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As they were currently in the outskirts of Drann kingdom's Capitol city, Varric, Lyle had plenty of time to relax with a hot bath before getting ready for the little play date his father set up.

The Aldertons were fairly close by, and even if his father said the meeting was in an hour they would likely expect him a bit later than that. Nobles usually came late. Fahionably late, as many of them would say with a smile.

Naturally, his family owned many lands and had several homes. They only stayed here for a while due to father having duties to perform that required his presence for several weeks. That came a a good time as they were already going to be here for what was left of summer. They enjoyed the cool weather of fall and watching the transition to winter.

So they usually came here around this time anyway. Soon though they would return to their own lands as they couldnt leave the place for too long. Many nobles like to crowd around Varric, the veritable seat of power where the Royal family made their home.

But those nobles hoped to gain their favor and were not all that high in the social ladder. Of course, there were exceptions. Some nobles had official positions that required they live in Varric. Others simply liked the entertainment the city provided.

The Aldertons, for one, made Varric their home for a variety of reasons. They both enjoyed the city for its sights and sounds. Not only for that, they also chose to live here because they were people who were closly tied with the Royal family, the Lautremonts, for quite some time now.

Many Royal Guard Captains of the past had been of the Alderton family line.

Needless to say they were militaristic in nature and were considered the sword of the Royal family. They controlled a fair portion of the kingdom's forces as well, reinforcing this idea. They had both honor and a strong sense of duty that Lyle had always admired.

Obviously they had a substantial amount of influence.

If Lyle were to marry that Sophia girl someday then that would be a good thing, he supposed.

The Alderton family, huh.

Lyle thought idly about how terrifying it would be for the Graybornes and the Aldertons to unite through a marriage. Although the true power of the Greybornes was superior, it would still be quite something.

Something like that, why was it never done? Perhaps the Royal Family discouraged it. Having two families like theirs being united like that would pose a great threat to them, as would be expected. The Royal Family of Drann kingdom wasn't weak by any means and they kept their power all throughout the years by being both cunning and ruthless.

Although Lyle doubted that they would openly oppose a union like theirs. If played right, it could even be a good thing for them. But his father never mentioned that he recieved any marriage proposal from them when he was young.

So why did they reach out to Lyle?

He shook his head. It was strange, he had to admit.

Whatever the reason, establishing a friendship with them through Sofia would be a good move. Of course, he wouldn't befriend someone only for something like that. As a Grayborne, he curled his lip at making friends only for the benefits they provided.

He needed to like her as a person before he would want to establish a good friendship. He thought that her family background was simply a bonus. As for marriage, well, he would not decide his wife on only one meeting. For now starting as friends was best.

Lyle slid down further into the bath with such thoughts weighing on his mind.

It was a large bath, big enough for a dozen people and more.

He had been soaking for several long minutes, lost in thought.

Lyle's body ached with the intense exercise that damn old man A'daire put him through previously. He had studies with Miss Belle from 5:00 to 6:00, an ungoldy time to wake up. But she was an early riser, that one. As she was a home tutor, she lived with his family wherever they went.

She was in her middle-aged years, a time that should be hard on the woman but to the contrary she held up remarkably well. Lyle liked her. She was kind, patient. But she was a sharp one, not a person to be taken lightly. Both hard and soft, she could be either. An interesting person to have a conversation with, unlike the older noblemen he met on his birthday some time ago.

As for that damn A'daire, he kept him from 6:30 to 8:30 and gave Lyle no rest at all.

At first his body didn't last an hour. But that was only because of the hell-like regimen A'daire assaulted him with. Running, weightlifting, squats, push-ups, sword control training... The last was simply lifting a heavy sword and swinging it down until a certain point and then stopping there.

Up, down, up, down, never allowed to be even a fraction of an inch off the designated angle. The angle he changed every so often, and Lyle suspected the sword got heavier every day as well. Lyle had enhanced strength due to his bloodline as a Greyborne but what he lacked at the moment was stamina and the ability to properly exert his power.

Then he was made to do a series of movements designed to increase flexibility, a must need for any swordsman, he said.

There were other exercises too, but they all ended with the basics of swordmanship being taught. The hard way.

Lyle even learned how to read a person's body. If someone attacked, he would know an instant before it was executed by simply looking at the opponent's slight muscle movements. Of course if he didnt see the opponent then that would be useless. Still a good skill to have though.

A'daire was trying to increase his senses to help with being able to avoid attacks. He once blindfolded Lyle so he would have to rely on his other senses to dodge attacks.

He fainly understood a person's body language now too, he found.

In any case, the result was always the same: Lyle laying in an exhausted heap on the ground with his mucles feeling torn and his bones feeling fractured.

Of course, as he was a male Grayborne, he had naturally high recovery abilities. One of the reasons his father insisted he become a knight someday.

So he bounced back quick.

The part that he was partially grateful for was that the intense training along with his natual abilities had given Lyle a slightly more toned body that most his age. He developed a fair few amount of muscles now. Or course, he was still young so they were not truly pronounced but they were still noticable.

A'daire said that he believed Lyle would be the tall and lean type. The type made for speed and explosive strengh. This suited Lyle just fine.

Lyle, at this point, didn't truly mind all the harsh training. No, his pride and stubborness dictated that he get stronger so that one day he could wipe that arrogant smirk off A'daire's face and step on him.

Only that would appease the righteous anger in his heart!

...Of course, he was still a long way from accomplishing that...

Lyle sighed, tired.

"Young master, do you need some assistance perhaps? Do you want me to come in?" A youthful voice called out from behind the large double doors that led to the bathing room.

"No need, Melanie, Im fine. " He replied airily, only paying half-attention in his current state.

