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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mirror of Dreams - Chapter 24

24



At my insistence, Kyle rode back to the palace by my side. I didn't care that it technically wasn't true, I named him my official brother as far as the Rolandian Kingdom was concerned. This meant that I wanted to spend some time with him, getting to know him and picking his brain as an average citizen of Rolandia.

The strangest thing of all was that Kyle had been in the palace when I first arrived. He had been a member of Lord Gregory's many units, but unlike Nathan – who trained his unit every day – Lord Gregory rotated his units around the Kingdom to patrol and keep peace. Even Sir Barrett's unit was normally assigned to alternate between reinforcing the Town Guard and coming to the palace for more training.

Thus, Kyle's unit had been assigned border patrol not too long after I arrived. This meant that I had never seen him. Had I, I am certain that I would have Knighted him and insisted that he live in the palace, so maybe it was for the best that I hadn't found him until now.

The best part of the trip back to the palace was that the sizzling in my blood was lower than ever, so I managed to sleep at night. The entire night! For the entire week it took to return at our leisurely pace. However, it was definitely coming back.

So, what made you decide to become a soldier?” I asked Kyle as the palace came into view in the distance.

He shrugged and gave me a look like this was the silliest question he'd ever heard. “Well, my mother and father were both soldiers. My father was discharged from the army before I was born due to losing his right leg, and then my mother died when I was almost a year old. I grew up knowing that there was no greater honor than serving in the army and protecting Rolandia. Of course I joined!”

Plus, as I've tried to tell you,” Nathan added gently. “Pretty much all citizens of Rolandia have to serve in the army at some point or other.”

That's so wrong!” I exclaimed softly in dismay.

How can you not know this?” Kyle asked in confusion.

Her Majesty is from another world,” Sir Barrett explained. Again. No matter how many times we told him this, Kyle just couldn't seem to understand.

What other world?” Kyle inquired, his face scrunched up in confusion.

I'll show you sometime,” I promised him. We were very close to the palace gates now, so I took the opportunity to set Lord Gregory's mind at ease. “Lord Gregory? I'd like to get together in the dining hall to go over reports as soon as possible.”

He actually looked delighted by this, but quickly wiped the emotion from his face. “Of course, Your Majesty.”

I smirked at him, knowing better than anyone – with the possible exception of Lady Leeza – that he was actually a big old softy at heart. He rolled his eyes at me and shook his head. Strangely, he made a soft sound that was reminiscent of Lurch from the Addams Family, which made me giggle quietly.

I dismounted the moment we arrived in front of the palace. Ladies Sophia and Leeza waited for us along with Lord Antony. They all looked a bit teary-eyed to see us returning so soon and safely.

Lady Sophia delicately ran to me and gave me a quick kiss on the lips before she turned and threw her arms around Nathan. As she cried and rained kisses on his face, she wailed: “Oh Natey! I was so afraid that you'd be hurt!”

Mother, you're embarrassing me,” Nathan grumbled even as he returned her hug.

Oh let her!” I insisted with an amused huff. “It's far better than her not caring at all!”

Exactly!” Lady Sophia exclaimed, kissing his face probably a hundred more times.

Majesty,” Lady Leeza said with a relieved smile. “When we heard that you might have been hurt, we were all besides ourselves with worry.” She put her hands on my face and kissed me thoroughly.

When she was done, I held onto her and whispered in her ear: “Kiss Lord Gregory too, or I'll have you bound to a stake in the town square for an entire day.”

She gave me a look of impressed surprise. I could see her considering whether or not that could be fun. Giving me another kiss, she murmured fine so softly that I just barely heard her.

I gestured for Lord Antony to wait for a moment so that I could watch. An apprehensive look crossed Lord Gregory's face as Lady Leeza marched over to him. Before he could decide whether to back away or not, she grabbed hold of his collar and pulled him down to her so that she could kiss him. It wasn't a quick little thing either! Everyone gasped in astonishment! And then cheered softly. Lord Gregory was so surprised at first that he did nothing, but then he swept her off her feet and held her close so that he could return her kiss with equal fervor.

Until she bit his tongue and pulled away. He wore a look like: I should have known! But then set her back on her feet and let her go.

Welcome home, my Lord,” she stated coldly before throwing her glorious red hair over her shoulder and walking away.

With a proud grin, I turned my attention to Lord Antony, holding my arms open wide. He picked me up and twisted me side to side for a moment before setting me back on my feet and kissing me. “I'm so glad to see you unharmed!”

I was never harmed!” I insisted with a giggle.

Except when you crashed quite violently into the ground,” Sir Barrett remarked dryly. “And I feel a bit cheated now that I realize that I can't welcome you home with a kiss.”

Aww,” I purred with a softly amused smile. Holding out my hand, I waited for him to take it so that I could pull him closer and give him a quick kiss. “But honestly, I don't remember any sort of crash. I remember passing out just after I started falling. I don't even have bruises or anything.”

That's because they healed really quickly,” Nathan muttered with a look that suggested that seeing me lying on the ground after falling had been his worst nightmare come true.

Hmm...” I murmured, not really caring about how battered my body was since it had been in the service of peace. Turning my attention to my group of favorite guards, I grinned.

I see that you all want to welcome me home too!” I stated with a happy purr, and then walked to each one so that I could kiss them. The very last one was bold enough to lift me off my feet and give me a kiss guaranteed to make me remember his name! I laughed as he set me down and stepped back.

Then it was time for the last ones to welcome me home. My maids surrounded me with tears in their eyes and red cheeks to testify that they had been extremely worried about me. They squished me in a loving group hug, holding me tight for a long moment before taking turns kissing me.

