Vol 2: Chapter Eleven – Celebration

“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Cobal Blueyerd, third prince of the Royal Family.”
Everyone in attendance clapped for his arrival. He was fashionably late, as Mana had called it. The party started about an hour ago, but most of the royal family and other high standing nobles were only now entering. It was customary for the lower ranking nobles to appear early and the more important ones to appear late, so they didn’t have to wait for others to join the floor. Cobal wasn’t super late. He knew that Kimi and Mirgia were instructed by staff to appear on time, and he didn’t want to leave them waiting there alone for hours. So he didn’t wait too long. Mana was also present, he saw her standing off in the corner and immediately walked her way. About four steps in that direction, he was already approached by someone.
“It’s an honor to have a chance to speak to you, your highness.” Cobal didn’t recognize the man in front of him, but smiled at him either way.
“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jeremiah Starfire, merchant by trade, merchant by heart.”
“A pleasure to meet you as well.”
Cobal made a mental note to himself to remember this name. Seeing that he was invited to this party, he wasn’t just some random merchant in town, but probably someone with some serious wealth. 
“So, what brings you to town?” Cobal asked. “I’m sure a merchant like you has better things to do than attend a party like this.”
The man let out a hearty chuckle. He had an interesting physique, somehow looking both in and out of shape. He had the kind of muscles you’d expect from someone doing hard labor and the kind of belly you’d expect from someone who hadn’t left their chair in months. Cobal couldn’t say he wasn’t curious.
“Well, you know what they say, there’s money in strange places.”
“Who says that?” Cobal asked.
“Me.” Jeremiah replied.
Cobal couldn’t help but laugh. “I respect the confidence.”
“In all seriousness, I had business to do in town, so when the invitation came I knew I’d be nearby already, so I might as well talk to some important folk before I set sail again.”
“Where are you off to nex, if I may?”
“We’re traveling back to the west and then down south around the Ravadier Peninsula.”
“Big crew?” Cobal asked.
Jeremiah nodded then paused for a moment. “Well, I suppose it depends on what you consider big. The ship we’re on has eight people working on it, and I work with another four people who help me load and unload. For a merchant group it’s sizable, but it’s not as large as some of the massive merchant guilds in Jasodar though.”
Jasodar is one of the three major cities in the Rilodar Kingdom to the north. Jasodar is known for its trade, Marsolin to the east is known for its university and the abundant presence of art. Rildar is the military capital which lies in the center of the kingdom. Marsolin used to be the capital but when trade with neary nations made Rilodar grow, it moved to the more central location to have better access to the goods coming in from Jasodar. All three cities were connected by the great road though, so they were easily accessible. It’s been part of why the kingdom prospered so much.
“Well it was a pleasure meeting you, if I ever need a merchant I’ll let you know.”
“It’s an honor to meet you as well, your highness. I’ll be in town for a few more days so do not hesitate to call on me.”
And with that Cobal left the merchant behind and made his way to where Mana was, who had since been joined by his sister, Cyanna.

