CHAPTER 51: HIS SIDE
The first time I met her was at the academy.
I was sent to learn about chivalry, even though I was poised to rule but stories of knights and their chivalric quest has always captivated me so with my father permission I went to the Academy, determine to learn and make new friends for life in the castle can be a bit stifling.
And ruling can be a burden, a heavy burden, a burden I knew that one day I have to take up, and rule the family as its head.
But for now, I like to become a Knight
The first day I arrived I search for Helia. Not because there is love but because it is the right thing to do.
I was too young to felt love nor that have we developed any feelings to each other.
It was because father and I know he meant it in the pure, noblest intention to unite our Houses of Zephyr and Palais.
But that doesn’t mean I have to like the arrangement but still, propriety and honour must be upheld.
She is my betrothed, at least that I what my father told me. And as such, even though I felt no love for her, honour compels me to treats her like the lady she is.
In the first banquet that night I invite her to seat with us. Harald was there, Arago and Reval but she didn’t look pleased. It was more like being with me annoys her.
I heard the stories of course, how she ran from her home, protesting the marriage, and I can sympathize with her feelings which is why I invite her but it seems only to incense her more.
The banquet itself is not that big, mostly because not that many students arrive here yet.
Then after a few minutes, Harald began talking about some rude comments about the common folk but I held my tongue for he is my lord.
But that doesn’t mean I like it.
But Helia seems disgusted with it and instead she went to another table. She held out her hand to some boy with a white hair accompanied by a girl and a boy.
I looked at them. And something attracts me. Not the boy beside the white hair boy, neither the white hair boy itself, nor it was Helia.
But what attracts me was the girl.
Her blonde hair glistened like gold, her blue eyes bewitching. For the first time in my life, my heart beats so fast.
What is this? I asked myself. Then there is some speech by Knight Master Orval, yet my eyes always glance to her direction.
Instead of watching over Helia, I found myself staring at the girl who always positions herself around the white hair boy.
I was Chosen to Golden Lions while the girl was chosen to Fierce Dragons, so is Helia.
I learn that her name is Lisa Lethe. I shake my head when I know and realize that things would never work with us.
Not that it can. I’m betrothed.
To court someone else, not to mention her family background, though it did not bother me, it will damage my family name and I couldn’t do that to my father honour, my family honour.
So I did nothing. And it was the hardest things to do.
I learned from the other recruits that Lisa and even Helia have gone in a hard difficulty quest. Harald was furious, saying they are showing off. And surely they die from the attempt.
And then we met them at the Hall where Harald approach Arial, a man that seems to be entirely calm and for some reason I felt he is hiding his true nature.
“Don’t you think that’s just showing off?” Harald said his tone sarcastic to Arial while sitting beside him
I shut my mouth but I too felt furious but not at Arial.
This is unhonourable and unbecoming of a noble to wish harm to other fellow nobles and not to mention to a fellow Knight.
Arago,Reval the lackeys of Harald just laugh and snickers and Avil who is giggling with no signs of stopping.
Kyle and Lisa just looks down and does not dare say anything.
And my heart burns. Looking at Lisa like that oddly make me want to shred Harald to pieces right there and then.
Arial pushed Harald of the seat and he crashed to the Purple Fairy table.
He was shocked of course. His lackeys laugh quieted. Arago brow just creases slightly and his expression was like he saw something amusing.
I could not help but smiles slightly
And then Arial challenged him but Harald did not even dare to do anything. So the matter just concluded.
Then Helia, Lisa and the companion of Arial all went to solve the quest.
I prayed for all of them to return home save while Harald is betting on how they will die. But they return. And they return with glory
Killing many notorious criminals, saving innocent lives, in one night they became Under Marshall and the hero of the Academy.
Harald was frustrated while I was in joy seeing they all came back safe. There is nothing like a good ending to a quest.
I want it to that kind of adventure, a chivalric quest of my own.
And there is also the matter with Helia. She obviously is not in love with me but father insist that I try to court her.
So, I try but she did not respond.
But the fault is not hers alone. How can I court her with all the attention she deserves when my own heart pines for another?
So day’s turns to weeks, weeks turns to month, months turned to years.
And then my feeling was buried so deep, so cleverly hidden there is not even a hint that could make anyone realize how much my love grows for the cute little girl named Lisa.
I stared at her longingly. Pretending I don’t know my own feeling.
Pretending it’s not true. Pretending I didn’t see her. Pretending that seeing her everyday, lessen my love for her.
