In the following weeks Lillian, Vincent and Prince Winston continue to pursue their own agendas. As Lillian continues to plan a visit to Gordowe she plans for her and Prince Winston to tour the kingdom after the fast approaching coronation and wedding. Prince Winston prepares to begin the transition of the kingdom’s currency as Sir Daniel completes the construction of the printing presses; completing five. Prince Winston puts together a number of convoys to travel to certain key towns or villages for people to go exchange their gold for the new currency in accordance to the newly set value of an ounce of gold. A standard that becomes increasingly powerful as more gold comes under the crown’s control.
The prince also plans for the lords to comply though not without facing them. Lead by Lord Argon they attempt to stop Prince Winston, but fail to get him to concede. Prince Winston then counters by placing loyal spies in the mansions. Taking advantage of Vincent being in the field he orders him to visit the lord’s mansions and convince certain persons to secretly work for the crown and report any misconduct. The prince then goes on to make it law that all workers must be paid for their labor. He even sets a minimum pay.
While carrying out Prince Winston’s orders Vincent collects data on bandits and other criminal activity in the parts of the kingdom he visits. He also keeps in contact with Sir John on the activities at Crotella tower and later Sir Rollrick when he returns to the tower.
This results in Vincent, Prince Winston, Sir Rollrick and Sir John thinking of a new form of communication that didn’t include human messengers. Instead they begin using trained messenger pigeons. Prince Winston had given land to the order to build an academy where recruits will be trained and financial resource to pay knights using the new currency.
On his way back to the tower to archive his findings Vincent decides to finish his travel at Gordowe. While on his way he receives a letter from Crotella tower telling him that Lady Lillian is on her way to Gordowe as well and that he is to be her guide there. He sighs. Though he would be happy to see Lillian he couldn’t help but think how he wasn’t even back to headquarters yet and was given an assignment already. After stopping by a part of the river Simon for a rest he sets out for the remainder of the way to his hometown.
He arrives a day later to find that Lady Lillian has not arrived yet. Exiting the home of one of the town’s leaders Vincent chooses to take this opportunity to visit the orphanage. He brightens up at the thought of seeing his home and those he partly grew up with again. As Vincent nears the orphanage, located a stone throw from the church, he notices the town has recovered quite well from its previous bandit occupation.
The people are once again happy and going about their daily lives in bliss. Businesses are up and running while children play in the streets. Vincent can’t help but smile to himself at what he sees. By the time he reaches the orphanage Vincent is full of energy. If he had never left Vincent would still be living here though he would be finishing an apprenticeship by now after learning a craft.
He walks to the door and knocks. A girl answers with hazel eyes and long black hair that reaches to the middle of her back. She is Vincent’s age and upon seeing him allows a big, bright smile to quickly come on her face.
“Vincent!”, she calls as she takes him into a hug that nearly knocks them both over.
“Hey! Hey!”, Vincent laughs with surprise as he steadies them both.
“You’re here! My goodness you should have warned us!”, the girl goes on excitedly. Vincent chuckles as he looks at her.
“I guess it slipped my mind, Selena.”, he replies.
“Well you’re here now. Come in. Come in.”, Selena says practically pulling him inside. Everyone else inside looks in their direction as they enter. Their faces automatically glow with happiness as they see who it is.
“Hey look it’s Vincent!”
The room explodes with welcomes and greetings as more people fill the room. Soon Vincent is swamped in hugs and handshakes. It is only when Mother Margaret and a few other sisters come do he find relief although they be sure to get their own hugs and greetings in.
“What are you doing here dear boy?”, Mother Margaret asks Vincent happily coming out of a hug.
“I was out traveling on business for some time and decided to end my journey here.”, Vincent tells them. “I also have to be Lady Lillian’s guide when she comes to Gordowe tomorrow.”, he adds.
“Well we are glad you stopped by to see us.”, Mother Margaret replies. She turns around to everyone else. “Alright, everyone back to what you were doing.”, she says walking off.
As everyone does as they are told some exchange some last words with Vincent before going off. Vincent turns to Selena, who was careful not to leave his side.
“Are you leaving?”, he asks. Selena turns her head to him.
“No.”, she says shaking her head. “I got nothing.”
“Want to come with me as I go checkout the town?”, Vincent asks her innocently.
“Sure.”, Selena follows Vincent outside as they prepare to walk around town.
Vincent and Selena enjoy their walk together around the town. Although it takes time for them to become adjusted to being interrupted every few sentences by someone wanting to speak to Vincent. It’s only when they are on their way to the marketplace that they’re able to talk without interruption.
“So what’s been going on?”, Vincent asks.
“Nothing really. I’ve been helping out more around the orphanage. Most of everyone else around our age are just getting out of their apprenticeships good now.”, Selena tells him turning her head. “You remember Charlie?”
“Yeah, I remember him?”
“Well he even became Sir Marvin’s apprentice.”, Selena informs him. Vincent eyes widen. Charlie had always struggled Vincent remembers. If anyone explained anything to him they would have to do it thoroughly and slowly for him to get it. Even so Vincent was always good to him and looked out for him.
