[A/N Mature Content Warning: The next few posts contain some sexual references and violence that may disturb some readers. I've attempted to keep the graphics minimal, but due to the nature of the scenes, and for character development, some context had to be maintained. Please be aware as you read on. Thank you.]
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He led me down a hallway adorned with lavish red carpet, gleaming gold and silver vein marble walls with bronze candle sconces lining our path with subdued light. Soft light beamed over our heads from rose-gold chandelier trees with three tiers holding pillar candles. Evenly spaced between the sconces were gold figurine framed portraits glorifying a stout and balding military man with his wartime merits saturating the right side of stiff navy jacket. I held back my laughter at the portraits' obvious attempts to make the man taller by stretching out his legs near the bottom of the frame. The artists should've spent more of the time making his face handsome by doing away with his pug nose, beady eyes and tight lips.
"Lady Charlese, you must not associate with that Leinard boy anymore." Mile's spoke without taking his eyes away from the way ahead of him.
"Why?" I frowned, my mind back to my present situation.
"Why?" He stopped and faced me with clear exasperation.
"Your Highness disgraced him. He is a pariah to this kingdom. I understand you had past relations being siblings by marriage. That relationship is now null and void by His Majesty's law."
He sighed and turned to one of the portraits, taking in deep breaths like the image was offering him affirmations. "If not for the good graces or our patron Marlo, he would be within a prison system."
He faced me again, his blue eyes aglow with a set expression. "Shall we move on?"
I gulped and nodded. He opened the elaborately decorated floral doors at the end. We stepped into an atmosphere of high society and exaggerated wealth. It was almost blinding.
Rows of shining white diamond and silver five-tier candle chandeliers hung over our heads. Their party light was reflected across a vast area of polished floor boards and plaster white walls bearing twelve animal crest flags. At the head of the flags was a mighty black and white eagle that represented Sol's main deity—Exacles. This was the High King's crest. It seemed it also represented Charlese's family from eavesdropped conversations between dance partners.
Tapping heels and shuffling shoes squeaked across the floor. Dancing bodies moved graciously around the multi-coloured fairy balls, which whizzed about in time with the merry music being played by an orchestra on the stage. Bright lights were making the ballroom glamour go to my head with an ache.
Miles ditched me for his familiar boys' club toward a seedy spot near the back of the ballroom where we had entered.
I found myself dancing in a killer corset and numbing heels for ages. Every time I had tried to call it quits, some pompous pretty-boy would take my hand and lead me into another dancing merry-go-round. I hated this twosome activity. However, the body I had unwittingly invaded loved it. Especially the Five-Step Waltz. I was amazed at how many boys in black and white penguin suits were keen to dance this routine with me. It was to the point that all their faces became one big blur.
The dancing experience was not all fruitless. Further, eavesdropping had me learning more about myself. I was a scion from a wealthy and politically influential unit family to the king. It explained the reason for the potential suitors wanting to claim my hand with a dance.
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