Princess.... - revised

Artimis followed the group into the great hall and to the display area. He hated crowds since he had been in the seventh grade and won the all school spelling bee. The next day he got beat up on the playground by a ninth grader. She had come in second. Even in character, this smelled like a trap to him. The only part of crowds he liked was how well he was able to blend in and move around. Okay, and he liked their valuables. This was a party and Glenn would probably kill him if he stole anything, so he kept his hands to himself .

His outfit was over the top in his opinion. The dark brown wool pants were nice. They had pockets and loops, but way too many buttons. The shirt was a tan color with puffy sleeves and again more ornate buttons than any person needed. The things that put it over the top was the purple sash with bells in the tassels and the leather shoes that had the toes curl up into a loop with bells. At least his cloak had a hood. If he could take it all in he would have thought he worked for the Keebler Elves. But this was what the merchant class was wearing around the keep. Who ever decided to play Barbie with him had a sick sense of humor.

He stayed near Cyndel as much as he could. She knew court protocol and well, she worshiped a goddess that let you kiss boobs (That had stuck with him, though the rest was lost), and she was dressed to distract. He figured that she would keep him from making any major mistakes or at least throw under a bus that would be entertaining but would probably not get him killed. The gist of his understanding of court politics was this. The people that Glenn was talking to, he could only talk to if spoken to. Princess Abby, was off limits to speak to. She was now of age and there was an entire protocol for getting to talk with her that centered on her father giving permission. Having run off into the woods for a night with his daughter, he figured he was damned already. Then there were the minor nobility, which he could speak to make apologies for inconveniences that he caused. Then there was the high staff of the house hold which was above him. Next came the low staff from town which he could interact with as long as it did not interfere with their tasks. Then came the guild masters, the merchants, the stakeholders. Followed by the ranked serfs, then the pets of the castle, the livestock, and finally him along with the rest of the mass of humanity. He was happy to find that he was above the tanners, who would not be invited to this because they stink and the grave diggers, because they touched the dead.

Artimis raised an eyebrow at Rebecca and the Librarian as they paired off. Later her He heard the exchange with Vader being a father, and Niko reaction to the fact. Zahn and Lucinda were glowing in the spot light. At the first chance he got, he wanted to slide away from the main group into the crowd. He figured that Dalin and Pepperjack probably wanted to do the same thing. They could lift a couple bottles and a platter of food and moved towards a dark corner where he did what people of their status did. They told stories of their crafts, talked about what would be a good thief’s guild governance model, and highly intellectual conversation about the gravitational forces effect on the female forms.

Through it all he kept looking at the princess. The years had been kind to her. No longer was she the overly thin tom boyish maid. She was now a woman and beautiful one at that. As he watched suitors, approach and the ease she dealt with them and dismissed some of them. He watched the change in her body language. It was clear that she wasn’t the girl that he ran off into the woods to throw sticks and pebbles into a stream with. That found him humorous and worldly. She was now a woman of courtly grace and refined taste. When she let a suitor touch her hand, Artimis rose sharply from the group and made his excuse to leave. He needed some air and to clear his thinking. Right now, he was thinking how good it would feel to put a knife in that man’s back or slice his throat while he slept. Yes, it was high crimes and treasonous thinking that way. But such is the thinking of a young man when the hormones washed over brain cells. To make matters worse he grabbed two bottles of the hard rock gut alcohol. As he did he saluted his compatriots and bid them goodnight with a quote from the movie Bagger Vance.

That's right Hardy. You see every drink of liquor you take kills a thousand brain cells. Now that doesn't much matter 'cos we got billions more. And first the sadness cells die so you smile real big. And then the quiet cells go so you just say everything real loud for no reason at all. That'ok, that's ok because the stupid cells go next, so everything you say is real smart. And finally, come the memory cells. These are tough sons of bitches to kill.

He exited intending to go kill as many memory cells as he could or till he could come up with a plan to even talk to her. In his mood the drinking would probably come up with a really smart plan. Finding the druid also trying to escape the inhumanity of the party, he offered to walk her to the gardens to get some fresh air. He grabbed a third bottle from a servant carrying a rack of the good wine.
“We are part of the guests being honored,” was his comment to the servant, knowing that that wine was intended for the head table. He would save that bottle to wash away tomorrows hang over.

He sat in the garden with his back against a tree, looking at the moon and talking with Serenity, mocking the social etiquette and making the bells on his toes jingle. He was through the first bottle and into the second when a servant came and found him and gave him a note.
“My lady, would like a response when you are able,” the servant said.

In his drunken stupor and with an overly dramatic wave of his arm that almost tipped him over, he asked Serenity, “Is it okay for me to them? Everything is a little fuzzy at the moment and I don’t think I can standup let alone read a note at this time. It may be tomorrow.” He put the bottle down as the world was spinning and closed his eyes which made the world spin a little faster.

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