"So what exactly was it that I did back there?" Reivyn whispered to Melissa. The other girls were still gushing over the appearance of the visiting prince, so Reivyn took the opportunity to question Melissa about the apparent faux pas he had committed.
"I take it you have some etiquette training?" Melissa raised an eyebrow at the question. Reivyn simply nodded his head. "Well, I don't know from which Region you received tutoring, but here, when greeting a noble lady, you're supposed to just hover over the hand, not actually kiss anything."
"But I saw Teilon kiss the back of Lin's hand at the party?" Reivyn pointed out.
"Yes, but Lin isn't a noble lady. She's just affluent," Melissa explained. "If it had been Erin or Haylen, it would have been fine, but Alisia is actually the daughter of a noble."
"So then, what did my actions tell everyone?" Reivyn felt a headache coming on.
"Nothing," Melissa said, matter of factly. Reivyn was slightly taken aback. Melissa rolled her eyes. "We all know that this is your first time in The Capital, and you had no idea who Alisia is. Nobody introduced her as a noble. We were only momentarily surprised because we all know and forgot for a second that you didn't.
"Her actions of playing along and then treating you normally afterward was her way of letting you know - later, when you figured it out - that she wasn't insulted, but that she's not necessarily for or against anything in the future. A completely neutral stance."
"Ok, so what would it have meant? What do you mean she's not 'necessarily for or against anything in the future?'" Reivyn pressed.
"As I said, the proper greeting is to hover over the hand. Any kind of physical contact between her hand and your lips indicates that you're interested in pursuing a relationship with her. It's actually quite astonishing the lengths she went to indicate a neutral stance. I've never seen her be so magnanimous to anyone else, before."
"I mean, it's obviously because of my wit and charm," Reivyn said, lifting his chin. Melissa smacked him on the shoulder with the back of her hand lightly.
"More like because you didn't know any better," She responded. "What were you taught about greeting a lady? What did you think your gesture meant?" Melissa asked, curiosity written all over her face.
"I was taught that kissing the hand directly meant I was coming from a superior position, kissing the hand and thumb meant we were equals, and kissing the thumb, alone, was that I was of lower standing," Reivyn shrugged. Melissa tapped her lips in thought.
"I guess it makes sense that you would greet her as an equal, considering you didn't know who she was," Melissa said. "That's an interesting set of rules. Where does it come from?"
"I don't know," Reivyn replied with a shrug. "It's just what I was taught."
"By your mother?" Melissa pressed.
"Sure," Reivyn said.
"You don't know where your parents are from?"
"That's not what I said," Reivyn winked and turned away, indicating he was done with the line of questioning.
The meal had long since been over. It was after lunch, but still a bit early to be considered a proper dinner, but they had decided to treat it that way, anyway. They had plans to explore some of the commercial districts after the meal, after all, so they didn't want it to be too late in the evening.
They wrapped up their get-together, and Reivyn, Teilon, and Kimberly bid farewell to their friends and their new acquaintances.
"That went well," Teilon said. "I think we might be on the right track to making some friends. The three girls were all from the Magic Academy, but from the stories they told, they should have some other friends in the Knight Academy, as well. We'll have to get in touch with them sometime before admissions."
"Sounds like a plan," Reivyn said. "I know I'm going to the Magic Academy, but count me in when you guys meet up with them. Doesn't hurt to have more friends and acquaintances."
"Sure, sure," Teilon said. The trio began walking toward the market area. Melissa and Larissa had been dragged off by the other giggling girls. Teilon suddenly spoke up again, though. "You know, I didn't see Erik anywhere. I guess he's actually just a family bodyguard or something. Maybe he doesn't have the standing to sit at the same table as the other girls?"
"He was there," Reivyn said. "There was a table in the corner that had a couple of other guards in the distance. I wouldn't have really paid them any mind if I hadn't seen Erik sitting among them."
"Makes sense," Teilon said, hands interlaced behind his head as he walked. "If all five of those girls are from wealthy families, it wouldn't make sense to send them out and about without protection, even if they are Caster Classes. But isn't Erik a bit low Leveled to be their chaperone in the city? It makes sense that he was a Party member for a Dungeon dive, as he wouldn't hog all of the Experience."
