homebound. (earinor & akira)

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    • homebound. (earinor & akira)

      per aspera ad astra.
      "His royal highness, the third prince, Cecillianus Ambrose Cornelius of Azenad-Othidor, is reported missing. He was last seen wandering the city walls with his trusted personal guard and royal knight, Sir Edward of Dryden, who's suspected to have abducted his royal highness. Any and all accounts of their suspected whereabouts are to be reported directly to the House of Azenad-Othidor and its royal guards, failure to do so will result in serious punishment. The public is encouraged to return both his royal highness and his loyal servant unscathed and will be rightfully rewarded for doing so."

      Angled letters speak of a story that only holds a droplet of truth, hanging from a wall made of the same old bricks as always - both Cecil and Edward make their way through the crowd, heads covered and faces hidden by simple garments to not give away their identity. If anything, this had been the young princes idea, his thirst for knowledge and the outside world having control over him and leading to put one stupid choice after the other - choices that Edward, almost begrudgingly, has to follow to keep the young prince safe. One thing that Cecil, seemingly, wants to see is what lies beyond the borders of the south, beyond all that he has ever known and thus, he decides to embark on a journey to Thria, far away from the Land of Sand, of scorching heat, of dust - just to see more of what he yearns for.

      Although one might romanticize what lies beyond the border, it's painfully obvious that Thria is no paradise: cold and barren, frigid and frozen, standing in direct opposition to the their home, the country of Ylisse - and yet, blurry lines in form of a tall, endless mountain range seperate them - the two lands that rarely join hands, let alone speak of one another and yet, there seems to be little to no reason why the prince wouldn't want to go there. There's things that are left to be explored, places to be seen and while he walks through the world, head upright and filled with naive thoughts, Edward tags along, seeing some of the world, too - though, it's still a long way until the border and crossing it with just the two of them, doesn't that seem somewhat unwise? Surely, there has to be someone that would be willing to lend those two helpless wanderers a hand ...

      Edward of Dryden = @Earinor || Cecillianus Ambrose Cornelius of Azenad-Othidor = @Akira

      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • Was leaving his family behind really the right way? Cecil wasn't sure, he'd mulled over it for weeks, if not months or even one or two years - he'd wanted to see what lay beyond the vast mountain expense forever, yet, nobody was willing to accomodate him, to take him there - to let him leave the capital. Obviously he had Edward by his side, somebody he trusted, that he could place all of his faith in but no matter what and why, there were many things that factored into a decision like this. On one hand, he wanted to see, to feel, to experience a world he'd not quite gazed upon before, at least not with the same old, tired eyes that seemed so unbefitting of somebody his age. On the other hand, what harm would it do if he left for a while, just to be himself, to escape the grasp of those who - albeit knowingly loved him - were only good for chastising him, holding him back and not letting him actually do what he wanted? A lot, so much in fact that, after just two days of absence, they'd already spun their own story on how all of this was going, why it was going the way it did and why on earth neither of them seemed to be able to rest all too much - of course nobody was on their heels, not just yet and Cecil knew that, he could pinpoint it, even with those big, lost eyes of his whos color was a dead giveaway. Edward had advised him not to raise his head too much if they were to talk to anyone, avoid direct eye contact and for the most part, it had worked. Running away seemed to come with plenty of precautions, didn't it?

      "Eddie!", he suddenly blurted out. They did take someones horses, he'd probably paid a bit too much for them, but walking all day would probably just hurt, not only him but also the poor sap that he - thankfully - got to call his personal guard. Why did he have one? Cecil didn't quite understand, sometimes it felt like having a friend close by, all the time, without having actual access to said friend and yet, he had to admit, said friend had also softened over the years and he definitely couldn't say no to him. "If we find a lake, can we take a break?" They hadn't packed much, except for maybe more than enough money from the royal treasury nobody would ask about because they hadn't done an inventory check on their finances just yet - whatever the case, he could still take a dip in said lake or whatever it would be when he took off his clothes, right? Cecil thought about it for a second, he could take the spring sun for a while and if he got a sunburn, he wouldn't mind that either - he wanted this, he wanted to feel everything that he could experience during this journey, and ... "You could teach me how to swim!" Nobody had, there had been no need to and the few ponds he had had access to were not intended for swimming, yet, he'd always wanted to do something like that - it seemed like the perfect thing to do on a warm summer day and while one might argue they were far from it, spring was already in full bloom. As long as nobody spotted them, they'd be seeing a vast expanse of cold nothingness for a while, at least as some adventure diaries told and Cecil was convinced that going for a dip there would do him no good.
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • What was Edward doing out here? Why did he encourage his highness to go on such a dangerous journey when a few minutes too much in the sun could already hurt him? How would he survive in a cold and frigid land behind the mountains? How would he even bring him to the border? He wondered what the right course of action was. He was nothing more than a servant to the prince, it wasn't his place to spill his secrets, or tie him up to hinder him from leaving, but was it truly the right choice to fancy his ideas and help him flee the capital? Maybe he decided otherwise after a few days or weeks. Maybe the life out here wasn't something he wanted. Eventually there would be no more inns they could stay in, no beds, just the hard ground to sleep on in a tent. It would get cold and uncomfortable, nothing that the young prince knew. There was no fancy food, not much of a plate once they had to hunt for themselves and probably no hot baths. And if the young prince was going to throw around money like he did when h bought those horses, they'd be broke in no time. Edward also didn't want to draw any attention to them, if bandits caught wind of the amount of wealth they got, it would get ugly and not even Edward was able to fight off a whole gang of misfits, not alone.

