152 Impetus, Unabated - Part 2

(A/N: Here's a free chapter for you lovies~~)

"How ugly do you think Prince Heiko is?"

~

There was a pregnant pause in which Captain Gallus scrambled for words. Eventually, like Heiko did to most men he crossed with his wit, Gallus decided upon stuttering.

“I- My intention- I apol-”

“He jests.” Cele lifted a dismissive hand, waving it the way one would in order to distract a snake from his prey, but the general knew very well that, given the chance, the prince would devour the poor fool. “Captain Rudolf is the head of Prince Heiko’s guard. The cheeky blond is the third prince of Simo, Prince Heiko.”

“Ah, my sincerest apologies, Prince Heiko.” Gallus offered him a shallow bow from the back of his steed. “Unfortunate that my ignorance shows so early into our encounter.”

“Please, worry not.” Heiko’s wicked grin remained fast on his lips, which were already blushing deeper in the southern heat. “Though I will want to make sure you know what King Ingo looks like, so as not to make a terrible mistake in the future.”

The amount of time between Gallus’ unsure silence and then hesitant laughter was awkward, and the old man knew it. What truly saved him, Cele figured, was the fact that he cared very little about the opinions of others.

Soon enough, they filed through the gate, two at a time, which gave the man a short chance to speak with the general.

“Thank you for intervening when you did.”

Gallus, too, was from Ostiarius Isle. He spoke the remote southern dialect.

“I likely would’ve been at the bottom of a well if I continued with my blundering. With such a face as his, I made the terrible assumption that the prince was a pleasure boy.”

The general stilled, forcing his brow not to twitch.

“Ah,” he managed, praying to every god in the heavens and the Otherworld alike that the isle vernacular and accenting was sufficiently different enough from standard Ilysian to mask the incriminating comment from Heiko’s ears. After a moment of silence from Rudolf and the prince some meters behind them, the general figured it safe to continue. “Yes, that would’ve been quite a hapless mistake. But I wouldn’t allow him to harm you, captain. Have some faith.”

The tease was enough to bring the good-humored expression back to the captain’s face, which was for the better, since Cele knew Heiko would milk every last ounce of shame from the man if he remained so maladroit.

“I do tend to be a foolish old man,” he admitted to Cele with a grin. “Ah, while we have a modicum of… shall we call it privacy - the number of rooms you will require?”

It momentarily seemed like an odd question to the general, as he wasn’t sure why it had a hush-hush nature. It took him only a moment more to understand the gentle implications.

“Oh, I see. Three will be fine. The prince and I will both have our own rooms, and then one for his two guardsmen.” Cele did his best not to glance back at the Simonese men as he heard the gate groan shut behind them. He didn’t know why he thought that perhaps Heiko decided he no longer wanted to be here - and what was more, he didn’t know why the thought tore his stomach to shreds.

“Is this something that can be arranged, Gallus?”

“Of course - that’ll be no problem, general.”

Cele gave a single, equanimous nod of thanks, suddenly distracted by the thought of Prince Heiko being in a room alone. He was happy to be home, but he wasn’t foolish enough to believe his countrymen were free of… brutish proclivities, as the prince himself would articulate it. But he couldn’t go back on his decision now. And surely, Prince Heiko would treat it as flippantly as he treated most things he cared little for.

“Shit,” Cele inaudibly mumbled.

(NOTICE: 'Hallowed Be' will be soon coming to an end. Obviously, there are a significant number of loose ends and minimal Cele/Heiko action, and that's because while this novel is coming to a close, the journey is not. For those of you who wish to continue following this story, I urge you to join my discord to stay in the loop on this process. It is free to join and will provide a plethora of information of things to come (most importantly, release dates). I also encourage you to subscribe to my Tapas account, which will come in handy in the near future.

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