Chapter Three:

A Basket for Carrying Snakes

"It is good to see you both get along." King John walked towards the both of them.

Alhawat delicately removed his hand from Prince Laquien's grasp. "I can get along with almost anyone. I am simply lucky your son seems so easy to get along with."

King John seemed pleased and Alhawat thought perhaps King Loy also looked pleased by his sweet-talking.

"Now that our business is concluded, how about we move on to the pleasure?" King John turned to King Loy. "I will show you to your quarters personally," he turned to Laquien. "I trust you and your brother can guide Prince Alhanuit and his bodyguard to their quarters?"

Laquien dipped his head. "Yes father." Laquien did not reach for Alhanuit a second time. "If you will follow us."

Alhawat nodded and fell into step behind Prince Laquien and Prince Edward. They were not ten paces out when Liam's voice caught the attention of both princes, Alhawat and Lin-Sari.

"Laaaaqquiieeen~" Liam caught up to them.

Alhawat noted that Liam was about his height, but when he saw him standing so close to Laquien, he could easily see the similarities. The facial boning, the same slate eye. Alhawat wondered if perhaps they had a different mother then Edward.

"How do you like our guests?" Liam smiled brightly at Alhanuit. "Are they not such a pair?"

Laquien looked at Alhanuit and his, he could only assume, bodyguard then back to Liam. "Yes. They will make quite a stir when we return to Rosoideae Twarc."

Liam blinked at his brother. "What?"

"Prince Alhanuit is to be my fiance now."

Liam's face split into a furiously wide grin. "Really?" He immediately attached himself to Alhanuit's arm. "So, you will stay with us?"

Alhanuit's flinch was almost unnoticeable the second time and Liam did not let go. "Lin-Sari will also stay as my body-guard until I have one from your guards."

Liam smiled brightly. "Good! I like you. I will love being your brother-in-law."

Alhawat smiled a warm, put-on smile. "Thank you, I think I will enjoy being your brother-in-law as well."

The rest of the walk was relatively quiet, though Liam never released Alhanuit. He had become quite fond of his brothers fiance, and he wasn't sad in the least that this was who his brother would be marrying since he had never met the other prince.

"This will be your room for the time being." Laquien looked at Lin-Sari. "You will be in the room next door."

Lin-Sari dipped his head. "Thank you, your majesty."

Alhanuit surprised all three brothers by reaching out and grabbing the sleeve of Laquien's tunic before he could leave.

"My Lord Laquien, may I have a private word?"

Laquien found the formality in Alhanuit's words strange, especially given they had both agreed to just to use each others first names. "Of course." Laquien opened the door to Alhanuit's room. "After you."

Alhanuit walked in first and made his way towards the middle, waiting until he heard the sound of the door thumping shut before he turned to face Prince Laquien. "I want to make a deal with you."

Laquien rose a brow. "What sort of deal?"

Alhawat, feeling like himself again for the first time since the death of his friend, crossed his arms over his chest. "If you treat me gently and allow me to do as I please in my marital duties to you, then I will support you to the best of my capabilities in your royal court. I will always work in your best interest and never allow anyone to betray you."

Laquien looked surprised. The gentle, soft spoken, easy to fluster prince he had seen only minutes prior was gone and in his place stood something Laquien had never seen. He wasn't positive trusting a person with two vastly different faces was safe, but he was absolutely certain that crossing him wouldn't be. "You offer quite a lot to ask for so little in return. All you desire is that I allow you to do what pleases you in the bedroom? Will I regret it if I do?"

Alhawat flushed a strange, knowing sort of smile. "I will never leave you dissatisfied."

Laquien thought for a moment, then decided he would rather marry an enemy. "I accept." He stepped forward and did not miss the twitch in Alhanuit's shoulder that signaled he was forcing himself not to step away. "How shall we seal this arrangement?"

Alhawat met Prince Laquien's gaze without slowing the fear he felt. "I made the offer and the conditions. I will agree to whatever seal you request."

Laquien nodded and closed the distance between them. "Then I want a demonstration. Kiss me."

