Caim worked his way out of his tangled sheets and went downstairs for breakfast. His father was there, waiting for him.
"Ah, Caim. I'm glad to see that you're up. Furiae just finished saying that you found your, er, past companion, shall I say."
"Yes, I did." Caim's face lit up as he remembered his time with Angelus.
"I see." Walter laughed. "She must have been beautiful."
"Indeed she was, father. Indeed she was."
"So, is she an aristocrat or of higher standing?"
"Not that I noticed, no. She lives about 15 minutes out of town."
"Ah. That's not that long to travel, then." Walter paused for a moment. "May I ask a favor of you, Caim?"
"Can you take this to Legna Brimo? He's in the Imperial City. It'll take you four hours to get there by carriage, so please hurry. I would do this myself, but I have several important meetings today with the other kings surrounding us."
"Shouldn't I be going with you?"
"This is a more important matter. Besides, there will be plenty of other meetings for you to attend in the future."
"Alright, father." Caim took the package that his father gave him and looked at it for a moment. "Do you want me to say anything to him?"
Walter smiled. "No, he'll know what it means. Give him my best for me."
Caim finished breakfast, bathed quickly, grabbed a few books and went to the carriage that was waiting outside his house. He hopped in and quickly fell asleep. He was awoken by a sudden jolt of the carriage, and slammed his face into the wall. After lying on the floor of the carriage and feeling dazed because of the pain, he eventually found his bearings and got up into the seat again.
"Ow…" he muttered.
"We're here, lord Caim!"
"Ah, thank god," Caim said quietly as he walked out of the carriage. His mouth fell open as he gazed at the immense city before him. Memories of defeating countless enemies here, including the Wyrm, besieged him as he started walking around the streets, trying to find where Legna was. He grew tired of wandering aimlessly around the city and eventually asked someone for directions.
"Ah, Legna Brimo? You mean that corrupt son of a bitch?" Caim flinched and bristled at the man's strong words for Legna. "Yes, he's right over here." The man pointed to Caim's right.
"Thank you," Caim said while bowing.
"You should take over this city. You already know politics and whatnot, you're a strapping young fellow, and you'd make some damn good money living here, too. Who am I to judge, though? Go on, royal, be on your way."
'Royal'? Hmm. Well, I'm just glad that he didn't call me what he called Legna. Caim shuddered while remembering what the man said.
He opened the door to Legna's building and stepped inside. He looked around for a few moments before walking up to a brunette-haired woman with green eyes.
"Hello," he said while placing the package down on the desk. "My name is Caim Hartford—"
"—From Caerleon?" a voice called from somewhere.
"Ah, yes. How did you know?"
"Legna tells us everything, that's why," the woman said while stepping out of the closet that she was in. Caim gasped upon looking at her. The woman's blonde short, neck-length hair and blood red eyes reminded him strongly of Manah. Her outfit, however, was a different matter. Caim found it odd that she had a white long-sleeved shirt, black stockings, a white shawl with black fur and pom-poms hanging off it, long white legwarmers and boots over them on. He also noticed a black headband in the woman's hair, and a pair of pink earrings with crosses in the center of them jingled against her ears as she walked down the stairs to greet Caim.
"Hello. You may call me One. It's nice to meet you, Caim Hartford of Caerleon."
"Hello, One of the Imperial City. It's nice to meet you, too. You have nice earrings."
"Thank you." One's face clouded over as she fingered her earrings gently. "I forgot to mention that this is Four," One said while turning to her sister, who wore a green dress with white lace on the collar of it. She wore a green coat over it. She had a pair of goggles hanging in the middle of her coat, and she had brown gloves on. She waved 'hi' to Caim. Her pigtails swished as she turned away from him.
"Who's here, sis?" a cheerful voice called.
"It's Caim from Caerleon!" One called back.
"Oh, it's prince Caim! I've always wanted to meet him!" The woman came running out of the room where she was, and Caim was a little startled by her appearance. She had matching blue hair and eyes, and her outfit consisted of a blue undergarment adorned with jewels, miniskirt, stockings, and boots with fur sticking out where her knees were. She also had a long blue scarf and blue gloves that went almost to her shoulders.
"Hi, prince Caim! I'm Two! Nice to meet you!" Caim shook Two's hand, and he got the feeling that was a little too cheery for her own good.
"That's Three, over there," Two said while motioning to a girl with shoulder-length purple hair, eyes, and dress. She had boots on that contained two swords, one on each boot, and Caim thought that she looked very strange.
