Sorry for the delay. I`m busy with math and can only do something on weekends. MatKrulli (my only editor) also released his first indie game (will link it next chapter, not open to public yet).
There are some mind conversations with a character, the text for that is missing the "", I hope you can recognize it.
The next day
The bells in the royal capital had just announced the mid-day, but they were already chiming again.
The citizens looked up to the sky, expecting a broadcast from the emperor.
The bells only rang in unusual times, when something urgent happened. The last time the bell sounded through the city the empress, wife to the emperor, passed away. Also, when times of war or national emergencies came, they were announced the same way.
Shortly after the bells went silent, the magical broadcast appeared over the city.
The broadcast was produced by the royal mages that held a bond to the air spirits. Channeling their vision through these powers, they were able to produce an image of the emperor above the capital.
“My beloved citizens, over the past years only sad proclamations were announced with the broadcast: the passing of my wife, natural disasters or other tragedies. But today I come with great joy and happiness to announce the successor to my throne. Although my beloved wife, may her Mârden find peace, gifted me only with one child, it surpassed me through the years. Undoubtedly I couldn't leave the empire in better hands than those of my loved child Roxanne Acacia, the first princess.
Our way of life can be free and beautiful but we think too much and feel so little, sometimes we are more machines than humans. Don't fight for slavery, fight for liberty of your soul and body. We all share the love of humanity in our hearts, but we never seem to show it.
After my passing in the future I can safely leave the empire in the hands of my daughter, knowing that she will start a road to radiance for the empire and our people. Fighting against the corruption and the misdoings of my reign she will surpass my name in no time and create her true legacy.
For this event we will hold a celebration for the entire capital. Invite your neighbors, friends and family. Rejoice, for our ancestors will celebrate with us! Sing, so that we shake the very earth of our capital with our songs! And laugh, and dance, so that even the heavens will hear that the new age of the empire will come!”
The broadcast finished and the emperor’s face vanished, leaving the stunned civilians behind. They all knew that the princess would inherit the throne but no-one thought the announcement would come so soon, the emperor was only slightly past his prime and had no known health problems.
However these thoughts were in the minority and the most had joy in their minds. Indeed the past years were hard but their emperor gave them a reason to celebrate to their heart’s content. Shortly after the announcement, the city got even busier than before. Merchants were ordering supplies, taverns restocking their beverages and food and everyone else did what they could to make this celebration an event to be recorded in history.
Roxanne (1-st person)
I was reading some intel papers again on the recent disappearance of the spies when I heard the voice of my father.
“What is he doing now. I thought he was busy with meetings in the council”
I went to the windows and opened them to enter the small balcony in front. Looking over the city I could see the broadcast hovering in the air.
I start to listen but with every sentence my mood darkens, “Why, whyyyyy, this changes my entire plan. I wanted to slowly build a foundation until my coronation but now I don't have time to do so. I know he is laughing off, he knows I hate when he does sudden moves that involve me but to make this announcement he must be out of his mind.”
“The day started so good and now I have this mess to deal with, I should really talk him out of this. Where would he probably be right now? Since the was doing this on his own he could only be either in his private chambers or in the throne room.”, I tried to focus but the fury in my mind made it impossible to order my thoughts. ”Just wait until I get you."
With these thoughts, I leave my room and begin to check the two options. The throne room is empty, so only his private chambers remain. I start rushing through the hallways and ignoring the guards, I kick the door open and enter the room.
Two pairs of eyes pinpoint me but I ignore them and proceed to walk to the younger man, leaving the old mage behind. In the chair sits a well-clothed man, a dazzling crown in his hairs, jewels inside of golden ornaments and an aura that left no doubt that this man is the current emperor of the empire, though incidentally also my father and a nuisance in so many moments of my life.
I grab my father on his collar lifting him out of the chair and close to his face, I recollect my breath and nearly shout in front of him
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!”
The entire situation, the princess crashing into the emperor’s private rooms, lifting him out of his chair and screaming at him would undoubtedly be a scandal, but right now I didn't care. Besides, there is only one other person left in the room. I send a glance towards the mage and he understands the subtle message. He leaves the room after seeing where this is going but it would be easy to silence him. The guards are the bigger problem but if dealt with accordingly, it would be no major problem. Only a rumour under the female nobles would remain but I never held them in high regards anyway.
Returning to the source of my problems, I look back to the man hanging in my grip.
“H-Hey my belov-”
He tries to say something but I simply lift him higher and silence him again.
Seeing his face turning red, I release my hands from his collar and let him fall into his chair again. I can hear something breaking but sadly it's only the chair.
He starts coughing after regaining his breath and tries to say something but can’t control the coughs.
After a few minutes his face finally has its old color back and the coughing stops.
“You are getting stronger every day. I hoped you would step back a bit since now you are playing your own games in the politics.”
I roll my eyes after he starts again with the same topic he talks about every time we meet. Only with a healthy body you can maintain a sharp mind. If only every noble would do that this empire wouldn't have so much problems at the moment. That’s a given, but that's not the biggest problem right now.
