There are a couple of different reactions to this proclamation. My mouth, which had just started to close again, falls back open.
Faladel is absolutely stunned. “What!?”
Briareth is surprised, but also instantly on guard. “What? Why would we help you do that?”
“Well if you dislike the idea that much me and my men could turn you back in. Pretend we found you hiding out in a secret room while plotting to finish your miraculous escape.” Smedigan says coolly.
“Blix!” Prince Yaluda scolds, slapping the back of his head. “Stop it! I know you don’t like involving them, but that doesn’t mean you have to be so blatant about it.”
“We can’t trust them, your highness.” Smedigan says, his eyes drilling into Yaluda’s as if he wants to say something more, but can’t. Not with us around at least.
“Excuse me?” I manage to break in. They both turn to stare at me, Smedigan unfriendly and the Prince intimidating. I take a deep breath and continue. “Why exactly do you want to kill your dad?”
Yaluda lets out a small snort and flicks his hair over his shoulder. “Same reason any heir would want to kill their parent. Wealth, power. Once he dies I’m king. You lot will help me because although he isn’t open to peace, I’m more than happy to accept it. It will give me an excuse to clean out the nobility. Those who like the war are also adamant supporters of my dad. I reduce their power while securing my own. It’s a win/win scenario.” Although everything he says is logical, something feels off about it.
“You could just wait until he dies.” Faladel pushes, I guess he joined in because he also senses something is up. “Why kill him in cold blood? Why not just wait?”
“I’ve waited long enough.” Yaluda snaps at him. “Elves might be immortal, but I am not. I won’t last forever. I’m already forty-three, I should have taken the throne years ago. But I know that my dad will never relinquish it as long as he breathes.”
Forty-three? I shake my head quietly. No way the prince is that old. He looks like he’s in his early thirties, like me.
“No way.” Faladel says, and for a second I think he’s agreeing with me. There’s no way this handsome dude is in his forties. But Faladel continues. “Killing your dad who’s taken care of you and brought you up your entire life just because you’re impatient? You may be many things, but I don’t think you’re that despicable. Not if all these men are willing to commit treason for you. Also, since when did dwarves know elves are immortal?” I flinch, realizing he’s right. Yaluda had just tossed it out there, as if it was common knowledge, but I’d never heard of it till I met Faladel and Briareth. So how did he…?
“It gets rather obvious when your king hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.” Yaluda stares at Faladel. It’s not quite a glare, there’s too much respect in it. Grudging respect, but still respect. “We just consider it need-to-know information,” he continues “no reason to make the general public despair by talking about how much their enemies have accomplished. And yes, I believe it’s an accomplishment. If it were natural, there’s no way you wouldn’t have overpopulated your territory by now. “
“And what about the other part of Faladel’s comment?” Briareth says, after realizing that Prince Yaluda obviously doesn’t intend to continue. “What’s the other reason you want us to do this?”
Yaluda glances between us, evaluating us with his sharp golden eyes. “Blix told me you were smart, but I didn’t think you’d catch on quite so quickly,” He admits, shoulders relaxing just a little bit. “It’s true, I do have another reason why I want him dead.”
“Yaluda.” Smedigan Blix puts his hand on the Dwarf Prince’s shoulder, a worried look on his face. He doesn’t trust us, doesn’t think Yaluda should reveal anything else. But the prince just shrugs him off.
“My dad killed my younger sister.” He says flatly. But there is emotion in the flatness, an anger he’s probably hidden for years. Smedigan’s eyes narrow, a small crease forming between his bushy brows as he stares at Yaluda. “He tried to kill me too, and it failed.” Yaluda continues. “He hasn’t realized that I know he was behind all of it. He got rid of the assassins before we could question them, but I still tracked the bribes back to him.”
“So it’s revenge?” Briareth grins. “That makes a lot more sense. Being honest with potential allies isn’t that hard now, is it?”
“Wait a second.” Faladel cuts back in. “One thing about your story doesn’t make sense. Why now? From what little I’ve heard, your sister died years ago. You can’t just have been waiting for elves to get captured and brought to the castle.”
At this point Smedigan Blix breaks in again to explain, and Prince Yaluda lets him. “We weren’t waiting for elves.” He claims, “We were waiting to make sure the evidence was traced back to the King. But we waited too long, by the time it came back, he’d already pinned the blame on someone else, and the whole matter was considered ‘settled.’”