"She's a little out of it, but she's nice once you talk to her," Two whispered into Caim's ear.
"Oh," Caim said quietly. He wasn't sure if he liked these women or not.
"Who's here? Is it a man? If it is, oh, the things we'd do in bed together~!" a sultry voice said. Caim blushed deeply, not used to hearing such lewd talk.
"Um, who said that?" he asked quietly.
"Oh, that's Five." Two winked at Caim. "Don't worry, we'll protect you from her."
Uh, thanks, Caim thought warily as Five stepped into view. She had blonde hair and yellow eyes, and her outfit consisted of a brown long-sleeved shirt with thigh-high brown and gold boots. Caim noticed that very little covered her lower regions and had a much more prominent bust than the other women did, and felt slightly violated as Five looked him up and down. Two moved to the side to allow Five to get a better look at Caim.
"Hmm, you'll do nicely," She said as she descended the small flight of stairs. "I was looking for someone to share a bed with tonight. Are you interested?"
"Uh, as it just so happens, I'm busy tonight. You have my sincere apologies." One looked relieved at Caim's excuse.
"That's alright, sweetheart. I'll just have to find someone else, then." Five moved closer to Caim while giving him a seductive look. Caim could feel his face burn as she leaned in and whispered in his ear, "I've always wanted to share a bed with a royal. If you're good enough, I might just keep you~!"
"That's enough, Five!" One said coldly while glaring at her sister.
Five sighed. "Okay," she said while putting a hand on Caim's butt and squeezing it hard. Caim jumped, blushed so hard that Four swore that One's eyes looked pale compared to the color of his cheeks, and made a strangled "uh!". Caim turned around, trying to hide his embarrassment from the rest of the women.
I thought Two said she'd protect me from her! Caim sighed quietly and turned around a few minutes later.
Four motioned to Caim to come over. He did so, and heard Four whisper into his ear, "Please don't mention One's earrings to her face. They were a gift from her twin brother before he died. It wasn't that long ago, so she's still hurting over it."
"I'm sorry. I'll try not to be so insensitive next time."
Four smiled. "It's okay, and thank you."
"Ah, what have I been hearing you ladies chatter about for the past few minutes?" Strong footsteps echoed down the hallway.
"Ah, Legna, you're here." One said while turning to face a white-skinned, black-haired man with red eyes.
"Yes, I am," Legna said as he descended the small flight of stairs.
"Hello, Legna Brimo," Caim said while bowing. Legna laughed.
"You royals and your formalities…" he muttered while waiting for Caim to finish bowing. "There's no need to do that here. Consider me your friend." Legna smiled, and Caim felt uneasy.
"He gave you a package from his father, sir," Four said to Legna.
"Very well, then. Leave it there, Four. I wish to speak to Caim alone for a moment."
"Okay," Four nodded and returned to her accounting book.
I don't like this, he thought as Legna led him to the conference room.
"So, Caim, have a seat," Legna said while sitting down at a small wooden table across from Caim. "I hear that you're searching for a princess's hand in marriage, am I wrong?"
"No, you're not."
"Good. It's come to my attention that you've found a commoner."
Caim was taken aback. "Yes, I have, but I just met her yesterday, so it's too early to tell if it will go anywhere."
"I see. What a shame." Legna said. "I met her the other day. She's beautiful."
Caim smiled, seemingly involuntarily. "Yes, she is."
"Angelus is her name, right?"
"Yes, it is." Caim felt his face flush a little while remembering how Angelus looked in her dress. I wonder what she's doing.
"Ah, you're glowing. I see that you've taken a liking to her already. However, there is the matter of your social standing. What will you do, Caim?"
"I'm not sure."
Legna sighed. "I honestly don't see the point in chasing women."
Caim gasped. "How can you say that? Have you ever had a significant other or important woman in your life?"
"Yes, and she was horrible. I swore off women after that."
"See, that's your problem. All women are different. You just have to give them a chance."
Legna laughed. "I've heard rumors about Caerleon's headstrong, spirited, and opinionated prince, and what you just said proves them to be true. Your father's done a fine job of grooming you, son. Tell me, how long is it before your father decides to step down?"
"I don't know," Caim said truthfully.
"Mmh. That's your problem—you're taking too long to find a princess."
Caim bit back a retort. Legna was starting to fry his nerves. He breathed deeply in order to steady himself.
Just then, One announced, "Legna, you have a visitor!"
