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.

ASTC: Providence, (2016-05-20)

Of the Ten Miracles ascribed to Alerich–Caster of Night, The Ascended Prince of Alzeida, etc etc–two of them occurred before he was ever born, five were done by his sisters, and one was an accident that had nothing to do whatsoever with the legendary royal siblings but which benefited the kingdom greatly, anyway.

The remaining two Miracles had less to do with Alerich’s simultaneous rise to godhood and abdication of the throne and more with the fact that First Sorceress Czeni had threatened to start two separate wars if people didn’t stop asking her about her nonexistent betrothals to various people.

Perhaps it’s for the best that time has worn away those details, smoothed and polished the incidents into a gleaming jewel of myth rather than a somewhat embarrassing blemish in the kingdom’s history. Because in the actual story?

No one came out of it looking at all miraculous or divine.

Time passes and so does life, days turning to nights and babies growing and aging. There is not much that can withstand this flow, and even then it is as if they are stone being slowly eroded away rather than fleeting, fallen leaves washing down stream.

Alerich sleeps and dreams and sees all that has been and all that will be–

except, as always, for

–until he is abruptly awoken by Czeni, looming over him, majestic and oh so furious.

“The imperial ambassador is here,” she says, glaring at his rumpled appearance with soul withering displeasure.

“I thought that wasn’t until the end of the week,” he asks more than says, as if he has any hope of arguing.

“It is the end of the week,” Czeni bites out, ripping away his blanket before striding over to his wardrobe. He has an attendant for this, but he probably sent him away–the boy has yet to figure out when to ignore orders to fulfill his duties. Alerich doesn’t blame him: disobeying royalty used to mean immediate execution. Thankfully, his sisters managed to kill the False Queen and regain their family’s throne.

“Vaseika and Raehani are both away, and the last time Kenadia was in the same room as an imperial delegation they actually pissed themselves in fear,” Czeni reminds him, laying out his most formal robes–the itchy purple ones that make it difficult to breathe much less move–before she casts a monitoring spell at him with a silent jab of her hand. For now it chirps harmlessly on his shoulder, but no doubt if he takes too long it will start shrieking at unholy volumes.

“But that ended up in a better trade agreement for us,” Alerich says, trying to make the point as non-combative as possible, while he wriggles into the robes. It’s as terrible as he remembers.

“Yes,” Czeni agrees, smiling sharply at the victory, before scrunching her face in distaste, “Still, it’s the principle of the thing; it’s so undignified. Also, we shouldn’t use that tactic too often, it’ll lose it’s effect.” She draws near in order to help him with the sash, her touches both familiar and practical as if he were nothing more than a horse that needed to be saddled. Once she’s done with the knot, she steps away to admire her work; he holds his arms in their voluminous sleeves to aid that.

“You can admit it,” he says with a grin, “You became First Sorceress just so you could bully royalty into doing what you want.”

“No,” she scoffs, “I’m First Sorceress because except for you four idiots, I’m the strongest magician in the kingdom.”

The funny thing is, once–when they were children, of course, before the False Queen had ever entered Alzeida–Alerich and Czeni were arranged to be married. It was a good match: the only son of the Alzeida’s Royal Family and the First Sorcerer’s daughter who, even at the tender age of four, had already shown signs of immense magical potential.

And they liked each other well enough, which was to say, they were the only children their age within the castle–Alerich’s older sisters years older and already beginning their training. They only fought over small things like the last piece of cake or whose turn it was to feed the kindly, old training mare an apple and thus experience the ticklish, grateful snuffling in return. They were friends and, in time, they probably would have had a good marriage–one built on a foundation trust, if not love.

But fate had a different future in mind for them.


A/N: some more original fic because hooray original fic