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Nicaise was the child pet of The Regent of Vere. Nicaise was young and beautiful, and smarter than the other pets the Regent had taken.

He had an interesting relationship with Prince Laurent - at first seemingly hostile and competitive, although it's later revealed that Laurent liked Nicaise and wanted to protect him as Auguste had protected him.

Nicaise is beheaded at an unknown point in Prince's Gambit. It is unclear whether that is because he defended Laurent or because he stole an important letter from the Regent - perhaps both, since one would inevitably influence the other.

Appearance[]

Nicaise has curly brown hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. His face is usually painted. He wears loose-fitting clothing, as well as many different types of jewels in a style befitting a pet and bells attached to his throat, "like a cat".[1]

His signature accessory is a long earring in his left ear, twin sapphires dangled, heavy and almost brushing his shoulder, which he gifts to Laurent in Captive Prince and Laurent uses to disguise himself in Prince's Gambit.

History[]

Not very much is known about Nicaise's history. According to Laurent[2], Nicaise was a poor little boy before he became the Regent's pet, and didn't have many other choices in work.

Nicaise has been a pet at Arles for three years by the time Captive Prince begins.[3] In that time he's been a favorite of the Regent, and has grown confident in his position at the palace -- later, we learn, too confident.

He has developed an interesting relationship with Laurent. At first, Damen sees it as hateful and overly competitive, thinks Laurent is antagonizing a child. Later -- after Nicaise's death in Prince's Gambit, it is confirmed that they were in fact rather close and that Laurent had been trying to break Nicaise's trust in the Regent as to keep him safe.[4] Laurent planned to take Nicaise into his own household once the Regent was done with him, though he would not use him as a pet and would allow him to have his own free will, raising him like a brother.[1] Laurent wanted to protect Nicaise like Auguste had protected him, but is not able to.

Relationships[]

Family[]

Nicaise is not known to have any family.

The Regent of Vere[]

Nicaise was the Regent of Vere's pet for at least three years, starting at age ten or eleven. Although Nicaise believed he had some sway over the Regent, it is implied that he, unlike most of the Regent's pets, doubted that the Regent really cared for him, and was very aware that his time was running out as he grew older.[1]

There is no love between Nicaise and the Regent. It is a sexually and emotionally abusive, pedophilic relationship where Nicaise had very little choice in any matter and eventually leads to Nicaise's murder.

Laurent of Vere[]

Although the relationship between Nicaise and Laurent is at first seemingly hostile, we slowly come to understand that there is a lot of affection between them -- Laurent, especially, sees Nicaise as a younger brother that he wants to protect from the trauma he himself went through years before.[4] Nicaise, in turn, seeks Laurent out several times throughout Captive Prince -- when he wants company; when he is scared after finding out the Regent's horrible secret; when he fears Laurent is in danger. They bicker with each other constantly, and it seems both of them enjoy it and each other's company.

Before Laurent leaves Arles he offers to take Nicaise in once the Regent ends his contract, and Nicaise evidently takes faith in this. When Laurent is leaving, Nicaise seeks him out, clearly upset, and accuses him of lying to him. He gives Laurent his earring, claiming he doesn't want it because it reminds him of Laurent too much. Laurent assures him it isn't a lie and that he'll come back, but Nicaise is wary of believing him. Nicaise dies before Laurent comes back to Arles. Later in the story, Laurent uses Nicaise's earring -- and, symbolically, Nicaise himself -- as a protection although he himself did not protect Nicaise when he should have.

"'He was on my side,' said Laurent. 'But in the end, the only person on his side was him.'"

- C. S. Pacat, Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince #3), Ch. 21

Laurent admits in Prince's Gambit to have been trying to break Nicaise's trust in the Regent and solidify their own friendship in order to protect him, emotionally and physically, from the Regent. Because Laurent left Arles unexpectedly soon in Captive Prince, he is unable to do this completely and leaves the job half-done. This eventually allows for Nicaise's death when his affection for Laurent and his faith in the Regent lead him to confront the Regent in Laurent's defense -- and the Regent, who had no love for Nicaise or Laurent, kills him, without Laurent there to protect him.

