IYUN gazed at those princely lips curled up in a great, charming smile till she herself flushed red with embarrassment.
She’d never seen a smile so alluring, so spellbinding. Like this on the gorgeous gentleman Àlà.
And right then, a brief – yet eternal – silence enveloped the standing three.
Iyun dropped her gaze straightaway and bit down her coy little lip. ‘Oh no!’ she mumbled beneath her breath.
Àlà rushed to save the adorable from the moment’s awkwardness. And he made to utter something at that instant.
He attempted. ‘Oh well, I…’
Iyun was faster. She was faster in getting hold of the wheels of a conversation that might’ve led into more awkward shores. Especially for the love-struck two.
‘Erm, Sir…’ interposed Iyun, ‘you say you’re from Jaiye city, right?’
Àlà nodded and hummed a yes.
But then, Shao couldn’t take this. It was the first time the palace retainer would hear a minion as him address the royal heir with just a regular sir.
Rather than with the royal address, ‘Your Highness.’
It so felt in Shao’s body like tiny spikes prickling him all over. He couldn’t take it one little bit.
Shao yelled at once. ‘Hey, Iyun! Come on, you don’t know who you’re talking to like that!’
Iyun glanced at Shao a moment. And her look was dauntingly askance.
‘Like what?’ she retorted.
Shao only mumbled through some unintelligent nonsense.
For the retainer painfully remembered. That the crown prince had strictly commanded him never to disclose his royal identity there in Koje.
Iyun faced her handsome gentleman again. But she wasn’t going to drive the conversation in a way that revealed her secret admiration for him.
Yet she didn’t realise that her lover was smitten first. She didn’t realise Àlà was head over heels in love with her.
Iyun wanted to talk about some questions. She wanted to ask things from a gentleman who came from the elite city of Jaiye.
Things about some mystified truths that a Koje inhabitant would never know about. And which has kept her curious for many seasons now.
Iyun wanted to steer her wheels towards the shores of a safe haven far away from her present burdens.
But Àlà wished he could just gaze at this precious gift from the Creator King some more. And admire her indescribable loveliness till the day dawned.
Iyun’s words resumed with a request… and in a beautiful slender natural voice.
‘You say you’re Shao’s friend from Jaiye. You Jaiye people know many things our people can’t explain.’
She stepped a little closer to the prince.
‘I have a few questions bothering me of late,’ she continued. ‘And the elders here haven’t found answers to them. I think they’re mysteries beyond our understanding.’
Àlà only looked on with intent.
‘Can we all find a place to sit, sir,’ finished Iyun. ‘Perhaps you have the answer to my questions,’ she said in a quiet, little voice.
And no, the voice that uttered that humble request. It was so alluring and irresistible still.
But then, the sun had set already and the evening’s dark was here.
There wasn’t a way Àlà, together with his servant Shao, wouldn’t get back to Jaiye too late into the night.
The two men had got the royal cart parked at the border gates of Koje, waiting on them to return from the humble township so it can take them back to the palace in Jaiye.
But, still, Jaiye was a long distance away.
At this point, Prince Àlà thought it best to yield to the cautioning calls of time and tide. And to the restraining latch of logic and reason.
Àlà raised his head and observed the dark evening sky. He hoped to tell Iyun here, that time was a fast racing horse with no bridle.
Yet the heavenly stars gazed down at the young lover through their night windows. And they wished him good luck with his beauteous lady.
Iyun’s softest words were what pulled Àlà back to earth.
‘I wouldn’t take your time sir,’ she softly whispered. ‘Maybe you are the one to unravel the mystery I’ve been living with,’ she added.
Àlà gazed down at the young beauty’s melting eyes. And time suddenly stood still in its mad chase after nothing.
He looked into Iyun’s alluring eyes. And he was grateful for another moment with the maiden he wanted to make his.
He wasn’t going to miss the opportunity this time. The opportunity to know her more and woo her now.
He held a finger towards the foot of a rocky hill ahead.
‘Let’s sit over there,’ he said.
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