We galloped silently back to Alexandria's castle after a day full of distress and drama. I rejoiced in the silence, listening to the hooves of the horses pounding on the ground rhythmically.
Alexandria had demonstrated this morning what I valued on a woman, compassion and understanding. Her clever and eloquent speech was what brought Lucas and Aislinn back to us and for that I was grateful.
"I do hope Lord Skydance is ignorant of his mishappening," I commented, "or we shall all suffer his wrath."
"Bless you," Nathaniel said, "let us hope not."
Alexandria, Aislinn, and Courtney horses were walking in front of us, talking to themselves and assuring Aislinn that everything will turn out just fine.
"Whatever happens," Lucas' voice broke the silence among us, men. "I will make sure to remain by Aislinn's side, forever."
"You have a noble heart, Lucas," I praised, "its too bad that you weren't born into nobility."
"Yes, Prince Aiden, you are right," Lucas said, "but nothing will ever change my feelings toward Aislinn."
"If there is anything you need, Lucas," I said, "tell me, I have influence and power throughout both kingdoms. I can talk with Lord Skydance if you want me to."
Lucas shook his head, "Prince Aiden, you are far too generous, but I don't want you to exert your influence to benefit me. With what you did during your ball is enough."
I nodded and we continued our journey in silence. The towers of Alexandria's castle were in view now, glorious when contrasted against the clear sky. We entered the royal gardes and the waft of flowers received us. Upon reaching the stairs, Aislinn stopped abruptly and murmured a dreaful word: father.
"Aislinn, what does this means?" Lord Skydance waved a piece of paper above his head in fury, "did plan to escape with that servant without my consent?" He wrapped his hands around Aislinn's wrist and tried to pull her down off her horse. Aislinn resisted, her expression was pained.
"Where did you find that?" Courtney exclaimed indignantly.
Lucas slid off his horse and walked up to Lord Skydance, "please Lord Skydance, it is not her fault, I coaxed her into it."
"Lucas no!" Aislinn shouted, "I accepted to leave father. You smother me, I can't live with the fact that you want to control my entire life. I do love Lucas, please accept us as we are!"
"He is lying to you, Aislinn," Lord Skydance said roughly, "he is no good for you, he will only doom our family. He has nothing to offer to you, unlike other lords and gentlemen from the court. I am sure I can pair you up with a duke, just give me time."
"I can't wait father, during that time I found a friend in Lucas," Aislinn explained, tears streaming down her face, "that friendship grew every day and it bonded into something more, into love."
"Fairytales do not exist!" barked Lord Skydance, "we are going home now."
"Please sir," Lucas said, "I promise to take care of Aislinn, just give me a chance to prove I am worthy of her."
"How?!" Lord Skydance asked sarcastically, with some surprise and contempt in his voice.
"I know how," I said, getting off my horse and positioning myself between Lord Skydance and Lucas. I offered Lucas a sword and took my own. "Prove you are worthy of being a knight in my court." I pulled my sword from its sheath, the blade gleaming beneath the sun.
Lucas looked at me uncertainly, "Prince Aiden, I won't fight you."
"You'll have to," I replied, slashing once. Lord Skydance moved to the side and the rest of them backed away. Lucas reacted fast for he unsheath Nathaniel sword with agility and skill. "I won't go easy on you, sir. Now fend!" I strike him again and again, and he deflected every one of my attacks. His poses were strong and disciplined, and his actions composed and measured, things I valued from a great warrior and knight.
When our swords clashed after several minutes of dueling, I twisted my sword, which in turn forced him to lose control of the hilt. I drove my sword into the ground, making him to let of of the hilt. I motioned my sword to his neck, signaling the end of the duel. Both of us were breathing in heavily, only Nathaniel applauded.
"Now what?" Lord Skydance mocked, "he has lost, he does not deserve to be call a swordsman!"
"Quite the contrary, sir," I said, turning to face him. I took off my black coat and rolled up my bloody sleeve for him to see a faint slash that Lucas had inflicted on my arm. "Lucas has demonstrated he is very skilled, he has the discipline and mastery that surpasses most of my knights and I am willing to name him a knight of my court."
"Prince Aiden, forgive me for having wound you," Lucas explained, a guiltly look on his features, "I knew the blade had cut through something but wasn't sure what it was..."
Alexandria gasped at the sight of blood.
"Nonsense Lucas," I said, "you have earned it. You are in a greater position now on the eyes of Lord Skydance," I turned to Aislinn's father, "it would be really foolish of you not to accept this young man in your family."
That said I left them alone to bandaged myself, in coming in I saw Elizabeth hiding behind the door, a wry smile on her.