      When Edward heard his name, or at least what the prince made of it, he looked up, yet he never dared to look directly into his eyes, that was nothing someone like him should do. "Yes, Your Highness?", he asked, and also made sure the prince left the hood on his head. His pale hair was too unique, nobody could see it out here, or they'd be caught in no time. Edward was more lucky, he didn't have any outstanding features, though he did leave behind his armor and changed into something lighter made of leather instead of steel. His sword however was worth a lot and if someone were to take a closer look, they'd see. That was the reason he wore it under a cape as well. "Of course we can take a break.", he answered. If the prince needed to get off the horse, then there was nothing that needed any discussion. Finding a lake wasn't a problem, Edward brought a map and he knw exactly where they were, though he didn't quite know why they had to make a break at a lake specifically. The prince told him soon enough however. "Swim? But Your Highness... the sun is still up, I don't think it is a good idea for you to take off your clothes. And I couldn't take off mine in front of you either!", he answered with an almost pained expression on his face he always seemed to have when the prince had a new idea. He could have just led him astray, somewhere far away from any water, but he also couldn't lie to his highness, which was why he still directed him to another road at the next intersection, one that led past a lake.
    • There it was again. For how long had he known Edward? It had to at least be twelve years and yet, he still addressed him by his title, not his name - it was almost infuriating, but Cecil didn’t want to dwell on it for too long. There was no use in getting mad at someone that was only trying his best and whole he was quite entitled to his own opinion, it almost seemed nonsensical to think that something about their relationship would change - Edward would always keep doing his duty, almost as if loyalty to his prince was all he knew and once he realized that he’d go down with the pale figure, he’d still do it. Many would praise him, for being just like any knight in a picture book - noble, loyal, all those things and yet, Cecil wasn’t even sure if he wanted that. Edward was easily swayed, if only by him and the sole fact proved to him that, no matter what, they were friends - no knight, no matter how loyal, would be so stupid to follow a stubborn prince like him just anywhere! “Eddie.”, he let out, alongside an exasperated sigh - one which could mean many things, but even Cecils hooded face could say a lot.

      “It’s not your Highness, it’s Cecil.”, he insisted, almost as if he were close to a kid moments away from throwing quite the tantrum. In hindsight, maybe he was and he’d always be, but there was so much more to see than just the capital, than the dunes that he could make out - in reality, who knew what it meant to be who he was? Maybe they could sell those dangly earrings or some of the clothes they packed if they needed to - still, a break was everything Cecil really wanted right now, side-eyeing the map that Edward had brought. “What’s that supposed to mean, huh? It’s not like I haven’t seen you in a state of undress before!” And as quickly, he swept his own issues under the rug. His closest aide, trusted friend or whatever one may call Eddie was only concerned about his wellbeing, his safety and his general outlook on life and he knew that a bit of sun was enough to - sometimes - burn him horribly, but he still wanted to experience the world out here, without a safety net or someone to get him to get out of the water after five minutes. At least they were now making their way towards a lake - something that felt like Edward was giving in again and for some reason, that was more than enjoyable. Why? He didn’t know, but it was as if a little kid were presented with a piece of candy it had actually asked for - and that about summed up their relationship, didn’t it? “What are you even afraid of? There’s nothing out here and I’d never judge you for having fun, you know? You always act like the world just consists of black and white!”
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • There it was, his butchered name out of the princes lips and a sigh that made him look like a beaten dog. Edward knew very well that the prince wanted him to call him by his name, but Edward couldn't. He never did before and he didn't want to start, he didn't manage to have it leave his lips and he already toned down and sometimes directed something at the prince directly instead of being as polite as one could be. He only did that when he had mentioned the princes title at least once in his sentence before though. "But your Hi-- ... I could never call you that. It's not right.", he answered. The prince wasn't easy to work for, it has always been like this. He pestered him about it for years now and Edward didn't call him 'Cecil' once, not even when he was younger. He was taught what to do and what not to do and it was hard for him to not take his duty seriously every waking hour. Even now when he already had fallen in the kings grace and the princes father would have him executed should he be able to catch him. That was alright though, from the moment Edward swore his oath to serve the young prince onward, his life belonged to him.

      "Wha...?! When?!", Edward blurted out, his honor being damaged and his thoughts going rampant, thinking of the unthinkable situation the prince could mean, in which he saw his knight undress before him. Edward had little breaks from his duty, but of course he had to sleep, change, or take a bath too sometimes, but not in front of the prince! He always left for his own quarters and even now, outside of the capital he made sure to strictly separate his private life from the princes. Of course Edward helped the young prince with a lot of things a servant would usually do, but that had nothing to do with Edward undressing himself. Thinking about it even made him forget about the sunburn the young prince could get if he swam in a lake and it also mad him not notice, that the prince simply casted that topic aside. "Fun? Your Highness I promise you I won't have fun with my sword not by my side and no one else watching you!", he replied swiftly. He couldn't just leave it at the shore. What if someone attacked them? What if someone tried to hurt the prince? Fun wasn't something he'd ever allow himself, not when he was on duty and he always was on duty nowadays.
    • Cecil wasn’t even so sure if he liked the amount of attention someone would rightfully gift him if they spotted him out in the wild - he was different, so much in fact that someone else would probably marble at him as if he were a porcelain doll. They’d place him on a pedestal, high up so that a simple fall would probably shatter him into a thousand pieces, yet, as long as he sat up there and didn’t move, he was good and out of harms way and nothing would ever happen to him, Eddie would make sure of that. Wasn’t that a boring life to live? Maybe that was why the winds had dragged him out here, faraway from home and with it, it brought one of the few constants in his life. At some point, they’d run out of luxury and if that occurred, maybe he’d finally realize that no matter what he was after, he had to go back home because his own survival, much less that of his aide, wasn’t guaranteed out here. “What’s not right about that? It feels so odd to be addressed by title rather than name, especially by my most trusted friend! Come on Eddie, one small Cecil won’t hurt and you can’t keep addressing me like I’m royalty when we are running away from just that!” And someone would take note of it, be it a bountyhunter or someone else that just eavesdropped on the right people at the wrong time.

