She dreamed once again of the past. The spiteful Queen of Godor summoning her when she was quite young and having all her hair chopped off. Although being surrounded by people who obviously hated her had been terrifying, her short hair did not bother her, but it had bothered the people who used her, and after earning the King's displeasure, the Queen did not repeat it.
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She felt weak when she opened her eyes. Depressed, she just lay there. ~There's no way I can be a Guard. He risked his life for me again. How many times does that make in the short time I've met him?~ She couldn't convince herself to get up. Finally there was a knock on the door. Sophie sat up behind the closed curtain around her bed, making sure her night gown looked okay. "Come in." A maid came in with a tray that filled the room with delicious smells of sausage and sweet syrup. After setting it on the table, the maid curtsied and left. Curious, Sophie slipped out of bed and went to the table, lifting the lid over the food as her stomach growled. Thin pancakes laden with a mixture of fruit, sausage, scrambled eggs. She licked her lips as she eyed the food, getting comfortable in her chair and dug in. Afterward, Sophie felt much better. Full, warm, and better spirits. She went over to the windows and opened the curtains, only to shout out as the sunlight attacked her eyes and she quickly shut the curtains once more. "Daytime." Growling about the sun, Sophie exercised and practiced with Unholy Might, trying not to think about recent events. She wasn't perfectly in sync, but she wasn't horribly distracted either. Overall, the sword practice went fairly well. It left her feeling invigorated and confident, plus reminding her of Olaf and all he'd taught her. There was another knock on the door as she was attempting to draw back the curtains to let in the evil sun. She went and opened the door this time, not hindered by the thought of being seen in her nightgown by whoever.
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It was another maid who curtsied right away. "Would you like a bath Mistress?"
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Sophie nodded. After almost dying again and the workout just now, she could use one. "Yes please."
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The maid curtsied again, avoiding eye contact. "Right away Mistress." Sophie went to her closet and picked out a lacy white dress with blue ribbon in the design around the bodice, along with a red hood around her shoulders and of course, dainty heeled shoes. She also took out the tri-colored collar and white gold bracelets Agnes had given her. By the time she'd draped her cloths on the privacy divider, servents had brought and started to fill a tub. A maid even added various flowers to the water.
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~This is so luxerious...~ Regardless, Sophie enjoyed her bath, soaking and trying to shed any remaining depression that lingered. She was startled by a knock on the door.
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"May I come in Miss Sophie?"
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~Galip?~ Kicked into gear, she shot from the tub. "J-Just a minute!" She quickly dried herself with a towel on the back of her chair, then tore on the little dress. Breathless, she opened the door. He was obviously trying not to smile and there was amusement in his hazel eyes. Feeling water drip down her back, she left the door open and went back to her towel, drying her long hair more.
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"You didn't have to hurry, you could have told me to come back later."
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"I didn't want to be rude."
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He bowed his head, "The reason why I've come is that Miss Diana has yet to return from her visit to Aethelney."
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Sophie frowned, "I could go look for her?" She offered.
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Galip nodded. "That would be a huge help."
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With a final ruffle of her hair with the towel, she quickly brushed it before putting on her hood and jewelry. She hesitated at her shoes and decided on the slippers Agnes had given her instead of the delicate heels that would endanger her in a fight...not that she was antisipating a fight, but still. "Sir Herczog...if I may ask a question?"
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"Yes?" Surprised by his speedy answer, she looked up at him from slipping on her shoes. He crossed his arms and raised a fair eyebrow. "You expected a no?"
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"W-Well, you've been the most skeptical of my staying here...but then you did lend me Unholy Might and talked to me yesterday when I was wavering so I honestly wasn't sure."
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"I am aware of the complications of you being the King's Guard....I also have some reservations of women fighting at all. Not that I don't believe women can't fight as good as men...just...that I wouldn't want them to have to is all. And as far as your question goes, I never once not wanted you to stay in Drakon."
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Sophie took that all in. "I see..." She hooked her belt with Unholy Might around her waist.
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"Sophie." Galip considered her. "His Majesty has taken an interest in you. He might just follow you if you left. He's an eccentric King after all."
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Sophie looked at him, worry creasing her brow. "But I've brought nothing but trouble, even endangering his life."