Alhawat swallowed the knot that appeared in his throat. "Very well." Alhawat put his hands hesitantly on Laquien's chest to support himself, Alhawat leaned up to press his lips against Laquien's. He had intended a light peck, but before he could pull away, Laquien wrapped his arms around Alhanuit's waist and pulled him close. Alhanuit put up no fight and opened his mouth to Laquien's probing tongue.

Alhawat felt his mind going numb, his grip loosened on Prince Laquien's shoulders as his body grew hot. Alhawat thought he might fall as he felt his legs losing strength, only Prince Laquien's strong arms kept him up right. When Prince Laquien pulled away, Alhawat's wits were gone.

"I think it will be a good bargain for me indeed if that kiss was any sign." Laquien held Alhanuit until he found his feet again.

Alhawat controlled his bis body to stop the shiver that tried to climb his spine. "Then that would be it." Alhawat looked up, despite being mildly embarrassed, he was otherwise pleased with the situation. However he would not be able to let Laquien kiss him into witlessness on their wedding night.

"That is it." Laquien turned towards the door. "I will never treat you cruelly Alhanuit." Laquien left Alhanuit in his room.

Alhawat sighed and held his face in hands. "You already have... And you don't even know." Alhawat ran his hands through his hair and walked to his bed. He sat down and slowly untied his hair. Alhawat was not comfortable in this place, he was growing comfortable, but it would still be some time until Alhawat felt safe, until then he would have Lin-Sari to protect him. There was a light knock at Alhawat's door. He rose from his bed and walked over, opening it so he could see who had knocked. "Lin-Sari." He wasn't terribly surprised, but he wasn't expecting him so soon either.

"Are you alright?" Lin-Sari had always treated Alhawat as if he was family, that would not change now, he would only change the name he called Alhawat.

Alhawat let out a long exhale and nodded. "Yes, thank you Lin-Sari. Prince Laquien was very amiable and agreed to my conditions."

Lin-Sari nodded. "Very well, it has not been easy for you, please rest until dinner." Lin-Sari dipped his head and walked down the hallway.

Alhawat watched him walk away, he supposed Lin-Sari wanted to learn the layout for the future. Alhawat closed the door and walked back to the bed. He pulled from his robe, the little picture he kept of his dearly departed friend. A name he would never be allowed to say again by his own customs. Alhawat placed the picture against his forehead. "I miss you... Please, never leave my heart." Alhawat had no pictures of his sister, he had lost her too early to know he should have made one. He would never relinquish the picture he had of his best friend. He only knew what his sister looked like by the grace that they had been twins.

Alhawat tucked the picture away and curled up on top of the bed. He didn't feel like nestling down properly, he wasn't all that physically tired, he was only mentally tired. The stressful part was over, he had been accepted as a prince and as a replacement. Everything else would simply be playing the part he had accepted and remembering that he would be viewed in a better light then he had been previously.

Before Alhawat could get comfortable on the plush bed, there was yet another knock at the door. 'Who could it be now?' Alhawat gave the door a highly annoyed look. Were princes always disturbed so often? He would make a habit of not being in his room if that were the case. "Yes?"

"Prince Alhanuit? We were sent by his Majesty Laquien with clothes he thinks may fit you with little to no alteration. Given the state of your missing wardrobe, he thought you might like more then one outfit to wear until replacements can be acquired."

Alhawat looked down at his own attire. He wanted to laugh. He rarely wore more then the clothes he had on him, even on the ship he had only brought the one outfit. He took it off at night to let it air and stayed below deck so it never really became heavy or unpleasant with sweat. Alhawat crawled off the enormous bed and walked to the door, with his hair down he again looked wild, like the untamed shamans of his history. He could tell the servant girls on the other side were taken aback by his appearance, but they said nothing. "It is very generous of his Majesty to offer me anything. I will wear what I can to please him." His sweet talk had earned him the affection of the other servants in his home, he intended no less for the servants of this castle.

