They were far more relaxed than they had been in the throne room, but they were not idiotic enough to talk in an open hallway.
Adoncia led the way to a parlor. It was small and comfortable. The fireplace was unlit, and had been fully cleaned of ashes. A red and gold color scheme had been chosen for the furniture and carpet.
They all sat in the armchairs and couches, except for Emlyn who paced around the room.
It was a victory for all of them, but it had also been a loss for Liam and Oliver.
Jonathan sat down next to Liam, and let the young teenager cry without judgment. On the other hand, Oliver immediately enveloped his younger brother in a hug. Liam’s crying was not beautiful, nor poetic; it was ugly. His sobbing reminded everyone in the room of the shift in power that had occurred.
Oliver was older and could steel himself. He would only cry later in the privacy of his room back in Celtie, over how he wished his mother had never tried to tear the rest of his family apart.
Jonathan, himself, felt a bit of pity for Liam. He knew it was hard when parents weren’t as good or kind as they should be. He had dealt with that for his own mother as Jonathan Deere. Aside from that, he was immensely relieved. He could breathe easier. The weight of the stress from the past few hours—that he hadn’t even noticed—was gone.
“What rewards does everyone want?” Emlyn questioned. He had his hands behind his back. This was a part he dreaded, yet needed to do. He would have to try to fulfill everyone’s requests, within reason. It was the way he had been taught—with such a large venture and gain for him—it was only right that he pay everyone back for it.
Liam slipped out of Oliver’s hold and stood up. He wiped the tears from his face, and demanded one thing. “Don’t kill my mom, just imprison her.” An unusual emotion had swept through him: he was angry. Liam was furious at everyone for what they had chosen, but his mother was the catalyst and he knew it. Yet despite what he knew, he also cared about her. She had tried to raise him well for a majority of his life, and that was not easily forgotten.
Oliver put a hand on his younger brother’s shoulder. He nodded at Emlyn, as there wasn’t anything else he needed. He would support Liam’s choice.
Emlyn glanced around the room to check the others opinions on the subject, and agreed. It was a threat to his life to keep her around, but only a small one now.
Millan opted to keep his favor in reserve. He was always thinking of the future, and there wasn’t anything he really needed.
“I want time off whenever I want,” Adoncia stated. It wasn’t negotiable on her side.
Emlyn scrutinized his older sister. He knew very well she was a workaholic, so if she decided to take a break it would likely be because she wanted to spend time with her mother or sister. “I can’t promise that now, but once I’m Emperor I will grant you that.”
Everyone glanced towards Jonathan, as he hadn’t voiced anything he wanted yet. They were waiting for grand claims, negotiations, favors…
“Implement the changes you said you wanted.” Jonathan nodded. “Be a good emperor.”
Emlyn crossed his arms. He looked both unimpressed and entirely unsurprised at the same time. “That can’t just be it?”
Jonathan shrugged. He really didn’t have anything he personally wanted at this point, aside from not having paved for a terrible ruler. He had very few goals for his life—none that would require demands of his new life’s family. “I just don’t want to regret this.”
The room was silent for a few moments, aside from the clock ticking in the far corner.
“Okay, we aren’t listening to him. Jonathan is owed favors,” Millan deadpanned.
“Agreed,” came the chorus of voices from around the room.
Jonathan rolled his eyes, but didn’t protest. He stood up and after some goodbyes with those he was closer to, left the parlor. Even with flying on a dragon, it wasn’t a short trip back and he was much more comfortable at home.
L’ua and Jonathan took it slow on the way to Malamut. There was no point in making the dragon exhausted. They had time now.
Once they were in the capital of Malamut, Jonathan picked Biscuit up from the stables he had left her at. Bas was off on a trip, and so L’ua decided to stay with Jonathan on the way back.
They crossed the mountain pass without issue—checked on some of the magic Marcus had set up—and went across the plains. L’ua moved quickly, and didn’t keep pace with his traveling companion. Jonathan took his time, a sense of finality hitting him as the sun set behind him. He still wasn’t done, far from it, but he had finally finished some things he needed to deal with since the very beginning of his foray into this world.
The sun was still behind Jonathan as he dismounted. He stood there, the soles of his feet stuck to the ground for some reason, and watched his small cabin and those around it. Peter, Aderes, and Kern had set up a small rudimentary table; they were having some sort of special tea together. L’ua had perched himself on top of the roof, fortunately in a much smaller size this time. Chester was threateningly chasing the other teenagers—Cornelia, Tam, and Bas—around with a wet dish rag; he was actually sopping wet himself.
Jonathan held his free arm out as he spotted a flash of gold above. He was right to, as Oceton slammed into the offered perch and immediately started chirping at him. “You did a good job delivering those letters for me,” he complimented. If he didn’t have Biscuit’s reins, then he would be petting the phoenix for doing such a good job.
The man looked back at the cabin and found that they all still hadn’t noticed him. He knew that, in a few seconds they would come rushing over in a chaotic fashion—there was also a chance Bas would shamelessly use him as a shield against Chester.
Jonathan reflected a bit more, while he had the chance, and realized that he was content. He had a small cabin in the woods, not a palace; yet, this small cabin held people, people he cared about and who cared for him, and that was more than many could say. This was really the point of everything he had been wanting to do, because it didn’t matter if he was a prince or not, what mattered were the people around him and what he was doing with his life.
And that wraps up novel 2! Thank you all for joining me on this wonderful quest. There will be a bonus chapter and extra short story, which can currently read when you buy the PDF here: https://ko-fi.com/s/dc516b4ac1
I’m looking forward novel 3 next year and being able to show you all some of the other main characters in this world.