“How are you enjoying things so far?” Cobal asked as he walked up. His sister was wearing a bright cyan dress with little frills around the shoulders and where her sleeves widened. She was wearing her tiara with bright sapphires which she often wore to these kinds of occasions. Mana’s dress was almost more green than blue. It was simple, as was Mana’s request. No frills, no big hoops at the bottom, just a well made, perfectly fitted but aesthetically simple dress. It suited her well though. Kimi’s dress was a lot more flamboyant in comparison. It really brought through the playfulness that people often associated with the spirits. She was also a performer at heart, so that’s part of why she preferred to have a presence in the room.
Mana smiled. “It’s been decent so far, actually. I was never big on parties in my old world, but at least you can hear other people speak in the ones in your world.”
Cyanna enthusiastically added. “Mana was telling me that there’s such loud music in her old world where you couldn’t even talk to the other people there. Then what even is the point of having a party?”
Cobal couldn’t help but smile. His sister had been fairly reserved in the few days he’d been back, but hearing these wild stories from Mana had lightened her mood quite a bit. It reminded Cobal of when Mana first started opening up to her.
“Well I’m glad you’re having a good time.” He looked around. “Speaking of, where did Mirgia go? I’d feel bad leaving him alone in an environment like this.”
Mana pointed across the hallway where Mirgia was surrounded by several nobles who all seemed to be excitedly asking him questions. “He’s very approachable since he’s lower ranked than the nobles here – at least from their perspective – but he’s also a guest from a foreign country. There’s a lot of value in that. He seems to be handling himself well, but you should probably help him out.”
Cobal nodded. “I’ll go and say hello to him, maybe scare a few of them off.” He noticed Jeremiah, who talked to before,” next to him. “That might not work for everyone involved though.”
“Good luck.”
“Long time no speak,” Cobal said as he approached Jeremiah, who seemed to be in the middle of explaining to Mirgia how bows made in the northern village of Kariktar in the Rilodar kingdom have a special kind of wood as their base so they are more supple than most other bows. Upon Cobal’s arrival they both looked up at him and Jeremiah did a quick polite bow. “Your highness,” he said politely.
“Hey Cobal, this man was just telling me about some of his wares.”
Jeremiah raised an eyebrow at the way Mirgia spoke to the prince, but wasn’t in a position to ask any questions.
“How are you enjoying the party so far?” Cobal asked Mirgia.
“It’s pretty good, the food is nice and the people seem friendly. Some people do look at me weirdly though, as if I don’t belong here.”
“They’ve probably never seen an elf before, they might not know how to approach you,” Jeremiah offered as an explanation.
“Why don’t they just talk to me like you did.”
“Well, not everyone has my neverending charm and my way with words.”
Cobal couldn’t help but chuckle. Although it was a bit over the top, Jeremiah did have that charm he was talking about. He came across as harmless, which is probably what you want when trying to sell your wares to someone.
“Actually Jeremiah, I think we might have a job for you. I’m not going to talk business tonight, but if you could come to the palace and call for me in two days we can maybe set something up.”
Jeremiah tried his best to hide his surprise but Cobal did clock it. “Certainly, your highness, that can be arranged.”

Cobal moved on to talk to several other people. He eventually found himself speaking with the son of some noble that he’d honestly never heard of. The guy was kind of fidgety and Cobal felt a bit bad for the kid but he also wasn’t invested enough to say anything about it.
“So as you can see, your highness, our family is very happy to be of service to the throne and we’d love to have you visit us one day.”
Cobal smiled. “I’ve traveled a fair bit recently, I think I’m going to stay away from journeys for a little bit.”
“Of course, your highness, I wouldn’t expect you personally to come over to such a small region like ours.”
“Where did you say you were from again?” Cobal asked. Admittedly he hadn’t really listened all that well to the boy’s introduction. 
“I’m from the Estarul region, right near the border with the Liriath forest. My father is the lord of Staru.”
“Oh, we almost went through there on our recent journey actually. But it was just far enough out of the way that we decided to just take the shortest route.”
“Oh, and which villages did you stay at, if I may ask?”
“We stopped in Rashind for a couple of days and then traveled onwards to Miranji. From there we entered the forest.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you went all the way into the Liriath forest, how was it?”
“It was scary at first, we didn’t know which way to go, and it is a dense forest.”
The boy nodded. “There’s a reason we leave it alone.”
“But after some bumbling around in the forest we eventually came across some elves who led us to the village. That’s where we ended up staying for a while.”
The boy’s eyes grew wide. “You stayed in the elven settlement of Milinia?”
Cobal nodded.
“We very rarely get to deal with them, let alone visit.”
“You should talk to my friend over there,” Cobal said, pointing at Mirgia, “I’m sure he could tell you all about it.”
“I will go do that then, thank you so much for the tip.”
With a polite bow the young man left again. Cobal realized he never bothered to remember the kid’s name. He felt a little bit bad, but when he saw the excitement with which he ran towards where Mirgia was he figured it would be alright.
Cobal took a moment to look through the room and see who all was in attendance. He saw quite a few people he knew from earlier parties, but most of them he didn’t particularly care for. He saw the daughter of an uncle several times removed who ruled over a northern village called Kayarin as well as some of the lords and ladies of the nearby countrysides. The richer folks came wearing immaculate dresses and suits and those from poorer families wore their nicest clothes which unfortunately paled in comparison. It was the way of things. Cobal was trying to spot someone in particular though, so he didn’t linger on the people he looked at. When he thought he spotted who he was looking for there was an aide that came to his side. “Your highness, your presence is wanted on the podium.”
That must be his father asking him to give a speech about his journey. He nodded. “Very well, I’ll follow you there.” He looked behind him once more and didn’t see the figure he thought he spotted so he must have been mistaken. He took a deep breath and walked towards the center of the room where his father was already standing together with his mother. “Best get this over with.”
“I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully, your highness,” the aide said as he led Cobal up the stage. “Good luck.”

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