“We’ve been hunting for opportunities to take him down ever since.” Yaluda takes over. “When I saw you guys in the throne room, I realized a prime one had arrived. After all, you owe me, Faladel Mithrandir. Years ago, I saved your life.“
The three of us stare at Prince Yaluda, flabbergasted.
“Wait, what? When? Why didn’t I hear about this?” Briareth breaks the tension first, turning to look at Faladel.
“I have no clue what he’s talking about either.” Faladel replies, still staring at Yaluda.
“I saved your life.” Yaluda repeats. “You didn’t honestly believe that the paperwork reporting your capture somehow ‘got lost in the system’? That no backups were sent out when you kept repeating your identity like an idiot while in prison? True, it only took a couple of years for them to stop coming, but even one reaching my father would have spelled your death. You owe me, Prince Faladel.”
Faladel frowns, losing himself to his thoughts, but Briareth snaps back immediately. “Where’s your proof?”
“He’s sitting right in front of you.” Yaluda replies calmly. “And it looks like he knows it.”
Briareth turns again to look at Faladel. “Faladel, you can’t possibly believe him.”
“You have to admit, Briareth, it makes a lot more sense that someone high up intervened rather than it just being random luck.” Faladel replies, still staring at the other prince.
“What exactly do you want us to do?” I say, stepping up to give Briareth and Faladel some privacy to discuss this. “Briareths’ magic is crippled, Faladel never had any to start with. If they ever left this hidden room, there’s no way they’d go unnoticed. There’s nothing we can do that you and your guards can’t do better.”
Yaluda turns his attention to me, hair sliding back to the front of his shoulder. “Their magic is blocked? We’ll have to fix that. Blix, we have a cleric among the PPGs right?” Noticing my confused expression, he explains the acronym. “Prince’s Private Guards.”
“Of course, Highness.” Blix replies, “I’ll have one of the boys fetch him discreetly.” He waves over to the group of guards we’d originally arrived here with. They’d been so silent this entire discussion, I’d completely forgotten about them. One approaches, and Blix gives him instructions and sends him off. The guard exits, almost completely silently. I’m not sure if Faladel and Briareth, who are still talking quietly in the background, have even noticed.
“Now, about the other part of your question, what I would want you to be doing.” The Prince grins, and guides me to seats on the other side of the room from Faladel and Briareth. “Well first, you going missing from right under my dad’s nose will have him all riled up. My dad has a bit of a temper, you see. Prince Faladel’s already escaped him once, twice just adds insult to injury, especially since it was from his very own dungeons. When he gets angry, he’s less guarded in his movements. Just by rescuing you all, I’ve made the rest of the job easier.
“Secondly,” Yaluda continues, “because my dad and I both get to vet the PPGs, I can’t bring anyone loyal to me and proficient in poisons into the castle. He’d notice immediately if I brought someone who was taught anything close to herbalism, and I need an expert who can create a poison that causes a-” here the prince raises his fingers in a quoting gesture “‘natural death’. I believe the King’s Archers teach their members all sorts of tricks when it comes to things like this. So Briareth should be able to help us out a lot on that front, right? He is a Kings’ Archer, right?” He glances over his shoulder at Briareth, semi-doubtfully. “He’s not quite what I’d imagined.”
“He is quite a competent Kings’ Archer,” I say, trying to be reassuring, “He’s just also a bit of an idiot sometimes.” I sure hope he’s serious when he gets his hands on poison, or I may die of embarrassment.
“Hmm…” The prince studies Briareth and Faladel, who are now arguing rather heatedly on the other side of the room. “Anyway,” He suddenly changes the topic, “How did you end up in their company? I’m assuming you were the one who told them about the Scourger in the first place, but how did you get your hands on that information? I looked into your background– I hope you don’t mind –and you don’t have nearly enough clearance.”
“Well,” I hesitate, not quite sure where to begin. “If you’ve looked into my past, you’ll know I served under General Muttak.” I pause again, shooting a questioning look at the prince, not quite sure how deeply he pried into my past. He gestures to me to continue. “Soldiers, your Highness, much like servants, hear things. Especially when they’re on guard duty outside tents of important people. When generals are drunk, they often forget that we’re out there. And General Muttak was –well I suppose is– a man who likes his comforts, including alcohol. Moreso when he had visitors. I don’t rightly know who this group was, but they must’ve been important because he desperately wanted to impress them. He began bragging at some point, and someone else took it upon themselves to outdo him. Most of their tales were utter nonsense, until a new person spoke up claiming he had the best story of all, that he was a key part of a new offensive that would completely destroy the elves.
