As I was contemplating my life crisis, I heard my father's voice. "Little Emilia, what are you thinking about?"
I turned my head and gazed at the man who was carrying me. His amber eyes looked golden under the lights. This is my father.
"Emilia is too quiet, don't you think so, Duke?" A low voice muttered beside father.
It was Sir Rowan who was still in his armor but nevertheless, he looked like he was enjoying the feast. And by his side I saw the Grand Duke sipping from his wine glass, his eyes lowered.
Sir Rowan continued to mumble as I stared at him. "She always seems to be in deep thoughts. Like now, she's looking at me and I feel she's able to understand what I'm saying. Somehow, it makes me uneasy."
Well, I do understand you.
"Sir Rowan, my Emilia has won against you, a knight of the Glarios kingdom is uncomfortable with a little child."
As soon as my father finished, Sir Rowan's expression was ugly, his handsome face no more as he pursed his lips.
Then a loud bang jolted everyone out of their reverie. The door suddenly opened and a voice pierced through the silence.
"We're not late, are we?" Two men strode forward from the entrance, their outfits laced with fur most likely from their hunts. Their height was tall, their built bulky and their ghostly skin coupled with their nonchalant attitude were like a strong breeze, storming their way through the crowd.
The two interrupters stopped when they were in front of the King and Queen of Glarios.
The hall was silent and it was rather deafening to the ears. Until Ethan burped aloud. I suddenly snickered despite myself.
"Glory to Glarios Kingdom! Did I say it right?" The man grinned and his thick reddish beard also moved as it was like a puppet. The two bent their waists and bowed their heads as a sign of respect.
"Jarl Amund Brandr." King Henry replied while Queen Magdalene smiled, bowing her head slightly.
King Henry turned to Crown Prince Alfred and introduced him. "This is my eldest son, Crown Prince Alfred Blois Regnier. This king hopes that Glarios Kingdom and Noria Empire will be amicable in the years to come."
Crown Prince Alfred greeted with such a vibrant tone. "Hail to Noria Empire!" Such enthusiasm. That's a first from him.
The Norian Jarl returned the greeting. "Ahh, so this is Prince Alfred. This is the first time we met face-to-face. Can't say that I saw you though, in the battle three years ago."
A second ensued and it seemed that Prince Alfred was thinking hard what to reply, he was flustered. Fortunately, he answered, "You were in another Sphere, Jarl Amund. I was in the Third Sphere; you were in the First. It's understandable that you didn't see me."
Jarl Amund nodded his head. "You were in the same Sphere as Edward, yes?"
Prince Alfred didn't say anything and only smiled in response.
The man beside Jarl Amund whispered something to him and the conversation took another turn. "This day is for a celebration of life. Excuse me while I go give my greetings to the Redgrave family."
The Norian men broke away from King Henry's group and briskly walked towards us. Prince Alfred's face looked like he had eaten something bad.
Why did this birthday celebration seem to turn into a pot of boiling water? Relationships in high society are very troublesome.
As expected, father also heard everything and beckoned mother to stand beside him, carrying us siblings while waiting for them. Duke Edward greeted Jarl Amund first while Princess Lillian warmly smiled at him.
"Duke Edward! Finally, I get to see the hero's children." I heard Jarl Amund emphasize the word hero as if to imply something. Or was it just my own thoughts?
Jarl Amund looked at us with his brown irises and a faint smile was seen on his lips. His reddish-brown hair was tied into a bun but there were still wisps of wavy strands not kept. Upon seeing him this close, Jarl Amund, I guessed, was around his thirties. Half of his face was covered by his messy beard but I saw that his appearance was stiff and rough although pale.
Nevertheless, it didn't hide his broad shoulders and wide girth. I could sense that he has a robust and raw strength, just by being near him. Moreover, he was taller than my father!
He's a muscly man. Like a bear.
"It is our honor to have you here Jarl Amund." Mother fawned quite graciously. The difference in treating this Norian man amongst the guests was too obvious. Was he that powerful?
"Princess." Jarl Amund acknowledged mother then in an instant, set his eyes upon Ethan who was staring widely at him as if astonished to see the hairy face in front of him. I know what he's thinking.
