Chapter Two

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Chapter Two

Post by LavenderYuki on 2011-04-15, 17:51

o hai thar.

here's more of my original fic. i might had overdone it with this one. put too much time to describe one character, disregard the others = this is my main weakness as of now. i promise i'll spend more time on other characters in the coming chapters too.

“Thank you, Richard” Emmea patted the big man’s arm as he offered to walk her to the balcony overlooking the Trader’s Coast and the now dark and calm Green Sea. The water glittered by the gentle light from the waning moon hovering above. Dian showered her light benevolently tonight in her full roundness. Klein, a slim and slightly blueish tint on the skin of a boyish figure was lifting a chair she gotten as her 18th birthday by the Silverfin Fleetmaster of the Ever Sailing people, the Marliners. Marliners are great gifters – they would give out gifts for any occasions at all if they were allowed to. The thickly cushioned gilded chair took four palace’s workmen to carry into her room after she accepted it, but Klein easily set it to place beside the translucent curtain hung before the verandah with his own two hands. The boy – he is neither a male nor a female, but he always said he want to grow up into a man – smiled sheepishly as she accepts his hand to help her sit. She softly patted his cheek and the smooth baldness of his head. “It’s nice to see you again, Klein.”

Mell was just done placing an invisible shield against sound to ever coming out of the room with a slight nod of a gesture when she finally fixed her stern look on Emmea. Mell never smiled, Dian help her if anyone knows why, not to mention she never laugh or cry. She decided that to be in the second most important position in the kingdom meant her to forget about selfness and only live to serve. To her, Emmea smiled too. “I missed you, Mell.” The ivory skinned woman made a discreet movement of her slanted brows that made her look like she’s always in disagreement in everything she saw and heard – a loud enough message that translated to “Don’t be ridiculous. You never left my sight, how can you ever miss me?” She glided a good two large steps away from where Emmea was sitting and waited. Mell never stood anywhere near her if she can get away with it. It seems almost a century ago Mell used to hold her hands and never leave not more than a breath away from Emmea. Well, she barely needs help to walk or stand now; she grew up. Emmea’s no longer the infant she was when Mell was first entitled to her tutoring on academics and ethics.

For a moment, they were all in a silence, and Emmea used the rare opportunity to recollect her memory as Emmearaldina du’ Collein, the Princess of the Ophel, after a embracing her other persona she named Emmea Walters, the palace chambermaid. She is the only heir to the throne after her mother, Latiffarelle du’ Collein the Queen died about twelve years ago because of a plague. No one knew what caused it – not even the deities or any of the spirits – and why it only kill children not yet reach puberty, and women carrying child. Many grave sites are flocked with mourning parents for their children that had been fine two days before and now stiff and cold under the soil. Expecting mothers are forced to face the reality that the day after their babies are born, they too would fall for the plague and die the coming sunrise. Then suddenly adults too were showing symptoms that point to the Dark Plague as they call it, and many had died as well. Then, just as soon as it appears, the dying stopped. What was left of the Island then are just a handful of shaken adults and thousands of wailing orphans. Many important positions were left empty and had to be replaced by mere children. Emmea, Mell and Richard are among them. They were forced to abandon their childhood and attempt to govern a kingdom all at the same time, while protecting the already small and vulnerable island from crippling threats. The years of hardship had not passed entirely as of yet, but they made it through together so far. The three of them had clung to each other for support that’s almost akin to what blood-relatives would.

“Are you finally going to say you’ll end this foolishness of disguising yourself as a palace maid?” Mell was cold in her stares and her speech. That’s just what she is towards others except to her own reflections in a mirror. No one was ever to be better than Mell, but yet Emmea liked that of her. Her narcissistic nature is part of her charm, and also contributed to her pride and confidence. Being a Grand Magus demands such traits in a person, or so Emmea had been told. Sometimes, Emmea was convinced that Mell was only delusional – setting rules that never existed for the sake of something that’s hardly a glaring threat. But then again, Mell had always been this way. Her strength was mostly derived from her desire to be the best, also to be heard and obeyed.

“To learn a big structure, it’s always easier from the ground level. It’s one of the mottos of stonemasonry I overheard and I think it’s just brilliant. I need to learn what makes a strong country, and by camouflaging as a simple maid can teach me many things. And I can see the destructive cracks better this way,” she said out of memory. This was not the first time Mell demanded her explanation for her decision of going undercover to learn to live as a subject, primarily to seek out if there was any claim to a secret gathering of people that planned to cause trouble in the land. She had read reports of an unsettling one, and determined to root them out. Her Mother would do the same, so the old philosopher – who was one of those who had miraculously survived the Dark Plague – said. He had told her countless fond stories of his favorite student when he was not entirely drowned into his books and scrolls, claiming the royal library to be his only home. Emmea whispered prayers for the old man that passed quietly in his writing table at one dark edge of the library.