"He wasn't the only one there for Melissa and Larissa, I think," Reivyn said. "He seemed to be sitting quite close to an older gentleman who had a no-nonsense look about him."
"Fair enough," Teilon responded. "So, Kimberly, what do you wanna go check out first?"
"Let's go see if they have any superior quality gear," Kimberly said. "I can go dress and accessory shopping with Melissa and Larissa later, but we'll definitely need gear for the Knight Academy. I don't think they issue anything, considering it tailors to the more wealthy families for the most part."
"I appreciate what you're doing," Teilon said, "but we can go look at some clothing stores, too, if you want. I don't mind."
"You said it," Kimberly replied with a grin. "Not me."
Oh boy, talk about putting your foot in your mouth, Reivyn sighed to himself.
Reivyn flopped back on his bed, exhausted.
That was more tiring than the river fighting dad had me training in, Reivyn thought. There's just something about shopping that saps the energy right out of me. It's almost metaphysical, but it really does have a tangible effect.
With the agreement of Teilon, Kimberly had dragged the pair around from one store to the other, trying on outfit after outfit. She stayed away from the more fancy dress shops, but there were still a lot of options available to a young girl with money in The Capital.
I didn't realize it was even possible to have that many different variations of clothes and shoes. I know Kimberly said she wanted to have decent gear for the Knight Academy, but if she's not careful, she won't have any money to spend on anything else but simple, everyday wear.
Reivyn and Teilon had been roped into carrying the bags she accumulated over time. She was quite thrifty, at first, and only bought one or two things from each store. The problem is that we went to so many stores.
Reivyn banished the thoughts from his head. Despite feeling like his muscles had turned into jelly while shopping with the pair, he had also managed to buy a couple of appropriate outfits for the Magic Academy that had been explained to him.
The outfits he had bought were fairly loose-fitting robes, but not in the sense one would get from a mage or wizard. I have to admit, these pieces of clothing looked pretty good on me, Reivyn chuckled. They came with an assortment of belts and other accessories to break up the monotony. They're quite elaborate, actually.
Reivyn was used to wearing a tunic and pants, but the robes were only slightly different. It wasn't like wearing a dress or anything like that. He still had pants that went with them, underneath. They were just loose, flowing garments. Lots of opportunities to conceal things.
Melissa said that it was more an indication of status as a Caster Class than any kind of function. The schools don't have uniforms, and people aren't required to wear robes or such. That being said, Melissa mentioned that it was practically tradition for everyone to wear robes, and those that didn't in the Magic Academy were looked down upon as either poor or boorish.
When in Rome... Reivyn froze for a second in his contemplation. Wait, what? Where did that thought come from? What's Rome? He shook his head. Oh well, at least I thought it instead of saying it out loud in front of someone. Must have been from the dreams.
Reivyn had briefly recounted his experience of the evening to his mother. She didn't seem to be amused or angry, but Refix had laughed his head off at the predicament. Ameliyn might not have felt either way for Reivyn's actions, but she certainly cast a meaningful gaze at her husband's reaction.
"What?" Refix said between chuckles. "I told you he's 'lucky in love.'"
"Yes, but even if she's of noble birth, this is a Tier 1 Kingdom. I'm not going to let some little girl put her claws in my boy and stunt his growth by holding him down in this backwater."
Whoa, where did that come from? Reivyn looked at his mother with wide eyes. I've never heard her speak like that before. I guess she has some strong opinions on who's worthy of being her daughter-in-law.
"It's alright to make friends and acquaintances," Ameliyn turned her attention back to Reivyn. "And this was a good learning experience for you. I didn't think that the etiquette would be different. Though, I guess I should have looked more into it before sending you out with the advice I gave you.
"You're a Vynn, and you have a powerful Bloodline. It's not just that these people are 'unworthy' of being paired with you. You'll also eventually outgrow them. I know that your father has gained a lot of Levels on me, but that's not because of my stunted potential, so it won't be forever. The girls you'll meet out here won't be able to keep up with you in the future.
