REGAL BLOOD: Vestige One: https://www.patreon.com/posts/regal-blood-one-48876104
REGAL BLOOD: Vestige Two: https://www.patreon.com/posts/regal-blood-two-50464954
The market has opened its doors; it's the perfect opportunity. A crowd swirls quickly inside, raising their hands and shouting increasingly exorbitant amounts. Crouched in a grove of legs, a girl has just located her victim: a wallet so overflowing that a few rupees had already found their resting place on the cobblestones. In fact, now that she noticed, the whole ground was littered with papers. No, no. It was money. Although confused, this did not discourage our young criminal, convinced that her method, the traditional one, was the good one.
She approached with the utmost stealth when she realised that the victim was a tall elf, not a High Elf of the kind you don't see any more. It was a moment of full-blown crisis, he thought of fleeing the scene of the unconsummated crime to prepare his next blow. After a couple of slaps on the cheeks, he stood up on his tiptoes like lightning and extended his tongue more than his arm to grab his booty with two little fingers. Lucky she remembered to put on her hood before she retraced her steps, though she thought it would have been nice to have remembered at first.
Crouching down and basking in admiration of her achievement, a hand lifted her up as easily as she would lift her little pet mouse. Lethal Killer she called him.
- Silly girl - the tall elf said condescendingly as he held her down - Where are your parents?
Dream on if you expect to get information. My lips are sealed, big-eared. She thought.
- Hmm, these clothes you're wearing are the ones my church hands out, are you an orphan? - he asked as he continued to inspect her.
Silence and a flat face. You have no proof, it's your word against mine.
- This is not yours. Stealing is wrong - he scolded her as he waved the wallet in the air with his other hand.
Hey, when did he take it from me?
- Anyway, I don't have time to deal with you. At least listen to me on this: it's no longer worth risking anything bad to get these rupees, no matter how many of them there are. In this city, they're not worth buying almost anything anymore. It's very difficult to explain to a little girl like you, but you have to trust me. Look, I'm going to give you some money. Try to buy something over there and you'll understand.
As soon as she was on the ground, she ran to hide among the crowd.
The young thief returned crestfallen to a shelter that the Church of the Augurs had recently set up for war orphans. The building was the personal property of the Empress Misse herself, who had donated it for this purpose.
From inside emerged an even smaller boy who ran smilingly to meet her. Riding on his shoulders was a little spotted mouse.
- Sister, look what I've found! - exclaimed an innocent eyes and a tiny hands with a glimpse of seven or eight pieces of nuts - Why are you crying?
- Nothing, it's just that I'm glad to see you. Look what I have - she showed him more rupees than he could count - I promise you that with this we will soon have lots of good food.
- Also for Mr. Cheese?
- No Mr. Cheese, it's Lethal Killer.
- Noooo, that's an ugly name. It doesn't suit him, and it's bad.
- If you keep calling him Mr. Cheese, he'll slit your throat in your sleep - she said as she ran a finger down her throat - He's murdered countless children.
- Nooo... he's good - complained the little boy, pouting.
- You are both right - said a hooded woman, who approached the little ones - His name is Lethal Killer, but he is good. Trust him and he will always protect you from bad people. I promise.
- How do you know? - the boy asked, dumbfounded.
- Because I am a witch. I can talk to all creatures - she said as she placed her hand on the mouse and mumbled some unintelligible words - See?
- That's a lie, witches don't exist - corrected the girl as she pulled an old book from her robes and fervently searched for a page - In Elza's chronicles "The Thief of Kings" there is a chapter in which she proves that magic cannot be performed by the race of men. Look, here. Read it, read it.
- Is that so? Then what am I if I can do this.
He pointed his arm towards the steps of the lodge and a column of fresh fruit began to rain down and roll to their feet. The boy stooped down to examine the produce closely. Biased by his predilection for apples, he picked out the fattest one and bit into it. Yummy, he thought.
His sister, dumbfounded, only managed to gasp: it's... it's a trick.
Not long after these events, in the Great Queen's Square, thousands of people were already waiting impatiently when the majestic gates of the Imperial Palace opened. Prime Minister Eros appears:
- Capitoline citizens! The diplomatic summit is suspended. The sun will soon descend below the horizon. The honour of the illegitimate is once again conspicuous by its absence. She does not even have enough decorum to send an emissary with...
The crowd interrupted the communiqué with incendiary proclamations.
He has taken us for fools!
And no one saw this coming?
Such pettiness to get ahead of us in the war was evident.
Queen Misse has fallen for such a crude trick.
Shame on her.
One voice rose above all, silencing the mob. Though no one was able to find it in the crowd.
- And what an even more unforgivable humiliation. Your large aristocratic rulers, privileged and opulent. With their needs over-supplied. Lacking the time or the competence to notice my presence. The vanity of a city that shields them from the real world. They call illegitimate that who the worthy Northern Styrians have enthroned against the despotic will of a decadent and cruel Empire.