Plot[]

Captive Prince[]

Nicaise is first introduced into the series in Chapter 2 of Captive Prince, although at that point his name is not revealed. Damen at first assumes he is Councilor Audin's pet when Audin offers to let Damen rape him. Damen is horrified at the offer, and Nicaise is obviously scared of Damen, but offended when Damen calls him a child. This is one of the first moments that Laurent looks at Damen differently, because he thought Damen would have no qualms against raping a child.

He is next seen in Chapter 5, in the gardens of Arles while looking for Laurent when he introduces himself as Nicaise and also first brings into scene Erasmus, an Akielon slave brought to Arles in the slave retinue along with Damen.

Again in Chapter 5, we see him first interact with Laurent -- and here is where Damen mistakes their friendship for hostility. Laurent taunts Nicaise about his age, then says he would offer him a place in his household, if he would like it. They leave hand-in-hand to see the Regent.

In Chapter 8, Laurent makes a "play" against Nicaise, using him to get Erasmus and the Akielon slaves transferred to Torveld of Patras' ownership (at Damen's request, since the slaves were mistreated in Arles). They bet on who will win their game: the prize would be Nicaise's sapphire earring. Nicaise and Damen briefly interact at the table when Nicaise torments Damen for the entirety of the meal, eventually stabbing his leg with a fork.

Nicaise tries to work against Laurent by making Erasmus react badly to fire in public, but this works in favor of Laurent, and Torveld agrees to buy the slaves. Nicaise realizes Laurent tricked him and seems extremely upset about it. Laurent reassures him that this only means next time it won't be as easy and that Nicaise is learning. At the end of the chapter, we find out that Nicaise is not Councilor Audin's pet, but the Regent's.

When Damen is escaping Arles in Chapter 11 after the first attempt on Laurent's life, he runs into Nicaise in the hallway, on his way to see Laurent. He says he'd heard there had been an attack. Damen doesn't let him through, saying that Laurent is in a foul mood when Nicaise shows worry for his wellbeing. Nicaise, seeming unusually rattled, asks Damen not to tell Laurent he'd come, then leaves. Later, we find out this was the night where Nicaise found Langren's letter to Paschal, which proved the Regent's hand in King Aleron's murder, and went looking for Laurent, partly worried for his life, now that he knew the Regent was likely to kill him, and partly to seek comfort. Being turned away by Damen, Nicaise sought out the physician Paschal, who we later understand took care of Nicaise after the Regent raped him, instead.

The last time we see Nicaise, not only in the book, but in the series -- alive, at least -- is in the final Chapter, when Laurent and his retinue are leaving Arles. He goes to give Laurent the sapphire earring he owed him, claiming he doesn't want it because it reminds him of Laurent too much. He accuses Laurent of lying about offering for him, clearly upset and betrayed, but also hopeful, especially when Laurent says that he will come back before he ascends, and will offer for him then. Nicaise seems to know, though, that the chances of Laurent surviving the journey are very low.

Nicaise's last appearance in the series:

"'I would never ask you to do anything you found distasteful,' said Laurent. 'Looking at you is distasteful,' said Nicaise."

- C. S. Pacat, Captive Prince (Captive Prince #1), Ch. 13

Prince's Gambit[]

Although Nicaise doesn't exactly appear in Prince's Gambit, his presence has an important weight in the story.

Laurent uses Nicaise's earring to disguise himself as a pet in Chapters 5 and 6, and it saves his and Damen's lives. This scene can be taken as Nicaise himself, even at a distance, protecting Laurent and helping him. Damen directly equates the earring and Nicaise more than once throughout the scene to emphasize this parallel.