"Not only will that eventually breed resentment in either you or them, but your lifespan is likely to be decades, or even centuries, longer than theirs with your considerably higher Stats due to your Bloodline and opportunities.
"Plus, you're still very young. I know you're way more mature than your years can account for - speaking of which, we still need to have that discussion about your dreams - and that you're physically developed into a young adult at this point; however, you still have a long time before you should even think about forming any kind of relationship, even one just for fun."
"Yes, mother, I understand," Reivyn said. "You should know that I'm fully focused on meeting my full potential. I don't have time to be distracted from my goals. I know that my unique position means that I have a lot more time to reach those goals without having to worry about accidentally Leveling up too much, but then I would just be wasting my time.
"There's a whole world out there to explore. Not to mention the mastermind of the cult behind our empire's demise. If I get bogged down for years and years trying to force a Tier 3 Class, sure my endpoint will be the same, but everyone else would have left me in the dust due to sheer Levels, Stats, and Skills."
Ameliyn smiled brightly at Reivyn's words. I guess she's happy that I'm not going to fall for someone so soon and stop being her "little boy," Reivyn chuckled to himself.
"I'm glad to hear you refer to it as 'our' empire," Ameliyn said, breaking Reivyn's expectations. "That means a lot to your mother." She patted his hand as she smiled at him.
"Oh... well, yeah," Reivyn said. "It's only natural to think that way."
"See, darling," Refix said. "He's got his head on straight. Let him have some fun once in a while. It's not going to be the end of the world." Ameliyn raised her eyebrows as she fixed a look at Refix.
"I do not want you encouraging him!" Ameliyn said. "It's one thing to look the other way, but don't put thoughts in his head." Ameliyn rolled her eyes.
"Ok, ok," Refix said, placating Ameliyn. "You know what I meant, though." He turned back to Reivyn. "I know you don't want to 'wallow' for years in Tier 2, as you said, but life isn't all about training and striving to be as powerful as you can be. Make sure you take some time for yourself every now and then."
"This, coming from the man who drives me relentlessly during our training sessions," Reivyn chuckled.
"Hey, you asked me to do that," Refix defended himself. "I've never once made you do something you didn't already want to do."
"Eh, fair point," Reivyn conceded. "Anyway, I recognize that the girls I've met and became acquainted with are pretty and Charismatic, but I haven't noticed anything special about any of them. I just don't feel that way about anyone." Reivyn's mind drifted to the scenes of a family of four from his dreams.
I seem to recall the person from my dreams who never felt any way about anyone until he met his wife. I wonder if my dreams are affecting me in the same way, or if we're just similar like that by coincidence. Either way, it doesn't really matter all that much. I have so much on my plate, and I haven't the slightest interest in deviating.
"Speaking of the future," Ameliyn said. "There's one last thing I want you to work on other than continuing your magical practice." Ameliyn reached into her pocket and withdrew what was held within. She handed a pen over to Reivyn. He looked down at it before looking back up in suspicion.
"You want me to continue practicing my Penmanship?" Reivyn asked.
"Not exactly," Ameliyn said. "I want you to write down all of your experiences and insights you've had thus far. Kind of like a training journal," Ameliyn held up a finger. "But! I want you to do so with your left hand. It's about time you learned the Ambidextrous Skill. I'm quite surprised you haven't already mentioned it with all of the combat training with different weapons you've done over the years."
Reivyn nodded his head as he put the pen in his pocket. Yeah, I did lament over the one time I did a solo delve in the Dungeon and ended up not paying attention to the direction I ran in the first goblin room. Just so much has happened that I let it slip from my mind.
"Alright, mom," Reivyn said. "And thanks for reminding me. This is something I had wanted to work on for a while now. I just kept letting it get pushed aside with all of the other training I've been doing."
Reivyn leaned back on his pillow as he finished recalling the conversation he had had with his parents.
Only a couple more weeks left before Admissions, he thought. My Skills and Affinity training are going along better than I had hoped. I'm just going to take the night off, tonight. There's just something about that shopping that drained all of my will to do anything but rest.
I'll start practicing writing with my left hand tomorrow, and then, soon, it will be time to go to school.