I long for her. For her embrace.
And since, I’m unable to say that three little words, every time she turn her back and leave, I can only look at her longingly.
Pretending, denying love makes a man heart hard in the inside, his heart stopped beating, and the beauty of the world never truly opens, his life never truly complete my mother once said.
I admire not only her beauty but her fire, her burning passion for good her strength to fight evil.
I would not deny that she is cunning, but she always does the right thing and her bravery and courage of standing up what she believes tantalize me.
In the poem of Levitia and Leliana, aren’t the brave and the virtuous princess kill the dragon without Levitia help?
She was like that to me.
The young, beautiful virtuous princess covered in mud, yet so beautiful like a diamond. I also notice she has quite the temper.
That only makes her more…..complex. A challenge. And who would not like a challenge. Only cowards.
I also notice she always hang out with Helia, Arial and her brothers.
All good companion, strong companion, so my one sided love, my unrequited love, though I am worried about her, doing many dangerous quest I can put my heart at ease because the choice of her companions.
Of course I’m not the only one who likes her but when her father becomes a part of the nobility many marriage proposals came for her yet she rejected every one.
No one knows why.
And she is hard to approach. She is finally known as the 4 Greats while me and Harald and our companion is dubbed the 4 Lions. I always choose Helia to fight me, because I could not bear to hurt Lisa.
Years passed and still I can never muster the courage to tell her my feelings. The chance never came.
And then the war began
A few years later finally I’m stationed in the very same unit with Lisa. And my love blooms again, like it never before and this time it’s different.
I no longer have to worry about my heart for I’m no longer betrothed and my House is not the one that would care for background right now.
I no longer have the chains that bind me before chain me again. But still my shyness is hard to overcome. But I know something must change, now that I’m given this chance.
Today is the war council after the battle helping Lord Summersill.
‘My lord’ Ser Hugh said his voice seemed displeased
‘This is not well for a girl to meddle in the work of a man’
Lisa looked at him and snorted.
‘Got something to say ugly head. Let’s take it outside and let see who is the girl here!’ Lisa said ferociously ‘I am Knight Sister of Order of Knight of Alan. Better than you retard’
Some of the Lords just shake their heads looking at Lisa behaviour. Though Ser Hugh looks like he is hurt by the barrage of words that Lisa uttered.
That is not the way for a lady to speak or to get their point across. By behaving like that it will only reinforce the opinion of the lords.
I of course understand the point that Lisa is trying to make. I see her battles and her fights before so there is no problem with her capability.
But lashing out verbal attack won’t give her any recognition. I learn that in the court of my father.
Sometimes beautifully crafted words are more persuasive than words that came from an angry hearts.
‘My lady, I did not wis-‘ Ser Hugh tries to calm Lisa. I think this Ser Hugh has a crush on Lisa.
‘Oh, shut up!’ Lisa said her eyes were feral like she wants to kill the Knight right there. That fire in her eyes. She is still the same. And to meet her gain, is a God given chance.
Then another lord raises the same concern. I could not interfere because I’m not yet a part of the main army though Arial promise me in the next battle if I do my job right, I will be promoted to the main army.
Then Helia tries to defend Lisa
‘Enough!’ And the bickering stopped. Arial seems like he couldn’t take it anymore.
‘Do you doubt my choice?’ he said, his tone threatening
Some of the lord shrinked back looking at each other.
Then Lord Paris spoke
‘My lord we did not ask this to anger you, only to advise you but to bring a lady,’ and he looked at Helia, ‘a lady of questionable birth to join our expedition is a little, you know….’
‘Oh do I now? Are you also insulting my family, Lord Paris?’
Ingenious. I looked at Arial.
‘No.No,No my lord I mean no such thing’
‘Then it’s better to keep your mouth shut don’t it?I will hear no more word about this. All I care is whether you can fight in battle. A woman or a man, I care not of these things. If she proved useless in battle I will remove her from the battlefield but the same apply to you.Do I make myself clear!’
‘Yes my lord’ they all said in unison and me too.
The battle of North fort was long and arduous but we made it and now I finally understand why Lisa rejects all the wedding proposals.
It seems she has already has someone in her heart.
I could not help but notice how worried she is about Lord Arial, or how she looked at him, or the way she says his name.
In all probability she likes him. I could see it during the attack. While my eyes darted at her, her eyes only watch Lord Arial back, watching it with the same face and expression I have when I longed for her.