“And yet you are not a stonemason. Even if you are, you would have sent your underlings or apprentices to do the job.” There was a touch of exasperation in her tone. She hated to repeat how she is right while everyone else is supposed to trust her judgment, and that was obviously shown by the tight frown between her eyebrows. One would see Meliandrha Tanasvita as an insensitive and arrogant woman, but to Emmea she’s more than just what she appeared to be. She can be as compassionate as a saint; just that she seemed to be afraid of showing it to the public. She knew, of course, the true reason Emmea went in disguise and blend in with the maids – there is an unsettling rumor of overthrowing the Grand Magus. Mostly because they claimed she’s not a pure Ophelian, while another was about the iron-fisted administration she led. It frustrated her that no one seemed to see Meliandhra as well as she does. All they ever see was how intimidating she can be. Sometimes, Emmea just wanted to make a public announcement to the people of how gentle and kind her Grand Magus is but Mell wouldn’t let her do it, of course. “Even more so if the cracks on the walls had nothing to do with your fault.” She added in a whisper. Stubborn.

“You’d be only wasting time to find someone to blame for the cracks, anyhow. It’s better to start patching it up rather than stand around and mope on your failures.” Richard said while placing a palm on the woman’s shoulders. Mell winced and glided away while her eyes are dark with anger. She hated to be touched; especially by a man, even if the man happened to be a person who had basically grew up with her. Richard only laughed lightly at her bristling like an intimidated cat and knelt beside Emmea’s chair. “Though I must agree with Mell, Your Holiness. There’s no need for you to face this protesters on your own. This is why you have a loyal subject to act on your behalf. I can deal with them easily and quietly.” His large calloused hands from all the sword fighting took hers and bent to kiss her palms. Richard was always a passionate one, but the way he put his words it sounds like the only way he can do to ‘deal’ with the protesters are by violence. Emmea wouldn’t believe he would do such a thing, but yet he would use the same tone to mock his opponents, to praise his knights, and even to give the final orders to sink an enemy ship. Her Grand General was a deadly man, but he’s also her closest friend that she would gladly entrust her life to and without any question.

He stood next to her after she nodded and flashed a smile to him. She tried her best not to grimace at the horrible scar that took the sight of his right eye. He lost it for the sake of his liege’s command. She forced him to a sea-bound battle because there’s no other way to stop the invading Empire’s warship. It was a choice she hated to make, but it was necessary. Many lives were lost, but she had to allow her people to fight for her – it was one of the responsibilities to become a leader. Mell made sure she understood that part the most when she first stepped in as her advisor. A kingdom governed by a child ruler was almost destined to fail. There were more than once she felt that she couldn’t take the incredible burden and wanted just to give up and hide away. She had shed tears for many nights until her eyes couldn’t produce any more for the soldiers now at the bottom of the ocean where she put them. The helplessness was overwhelming.

Throwing the unhappy past events away from her mind, she observed the city that spread beneath the corridor. The moon was full and glowing ever so brightly that the dutiful lantern-keepers only lit half of them in one block. There was enough light for her to see the large fountain that stood right in front of a roofless building. Already there’s quite a handful of devotee to Dian the Moonlight kneeling around the fountain. The ritual of bathing of the moonlight is usually performed each night when the moon is full by those who followed the teaching of the moon deity, Dian. Emmea suppressed a sigh when she start to count how many there were. The numbers used to be more than just of tens. It’s disturbing for her to see so many had lost faith to Dian, but there’s little she can do to rebuild them. Hopefully by inviting the famous Songstress for the Summer Festival would help. Here and there, tents had already been pulled up to accommodate the street vendors and other activities. The bright light coming from the large arena not far from the palace suggests there’s still a lot more things to prepare for the big day.

“Furthermore, there’s a pile of reports for the Princess to read and many meetings to attend. You didn’t expect this shapeshifter can do your duties as well as he can impersonate, do you?” the way Mell refer to Klein was almost acidic. She had problems with the shapeshifter from the first moment Emmea decided to adopt him to her service instead of punishing for his crime. He had initially come to the island to assassinate her, and Mell was still convinced he would try again despite him had already severed the ties to his old owner. The Empire would still try to stretch their claws to the island again, and she had Klein as a constant reminder. Besides, she had grown fond of the little blue boy. He stood unbothered with Mell’s remark, keeping his beady eyes on Emmea. He remained in the appearance of Emmea the chambermaid, in case someone would come in and saw all of them together. Two of the Princess’ important personnel in the Royal sleeping chamber in the middle of the night might not be on anyone’s dare to question, but seeing two Princesses would be tricky to explain – especially when Klein’s existence was kept only between the three of them.