“What were you thinking to announce me as your successor, do you know what will happen now?
“A big festival?” He starts to grin as he thinks he is the one who operates the lever right now.
A single glance with dead serious eyes from me gets rid of that smile and he starts to rethink his answer.
“Nothing dramatic I would guess? You are my only child and if I didn’t do it today it would have happened in the coming years anyway. I just announced something obvious to the entire empire.”
“Of course it would have happened eventually, but right now is a catastrophic moment to do it. Your backing in my aids for the commoners made the nobles wary and the opposing royal faction is starting to gain more ground. Also, you know your reputation with the council, the first chance they see to impeach you, they’ll do it and your words will only give them more power. At worst, they can decide to abolish you and announce that I'm not fit for the throne, locking me away while they accumulate power.”
At the end I'm basically screaming but I couldn’t hold my frustration back. During the entire time my father holds a dead serious face.
“I know about your little games with the commoners and the nobles. The reason why I decided to help you is that a good reputation with the citizen holds the council back and makes it harder to disfame you.
And since all the sudden disappearance of the spies indicates something will happen, I wanted to get the stone to start rolling from my side, not their side.”
My face slips and I look at him at awe. My father, the good for nothing emperor, actually knows about the spies.
“How do you k-”
He has his smug grin back on his face.
“Know? You forget that I saw more summers than you on this land. My father also teached me some tricks. I rarely have a chance to stir in the politics but that doesn't mean I keep my eyes and ears shut or that don't have some pawns to operate with.
You can come out, I guess it's time to show you to my daughter.”
From the left side of the room, a shadow appears and for a second I let my face slip
“Haha, having the chance to see that look on your face has definitely made it worth to get choked and yelled at.”
The person that appeared in the room was no one else than the shadow I ordered a day ago to supervise Ruck Fiven.
“YOU? H-How? I personally checked you and found nothing that connects you to my father. I placed my trust in you, the first spy under my personal training and guidance.”
I turn back to my father as I regain my composure.
“I can't believe you played tricks on me, father.”
“Let an old man have his tricks, there isn't a lot I can do to surprise you, but I still enjoy these simple moments. It's right that you trained him but guess how he came to you? And I never revoked your commands, he is your spy. But from time to time, I like to hear what my daughters does. Sometimes I feel like you’re putting up a farce for me, hiding your true personality. It saddens me that sometimes you don't trust me.”
“I trust you, but sometimes it’s better you don't know what I'm doing. I'm your daughter and I will never doubt or betray you. Since mother died, you get strange from time to time and I don't know how can I reach you. I love you, but I also need my own space. I can't always stay under your protection or risk affecting you when I decided to anger the nobles. It's better to let them think we are sometimes opposed.”
“My beloved daughter, the nobles are nothing compared to you. A crisis that threatens the entire continent would be needed to separate us and until the gods decide to call me to their side I'll stand with you. I know that I can't be with you all time, but I can at least listen to what you are doing and give you a helping hand when it's in my possibilities.”.
“No problem, my daughter. Now what dress will you wear for the party?”
He starts grinning again and I start summoning my Mârden. Enough is enough and as he sees the spell I'm chanting he loses all the color in his face.
“Dear? You know it wouldn't be good to cast this inside a room? Please calm down, you can dress yourself however you want”
He tries to beg his way out of his misery but I had enough for the time being
“Before I have to put up a play as princess, I'll show you my personality. You asked for it yourself a few minutes ago, remember?”
That day a rumour made its way out of the castle. Inside the castle appeared an evil ghost that tried to attack the emperor in his chamber. He could barely escape after the guards opened the door to check on the noise, but the evil suddenly vanished and wasn’t seen anymore. Moreover, it returned from time to time whenever the emperor had clashes with his daughter and was never banished.
It became a famous story in the towns. Some parents would tell their daughters this story to calm their minds when they got harassed from boys and others would tell it to their sons to teach them some humbleness, otherwise the ghost would try to haunt them.
Unknown to the public, the chronicler of the empire received a letter from his highness ordering not to write down this tale that passed around the towns.
Future generations would still tell their children about the evil that haunted the emperor Elaith. Drunk visitors at taverns also told this story to anyone willing to listen to earn some coins to buy themselves their next drink. Over the course of generations the tale got famous and every time it was retold a new detail was added but the “Ghost of the Royal City Atazure” inscribed its name in the history of the Escos Empire.
The following party for the announcement of the emperor's successor made his way into the great legacies of the continent.
The princess made her debut in the royal succession and arrived in a stunning dress, leaving the other female nobles at a complete loss. Every man wanted to get closer to her, but they all got denied and harshly refused. On top of all the ruckus, rumours and names she earned this day, the name she was most known for the coming years was the “Ice Flower”, unraveled in beauty but dismissing every advance.
In the future she would earn many other names during her adventures but the stories tell that she never found a person that surpassed her in beauty, with just a single exception.
