Prince Xander stabled the large stallion, then ran his hand through his hair, pulling it into a bun at the back of his head. There was still no prey in sight, and his instinctive hunting activity had began to grow boring. He let out a small sigh as he lowered the bow yet again, his eyes keen on searching the bushes in front of him.

”Your highness! A deer is on the other side of the baobab! ” One of his servants yelled and he turned, searching for the said tree. He didn have to look too far, as the bushes there suddenly moved.

Prince Xander broke into a smile and brought out an arrow. He fixed it in the bow, then raised it, one of his emerald green eyes closing to help him focus. His heavily defined cupid bow lips slightly parted, as he pulled the arrow back, slowly moving the bow within the trajectory the animal was taking.

Just before he let the arrow go however, his trusted stallion started to move around, its hoofs hitting the ground hard, picking up dust.

”Colt! ” He said, his voice stern to get the horse in control, but it suddenly started to swerve even wider, turning around, immediately upsetting Prince Xanders balance. The horse would not even allow any of the servants close to it, and they started to run around, looking for a way to tame the horse again.

Prince Xander tightened his foothold as his upper body swerved around, causing him to turn upside down, his hair flying behind him.

Like a little spell, the first thing he saw were a pair of light brown eyes, thinned to slits. He swallowed, just as the stallion swerved again, this time nearly throwing him off.

”Colt, halt! Halt! ” He yelled again, and it suddenly stopped, becoming calm again.

Prince Xander could hardly see with all of the dust the ruckus had caused. He straightened, the bow and arrow somehow still held firm between his fingers, his hair falling in front of his face as he leaned forward to regain his balance.

He caught sight of a dress, a rather simple dress compared to the embroidery of gold and silk he was used to seeing worn by the ladies of the upper classes.

He moved his hand to his hair and slowly pushed it away, and he came face to face with the same pair of brown eyes.

”A snake can do a lot of harm, your highness. You should beware of them. ”

Prince Xander suddenly raised the bow and arrow again, aiming straight for the lady. She did not flinch even as he shot, the sharp pointed arrow barely missing her and cutting open her hair band instead, letting her hair fall loose.

Thick black hair fell across her shoulders, down over her chest, and she thinned her eyes even more.

”Even more so, flying ones, my lady. Do forgive my disrespect. ”

She said nothing, but turned to the now dead snake at her feet, the fangs still open.

Prince Xander noticed the slight blink and the way her fists clenched. He smiled, then let himself down the horse, the servants coming around to help him and hold the horse in place.

”Thank you for earlier. ”

She looked up to him. ”Prince Xander. What an honor to meet you. ”

His eyes grew curious. ”You sound like you have been wanting to meet me. ”

She smiled, but it did not reach her eyes. It looked rather strained. ”Yes, Your highness. And such luck I have. ”

”It saddens me that I will not meet you under such circumstances. I reside at Fermichs grand palace. You can go through the necessary procedures in order to meet me. On account of today, I will make sure to give you a bit of time. ”

He turned away, clasping his hand behind him as he raked his hand through his hair again. Lady Sophia broke into a sarcastic smile as he started to walk away from her.

”I do wonder, Your highness, if His majesty will share the same opinion. ”

Prince Xanders brows furrowed as he turned sideways to her. ”What do you mean? ”

She shrugged, walking to him, holding her dress elegantly in her fingers. He watched as she made her way to him, then smiled again.

”I was just wondering, Your highness, if His majesty will grant me audience, especially if I tell him about the servant you see behind the palace gardens every night. ”

Prince Xanders eyes widened, his cool demeanor immediately evaporating, just like the secrecy of his constant visits to the servants quarters. He was set to marry the daughter of one of the lords of his fathers council, a rather sickly maiden named Lady Lisette who seemed to have nothing to speak of except for convention.

Despite his duties, however, he could not help his affection for the servant, Charlotte. He had seen her just once, in the same palace gardens, and he had known there and then he preferred her simple dressing over anything any other lady would adorn herself with.

But it was forbidden. They all knew it was. And that is why he never had the courage to go to his father. Even though he would break her heart when he wedded, he would still do it, because that is the price that came with the crown that sat atop his head.

”Who are you? ” He asked, his voice low, his eyes lifting to the servants that stood around him.

She laughed, seeing his disorientation. ”I am Lady Sophia, Your highness. The second daughter of a noble family from the small Western kingdom of Green Oak. ”

His brows furrowed. ”That tells me nothing of why you know about my visits. ”

She smiled even wider. ”I have a resolution and that is why I am here, Your highness. ”

He raised his head slightly, letting out a small breath. ”Speak. ”

She moved forward. ”What do I start with, Your highness? The secret, the consequences or the conditions of safeguarding your secret? ”

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