The servants smiled at Alhanuit, although it was more a polite, reserved smile. The three girls, counted as they filed in, took arm fulls of clothing to Alhanuit's bed and set them out where they could be easily seen. The oldest girl turned to Alhanuit and looked from him to the clothes, a small frown crossing her features. "La.. I do not know if any of these will be to your majesty's tastes..."

Alhawat smiled warmly and walked over to the bed. He touched the soft fabric. "It matters not. I will wear whatever fits. It was my fault for dressing so casually on the ship, I have no right to complain over any gift."

The three girls all looked quite taken with their compliant and even tempered guest. They had expected the worst of a prince being married of from his home country, but Alhanuit was surpassing their greatest hopes in a new queen.

"Will you wait outside while I see if any will fit or if one I like needs altering?"

The girls blushed at the charming smile they were given by Prince Alhanuit. "Yes! Of course, please take your time." The girls filed back out of the room and shut the door solidly behind them. The three stood like tiny little guards in front of Alhanuit's door to ward off anyone who might interrupt him.

When Alhawat heard the door snap shut, he began looking more closely at the clothes on the bed. They were very high quality, he could only imagine that they were old clothes from one Prince Laquien's brothers. The clothes struck Alhawat as to flashy and colorful to be to Prince Laquien's tastes. Alhawat spied a set all in warm, autumn and earthen shades and pulled it from the pile. He removed his belt and dagger, his over-robe and the long tunic robe he always wore. He realized how well the temperature in the castle was kept, he always had to change in front of a fire pit or place at home because the castle always felt cold. He stripped from his loose, baggy trousers and pulled on the much tighter prince trousers. They were embarrassing to wear. He nearly flushed just putting them on, they were tight, cupping his rear and attempting to do the same to his crotch. Alhawat became aware that his usual methods for keeping his secret hidden might not work so well with the clothing that seemed to be preferred in this new kingdom. Alhawat thought quickly and grabbed a roll of cloth he was certain was meant to be a sash of some sort, he rolled it into an approximate shape and size, tied it off as well as he could and stuffed it into the front of his trousers. He would not allow something as ridiculous as fashion to bring his curse to light after all these years. Slightly less worried, but no less embarrassed, Alhawat pulled on the tunic shirt and over jacket. He was thrilled to find that the double breasted button jacket fell to nearly mid-thigh, giving him what felt like a modicum of modesty. "ugh.." Alhawat twisted and stretched, the clothes felt to small but he could look and see they were not, they were just much tighter then he was use to. Where shaman clothes were meant to allow maximum range of movement, it seemed as though prince's clothes were designed to do precisely the opposite. Alhawat walked back to the door and opened it, his hair was still down so dressed in clothes of silk and velvet in the warm shades of burnt orange and brown, Alhawat looked more like a fae dressed like a prince then an actual prince. "I believe this will do for a casual dinner."

The three girls stared at Prince Alhanuit, he was undoubtedly beautiful. His long hair was soft and full, his face was only just delicately rounded. He wasn't much taller than any of them and he was a bit skinnier as well. "Y-yes! It looks very suiting your majesty! Were any of the others to your tastes?"

Alhawat looked back to the bed and flashed an embarrassed smile. "Oh, I did not even look at the others. This one caught my eye so quickly. I will choose one or two others if you do not mind, then you can take the rest back. I have no desire to seem greedy." Alhawat walked back to his bed and looked at the remaining clothes. There were quite a lot to choose from. In the end, he chose two more pairs of trousers that looked a little looser, one of black silk and the other of emerald green brocade, another tunic that was made of a soft woolen material and two over tunics, one black and the other sapphire blue. "Thank you so much." Alhawat gave the girls another one of his warm smiles.

"It was a pleasure your Majesty. Are you certain those are the only things you would like?" They had already begun gathering the clothes, but the oldest decided they wouldn't leave until their majesty was satisfied.

"Yes, thank you. It was more then kind to offer me so many, but I think it is better to take in moderation. It should only be a week at most until clothes from my other wardrobe arrive and I will have other, more important things to worry over than what I might wear in such a pleasant place."

The girls seemed more than pleased with that response and dipped little courtesies.

