Realms of Destiny
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The double doors to the Regent’s chambers opened and the Earth and Water Guardians walked in, heading straight towards the intricately designed oaken desk on the other side of the room where the Regent was sitting.
“You called for us, you Excellency, Lord Regent?” asked Grantig as he and Sephiron gave a bow.
On the way to the room Grantig had been mentally composing in his head the exact instructions on how to go about organizing the funeral of the King, should the Regent asks.
However, what happened next, neither of the two expected.
“There is someone here who wishes to know of the Princess’s wellbeing, and since you seemed to know about it more so than anyone else, I thought it best that you would inform His Royal Highness…”
“…Prince Ultima!” Sephiron completed Duke Balthamus’s sentence, suddenly noticing the dark-skinned figure standing by the window. Sea blue hair flowing in the breeze that is blowing in, the Ulnorian looked down upon the Kingdom of Sylrillia. As the Prince turned Grantig greeted him with a slight bow, while Sephiron did so with the Ulnorian salute; he first place his right fist on his heart gem with his elbow parallel to the ground then with a flowing motion held it up in a military salute on the side of his forehead.
“At ease Sky General.” Said the Prince. “I have just come here to find out and see if my dear fiancé, your Princess, is well. Her disappearance after the battle worried my people, and myself, greatly, as you are no doubt our most precious ally. And my engagement and marriage hopefully, to Princess Miraina would seal this alliance with an unbreakable bond.” He gave a drawn-out sigh like that of a love-sick youth who is dead worried about his missing fiancé.
“I assure you, Your Royal Highness, that the Princess will come back to us safe and sound.” Said Sephiron with confidence. Grantig had gone unusually quiet since the Prince made his presence known, and now Sephiron knew why. He had come to realize the enormity of the whole situation and he didn’t need Grantig’s condescending words to prompt anything. Miraina’s well-being is now the be-all-and-end-all, make-or-break, of his hopes of uniting the two nations.
Before now it had only been a political union, Prince and Princess gets married and brings the two nations together in a symbolic way. Of course, that’s nice. However, now that the King is dead, Ultima is only a marriage away from becoming the next King. Sylrillia may lose its independence to the Ulnorians where there are two Ulnorian kings. King Menianos may not have thought this through properly when he offered his daughter to the Merr kingdom.
Patriarchy had had its day in Sylrillia, male and female Sylrills now have pretty much the same degree of empowerment, especially since Miraina was the Princess of Light, the lone Sylrill with the most powerful Light in them. The Princess had grown up to be a strong leader and no one had ever doubted her ability to lead the country.
However, Ulnoria is still very male-dominant, and duty bound, the Princess would try her best to make sure the marriage held. Grantig foresaw this, and the more he came into contact with the Ulnorian Prince he could see that the only way that such marriage would remain intact is for his Princess to back down into the role of the obedient wife. On the other hand, if they can’t bring her back, this alliance will be off, Sylrillia will come off as considerably weakened, and all it takes is the Ulnorian to return to their ancient allies the Rathnors and the Kingdom will fall.
“So!” said the Prince, suddenly cheerful. “The Regent has been telling me some good news. Princess Miraina is returning in three days is she? I must say that the members of her Court must be very diligent and efficient to be able to find the answers in such a short time. It puts my mind at ease to know that my fiancé has such dedicated and talented Guardians by her side.” he looked expectantly at Grantig for his input.
“You flatter us, Your Highness.” Said Grantig humbly. “It is only our sworn duty to do what’s best for the Princess.”
“It must be very difficult for her to lose her father so suddenly; she can definitely count on me being by her side.” Grantig knew where this was going, and he almost gave him a look of disgust, but he restrained himself. The Regent seemed to be on the same page as him as well, and he looked slightly worried. Sephiron, however, was clueless.
“That is noble of you, Your Highness.” Said the half-Ulnorian.
“I mean, to rule a Kingdom on her own at such a young age. A lone woman…” Ultima went on.
“I assure you that our Princess has sound knowledge and experience of court matters, and is a highly independent and able leader. We have the utmost confidence that she would be able to pull through sire.” Said Grantig, trying not to appear offended by the Prince’s sexist comments against his Princess.
“I just thought it would be better for her if we moved the Royal Wedding up that is all.” Finished the Ulnorian Prince. Grantig wanted to blast this fish-man with the particularly powerful spell that would wipe the smile off his royal face, as well as give him a proper scolding of how inappropriate a wedding would be at a time like this, but knowing his place as a mere subject, there was nothing more he could say without being offensive to the future King. However, he was saved by the veteran, who loved his King and country as much as he did, and knew full well the customs of Sylrillia, what’s appropriate, and what’s not.
“We appreciate your caring for Princess Miraina your Royal Highness, but it is with the laws of the land that following the death of a family member, the period of mourning, during which no joyful celebration can occur, extends for a year after the funeral. Since the King is like a father to us all, this extends to the rest of the Kingdom.”
Grantig mentally reprimanded himself for having given Duke Balthamus so little credit. He is the only one who can hold the Ulnorians at bay, now that the monarchies are absent after all. The little lesson on Sylrill culture left Ultima thoroughly unimpressed, though he knew better than to show it to the Regent who has the prerogative power to, technically, cut him off completely.
“How unfortunate.” It was all the Ulnorian Prince could say. “Well, you won’t mind if I stay here for the next three days, would you? I would rather love to welcome the Princess back myself, as well as make myself useful to my late, future father in-law.” He may as well try to bond with the Privy Council and the Palace Servants in the meantime, and being the first to welcome his Princess would not only look good on his profile but would also put him under a positive light in the eyes of the future Queen.