But that is a different story, for another time.
The royal garden
As expected, the princess got bored fast attending to the endless waves of nobles and celebrities that came for the party. Sadly, she couldn't escape and had to endure it. She tried to slip away was got stopped by another old noble that came to greet her. Putting up a fake smile, a lot of people tried to compliment her, but she knew better.
Her thoughts were with the words of the emperor and her spy that was on his way to his mission, but she couldn't receive any intel during the party. The royal guards had a close eye on the guests and summoning a Mârden was forbidden in the domain of the royal palace. Even for the royal family it was only possible in their private chambers.
Several assassinations inside the palace prior to the current emperor made him issue a decree to put a seal on the palace to make summoning nearly impossible. If a strong one succeeded, it would be put down immediately by the guards. Of course, the highest dangers would be magic weapons or poison, but the security was so strict one would have to be prepared to sacrifice his life to even try.
Looking over the party, the attendees scattered over the garden formed groups according to their political stances.
“Even during a royal party they hide themselves in their groups... Probably deciding their next offense.”, thought the princess while she tried to get away from her current collocutor.
She tried to avoid attracting too much attention, but since it was a party made for her and she was forced to wear that dress, it was impossible to avoid views.
She tried to get something simple but her maids forced a flashy dress upon her. A white and grey dress with rose petals all over the skirt that reached to the floor, with a shoulderless bodice that revealed too much of her front, which she found even less to her liking. Her pigtail was braided around her head in a crown style, decorated with her diadem.
The younger nobles tried to avoid gazing at her revealed front but couldn't keep their eyes from ogling every time she turned towards another person.
“Tssh, I should have punished my father more, I don't think I will have many chances in the future.”
I lost sight of my father and the party that still stood behind him, but they surely are only discussing something in private like the rest of the schemers. As the party progressed, I got dragged from one noble to another People were steadily leaving the party, but I was still getting caught in discussions.
My current partner is Ruck Fiven, one of the royal chancellors.
“You look beautiful today, my princess. None of the other ladies could rival you.”
He has a slight sarcasm in his voice and I know he is one of the plotters against my father. I can also play this game, lord chancellor.
I start to put up an innocent face and smile while I greet him.
“Thanks chancellor, I'm pleased with your attendance. I hope everything was to your liking.”
“A great party for sure. Since I don't seek the the company of such young ladies, I miss a part of the event but it can't be helped.”
The only reason you don't have ladies around you is because everyone is scared. And I know what is to your liking. If it wouldn't create a scandal to put you down right now I personally would put you into trial. Remembering her reports, I couldn't stop thinking this.
Smirking in my thoughts, I pray for the successful end of the mission, When my spy gets back and I know your little secrets, I'll finally put you to an end.
Before I can respond, the chancellor goes on.
“Mind if I show you something? I can assure my princess will be interested, the view is magnificent, it has the best view over the town, your majesty.”
“Oh? I'm sure you have something interesting prepared. Lead the way, chancellor, I'm following on your heels.“
They arrived on a balcony, far away from the party, that gave an magnificient view over the city. The night was already upon the lands and the magic lamps illuminated the streets and buildings. So far, from the top, it looked like the city was imbued with stars, making it even more beautiful.
The royal capital was one of the few cities that abolished the rings and made itself one whole town, without segregation in concept. Roxanne suggested this before the council and got her will executed thanks to the intervention of her father. It caused a major uproar in the noble society, but back then she hoped her idea would bear fruits. Sadly, the nobles didn't want to adapt and proceeded to uphold their own rings of segregation. Not a lot changed and the scenery remained the same, the poor far away from the center, the mansions and the rich under the sight of the palace
The chancellor was standing in the front of the balcony, waiting for her arrival.
I don't know what he is planing but he forgets that he is still inside the palace. He won't be able to do any harm here except pushing me over the railing, but maybe I can get some knowledge from him, she thinks and closes the gap to join him at the handrail.
“You sure know that we had our clashes in the recent times. With our different status and backing, I’d say we played our cards quite well up until this point.”
“What do you mean, chancellor?”, I still have my innocent face up, but it slips a bit. Ruck never opened up with something that delicate in our discussions.
“You can stop with the farce now, princess. Or should I call you Roxanne? I could pity the situation and leave you some dignity until you lose that title. But better not, nuisances like you need to be dealt with quick and soon, otherwise you could still stop my or my masters’ plans.”
During his rude talk, a part of my mind goes on full alert but the other wipes that fear away and tries to look at the situation with logic.
“I ask again chancellor, what do you mean? We had our differences, but to say I put a farce now would be very rude.”
He starts to laugh like a maniac while the closes the gap between us. He grabs my arm and drags me to the balcony. I try to get away but his grip is too strong.
“One reason why I'm doing this is this theatrical play you always show. I waited years for this moment and our empire’s little prodigy had no clue, even though you tried so hard with your spies to gather information.
Now look at you, caught in the spider's web without even noticing it and with no way out.”