Dinner was uneventful, for the most part. Out of the entire evening, the only thing that could be considered odd was the fact that the King, who sat at the head of the table, could not keep his eyes off of his second youngest grandchild. The look he gave her was one a man would give to his sworn enemy that he was forced to socialize with, though the child remained oblivious to it all. Aware of the King’s extreme abhorrence to his granddaughter, the other royals did their very best to appease their King so as not to start a fight.
Not long after dinner, as all of the children were put to bed and peace settled over the palace, the King paced in his study. He mumbled to himself as he moved restlessly back and forth before the large fireplace, the sound of his heavy footsteps mixing with the gentle crackling of the flames. The soft click of the door opening was enough to silence the muttering King, and the familiar gait of the Queen caused him to finally stop all movement, his eyes focused on her figure as she entered.
“My love, it is late…” she spoke while entering, gently closing the door behind her. “Remember what the healer said; that you should be resting more than you have been recently.”
“I know, my dear,” he sighed softly, turning from the fireplace and fully facing her. His tired expression shifted to a strained smile that did not reach his eyes. “But first, I must finish it.”
“Finish what, might I ask?” She asked as she walked up to him, a calm and curious expression decorating her features.
He turned away again with a grim chuckle, the aura that now emanated around him shifting to a much darker tone. As he gazed into the flickering flames, the Queen’s complexion shifted to a more worried one, her nerves now on edge as she studied her beloved.
“Do you recall the prophecy about the most powerful element that could ever be born in Evergreen?” His question broke the heavy silence that had settled as he turned his attention back to look at her.
She quickly masked her emotions as she saw him shifting in her direction, retaining the neutrally loving expression she wore when she had originally entered. “What about it, though? It’s a rather old legend that was prevalent to the Black Knight and the Dragon Lord,” she casually remarked, keeping her gaze on him as he moved away from the fireplace towards the book stand in the far corner of the room, where an open book lie atop it. She began to move closer as he stood in front of the tome. The sound of him briskly flipping through the pages alerted her to the fact that his expression and demeanor had both changed.
“Here it is!” He exclaimed, slamming his hand on the page he had been searching for accompanied by a dark chuckle. “Would you like me to read it to you?” He queried, his eyes glinting dangerously.
“O-of course!” She blurted out with a start, trying to regain her composure from his sudden outburst.
His expression shifted to one of confusion and concern at her sudden change in tone, as she had never used it before.
“What is the matter, my dear? Are you unwell?”
“Forgive me, dearest. You simply startled me… I was not expecting such a drastic action…”
He blinked in surprise, his expression turning apologetic. “Then I should be the one asking forgiveness. I did not mean for such an action to shock you.” Glancing briefly at the book, he continued to speak in a softer tone. “Would you like me to continue then?” Upon seeing her nod of confirmation, he returned his full attention to the open tome before him and began reading the selected passage.