The others challenged him, he provided details to prove it. One of the most important concepts we were taught in training was never to leave a dwarf behind. I was horrified by their plan. It might wipe out all the elves in one blow, but it would also sacrifice hundreds of dwarves.” I pause again, glancing at the prince for a reaction, his face is carefully blank, but I think his eyes might be smiling, so I continue.
“At the point I still believed the propaganda, that we were getting ever closer to victory, even when it felt like we were going nowhere. I thought we’d eventually win, without the Scourger, without the sacrifices, so I saw the Scourger as another noble’s attempt to steal fame and glory without caring about those who suffered for it. They’d break their own rules– never leave a dwarf behind– for a victory that although longer would sacrifice far less dwarves. Again, now that I’ve taken an outsiders perspective and realized exactly how long this war has gone on, I realize that the Scourger would probably have killed less dwarves overall than a drawn-out war.”
“So why do you still oppose the Scourger?” The prince asks me. I chuckle softly.
“Some may call me stubborn, but I still believe it’s wrong for that many dwarves to die simply because there needed to be a sacrifice. Also, now that I’ve gotten to actually know some elves, I don’t think their entire race should be wiped out. For a species that the church claims was created by a demon’s laughter at another’s misfortune, they’re surprisingly decent people. They have their good and bad eggs. They have families that they want to protect. Most of them aren’t fans of this war, just like most dwarves. The difference is that we always believed it was necessary.” I’m surprised at the honesty of the words spilling out of my mouth. I mean every one of them, and many I’d never even thought about. They just came to me as I was talking with Prince Yaluda.
“Anyways, your highness,” I begin again, trying to divert my tongue back to its original path.
“Call me Yaluda” The prince smiles– actually smiles– at me. I try my best not to notice how his golden eyes twinkle when he makes that expression.
“Yaluda” I repeat, turning my gaze to focus on the large oaken bookshelf across from us. “Well, Yaluda, to answer your original question as to how I met Briareth and Faladel, I ended up deserting shortly after hearing that conversation between my superiors. I made a break for elven territories because I knew that although I could do nothing with this information, the elves– if they believed me– would have a vested interest in preventing the extinction of their race.
“Long story short, Briareth found me, believed me, and took me to Heronmal where I met Prince Faladel. Instead of being executed like I expected, I got roped into finding a solution, a way to make peace so that no more lives have to be sacrificed.”
“By threatening mutual destruction?” Yaluda asks, I fidget my hands. “That was actually a lie.” I confess, “as far as I know, the elves have no such weapon.”
Yaluda laughs, a spontaneous delighted sound seeming to burst from his very core. “You mean the elf Prince– Faladel you called him? –was bluffing the entire time he was in the throne room? He’s not half-bad!” He glances over to Briareth’s and Faladel’s corner of the room, a curious twinkle in his golden eyes. I start to frown, and then catch myself. Why should I be upset about who he’s interested in? Prince Yaldua can pay attention to whoever he wants to, it’s none of my business. In fact, I should be happy he’s impressed with Faladel. After all, if we do end up killing his father, and he takes the throne, he’ll be more likely to keep his side of the bargain and make peace if he likes us.
“If you want, “ I offer, “I could tell you more about Faladel. ‘I’ve only been around him for a couple of months, but I think I’ve picked up a lot about him during that time.”
“Nahh.” Yaluda turns me down, smiling. “I’d rather hear more about you. What was it like for you, serving under General Muttak?”
A small smile finds its way onto my face even as I recall unpleasant memories. “Not great.” I reply. “I was lucky that I only served with him for two months before I overheard news of the Scourger. General Muttak’s style of leadership was,” I hesitate, trying to find a way to put it delicately. “Very different from my previous commander, General Waltraud
“Remember how I said General Muttak liked his comforts?? Well, he also enjoyed his position of privilege. A little too much in my frank opinion. General Waltraud, although strict, was always fair. He had standards for us, and set himself even higher ones. He at least was a leader I could respect. Fear, yes, but also respect. General Muttak was just the opposite. He may have been a brilliant tactician, but he wasn’t a good leader. Under his command, a man could be beaten for looking at him funny. When he was drunk, he didn’t even pretend to think up a reason, just ordered random floggings. I personally believe he just liked seeing other people suffer. Most common soldiers like myself just went on with our duties and hoped we never caught his eye.
