While Odael had greeted the dance as an activity to be enjoyed I had dreaded it. Yet I had put on the gown the duke had had his tailor send over (being of the position that all ladies should be finely dressed), allowed the maid he had sent over to brush my hair when she was finished with Odael's ministrations and been dragged along in Arien's and Odael's wake.
At first it had been fine. Arien had been with me until she had been whisked off to dance, and then suddenly the hoardes had descended. There was now a crowd of men jostling for my attention, teacups and plates of food in their hands to tempt me with. I guess I could be considered pretty but I never gave much thought to it. Right now this attention was too much for me. I had tried backing away from them, but with my back pressed against the wall there was nowhere else to go.
"Oh Alexican you must try this dish, it is simply to die for," one prompted, waving his plate about.
"Oh dance with me next Alexican, I must have the honor of your hand," cried another.
"No dance with me. I swear unlike some I won't tread on your toes."
I pressed my hands against the wall, looking for an escape route, any escape route. While I had grown used to our mismatched group of travellers, I was still the same awkwardly shy girl, the same girl with more than a touch of Demophobia from living a sheltered life.
'Help me,' I thought desperately. 'I'd even welcome Valour's help right now if it would get me out of this crowd.'
Suddenly there seemed to be surge in the crowd, as if someone was pushing in. A familiar head appeared, offering his hand. "I believe the lady promised the next dance to me," Valour said loudly, grabbing my hand and pulling me away from my throng of unwanted suitors.
We were soon on the dance floor. "Thanks for that," I said softly, preferring even Valour's company over that crowd.
"Yes well think nothing of it. Something told me that Alexican needed saving again, so here I am," he boasted, before frowning. "My oath girl, you're actually physically shaking."
I nodded, trying to stop my body from shaking. "It was all.... there was too... it's just a little..."
"Crowded for your tastes?" Valour finished off, raising an eyebrow, "and you without that deadly bow of yours?"
"They made me leave it behind," I said bitterly, knowing that it wouldn't be much use in close quarters like these anyways.
"Never mind, you have me," Valour said, his hand slipping down from its position on my back.
Suddenly cold metal pressed against his neck, from where I had slipped a dagger down from the wrist sheaf on that hand. "Unless you wish to lose the hand, I'd suggest you move it," I said, glaring at him. "I am not completely unarmed."
Valour surprised me, by responding with a laugh, and moving his hand back to a respectable position. "Now there's our Alexican. I knew I could bring her back out," he teased.
I merely glared at him. "Relax," he stated. "Hands will stay in their proper positions from now on."
"They better," I muttered.
Valour merely laughed again. "And now shall I tell you of my heroic tales in order to take your mind off the presence of your many suitors?"
"Come now, the situation isn't that desperate that I'd be able to stomach listening," I replied with a grin.
The dance soon ended, and Valour glanced around, eyeing the next of the pretty girls he was to dance with. But before that, he clasped a hand around my arm. "Don't go dashing off Alexican. Those men will follow you wherever you go. No, I'll find one of the other's of our group to leave you with."
"You mean dump me with so you can party?" I asked.
"Well that too," he said, before moving off, dragging me with him. Pretty soon we were standing in front of Jevin.
"Dance with her," he stated simply to Jevin, letting go of my hand.
"Thank you Valour," I called out, before he dashed back. Pausing he turned around.
"You guys really need to start believing I'm the hero I tell you guys I am," he boasted, before finding some pretty girl he could sweet talk.
"Your thanking Valour?" Jevin asked, raising an eyebrow.
I simply nodded in reply. Jevin offered an arm. "Well shall we dance then?"
"Yes," I said, gratefully taking his arm.
"So how are you?" Jevin asked quietly, as we joined the crowd of dancers.
"You mean now, or in relation to what that man thought?" I asked with a frown. "I'm having some trouble accepting that the man who killed my mother, and committed all those other crimes could share any blood with me. It's a little difficult to take in."
Now it was Jevin's turn to frown. "He killed your..." he began, his frown deepening. Shaking his head he continued. "I meant how are you coping with all these people?"
"I want to escape out the nearest door and never come back," I said truthfully. Jevin nodded.
"I thought as much," he said. "Maybe one of the others will leave early and you can accompany them. It wouldn't be safe for you to return to our lodgings on your own."
Odael's laugh suddenly cut through the crowd and I could feel Jevin's grip tightening. "And how are you coping?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
Jevin frowned. "I have no idea what your talking about," he said simply, clearly avoiding glancing in Odael and the Duke's direction. It seemed the Duke had claimed Odael's hand for every dance.
"Very well," I replied. We danced the rest of the dance in silence, Jevin trying desperately to avoid looking in Odael's direction. When the dance ended, he seemed to return to his self.
"Let's find Lace shall we? He can have your next dance," he stated, moving off the dance floor with me following close behind.