When the three girls had left, Alhawat looked himself over again. He realized he was still wearing the bangles and heavy earrings he had always worn as a way to mark he was coming in his own castle. Now he supposed he would be just as suited to ghost through the halls. It would be awkward for a prince to wear so much jewelry. "Honestly, I am surprised no one made mention of it earlier.." Alhawat slid the thick bangles from his wrists and ankles and took off his earrings. He slid them beneath his pillow. They might not have been expensive but they were important to him. Only two of each were actually his, the other two he carried in his sisters place. Normally, a shaman would have their jewelry given to their children, or lacking children, split among their remaining family. Alhawat's parents had given him everything. They, like most shaman, viewed twins as being two halves of the same coin and thus gave Alhawat as much of his sister as possible to keep himself whole. He and his mother were the only ones to have vials of her ashes, no one else had been given the honor. Alhawat sat back down on the bed. He had no idea whether the king would allow him to keep his supplies as a shaman. Now more than ever he could not bare the thought of being parted from them. He felt he had no greater need of their aid in keeping himself safe then now. Lin-Sari was a wonderful bodyguard to be sure and Alhawat had little doubt that King John or Prince Laquien would choose for him an equally skilled bodyguard, but Alhawat often found the most deadly enemies did not strike one with sword or even poison, they struck at reputations and secrets. Alhawat was a master at defending against that sort of attack, he really didn't need a physical bodyguard either. He was well skilled with his dagger, what he needed more than anything was a confidant, something he would not have once Lin-Sari left and something he would bitterly miss.

Alhawat laid down once more on his bed. He did not have any intention of sleeping, the sun would be setting soon and no doubt dinner would begin not long after that. Alhawat breathed in the smell of the sheets. They smelled clean and fresh but had no particular scent, Alhawat longed for something that could become familiar. Some scent, some sound, some sight, something that he could associate as being comfortable and safe. Alhawat could not have said how long he laid there, he wanted to put his old clothes on just to have something he could find something he would feel familiar with. However, sooner than Alhawat expected there was a knock on the door. "Yes?" His voice was almost muffled by the sheets of the bed.

"Prince Alhanuit, I've come to escort you to dinner." Laquien's firm, gently commanding voice pierced the thick door.

Alhawat wasn't sure why, but he felt like perking up. He slid from the bed and slipped into a pair of soft suede boots he had nabbed from his best friends wardrobe. He had known his own tied sandals would not be appropriate, they were a tad on the small side but not to much. He trotted over to the door, he only realized he'd left his hair down after he'd opened the door. "Ah! I forgot to tie my hair back.. Would it be inappropriate to arrive in this state?"

Laquien was taken aback by Alhanuit's appearance. Truly, he had looked fair when he had first encountered the small Alhanuit, but dressed in Edward's old riding outfit with his hair down and wild about his face and shoulders... "Certainly not. You look quite charming."

Alhawat smiled, Prince Laquien was a silver tongued man as well. He would prove an acceptable challenge in this new environment as they were both trying to win each others favor if not each others love. There was nothing more unwise then to make an enemy of a rival who could just as easily be made into an ally. Alhawat offered his hand out to Prince Laquien. "If I am acceptable to you, then the rest of the world must simply accept my appearance." His own smile was warm and charming. "Albeit jealous to see one such as myself escorted by such a handsome man."

Laquien enjoyed the back and forth at least as much as his dear Alhanuit. He took Alhanuit's hand and laid it lightly on his arm, placing his own hand over it. "Oh, I believe the world will be equally jealous that a man such as myself should be so lucky to acquire a queen as lovely as yourself."

Alhawat tried not to show the amusement in his smile. "A man such as you? That is a bit light for a man to be High King. That will be your title after we have married, will it not?"

"You are correct. My marriage to you will indeed will grant me the title of High King." Laquien kept his strides long but slow so he would not outrun Alhanuit who was little taller than his brother Liam.

"A meager fifth prince like myself has more to be thankful for in my newly acquired engagement." Alhawat did not walk closer than was appropriate, however, he did not keep Laquien at a hands width either. Alhawat was fully intending to play the perfect role of supporting and loving queen even if supporting was all he was. A king with his queen's support was a harder king to betray and overthrow.