“Not only was he terrible to his men, he was awful to women too. We passed through multiple towns on our way to the frontlines, and never once did he miss an opportunity to stay the night.” I pause and think for a few seconds. “Honestly, he might have intentionally steered us towards towns because there were far more on our route than there should have been. Anyway, he would demand the townsfolk, normally just old men, women, and children, serve us from their own supplies. Then he would pick a young lady who caught his eye, sometimes two or three, and demand that they serve him ‘personally’ that night. It’s not like they could refuse, since he was a powerful General, and a noble to boot.” As I continue detailing the General’s actions, Yaluda’s moth twists into a disgusted grimace.
“That,” he finally says, “is just awful.”
“Yeah,” I agree, “Whenever I saw him strutting towards his tent with those poor women following behind him, I kept imagining they were my sisters, and fighting the urge to commit gross insubordination.”
“What sort of insubordination?” Yaluda asks.
I don’t dare look at him as I admit, “Punching the General in his stupidly arogant face.”
Yaluda claps me on the back, my eyes meet his, and I realize he’s grinning at me. “Good on you!” he cheers, and then clarifies “for the wanting to punch him in the face part, not for holding back. I probably would have liked it more if you had ended up punching him.”
“If I had punched him, I would have ended up dead.” I answer wryly, ignoring the way my ears heated up at his words.
My dry humor doesn’t stop his smile, if anything, it enhances it. “How about this then,” he offers “the day of my coronation, you’ll be officially allowed to punch the scoundrel, and then I sock him a good one as well, and then I’ll sack him. After all, with no war, I have no need for lascivious Generals!”
“The future of this kingdom appears to be in good hands.” I say solemnly, trying my best to keep a straight face. It fails miserably when Yaluda laughs, another high pitched spontaneous laugh, coming directly from his soul. I grin and join in. Blix looks over at us, startled by our outburst. Yaluda gestures for him to stand down, and he takes a few steps back, to make it clear he isn’t intruding on our conversation.
“What about your sisters?” Yaluda asks when we’re finally done laughing. “What are they like? You must be fond of them if you’d punch a General to protect them.”
I smile. “It’s been 13 years since I’ve seen them, but I’ll try to describe them to you. I was the eldest but certainly not the most mature. That award went to Klyndia. She was fifteen when I left, but already in charge of the family funds because she enjoyed working with all the numbers. When Mom, Inkane, and I stayed out late to work the farm– our father had died when I was fourteen, so we had to manage it ourselves –she was the one who made us supper and made sure we had a welcoming house to return to. Hopefully she’s happily married by now. With her business sense and beauty, I’m sure she was flooded with requests, but I never got a letter announcing anything, she just stopped being mentioned in the letters that did make their way to me.
“Inkane was twelve when I left,” I continue, moving on to my next sister. “Meaning she’s twenty-five now. She was a playful active child who loved working with her hands. She hated being cooped up inside though, so she would volunteer to work out in the fields with her mother and I.” I smile, remembering her soft curly brown hair beneath my hand and her big brown eyes and gap-toothed grin as she smiled up at me. “Although I remember her as a playful tomboy with too much energy, I received word six, no maybe it was seven, years ago of her marriage to a kid she used to bully. Apparently, they fell completely in love. I don’t know how, he was such a whiny brat in my mind, but things change as time passes, so hopefully he grew out of that phase.
“My last sister, Gidora, was eight when I left. But even then she was the sweetest, cutest sister a dwarf could ask for. She was much closer to Klyndia than she was to me, but she’s been the one who always wrote me letters. She promised to write every week the day I left, and although I only received about one letter a month when I was in the army, I doubt it means that she broke her promise. She just isn’t that type of person.” I fold my hands in my lap. “The first thing I want to do when I get home, after peace is finally made, is give all my little sisters hugs and my mom a big bouquet of wildflowers.
Yaluda smiles as if imagining the scene with me.
“Why wildflowers? Why not roses or lilies or something fancier?” He eventually asks.
“When my Dad was still alive, Inkane and I would often run off to play all day instead of doing our chores. To avoid mom’s wrath when we got back, I had the bright idea to pick her flowers. In my young mind, she couldn’t be angry if we said we’d been busy all day finding the best and brightest flowers for her. Although she was upset when we inevitably returned home, she always cherished the tiny blossoms. It became almost a ritual for me and Inkane, whenever we avoided our responsibilities or stayed out too long, wildflowers were our way of saying sorry.” I explain.
“So you’re apologizing for staying away for over a decade?” Yaluda covers his mouth, and I think he’s hiding a smile.
“It’s sappy, I know,” I say, glancing at my hands again, “but I think she’d appreciate it.”
