This is the second part to my answer to Lindsay's prompt:
He offered her the world. She said she had one of her own.
-> part one
Valeria had considered ignoring the Traveller as long as possible. After all, everyone knew she often was deeply occupied with a vision and might not notice the presence of someone for an hour. But the silvery lines on her face appeared to tingle, as if the outward signs of her power wanted to remind her to not debase it. The seer in her had known about this day for ages, so she should at least act like the grown woman she had become.
Besides, a vision in the flame was not the same as seeing with your own eyes, and she could not deny a certain curiosity. There was no mistaking the man who climbed up towards her secluded abode, countless times had she seen his stature and even had been able to get familiar with his unique way of his movements. Usually, her gift had shown her this very moment in numerous variations. Sometimes he came riding on some kind of beast, once or twice he was shrouded in dark robes, but in the end the most likely and thus most frequent vision had come true: he wore a jacket and trousers of some rich, shiny material, almost mirroring the heather-colour of her shawl.
The cloth which he had wrapped around his head was something unexpected, though, and seer's aren't used to being surprised. It drew her gaze to his face. A bit flushed from the climb, but with a ready smile. Brown eyes greeted her, they had the same colour as the hair that spilled out beneath the strange head-cloth, falling in slightly unruly waves onto his shoulders. Clean-shaven, although he certainly was old enough now to grow a beard. There appeared not to be much of the boy she had known left in him. This made her uneasy. For the first time since her early training she doubted herself. Was this really the right one? Perhaps the right man was still on his way and this was just someone who had sought her out for one of the usual reasons. And yet, the way he looked at her touched something in her that had slept so long that she could not put a name to it.
Alexander drank in every bit of the woman who stood about five long strides away from him. The hood of her garment concealed her hair, just as the wide, flowing dress and shawl obscured her body. Her stance was as straight and elegant as the long staff of twisted wood. In the eerie light of the magical flame on it's top, the markings on her face shimmered like silver tears. In the first moment, her eyes still had held that particular mat look of a vision, but then they had come alive.
Of course, he had met other seers before, but none of them had he known before they had reached their full power. Now, his mind tried to unite the serene figure before him with his memory of a certain girl. They had both grown to almost the same height and she had maintained her open and alert gaze of green-blue. Even at this distance he could make out this rare, uneven colouring he always had found fascinating.
He could not quite read her expression. Surely she was not surprised by his arrival? And most certainly she had not forgotten why he was here? Or had a vision told her something he should know?
He never had been one of the hesitant or careful sort. After granting them both a few heartbeats to take each other in, and to regain some of his breath, he made two easy but long strides towards her. Her mien did not betray how she felt about that, and yet her eyes were fixed on him like he was a dangerous animal. With a fluid, elegant movement, he bowed to her, lowering his gaze only briefly enough to acknowledge her status. After all, he himself was of royal blood. She might be able to see the future, but he could wield the power to make it happen.
"Valeria Temerit, in accordance with the treaty to which our guardians agreed many years ago, I, Alexander Knevash, am here to ask for your hand in marriage."
He offered her the traditional coin-shaped talisman of his home-country on a gloved, open palm. Somehow he had put it there with a slight-of-hand while he had courtesied, because Valeria was sure he had at first approached her empty-handed.
Alexander hoped his face did not betray his feelings. Nobody liked to be betrothed to someone you had known only for a short while as a child. He may be allowed to rule a country or start a war, but he was neither allowed to choose his own wife, nor when or how to propose to her. And yet, she had to make the next move. Why didn't she say something? Would she refuse? Could a vision have changed the rules? And why did this idea stir a sick feeling in his stomach?
A crunch, of the staff meeting the pebbles between two cobble-stones, a step forward while the free hand extended at the same time, like the start of a court-dance. Her hand was bare and he wished he had removed his glove so that their skin could touch. But the slender fingers hardly made contact with his hand, while she covered the wedding-talisman in acceptance.
After the proposal, Valeria had invited her future husband into her tower. Although their union was already binding, there still were the necessary rituals and sacrifices to make. They would need a witness for that, too, but for now, Alexander was glad to be offered a chair on the little balcony and a tray of food.
"This is an amazing view over the valley. I know of some places that are just as beautiful, and a handful that are even more astonishing. I will show them all to you!" He took a bite of the bread and washed it down with a gulp of mild wine. Raising his eyebrows at his future wife, he savoured its smell. A seer usually did not drink alcohol, and indeed her own cup appeared to contain only plain water.
"Have you ever travelled by the water-bridge? I'm sure you have, how stupid of me. We will be in the White Palace in no time. And after the celebrations, we can go wherever you want. I offer you the world, Valeria!" The precious wine would probably have sloshed over the rim, if Alexander had not down half of it already. According to his grand gestures, one could think he was entertaining a whole court, instead of talking to only one rather unimpressed looking woman.
"I don't need the world, I already have one of my own."
Those were the first words she had spoken to him since their childhood.
Continue with part three.
Comments and critique are very welcome.
Continue with part three.
Comments and critique are very welcome.