"But you should get out soon, young master. Your father is eager to leave. Plus, what if you pass out due to the heat and such?" The voice called out in concern.

He smiled a bit. This servant, Melanie, was relatively new.

Lyle had been walking about Varric when he had seen her and her mother in a bit of trouble with some debt collectors some time ago.

Obviously as a Grayborne Lyle couldnt let such a thing pass, as the man had been growing angrier by the second and likely to turn violent.

So he settled the considerable debt and offered them jobs so they could pay it back at some point. He felt responsible for them by that time. He could have ended things with simply helping them out that one time but then what would they do after?

To have gotten in such trouble in the first place, their situation must have been fairly serious.

A single mother and a child, they must have went through a lot.

Lyle couldn't in good conscience leave them be when he took it upon himself to come to their aid.

He couldn't save everyone, but his father always told him that if he helped someone out he must do it in full measure. Truth be told, he felt fond of the daughter. She was sweet and caring, a pure girl that was very endearing to him.

She reminded him of his sister, in a way. If his sister was a bit less rough around the edges. Melanie didnt even look like his sister though. She had deep brown hair that went down to her shoulders in lush waves and soft blue eyes.

Her features were not as delicate or refined as his sister's. Rather, she was almost animal like, cute rather than beautiful. Her lightly tanned skin twhich gave a healthy glow were a contrast to Iris's own jade-like flesh that shined like a milky pearl.

Furthermore, Melanie was older. Currently she was around the age of 14 or 15--He wasn't sure of her exact age, and it seemed neither was she for some reaosn. Only her mother would, then--even older than the 13 year old him. Her body was more matured than Iris' as well.

One looked like an adorable pet while the other looked a perfect example of a high-born young miss.

They shouldnt be anything alike.

But perhaps the girl reminded him of Iris because the two simply seemed like the younger sister type. And the type that needed to be taken care of. For Iris, she was often alone if she wasn't with him. He felt she had trouble opening up to others.

And this girl gave him the same feelings. She appeared more open about it though. She displayed it unconsciously. Shyness, maybe even a slight lack of confidence.

Indeed, though of a different nature, the two made him believe that they were people that needed to be looked after.

Perhaps that is why he felt the two similar.

After several minutes:

"Young master. . ." Melanie called.

"Hmm?"

"Young master, are you okay? You have been in there for quite some time now. " She cautioned.

Lyle laughed a bit. " As I said earlier, I'm quite alright. I just seem to lose track of both time and my thoughts these days. But your concern is appreciated. Thanks."

"N-no, I just..." She stammered, feeling unsure of how to respond to such words coming from the mouth of someone like him.

" But I suppose you're right. It's time I get out. I'm beginning to prune anyway." He started to rise. "Ah, wait, where's my towel?" He muttered.

Could he have forgotten it in the tired state he was in? But, that didnt happen too often.

Melanie somehow heard the quiet question. "Young master, I have it here. I was watching your training with mister A'daire and for some reason I thought that you would be more tired than usual. So, I f-folowed you..." She seemed a bit embarrassed over the fact. "And then I noticed you left your towel. I'll bring it to you."

Lyle felt alarm bells in his head. "No, just leave it in the bin by the--!" He rose involuntarily.

it was too late, she had already walked in.

A strange atmoshpere filled the room.

The two looked at each other, frozen

Melanie couldnt help but stare. She had to admit, though she was older than him by a few years she still wasnt able to deny that the young master was a very attractive boy. No doubt he would be even more dazzling in the future.

Not only that, but his daily exercises made him quite fit and he was also taller than most 13 year olds.

His maroon hair, damp with water, stuck out slightly and even if he went out like that it would be only considered stylishly messy. His golden eyes seemed to hold her still with their buring depths.

He looked unusually calm, she thought in some little corner of her mind. Perhaps he was used to women, she thought. Certainly someone with his status, even if he was so young, would easily find a woman to be with them.

She knew some boys his age would have begun to already experience the thing known as puberty and start to become more sexually mature. Naturally, sexual desire would begin to rise as well.

With his looks and background there were probably females wouldn't refuse his advances. So perhaps he had already experienced something even she, who was older than him, had not. Maybe that was why his expression didnt seem all that ruffled at the moment, because he was used to even more intimate things than this.

The thought made her blush.

Lyle, though, was not at all like she imagined. This misconception of her's was spawned only by the fact she didn't yet know him all that well. Some noble children his age would have been like that, but not he.

Though true he was more mentally mature than some his age, he still had no experience with such things. Going about and brcoming the type of hedonistic young master that he despised was, plainly speaking, beneath him.

The only reason he was able to seem so calm was because as a noble he trained in being able to keep his thoughts hidden when need be.

However, inwardly, in these few short seconds, he was in a slight panic.

Her eyes unconsciously moved downward, and her face, along with Lyle's, grew hot.

He summoned all of his will power and put on a carefree air. " Melanie, my towel?" He prompted, seeming not at all flustered.

"H-here you go. " She responded numbly. The girl averted her gaze and suddenly found that she couldn't look him in the eye.

Lyle reached out for the towel slowly, calmly, completely appearing not bothered at all over the situation of being seen naked by a woman in this type of situation.

"Melanie. " He grabbed the towel, turning away from her and walking toward the door leisurely.

"...Yes, young master?" She responded after a moment of hesitation.

"Next time, let me finish talking before you come barging in, okay? To avoid any embarrassing situations like these in the future. " He said coolly.

" ...Understood, young master. I apologise."

"No need, i'm not angry. Well then, I'll go get dressed properly. Tell my father I shall be with him shortly. "

"Yes, young master."

And with that, he left.

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