Hey there. So, I just got some awesome feedback and realized how much editing this needs. But I'm resisting the temptation to completely rewrite/fix it and am determined to finish the story first. So if you happen to notice really weird inconsistencies, I, most likely, know of them. But don't forget to review anyway. And this chapter is about 2,700 words shorter than the last. Yay for brevity, Gail.

Chapter Three: Gail

I laughed, watching as the noble's face flushed in response. She waved me off in embarrassment, shaking her head.

The party was quite lively, with people socializing and taking food from trays that servants held out as they weaved throughout the rather large crowd.

Despite our somewhat late arrival, everything had worked out perfectly fine, which I hadn't doubted in the first place, although Krys had put up a terribly annoyed act before we walked in.

We had arrived only minutes ago, but, just as expected, all three of us had already been pulled into different conversations of the sorts. I wouldn't doubt that some others were asking why we were late, and that Krys was answering in the most polite way possible that it was Dalek's fault.

I glanced around idly as the woman I spoke to chatted with the man next to her. Her husband, I supposed.

The room was nice, with plenty of room to move about despite the large amount of people. A light blue wall color set the lighthearted mood as people wandered through the open rooms of the house. I hadn't had the chance to make it into any other room besides the parlor before being thrown into a conversation.

The large, elaborate door that we had entered through was behind me, and couches and tables were set up about the room.

I could see Krys farther into the house through the open door that lead into a rather large ballroom, where he seemed to be getting into a terribly boring conversation with a rather large man.

Dalek was nowhere in sight, though off to my right there was a set of glass doors that lead out to the balcony, which was where I had suspected he had gone after some brief chitchat with the nobles.

"Oh, Prince Gail," the woman started, a look of fake sympathy in her eyes. "I'm so terribly sorry for your father's passing, you know."

I smiled at her, reminding myself of her name. "Ah, thank you Lady Kandace. We will miss him deeply."

The woman smiled and nodded, as if she felt the 'pain' we were supposedly going through.

At least, I felt no pain when thinking of our father's death. He was a rather arrogant and haughty man, though he listened to the people, for the most part. He always favored Krys, it seemed, considering the two shared almost every trait.

"Ah, he was a good king," she said, nodding her head sagely. "Always looked out for the kingdom."

I resisted the urge to laugh at the statement. He had been looking out for the rich, not the poor. And he had by no means been doing it for the kingdom.

Lady Kandace sighed and met my eyes, her charcoal-colored ones filled with remorse. I didn't doubt it was genuine sadness, but I doubted she cared much for its effects on us. "Prince Gail, you must try hard to not overwork yourself, what with the work that you now face."

My smile remained plastered on my face as she spoke. "Of c—"

A loud knock at the door cut me off as everyone's heads turned towards it. From the corner of my eye I watched as Krys smirked and quickly excused himself from the conversation he had been engaged in. He made his way past me and too the door, brushing a servant away and gesturing the owner of the house, Sir Chigam, to come over there.

The stout man was pulled into a conversation as they opened the door just a bit, allowing only them to see outside.

I flashed a polite smile at Lady Kandace; "Excuse me, madam, I must go and see what my brother is doing."

She smiled back at me and nodded encouragingly. "Of course, Prince Gail!"

Will a slight bow, I walked away, heading to the glass doors on my right rather than directly to Krys. I pulled them open and stepped outside into the cool night air, unsurprised to find Dalek standing there, hands wrapped around the railing.

Why there would be a railing for a 'balcony' on the first floor, I didn't know. It was most likely there for décor.

His back turned to me, I debated the idea of scaring him, as he hadn't noticed my presence, as far as I knew. Deciding against the idea of startling him, I coughed quietly, watching him as he jumped slightly.

"Ah, exc—" he started, turning around. He cut himself off as he realized it was me and replaced the rather neutral look with that of annoyance. "What do you want, Gail?"

I grinned, amused. "What a coarse way to greet your brother, Dalek." He simply sighed. "Anyway, I believe our guest has arrived, finally."

He frowned in the darkness, his silvery eyes flickering upwards to the sky as he turned around again. "I know, I saw her," he grumbled.

I sighed and shook my head; he wouldn't come without force. "Well then, come on. It would be unprincely if you didn't greet her respectfully, so let's get on with it, alright?"

He grunted in response, and I slapped him lightly on the back of the head.

"Ouch! What was that for?" he asked, whirling to face me. The look of annoyance on his face had grown at he met my eyes.

I simply grinned. "Because you're not moving, of course. Now come, Dalek. We have business."

He grit his teeth together but reluctantly followed me back into the house. He had managed to put on a rather neutral expression once again as I lead him to where Krys stood talking with Sir Chigam.