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Galip waved that off. "That's nothing new to him." He looked away, then back at her. "If him endangering his life worries you that much....then become his Guard."
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"Really?" She asked, surprise by his encouragement.
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He straightened, looking at the door. "I wouldn't have said it otherwise."
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She took a moment, then nodded, and made her way to the door, "I'll go look for Diana."
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"Sophie." She looked back. He tossed her a belt purse, the coins in it jingling. "That's yours. Money from finding the serial killer, boat fare, and going to look for Diana."
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She stared at him. "You're paying me?" He looked amused and smirked, but said nothing and left. Shaking her head, she disembarked as well. She made her way to port and haggled a ship to Aethelney. For some reason, she drew alot of attention on the boat.
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"What's a pretty little thing like you traveling alone?" Asked a friendly ship-hand. Sophie had to admit, he was handsome.
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"Looking for someone actually. Have you seen a girl with short red-hair?"
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"Yeah actually, she was in port earlier today." Sophie nodded.
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"She a friend of yours?" Another ship-hand over-hearing asked. Sophie nodded again. "There was a huge rumor at Araedor before, that there's a girl who the Stupid Prince was fascinated with, and wanted to make her his own, but couldn't." Sophie frowned at this offered information.
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"And the girl had red hair?" Another passanger came over to visit with Sophie and joined the conversation as well. The sailor nodded excitedly.
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~Thank god Diana stands out. Makes this easier than it could have been.~ She followed the trail of people sighting Diana in Aethelney, which was a quaint little town nestled between the sea and a small mountain they called the Bluff, because of it's sheer side to the northeast. Dusk was coming near as she looked around the courtyard she had been seen heading toward. She frowned as she looked from the amount of herbs growing here to the tracks in the dirt ground. Worry started to worm it's way through her. Looked like an altercation from the tracks, with one set of footprints leaving. Sophie grimly followed the tracks up into the mountain. In the growing dark, it was getting near impossible to follow...until she saw dim lights. Fire. As she got closer, she realized it was an abandoned, old, little castle. She caught movement from one of the windows and spotted red. Catching her breath, she rushed forward and tried to catch Diana as she dropped from the window. But the weight of Diana had them both tumbling to the ground. "Ouch?" Diana turned to face her. "Sophie?"
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Sophie rolled to her feet, "How many are there?"
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"One-" Sophie dashed toward the long black haired man reaching for Diana.
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He leaned back away from her warning sword stroke. "What's this? Another beauty lost in the woods? One with a sword at that?" He looked like he had been in a scuffle. A slight burn on one arm. Some soot on his face. "At any rate, you can't win against me on this mountain."
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Sophie raised an eyebrow. "Who says we're running anymore?"
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The man with green eyes laughed. "You think you can fight me?" Sophie smirked, feeling excitement at his challenge. He had some knives on him and was holding a torch.
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"You seem a little out of breath, what's wrong? Tired of chasing a girl around the woods like a creep?" Sophie goaded, shifting her weight as she watched him with a hint of delight. As far as she could tell, he was human.
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He smirked."If you go with that red-head, you're only going to get attacked again." Sophie narrowed her eyes and her smile grew colder. He turned his attention to Diana. "You're going to endanger your savior. But, if you sell yourself to aristocracy or royalty, you should be safe, right-" Sophie lost it, she knew she had been inadvertantly goaded, and tried to rein herself in, but she attacked. He blocked with the torch, but with a yell, Sophie broke through it, the world around them dimming as the torch fell to the floor. The man retreated, avoiding her swings. Then froze. Sophie hesitated, not expecting that and the man was pushed forward. Prabhakar having his sheathed sword at his back and a stern expression on his face.
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Sophie raised an eyebrow. "Out for a stroll?" He shared a little smile with her. Stepping level with the man, he slammed his elbow into his solar plexis, causing the guy to double over, his knees weak and tears in his eyes.
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Prabhakar stepped forward more. "I was waiting for someone who was supposed to only be out for a one day trip."
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Sophie considered that. "Technically it's still the same day Hakar." The blond rolled his eyes.
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"Ha-Hakar." Diana managed to say and Prabhakar walked closer to her.
