Friday, January 30, 2015

58 (719) - So? What's Going On?

Minis kept his face still, the smile pasted on his face, as calm as he’d ever been in front of his father.  They stood at the top of the Marble Palace lift, surrounded by the usual milling around that happened any time a substantial chunk of the Imperial family went anywhere.  One of the chill winter rains was threatening and when that coolness blew in, it would make the Marble Palace a dank and clammy stone box despite all the heating and cleaning and sopping up water running down the walls that the servants could do.

They weren’t going by air.  The flight school was off to the right from where he stood, next to the fantasy little wagon he’d sent to Ky when he was on the run.  The pony stood idly, tail twitching. Ky was in the driver’s seat, herself.  So vast a change and so common now. Farasha sat next to her and a girl groom stood on the back step.  The pony flung his head sideways and made to snap at the team next to him and was firmly checked by Ky.

The team next to him were three times his size, the wildly patterned, black and gold striped horses that the Tor Enchian prince had sent along.  They were Duli crosses by their size, but they had feathers on their hocks like flowing silken tresses, their manes and tails equally long and flowing like a maiden’s hair and they had to be half braided so they did not catch the gilded harness, or trail in the dust; and not a speck of white on them, anywhere.

The wagon was the one he’d had made for Farasha as his wedding present to her.  The red painted hub on the wheels was at his shoulder and every spar, every surface of the wagon was carved with images of running horses, clouds, books, suns, eagles and dragons.  It was a traditional Gybir red but instead of details picked out in yellow, they were gilded with true yellow gold instead. There were glass windows in it and the driver, now too big for the tiny pony trap, was her Hyerne man. He’d cultivated a raffish and to Arkan eyes, a demonic, appearance, though still handsomely done, his clothes faintly reminiscent of flames.

“We’ll be fine, Gannara,” Farasha was saying as she kissed him goodbye.  “We’ve got the entire O. R. F. with us to train at the Winter Palace.”

“And a whole contingent from the Elite,” Minis added.  “They’re terribly chagrined that they’ll miss the singleton challenge races.”

The contenders,  now vying for the last twenty places in the Bodyguard, had followers, as if they were Mezem fighters, cliques cheering them on.  Bets were laid on who would beat whose time, who would get their charges safely through. The most, the fastest.  The Elite unit would miss the final challenge, a miniature assault on a fortified position, with Ili happily playing the part of ‘terrified victim’ in the middle.  Likely he’d be firing back at his attackers with wild enthusiasm.

"They'll be skippin back to the city by wing for the races they want to see, when they're on leave, I'll bet," Gannara said.

Minis let his comb fall to the end of its chain and took Ky’s hand, reins and all.  “You’ll have some peace and it will be cozier.  Once this session is over I’ll come out, too.”

The Haian apprentice, Nunimaer poked his head out of the wagon window.  “Akminchaer and I are all packed away so that nothing will break.”

“I love you.” He kissed her cheek again.

“I love you too. I'm only a moment's hop away by wing.”

That was true.  If it wasn't all the household removing to the Winter Palace it was a short trip, by wing.

He and Gannara stood and watched as cavalcade wound up toward the distant twinkle of the sun crystals on the tips of the Winter Palace towers, just visible over the trees.  When they were well and truly out of earshot, Gannara put his hand on Minis’s shoulder and asked quietly, in his ear. “You didn't fool them for a moment, nor me either. So? Tell me what’s wrong.”

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