      “Well, wouldn’t you like to know?”, he giggled. Cecil really was like a small kid that had found a basket of sweets, hiding them in plain sight and everyone just let him do whatever they wanted because, well, why on earth wouldn’t they? It would make no sense to take something from someone like him - from a child so young, lost and obviously misplaced and yet, was he really any of those things? Maybe the sun was his biggest enemy, but that hadn’t stopped him from sneaking out at night when the moon was bright enough to illuminate even the darkest of forests. “I’ll maybe tell you if you call me by my name!” This was getting tiring, but that didn’t mean that Cecil didn’t have any ideas that he’d be able to convince Edward with something - anything. And there it was again, the same thing that had become synonymous with his endless long name. Why did he even have a title like that? What did he need it for? He’d never be king of anything, definitely not his home and even if he were, what nation would benefit from a doll on the kings throne? “You’re way too stiff! There’s nobody out here and you always say so many silly things to begin with. You’re just fine without your sword … really, Eddie, it’s fine to let you guard down for five minutes and have fun. Actually, if you insist, how about I order you to take a dip with me? Does that work?”
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • "That's just how it is, is it not? I am just a servant, I can't call you my your name, even when running away from home!", Edward insisted and he was flattered. Did the prince truly see him as a friend? His most trusted one at that? Edward didn't deserve that much attention or praise, of course he was here for the prince and of course he did it because he wanted it too, but even though he was of nobility too, he was just a small little insect compared to the kings son. But his words held some truth too. "Well I... what would you say about a different title? To uphold our cover, your Highness? Even though it would be incredibly rude." Maybe he was right an if someone overheard the words your highness, they'd look twice at those who said it. With all the announcement papers everywhere and a promised reward, it was dangerous to blow their cover, that was for sure. But if he just called him a Lord, maybe it would work out? He felt like he had to apologize for the thought alone though, this was not what he was raised to do, but it would help fulfill the princes wishes, right? It wasn't like Edward didn't break any rules for the prince before.

      Edward folded the map again and put it away, they were on the right path to reach a lake later on, even though it wasn't exactly in the direction they were going too. Furthermore they should probably travel off road for a bit, if the prince truly wanted to take a break there, nobody could see him. It would be best for him to leave his hood on for multiple reasons. "Oh, now you're playing with me your Highness...", Edward pointed out, at least he thought he was. Maybe he bluffed and didn't see anything, the more reason for Edward to stay dressed no matter what. "Let my guard down? What if something happend to you! I could never live with that.", he replied with a pleading face, he wouldn't have fun either way. He couldn't, especially not now when they were out in the wild. It was dangerous for the young prince! "Please don't order me to do something like that. If you insist on trying the water, at least let me stand guard. It's about your safety and our belongings. If someone would steal from us, we'd have to turn back to the capital." And Edward would probably lose his head.
    • “You very well can, in fact, there’s plenty of knights that call their liege by their name!” Eddie was just stuck up, but it was nothing that Cecil wasn’t used to by now. It had always been like that, but in the end, what did it matter? He liked it the way it was but it left space for yearning - for wanting more than he got and for obviously realizing that no matter how much of a friend he considered Edward, maybe he didn’t consider him one at all and only realized that it was his duty to be someone that he maybe had never wanted to be. The thought alone was silly, he was worried over nothing and even if Eddie disliked him, he’d eventually at least say it - which was fine, but he’d rather have him call him by his damn name instead of remaining polite for no real reason. However, that was just a fantasy. Nothing tangible, after all. “Or you could call me by my first name and stop being so uptight. That’s no fun, Edibird”, Cecil sneered, almost disapproving of the fact that he was to be referred to as something else at all. His name was fine, it was right there and ripe for the picking and yet, almost as if a phantom of his past would scold him, Edward didn’t take or glance at it.

      “You know, I heard one of your brothers call my sister by her name the other day! Why can’t you do that for me?”, he threw in, like a red herring that Edward was supposed to catch and he knew that he wouldn’t, he’d maybe take a bite and let go. This was how it had always been, but compromising was easy to do if one thought about it for a little bit longer - it was as simple as that, whatever one wanted they’d get if they tried hard enough and in this case, Cecil wanted nothing more than Edwards undivided attention and maybe the fact that he’d finally utter his goddamn name for once. Was it that hard to abandon pride? “What if something happened to me? How often do I get hurt just by being outside and sitting in the sun for fifteen minutes?” He didn’t want to admit it, yet he was grateful for the protection he was offered and for the relative carefree life he was allowed to lead - and Edward did contribute to that in more ways than one. A shame, really, wasn’t it? Maybe he’d have it worse with somebody rowdier by his side, but that was something he’d happily experience, too. “And what do I do if the water is too deep? I can’t exactly swim on my own.” Nobody had ever taught him, had thought that someone that couldn’t stand the sun wouldn’t need to do something like swimming, but there he was, a burden to everyone. Did Cecil care, though? No, there were plenty of things like these he could experience and learn out here, anyway! “Does it still count as playing with you if I tell you where I saw you? I’ll tell you if you call me by my n- … wait, what about a different name? Would that do the trick? I don’t want a title or I’m going to address you as Sir Dryden from now on.”
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • "I don't know about that. I was raised otherwise.", Edward answered and swallowed down a sigh. How often did they have a discussion about the princes title before? Every other week maybe? Though Edward always ended up saying yes at some point, in this case he remained incredibly stubborn. If his father knew he'd call the prince by his actual name, Edward was probably up for a beating, though right now that probably didn't matter anymore. After all word was that he kidnapped the young prince. "I couldn't, your highness. I'm sorry.", Edward answered and when thinking about it, he realized that the prince rarely called Edward by his name either. He always gave im some form of nickname. Well, the prince wanted Edward to use a nickname as well, but either way, he couldn't have it leave his lips, even if he tried, it just didn't work. He was sure that if the king would ask his son to suddenly call him by his first name, he'd not be able to either. It was five years of training as a child and then twelve more years at the princes side, he couldn't just cast all that time aside. His tongue felt almost tangled only by thinking about calling out the princes name.