The door had been opened just a bit more, and I pulled Dalek along with me to view our guest. I could feel as Dalek tensed when the girl came into sight, but I simply smiled her as Krys continued his hushed conversation.

The entire room's previous chatter had dimmed into nothing but a few confused whispers.

I took in the girl's appearance; she had cleaned herself up, looking more appropriate for the party than she had before. Her face was washed and her hair neatly combed and slicked down, very much unlike the messy and tattered style it had been in earlier. She was clad in a simple, silver dress and was nervously biting her lip.

Her gaze flickered back and for the between Krys and Chigam as they spoke. But their hushed talk finished rather quickly, and with a smile, Chigam pulled the door open fully and gestured for Aria to enter.

The already-quiet crowd had fallen into a silence as it took in the presence of the girl standing before them. She glanced around nervously before meeting Krys's eyes, alarmed as hushed whispers began travelling throughout the rooms.

"What is a commoner such as that doing here?" one woman asked quietly, taken aback at the girl's appearance.

Krys simply turned and smiled calmly at the crowd, Sir Chigam standing beside him as he nodded in approval. "Excuse me," he coughed, "I'm terribly sorry to interrupt the party, but this our highly-esteemed guest—invited by me personally." He gave them an appreciative look; "If you would please treat her just as you would treat each other, I would be most gracious."

The crowd quickly resumed their conversations, though an uncomfortable tension hung in the air as Krys turned back around to lead Aria into the house.

Dalek remained stiff as we followed behind, though he managed a polite nod to everyone who made eye contact. His facial expression remained as rigid as his body was though, and it seemed to be stuck in an expressionless, blank look. Even his grey eyes seemed to have taken on a dull glaze.

As the girl tensely followed behind Krys, the ladies and lords each curtsied or bowed as she passed, offering polite smiles or nods of the head.

The door shut behind us and Sir Chigam hurried to follow us over to a corner of the room.

I watched the girl's flushed face, proving just how uncomfortable she was as the center of attention. An apprehensive smile was pasted on her face as she closely followed behind Krys.

Admittedly, it was amusing to see the girl who seemed to ardently hate us stick so close to Krys as if he was her only savior.

Which was terribly ironic, considering he had been the one to throw her into the situation in the first place.

Sir Chigam made his way over to us, somewhat confused at the sudden appearance of the girl, yet accepting the fact rather smoothly. He greeted her with smile and a bow. "Ah, Miss. I welcome you to my home. Please, you are at length to do what you wish," he said, straightening up. "I do hope you enjoy the party."

And quickly, he was gone.

Krys stood behind the girl, and Dalek and I remained across from him. His green eyes caught my gaze first before flickering over to Dalek, who stood with his back against the wall.

"Dalek," he said, a smirk playing on his features, "why not greet our guest?"

Aria's blue eyes jumped up to meet the eldest's, a flash of panic running through them. But he remained civil, as he was forced to.

He smiled tightly, his grey eyes revealing nothing but a spark of annoyance. "Of course," he responded coldly, his lips pursed as he turned to Aria.

The emotionless smile didn't suit his features.

I watched as he bowed at the waist formally. "Miss Azor," he choked out. "Welcome."

He straightened up with nothing more to say but a slight nod of the head as he returned to the rigid position he had been standing in previously.

Her tight smile mimicked his as they broke eye contact.

How amusing.

I resisted a laugh and caught the girl's gaze, smiling warmly at her. She remained just as uncomfortable though, as she broke eye contact again, her eyes scanning the room and its guests.

Glances were thrown her way, which was to be expected, and the girl seemed to be getting less and less comfortable with it. How funny.

With a slight chuckle that brought her attention back to me, I bowed in a similar fashion as the two before me. "Miss Aria," I said, planting a kiss on the back of her hand before straightening up. "It's a pleasure to see you again."

In a way.

Her face flushed deeply as she looked up at me, alarm and confusion in her eyes.

"Ah, um—!"

Krys cut her off with a tap on the shoulder, and she twisted to face him. "Do remember that you are at length to do almost anything. Save anything inappropriate. Don't feel restricted to one room, either. Oh, yes," he added, smirking. "And, my lady, welcome to the party."

With a swift bow, he was gone, leaving the girl with us as he pranced through the room, smoothly picking up short exchanges before disappearing back into the ballroom.

"R- right," she murmured to herself, glancing down at the floor, unsure of what to do.

Perhaps in the presence of royalty one's avid 'hatred' wanes, especially when surrounded by the many nobles of the party.

But that might just be speculation.

