A Willing Abjurer Bonus Short Story: Chester and Aderes are Fake Dating

Chester Yulr, proud owner of a mandolin and Royal Bard, woke up with the realization that he had fallen off his bed during the night. He still found it strange that undead were able to sleep. He didn’t know if it was because he was one of the undead with a soul and he wasn’t willing to volunteer to some necromancer to see whether that was relevant.

He had important things to do with his undead life. The first thing he did every day was stretch his muscles out. Chester did this out of necessity. A living person would complain of the pain from having sore muscles, but an undead would remain unaware of their muscles not working well. He once had face planted in a bed of flowers at a party and had to be dragged out. That remained his most embarrassing moment as an adult.

Chester checked his hair, which was gorgeous as always. He didn’t like to look at his eyes much, now that they weren’t green. With the white pupils of an undead and the black sclera of an undead, there was a reason he could not be in public without his eyes covered. “I wonder what the necromancer who brought me back is doing? Hope he’s okay.” It had been an accident, but he still appreciated it.

He picked up his mandolin from where it hung on the wall. The one that Aderes had commissioned for him stayed on its peg for special occasions. His personal one was the one that had he journeyed across the world with.

His fingers needed to be stretched out for any of those small movements so much of humanity took for granted. And, he needed to practice. The worst possible thing that could happen to him was becoming rusty. His job wouldn’t be in jeopardy because he has gotten it through pure nepotism, but he would feel bad.

He finished his rehearsal and gave himself a few moments before covering his eyes with a ribbon. He could still see, but the cloth obscured his eye color.

He walked down the hall, thankful that his constitution as an undead made him unfeeling to cold.

Some of the other servants bowed or waved to him.

Chester Yulr was a man of great distinction in Lembroke’s Royal Court. He did not care much for the status.

The small dining hall in a corner of the castle had been set aside for them this morning. A roaring fire was in the hearth.

His friends had already sat down at a small round table. A set of dishes for their breakfast had been put there by the maids.

The fingers of Queen of Lembroke, Aderes Constantine were covered in a blue jam and bread crumbs. She had been steadily making her way through the jar that had been given to her.

Jonathan Deere had come for a visit. His red coat had been cleaned by the head maid and looked better, no longer stained from travel. He was speaking about his trip to the capital as he spread honey and jam on toast.

Chester sat down, completing the circle, and listened to what Crown Prince Emlyn had been doing. He ate some, but he did not need to have much.

He asked about his parents and talked about his older brother—he knew Jonathan would be passing to his parents news of their sons. The lumberjack and carpenter couple on the other side of the continent would never have expected any of this for their children: an undead Royal Musician and an Imperial guard.

Despite the wishes of these three strange friends, court could not be put off. The three friends dragged themselves to the throne room. Jonathan’s phoenix flew in and started demanding food, so Jonathan left to go to the kitchen. He ended up missing some ridiculous requests about balconies, taxes, and frog ponds.

Chester greeted the Royal Jester, one of his friends among courtiers. He provided some music while the jester performed. Such impulsive distractions in court were welcomed as it allowed attendees to take a break for a few minutes.

The first true problem of the day was a suitor, as it almost always was. Governor of Maskiff Chris P. Bacon was here to offer excuses of why he was staying longer. He had a thick accent that didn’t have a specific name, but that Jonathan had called ‘evil boss from a spaghetti Western.’ He also has a bribe. “I am pleased to see the young lords and ladies of this here court. I beg pardon to stay another few days and admire the scenery.” He winked at the Queen. “And I would like to offer in thanks for the hospitality, a gold statue that displays the beauty of my home.”

It was a paltry amount of gold. He was able to hold the statue in his hands and the artistry was below the quality expected by the precious metal workers of Lembroke.

Aderes couldn’t help the frown.