“Hey, I wasn’t going to say that it’s sappy at all.” Yaluda puts a hand on my shoulder, and I glance at him again. His other hand is wiping at the corner of one of his eyes, which looks suspiciously wet. “It’s-its really sweet.” he stammers. I blink, realizing that he wasn’t laughing at me, he was crying. I’m not the sappy one, he is!
I clear my throat uncomfortably. Tears are stressful, time to change the topic.
“What about you?” I ask “Are you close with your mom?”
“Well-” Yaluda hesitates before answering “It’s complicated.” I resist the urge to slap myself for my blunder. Of course it’s complicated, his mom is dead! The current queen is his dead sister’s mom. I’m such an idiot! How did I not remember that?
“Yeah, er– sorry, bad question. I didn’t mean to pry-” I backtrack desperately.
“No, no!” Yaluda breaks in. “You can pry, feel free to ask questions! After all, you basically bared your soul and your story with me. I would be a hypocrite if I wouldn’t do the same!”
As soon as those sincere words come out of his mouth, my mind goes blank. I know I had questions I wanted to ask him, but I suddenly can’t remember any. Luckily, I am spared from embarrassing silence when a hand touches my shoulder. I glance up from my sitting position, and see Briareth standing right behind me.
“Sorry to disturb your little chat here,” He says, “but we all need to talk.”
Yaluda stands up and dusts himself off. “Do you and Prince Faladel have questions?”
“More than a few.” Briareth smiles. “I’m open to your proposal, but I’d like a few more details, and Faladel, well, he needs more convincing. Patricide doesn’t – well, murder in general actually – doesn’t fit his moral upbringing.”
“What Briareth means to say is that I’m sure there’s a better way to get a King off the throne than killing him.” Faladel interjects, frowning at Briareth.
“Well,” Yaluda says, “Don’t think of it as murder or killing, consider it- ” he makes the little air quotes again “‘disposing of trash’ instead. I mean, it’s basically what we’re doing.”
I can’t hold back a snort, luckily Briareth’s laughter covers it. Faladel glares at all of us, and then continues as if Yaluda hadn’t said anything. “Couldn’t you just frame him for insanity to prompt a quick handover? Surely nobody wants a crazy person leading the country. It’s just a matter of carefully setting up a few public situations where he’ll act entirely illogically. It’s not even really lying, he is at least mildly crazy to try to slaughter his children. I understand that might not be as satisfying as murder as a form of revenge, but a life for a life isn’t the right answer! That whole way of thinking is what started this war in the first place!”
I glance at Yaluda. Faladel has some good points, and his idea for making the King seem insane is clever, but the handsome Prince isn’t convinced.
“You know very little about Dwarf politics, don’t you?” He asks rhetorically, his golden eyes boring into Faladel’s matching golden ones. “You might have rules for succession when your rulers go insane, but we don’t. Insane Kings are just quietly disposed of, and the heir takes their place. No one can just ‘step down’ from being King. They can’t be pushed out of it either. They die in that role, and then someone new takes over. Killing my father or waiting him out is the only way I’ll take the throne. The crown has a 100% mortality rate. Murder is in my blood.”
Faladel’s face twists into a frown. I shift nervously from one foot to the next. The tension in the room is visibly rising as the two prince’s stare each other down. I kinda see Yaluda’s point. I’ve never heard of a King stepping down for health reasons. They always continue till they die. So, what if the only way to solve all our problems and end this war is through murder? Will Faladel let Briareth concoct the poison for Yaluda?
“Well, there’s a simple way to solve this!” Briareth steps slightly in front of the two princes, breaking their eye-lock. He smiles and looks at me, I feel my stomach sink. “I’m willing to do it. Faladel isn’t, so we’ll use the third member of the party to break the tie! You’ve been hanging out with Prince Yaluda for the better half of an hour, do you think we should kill his dad and your former commander-in-chief? Do you think the Prince will keep his promises afterwards?”
I glance over at Faladel, whose face is carefully neutral, and then at Yaluda who is staring at me hopefully. I understand Briareth’s logic asking me this, but why did he have to put me on the spot? I stare at the floor between my feet as I consider my answer.
“Yaluda is a decent person, I believe he’d keep his promise to make peace with us afterwards. Killing the King doesn’t sit quite right with me, but if there isn’t another way to end all this–” I hesitate. Isn’t one life for the sake of many basically what the Generals were thinking? Albeit on a much larger scale. My gut twists as I realize my hypocrisy, but I continue – “If there truly is no better way, then, don’t we have to do it?”