      "I... that's...", Edward started startled and he quite obviously was a little bit confused until he realized the prince was just playing with him again. Edward knew his siblings and if anyone of them was a black sheep, it was Edward himself. His brothers would never be so impolite and address someone from the royal family by their name, not even when being alone, not even in their thoughts. "Too often and out here it is even more dangerous. We don't know what kind of people lurk around out here. I just want to keep your safe." Not that it did matter much, if the prince was hurt or not didn't matter once they caught Edward, but he also didn't want him to get hurt. He still was loyal towards him, too loyal probably, that was the whole reason they were here in the first place. "We'll find a place where you can stand.", he answered, as if he would let the prince swim somewhere he couldn't touch the ground. Nobody ever told him how to swim, he'd need to keep close to Edward, just in case something happened. The prince however didn't seem to realize all the dangers that lurked out here, away from the castle. "A different name? That would be just as impolite.", the guard answered and swallowed down another sigh, he couldn't sigh in front of the prince. "Your... You calling someone like me by my title? Please, you shouldn't do that." But of course he couldn't tell the prince how to call him. The lake wasn't far ow either and Edward was worried to say the least.
    • “Honor, lineage, whatever. I’m the fourth of four children, do you think I’ll ever be as important as my siblings? Definitely not so drop the formalities already!” He’d end up as someone for sure, maybe his brother would take to pampering him some more but for all he knew, he couldn’t tell and the worst of it was the fact that, no matter how long he’d have Edward by his side, they’d fade into obscurity eventually. Surely, there had to he something else that he could do instead - but just looking odd and out of place didn’t warrant anyone a mention in a history book, let alone did it allow him to not be swallowed by the painfully deep currents of time. Was this existential dread he was experiencing or just some sort of stupid mess he found himself in against his will? “That’s such a you answer. There’s always something I can find to compromise with, yet you can’t even say my name. What would you do if I lay there, on my deathbed and that was my last wish? You’d not deny a dying man his last wish, would you?” He already was dying, dying of curiousity, as he wanted to know more than he ever should. Was his father already sending someone after him or was this all just a painfully elaborate plan at making something up? What even happened to the siblings of a supposed traitor?

      “Preposterous and unbelievable, just like the fact that Sir Dryden won’t call me by my first name or a nickname? I know.”, Cecil chuckled, he was in high spirits for supposedly heading straight for a sunburn that he probably couldn’t bear anyway. When was the last time he had one? Last month? Because he’d wanted to train in the scorching midday sun? Yes, that did sound like him, someone that had a bunch of stupid ideas, all of which culminated in the same stupid results - it did bring him to some weird place where he’d make all ends meet, though. “Well, I’m pale, especially in comparison to my siblings but you know what’s worse? That you won’t stop thinking about all the bad and vile things that could happen … also, I know I’m unsightly but the least you could do is look me in the eyes when we talk!” He knew Edward didn’t mean it and he also knew they were just playing games - he was making fun of this poor guy that seemed to have everything fill his head as fast as it could, that wanted to make the situation livable in the first place because he’d followed a stupid and maybe insane, entitled prince - but Cecil had fun. They both should have it. “And what if I want you to hold my hand to keep me safe?”, he urged. There it was, the slight nod to the side of things he’d want this poor guy to do for him. “Sir Dryden, I insist on doing it until you call me something that isn’t a title. Go on, I’ll accept anything else.”
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • "You are maybe not the crownprince, but that doesn't make you less important, your Highness. From all the people in our country, at the very least it makes you the sixth most important person that lives. You are even more important to your father and he is probably worried sick already, because you are missing.", Edward answered, just dropping the last sentence too, to maybe appell to the prince and make him think about turning back, even if it was probably too late for Edward. The world out here wasn't made for the prince, he got easily hurt and a little cut turned into something much worse in his case. The sun easily burnt his skin and there was probably a lot more that would hurt him, even if they currently didn't think about it. "Besides, I am a third son much as your Highness himself, which makes you rank higher than me in any case." He wouldn't inherit anything, but that was alright, with his duty being by the princes side anyway. "Please don't even think about it. Of course I wouldn't deny you your last wishes, but thankfully you aren't dying.", Edward answered with a sorrow expression on his face, as if the prince was in fact dying. Edward didn't even know what to do with himself if it ever happened.