Chester didn’t consider Aderes’ approach to be flawed necessarily since often she had to be careful of politics. Sometimes though, she would stay to her given solution because she had decided that was the way. Her stubbornness meant she wasn’t looking at any alternative options. This was her confidence in battle and political flaw, that deadset bull rush that broke anything fragile or different. Jonathan was somewhat conflict avoidant yet also willing to throw himself into the fire if he could justify it to himself. As for Chester himself, he had absolutely no flaws—ignoring his desperation for friendship that kept paying off and his wish to be liked by everyone.

And because of this, Chester pulled his mandolin to his chest and began to strum. He looked Bacon up and down. He wanted to go for personality, not appearance. It would be too easy of a target to go after the governor’s mustache—oiled to a point and curled. No, he would go after this man’s political career.

“Christopher Pepperjack Bacon
Chosen by the crown
When drought struck Maskiff,
He was nowhere to be foun’

Christopher Pepperjack Bacon
Priorities nailed down
The mob distributed rations
While he played around

Christopher Pepperjack Bacon
His actions of renown,
Because during the drought
Bought his girl an evening gown

Christopher Pepperjack Bacon
Born to order servants around
A governor we can all agree,
But not one we’d want in town”

The Royal Jester had started clapping her hands during the first verse, giving a beat to the song that some in the court started to follow. She winked at Chester.

The court as a whole was in an uproar by the end.

Aderes was stifling laughter. She pretended to cough a few times. “Governor Bacon, I must say no to your gift. You have already stayed five days more and only asked me today. Additionally, I did not kill my relatives to have the governor of a neighboring country view me as a woman to be admired from a distance.”

There was not much to be done against a court when the quiet parts were said outloud. With a bard’s satire and a queen’s bluntness, courtiers, knights, priests, and others were tittering and whispering. Swaying a crowd such as this was impossible now.

With the last bits of his dignity, Bacon dropped into a low bow and left. He was embarrassed, but his incompetence had been clearly displayed to make him unqualified to ask for the hand of the queen.

Chester started cracking jokes with the jester, launching into a rendition of the song and changing some of the verses to flow better from one to another. He didn’t have much talent for improvisation and the jester had been a great teacher.

He did not fear any retaliation. He was undead already. There would be no problems for Aderes either. Emlyn and Millan held that district in their hands, so the Governor’s hurt ego wouldn’t be enough to muster any threat. Chester did find the princes being involved in organized crime somewhat strange.

Jonathan came back with a plate of sliced meats from the kitchen. Oceton was perched on his shoulder and together they drew many eyes. From his status as the Friend of the Empire, friend of Aderes, and member of the Imperial family, Jonathan was allowed to sit near the throne.

Chester filled him in on what happened with the newest suitor. “Governor of Maskiff tried to stay longer by offering some gold. I made a song to make fun of him.”

Court moved on, with some petitions. A doctor related to the royal family in Ahan asked to be officially allowed to teach others and presented a new medication to prevent infection. He was granted permission after another herbalist or two cross-examined his knowledge. A professor Crassie Nestor failed to show up for his turn and it was given to the next in line.

“Play it later at dinner?” Jonathan asked.

Chester smiled. “Of course.” If a friend wanted to hear him play, he could never say no.

The second suitor of the day was a rough and tumble hero from the war against Nu named Reid Flagh. He was tall, dark, and handsome. Part of his right arm was missing from birth and he used being a left handed swordsman to his advantage. He had been waiting in line and that was clear from his first introduction. He declared, “I am Reid, from the fifth battalion. I have over a hundred and fifty kills to my name. I came here because I wanted to admire you closely.”

There was silence at the sheer boldness of this strange man.

Aderes’ mouth hung open.

The courtiers waited to hear what she would say. Unfortunately, their great queen with experience on the battlefield and with politics, had never had a man straightforwardly flirt with her.

Jonathan elbowed Chester. He had clearly decided this was not his job.

Oceton was flapping his wings to keep himself balanced despite the sudden movement, almost knocking one into Jonathan’s face.