“We will have the servants prepare the best quarters for you right away Your Highness.” Said the Regent, he then appointed two palace servants to deal with the matter.
While Sephiron was trying to piece together the whole ‘late, future father in-law’, Grantig’s brows furrowed behind his glasses. This is going to be highly inconvenient for both him and Sephiron. The Sky General would have to attend to the foreign Prince as the unofficial ambassador that he is, while Grantig himself must move cautiously. No one but the two of them knows that Miraina’s fate is about as certain as the result of a coin-toss. Yet, they must make sure that no one, least of all Ultima, knows that she needed saving.
As Miraina’s personal entourage and heads of military factions, the Four Guardians have always had the liberty to move around quite freely within the palace without drawing much attention or suspicion from anyone. Their business is their own, and no one ever questioned their actions. Ceremonies and preparations of events or anything political were done by the Council, the Courts with the manual labour of the palace servants.
Grantig had said earlier he needed to attend to the preparation of the King’s funeral and the Princess’s accession, however, the Council should be able to deal with that by themselves and he knew this, none would miss them. However, the situation has changed now that Ultima is around. Because the Ulnorian Prince’s concern is the same as theirs: the Princess of Light, their movements will be followed, and the Ulnorian will do anything to find out more about her. And depending on how well he had studied Sylrillian culture, he may even ask them for the Book which writes the Reality where Miraina is currently a part of. That is, of course, the worst-case scenario, and Grantig wouldn’t have a clue how to react if he really did ask.
“So gentlemen, care to tell me how you so efficiently solved this mystery while I wait for my room to get set up?” asked Ultima after a moment or two pacing around the Regent’s chambers, looking through the furniture and books which lined the shelves. A lot of them are just casual reading materials, history books, general books, and artworks belonging to no one in particular. Since Duke Balthamus had only just been appointed Regent, he hadn’t really gotten around to properly moving in. Furthermore, since his position is only for the three days and possibly a few more before the accession, there was really no need to move his entire estate to the Royal Palace.
“There isn’t really much to tell, Your Royal Highness, we merely consulted a few texts and visited the Death Keeper.” Said Grantig, to keep the matter short. He shouldn’t be here all day telling the story and explain things that he had spent the past hour explaining to the House. He would have had Sephiron entertain the Ulnorian but on second thought, that may not be such a great idea as the Prince, he knows, is cunning, and Sephiron just might let slip one too many pieces of information in his eagerness to please. This won’t do, thought Grantig I have to find a way to leave right now.
Just then, without warning, his knee buckled, causing him to tumble into Sephiron who, on reflex, caught him just in time. He unsteadily tried to brace himself on the Grand Maester Staff.
“Are you alright Grand Maester?” asked both the Regent and Sephiron, concerned.
“My apologies…Your Highness, my Lord Regent. It has been a long day today, and with all the magic I’ve used since this morning, I am feeling a little faint.” He closed his eyes leaning on his staff for a bit, took a deep breath, then opened them again, standing up straight.
“Don’t let us keep you, you should definitely go and rest. Shall I call for the healers?” said the Lord Regent himself, standing up to call the servant.
“There is no need for that my Lord, it is mere exhaustion, a night’s rest should suffice, the Sky General can accompany me, as our chambers are in the same wing.” He made as though to walk on his own towards the door but tripped and draped himself on Sephiron’s shoulders, at the same time that he made eye contact with the Sky General, shooting a private telepathic message in his direction. <Let’s get out of here now!> to the other two, however, he gave a weak smile and an attempt at a bow. “I am terribly sorry for allowing myself to be in such a state in your presence. I bid both of you good night.”
“Just go Grand Maester! Take your rest!” exclaimed the Regent. “Sky General, get him in bed quickly!”
“Yes, your Excellency.” Sephiron bowed with Grantig on his shoulder and hurriedly hobbled off. As the doors closed behind them, the two continued to hobble through the hallway until they took the first turn and immediately Grantig dropped his act and stood on his own two feet, speeding away to the map room.
“I’ve got to say, I’ve only ever seen the kids use it at magic school, but that trick really does work.” Grantig commented to Sephiron who was beginning to see him in a new light, not only is he smart, he’s a good actor too.
“You could have given me a bit of a warning beforehand, I was genuinely worried.” Said Sephiron grudgingly. Grantig looked sideways briefly at Sephiron with a single raised eyebrow.
“I’m touched.” He said, and continued walking.
They came to the central hall of the West Wing of the Palace where the ceiling was built high above the ten stories of the wing. It is a wide open space on the ground floor, with access to the balconies of the stories in between, and the top ceiling with a classical mural, designed with jewels and stained glass, creating a beautiful image that projects straight down to the landing when the sun shines above. Once here, the two Guardians called forth their wings and flew up to the sixth floor where the map room was located. When they landed, they returned their wings to its cape form, Grantig’s a light green fur trimmed cape, with a hood, as that of a Magus, and Sephiron, a red and blue cape of the Dragoons.
After two failed attempts, the duo finally made their way to the doors of the map room. However, it was closed and locked. There was a note posted at the front of the room which read:
Due to a family emergency, I will not be around until Light’s Day 18th hour,
the Map Room will be closed until then. Sorry for the inconvenience.
“You must be fucking kidding me.” Said Sephiron with much of a care for his language at this point. He put his hand on his forehead and collapsed into the wall, back first, before sliding down to huddle in despair.
“What day is it?” asked Grantig suddenly.
“Soul’s day,” mumbled Sephiron into his armour. He gave a massive sigh before saying “At least it’s tomorrow.” The distraught half-Ulnorian looked up at the blonde-haired Sylrill. “What are you thinking now?”
“That I’m going to bed.” Said Grantig, then he turned and made his way towards his chambers in the North Tower.