July 31, 2014

In Which Laralita Is Received Unconventionally

November 17, 1186

"That... wasn't quite the reception I expected," Farilon admitted, voicing Laralita's thoughts to the letter. "Did we catch them off-guard? I thought that was why Ren made you write to Devidra: so she could make the necessary preparations."

"We did make good time. Perhaps they're running behind somewhat." But from what Laralita knew, Devidra's household--even if it wasn't truly Devidra's household anymore--was a tightly-run ship. Unless perhaps Ramona had taken up most of those responsibilities, in which case... well, she couldn't have expected too much, unless Ramona had proven to have the same knack for delegation as Laralita herself. "Odd that the steward would lead us through a side entrance, though."

"He might be new. Doesn't Devidra have a habit of firing stewards before she even breaks them in?"

"Yes, but even if it's his first day on the job, he ought to know where the front door is." And he had managed to find the king's study without difficulty! "He must have been instructed to bring us here, though I'm unsure why Adrius would want a word before we see your sister."

"Maybe she's unwell? She is in the family way, isn't she?"

"Yes, but it's still odd that he'd prefer to greet us here rather than--"

The argument went unfinished as the door opened and the steward stepped in, followed by a handsome young man who could have only been King Adrius--what with the velvet tunic and the startling eyes and the leather strap across his forehead. Regal, but quietly so, not pompous and obnoxious like her stepson. Mona no doubt found him a welcome change.

"Queen Laralita. Prince Farilon." Adrius bowed, for all he had to have been well aware that Laralita was no longer a queen. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything."

He, doing the interrupting? In his own study? "Of course not, your majesty." She stood and curtsied in turn, her son bowing alongside her. "An honor to make your acquaintance."

"Likewise--but do make yourselves comfortable." As if to lead by example, Adrius sat down at his desk. Laralita and Farilon took the cue and returned the bench, leaving only the steward on his feet.

"You see... we have rather a lot to discuss."

Did they? She might have considered that an explanation for her presence in the study had she thought it at all possible. They'd never corresponded, only ever acknowledging one another through Mona's letters, and she no longer held a shred of political influence in Naroni or Dovia. What could he have possibly wanted to say to her that was so important that it couldn't wait until she'd seen her daughter and grandchildren?

"With all due respect, your majesty, I can't think of anything urgent we two must discuss."

"Oh, it won't just be we two." With that, Adrius looked to the steward--who surely had even less cause for serious discussion. What on earth was going on? "Uncle, maybe it's better if you explain."

Uncle?

"I suppose." After a quick swallow, the not-steward stepped forth to Laralita's seat. "Your majesty, we apologize for the deception, and this really is your daughter's story to explain, but I hope you'll understand why you have to hear this before you can see her."

Eh?

"Look, your daughter was very young when she was sent here, and she hadn't had a chance to figure out what she really wanted..."

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