Chester looked between Aderes and Reid Flagh. He couldn’t see the best with the ribbon over his eyes, but it was clear how uncomfortable their friend was. “Uhh.” He stopped and lowered his mandolin, loudly declaring, “I can’t allow you to admire her closely, as I am in love with the Queen!”

Amidst the gasps of shock from the court, there were also the clear sounds of paper and coins being shuffled between hands.

Reid Flagh turned.

Chester could see that smirk, slowly fading away into mock surprise. He knew that the rumors had been going around, but this was a spur of the moment decision from his side. Had this war hero actually expected Chester to oppose him? That would…actually make sense. Half of Chester’s days were spent blocking potential suitors from harassing Aderes. “Hello, Mister Flagh? I am already wooing the queen. Yes! I am already very deeply in love with her, having been friends for many years. You don’t stand a chance in our courtship when I am here.”

The war hero stepped forward, towards Chester. His shoulders were drawn back. He had impressive muscles. Decent fashion sense, but clearly playing into his narrative of a man fresh from a battlefield.

The crowd drew back from Chester.

Jonathan, muttering something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like, “I can’t believe him.” Oceton, perched on his shoulder, was bobbing his head as if in agreement.

Chester understood. He didn’t think this far ahead. He hadn’t been thinking at all for the past minute. He kept smiling, because he didn’t know what else to do. Some sort of idea would come to him eventually.

Aderes was leaning forward on her throne now. She wasn’t saying anything, only watching. One of her maids had taken her spear out and stood by her chair.

“I am not surprised that someone from a foreign land would desire her as well.”

“Yeah, Aderes is…uhh…” Chester looked at Aderes for guidance. He nodded at the gestures she made. “She has great hair and cool eyes now. Trims her eyebrows. Good skin from following my routine.” He laughed as he added, “Personally, I just think her smile is nice.”

The jester was on the floor, laughing. Her tears of joy were ruining her makeup.

Reid Flagh’s lips stayed flat. He did not seem to find any of this funny. “Because we are both men who desire her, we must fight. We shall declare our love through ignoring our fear of death.”

Chester felt his mandolin almost slip from his hands. He cleared his throat. “What?”

“You say that you would not risk your life for the woman you claim to want?” That smirk was back. Reid Flagh was someone used to bulldozing over others with extreme methods. “I find your claim and resolve to be weak, even if you are her friend.”

Jonathan had moved away from Chester and was whispering to Aderes, leaning against the throne. He wasn’t the Royal Advisor, but he would be if he decided to stay for once. It was a shame he lived so far away most of the time.

“No. What? None of this makes sense. You’re just trying to egg me on, but I don’t have-”

“We’re having a duel,” Reid Flagh insisted.

“There’s no way to say no?”

“Not if you love Queen Aderes.”

“Consent is important. I think I should be able to say no. We also don’t get to decide who she wants.” Chester would have put his hands together to pray, but he was being glared down by a war hero that could probably break both of his arms with only one arm. He was a bard! A wandering minstrel! Musician of the Lembroke Royal Court. He didn’t know how to fight.

“Yet, you said I couldn’t court her because you liked her?”

Chester stopped and nodded sagely. “Yeah, that’s a good point.” He had been lying, but most of the people thought he was actually trying to stop this guy from courting Aderes.

He stalled as he tried to think of an idea and glanced at Jonathan and Aderes. Jonathan was pointing to Aderes.


He couldn’t do anything against Reid Flagh in a fight. That was okay.

“Alright, alright. I agree to a duel! I get to ask someone to be my stand in. Champions are allowed under Lembroke law for duels, right?” Chester spun dramatically. He turned on his heel and held his hand out towards Aderes. He didn’t need to be able to fight because his friends had always fought for him. “Queen Aderes, my beloved, would you be my champion?”

To the raucous applause of the entertained court, Aderes stood up. There was a smile on her lips, the kind she had displayed on their travels when she went hunting for dinner. “I accept.” She held her hand out and went forth with her spear. “I will help my friend Chester Yulr win this duel against my potential suitor Reid Flagh.”

