“Now entering the throne room is Lady Kimi’Thania, the spirit of music.” The announcing guard paused for a moment before continuing. “Now entering the throne room is Lady Mana, hero from another realm.” Another pause before continuing. “Now entering the throne room is Prince Cobal Blueyerd, third prince of the Blueyerd Kingdom.”
He waited until all three were standing in front of the stairs that led to the throne.
“His majesty, Navyr Blueyerd, will now hear what you have to say.” The guard bowed and marched off the side, where he took his place with a few other guards.
Cobal felt more nervous than he expected. They’d only just arrived in the capital city, Saphestan, and they were already here in front of the king ready to report on their journey. After they received the message about Sapher’s disappearance things had moved extremely fast. With winter fast approaching and the matter being urgent they chose to depart within a few days, trying to get to the palace before the first snow of winter would hit. It seemed like winter came early though, and by the time they had said their goodbyes to Cassandra, who went to visit her dad in Ravadier while working on a project she’d been developing during their stay, the first snow started to fall. By the time the party of now three reached the capital there was a thick layer of snow covering many of the fields.
“Father, we’ve returned as soon as we could after receiving the news about Sapher.”
His father nodded. Cobal looked at his mother, sitting next to the king, who just calmly smiled. He didn’t see his other two siblings anywhere, but with no real knowledge of when he would return it made sense they weren’t just sitting around in the throne room waiting for him.
“I have heard news from the leader of elves that you were planning to return before winter. It looks like you instead brought winter with you.” He looked at his two companions. “I don’t believe we’ve met yet, you were the spirit of music?” He asked.
Kimi nodded. “My name is Kimi’Thania, your majesty. I’ve been traveling with Cobal and Mana for a while now, after they saved me.”
The king nodded. He shifted his attention back to Cobla. “Elves, spirits and otherworldly heroes. It seems like you’ve been quite busy while you were gone.” The king leaned forward on his throne. “And it seems the hero has returned to us as well. I hope your experiences in our kingdom have been fruitful so far.”
“I’ve learned a lot since I was last here. Especially with the tutelage of the Woodland Sage in Milinia.”
“The elven sage you say? I have heard rumors of a wise elf living deep in the forest, but I’ve never met him.” The king laughed. “I’ve only ever really met messengers from the leader of Milinia, Karnisal.” He paused. The silence was soon interrupted by another voice.
“You’ve changed,” the queen spoke for the first time since they’d entered the room. Cobal saw that she wasn’t talking to him, though. Instead, her gaze was focused on Mana.
“I’m not sure I follow,” Mana replied. Cobal could see the panic creep onto her face. For as much as she’d grown accustomed to the elven settlement, the royal capital was a lot more intense and now that Cobal understood her anxiety more than before, he couldn’t help but feel bad for her at this moment. He was about to speak up when his mother continued.
“You have a presence now. It’s still small, but when you first came to our world I felt like I was looking straight through you, as if you weren’t there at all. That’s not longer the case.” A wide smile appeared on her face. “Good for you.” She added. She turned to face her husband. “Get the boring stuff over with, I could really use a warm bath soon, it’s freezing in here.”
Cobal chuckled. He’d missed this. The anxiety he felt when they entered the throne room was quickly fading. Perhaps knowing about Might and the history of his family had made him overly cautious of their return to Saphestan, but now that he was here again it quickly felt like home once more. Mana didn’t seem to have the same experience and was currently wearing the most forced smile he had ever seen on her face in an attempt not to accidentally insult the queen. It was almost comical how worried she looked. Almost.
“Enough with the introductions then,” the king proclaimed. He shifted his body to a more upright position, he’d been a little bit hunched forward as the conversation went on. “There’s a reason I called you back here so soon.” He looked them all over and when none interrupted he continued. “My son, the crown prince of our kingdom, Sapher Blueyerd, has vanished. And not in the sense that he packed his bags and left, but it seems he disappeared from his quarters without a single soul knowing where he went. The only information we have is that the room looks untouched with the exception of a strangely drawn circle on the floor. Our court mages have established that the runic language used on the stones is an old magic, commonly used by the mages from the Rilodar court. We have concluded that the Rilodar Kingdom to our north is responsible for Sapher’s disappearance. When we sent a messenger asking for an explanation he was turned away from their courts and sent home without an answer. At this point, as you’re well aware, did we decide to declare war on Rilodar and start moving our troops towards the border.” The throne room went quiet, only the sound of clothes and armor slightly rustling still present for a while before Cobal spoke up. “That conforms with what we’ve heard on our way here. We can add one thing though,” he said.