And then I wished and for the first time I see a chance. So, she doesn’t like me…That’s alright. That is because she doesn’t know me yet.
I enter her tent. I could see she is drinking from the goblet. She must be thirsty
She turned around and look
Seeing her, and for the first time in a long time, having the courage to do something about my feeling, make me smile all of a sudden. Though I know what I’m about to do, is not quite honourable.
The winter wind passes by me. She looks like her mind is wandering. What is she thinking about? Arial?
‘Hey. Wandering?’ I asked
‘A little bit’ she reply
‘Why do you come here, West?’
‘Just checking up on you’ and he smiles
‘Alright, tell me, now the real reason why you come here I know it’s not because we’re best friends because even in the academy we’re not that close. We’re more like enemies. The 4 Greats and the 4 Lions’
I was shocked to hear this. While it’s true in the Academy we are not close, but I never once thought of her as an enemy.
‘What makes you think like that? During even our time in the academy, I never treat you like an enemy. My lady, I am hurt to be accused in such manner.’ And I grin a little. At least she remember me
I chuckled slightly
‘I’m no lady and I don’t think you are hurt’
‘Yes you are a lady and true I am not hurt. More like pricked, really. Still to have such an opinion of me just shows your prejudice towards me during our time in the Academy is not amiable.’
‘Fine. Will you tell me why you’re doing here Ser West?’
Then I sit down in of the chair in her tent
‘Can I ask you one thing?’
‘You like Arial, aren’t you?’
‘Pardon?’ she asked though her face turned pale.
‘You like him, aren’t you? A one sided love from the looks of it. Just your heart. A one sided love with your friends betrothed’
She was so shocked that she dropped her glass.
‘That is enough. Your livid expression just answers my question.’ I leaves the tent feeling satisfied while whistling a tune.
At least now I can meet her under the pretext of her secret.
Yes, but not many people can be brave when faced with love. Death is undoubtedly easier. Love on the other hand is more, if not, more terrifying than death
‘What? Hey! Wait!’
She yelled but still I go
‘What is it today?’ she asked, entering my tent.
‘Help me find a map. Look around the boxes and if it’s not there around the supply package. I seem to misplaced it’
With a grumble, she spread around my tent searching for the map, all the while complaining. She looks cute like that. I also heard the rumours around the camp that I’m trying to court her. Well, they are not wrong.
‘Here it is’ she yelled showing me the map
‘Bring it here.’
She handed the map to me.
Then I laid the map at the table and studied it
She was about to leave. No. That can’t do. I still want her to be here.
‘Where do you think you are going?’ I said
‘Again.I have to wait again?’
I handed her a book.A Lady Etiquette And Nobles Behavior
“Read this while waiting” I said
Before and even now, the most mesmerizing thing about her, is this. How does she look this beautiful even when she’s angry?
It’s not that I want her to be my maid. It’s more like I want her to be close to me. Every day, even in this time of war, my heart blooms with happiness.
This is the longest we talk, ever. And this book that every day I give her to read, serve to enrich her dealings with the other nobles.
I know the opposition of the nobles about her presence in the camp. I hope by reading this, she learn the art of persuasion and compromising.
Maybe the way I do it, may be misconstrued as ordering her around but right now I don’t care.
She opens the book and read intently.
I chuckled a bit.
In the beginning she hates it but this time she looks more accepting the idea. Even her behaviour is more graceful these days.
I couldn’t help but stare at her, the way her hair fall from her shoulders, or the way her lips puckered up when she encountered some difficult words.
For the first time, I think someone reading a book looks sensuous.
She looked back at me and I quickly lower my gaze.
Hope she didn’t caught that.
Then I noticed some blind spot for our army. I need to tell Lord Henry this.
‘It’s alright now. I have to meet someone’ I said to her. Today our time is short but later I will bring her to a restaurant. Maybe a week later.
‘Wait, wait Why so sudd-‘
‘A’AHHHHH’ For some reason I could hear a yell from my tent. I chuckled to myself. She must feel a little frustrated.
A few hours later I returned and I was about to rest when I realized my diaries is missing.
First I searched the tent but it yields no results. In it I wrote poem for Lisa.
Then I remember the last person in this tent is Lisa. I even see some notes on the grounds. Probably, and I was hoping so, that Lisa accidentally took it.
I quickly rushed to her tent but some soldiers say that she is in Helia tent. I quickly rush there.
‘May I come in my lady?’ I greet from outside the tent
‘Who is it?’ Helia it seems.