Chester clutched at his non-beating heart in relief. He didn’t want to deal with trying to sew limbs of himself back on or regrow bits he lost.

Reid Flagh stood quietly in the middle of the empty floor. He was still shocked, shoulders trembling. His air of confidence was gone. It seemed his plan had only been to challenge Chester to a duel to beat him.

The jester was sitting on the floor. She raised a hand and shook it. “We will need a neutral judge. I think the Friend of the Empire ‘Jonathan’ is good enough.”

There were mumbles of agreement.

“Yes! Jonathan for the judge. As someone from the Imperial Family, he can be our neutral outsider,” Aderes called out. She was grinning, spear propped against her shoulder.

Chester nodded. “A very neutral person. I barely know the man,” he lied. “Jonathan is very trustworthy.” He was making eye contact with some of the courtiers, the ones that had opened up their mouths to object. He wasn’t someone who threatened people, but he would make fun of them mercilessly if they ruined this stupid scheme that was somehow working.

Jonathan sighed. It was somewhat funny how often he ended up in the middle of political conflicts despite living a peaceful life as a lumberjack. “I gave up the Imperial name and this still happens,” he grumbled. What he said was heard by everyone there, but it was ignored. He sat on the arm of the throne for lack of a better place to sit. With Oceton in his lap and his careful posture, he did look like a respectable judge for this duel.

Reid Falgh had collected himself by now. He crossed his arm across his chest. “Yes, this is acceptable.” He should have objected, but he didn’t know that he should have. To him, the Prince Roscoe was simply a mysterious figure that had come back from the dead and backed Crown Prince Emlyn. “We can use spears.” This was an obvious handicap for him, a show of strength. The whole time he had been rather cocky.

Chester moved to the edges of the crowd. He wanted to make some sort of bet—that old gambling instinct rising back up—but no one in the court thought their Queen would lose. They were right.

In a no-magic duel with the advantage of a spear, Aderes’ skill was shown clearly and she had no patience for her opponent—who quickly realized his mistake. Reid Flagh was red faced from exhaustion and being outmaneuvered. His actual fighting experience had kept him from being hurt badly, but this style of combat was clearly not his expertise.

Jonathan spent most of his time as a judge with a hand over his face. This was not out of fear or laziness. He was simply very exasperated. “Queen Aderes wins.”

Chester led the cheers. He would have been very upset if something bad happened to Aderes during the duel. He had trust in her. However, injury was always a possibility even for the most competent of fighters.

Reid Flagh was still crouched on the floor. He placed his hand on his chest in respect, but he was gritting his teeth. He had planned to come out on top in this encounter.

Aderes held her hand out to Chester and walked him back to her throne. “Hero Flagh, you have lost the right to court me. You are very skilled in combat, but I think you are too unquestioning towards yourself.” The same lack of hesitation that served him well on the battlefield crippled him in politics and courting. Consideration was important.

“I will take your words to heart and I will leave,” Flagh said. He had risen to his legs, leaving the spear he had borrowed on the floor.

Chester kept holding Aderes’ hand. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was supposed to do now. He adjusted his ribbon, as it had slipped down in the excitement; Jonathan helped him retie it.

Ah, now that Chester thought about it, he thought he was an idiot. He should have just claimed he couldn’t see well enough to fight.

He was supposed to be half-blind.

Aderes whispered a question to Chester, then loudly responded, “That would be best. Chester and I are courting officially now.”

Jonathan had his head in his hands again. He was muttering to himself about something called ‘fake dating.’

Chester would make sure to ask Jonathan about what that meant. Maybe it was some other cool thing from his friend’s old world.


I was working on this idea for a while and the way it ended up coming out is so funny to me. Also, Chester POV! Aderes got POV in Volume 1, but Chester didn’t.

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About Ren

Writer of An Unwilling Prince. Longtime reader, fanfic writer, artist, and animator. Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/thesilverhunt3r Tumblr: https://anunwillingprince.tumblr.com/

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