“That’s great for him!”, Vincent replies happily. Selena nods in agreement.
“Well not all of us can be so naturally gifted at something that we become masters at it at such a young age, but we still make it.”, she comments. Vincent is taken back by it and a look of hurt comes into his eyes. Selena quickly notices and regrets what she says.
“Oh!, I...didn’t mean for that to sound ill willed. It’s just….um...you’ve done so much already. Um...sorry.”, Selena scrambles to recover from her words. Vincent smiles understandably.
“It’s okay.”, he says simply. Selena smiles and takes Vincent’s hand as they enter the market.
Vincent truly did understand. As far as he knew no one had ever done what he did before. He knew for certain he was the youngest knight ever known and the level of skills he possessed were only known to be found in royal families. Even he couldn’t explain it.
Vincent awakes the next day bright and early. He slept at the orphanage with his former roommates even instead of in a room at the church. He looks around at everyone still sleeping soundly. Almost soundly that is, as the snores of Charlie and Benjamin fill the room. Vincent remembers how he laughed to himself last night at how he already knew a Benjamin before moving to the capital.
Turning to the window Vincent sees its cloudy outside and a medium to light rain is falling. He thinks to himself how Lillian might not like that and she might not be too keen on getting around town today. Nonetheless he would need to meet her. Getting ready he adds a hooded cloak to his ensemble and heads out without disturbing anyone.
By the time Vincent reaches the southern gates it isn’t long before Lillian’s entourage arrives. He adjusts his hood to show his face before meeting first the guards then Lillian. She exits the carriage wearing her own cloak.
“Hi, Vincent. Nice to see you again.”, she greets him.
“Nice to see you, my lady.”, Vincent greets her with a respectable bow from his horse. “I will be your guide while you are here in Gordowe.”, he goes on to inform her.
“Of course. It was Prince Winston’s idea actually. I thought you were still on your own journey.”, Lady Lillian replies.
“I was on my way to Crotella tower when I got the news. I just arrived yesterday.”, Vincent informs her. “Come on let’s get somewhere more suitable. You can rest a little before conducting your business. The town’s leaders will meet with you soon and a dinner with them will be prepared.”, at Vincent’s words Lady Lillian climbs back into her carriage. As she does so Malinda turns to see Vincent at the door way.
“Hello Vincent. Nice to see you again.”, Malinda greets him.
“Hi, Malinda. How are you?”
“Good, thank you. Yourself?”
“I’m well thank you.”, Vincent replies. As Vincent and Malinda’s exchange of words come to an end he follows beside the carriage into town.
“If you would, can you tell them I would like to meet them whenever they are ready? I don’t really need rest.”, Lady Lillian asks as they ride into town.
“Yes, my lady.”
The town leaders meet with Lady Lillian right after Vincent informs them of her arrival. Vincent stands in on the meeting as one of Lady Lillian’s guards. He finds that Lady Lillian’s visit is due to wanting to check up on the town and showing her support for its recovery. After the meeting Vincent gives Lady Lillian a tour of Gordowe even stopping by Sir Marvin’s bakery.
Vincent is surprised to see that the bakery had gotten bigger and isn’t sure if this happened before or after the bandit occupation. He is able to convince Lady Lillian to try a fruit filled pastry. Vincent wants to believe he is making Lady Lillian’s trip an enjoyable one, but even though she doesn’t complain and stated she enjoyed her fruity dessert he couldn’t help, but sense her longing to distance herself from something. Vincent decides to ask Malinda while Lady Lillian is eating in the carriage.
“Is there something wrong with Lady Lillian?”, he asks.
Malinda sighs. “I’m not sure... She’s pushed me away recently, honestly.”, Vincent’s eyes widen in surprise.
“Why? I thought you two were close.”
“We are, but...she is going through a bit.”, Vincent becomes curious at Malinda’s words.
“I’ll talk to her.”, Vincent says in a matter of fact tone. A look of unsureness appears on Malinda’s face as well as concern.
It is only when they return to the church, which is where nobles and the royal family resided when visiting towns, that Vincent gets the opportunity to ask Lady Lillian what is wrong.
“You seem disturbed by something. May I ask what’s wrong?”, he says to her. Lady Lillian looks to Vincent where she sat in her room. She looks hesitate at first, but it quickly fades.
“It’s nothing. It’s just we both been busy for a while, huh?”, Vincent looks curiously at Lady Lillian. The first part of her response was obviously a lie, but he decides to play along if it meant finding out what was wrong with her.
“Yes, we’ve definitely been doing our part to help Prince Winston.”, he replies.
“Hmm, I heard you are the one who initiated the reform among the Order of the Knights. There is even a process for them to start receiving pay.”, she replies. Vincent shifts his weight.
“Right.”, Vincent says simply.
“Prince Winston’s been telling me about it. He lets me in more now.”, Lady Lillian says turning her head forward; looking up to something only she could see. She rest her hands on her bed in a relaxing manner. “I even got to plan for the Order of the Lords arrival. With the queen’s help of course.”