      "If you call me just that it isn't even clear if you mean me or my brother...", Edward slowly sighed, he wasn't fit to wear this name even, if one just talked about Sir Dryden it wasn't even his oldest brother who people talked about, but their father. "I never meant to give you that impression! I don't think you are unsightly, but it's not my place to look at your face. You know that...", he insisted and didn't raise his gaze, instead he used the opportunity to direct the princes eyes towards the lake that was found behind som bushes to the right. The prince knew all about etiquette, he was just toying with Edward once more, wasn't he? But he tried, he truly did and he refrained from using the princes title in every little sentence. Hopefully he appreciated that. "Hold your hand? I... I suppose I have no choice then.", he mumbled, then got off his horse once he found a good place to lead the horses through to the lake. He took it upon himself to lead the horses through while the prince remained on the saddle. Edward cared for him, maybe too much, but he didn't want him to get any scratches from any branches and was very careful about it and once they were able to see the lake clearly, Edward already assessed the situation and let the horses further away from the road and somewhere they wouldn't be as visible. "I... I suppose I could call you Mylord to not blow our cover, but I'm afraid I can't get any more impolite than that." Once Edward found a suitable more hidden spot along the shore, he let the horses halt and tied them to a tree. Then he offered his assistence for getting the prince off his horse.
    • "Did you study that line? What would you even do if I told you I'm casting aside my heritage and now starting life as a mountain hermit?" Cecil knew that surviving in Thria was, as many things, out of question but maybe he was wrong - maybe his father would never pursue either of them past the border they found themselves at and they get away scot-free from the rest of Ylisse. A dream come true was all it would be, however and to that, he had to admit, whatever he wanted to or not, he'd not feel any better just ebcause he couldn't mull over his supposed importance in more than one persons eyes. "Then let him be worried, he has three more children and he told me as long as I have fun, I'm allowed to do what I want." In fact, nobody dared to even make rules for someone like him - Cecil knew that not everyone fanced his presence, but he liked to be around most people - it only seemed to be quite the bonus when they cared for him, one way or the other and thought they'd gift him many useless things, trinkets from places faraway they never thought Cecil would reach and yet, he'd go further than any of them ever dared to! "Then I'll cast my royal title and right to the throne away and I'll be a peasant, all the way at the bottom. What do you think? Of course I can't employ you, but you can employ me!" Wishful thinking at it's worst, huh? "I'll probably be on my deathbed once I scrape my knee again."

      Overexaggeration at its finest, even if he had to admit that, when he did scrape said knee, it never resulted in anything good. The poke of a needle sufficed and he came to the realization that his body was fragile, like a house of cards scarcely taped together at certain, questionable parts - and the worst of it was that somebody like Edward, that stood next to him and seemed to be fairly normal, wasn't going to let him leave a good impression on anyone for anything. "You're the only Sir Dryden out here and who cares about brothers or fathers anyway!" Lineage wasn't exactly important to him. He loved his family, much like they loved him but he'd also come to admit that, no matter what, just thinking about a few too many things hurt his head more than once and as it all cummulated in feelings, he'd have to pull the cork out of the bottle at some point and choose between what he really thought to be happiness: His own life, the destiny he was making for himself or a safe place where everyone that cared about him knew that he was in good, capable hands. Right now, Cecil wanted to be his own person, as simple as that. "And you won't call me by my name or look me in the face, that's not proper etiquette." For someone like Eddie it sure was, but Cecil disliked it - he wanted this to be a friendship, not something that felt akin to servitude and ownership. Wasn't his paladin a though nut to crack? "See! Nothing to be scared of, I promise my hands aren't ghastly cold either." They weren't, but that might have been because he was wearing gloves in a weather like this, to not burn the skin on those feeble hands either. Wasn't Edward a bit too ... uptight? He didn't even let his prince help him, let alone did he allow Cecil to give him a hand and when he wanted to get off the horse himself, he was offered a hand instead. A slight groan was all he was able to muster as he took what he was offered - this was way too high up - and when he finally found his footing on the ground, he did take off the hood and the gloves almost immediately. "It's nice out here", he concluded, not glancing at the sun directly as he slightly tilted his head up and took in the breeze that he had heard - and felt - by now. "Mylord is fine ... for now, until you can actually muster the courage to call me Cecil!" This would never happen, wouldn't it?
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • "You will always be my prince.", Edward answered with another somewhat pained expression, but it didn't matter to him who he was, or what title he posessed, he swore an oath to protect the prince with his life and that was what he was going to do. The prince casting away his title wouldn't change a bit for Edward. "If that's the case, wouldn't you have been able to simply ask his permission? He would have been able to provide you with a more suitable escort...", Edward asked. He alone could only do so much and dressing your highness wasn't something he was used to among other things. "I swore my oath with your title intact, that is what matters to me. I don't need any payment from you either and I will always call you by title, even if you lose it.", Edward answered and for once looked up the prince, directly in his face for just a moment before he averted his gaze slightly to the left. "You know all that, right?", he asked. If thw prince ever decided he didn't need Edward anymore, what would he even do then? "Please don't talk like that. I will do my best to keep you safe."

      The prince was fragile, not only because he was noble, no. A scratch could bleed for quite some while if not treated with enough pressure and Edward didn't even want to think about a bigger wound and what it would do to the fragile figure in his care. "Let's hope so.", let's hope that he was the only Sir Dryden out here and his brothers weren't sent after him. The oldest of the princes brothers would probably join a hunt like that if he was interested and Edwards brother would of course be by his side. "I... That's what I was taught your... Mylord." It was odd to call him that, but the prince was right, it would be bad if someone overheard them and told some guards they maybe saw the prince. They probably shouldn't stay anywhere for too long, but Edward still helped the prince off his horse for a break. "I couldn't be scared of you Mylord." Once he was safely on the ground, the prince already cast off his hood and gloves. It wasn't only his identity that was protected by all that. Edward stood their and again worried. "It is Mylord.", he agreed and watched his master closely. "Is there any chance to convince you to at least wear my cape when you go into the water? It would save you from the sun and it won't hinder you too much."
    • Would he, though? A prince could lose his name and title, whatever he cast it aside or was cast out of his family and Cecil knew that - not that his father, the king, would. He loved his children, despite seeming like a stern man but he also took whatever he wanted if he had to - cunning, yet brutal was what people oftentimes described him as. “A more suitable escort? Do you really think you’re an escort?”, Cecil giggled. Edward was his friend, not someone he dragged along for protection and by now, he should know that - but he acted stiff and uptight instead, maybe even a bit oblivious and sometimes, even the prince wasn’t sure what to make of it - he didn’t know if it was honestly how Edward was, or if he was the one bluffing this time around. “I don’t need an escort. A knight, a paladin is nice, but … you’re my friend first and foremost, so don’t you dare forget that, will you?” Whenever they talked about topics like these, it seemed as if Edward ended up worried sick for him - could Cecil blame him? Not really, yet he wished their relationship was different, that his aide stopped acting like he was just that to him and not a friend. “Yes, I do.” Well, did he really? He’d be of no use to a knight anyway - he wanted to learn, he could learn so that wasn’t the problem, it was just that his physique wasn’t the best for a job like that. “Eddie, I’m just kidding. And if I scrape my knee it’s not your fault!”

