Diplomacy & Deceit

Read the little prologue about Amaria and Merel on either of their pages.

Régalle turned, her face a mask of steady nobility, while her mind was in disarray. She had planned to one day take over the ruling of the country Gryzeh, but she'd imagined she'd had many years left to learn. Her father had wanted her to marry an able statesman of his choosing but for the past 8 years she'd been able to deflect his suggestions. Her father had probably thought they had more time as well. But fate had decided otherwise. An unfortunate accident with their horse-drawn carriage had ended her carefree life. 
And now she was headed to the chambers of state where she would talk to the prime minister. Régalle felt wholly inadequate. Her heart was grieving and she just wanted to be alone for the next foreseeable time. But she was bound to serve Gryzeh and that duty had spurned her on since she was old enough to think about it. She would not give it to someone else but would instead carry it herself. Even if that meant shutting down her feelings. She wondered briefly if the prime minister would find her cold. But then, they would expect this behaviour from a prince, so why would they find fault with it in a princess? 
The door opened, Premier turned and watched as the princess walked inside. She looked surprisingly calm and composed. Her off-white dress perfectly pressed, her hair and make-up pristine. She wasn't a conventional beauty. Her nose was too big, her brow too stern and the set of her mouth too stubborn to be what most Gremynian men looked for in a bride. Her tiny stature should have made her disappear in the vastness of the palace, but the princess had been living here all her 24 years and she wouldn't fade in the background. 
Premier straightened his back. He would use the advantage his height gave him but would treat her with the proper respect. For now at least. Premier wasn't at all convinced that the country was waiting for the wispy princess to take the throne. The people would want a king, a man who would take the reigns and lead Gryzeh to a new era of prosperity. 
Premier knew he would not be that man. The man that had been selected was being groomed to take over at that very moment. The princess would marry him or a sad accident would befall her within the next year. The best-case scenario would be if the princess was willing to cooperate on this. That way they would acquire a strong monarch whose children would have a legitimate claim to the throne. In the case that the princess wasn't cooperating, they'd need to persuade her or have her removed from the picture after which their king-in-the-making would be elected to rule. Premier would love to see Gryzeh head toward a bright and strong future where the threats of the surrounding nations could be dealt with. As it was they were perilously close to war. 
"Your highness." Premier greeted the princess.
Régalle curtsied and took her seat at the table, ready to start the debate. 


Témoin stood on the small balcony, shielded from view by the large outcrops on the outside and the curtains on the inside. As a young boy he'd often spent time on the very same balcony, listening in on the princess' lessons or the statesmen's' discussions. He'd been so blessedly free once. How many children could say the royal palace was theirs to explore? Growing up here had been a dream but it had also ingrained in him the fact that he was a servant. He'd been ignored by most and that had worked out in his favour when roaming the castle. But it had also made him a subdued, unnoticeable man. Even know a lot of people missed his presence when he was around them.
Today, he'd gotten stuck outside. The chambers of state hadn't been prepared so this meeting was either very last minute or very secret. By the rising tension he could hear from the muted conversation, Témoin gathered it was the last. His only options were to wait or to try and scale the walls to one of the adjacent balconies. Nobody would miss him before diner so he decided to wait for as long as he could. 
He'd recognised the princess' voice and felt for her. She'd lost her parents only the day before and had not been given the time to come to terms with the loss. Témoin inched closer to the glass doors and couldn't help but listen has he'd done so many years ago to study. They'd never met, no-one had ever seen him. Or at least no-one had ever scolded him. But he'd learned plenty. 
Inside, the tension rose and the conversation became easy to follow.
"I will not marry." princess Régalle said, her voice raised.
"But princess, the people would be at peace if they knew you to be happily matched and continuing your line. As it is people are worrying who would take the throne if anything were to happen to you."
Régalle knew a threat when she heard one, even if it was veiled. She instantly vowed to herself to never be alone again with this man, nor with any of the other statesmen for that matter. But who could she trust to keep her safe? The situation was worse than she'd feared.
"And what will the people think when I hold a wedding ceremony when we should be focusing on the relations with our neighbouring countries? I know we urgently need to placate Torko."
Premier had to hand it to the princess that she at least knew what was important. But he'd been holding debates when she'd been playing with dolls yet.
"Forming a strong alliance would make the nation of Torko think twice about invading."
"I don't see which alliance I could form with a local man."
"He's well-loved by the people. They'd follow you."
"They'd follow me now." at least that was what Régalle hoped, "I could understand an alliance by marriage to one of our neighbours but honestly that would antagonise the others. Not to mention I'm in mourning."
Régalle hoped that excuse would fend off some of the pressure. She didn't dare oppose too strongly to the idea of marriage just in case Premier would be willing to act in the spur of the moment. Or would he have poisoned her drink? 
Outside Témoin wondered what princes or noblemen were available for the princess. Most of the younger heirs would jump to the opportunity the marriage to a crown princess would offer them. So he could follow why princess Régalle would be hesitant. 
Premier felt the opportunity slip and understood the princess would not be an easy person to control. She seemed soft and well-mannered but she was stubborn. They'd never get her to do as they said. Which meant she needed to die. It was a pity really because Premier had gotten some actual respect for the princess that wasn't due to her heritage. But he'd still send out the report tonight and things would be set in motion. 
Before Premier could answer a commotion from outside caused his attention to shift sideways. A man, dressed in greys and browns stumbled inside, barely keeping his balance as he stepped back from a balcony that was now crowded with white fur and dark feathers. 
Régalle blinked as she saw Témoin stumble inside. She'd seen him every now and again during her walks in the palace and had always wondered what he and the other children her age had been up to when she was younger. Now they'd all be grown and doing the jobs they'd been hired for. How much better would it have been if they'd been able to study together instead of them having to hide. The adults had never seemed to notice or hadn't cared. Still, she'd tried to ask questions when she'd heard the fidgeting of Anabelle or the slight sighs of Uther, hoping the extra explanations helped them understand the lesson. 
Témoin finally came to a halt by losing balance and ended up sitting on the floor. The floor of the chambers of state, a place he had no business being. But the fear of being caught where he shouldn't be paled in comparison to the sight of the two creatures before him. They'd just appeared out of nowhere in front of him, crowding the small balcony.


