and land. I was a runaway who had nothing but my sword and a handful of gold coins.

In my despair, I was approached by both my brother Fredrick and Amelia's elder sister. It seemed that my father hadn't forsaken me. And Amelia's elder sister and the prince's second wife, Calypso came to me with news that shook me to the core of my being. Amelia had indeed taken a fancy to me.

Calypso and Fredrick came with news, a bargain. The main family owed me a boon. For saving the princesses lives, the head of the Asmos family, Calypso's father-in-law the king, her husband the crown prince, and my own father were required to reward me in some form.

On the condition that I leave my adventuring days behind me I would be allotted a small plot of land to govern. I'd be made a knight in charge of protecting it and be given a house as well. With this I would have status. This was as much as my father could offer me, given our... history.

Calypso who wanted to make her sister happy, gave me one month to win over Amelia. This included convincing her to lower herself to my own station. If I could do that much, she would lay the groundwork and allow me to meet with her father-in-law the king to plead my case in the name of love. So that the boon I was given would be Amelia's hand in marriage.

That was the longest month of my life. Nothing went right. My manners were atrocious, my budget meager at best, and I found unexpected enemies of the court at every corner. I fended off sixteen assassination attempts by myself. One of which where I fell from a five-story window with two of my assailants, crashed through the glass ceiling of some important flower garden, and interrupted an exclusive tea party by landing on the refreshment table.

A dinner party hosted by Calypso with the king and queen for my case.

That isn't even the shameful side of the story.

I was so tense and stressed after how awful the month had been for me. That when I found the assailants still moving and reaching for their weapons I straddled them and beat them to a pulp with my fists. I shouted, I cursed them, this was a new outfit I had spent the last of my money on to try to impress at least one of the stuck-up snobs in the city. I called upon the names of every god I could think of to punish the people who hired these assassins. I cursed my foolishness. To think a guy like me stood a chance. It was an uphill battle since the moment I laid eyes on Amelia. I even proclaimed my undying love for her to the heavens.

I cursed my own inadequacies, I was slow, I wasn't cut out for this kind of noble pandering.

I shouted; "if Amelia were any other girl I just say I love you, marry me! But that's no how it worked here, is it! Dinner parties, dances, afternoon tea. I'm not cut out for these kinds of things! If I could only take her out to a bar or even just a picnic outside the city I could show that I wasn't a total fuck up. But I'll never stop trying either! Come at me with your best shot! If I have to live a thousand lifetimes, fight a thousand assassins, kiss the greasy noble shoes of a thousand unworthy bastards, I will make her mine!"

I had made quite the scene. My brother and another knight pulled me off the assassins, and had to restrain me while the bastards bleed out what was left of their life. By the time I realized what I was saying I looked up to meet my king in the eyes. I scanned the garden to see dozens of nobles appalled at my shameful display. Next to the king was the queen who was smiling at me... next to her was Calypso who buried her face in her hands as if to say I'd really done it now. Her husband next to her was on the verge of tears he had been laughing so hard.

Next to him... was Amelia... she looked incredibly uncomfortable her face was hidden by her waterfalls of black hair. With her beat red face, downcast gaze, her silky black tail was perfectly still, and her hanging ears I knew that I had royally screwed up. It was my last day, my month was up. I didn't have any time to fix this.

Horrified I looked at my king but couldn't read his expression.

I only had one card to play.

I tapped my brother to tell him I calmed down.

"You're going to do something stupid again aren't you?" Fredrick asked.

"It's probably going to get me killed but it's something I have to do." I answered. I had only a faint idea of what I wanted to say but I've been going over this in my head all month.

Fredrick sighed. "Do what you got to do."

I was released. I'm still covering in broken glass, my hair is a mess, my tail is matted with blood. My clothes are ripped to shreds, I seem to be bleeding profusely out of my left shoulder, and everything I see through my left eye is tinted in red. I'm pretty sure I have more than one broken rib and I think I did my left hand in while beating one of the guys in black on the ground.

I limped over to my king and spit some blood on the manicured glass next to me.

With one fist to the ground I kneeled as properly as I could in my condition. I bowed my head and spoke even though this position was making it extremely hard to breathe.

"Your majesty, permission to speak?" I asked.

"I think you have already been speaking." The deep gravely voice of the king responded.

Uh... was that permission? I don't understand etiquette.

"...Your majesty, permission to speak?" I repeat hoping for a straight answer.

"Raise your head and speak."

I look at the king, I meet his unreadable gaze and coughed up blood on the back of my broken hand. I wiped my mouth and began talking.

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