Cross Post: ASTC Providence Snippet (2016-05-29) [3]

original here. dated 2011-11-04



She breathed deeply, enjoying the taste of cool, humid air. It would never stop being a luxury to her, even after the years of being home had outnumbered her time away.

“Kenadia, I know you can hear me. No, Justin, stay over there.”

“I obey only my queen’s orders—oh. Oh, my apologies, I’ll wait outside then.”

“I told you so. Kenadia, I can see you smiling, now get out of the water and put some clothes on. We’ve got visitors today and they, unlike your toy soldier, will not understand why the eldest Alzeidan queen is walking around her castle naked.”

She huffed in response, opening her eyes mostly unwillingly, and sat up, letting the water in her hair trickle down her back. Her familiars, now ever-willing to please (to amend, to apologize, to beg) moved to her, Talise’s flowing fins curling gently around her legs and Mekani’s shimmering wings blowing a soft breeze in her direction. She waved them away (some wrongs could never be forgiven) but bowed to each of them in turn (some lessons could never be forgotten).

“You are as slow as ice, Kenadia, you should not make our guests wait for your laziness,” Janoah scolded, holding out one of the blue robes and draping it over her shoulders.

She smirked and moved even slower towards the doorway, briefly pressing her fingertips to Justin’s shoulders, shaking him out of his embarrassed woolgathering. Both of them flanked her, one at each side, and she couldn’t help but enjoy the symmetry of having both Janoah and Justin with her.

“They’re hardly guests, Janoah; Czeni practically lives here when she’s not in the main palace and Torryl always stops by to hassle the new warriors.”

“It’s not just them, though you should have more respect for Sorceress Czeni and Monk Torryl they are your superiors.”

She would have, at one time, at least internally, cringed at the noise of their voices and their footsteps bouncing and echoing in the hallway. Or perhaps, had they been together at that time they would have been silent out of mutual distrust. Another turn into the chambers she had claimed as her own—Janoah often bemoaned her choice, the rooms originally built as servants quarters (albeit, very high-ranking servants), but she chose them for a reason (they were close to the pool and had two adjoining rooms where she all but demanded Janoah and Justin to stay, they would have anyways, but she preferred a preemptive attack) and she had turned them into her home away from the chilly water of the pool.

“You don’t call me by my title.”

“You are not my superior, boy-Justin.”

She smiled. Despite their needling and pretense of loathing, they really were quite fond of each other and knew the other almost as well as they knew her. They would have to, after the time they spent both caring for her in turn. It was routine. Janoah making sure she was sane, Justin making sure she was safe. Sometimes they switched roles.

“You’re very… oh are you going to dress now, my queen, I’ll stand guard… outside,”

“Yes, you go do that, boy-Justin. Now which outfit for today. You want the blue one, yes?”

Almost all of them had shades of blue. But Janoah picked out her favorite—the one she considered especially blue with white trim and purple embroidering, the smoothest silk and softest cotton and endless flowing fabric. She would admit, she had become something of a hedonist.

“Who else is coming, if it’s not just Czeni and Torryl?” Justin called from the other side of the door. She didn’t understand why he was so intent on respecting decorum with her and not with anyone else.

“Representatives from the Empire, Nation, and Tribes. Do you want to wear the crown, Kenadia?” Janoah gestured to the diadem, gold with deep purple stones. It had been her mother’s, “Of course you do,” She always wanted to wear it, “Let me fix your hair. You can return boy-Justin, Kenadia is fully clothed. Though I don’t know why you still blush, surely you’ve gotten used to your queen’s tendency to show skin.”

She missed being able to talk sometimes. She knew, had she still had her voice, she probably wouldn’t have made the comment (about a half remembered conversation with the other brawlers of the caravan about boy-Blizzard not appreciating women in what they thought was the proper way) but it would have been nice to have that option. She motioned him closer, Justin crouching slightly so that she wouldn’t have to move as Janoah placed the jewelery in her hair.

“Yes, my queen?” He asked, as she traced the edges of the black mask he wore (in honor of her suffering, as punishment for not protecting her, to remember all that they went through, to better protect himself and her and Janoah) which she had once worn so long ago and which Sorcerer Gordo had worn much longer ago. She lifted it gently from his face (even with it on, he could never hide his emotions) and kissed his cheek. “Kena—my queen!” She didn’t know why he still blushed either.

“Kenadia,” Janoah warned, though she could see the smile in the reflection. She kissed the hand by her head, and the smile grew softer.

She loved them both, so much, and she wanted them to know it.

“Behave, Kenadia, you have a meeting in the dining hall,” She didn’t like using the audience chamber of the castle, horrible memories attached to audience chambers even if it was a different castle, but the Northern Palace had always had beautiful architecture so she turned it into a gallery. Sometimes, in the rare moments when she wasn’t soaking herself in the pool or lounging in her chambers, she liked to wander from piece to piece and imagine what it would be like if she hadn’t been born a princess. If she hadn’t become a queen.

But for now, she had a duty to do. Rising (the cloth of the gown sliding against each other and her skin, the jewels of the diadem sparkling in the light) she left her chambers and headed for the dining hall. Janoah and Justin on either side behind her. And she was happy.

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