We're thinking the same thing, brother!
"If I may, can I hold him?" Jarl Amund asked mother, rather quite softly.
The Duchess was a bit taken aback by his words and sudden change in temper. She quickly glanced at the Duke but still gave her permission. Ethan who was still frozen in amazement was swiftly carried over.
Even I was surprised by the gentleness Jarl Amund was showing Ethan. Is he fond of kids?
Ethan Dunne Redgrave though was still more climactic than ever. Just as the crowd was still adjusting from the Jarl's mood swings, Ethan, my brother, did something so daring! He actually pulled the Jarl's beard!
Jarl Amund was not prepared against the sudden attack so his whole head was actually pulled down all the way. And Ethan was still gripping the Jarl's beard. Everyone was so shocked that the Royal Rex Hall was filled with deadly silence.
I saw the Jarl's shoulders shaking up and down and thought he was holding up his anger. Ethan, you're doomed! Goodbye, my brother.
Who would have thought that this Jarl Amund also had a dramatic flair inside of him? He abruptly laughed out loud without a care of the looks the others were giving him. He's roaring like a bear!
His laugh reverberated throughout the hall. Ethan was gaping at him and was struggling to get free but he still did not let go of the Jarl's beard.
"Come, Jarl Runar. We have to present our gift!" Jarl Amund motioned to his companion. With a flick of a second, a whistle was heard. The whistle was long and light as Jarl Runar faced the entrance of the hall.
There was noise coming from the entrance and it seemed that all eyes were focused on that spot. A black and white thing suddenly rushed past the crowd and stopped in front of Jarl Runar. It was a ... dog?
The dog sat in front of us, its blue eyes frosty and its tongue out since it was panting for quick breaths. Its fur was a two-layered coat; a white with greyish markings covering it, especially around the eyes, ears, and tail. The dog was medium in size and looked rather obedient.
Ethan was so excited that he shouted and pulled the Jarl's beard a few times as if signaling to let him get closer to the animal. Jarl Amund obliged and even squatted down beside the dog. I saw the crowd gasp in surprise, and some let out confused murmurs. The quick-witted nobles also knelt down, not allowing their heads to be higher than Jarl Amund.
Jarl Amund carefully let Ethan stand in front of the dog. My dear brother had already forgotten the Jarl's beard and looked at the dog with adoration in his eyes.
"This is a Jämthund. Take care of it well and it should be loyal to you. Jarl Junar is a master at training hunting dogs and especially raised this one."
A hunting dog?! Is it not dangerous?
Ethan's hand was slowly nearing the dog's face and somehow fear rose inside of me that I unconsciously let out a sound. Father seemed to have heard and misinterpreted it as me wanting to get closer so he too, squatted and let me stand beside Ethan.
Me: ( ﾟｰﾟ )
Jarl Amund: ʕ ● ᴥ ●ʔ
I stared at Ethan's hand touching the dog's ear and I could not help but look at the dog's expression. The dog did not appear to be bothered by Ethan's squealing and fondling.
"This dog is a year old, just like you," Jarl Amund spoke while I tried to touch its fur. It's so soft.
The Jarl continued to talk albeit in a different language. I couldn't understand it and neither the crowd surrounding us. Until finally, Jarl Amund said, "This is Alva. She will be a good companion to both of you."
"Jarl Amund, we are very grateful for such a precious gift," Mother intercepted, looking flustered at the sudden events.
The Duke proceeded to carry me which Jarl Amund did the same with Ethan. My dear brother screamed with complaint wanting to pet Alva longer. Jarl Junar then presented a small and delicate ivory whistle to Ethan in which the latter received with great curiosity and joy.
"We welcome you to stay for the twin's baptism ceremony. It'll start in a while," the Duke invited the Norian men. Both Jarls grunted and nodded in reply.
Mother moved closer towards Jarl Amund and took Ethan away. The look at the Jarl's face was gentle as he said goodbye.
"Let us start the ceremony!"
*The picture does not reflect the actual size of each kingdom/empire.*