Go To Chapter 7
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Amadea and the Divinity Blade - Chapters 5+6
Amadea led Zephyr, Notus, and Jason to the sitting room of her large heir's apartment. She was relieved to see that her father had stayed in the throne room. Zira ordered the maid, who was dusting, to get them some refreshments. As soon as she was gone, Amadea hugged Zephyr.
"I'm so glad you're not dead. I've relived that day over and over, and I finally realized what my biggest regret was." Amadea stared into Zephyr’s eyes and smiled. She carefully reached to pull his veil down, and caressed his face. "I promised myself if I could do it over, I would tell you how I feel." She kissed him full on the lips.
Jason and Notus wore nearly matching expressions of surprise.
Zira chuckled. "Oh, Amadea, there's something you should know. Zephyr's not here to try for your hand; his brother is."
The news was enough to make Amadea end the kiss and step back. "Oh, I see."
"Wait just a minute! I didn't even know you were alive, much less Princess Amadea until just a few minutes ago. You can't expect me to-"
"I know." Amadea held a finger up to his lips. "Will you try, now that you know?"
Zephyr looked at Notus, who regarded the couple with no small amount of awe. "Hey, I couldn't in good conscious try now that it's clear she would rather have you." Zephyr smiled at him, and chuckled at Jason's stunned expression.
Tears slid down Zira's ghostly face.
Zephyr noticed them first. "Zira, why are you crying?"
"Most of the time, I barely remember what it was like to be alive, and the details of my life have become blurred, but seeing you reminds me vividly of him." Zira tried to wipe the tears from her face, but was once again fading without meaning to.
"Gavin," Amadea and Zephyr stated.
Jason poked Zira curiously, only to have his hand pass right through her. He gasped and withdrew his hand to stare at it. Zira saw the expression on his face and laughed.
"You really are a ghost," Jason breathed as chills ran down his spine, and he hid behind Notus.
Zira half squatted to bring her face level with his. "Don't worry, I won't hurt you. I'm not a scary ghost, am I?"
Jason momentarily peeked out from behind Notus, and shrugged.
Amadea snuggled up to Zephyr for a moment more, then there was a knock to announce the return of the maid with refreshments.
Zephyr stood calmly in a long line of suitors waiting to see if they were at least as fair as the regular judge. He was deeply thankful that about a third of the suitors who had arrived by the deadline had left again rather than be embarrassed by weighing lower than the judge. He had always prided himself on his fairness, and was confident that he was at least equal to the judge.
At last, it was his turn, and he was amazed that nearly half of the line had been a good half a notch or lower than the judge, and therefore disqualified. He stepped on the scale, and calmly waited for it to move. When it stopped moving, he was a half a notch higher than the judge. He had passed the test.
Zephyr went to the buffet room to wait with all of those who had passed for instructions on what came next. He ate lightly of the food offered. Finally, Princess Amadea entered the room. She shone as brilliantly as her nickname, and rewarded the suitors with a blinding smile.
"Now that all of you have passed the first test, it's time to tell you about the second. My father has determined that the future Emperor Consort must be wise as well, and has scheduled an appointment with each of you to meet with him and his advisors. Please see the clerks to learn when your appointment is." She scanned the crowd until she found Zephyr, then left the room.
Two weeks later, Zephyr paced the room adjoining the throne room awaiting his appointment.
"Notus, what if the Emperor decides I'm not wise enough?"
"Relax," Notus advised.
"But I'm not exactly the wisest man; in fact I'm fairly an idiot!" Zephyr nearly wailed.
Notus nodded. "That's true, but this is just a qualifying round. He can't expect you to be the wisest of the wise. Just..."
"I'm doomed," Zephyr said with near certainty.
Just then, the door opened, and the previous candidate moped out of the throne room.
"The Emperor will see you now."
Zephyr took a deep breath, and entered the throne room. Notus was allowed to accompany him, but had to promise not to communicate with his brother in any way.
