The previous Sassy Saturday post can be read here: This is Deathkiller Bow
The context for this post: Kasile has summoned Eric and his team to her castle in order to give them special missions. After a separation lasting months, Eric sees how she has changed now that she is a queen instead of a princess.
Basilard approached the throne, dropped to one knee, and bowed his head. The novices followed suit, except for Tiza, who preferred to stand. The area immediately around her suddenly became stifling and she became so faint her knees buckled, at which point the temperature dropped.
“Team Four of the Dragon's Lair, Your Majesty. How may we serve you today?”
Kasile indeed looked majestic. On her head was a crown of gold with a ring of star-white pearls orbiting a ruby the size of a grapefruit. Her brown hair shimmered like silk and the streaks of fire red gleamed in the sunlight. Her gown was tailored to her form from the high neckline to the bodice and full skirts; the bottom of her throne was swamped by them. It was a rich red in color and outlined with gold thread at the hem, waist, sleeves, and neckline. A royal blue slash with the royal crest was bound to her waist. Her hands were adorned by white gloves that reached to her shoulders where they disappeared into the gown’s sleeves. These overlapped the gloves and tapered to a point that resembled a tongue of fire.
More than her clothes, her demeanor had changed. She sat straight against her throne, hands clasped in her lap, looking slightly down at them. Eric didn't remember her being so...regal. Princess Kasile always had a twinkle in her eyes, but the eyes of the queen were cold. They flickered like the fire of someone burning at the stake.
There was a lot of cleaning up to do when a coup failed. He would know because she told him all about it last night. After she prevented Selen’s power grab by force of arms, she hunted his accomplices. With Siron’s help, she arrested, tried, and punished all of them. That sort of trial-by-fire hardened her into a woman who would order executions without hesitation or doubt. At the end of the week, many of the upper echelons of Ataidar's government were empty.
She's no doubt monitoring their replacements.
“I have a special mission for each of you.” Even her voice was different. It was a clean and beautiful blade unlike the cutesy-but-proper tone she affected before. “Mr. Bladi, your mission is in the Research Tower. The Royal Mage has need of a consultant for his latest project. He claims it will lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of mana mutation. Your clan specializes in a related field, and so I hope you will be able to advise him in the proper path he should take.”
“I'd be honored to assist such an esteemed mage.”
Her gaze turned to Tiza and the girl stood a little straighter. “Ms. Sprial, the new recruits have been complaining about training in the increasingly cold weather, so I want you to pass out hot chocolate to ease their burdens.” Before Tiza could protest, she continued, “You may use any other means you find necessary to encourage them to take their training seriously.”
Tiza grinned like a maniac. “You know me too well, Princess Tent Burner.”
“That's Queen Tent Burner!” Nolien hissed, then paused, then face-palmed. “What am I saying!?” Eric and Tiza chuckled, but Kasile didn't curve a lip.
“Mr. Heleti, I –” Kasile began and, to the shock of all, Nolien interrupted her.
“Forgive me, Your Majesty, but my surname is 'Iteleh.' I was only born on Heleti lands.”
Kasile arched a fine eyebrow. “I assumed it was a typo. Heleti spelled backwards, as if The Trickster altered the registry.”
“That must be it, Your Majesty.”
Kasile smiled like the tiger on her sash. “It would explain why the heir to one of Ataidar's Four Pillars is in a mercenary guild. The Trickster loves having fun with us, doesn't he?”
Nolien stiffened and seemed to shrink under her words. “Yes, Your Majesty.”
“You are the team's healer, correct?”
The tension lifted and he replied again. “Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Good. It would be embarrassing for both of us if you weren't. The Royal's Healer's assistant is absent today and so he needs you to fill in. Can I depend on you?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Mr. Watley. Your mission I must discuss in private.”
An adviser stepped forward. “Your Majesty, I must object to this! Alone with a mercenary –”
“That defended the Crown.” She turned her face in his direction and her eyes narrowed into silts of fire. “I hope you are not implying something about Mr. Watley's character.”
The man paled and kowtowed. “No... Your Majesty.”
“Good.” Her eyes returned to normal. “I'm glad my adviser is showing respect for guests.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” The human returned to his place in the entourage.
Kasile arose from her throne and beckoned Eric, who arose from his kneel and followed her into a private chamber. Two guards closed the door behind them and the instant she was out of sight, she clutched Eric. It wasn't a welcome-back hug. She buried her face in his neck, exhaled, and tension evaporated by the bucket. It was a needy hug. All her royal dignity was gone; she was just a girl that that needed a hug. Eric held her as long as she wanted. Her body was warm against his own, very warm. Being queen must be harder than she thought.________________________________________________________
Looming Shadow, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, is available for purchase at Amazon
To learn more about the heroines of Journey to Chaos, visit its Tvtropes character sheet.