41 Chapter 41 There“s going to be a ball???
Stella sidled up next to him, and Joseph looked up.
"Yes?" he asked, confused. She never interrupted him when he was practicing.
"I need some help with one of my missions," she said, hesitantly.
"Oh! Okay!" Joseph stopped what he was doing, and turned to focus on her completely.
She grimaced, then seemed to nod to herself.
"I need to practice sneaking up on someone, but if you are working, its too easy. Could you help me without actually practicing?"
"Okay," he said. Turning his back on her, she practiced sneaking up on him for almost an hour. Every time she made a noise that he could hear, he would say so. By the end of the hour, she was able to walk from the other side of the room to his back, without him hearing a thing.
She was beaming at her success. Even though it took an hour away from his own training, he was so happy to see her smile, he didn't mind at all. She had gotten so serious since they had arrived, constantly on alert, even though he had so many guards.
Turning back to his work, he thought back over the contract his father had made with the king.
<I, William Aurum, due hereby enter into a binding contract with the King of the Oxalium Empire, Stephan Oxalum. I shall prevent any barbarian raiding party from breeching south of the northern barrier wall. To this end, I am authorized to procure funds, manpower, and materials from the Oxalium Empire. In exchange for this service, I am not required to pay any form of taxes in this kingdom, for the duration of this contract. All slaves procured for the purpose of manning, maintaining, or expanding the wall, shall be freed 1 year following the date of arrival at the north. I am authorized to establish towns, cities, and other structures necessary, as are called for, to accomplish the objective stated. Responsibility for the above objective, shall begin 5 years after the signing of this document, but preparations shall begin at the date of the singing of this contract. In the event that William Aurum must be absent from the north for any reason, he may delegate a representative the full powers, and authorities required to perform this task, though responsibility for this task and any consequences remain solely his. Should Stephan Oxalum not provide the support requested to accomplish the objective, all of William Aurum's current slaves assigned to this project will be freed and the Oxalium Empire shall provide William Aurum with an amount of gold equal to the fair market value of his slaves that are freed. Furthermore, William Aurum is still free of his responsibility for paying taxes to the kingdom until his death. Should the requested support have been provided and the objective not met, William Aurum is responsible for paying all back taxes in a lump sum within 30 days of the report of the failure to achieve such objective to William Aurum.>
He still couldn't believe his luck. The kind surely should have had some of his men there to oversee any such contracts before signing one, but Joseph wasn't going to complain. This gave him the perfect opportunity to learn about court etiquette, and take notes on what he would change in his own court.
A knock on the door had Stella on her feet in seconds. He was a little surprised at her reaction, until another knock hurriedly came, that was the signal that the guards were the ones knocking. She immediately calmed down, but stalked over to the door. This was the first time he had seen her this angry, and he leaned back in his chair to watch.
"I'm sorry, sorry," stammered one of the young guards, Sam.
"What is it?" she asked, very proper.
There must be a messenger, thought Joseph.
"Thank you, I will inform my master." She shut the door and turned to him, noting with a hint of surprise that he was watching her.
"Master Joseph, the king's messenger came to inform you that there will be a ball at the end of the month, and if you are still here, you will be invited to attend."
"A ball! That sounds like fun!" His eyes lit up and he smiled at the look on her face. She obviously didn't think so.
"I don't believe you have proper attire for such an event," she said.
"Of course, I do! The clothes father had made will work just fine! The fact that they are different from what everyone else wears, just means that we'll be exotic!" He was really starting to get excited at the idea of dancing at a party. Joseph knew that it wasn't going to be like in his memories from the different worlds, after his etiquette classes.
"You would be expected to take someone to dance with, or they would assign someone to you…" This was obviously the part she hated the most.
Was it that he would dance with someone else that bothered her so much, or the thought that she would have to go and dance with him? He knew she didn't like to be in the lime-light, but he refused to dance with anyone else. They would all probably be too tall for him anyway.