"Show him in," Legna called back. "You may go now, Caim. I just wanted to have a little talk with you, that's all."
"Thank you for having me here, Legna," Caim said, fighting the urge to deck Legna for what he said. Caim bid farewell to One, Two, Three, Four, and Five and decided against saying hello to Nowe, who looked like he could strike at any moment. Caim left Legna's building feeling like he had just met an enemy. He had lunch and noted that it was 2:00.
Caim slept on the carriage ride home and dreamed of Angelus laughing and smiling at him. Caim awoke with the urge to see her again, so he ate dinner and traveled to the city, where he walked around, hoping to meet Angelus again.
He was staring at bouquet of flowers when he heard a voice behind him and jumped.
"Hello there, stranger. How are you?" He turned to see Angelus looking at him and smiling. Caim's heart jumped and skipped a few beats as he took in her beauty. She wore a pink ankle-length dress with brown boots and coat on over it. The dress fit her in the torso and became loose from the waist down.
"Hi," he said while laughing.
"I'm sorry. It seems that I have a terrible habit of scaring people."
"It's alright," Caim said while running a hand through his hair. He started sweating and feeling nervous.
Angelus looked at the flowers and asked coyly, "Were you going to buy those for me?"
Caim was caught off guard. "Uh…"
She laughed, flipping her hair from her shoulder with her left hand. "It's alright. I'm in a playful mood today. So, what brings you here?"
"Ah, I just wanted to get out of the castle for a few. I was sitting in a carriage for eight hours today, so…"
"Ah, well, that's not very pleasant!"
"No, it's not," Caim laughed.
"I'm thinking of opening my own floral shop once my house is built. I am tired of living with my mother, since I've been doing it over the past few years." Angelus trailed off.
"Ah, I see. Well, there are houses for sale close to the castle."
"Yes. It's not cheap, but they'll serve you well."
"Can I see them?"
"Sure! Follow me." Caim led the way to a few vacant houses around the castle, and Angelus oohed and aahed at every one of them.
"I could never afford this one," She said sadly while staring at the house that she wanted the most.
Hmmm… Caim thought. Since I have nothing better to do with my money…
Angelus then met the landowner who was selling the houses. Caim got a bit jealous when he started flirting with Angelus. Angelus, to Caim's surprise, started bartering the house's price, and finally got it down to an attainable level.
"It'll be a stretch, but if I sell a few more flower bouquets a month, then I can most likely afford it by the end of the year," she said as they headed back towards the marketplace.
"Mmh. Actually, I need bouquets of flowers for my sister's wedding, which will be in a few months. That would help, wouldn't it?"
"Yes, it would. You have a sister, Caim?"
"Yes. She's five years younger than me. I couldn't ask for a better sibling." Caim continued gushing about Furiae as he and Angelus continued walking.
"Say, what's your favorite fruit?" he asked her as they approached a fruit vendor.
"Hmm… I'd say apples."
"Ah. May I ask why?"
Angelus laughed. "Why, it's because they're in apple pie!"
Caim laughed. "You like them because they're in a dessert?!"
"Yes. It's my favorite one, in fact."
Caim continued laughing for a few minutes before settling down. He bought Angelus an apple. "For your pie later!" he said while winking at her. She began to laugh, too, and he started laughing again.
"It's a bit silly, isn't it?" she asked when they had both calmed down.
"Yes, a little," Caim said. "Where do you sell flowers from?"
"My mother's house," Angelus sighed. "I wish I had my own store, though."
"So that's why you were looking at vacant places."
"Yes. Perhaps I could run it out of my house one day."
"Mmh. That would make things more convenient."
"Definitely." She smiled and looked at Caim through her bangs. "So, what's in your future, prince Caim?" Angelus asked, using a playful tone of voice.
"Oh, boring books, meetings, and whatnot. It would help if I had a beautiful, smart woman such as yourself there beside me, though."
"Oh? Would it now?"
"Yes, it would. Well, I find you interesting to talk to. Is that so bad?"
"No, not at all." Angelus started twirling her hair around her pointer finger slowly. Caim felt a spark. Time passed quickly, and the spark between Caim and Angelus grew.
"I'm sorry," Caim said apologetically. "I've had a long day, and my mind aches. I'd love to talk to you soon."
"So would I," Angelus said. They bid each other good night after Caim walked Angelus to her carriage. His heart sank a little as he walked home and when he opened the door, it fell straight down into his stomach.
He was staring right at his ex-girlfriend of four years, Matilda Platt.