The sun's rays bathed the Capital a startling white, while people trudged on with their own businesses, going in and out of stores in syncophantic tones, footfalls resounding on the pebbled pathways in tune with the boring clickity clock of the horses' hooves. Voices murmuring and shouting, sellers beckoning, buyers choosing, children bent on being raucous while motherly women chased after free spirited toddlers... How predictable the shopping district was, the noise and milling about blending into an tuneless, unnamed song that she may or may not have heard before.
She, on the other hand, sat at the cold, smooth stones that housed the waters of the fountain, legs crossed and every bit unlady-like. That one long leg that dangled from above where her knees touched swung to and fro, to and fro, as her eyes followed the movement of one Estiennian and then another.
Today was the start of her five-day rest days, a (much-deserved) vacation she had asked of ol' grumpy Takasugi, who was particularly happy to have her get off his back for quite a long time. It was only a few days until Summer, after all, and summer meant another of the biggest productions of Waldorf's being staged for one night; two nights in a row if they got lucky. She needed to concentrate on the upcoming production, much to the dismay of her parents, and to the glee of the shop owner. In the mean time though, as she had wandered into the shopping district in utter boredom after being thrown out of their house, she was left with nothing to do until the late afternoon rehearsals.
One big cruuunch, and consecutive itty bitty chomps as she bit into her Granny Smith and chewed slowly. Everything in the shopping district seemed to jive and blend together into one big onomatopoeic performance, though lacking the spunk and climactic finish. It made the young woman's eyes twinkle with interest, grinning from ear to ear at nothing in particular as a belated revelation dawned upon her.
Perhaps it was not as clear as day, but mischief was, in her opinion, in the air, uncommon for such a mundane, ordinary day in Estienne, and Yui wanted to bear witness to it, if not be a part of it.
Is it around this corner... or the one further down the corridor? Aoi bit her lip as she found herself, of all situations to be in, quite lost in the Great Castle. Given, it was not her first time visiting the place, but it was huge. She wasn't even sure if she was in the right wing! The corridors all looked nearly the same to Aoi, though she did recall that a portrait of the previous King of Estienne, dressed in royal blue and gold garb, lay near.The young woman tilted her head to one side thoughtfully as a passing servant caught her eye. Finally! A familiar figure. If her memory served her correctly, this was one of the valets under the Duke of Clement. She must be treading around the right place.
"To... Toshi-kun?" Aoi called softly, and was pleased when the curious expression upon the servant's face readily amended itself into recognition at the sight of her. It wasn't often that anyone could seek an impromptu audience with the Prince, this she knew. Aoi was grateful she had not chanced upon an unfamiliar servant who did not know of her relation to Jin, as this would have given her a lot of unnecessary trouble. "I'm looking for His Highness. Would you happen to know where he is at the moment?"
It had been nearly five days since the castle air had been cleared of heavy, stifling musk. Jin could finally stop inclining his head apologetically at the Eastern Wing servants (they had dramatically, or accurately perhaps, dubbed themselves Les Misérables during the course of his relatives' stay), who had the terrible misfortune of having to put up with most of The Dreaded Aunt and Her Daughters.
It remained a mystery as to why the pompous ladies, initially so intent on making their visit as pronounced as possible, had chosen to leave with such haste. Rumour had it that there was a fair bit of high-pitched shrieking going on. The Duke of Clement only had the honours of seeing the aftermath of whatever had conspired against his relatives. It was a dreadful state in which their wigs were still misplaced, ribbons askew, and endless complaints of "H-Hideous creature! Wretched Thing! Foul spoil!" (to which he cheerfully replied that he "kept a few adorable rodents in the Castle, would you all like to see them?")
Having one of the masterminds of said Plan to Save the Castlefolk From Lung Poisoning as a close friend and companion, however, enabled Jin to hear first-hand accounts of what had truly conspired and Toma's story kept him amused for days. This automatically translated to him being hounded by Toma and Chinen for something in return, but Jin didn't mind the least bit, especially if bringing Chinen out also meant someone else would be coming along.