“I’m glad to hear it. I told Prince Winston you would be there for him too if he let you.”, at Vincent’s words a smirk appears on Lillian’s face. Vincent can’t help but feel uneasy. Something just isn’t right.
“Hmm...so even when it comes to me it still took you and your say for him to let me in.”, the smile on Lady Lillian’s face fade and is replaced by irritation. “He takes your word into so much account. He values you so much.”, Lady Lillian bites her lip. “Even when you’re away you are still closer to him than me.”
“What are you talking about, Lady Lillian.”, Vincent questions her bewildered.
“You’re more important to Prince Winston than I am. You don’t have to try to be included in his thoughts. You are always there. There hasn’t been anyone to care for me so dedicatedly since my parents and brother died.”
“Prince Winston cares for you. So does Malinda and believe it or not I care about you too. Not just because you’re the soon to be queen, but because your a friend. Prince Winston needs both of us, trust me.”, Vincent counters intensely; finding Lady Lillian’s thoughts strange.
“Yes, but what I have now I have because of Prince Winston, but how am I supposed to be sure it will stay that way if Prince Winston’s heart isn’t mine.”, Lady Lillian replies; her voice rising.
“Forgive me Lady Lillian, but you just sound insecure about your position and your life in general.”, Vincent says walking up to her. “Look, you are the queen to be. Prince Winston...he loves you okay. You hold a place in his heart that no one else can hold. I’m sure of it.”, Vincent seeks to assure her.
They both are silent for a moment. Vincent remembers how he is the one that persuaded Prince Winston to take Lady Lillian as his fiancé though that would be the last thing he tells her right now. He still admits that he honestly can’t be sure if Prince Winston truly loved her, but it is obvious Lady Lillian is traumatized and needs to be assured. So whether Prince Winston loved her or not will have to be put aside for right now.
“You must understand though where I coming from.”, Lady Lillian says finally bringing Vincent’s mind back. “I lost everything including people that loved me and I loved. I really didn’t know if I would get that back. So...”
“So when you found Prince Winston’s love you clung onto it.”, Vincent finishes her sentence. She nods in agreement. Vincent seats beside her and places his arm around her comfortingly. Though he is fully aware it is wrong.
“Don’t look at me as your enemy. I’m as opposite as that as I can be.”, he says to her. “Prince Winston and I are both here for you. Just as I am sure Malinda is for you.”, Lady Lillian looks at Vincent.
“Thank you. I’m sorry. You are right. You’re not my enemy.”, she says turning her head. “That would be Lord Argon.”
“Lord Argon...?”, Vincent questions surprisingly. “How is he your enemy?”
“He is the one responsible for my family’s death. He hired the bandits that killed them and burned my home.”, Lady Lillian answers through tears. Vincent’s eyes widen.
“How do you know that? Why haven’t you said anything?”
“I just found out; though I always suspected it. I became certain when I got confirmation from the former bandit leader Kaba.”, Lady Lillian informs him through tears. Using his other hand Vincent wipes her tears away.
“Kaba...? How…?”, Vincent trails off as he starts to workout the information in his head.
Kaba was the leader of the mega group of bandits that occupied Gordowe and the northeastern part of the kingdom. If Lord Argon did hire them that would mean that those individuals would have to have been a splitter group. That would also explain how they were able to do what they did if they were getting funded by a lord.
“It’s true. I got the information myself from him.”, Lady Lillian says as if reading his mind. “You’re an unusually intelligent person, Vincent. I know it’s nothing for you to figure out.”
“What you say make sense. It makes everything comes together.”, Vincent screws up his forehead in thought. “The question is how do we get definitive proof.”
“We shouldn’t need proof as long as one person can make the claim.”, Lady Lillian tells him. Vincent slowly shakes his head.
“Even so there needs to be reasoning behind it.”, Vincent says.
“Are you saying you’ll help me?”, Lady Lillian questions. Vincent turns to her.
“I don’t think you have any reason to make something like this up, but Lord Argon has his image protecting him. He took you and your mother in after the event and he is the one who came to your family’s aid. There is no reason to suspect him besides his rivalry with your father and the fact that he was there that day of the night it happened.”, Vincent places his hand to his chin. “The only way to catch him is if we can find something tieing him to the bandits.”
“Such as evidence of the agreement. To be honest I doubt the word of a bandit is going to help us.”, Lady Lillian confess.
“Especially if you have been seen going to see him. Then it could be turned on you. Unless you keep the warden and guards quite.”, Vincent adds. Lady Lillian places her head in her hands.
“I don’t know. If it was anyone else evidence wouldn’t be needed, but with it being a lord-”
“You got to have some sure fire reasoning behind it.”, Vincent finishes getting to his feet. “Look. We will figure this out and who knows once we get Prince Winston in on it he could help. When me and him put our heads together there is almost nothing we can’t solve. Add your head and we’re the most intimidating fourteen year olds the world has ever known.”, he tells her. Vincent gives her smile. Lady Lillian takes a moment, but smiles back at him.
Malinda comes into the door cautiously looking to the both of them.
“Is everything alright in here?”, she asks. Vincent and Lady Lillian face her smiling.
“I think we’re good.”, Vincent answers her.