Previous story: https://forums.candarion.com/topic/891/kithia
It was also, during that summer, that I would meet him for the very first time.
That moment came one night when I had been called to serve at one of the larger dinners my master Gozdarz, the border-lord who ruled that estate, had organised for his guests. I was not usually called to serve at any of these functions - neither Gozdarz nor any of his sons or daughters showed any interest to take me to their bed when they excused themselves for the night. Knowing this, I kept to myself, emerging only from the dark recess of the wall to mix and serve the wine at a call.
This was how I had expected to spend the night before being allowed to return to my pallet where Kithia and I would tell each other familiar stories in the foreign tongue of our adopted language by way of practice.
But then he came - late when everyone else had begun to finish their dinner, by the heavy doors of the small smoky hall as he stood there, holding a bow awkwardly in his hands the way a child too small to draw the thing would.
Suddenly he was walking towards me, then past me, handing me his bow before he joined Gozdarz's table, taking his place smoothly besides one of his daughters who had stopped her meal to gawk at his arrival.
"Forgive us, father. I insisted the prince go hunting with me." the voice that had entered with him spoke.
The prince, so he was a prince, turned to Gozdarz with a sheepish smile about his lips, bowing his head slightly in an apologetic manner. “A thousand apologies, Agha. I should have excused myself before I went”.
A thousand apologies
My mouth hung open. In their tongue there were numerous ways to speak depending on one's social standing. He had just addressed him as the better Agha, rather than the neutral Mazha. Never had I ever seen a prince act in such a way that, had I not known any better, I could have easily mistaken him as an equal. Princes were rash emotional creatures who measured anything they did by their hearts content. They did not speak as a slave would to their master. Had he done it just because he could? As a test?
Or perhaps he was just an idiot.
Gozdarz sat silently in his own discomfort for a moment before he made any reply. “There is no need for apologies, prince Koroush." the border-lord laughed awkwardly as if attempting to smooth a crease in the air between them. "There is still plenty of wine for us to enjoy."
He suddenly turned and our eyes met for the briefest of moment - pale green eyes against my own, showing a hint of mirth and mischief behind them as if he had been sharing an inside joke between us.
He turned back to Gozdarz with an easy smile. The daughter beside her sighed as he did. "You are generous to offer, lord. But I wish to retire to my chamber, with your permission."
"Take Tsaveyyo. He will attend to you."
They both turned to me now, and suddenly I remembered I had been holding his bow in my hands the entire time as I gawked at their exchange.
'Or perhaps I was the idiot' I thought as I embarassedly took a step forward from the walls recess, bowing my head and uttering an "Agha".
In that way it felt like he had been staring at me as I averted my eyes downwards towards my feet. Even as we walked the tight empty corridor towards his chambers, it felt like his eyes were stealing glances towards me every so often. Perhaps that was what I wish he had been doing. Because I found him interesting. Because of the way his feet tread lightly upon the ground even in his mud-stained boots. Because of the way the light fell upon his hair. Because of those pale green that - when they looked into me, and I into them, I would recognise no other eyes from a glance.
Silently, we entered his chambers - a small modest room that was otherwise adorned with magnificent carpets along its four walls and brightly coloured throw pillows in one corner of the room where the wine was kept. Quietly, I hung his bow by the door on an equally handsome bow stand, making quick work of lighting the lamps and tossing shavings of scented cedar into a small fire.
"You have a funny name." He suddenly said behind me. He had not spoken a word since he had left the hall. I had even believed he had forgotten about my presence. Noone ever looked closely at slaves.
"Yes, Agha?" Was all I could muster pinned at the sudden gaze of his eyes behind my back. Slowly I forced myself to turn towards him so that we faced eachother.
"Tsaveyyo." He repeated curiously, testing how his voice pronounced the foreign name.
"Yes, Agha" I said, and in an effort not to seem verbally deficient, I quickly added: "It means 'The Retainer' where I'm from, lord".
"Where you're from." He repeated. It seemed a habit of his to do so.
I hesitated for a moment, recalling the name his people gave mine's. "Zirbaday, lord". Below the winds.
He stared at me intently when I had finished talking, nodding his head slowly as if he had been in agreement with whatever I had said.
"I like it." He said simply with a shrug. And just like that, my heart shrugged with him.
"I can not pronounce your name, lord" I said impulsively, instantly regretting the words once he made a face of disbelief at me.
"Are you slow?" He said with the brightest of smiles. "It is easy. Khoroush." He said effortlessly.
I shook my head at him, a smile matching his at our new found play. "With respect, lord. I bet you can't pronounce mine." I goaded him.
We took turns one after the other trying eachother names, getting frustrated at the other for failing before joining one another in our laughter.
When we found ourselves silent after our laughter had subsided, it was him that broke the sudden stillness between us as he began to kick off his boots from his feet himself.
"Gozdarz was thinking of getting rid of you" he said, almost as an afterthought as a pang of panic set over me.
"But, why?" I managed to ask myself and him simultaneously at once.
He shrugged his shoulder, indifferent still to this new revelation that he had cruelly revealed to me. "He wanted to know my opinion".
He was silent then, and impatiently I raised my voice. "And?"
A smile began to form at the corner of his lips then - a smile that would become all too familiar with me whenever he was in his mischievous mood.
"I do not think you're as bad as he says you are, Tsaveyyo" he finally said at length, throwing me another one of those bright grin of his.