Faladel stares at me, disappointment clear in his eyes. I shift uncomfortably, not able to meet them for long, and look over at Yaluda. He looks surprised, like he wasn’t really expecting me to side with him. He notices me watching him and smiles gratefully.
Faladel insists on brainstorming other ideas to try to find one that is morally justifiable and will end up with the Prince on the throne. Briareth’s happy to go along to satisfy him, but it’s clear he isn’t trying his hardest to come up with solutions.
Instead he’s gone back to teasing me about my non-existent love life. With Yaluda, of all the dwarves he could have picked.
“I really wasn’t expecting you to side with Prince Yaluda over our dearest Faladel. Did you two, perhaps, connect over that intimate, private conversation you were having on the other side of the room?” Briareth says, his completely innocent face an obvious facade.
Even though none of the things he is insinuating are true, I still feel my ears heat up. I bless my lucky stars that he waited until Yaluda had left the room before starting this conversation. “It was an entirely innocent, short conversation. No more intimate or private than your argument with Faladel was.” I say shortly, trying to end the teasing before Briareth gets on a roll, but I’m already too late.
“Oh, but you were so quick to judge him as a ‘decent person.’ Do you claim to have gleaned that sort of in depth knowledge of a person’s soul from, as you call it, ‘one entirely innocent, short conversation?’” Briareth drops the innocent mask and grins evilly. “It feels to me like you must have known him previously. Perhaps he was the one distracting you that long ago day in the throne room? The lover you used to meet clastendinely in secluded hallways so you could promise together that your love would be everlasting? No matter where you ended up stationed, no matter how long you had to wait, you’d be true to each other forever?”
My face is probably beet red at his very specific description of my imaginary relationship. “Simple soldiers in training never have one-on-one conversations with any of the nobility, much less with the royal family. And certainly no clastendine meetings in any hallways.” I say stiffly, taking a swig of some beer that had been brought to us by a thoughtful member of the Prince’s Personal Guards, or PPGs as Yaluda called them.
“So just an unrequited crush then.” Faladel says dryly with perfect timing. I spit my beer all over my lap in shock, probably just as he’d planned. He sips his beer with all the satisfaction of a cat, then makes a face at its taste. Meanwhile Briareth cackles at my reaction.
“Exactly! See, Balderk, Faladel gets it! No need to hide it from your good friends! There’s nothing wrong with liking men. I personally like both guys and girls! And Faladel– well actually, I don’t know. Who do you like, Faladel?”
“I don’t like anyone.” Faladel says, staring at his beer and frowning, as if suspicious of its contents.
“Ouch!” Briareth looks mock affronted, and clutches his chest, as if his heart pains him. Faladel glances up from his mug with a flat stare.
“Meaning I’ve never been physically attracted to anyone. Not that I don’t like you platonically.” Faladel clarifies. I drink the rest of my beer, watching their conversation interestedly. Finally, Briareth’s bugging someone else about romance.
“Seriously?” Briareth looks surprised. “Not one crush? I must’ve had at least fifty, and you haven’t had one?” I’m shocked by his confession, but then remember that he’s eighty something, so fifty crushes from a guy like him doesn’t mean he’s changing his mind on a day-to-day basis. He just acts like he’s a teenager, he isn’t actually one.
“Not that I’ve ever noticed. Is it really that strange?” Faladel asks, and I decide now is probably the best time to escape the interrogation, before Briareth starts asking about Yaluda and I again.
“Well… No?” Briareth answers, but it sounds more like another question. “I don’t think so at least, but aren’t you expected to have kids one day? You know, so they can be Kings or Queens?” I get up, and start padding over to the door. Yaluda said we aren’t supposed to go out, Briareth and Faladel are too recogniseable. However, I am not nearly as noticeable as they are. I’ll probably be fine.
“I’ve actually been thinking about that recently, and I don’t think I have to. It’s just what everybody expects. If I die without an heir, the public will hold general elections, and another familyline will take control. It’s not like the country will fall apart without Mithrandirs guiding it.” Faladel says slowly, choosing his words carefully.
Briareth hesitates. “I guess so. It is your choice after all. But think of your Dad, Faladel. He would love to be a grandfather!” I arrive at the door and slowly creak it open. Neither of them seems to notice.
“You just want me to name a child after you.” Faladel says dryly as I slip through.
“That too.” Briareth admits unashamedly. And then the door clicks behind me, and I can’t make out the rest of their conversation.