Closing the door behind him, Alceren sighed, glad to see the back of Rupert for a short while. Turning to face Alyxandra, he found that she had sat down. He contemplated sitting down beside her, but felt that his actions would be speak for themselves. Saying nothing, he placed his fingertips at the base of his hood and, while Alyxandra looked on attentively, he carefully untied the fasteners that kept it steady, and slipped it off, the connected cloak following suit, piling in a heap upon the floor. Alyxandra could do nothing but gasp.
For the first time, Alyxandra was able to see Alceren’s face in its entirety - she marked the rugged masculinity in his shoulder-length, dirty blond hair, those same strands framing his face. His jaw was defined, as was his nose; it did not protrude very far from his face, but was prominent, powerful. His lips, the colour of bruises, but not appearing as such; they were almost perpetually serious and still. And his eyes, the defining feature, their lightness of colour softening his face. His ears were of usual male size, wider than Alyxandra’s and meeting at a point further back upon his head. As Alyxandra took all of this in, half admiring, half shuddering at his striking looks.
Yet, this was not the main cause of her gasping. Encircling his wide forehead, and becoming invisible as it disappeared behind his hair, was a bright golden circlet, a cardinal ruby between his eyebrows, engraved, and filled with yet more gold. The shape was indisputable; a dove flying from a bloodied hand. Alyxandra’s gasp was made in realisation of the elf before her, and she found herself standing, approaching him, and performing a deep, respectful curtsey.
Before her stood Alceren Teladorian, seventh in line to the throne of Yalandir.
Alyxandra stepped back, and knelt before him, one knee bent in submission while the other kept her balanced. Taking a deep breath, she dared to look up into his face, studying his mystifying eyes once more, as she searched her mind for a suitable title. Her cheeks flushed as she recalled fragments almost from a previous life, a life untouched by royal presence.
I have... struck a member of the royal family across the face...
“I take it that, by your stunned silence and laboured bowing, that you know who I am?” Alceren asked hopefully. All Alyxandra could do was nod. As she searched for a way to end her silence, she heard herself say,
“What punishment does... striking royalty entail, my lord?” Alceren laughed, bemused at how such a question could be her first. He beckoned for her to rise, directing her to the same seat as she had used previously. As she sat down, Alceren soon finding a seat next to her, a glimmer of understanding grew evident in her eyes. “I think I know why you hide your face, my lord” Alceren turned, awaiting her response, as he sat in his usual informal way. “You are afraid that you will be withdrawn from any dangerous situations if your commanders discover your identity.” Alceren smiled.
“You have read me well, for you are correct in every sense.” It was Alyxandra’s turn to smile.
“I think I am... beginning to understand you a little better, my lord.” Alceren’s voice quietened a little as he replied, “And I you. I feel that we have been able to share the same level of being in meeting here, and I hope that your new knowledge will not change the way you view me. I ask only one thing of you.”
“And what is that, my lord?”
“Please, call me Alceren - I cannot bear such formalities all the time - I too must find time to be.” Alyxandra nodded.
“I understand... Alceren,” Alyxandra said, his forming name seeming a little awkward now, although she was sure that she would eventually become accustomed to this truth. At this, Alceren stood, and made his way to the door, before turning to Alyxandra and asking her to follow him. “Yes, my lo-,” she began, then, realising her slip, continued, “Alceren.” He smiled at this, appreciating her efforts to adjust, before opening the door to The Overfilled Flagon proper, when they were met with the reddened, guilty face of Rupert. Alceren adopted a serious expression, uttering three firm words.
“Don’t - you - dare.” This seemed to be enough; Rupert’s eyes bulged a little in fear, when he pursed his lips, replying with the words,
“More wine, perhaps?”