The hooded woman appears from nowhere on the steps of the Royal Palace. She lowers her hood and, amidst the people at her feet and the Prime Minister at the top, Rhella puts an end to her sophistry.
- I am the queen of steppe she-wolves that suckle famished, clamouring for vengeance! I swear I will bring you hunger and war until you grovel for mercy at the foot of the Red Castle! And I will only provide you with concord when my iron guillotines the entire Lineage of Raktar!
- To me the Praetorian Guard! - ordered the Minister - Seize her!
- Careful, Minister, you don't want to jeopardise the last chance for a peace favourable to the interests of the Black Mistress.
- Tsk. Escort this... harlot... to the Audience Chamber.
- No one could doubt that your charm and my courtesy would bring concord to any conflict - a sly sneer crept into Rhella's half-smile.
Countless minutes were needed to be guided through countless palatial halls. At last, splendid doors set with black opal revealed a monumental carpet woven with triumphal episodes of war. At the end of it, a hundred steps raised the stare almost to the vault, revealing a blinding snowy throne. The Black Queen dozed in her bosom with the countenance of a deity awaiting the prayer of the orator.
- Your body is young and beautiful, but your mind lives stagnant in the old world of your ancestors; simple and ignorant - asserted the Red Queen as her gaze swept haughtily over the regal alabaster statues, the paintings of hunts and the tapestries woven in endless heraldic figures.
- Welcome to the Imperial Palace, Lady Rhella - replied Misse as if calm could be represented by the power of a storm - You must be tired from your journey, do you wish to rest or to be fed?
- That will not be necessary, your majesty, I have not much time for you - she replied as she gave her an exaggerated bow.
- I observe that you have no lack of it to play hide-and-seek. How do you expect me not to find in this interview the umpteenth provocation of a childish being?
- I begin to confirm my suspicions that the only understanding we have in common is language.
- Don't expect me to follow you in your recreation. I have no intention of bowing the knee to you. Total defeat will ennoble us more than outraging our traditions; our laws. I will not let my people grovel before the tyrant who shows no respect for fair play. I will not risk shame on my lineage by begging for false promises. If you called this diet for that, you have wasted your time. And I warn you that your next bluster will mean I stop wasting it on you.
- Your magnificence is even duller than I had imagined. That's a pity.
- Enough - cried Vesra - Children and old people starve in the Imperial Duchy because you block all the trade routes. Young men on both sides die every day on the battlefield. In hundreds of years the country has not suffered such a calamity, for what? what do you want?
- Ah, if the spawn talks. With all that is said about you outside these walls, I admit to being somewhat disappointed. At first glance you almost look like a normal little girl. Out of curiosity, would you say you are proud of your birth?
Vesra, angry, stretched out her arm and in her fingertips a thousand needles were created out of thin air. With a burst they ripped out of her skin in the direction of the Red Queen. There was a great clamour in the hall from the courtiers.
Rhella did not move. Fleeting between her and the sharp needles, a transparent form emerged. In the blink of an eye the figure of a woman materialised. It was Vesra herself.
But no steel touched her. Most of the needles evaporated just millimetres from her face; horrified. The princess fell to her knees, but Lady Ruby grabbed her arm. No one could explain what had happened.
- I see you don't understand the powers you are invoking - Rhella said as she looked at the young woman's pierced fingers - Anyway, let me be clear: the next time you dare to attack me, I will not use you as a shield, but your mother. Just think that time I may not have time to counter what you throw at me, hybrid.
He then turned her stare to the enthroned one:
- Even if you mix your essence with all the races, you won't be able to create a version of yourself that can stand up to me. Your blood is poison. And my justice is the only cure.
Empress Misse, cold and expressionless, made to speak, but the Red Lady interrupted her:
- This is the end of the negotiations.
And she vanished.
A stifled murmur filled the room. The courtiers were running their intrigues as the Black Queen said a few words privately to Azden. She nodded and down the stairs rescued the shocked Vesra from inquisitive gazes. Moments later, Misse rose to speak.
- Ladies and gentlemen, defeat is imminent - the buzz in the room ceased one by one.
- But not inevitable. Disregarding wise Tridentine counsel; these are in equal consideration: the Imperial Council, the Royal Curia and the Guardian representing the people of Genos. I, the Empress, by Solemn Decree deem it necessary to accept the offer of alliance with the High Elves of the East. The White Queen, my willing paladin, Captain of the Thirds of Eolyr and here present, pledges that her people will abide by the recent anti-High laws and will not make their aid conditional upon their abolition. They are, however, officially recognised as having the right to safeguard that the Raktarian line of succession rests exclusively with the princess Vesra. To the last consequences. Thus it is, at this very moment, accepted, signed and ratified by my hand.
The gibbering returned with ascending energy, which died away forever at the last words of their sovereign:
- I abdicate.
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