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"Are you hurt anywhere?"
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"Ah! I'm fine!" Diana waved her hands to shoo off his worry. "I'm not hurt at all." Prabhakar seemed to release a breath he'd been holding.
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Sophie tried to repress a grin. ~Aww. They're so cute!~
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The black haired man groaned and sat down against a tree, holding his side and wincing. He clicked his tongue and glanced over at Prabhakar and Diana under Sophie's watchful gaze, her sword ready. "Heh," he smirked, "so you have bodyguards. Ya know, before this...I also worked as a bodyguard."
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"And yet you come up...with something like this?" Diana asked.
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"Ouch..." He winced, clutching his side. "That's right." He looked at the end of the torch burning on the ground. "Even if you have social status or family honor, once your fortune is gone, you're penniless." He glanced at Diana out the corner of his eye. "Why shouldn't I earn money using all means?" Diana took a step back from his gaze, looking like she was trying to hide her fear.
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"Shut up." Prabhakar narrowed his eyes and went to draw his sword.
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Sophie held her hand out to stay him. "You're a skilled young man who has it far easier than so many..." She narrowed her gaze. "You've fallen from a higher standing." She observed. "You greedy little shit. Grow up."
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"People are not a tool for you to make money with." Prabhakar put in grimly. "Diana, does he have any other comrades?"
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"Eh? Ah, I wonder...I didn't see anyone else though."
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Prabhakar pursed his lips, "If he's alone, I guess we can take him down the mountain. We can hand him over to the governement officials at the bottom without having to escort him to the palace..."
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"Palace? You came from the palace? You, just who exactly are you? What's your name?"
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Prabhakar glanced over at him from pulling down some vines. "Prabhakar."
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The man stared. "I remember that name..."
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Prabhakar smiled as the man stared, "I'm Diana's friend."
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The man came to himself and smirked, "So she's called Diana."
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Prabhakar faced him fully, "Don't say her name with your mouth!"
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"What the-are you her dad or something?" That seemed to be a blow to Prabhakar's self-esteem as he turned and continued collecting vines. He tied the man up and Sophie guided the man down to Aethelney. Sophie came back from handing the man over to Aethelney Guards to find Prabhakar and Diana talking softly while leaning against a railing overlooking the sea.
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Sophie paused, smiling as she watched them....wondering if she should interrupt. She glanced up at the ever darkening sky. ~We should get Diana back, she's had a long day.~ She stepped up to them, leaning against the railing next to Diana and enjoying the sea breeze. "I asked around but no one knows much about him. No priors on his record either."
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"They'll be keeping an eye on him for awhile."
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"Okay. Hakar, you're mad..."
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Prabhakar seemed to be sulking. "Not at you."
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She grabbed his arm. "Then just a bit is fine, turn this way, 10 seconds!" She tugged him to face her and grabbed Sophie's arm, surprising the other woman. "You guys came to pick me up...just saying it isn't enough, but, thank-" Prabhakar cut her off by ruffling her hair and Sophie chuckled.
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"Five seconds is fine. More than enough. Diana, what that bumpkin asked you when he was taken away, the question that you didn't answer, do you mind me asking?"
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Sophie thought back to when she'd handed that guy over to some Guards, he'd glanced back and asked, 'Hey, Red, where's that place that you said you'd decided to go?'
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"That's...the reason that I decided to come to this country. I want to know how you live in this country. Therefore," Diana grinned, "I will find a place where that comes true."
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"I would be grateful if you find that place." Prabhakar smiled and lightly took hold of her hand, "Diana, I want to thank you as well for staying safe for me."
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"Aw, you two are just too cute!" Sophie hugged them both. Diana laughed and Prabhakar blushed.
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"Alright, Clare and Chile should be here soon. They're also good at sneaking out of the palace, just like me."
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"Also good at sneaking out huh?"
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"Well, before we all set out for home, I was wondering if I could do some shopping?"
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"Stay out of trouble?"
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Prabhakar smiled, "We'll be fine."
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"Alright, meet you back here." It took her a bit, but she found a weapons shop. The shop owner was nervous selling to Sophie, but he did so all the same. She felt much better with a new knife on her belt. Next she went to buy some cloths. Several pairs of leggings, tunics, and a pair of boots. Happy with her purchases, she was heading back when she bumped into a buff man at a street corner.