      Who could have known about all of that anyway? Some doctors had just marbled at the fact that, during his childhood, even a scraped knee led to prolonged bleeding and if nobody took care of it, it felt like an eternity until the bloodflow finally stopped. “As if any of my siblings would go after us and string your siblings along … I mean, they wouldn’t, right? Your own siblings would definitely not hunt your down?” Cecil knew them, their faces and their names, but not much about them - he usually saw them in passing, skirting his own siblings and even if he didn’t see them in passing, they didn’t speak much unless asked to. Weren’t they all just like Edward? Loyal to the death, a trait that one would probably die for and others would kill themselves over - who needed these people? “Eddie, if it’s easier than calling me Mylord, just call me by my name or a nickname. That raises less questions, too.”, he insisted once again and started patting some dust and possible dirt from his clothes, now that he stood there. The sun was nice and warm for now, but it would be a bit too nice and too warm soon enough - he was the odd one out, whatever he wanted to admit it or not, his siblings weren’t exactly pale, far from it actually and any and all family portraits had him stick out like a sore thumb, the palest and brightest spot on the entire painting for sure. “You’re not scared of me but scared pf what will happen if you utter my name, that much I can tell!”, Cecil mused - well, Eddie was amusing, wasn’t he? For some reason, he seemed so easy to sway and convince, yet was only firm about so many topics. “Your cape? I can … uh, are you sure I should? I don’t want to get it wet and you’ll need it when you get cold.” Besides, this had been his stupid idea and he was already fumbling with that shirt of his before he’d already taken it off. “How do you fold these things? Can you show me?”
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • "What am I, if not your escort?", Edward asked somewhat confused and maybe a little bit worried. But the prince needed so much more than just a loyal knight, he needed servants, he needed any inn to await his arrival, preferably he had his own cook with him, instead he only had a knight that was barely suited to serve him some tea, or pick his outfit and the inns just had mediocre food and not necessarily what the prince wished for that day. Edward knew how much he liked sweets, but the common folk could barely afford it, so there mostly was none to get in a simple inn. "Friend? I... you're too kind to me."", he answered despite hearing that not for the first time. He didn't know why the prince called him that, he was just of lower nobility, nothing close to the royal family, but he was around him since they were young, so he could understand, kind of. The prince however had many more people around him, every one of which more interesting than Edward. "It is! It means I didnt properly take care of you." Edward made sure they had enough bandages with them, just in case something did happen.

      "I'm afraid they would Mylord. If they were ordered to kill me, they would too.", Edward answered. They were as loyal as him and if the prince had ordered Edward to kill his brothers, he would have done it too. But the prince wasn't someone tht would order anything like that in the first place. "Do you think people would ask questions if Icontinue calling you Mylord? Lords have guards too, wouldn't that at least be fine?", he asked, but he also knew that it was just a matter of time until he had to give in to the princes demands. Although in the case of his title he had never gave in before, not once. "Well I... I just want to do everything the right way.", Edward explained. Was he truly afraid of anything? Not really, but in presence of the prince he wanted to do his very best in every regard. "Please don't worry about me, it is rather warm, I won't get cold.", Edward replied, he really wanted the prince to take his cape instead of getting a sunburn. He was already worried when the pale skin was visible from underneath the princes shirt that he opened up and eventually got out of. "You don't have to bother Mylord, but... yes, if you insist.", Edward nodded, took the shirt, but before he folded it he got a blanket from the saddle bags to lay it out on the ground. He didn't want the princes shirt to get dirty. Then he took it and folded it neatly, while he tried to explain how, even though he wasn't very good at it. "Do you want me to help you with your shoes?"
    • "My friend, obviously!", Cecil blurted out, knowing that Edward was able to take this statement as he wanted - nothing would stop him from having someone like the prince at his knees, in fact, he probably was capable of striking him down in one, swift motion and yet, he swore allegiance to him instead and promised to keep him safe for the rest of eternity or until thy both perished. What would become of him if his loyal servant fought to the death for him, anyway? He'd not be able to imagine it, there had been no need to - Edward wasn't supposed to fight at any warfront, he was supposed to stay right by Cecils side and the chances of him ever going there were even slimmer than him not wanting a piece of cake for dessert. Now that he thought about it, it sounded dreamy and still, he was no little kid, he knew there was no easy way of getting one out here without placing an order weeks in advance at one of the best bakeries in a town they came to - by the time the cake would be done, they'd be long gone. "I'm not, why wouldn't I consider you a friend, Eddie?" Despite that, he still was two years older than him and Cecil wondered if Edward ever grew tired of his charades, of the games he wanted to play or the antics he exhibited in general, even out here, now that they were alone and on their own. "What? Who told you that? You can't exactly take proper care of me if I get myself into some situation, you silly goose!"

