They reached the capital of Lembroke without anything particularly eventful happening.
Millan wobbled slightly once he made it back onto the normal ground. He had been feeling claustrophobic as the train went through a tunnel in the mountains to reach the city. The prince ignored Emlyn’s brief concern and continued walking behind the rest.
Jonathan started towards the back of the city, where the castle was nestled into the cliff face.
Emlyn walked by his side without any idea of where to go, and the younger two trailed after them.
“State your business,” a guard said, clearly bored out of his mind. It had been a slow, normal day aside from how abnormally warm it was for Lembroke. Chain mail was not something enjoyable to stand around in when there was hot weather involved.
Jonathan pulled out his signet ring and showed it to the guard. “We have an audience with Queen Aderes.”
The guard leaned in. He lowered his helmet, put on a monocle, and squinted at the ring. “Imperial business. Great. Head right in. Mrs. Kild handles appointments, go to her about whatever it is.”
Jonathan pocketed the ring and the four walked inside.
The courtyard was large and had small garden beds running around the edges. It was tiled with something similar to marble; a hard pale stone with black and blue veins twined through it.
Emlyn grabbed the attention of a maid and asked for directions.
The maid guided them into the cold maze of hallways lit by candles in scones.
Bas was the worst affected by the temperature. He had never been somewhere so cold. Malamut rarely even had snow fall.
Mrs. Kild, who was at her desk, was quite pleasant to talk with. However, she was a bit confused as she didn’t have them down for an appointment, nor was there any announcement of anyone coming to meet with the queen.
Jonathan saw that Emlyn was about to talk; he clapped a hand on the older prince’s shoulder to stop him. He carefully said, “If you tell the Queen that her friend, Jonathan, is here to give her a message, I think she will make some time for us. If not, we can wait.”
Mrs. Kild looked at him doubtfully but agreed. She soon returned with the news that the queen had agreed to see them.
The four were led to the throne room and then to the study room behind it. While the throne room was full of stone and draped in blue and gold banners, the study had wooden floors and walls. There were ink stains on the desk, along with some papers.
“Jonathan,” Aderes said with a big smile. She put her pen down. Her long blond hair was in two braids, tied with red leather. “It’s good to see you.” One of her eyes was a light green now, a result of the trial to take the throne of Lembroke—she had never explained the details.
“Aderes. It’s nice to see you as well.” Jonathan couldn’t help the small smile on his face at the sight of his friend. It had been a while since Aderes had come to Alita. There were a few people he had grown to know in this new world, but Aderes and Chester were always the closest.
“Who are the people with you?” Aderes had already started looking at them as threats.
“Prince Emlyn and Millan from Pinscher, as well as Prince Bas of Malamut,” Jonathan summarized.
“Queen Aderes Constantine of Lembroke, it’s a pleasure to meet a friend of my brother.” Emlyn bowed. His smile was carved onto his face and his eyes were full of possibilities. The expression was mirrored by Millan.
Bas had an awestruck look on his face. He was overloaded by the ideas and realizations running about in his brain.
“I have a few things to finish before I end my duties today. Why don’t you all get settled and we can have dinner,” Aderes proposed.
Each of them were given a room in the same hallway. They headed over to the dining hall soon after they unpacked.
The dining hall deep in the recesses of the mountain would have been cold, if not for the roaring fires going in the hearths spaced out around the room.
The meal was rather nice. It was composed of local animals from the woods, vegetables from the castle and capital’s gardens, and some fish from the ice caves.
“In Lembroke, it’s considered a bit rude to talk politics with those you have just met.” Aderes slowly looked over the four that had gathered at her table. “However, I have a feeling that is why you are here.”
Bas bowed his head, embarrassed; he had come to Lembroke for the purpose of ensuring his claim to the throne, yet he hadn’t really planned on eating with the ruler of the subjugated country.
Jonathan would speak plainly, as that was what his friend wanted. For a queen it would be rather tiring to deal with people who would only dance around a subject. “Bas is here to find a dragon, and I am helping him. Because I suggested it to them, Emlyn and Millan are here to establish a connection, or good will with Lembroke.”
Aderes nodded. She didn’t put down her fork, yet she did pause to look sympathetically at the boy. “I did hear about the competition of Malamut heirs. Good luck.”
“Thank you,” Bas replied as he had been taught to. He wasn’t sure whether to add anything else, so he didn’t.
Emlyn cleared his throat and leaned in. He had put his utensils down, having made his way through the food in a fast yet elegant manner. “I heard Consort Lorelei has been difficult.”
“She’s trying to cut off our ability to trade by sea or send diplomats to countries outside of the empire.” Aderes scoffed. “Lorelei is far more than difficult.”
“Maskiff and Reagle have been having similar issues.” Emlyn cast a glance at Jonathan, his informant. “Consort Cressida has made a stand because Reagle’s economy, essential for various aspects of our society, would be crippled.”
Aderes frowned. “Cressida . . . she is Princess Deimena’s mother, yes?”
“Cressida is the mother of Deimena and Adoncia,” Jonathan confirmed.
Emlyn hesitated before he opened his mouth again. It was unusual for him, who was known as a smooth talker. “I haven’t heard how you ascended to the throne of Lembroke. Would you be so kind as to enlighten me?”
“After my parents died, you know exactly how, there was a bit of a rebellion.” Aderes looked at Emlyn not with judgment due to his relations, but a harsh understanding. “My aunt and uncle had declared themselves the reagents and decided to stabilize the country before contacting the Emperor.” She cut into the meat on her place with a knife. “I came back, tried to make a deal, and killed them.”
“Your aunt had been an elemental contract mage,” Millan pointed out. His tone was casual, but his words betrayed his intent.
“Yes,” Aderes conceded. She placed her utensils down. “I can not use elemental magic, but my knack and physical capabilities more than make up for it. Everyone in my country, noble or commoner, has been forced to agree on that.” There was a tinge of pride to her expression.
“A great feat. Well fought,” Emlyn complimented.
Further political talk occurred, which Bas tried his best to pay attention to. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in politics. The problem was the prince knew almost nothing about the Empire’s political leaders and situations.
Near the end of the dinner, Aderes asked, “Jonathan, mind talking after we eat?”
Jonathan nodded. There was a sense of expectation in him. He would finally know why Aderes had wanted him to come. “Sure.”
Aderes has returned! Now…what is it she wants to talk about?
Has anyone here listened to Welcome to NightVale? I was just inspired this morning and wrote some 600 words of a bonus excerpt/chapter for Peter. I might do a bonus chapter for Kern as well, since it would make sense to dive into some of his problems.