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"Damn Brat. Watch where you're going." He shoved her so hard her knees buckled. Laughing, he and his companion sauntered away.
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"Why'd you let them do that?" Prabhakar asked. He and Diana shifting through people to get to her. She took his offered hand and he pulled her up.
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"It was just a push, not like he actually hurt me."
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Prabhakar frowned, "Still..."
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Sophie shrugged. "Lady Clare and Sir Chile show up yet?"
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Prabhakar shook his head. "We came to see what you were up to."
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Sophie smiled. "I'm done shopping. Let's head to the boats." When they got to the dock a small boat was coming alongside the peer, guided by Chile and Clare.
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Prabhakar grinned, "I knew I could count on you two." He said, waving.
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Chile grinned, displaying a fang, "Of course." As full dark descended, they set sail for Drakon City.
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"Hakar, I was wondering how Gabriels was fairing today."
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Probhakar blinked at the slave. "I haven't heard anything out of thd ordinary, why?"
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Sophie shifted nervously. "I was attacked by a snake Partial the other day and Gabriels extracted the poison, I'm worried about him."
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"What? How did this happen? What did the partial look like?" Everyone was tense and upset.
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"Um, she was a petite woman with dark hair and eyes."
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"It couldn't have been...could it?"
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"I think it's possible." Clare surprisingly spoke up.
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"I'll answer your question Sophie." Diana said in a calm and composed voice, grounding all of the worried ones on the boat. "I monitored his majesty during the day. He's doing just fine. Just a little worn out from his body adjusting to the poison."
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Sophie clutched her hands into fists, the urge to see him for herself strong. "Hakar, do you think it would be okay for me to see Gabriels when we get back?"
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Probhakar smiled, "Sure, I'll guide you there."
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Sophie smiled back even though she was still tense with nerves. "Thanks." Probhakar nodded. As soon as they docked they headed for the castle. When they reached the inside of the castle proper, Diana and Clare said their goodbyes and parted ways. Chile lit a torch and led them through the dark hallways till they came upon gilded double doors. The knight bowed. Hakar smiled at her, "We'll take out leave here Sophie. Take care of my brother." After a wink from Probhakar, Chile led the royal away. Sophie studied the golden doors, a little intimidated. Taking a breath, she stepped forward and raised her hand to knock, but one of the doors opened suddenly. Sophie blinked into a dark room, then looked down and jumped to see a young boy there in the firelight of the torch.
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The five-year-old beamed up at Sophie with excited green eyes rimmed in black lashes and matching thick black hair cut around his face. "Welcome Your Highness!" He said earnestly, his little fangs showing. He was dressed in black robes with white lining and a white cloth belt. The amount of nostalgia that hit Sophie at the title was akin to running into a galloping horse. She blinked and tried to get herself under control. "I'm Abd Al-malik, a vampire who serves His Majesty. You can call me Malik. I've happened to hear about you from the Knights."