“All right, all right. I will stop it, but only for one more day and a night. I promised Kim to go with her to the festival in town.” Richard chuckled. Of course, he remembered what happened earlier. “I simply didn’t realize there’s wine dripping from my head!” Emmea turned to Mell and saw her arch her eyebrows as if she heard something really ridiculous. For her, that’s as near as a laugh can be. “You have to believe me! I wouldn’t consider that as any type of past time.” Richard’s chuckles escalated to laughter.

“I wish I can see it, Princess. I never saw anyone who had their head dripping in wine before.” The blue boy added. He didn’t mean any mockery, of course. He is as innocent as a child; he wasn’t capable of any mockery. He wouldn’t know the first thing about it, she bets. “I visited the Lelanda’s estate to talk about her crops and farm and she said there will be a good harvest this coming autumn. By her calculations, it’s enough to feed the island, and with some extra for trade. Though she was reluctant to set aside a quarter of them for the Marliners.” The shapeshifter had been her double for the few weeks of her spying. He had done a good job at it with no one realizing it – though Emmea had to admit, she was a bit disappointed that no one ever realized it. Mell had mentioned though he could copy Emmea’s usual habit only via observations, he couldn’t copy her mind. So most of the time he is to answer and ask questions with the guide from Mell; may it need her to be anywhere he is, or communicating through the mind. It is one of the advantages of Mell, and luckily Klein is acceptable to her magusry.

“Tomorrow you will have a formal welcoming and opening ceremony for the Songstress Lutea in the day, and a dinner in the evening. Are you coming as the Princess or the boy?” The way she voiced boy is almost a sneer, but Klein didn’t take notice just as before. He was in truth a creature created by the Alchemist – a secretive group of people that strive to seek immortality and region-wide domination by any means necessary. In short, they are very disagreeable group of people if to compare with the rest of the world. Abomination like experimenting on lives and create artificial lives are taboo in all deity-centric faiths. The Alchemist does not believe in invisible creatures claiming rights to say what should and what shouldn’t we do; they believe in creating themselves as Gods.

“I would need to ask Klein to pose as me in the ceremony. I promised Kim to go see the Song performance with her since Emmea the chambermaid will be leaving home the next day. She had been a great companion all the time I was a lowly maid.” The story she made up was that she needed a month time to train in the palace as maid to later work in another wealthy Lords or Ladies in the southern part of the island. It’s not so unusual to go to the Royal Palace to get training in this particular profession. She had made the decree to make Ophel a centre for knowledge and skills and also trade a couple of years after she took the throne. It is to encourage the people to be productive and travel, and not brooding in their hometown reminiscing the days when everyone they love passed away one by one.

Mell tilted her chin a degree higher – showing that she didn’t like her idea but she’ll agree anyhow. “You will make sure tomorrow is the last time you’ll do anything foolish as this. I can handle my own problem.” She sent through her mind. At least with her mind-voice, she showed more emotions than she was in her real voice. She sounded sincerely worried and a little embarrassed. Her pride is too high to show how honest she can be to herself.
“Of course I will, Mell.” Emmea stood and walked towards her friend. This time, Mell didn’t try to get away. Her whole body below the neck is nothing more than slimes in a casing in shape of a flattened human body underneath that thick black robe she sported. She lost all ability to freely move the limbs without the use of magusry, also her sense of touch. As well as the lost left eye of Richard’s, all was for the sake of her liege; Emmea. The sacrifices are too much for her to repay in a million lifetimes. With only the head was left, Emmea placed her palm against her ivory cheeks. It was warm, and from the way Mell gently leaned against her touch with eyes closed, she already knew what the woman kept inside. Why can’t everyone see how frail and loving she is like she does?

They spend a few minutes talking idle topics like how they used to. Richard telling how he tried to stop and tell Emmea that she is drenched in wine, and Klein recalled another foolish act he and Emmea used to do in the past – the boy had remarkable memory and remembered to the last detail – while Mell actually smiled faintly and the change of atmosphere. Then Richard and Mell had to retire for the night after her Grand Magus placed the disguise spell on her again. Klein still had to pose as Emmearalda the Princess and sleep in the royal bed while Emmea insist on spending the rest of the night praising Dian the Moonlight for the bathing of the moonlight ritual. She prayed for the safety of her dear friends and the rest of her people. She prayed for the future of the kingdom she inherited from her ancestors.

you can also download to see the proper version with the italics here;
Chapter Two .docx version
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