“Speak, then.” the King replied.
“We obviously haven’t seen the runic circle in my brother’s room yet, but from the sounds of it this could be similar to a strange type of magic we encountered during our journey here. As a matter of fact, it sounds eerily similar and I’m worried there’s a correlation.”
“Our first order of business will then be to have you two look at this circle and compare notes with our investigation. What happened when you encountered those circles?”
“Two different things happened. One was used by someone to vanish into thin air. The rest of them were used to seemingly summon something to our location. In our case it was strange fiery beasts I’ve never seen before.”
“So you’re saying that using something like this could be used to kidnap someone from their quarters without a trace?”
Cobal nodded. “I believe that’s possible. I will add, and this is speculation, that I don’t believe the person who we encountered is directly linked to the kingdom of Rilodar. Their location and the way they spoke didn’t match with that theory.”
The king nodded. “I’ll take that into consideration. For now, please make yourselves at home, you are guests of the royal family for as long as you are here in the capital. We will call upon you in the morning to further help with the investigation, and there might be more work we have for you, seeing as the war can kick off at any moment.”
“Has there been fighting yet, your majesty?” Mana asked.
The King shook his head. “There have been no reports of fighting yet. It doesn’t seem like Rilodar is taking our threat seriously, which worries me slightly.”
Mana nodded. “I hope we can figure this out and war can be avoided”
“That would be nice,” the queen said from her chair. She smiled. “Go make yourselves at home, you’ve come a long way in a short time, we can talk later.”
And on that note the three were escorted out of the throne room where one of the staff was awaiting them.
Once they had left the throne room, Kimi let out a deep sigh. The door closed behind them. “That wasn’t that bad, right?” Cobal said. He looked at Mana and saw had gone completely pale.
“Yes, that was perfectly fine.” she said, laughing nervously.
Cobal laughed. “You’ll get used to it. Probably,” he added. He looked at the portly man that approached them from across the hallway.
“Greetings, your highness, I am here to guide you to your chambers. My name is Girmoc Saribas and I’m working directly under Miss Malara.”
“Malara is the head of staff,” Cobal added. Girmoc nodded.
Girmoc gave a polite bow to all three of them. “Please follow me to your quarters.”
They walked after him. The guest quarters were in the same wing as the royal quarters, although the amount of guards that were between the two parts of the wing was staggering. The rooms they eventually reached were lavish compared to Dionil’s spare bedroom, but they were nothing compared to the royal quarters. Mana and Kimi were each given a separate room but since the size of the rooms was far too large for either of them they instead requested to be in the same room. So another bed was brought to one of the rooms and a curtain was put up to give them each some privacy. After getting situated and putting down their bags, limited as they may be, they went on a quick tour to Cobal’s room. He wanted them to know where they could find him. The guards were hesitant to let strangers walk into the royal quarters but once Cobal explained the situation they obliged. Going into the Prince’s orders would probably be a big ask of your average guard anyway. His room was mostly untouched and although it looked like they kept up with the cleaning a little bit, there was a layer of dust on some of the furniture. As much as he’d enjoyed his time with the elves, it did feel nice to be back home for a little while.
“So this is where you spend your days?” Kimi asked. She was looking all around the room. With her small stature, she looked even smaller in a room like this. She had to get on her toes to peek out of some of the higher windows.
Cobal’s room had a ton of windows overlooking the palace grounds. He could see his mother’s garden and the training grounds from his room, depending on which window he looked out of.
Cobal nodded. “Not quite a cabin in the woods, but it’s not too shabby right?”
“You could fit an entire family in this room and still not see any of them all day.”Cobal laughed. “Now you’re just exaggerating.” He looked around at the large room. It was about the size of four of Dionil’s cabins, so he had to admit it was a bit much. Either way, it was his room and it felt cozy to him. Maybe he could make some changes to it though. He’d consider it. But that was something for later, now they had different priorities.
“First order of business, we need to go speak to Malara.”
“Malara?” Kimi asked.
“The head of staff, I mentioned her earlier.” Cobal checked outside and Girmoc was standing there, chatting with one of the guards. He turned and bowed when he saw Cobal enter the hallway. “Please accompany us to Malara, we’d like to talk to her and make sure Mana and Kimi are acknowledged as my personal guests here.”
“Very well, please follow me.”
They made their way through a large chunk of the palace, since the royal quarters and the guest quarters were almost on the opposite side compared to the staff rooms. There were other guest rooms near the staff rooms, but these were for less important guests. Finally they made their way to a small office, hidden away in the quiet of the palace.