In Chapters 20 and 21, Nicaise is again a central focus of the story, as his presence in the series culminates in this moment. The Regent sends a messenger to Ravenel, which Laurent's men have just taken, to announce that the Regent calls Laurent to Charcy to fight. Laurent refuses, and the messenger pulls a boy's head from a blood-stained bag -- Nicaise's head, blue eyes gouged out, earrings still on and hair still arranged with beautiful stones, with a horrified expression on his face. The messenger claims the boy was killed for speaking out in Laurent's favor -- Nicaise had still thought that he had some sway with the Regent, because, according to Laurent, he had failed to break Nicaise's trust in the Regent completely.

"They had always, from the beginning, had a strange affinity. This one pleaded for you. Spending, perhaps, the last of his fading currency with the Regent. Not realizing how little currency he had left.

Whether his beauty would survive adolescence, no one would ever know, for Nicaise would never see fifteen now.

- C. S. Pacat, Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince #2), Ch. 20

---

‘You’re right. I killed Nicaise when I left it half done. I should have either stayed away from him, or broken his faith in my uncle. I didn’t plan it out, I left it to chance. I wasn’t thinking. I wasn’t thinking about him like that. I just . . . I just liked him.’ Underneath the cold, analytical words, there was also something bewildered.

Laurent tells the messenger, publicly in his own courtyard:

"‘My uncle has killed his catamite,’ said Laurent. ‘As a message to us. And what is the message?’ His voice carried. ‘That his favour cannot be trusted? That even the boys in his bed see how false is his claim to the throne? Or that his hold on power is so flimsy that he fears the words of a bought child whore?

‘Let him come to Charcy, with his hithertos and his wherefores, and there he will find me, and with all the might of my kingdom I will scourge him from the field.

‘And if you want a personal message,’ said Laurent, ‘You can tell my uncle boykiller that he can cut the head off every child from here to the capital. It won’t make him into a king, it will simply mean he has no one left to fuck.’"

- C. S. Pacat, Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince #2), Ch. 20

Kings Rising[]

Nicaise obviously never appears in this book, but he is mentioned a number of times, when Damen or Laurent think of him and at the end, in Laurent's trial at Ios, where Paschal reveals the truth about King Aleron's death and the fact that Nicaise had been one of the three people killed for the Regent's secret.

In Chapter 13, Damen and Laurent discuss slavery, and Damen asks if Nicaise, in comparison to a slave, had any choice in serving the Regent. Laurent answers:

"'He had the choice of the poor with no other way to survive, the choice of a child powerless to his elders, the choice of a man when his King gives him an order, which is no choice at all, and yet still more than is afforded to a slave.'"

- C. S. Pacat, Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3), Ch. 13

Laurent thinks of him when freeing Jokaste from the wagon in Chapter 15, presumably in comparing the sacrifices and the mistakes that both Jokaste and Nicaise made for Damen and Laurent, respectively.

In Chapter 16, the Regent and Laurent talk about Nicaise -- not very honestly. The Regent taunts Laurent with Nicaise's death and Laurent's part in it, and Laurent responds coldly. Damen is shocked, having forgotten how violent Laurent's interactions with his uncle were.

Nicaise, as well as Aimeric, both come to mind in Chapters 16 and 17 as Damen processes the new realization that Laurent, like them, was abused and raped by his uncle, and Laurent's strong urge to protect Nicaise and anger at Aimeric's oblivion are finally fully explained.

Then, finally, in Chapter 18, as Paschal explains the Regent's hand in King Aleron's murder, Nicaise is mentioned several times, since he was one of the three people killed by the Regent for finding out his secret. We find out that Nicaise found, read, and stole the letter that condemned the Regent and meant to give it to Laurent (Captive PrinceI, Ch. 11) but after being stopped by Damen gave it instead to Paschal, who kept the letter and now uses it to prove the Regent's guilt. In this, Nicaise was an instrumental part in the Regent's downfall -- this serves as a sort of satisfying vengeance in Nicaise's part: though he was abused and killed by the Regent, he was one of the people who finally brought him to justice.

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Captive Prince (Captive Prince #1), Ch. 5
  2. Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3), Ch. 13
  3. Captive Prince (Captive Prince #1), Ch. 8
  4. 4.0 4.1 Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince #2), Ch. 21
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