‘It’s West Palais my lady’
‘Enter, Ser West’ Helia said inviting me to come inside
I enter looking nervous. Hope she didn’t see it yet
Helia leave the tent
‘Did you see my notes?’ Lisa said.
‘Did you take my book?’ I asked
‘Book? What book?’
‘A book is something that you either write something in it or something you read. A book’
‘I know what a book is’
‘Then why ask?’
‘Are you saying that you came here, angry as hell, because of books?’
Well, not the book. The content is important
‘Is it that important?’
‘TO ME IT’S IMPORTANT’
Then I scanned around the tent and my eyes narrowed to my knapsack
‘Are you-You are suspecting me of thievery?’ Lisa said to me angry
She took the knapsack
‘Here look at it!’ as she dumped all the contents of the knapsack at onto the ground.
Then, there is some necklace, some roasted beef, and then the notes and then with a thump a book fell, a small book that can fit a pocket.
I looked at her
‘Hmm’ I said
‘That….how…why…is that here?’ she said stuttering
‘I did’nt….do that on purpose’ she said, flustered
‘Wait, I’ll explain it to you. Just wait outside while I settle this mess,’ she said while sloppily, thrashing back the stuff into the knapsack and I went outside.
Maybe we should meet tomorrow seeing the other troops leer and gaze. I left her a note and with a smile I left the tent.
******************************************************************************IN THE NEARBY CITY
‘When will this be over?’
‘You do know that you have to pay for this meal right?’ I said gesturing to my meal, one of the expensive sirloin steaks in this restaurant
She rolled her eyes
‘Why do you look at me like that?’ I said seeing her rolled her eyes. Then she ask me.
‘Can I ask you something?’
‘Why do you do this? Is it because our rivalry when we are at school or is it something else? Do you hate me because I’m a woman in the troops? Is that it?
‘Is that your opinion of me my lady? Forgive me if my act looked disrespectful, it is not my intent—alright I admit it. It is my intention but not for any of the accusation you have laid on me, that is for sure. What governed my behavior is not that of wanting to settle old score or because of your gender. It is something else entirely’
This conversation need to be honest
‘This is the only way I could think to meet you. You are, surprisingly hard to reach, prone to your temper, and hardly accept invitation.’
‘What do you mean?’ she said
‘You see, my lady, I fell for you at first sight’ I hope she understand
Suddenly her face shows anger
‘You jest, West, like you always do.’
I smile a bitter smile. A jest huh?
‘Then, what if I tell you my lady, that every time I see you, I couldn’t help but fall for you’
‘Hey!’ she said almost yelling
‘Why do you like Lord Arial?’ I suddenly ask curious what did he have that I don’t have
There is a silence between us while I wait for her to answer my question
‘I do not know why you want to know, or why I even have to explain it to you but here it is. Actually, Ser West, I’ve never actually know why I fell in love with him. Maybe it’s because I am familiar with him. Maybe it was because he has these qualities about him or maybe I like the way I am when I’m with him. The feeling I’m a part of something important. Since he was little, and I saw this Ser West, he has vision himself as someone important, marked himself, I daresay and since that day, I could not help but want to follow him, and maybe that is why. Or maybe…none of that. And since then, when I met him, my love increases and increase and so does the pain but maybe I’m addicted to the pain by now. Now even if I don’t see him in the morning, I will dream of him in the night.’
‘Hah’I sighed. Such passionate love but like me she too share the same weakness. She lacks courage like me.
She dreams of great love but she’s too afraid. Like me. Eerily similar like me. An advice need to be given
‘Then it seems you have a difficult decision. Either, bury your feeling, find someone else or cheat with your friend fiancé’
‘Ser West, my love is my affairs to settle. It matches my attitude and I’m used to it.’
Stubborn. I smile a little. One of her qualities that make me falls for her.
‘Even though it’s painful?’
‘A pain that I have learned to live with’ she said defiantly
‘And this is a request, for my brother and even my friend believed you to be an honorable person. Please keep this secret for me.’
I looked at her. I can say it. And I look at her again but the words did not come out. I can’t, I….too lack in courage.
Someday, someday, when I conquer my fear, I will tell all, but not now. Now I need to tend my pain. It’s not easy to sit and listen calm when the woman you love reveal her love to another person.
‘Thanks for the wine and the steak’ I said
The pain is unbearable and almost suffocates me. She doesn’t like me? What do I do? How can I make her fell in love with me?