"As I'm sure you are aware," the Emperor began, "This is a test of wisdom. I am going to ask you one carefully chosen question, and my advisors and I will vote on the wisdom of your answer.”
Zephyr nodded in understanding.
The Emperor gave him a grave look. "You must understand, we have selected a different question for each candidate, and every one of them is as difficult as we could make it, so I'm am not being unfair to you with this question."
"I understand, Imperial Majesty," Zephyr replied.
"Good. Now, thinking over your battle against the source of all evil, what would you have done differently?”
Zephyr took a few deep breaths as he thought this over. Finally, he responded. "I have given the matter months of thought. I have thought and rethought every detail, and I don't think there is anything I could have done differently, except... well, if I hadn't sent the last of my power to Sunny Day, uh Princess Amadea that is, I wouldn't have fallen into the abyss... but then she likely wouldn't have survived, and I would not choose that. So...
“No, I don't see how I could have done anything different." Zephyr was not confident in his answer, and Notus shook his head in sympathetic certainty.
The Emperor exchanged glances with his advisors. Up until now, the advisors had not hesitated to give their vote, but they all knew that there was something different about this one. The Emperor sighed. "Knowing when to admit you could not have fixed the situation by doing something different rather than showing false bravado and empty promises of how much better it could have been if only... is a sign of wisdom."
Most of his advisors nodded in agreement, and produced the green "for" card. Three of the twelve advisors produced the red "against" card. Zephyr's jaw dropped in amazement, though no one could tell through his veil, and Notus gave a small cheer of congratulations.
The Emperor continued, "The third task is of bravery, and though I daresay you have already proven yourself to be very brave, you still have to complete the challenge. In the mountains in the far south of the Empire, there lives a dragon. You must take a token from the dragon's treasure, without harming her, and be back in the palace by the time of the choosing. There are only about 50 candidates left, some of which have already returned with their token."
Zephyr felt he would be cheating if he didn't say speak up. "Imperial Majesty, I have already befriended the dragon, and wear a token of hers around my neck."
The Emperor chuckled. "Be that as it may, you must still complete the task."
The most trusted advisor cleared his throat. "If I may suggest, we do have a troll rampaging very near those mountains, perhaps he could defeat the troll instead?"
"Ah, but then we are testing much more than bravery and promptness, we are actually placing him in danger," the Emperor argued.
"I am confident I could defeat the troll," Zephyr stated.
"Very well," the Emperor agreed.
"Uh sire? Should we take his token? We did promise to return all of the tokens after the choosing," one of the advisors timidly asked.
"No, I think that this is a different circumstance entirely, and we don't want to offend the dragon,” the Emperor replied.
"Of course, Majesty."
"What do you mean you have to go defeat a troll?!" Amadea demanded in outrage. "That's completely unfair! Everyone else simply has to claim a token from the dragon! I'm going to complain to my father - !"
"Please calm down." Zephyr soothed his beloved by stroking her hair. "I volunteered for this duty."
"You did?" Amadea asked. She’d been meeting Zephyr secretly in a small, unused chamber that contained nothing more than a table and two chairs. There wasn't room to do any of the "forbidden" things, even if she had time to do them.
"Yes. It couldn't be considered brave to ask for a token from a dragon we had already befriended while we chased the warlock," Zephyr explained, "and besides, a troll shouldn't pose any problems."
"You say that now, but I remember how we all decided to stay far away from him," Amadea frowned.
"Only because we didn't have time to waste back then."
"But-!" Amadea tried to protest, but was cut short by Zephyr's mouth covering hers. They kissed for several minutes, stopping only when Zira appeared.
"They're looking for you, Sunny Day," Zira informed them.
"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine," Zephyr promised. "Now go, before they think you've run away again."
"I love you," Amadea confessed, again.
"I love you too." Zephyr smiled, and kissed her one last time.
Go To Chapter 7
Go To Chapter 7