"Um, pleased to meet you?" Sophie was a bit bombarded by the young, hyperactive boy.copyright protection92ＰＥＮＡＮＡNwSuSBmD6c
"I'll guide you!"96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡEOEqWugDE9
"Okay?" Sophie bit her lip as she came inside. "How is His Majesty?"96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ9NjejJqyBw
"He's okay, just seemed more tired than usual so he's had a fitful sleep today." Abd Al-malik took her to another set of doors, these made of heavy dark wood. "Right in here." He opened the doors to reveal a large but cozy room, stone archway dividing a sitting area from the bed area. What was amazing about the rooms was the amount of now-curtained windows. Sophie'd bet it was breath-taking when the curtains were opened. On a large plush bed lay a sleeping King Drakon.96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡJTalFhnbGc
"What are you doing Abd?" Gabriel's spooked both by speaking, his voice gravely from sleep.96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡtk18LYC1Bg
"Ah! You're awake? Shall I get you some breakfast?"copyright protection92ＰＥＮＡＮＡmP49zkuoJ0
"I'm fine, you can go back to your chores."96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡbL4u0oerWQ
Satisfied, Abd Al-malik closed the doors behind him with a murmured, "Make yourself at home," to Sophie.96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡXGJ71pooA4
"Um, are you really ok?" Sophie murmured as the King gave a mighty yawn.96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡB4pCcbAPcc
"I'm perfectly fine, how about you?"96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ5nX9SYx6pu
Sophie gave a sad smile, her doubts about becoming his guard threatening to surface. "I'm okay."96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡXmaGuc5TAG
He nodded, studying her, "Good." Lost in thought, the urge to become his guard strong, Sophie had an internal battle. "How was your day?"96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡYbKnOWzoLL
Sophie smiled, thinking about wether or not to mention Galip's visit. "Eventful." Instead, she told him about the adventure with Diana.96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡAR9y11wz8V
Gabriels seemed troubled by that. "I can't believe that happened. Diana seems to have run into some bad luck recently."96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ35ieMMqSG1
Sophie cocked her head. "Something like this has happened recently?"96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡyEdi21fBp1
"Because of her vibrant red hair, Diana was chosen as Prince Kohler's concubine. Instead, she ran to Drakon and bumped into Hakar."96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡn0SwyUx5tG
Sophie's mind spun from the thought of Diana being subjugated to a situation similar to what Sophie herself had gone through. "I'm glad she ran."96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ1xMjLz6crM
Gabriels considered her and nodded. "Have you had dinner yet?" Sophie shook her head and Gabriels smiled, "Care to join my family and I then?"96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡd0qqitry4R
She smiled, actually looking forward to that. "If you insist."copyright protection92ＰＥＮＡＮＡosxyAVM527
He nodded, looking satisfied, "Abd." The little boy reappeared. "Guide Sophie to the royal dinning room?"96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡzrRsXqmvvP
Abd Al-malik bowed, "Of course Your Majesty." The boy walked with Sophie through the halls until they came to a familiar dinning room, then kept her company until Agnes arrived. She was dressed breath-takingly in an open-backed black, long dress that hugged her slender figure. The minute she saw Sophie and Abd Al-malik, she gushed over how cute the two were before whisking Sophie away to her room and dressing her up once more. It didn't bother Sophie too much, though she did feel assaulted by all the pink, lace, and curls. But Agnes was just too sweet to refuse. Not to mention she was royalty. Black leggings under a red shirt with black stripes. A black blouse of expensive material, that Sophie loved the feel of, but was intimidated by. And black heeled shoes made up her outfit. Black silk cloth covered the bun her hair was up in.96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡcwmYQ8xWkZ
"There!" Agnes exclaimed happily as she finished Sophie's make-up. She cupped her own cheeks in her hands, beaming, "So cute!" Sophie couldn't help smiling back. When they went back to the royal dinning room, Gabriels and Probhakar were already there, another lavish dinner set around one of the seats. Agnes smiled proudly and gestured to Sophie, making her cheeks flame.96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡIxZ9YiCpQH
Probhakar beamed, "You look refreshed."96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡgq88S6yeC4
Sophie laughed at that. "Thank you Hakar." She said with a curtsy. Gabriels smirked, studying her. He was dressed in a purple button up shirt that wasn't buttoned all the way and grey slacks. His hair styled as always. Hakar and Sophie told of their adventure that day, Gabriels and Agnes listening as they drank and Sophie ate. The food was absolutely amazing. A steak marinated in seasons Sophie had never had before as well as an assortment of vegetables, paired with a delicious wine. She was quite satisfied by the end and Gabriels guided her to her room. She hadn't expected to be able to relax, but found herself suddenly exhausted. "I'm glad you're okay Gabriels."96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ4OArMqzknT
He smirked, "You worried too much, of course I'd be okay. Something like that won't keep me down." Sophie smiled back, reassured. He dropped a large hand on her head, "Get some rest, you deserve it."96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡj5rjfpBSPr
"Don't get into trouble Gabriels."96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡz6RIeKONYq
The King faked injury, "How much trouble do you think I get into?" Sophie studied him skeptically and he laughed. "Don't worry, today's agenda is paperwork." Sophie nodded, reassured and they parted ways. She found herself drifting off as soon as she lay down.96Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡR2fru2S3mf
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