"Now you've done it." Merel told Amaria.
"I really teleported!" the small yellow dragon-neuter beamed, not picking up the anger in Merel's message.
The Aruru Muttutu bounced through the room and stopped only when she was in front of Régalle.
"You seem in need of protection. My name is Amaria and I'd like to help you." Amaria said seriously, feeling the troubled thoughts of the young princess.
Régalle, hearing the words without actually hearing sound, looked down to the dog-sized creature with the unusual appearance. It's hide was a soft cream yellow, she had flippers for ears and pastel orange spiral ridges along her back. But as weird as the creature's appearance was, Régalle did not feel threatened or in danger.
"What are you?" Premier demanded, not having heard Amaria's private message.
It was Merel who stepped forward now, her bigger body barely fitting below the ceiling. She could not unfold her wings fully, but her feline nature helped her crouch to an elegant and comfortable position. 
"We come from another place." she said, keeping it vague, "You may call me Merel." she broadcasted to the three humans.
Témoin, who raised pet pigeons in the gardens, was mesmerised by her coat and stretched out his hand, only to have it swatted away by Merel's long, agile tail.
"I don't very much like to be touched without permission, Sir." she said privately to Témoin, her eyes blazing and purred when she saw that the young man backed off. 
As Amaria was talking to the princess Régalle, Merel picked up enough of the thoughts in the minds of these humans that she got the general gist of their troubles and plans. She always said she liked to stay out of trouble but every so often she just wanted to meddle. And saving a life would be good karma.
"I think I can help you in your predicament." she offered up.
"How so?" Premier asked.
"Oh, I can't influence your princess." Merel told him privately.
And then broadcasted: "If you want allies to keep other states from attacking you, you need but impress dragons. Imagine the fright of the other countries when you bring with you such powerful beings?"
Témoin kept a respectable distance and bowed slightly before he asked the dragoness: "How would that work?"
Merel explained, only to have Régalle ask: "But that would take too long, we'd leave the people vulnerable."
"Ah, but that needn't be. I can get you back tomorrow and you'd have lived years in between."
Témoin swallowed and wondered if that offer might be something dangerous in itself. But could he leave the princess alone with the prime minister when he had almost openly threatened her?
"Don't worry. Merel is nice." Amaria nudged his mind, "She'll keep us all safe."


Against his better judgement, Premier had opted to come along. Getting rid of the princess was his idea, so if she was gone he'd be free to set the back-up plan in motion. But if the princess did return with a dragon the next day, then what would happen? They'd never be able to overthrow her.
And now they were here. In a foreign place, with foreign laws of nature, where water flowed against gravity, or was it with gravity but seemingly from an unseen source in the sky? They were below floating islands but above the sea on a ringed city. And they were waiting to impress a dragon. And yet, he knew he wasn't going mad.
Régalle talked to Témoin, her demeanour open and relaxed as she stroked the little yellow dragon who'd accompanied Merel, the feathered and furred dragoness who'd seemed to have taken a liking to him, at least he thought so because she was sticking close. 
"Remind me again what will happen." Premier asked Merel.
"We will get searched, appraised if you will and then we wait for the eggs to hatch."
And like on cue, two little hyperactive creatures appeared that seemed to glitter and sparkle in rainbow colours as they got fairy dust all over them and in places they should have no business being.

[STORY]   +   [RéGALLE] - [PREMIER] - [TéMOIN]   +   [AMARIA] - [MEREL]

Lantessama Isle
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