This scene was originally a flashback Berold had while riding to Dhalion. It wasn’t important to the story, so it got cut. I hope you enjoy this peek at Elias’ life before he met Adelaide.
Elias had always declined joining Berold and his maiden friends at the taverns, his excuse being that he was not ready for marriage. However, two years ago, King Basil from the western, warmer country of Neklosa, had visited them and brought along his daughter, Amphelisia. Elias couldn’t escape meeting with her alone.
Berold could still clearly see his friend’s panicked eyes that spring morning when he had told him the news of his meeting with the princess.
“I don’t think speaking with this Princess Amphelisia alone is such a frightening prospect, and she’s sure to be pretty. Even if her name sounds frightening,” Berold said, trying to lighten the mood. “Why do you think they make them so long in Neklosa?”
Elias tossed a pebble over the carpeted grassy cliff into the thrashing sea below. “You wouldn’t think of meeting her as frightening because you speak to women one-on-one nearly every evening. I, however, do not.”
“Which is your own fault.”
The prince rubbed his hair and sighed. This, and the fact that he didn’t tease Berold back, showed the depth of his friend’s anxiety.
Berold placed a hand on Elias’ shoulder. “It will be fine. Just be yourself.”
Elias shook his head and stared gloomily out at the thrashing water.
“Why must you meet with this princess alone in the first place?”
“Her father requested it.”
“And your father?”
Elias patted down a strand of hair that the spring wind had tossed up. “He doesn’t care much either way, but he would like to remain on good terms with Neklosa.”
He looked at Berold, his eyes sky-clear and hands anchor-sharp on Berold’s arm. “Would you go with me to the meeting? Please. It would help keep me calm.”
Berold shook his head. “You make it sound like you’re about to go to war without any weapons. Still, I would love to meet a foreign princess. Are you sure I’ll be able to attend?”
Elias let go of him, probably leaving indentations on Berold’s skin from his squeezing grip. “Thank you, Berold. I owe you.” He glanced back at the brown castle. “I’ll talk to my father and King Basil. I’m sure they will let you attend.”
Berold didn’t know how Elias managed it, but somehow that evening he found himself standing in the castle’s hallway before a wooden door dressed in his finest tunic and trousers.
“Just don’t mention dragons, and you shall be fine,” Berold told his fidgeting friend before opening the door for him.
Princess Amphelisia was very fair and lovely in a silk purple dress, pearls, and long, blonde curls. They all chatted and sipped the cider wine the servant poured for them.
Elias was nice and courteous, pointing the conversation back to Berold or the princess, and how things fared in Neklosa. But after Princess Amphelisia spoke of the new, glorious buildings added to their city, the recent trip she had taken out to sea, and complimented Berold on his many swordsmanship victories on the battlefield and in tournaments, the woman turned her interest on Elias.
“Your father is very nice,” the princess said in a high, sweet voice. “I’m sorry about your mother. What happened to her again?”
Everyone in Klinhun knew something tragic had happened to the queen during Elias’ childhood. But that was all they knew; not even Berold knew the circumstances surrounding his mother’s demise.
Elias stiffened and replied in a tight voice, “She died when I was little.”
The woman apologized, took a sip of wine, and Berold changed the subject before the silence threatened to drown them.
Then somehow—Berold couldn’t remember exactly—the talk shifted to dragons, and he spilled some wine on his green tunic at the unfortunate abrupt change in topic.
“I am so glad that we never had to worry about those foul dragons as you had to here,” the princess said as she straightened her necklace of pearls. “I know some people don’t believe in their existence, but I do. And I’m grateful that your people dealt with them before they migrated to Neklosa or another country and killed more people.”
“There is no evidence that the dragons became evil or even that they fought against the humans.” Elias tightened the grip on his wine-glass, and Berold feared it would shatter.
He elbowed his friend in the side. Many people knew Elias’ strange love for dragons, and this, combined with the strange affection he lavished on the peasants, was the reason why Berold was his only true friend. Even he wondered why he was still the prince’s friend sometimes, as he did at this moment, riding to tell the king unpleasant news.