      Edibird fit him way better than Eddie, Cecil was sure of that but it also sounded about as ridiculous as it could, didn't it? The sole reason he seemingly gave him nicknames was to keep them both from being bored, as well as the fact that rarely any rational thinking person would probably name their employee in god knew how many different, idiotic names. Why did Edward think he wouldn't like him anyway? He did all one could wish for and definitely more than that, too. "So if I tell you to strike down your brothers, my siblings and the king you would? You know, that just sounds like loyalty can go a long way in the wrong direction." It did, especially when it came to his oldest brother - not that he was corrupt, of ill faith or anything along those lines anyway. In truth, Cecil hated none of them, yet he felt as if some of them had definite way to go about something and it only showed that not all of them were as friendly as they ought to be - to strangers, at least, not their own little brother. "I'm not sure, it's just ... they are looking for us one way or the other, it would be quite suspicious of you to call me by a title, still, right?" Who knew if it was and who cared, people were nosy all the time for no particular reason, but in this case none of that was actually good for anyone. "If you do, you can have my mantle, you know!" Would it even fit him? Cecil was ... pale, small and frail, like a doll and now that he'd took off his shirt and glanced down his upper body, it only became apparent that he'd never had to do anything, ever. "We aren't master and servant on this adventure, we're friends and you're not my maid so I want to be of help, too." Wasn't it ridiculous that he couldn't do any of these things after twenty years of being alive? Embarrassing, from a peasant standpoint, probably. He closely watched Edward, noted how he folded what corner to which one and then nodded in agreement. There was nothing else about this, huh? "Shoes? Eddie, you're my friend, not my maid.", he grumbled in frustration and instead bend down to untie the laces and take them off - he neatly put them aside, but they definitely didn't need to go on a blanket. "What about your shirt? Now I'm shirtless and you're not!", he pouted.
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • Edward never knew what to say when the prince called him his friend. How could someone like him befriend a prince? He understood he was there almost every day of the year since the price was ten and he always tried to play or at least talk with Edward, but that wasn't what Edward was supposed to do. Then again, he was also not supposed to drag the prince out in the world, without telling anybody and adhere to his wishes, yet he did it without much hesitation. It was not only his duty, he truly cared for him, he wanted to see him happy and save. "But I'm still responsible for your wellbeing.", he commented and he knew he couldn't do anything. Life out here wasn't as easy as in the castle, but Edward tried to make it comfortable. "I'm just a knight. There are plenty of people more suitable to be your friend.", he answered, then made an abrupt pause. "Yet I'm trying to be your friend too, if it is what you wish for." A long as it was possible while doing his duty, there was nothing wrong with it and when the prince wanted to make Edward talk, he'd always been able to thus far as well. Now that they were out here alone, with whom else would he talk anyway? Edward couldn't stay as silent anymore. "I should be prepared for any situation.", Edward mumbled. Thus far no one got hurt, he wanted it to stay that way.

      Before answering the princes next question, Edward had to seriously think about it first. He didn't think he'd order him to kill the king, but if they were followed and the prince held onto his idea, yes maybe he had to fight one or two of his brothers. "I believe yo- Mylord wouldn't go as far as to order something like that, but yes, if it is an order I would do it. Of course.", he eventually answered lowering his head a little. He'd protect the prince from anyone that posed a threat anyway, even if it was just because the prince didn't want to go back home. "Aren't many Lords traveling?", Edward asked and then let out another sigh. "I will try to refrain from using any titles then." He nodded and swallowed down yet another on of those. "Thank you my--. Thank you. I am sue I will be fine." With that Edward put away his cape to have it ready for the prince. Actually he already was too exposed to the sun. While Edward didn't want to pressure the prince, he still kept the cape in reach in case he wanted to put it on. "You do enough already. I don't expect any help, friend or no friend.", he made clear and it was true, he didn't mind the work, not at all. "I apologize." With that Edward just stood by while he watched the prince getting out of his shoes himself. "Uh... you still want me to go into the water with you? I'd truly rather stay here and guard our belongings and the horses.", Edward mumbled, but there was nothing he could do, right? Maybe the prince got cold pretty soon anyway? He felt awkward thinking about undressing in front of the prince, that was nothing he should do, but he at least started to losen his leather armor to cast some parts aside.
    • Nobles were nice, he knew that much and he'd even call most of them his friends, but keeping track of their interests as well as all the things they had planned for the future seemed boring. He'd stopped conversing with them an odd while ago, wondering if anyone would even think of missing him when he was nobody important and yet, he'd received countless letters of some of them asking how he was doing, if they were to see him at another event they were attending or if he was the one that - despite all that plagued him - was going to visit them next time. Overall, he had a few people he considered childhood friends - close friends that would most likely follow him into adulthood, were he to stay at home - but that was it, it was a closed circle and he considered Edward to be part of it, the only constant in his life. "Yes, but you're not my mother, are you?", he cooed instead, knowing fully well that his knight was the furthest thing from his mother, yet he seemingly tended to act like her. What was this about anyway? Often enough he'd wondered if he'd eventually find himself with someone or something like a friend for life - not a servant, bound to him by duty - Edward was the perfect blueprint for that, if he stopped being so damn stubborn. "You know more than those people, though! They all rasp about the same boring politics that I don't even care about. Or the weather. What am I, fourty-five!?"

