Okay, so I've redone this story so it's less soapy. Hope you like it!

Disclaimer: Why isn't writing 'Disclaimer' enough?

Prologue

Time: 09:43

Place: Masbolle Capital Market

Dom bought the flowers. The lady had hassled him until he bought the bouquet of forget-me-nots.

How ironic, he thought. His first anniversary with his wife, Lady Knight Keladry of New Hope, was that day, and he was going to be absent for it. Yet, he'd bought a bouquet of her favorite flowers, and wouldn't be able to give them to her. He'd even had a party planned, with Lord Raoul, Buri, Neal, Yuki, Alanna and George in attendance. Crown Prince Roald and Shinkokami were coming later, citing the need to travel at a slower pace because of Shinko's pregnancy.

Then his brother had died, and he'd had to leave the party to Tobe. Dom hadn't had any love for his brother. He'd seen Jeffrey as nothing more than a high-born bully, truth be told. He'd even seen his brother's illness as just a bit justified by his mean spirited ways. But he couldn't be glad for his death. No matter what, blood was blood, and Jeffrey had died young.

Now, Dom, Duke Domitan of Masbolle and New Hope officially, walked through the busy Masbolle Market, in his oldest shirt and breeches and a cloak of undyed wool, and witnessed the poverty his brother had allowed their people to fall into.

The children ran underfoot, too skinny, the sellers in the market sold food at exorbitant prices, the men at arms who were supposed to be policing were acting as bully boys for some of the wealthy traveling merchants.

Jeffrey had left the small for dead in Masbolle. They seemed to need a protector.