"You do yourself little justice, Alhanuit." Laquien looked down at Alhanuit. "You look nothing of your father."

Alhawat wanted to protest, he looked like a perfect mix of his mother and father. However that was not who Prince Laquien was talking about. "I suppose I take much more after my mother." Was his reply instead.

"She must be a beautiful woman." Laquien again focused his gaze ahead of them.

"With only one rival in the entire world." Alhawat's smile grew distant. He missed his mother and sister dearly.

"And who would that be?" Laquien looked at Alhanuit with interest. He wondered if perhaps there was a love left behind he should worry about.

"My sister." Alhawat answered honestly. It was well known that King Loy was blessed with daughters in a realm where women had become rare.

Laquien felt relieved. Alhanuit would not be tempted to leave him for a woman in his home country. "Is that so?"

The rest of the walk was made in silence, Laquien felt a sort of sorrow settle over Alhanuit, although he never let the gentle smile leave his features. Laquien could not help but wish he knew Alhanuit well enough to press to his background. The dinner was equally quiet although not silent. Alhanuit seemed to have little to say and Lin-Sari even less. Only King Loy seemed to have no problem keeping conversation with whomever would engage him.

"So, you must leave even before the wedding?" King John directed his gaze towards King Loy.

"I am afraid so. I had not intended to stay for the wedding in the first place, I am afraid I pushed this weddings date as much as I could because my own first born is expecting his wife within the month. I must return so I can greet him as well."

King John nodded. "I see, the work of a king never ends. Does it?" He laughed richly.

At the end of the dinner, Alhanuit approached King Loy a distance from the others so he could not be overheard. Laquien watched on with curiosity but did not approach.

"Majesty... Will I be allowed to keep my personal belongings?" Alhawat stood with his head slightly bowed.

King Loy thought about it for a moment, but at length nodded. "Yes. I have put you in a precarious position. It would be cruel not to leave you with all your abilities at your disposal."

Alhawat bowed his head. "Thank you, your Majesty. Please excuse me." Alhawat offered a bow that might have been considered a slight bit to ceremonial before turning off.

Liam again attached himself to Alhanuit's arm and smiled him, big and bright. "Please allow me to escort you back to your room, Prince Alhanuit."

Alhawat looked briefly back at Prince Laquien but turned his attention back to Prince Liam. "I would be pleased." He smiled at Prince Liam and laid his hand across Liam's with a gentle touch.

Once they were back into hallway and walking towards Alhanuit's room, Liam turned curious eyes on him, sparkling with merry. "Prince Alhanuit, you have the most peculiar and beautiful eyes I have ever seen. Are they from your mother?"

Alhawat smiled, hiding the sour feeling that swelled over him any time someone mentioned his eyes. "No, they were from my sister. I am the only one in my familiar who displays duality in my eyes." Alhawat turned to look at Liam, his own eyes wide so that the brilliant green and gold were clearly visible. "Does your kingdom have lore over bicolored eyes as my own?"

Liam shook his head. "No, I have never even heard of those with such eyes before. What is the lore from your kingdom?"

"In my kingdom," Alhawat turned his eyes back to their path. "it is said that those with dual colored eyes are both blessed and cursed by the gods. The Blessings and curses present themselves in different ways. Our shaman watched me and told me when I was very young of my blessing and my curse." Alhawat's smile grew dimmer. "I am forever blessed to engage the trust of whomever I choose for my charm far succeeds my merit. However I am cursed to forever be alone, for my merit are limited to my charm."

Liam became saddened by Alhanuit's words. He could feel the weight of them, clutching to Alhanuit as a strangle hold on the heart. "Alhanuit, perhaps with my brother your curse may be lifted?"

Alhawat gave Liam a soft, not-quite-sad smile. "If Prince Laquien could lift my curse, no power in this world or any other would stop me from ensuring his safety and happiness." The words were no lie, but the likelihood that Prince Laquien could break Alhawat's curse was so slim that he never believed he would be empowered to fulfill them.