      Would he even live to that age? Probably not if he scraped his knee, yet, that had just been a joke - a scraped knee wasn't exactly enough to kill him, let alone would the bloodflow do much damage. For him to be dizzy, he'd have to hit his head and he'd have to bleed for a few hours, so ... there were things easier than that, right? "You're more than prepared, trust me." Edward always seemed so calm and composed, yet stiff in the presence of those who ranked higher than him and it made Cecil wonder if his upbringing was to blame. He unbuttoned his pants before sliding out of them - he knew how to fold those - and while about anyone would be embarrassed to stand in front of their servant in underwear, Cecil didn't necessarily give a damn about that. "Most likely less since my father started looking for us, I mean, I wouldn't want to be mistaken for a prince and his heinous servant either!", he promptly joked and then looked at Eddie, who was still just fiddling with his armor instead of his shirt. This poor sap had no intend to actually go into the lake they'd found, right? "Eddie, what do I do?", he suddenly asked. Well, he talked all day long, demanded food or a break at a lake and wanted to know five different things at once, yet that didn't feel like doing anything except giving his knight more work to do and more puzzles to resolve. "Yes, and now hurry up. You don't need to guard anything, I don't see anyone out here. If you do, I'll wear your cape. And I don't think you can teach me how to swim while standing guard, soooo ... we have a deal, right? And stop apologizing, there's nothing to apologize for! Geez, Eddie." Edward couldn't afford to let him drown, could he now?
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.
    • "I am certainly not. Yet I want to care for you.", Edward replied. He wanted to, yes that was right. He didn't quite know if he liked the prince, or if he just felt obliged to do all those things because he was around him since a very young age. In the end he wanted to believe that they were somewhat friends, even though he'd never act like much of one probably. However, he too had had fun as a kid, when he was supposed to learn how to fulfill his duty and instead got dragged into a conversation or was fed things not meant for someone like him. The young prince, despite knowing almost nothing about the world out here, had always been caring about Edward, didn't he? He was grateful for that. "I am afraid I am not vey interesting myself. The travels my father took me on are long over and you know every detail already.", he answered. From the time on he was assigned to the prince, he had been by his side. Sure, he had some time soff occasionally and he was allowed to go to town or do something else, but it was nothing interesting. In the end it was the prince sending him on some form of investigational missions.

      "I... hm. I don't fee prepared. Training is all good and well, but... no, you shouldn't worry.", he mumbled, but what was all the training good for, when Edward rarely had a real fight in his life? A fight he could die in. He didn't think he'd be afraid, he also was pretty sure he had the determination to kill someone, the strength too, but he was used to a life out here as much as the prince, namely not at all. When the prince undressed almost fully Edward averted his gaze, not sure what to do. He'd seen the prince undress before, after all since they started their journey he helped him out instead of having it do a servant, but it was still odd. "Of course not.", he then nodded, seemingly not taking the word 'heinous' as a joke, he just accepted that to be another attribute the prince wanted to give him. He didn't even know if he was exceptionally ugly, or pretty, he never truly cared about it. "For starters, please put on the cape...", Edward then asked and stepped forward to pull the fabric around the princes shoulders, then he secured it around his neck. He didn't wait for permission this time, the prince already got exposed to the sun too much. Was it help if the prince actually cared about his wellbeing? Yes very much so. Apparently they had a deal now too, which was why Edward unbuttoned some of the buttons on his shirt, before pulling it over his head and setting it aside. His shoes followed, but he wanted to keep his pants on, otherwise it would just feel weird. He also grabbed another blanket which they could use as a towel for the prince later on. "I'm sorry.", he uttered once more because apparently he apologized too much and then he didn't quite know what to do with the prince who wanted to learn how to swim. Did he really?
    • "You are caring for me already, you don't have to care more for me - I'm just two years younger than you, I should be able to care for myself as well, don't it?", he questioned. This, however, was something that would draw the ire of many - he was a prince, of royal standing and taking care of himself was nothing he needed to be able to do, yet he did and he wondered if anything would change about that. Sure, he was not of much use out here, not when the sun robbed him of his sight or when the slightest, bright gleam was enough to blind him momentarily, he could make himself useful in other ways, at least he hoped that he'd be able to one way or the other. "You're very interesting, in fact, you're one of the few people I know that don't share my social standing, but that isn't even important. You have different stories to tell and don't behave all haughty and like you're better than everyone." Nobles were selfish, Cecil included and they never realized it until they'd be met with their bill for all the ill-fate they'd thrown upon their vassals with their iredeemable actions. He didn't want to end up like that, yet all the chances he might have gotten to be closer to somewhere he wasn't had failed - they'd chased him away and told him he was a prince, he'd have to behave accordingly. "I wouldn't say every detail, I like listening to the stories over and over again!"

      By this point, he'd probably committed some of them to memory and whenever the littlest of details about Edwards tellings changed, he seemed to make note of it, yet didn't call him out on it - stories changed overtime, much like ones perception of them and while something had to be stuck in their heads, not everything was something that stayed with them until the end of time. "I'm not, I can't really worry with someone as capable as you by my side." Edward was capable of many things, mainly defending and assisting thim, but it was stupid to think that he only was good for that - he was a friend of his, he'd never be anything less than that and while he maybe didn't want to realize that and admit it, Cecil was sure that he'd drive a nail like that into his head eventually. "Good thing we aren't the prince and the servant but just two travellers, out to find their ways over the mountains and across the border!" Nobody had ever returned from Thria, or at least not many of them and everyone who did either went back or never spoke of it - it was like two sides of a coin, one regarded the land beyond as paradise, worth living in and the others seemingly saw it as a man-made hell. Cecil, however, didn't mind and he wouldn't even give a damn if he never came back - at least he saw something with his own eyes, right? "Am I really that unsightly?", he teased again upon grabbing some of the capes sides and pulling it over his body, almost like a safety blanket, to not let Eddie see anything, either. Then, however, he watched his knight cast aside his armor, his shirt and his boots and sighed. "If you don't mind wet pants, that's fine ... and see? Nothing to be ashamed of either!" A triumphant smile crawled onto his lips as he inched closer towards the water - he had a stupid idea, but he wasn't even sure how cold it was. "Hm, if I jump in there now, are you going to come after me?"
      Looking back, it maybe is like the toy carts you rode when you were a kid. But those toy carts could never go beyond the walls of the lawn. We want to follow the rugged concrete road beyond the wall. As we've grown, we've decided to leave behind the toy cart.