Dalek left shortly after with a solemn nod towards the both of us, retaining his composure as he walked away from us and through the crowd, the silver crown atop his head the last to vanish.

I glanced back at Aria, an amused smile on my face. She, the commoner who had set Dalek off earlier in the morning by stating her opinions, seemed to be terribly quiet now that she was out of her comfort zone.

The girl glanced around nervously again, her eyes meeting mine briefly. I chuckled, watching as her eyes flew back up to mine in accusation.

"Hm, it seems you aren't quite accustomed to a large party like this, are you?" I asked, smiling.

She nodded, a skeptical light in her eyes as she pursed her lips. She didn't trust me, of course.

I laughed again. "Perhaps you may feel more at ease after socializing with the guests, hm?"

She tensed up at the idea, her eyes sweeping around the room again before returning to mine, a hard look in them.

"I-I apologize, Prince Gail," she spluttered, "but I believe I'll step outside for some fresh air."

Dalek had already had the idea, and I doubted he would enjoy the idea of running into her outside, but I simply nodded in response. Perhaps escaping from the nobles' watchful eyes would be better anyway.

After all, the whole room was looking at her.

She curtsied hastily before scuttling away, smiling nervously at the many nobles as their eyes followed her until she left the room.

The already-harsh whispers that circulated through the room became all the louder when she disappeared.

"A common-girl! Attending such a party?" a woman asked exasperatedly.

I glanced at her and flashed a firm smile. "Of course," I said, interrupting the conversation. "What else would it be?"

She stared at me open-mouthed for a minute, debating her next words. She pursed her lips; "Oh, I haven't the faintest idea," she finally stammered, smiling weakly as she closed the topic.

I almost laughed; the nobles—they had no class.

Shaking my head bemusedly, I made my way into the ballroom and took a look around. The light blue walls had gone and been replaced by a light beige, though it was masked by the many paintings that had been hung on the walls. Lining the walls were multitudes of tables that held platters of cheeses, fruits, and pastries.

And that was in addition to the servants roaming through the crowd with assortments of other items.

Shaking my head in disdain at the distasteful food, I scanned the crown, searching for Krys. A flash of gold quickly came to my attention, and I located him easily. He speared pastry of sorts with a fork, twirling it around idly as he chatted with yet another noble.

I rolled my eyes, and he spotted me, flashing a smile—though I must say, it was very smirk-like—before excusing himself from the conversation at hand.

Daintily plucking the pastry into his mouth, he sauntered over to me, looking terribly satisfied with himself.

Being two years older than him did almost nothing in regards of height, as he stood almost even with me, mush to my dissatisfaction. I frowned, but he ignored it.

"Gail," he said, smirking at me. "And what do you want to know?"

I chuckled. "I suppose a lot," I replied, "as I'm sure you know. But I'm simply curious about when you had the time to invite this commoner to such a party, and how you got her here so quickly. After all, it took us but half an hour, and the market and lower-class residence is another half hour away from the castle.

"But somehow you managed to get her here just after us. So how exactly?" I raised an eyebrow.

His smirk grew wider as I spoke, and the self-satisfaction in his voice was overwhelming. "Simple. While you two were busy preparing, like you should have done earlier, I sent a courier out in a carriage early enough to get there, have her get ready, and to bring her back here."

Perhaps a bit too simple.

I clucked my tongue; Krys was too organized when it came to such things.

"Well then, I must presume that your intentions of bringing her here lie mostly with Dalek's image."

He shrugged, staring at me blankly, and I pressed on. "There is, after all, no other reward visible. The nobles seem to be simply appalled, if you haven't noticed," I commented, eyebrow cocked.

He should have known there would be repercussions to inviting her, and it seemed out-of-character for him to have overlooked it.

But his smirk regained its spot on his face. "I already know. But I haven't a doubt that most of them will be terribly impressed when it...gets through their thick heads," he said, the last part half-whispered despite the already-loud chatter.

His remark was aimed not only towards the nobles, but me as well, as Krys knew I hadn't the faintest clue of what he spoke of.

But I supposed that was exactly what he was aiming for.

With a resigned sigh, I smiled, shaking my head. "Impressive," I muttered. "But I suppose that there really shouldn't be such a surprise, considering it is you we're talking about," I added, doubtful of the results of his fun.

His smirk melted off of his face and his eyes narrowed in annoyance. "You shouldn't speak with such a caustic tone," he scoffed. "You'll see just how this affects me anyway."

With a 'hmph', he turned on his heel and began walking away, his entire demeanor having changed as he nodded and smiled courteously at the passing nobles.

I sighed and watched his back retreat for only so long before walking off, back into the parlor. There were more important things to do than watch my brother converse and win over the crowd.

—End Chapter