"My saviours," He announced carelessly at the entrance of the drawing room with a dramatic flair, pleased to see that very first place he thought of looking into had yielded results.
[OOC: To Little Brat, Dieting Brat and Big Brat. >D ♥ Apologies for the delay! I only just managed to scrape a few minutes of this precious Internet time before I have to be sucked back to my economics class. Um not sure how they would start off so I just assumed they would meet somewhere in the Castle first.]
'...Darling child... wonderful news of... took a long while to decide, but... the family was most kind... every inch of your happiness... far past the time to... His Grace has consented... you are to be married, again!'
Erika threw the letter across the carriage seats, darkly. She crossed her arms in agitation as she willed the carriage to move faster, a severe expression on her features. Erika was a beautiful woman, but sometimes she had such a look of intense displeasure that most people were busy being intimidated rather than admiring. At the moment, however, she couldn't care less. The offending letter sat on the seat, her mother's pretty handwriting peeking out from under the folds. She glared at it for the duration of the ride.
"We'll see about this," Erika seethed to herself, as the carriage pulled to a stop. Trying to move quickly without affecting the habitual grace she had when walking, she clutched the letter once again and stepped out of the carriage, blinking at the pleasant sunlight. Her gaze fell on her destination: the residence of the Duke of Morrigan. She kept her back straight and her chin high as she entered the fine house, ignoring the flurry she was causing with her sudden arrival. Servants scurried, dazed and caught unawares. A couple of maids bumped into each other and another nearly tripped the page, but Erika shot them no looks today. She waited impatiently for the page to pay her mind, before telling him curtly to announce her arrival. She did not have to add that she did not care if the Duke was busy; she was going to see him now.
The page looked wounded at her sharp tone, but did as he was told. As she watched him go, Erika clutched the letter in her fist even tighter. The Duke had some explaining to do.
The King's long fingers caressed the thick, leather-bound Bible as he flipped through the pages, eagerly pursuing his nightly quiet time with the Lord. This was one of the rare periods of the day he felt wholesomely peaceful and at ease, besides the times he spent with his loved ones. The book he held in his hands was well-worn and yellowed with age, yet there was no earthly possession Yuujin treasured higher such as this.
Yuujin carefully tucked in the bookmark, gifted and painstaking embroidered by his late mother, to mark his desired page before laying the Bible aside upon the chest of drawers and taking leave of his private drawing room. In the great bedchamber following on, two ushers awaited to undress and put the King to bed, as per the ceremonial rituals.
"You may leave," Yuujin dismissed the servants with an ever present polite smile. "Have a good rest." He moved further into the suite where the King's grand coronet bed awaited for him to retire for the night and was surprised to see that the Queen was still up and awake at this hour.
"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, my lady." He said gently before enquiring with concern, "Why are you not resting? It is late."
This was...it? This was the grand and glorious life of nobility her dear Mother had so enjoyed until her untimely death? This was the world Satomi spend how many needle-poke wounds and excruciatingly tight corsets for? Okay...so maybe this was merely the royal stables, but it didn't seem the highlight of glamorous appeal she'd expected. Worse still, after riding slowly alongside her father's carriage for some time he'd finally had her come inside while he sat in front with the driver so she could make the switch. He could barely tolerate her in the most feminine version of riding clothes possible, and would not have her in anything but her finest gown for her proper debut at the castle as Lady Ishihara Satomi of Temeraire, a Viscountess to be.
Dutifully (and silently begrudgingly), Satomi changed in the carriage, brushed out her hair then curved it up in a bun of elegance and class. Those few pesky strands on either side of her face fell out not two minutes before the carriage reached the city gates. So, done up like the lady she could be if she really must, the carriage pulled in, the horses were taken to the stables, and her stallion struggled to not be taken away from her. In the end Satomi announced if a stable boy would be kind enough to show her the way then she would lead Hotaru in.
At the castle of course there was one individual Satomi was dying to see, but protocol demanded she reserve herself. Re-acquaintance would grow at its own accord. For now Lady Satomi was simply a girl in a pretty dress, stroking a grullo horse's nose.