Again, Alhawat walked arm in arm with a member of the royal family, this time towards his room instead of away from it. Alhawat knew Lin-Sari was shadowing them at an appropriate distance for a chaperone. Once at his room, Alhawat turned and slipped his arm from Prince Liam's grasp. "Thank you for seeing my back. I am so pleased to have such wonderful people in my new family."

Liam smiled back at Prince Alhanuit. "I am pleased that my brothers wife could be so gentle and brave. I truly hope that your curse may be lifted."

Alhawat opened his door and slipped inside. "Please sleep well Prince Liam. I shall see you again in the morning."

"Good Night Prince Alhanuit. Sweet dreams." Liam bowed his head and began down the hallway to his own quarters.

Alhawat closed his door and sighed. He really had no interest in sleeping. Alhawat slid easily from the jacket and under tunic and quickly retrieved his over robe from the ground. It hung open like a jacket with no buttons and exposed much of his creamy chest without the under tunic. He then fastened his roped belt with his dagger to his waist, closing the over robe low. Dressed in more moderate clothes to his tastes, Alhawat tied his hair back in a loose bow and slipped from his room into the silence of the hallway. It would be some time still until everyone was asleep but Alhawat wanted to see if there was a library in such a castle. He knew this was more of a state castle, likely meant to be run by a local lord rather than the king so he was unsure of whether he would find what he considered necessary amenities.

Alhawat slipped from his chambers as conspicuous as a shadow. Unburdened of his bangles and earrings, his hair tied loosely back without its tight braid and divested of his fancy clothing for the most part, he managed to make himself disappear in plain sight. He had spent years in the Castle of Pyrine playing at hiding from the servants by simply not being seen. There was no magic to it, just a kind of ability to appear dim or unimportant even if he had changed nothing else about his physical appearance then his clothes. It worked marvelously, no one asked him who he was or where he was going, the servants never even bothered to acknowledge him if they saw him at all. Alhawat was more then pleased when he found the library, unhindered or assisted by servants or priests or any other person. His discovery of the library made him feel almost instantly more at home. He quickly dove into what looked like a personal library. Many of the books held subjects of little or no interest to him but he found a few on customs, politics and policies that seemed helpful. He committed a few names to memory to return and read them later but took only one from the shelf for the time being. Alhawat took to the back of the library where he found a line or spacious windows and tables specifically for reading for pleasure. He took a seat in the only open window. The weather was pleasant and the comforting light of a full moon gave him more than enough light to read by.

The book he'd chosen discussed the roles of religion, advisers and their relationship to the High King. Alhawat was pleased to read that most High Kings in the kingdoms history had taken their wives as High Adviser to the King, meaning if Prince Laquien held by the tradition, Alhawat would be closest to his husbands ear and have the most influence. There was something satisfying in knowing that all the practical and political experience he had gained in training to become a shaman would not be wasted on the enormous satire that had become his life in the past two weeks. He would not be expected to be a pretty face, he would be expected to have some manner of skill as well.

Alhawat also read that two people in the kingdom of Vesuviniae were expected to act as shaman in Pyrine did. Priests and Midwives seemed to carry out the exact same practices a shaman did, only the split the duties between them. Alhawat recognized that the ugly fat man who had greeted them when they arrived at the docks was probably a priest performing a welcoming. Alhawat's own father and sister and performed the same duty many times in his life, although they had always been accompanied by at least one member of the royal family and a member of the royal guard.

Alhawat had just turned the page, to a chapter regarding the specific nature of religion in Vesuviniae, when the clumsy and loud footfalls of a servant caught his attention. Alhawat shut the book, marking his place with his thumb and looked up. He was not in the mood to be shuffled back to his room and labeled trouble for being out without his escort. Alhawat was more than capable of taking care of himself. There was a good chance that the servant girl wouldn't bother coming all the way to the back to check the windows, but none the less Alhawat found himself gauging the distance to the ground. He thought it probably wasn't more than three meters, it was a heavy drop but if he landed properly it would do him no damage and then he would be thought as nothing more than a shadow. His clothes were all earth tones, if he landed and stopped moving, only a trained soldier would look for something on the landscape that didn't fit. Alhawat would be extremely surprised if the girl didn't simply assume he had been a ghost or a cat. Alhawat kept in an annoyed sigh as the footfalls came closer. He set the book down on the sill near his feet and positioned his hands, when he saw the light of the candle flicker around one of the bookcases, he allowed himself to slide off and drop from the sill. Alhawat only just heard the terrified gasp as the girl saw him disappearing out of the window. She ran quickly to the window and looked down.

Alhawat made the mistake of looking up. He saw the girl, full face and she saw him. No sooner had their eyes met then did he collide with the ground, his feet rolled and he tumbled forwards once before landing on his elbows. He was a little beaten but nothing was honestly damaged. He remained unmoving under the moonlight for several minutes before daring to look back, the window was vacated.

Alhawat quickly swept his sandal clad feet over the ground to brush away evidence of his landing before walking light-footed away from the scene. He decided returning to the library where the frightened servant girl might still be–or be returning with a guardsman–was an unwise idea. Instead, he walked with cat-like grace and silence around the castle grounds to the garden and the labyrinth that was hidden behind. Prince Edward had said Prince Laquien loved labyrinths, Alhawat had never walked one that was not flat and drawn upon the ground. He was curious about how a real, walled labyrinth might differ.

Alhawat could not have described the difference with adequate words no matter his eloquence. With the full moons light casting the green leaves in a pale blue that made them almost glow and the delicate roses that had closed and withdrawn for the night looking lined in silver, there was no way to compare the both engaging and almost terrifying corridors of the rose-hedge labyrinth to those of artfully drawn or cleverly carved ground labyrinths where the view was never clouded by physical barriers. "Is this what he enjoys? The solitude? The complexity?" Alhawat could not even bring himself to touch the beautiful roses or leaves. They looked almost fey, as if he had no business even being in such a wonderful place. Alhawat's feet seemed to move of their own accord, he turned left, or right, or ignored turned entirely without ever thinking of where he was going. He walked it as he would have one of the spiritual labyrinths that were so popular in Pyrine for seeking enlightenment or simply giving one's mind a rest from the tiring worries of every day life and simply walking a long path to the center and back out again. Alhawat soon became aware that his usual methods were completely useless for this labyrinth. He came across three dead ends and one dead end twice and was not sure where he was or how even to get back, let alone get to the center. Alhawat did not want to panic, but there was a slight fear in him that he would be stuck in the labyrinth until morning when people realized he was missing. Then he would have to explain why he had left his room in the first place.. Alhawat chewed his lip nervously and grabbed at his over-robe. He was really not wearing anything appropriate for being found, an over robe that did not close in the front, the tight trousers he had received from Prince Laquien. Not only would he have to explain what he was doing out of his bed chamber, alone, from some point in the middle of the night or before breakfast in the morning, but also what he was doing in such indecent attire outside.

"You seem lost."

The deep, calm, almost soothing voice that came from behind him gave Alhawat a start and he spun on one foot, putting on a defensive position until he saw who it was. "Prince Laquien..." Alhawat quickly pulled his over robe as closed in the front as he possibly could.

"I thought we agreed on first names, Alha-la?" Laquien stood, leaning just ever so slightly against the rose-hedge wall with his arms crossed over his chest. He too was dressed extremely casually, he wore a long tunic and a pair of tight trousers. He himself wore no shoes and his own hair was down around his face, not quite touching his shoulders.

"My apologies. I.." Alhawat tried to think of an excuse.

"Please, do not apologize to me for wanting to explore a little on your own. I would be lying to say I had been expecting that queer shift in personality you displayed in our agreement. However, after that, I could tell," Laquien stepped closer to Alhawat and took a lock of that soft, thick hair in his hand, drawing it away from the rest of the restrained hair over Alhawat's shoulder. "You are both wild and tame." Laquien leaned in and kissed a lock of that long hair, staring Alhawat in the eyes all the time. "Shall I show you the way out?"