I kissed them each at least four times before Nathan got fed up and pulled me free from them. “You said you wanted to get to work as soon as possible!”

I giggled and threw my arms around him so that I could give him a kiss that hopefully made his toes curl. “Feel better now?” I asked softly.

A little,” he admitted, giving me another kiss. After that, we walked hand in hand to the dining hall. I heard Ian telling Kyle that they should follow us, and Kyle protesting that he was just a soldier. Ian technically outranked Kyle, and so won the argument.

Especially when he said: “Kaitlynn's going to want you by her side as much as possible from now on, so you had best get used to it.”

Fine,” Kyle accepted with a reluctant sigh. “But why does she have to kiss everyone?”

That's just part of what makes our Queen so wonderful,” Sir Barrett answered, slinging an arm around Kyle's shoulders. He whispered something in Kyle's ear that made him stop short as the blood drained from his face. I noticed this over my shoulder and stopped to look at them.

Sir Barrett!” I protested sharply. “What exactly did you say!”

He had the grace to look a bit sheepish. “Nothing much, just letting him know that I have the authority to make him disappear if he ever tries to use you for any nefarious purposes.”

I laughed and shook my head. “Oh, don't worry about that! If he tried anything so evil, I'd simply hand him over to Lady Leeza for a year or two!”

Nathan, Ian, Sir Barrett, and Lord Antony – basically everyone who was walking with us – shuddered and started muttering prayers. They all made the sign of their God, except Ian, who actually crossed himself despite not being catholic! Kyle looked around curiously.

Why? … Is that bad?” He wondered.

You don't want to find out!” They insisted passionately.

A night or two wouldn't be so bad,” Ian added with a dreamy smile, and then shook his head. “But a year or two! You may as well just sign your last will and let them divvy up your stuff!”

When we finally entered the dining hall, Lord Gregory waited for us impatiently. “What took you so long?! I got here almost 10 minutes ago!”

I had to kiss a lot of people!” I stated as if this should have been obvious.

He rolled his eyes and pointed firmly to my chair. I turned to my maids – who had followed me at a distance. “I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like tea and something fabulous to eat!”

Yes Majesty!” They replied promptly, and then curtseyed before rushing to do as suggested.

Then I gestured for Kyle to sit by Sir Barrett as we all settled at the table. For perhaps the first time ever, I sat quietly and listened as they read the reports to me. Well, I also ate my food and drank my tea, but I wasn't antsy at all. With a smirk, I noticed that this didn't speed things up any.

Even better, the majority of the reports were war related, so Lord Antony simply summed them all up and set them aside for me to read through later. Of those, they were all pretty much frantic requests for weapons. I now had a pretty good idea of how I was going to answer these.

The rest of the reports were status updates from throughout the Kingdom that – again – Lord Antony summed up for me and then set aside for Lord Gregory to read through later. The very last report was a request for monetary aid from the city that had been besieged. I granted that without a second thought and signed off on it right away.

Done!” Lord Antony announced with a sigh of relief.

Not quite,” I corrected him, holding up a finger like I was saying: Wait a minute. “I have two more things I want to discuss.”

Uh-oh,” Lord Gregory groaned in dread.

Yes?” Lord Antony asked with a smile, seeming genuinely pleased that I was taking an active role in the governing of the Kingdom.

As I understand it, the bulk of the Royal Army is currently on active reserve status. They travel the country on training missions and patrol the borders,” I summed up my limited knowledge on the subject. “Well, we're at peace now. King Francis and I exchanged promises never to attack each other again, so there is no need for our Army to remain on high alert. I want you to offer any soldier who wants it a chance to go home... An honorable discharge.”

I looked around as everyone stared at me, stunned. Maintaining an extensive army had been a necessary fact of life for a millennium, so I can understand how this concept seemed foreign to them. I smiled patiently but firmly.

From now on, we need only maintain a basic military unit to respond to matters of emergency relief in our Kingdom – such as a sudden flood or a storm that destroys an entire village. Things like that,” I suggested.

But...” Lord Gregory was almost speechless, which was rare in that he usually had a response for everything, but not rare in that he tended to speak very little in general. “But what if Prince Guy sends out another troop to attack us?”

He only did that because he thought we were holding his father captive,” I pointed out. “Besides, if that were to happen, I'll just kick his army out of Rolandia again. More practically, it would happen soon, before Fritz has a chance to deal with him, so we'd still be ready. By the time you actually manage to offer and enact the discharges, I'm sure the immediate risk of a threat would be over.”

Everyone – except Ian, who was grinning at me – still looked like they were thinking that this was the worst idea they'd ever heard. Nathan even looked horrified! I cast him a curious look, wondering what he was imagining would happen.

Well,” Lord Antony responded diplomatically. “I guess that would free up some money in the budget to spend on other things...”

Such as small business...” I murmured off the top of my head, since all these discharged soldiers were going to need to make a living doing something else from now on.

Lord Antony simply bowed his head in acknowledgment. He took a deep breath as if fortifying himself for my next idea. “And... what is the second thing you wanted to talk about, my Queen?”

There's some sort of … I don't know if it's an actual law or simply a long standing tradition, but it seems to be expected for everyone in the Kingdom to enroll in the army once they reach a certain age,” I stated with a frown. “I want this to stop. After all, we won't need such a large army anymore. Therefore, I'd like to encourage people to do other things.”

Lord Gregory wasn't the only one who looked like he was about to roar in protest, so I held up my hands. “I'm not saying that people can't join the army and get basic training if they want – that could come in handy for so much more than fighting in wars – I'm just saying that since we won't need such a large army in the future, it might be a better idea if people went into business or something instead.”

The way it had been described to me was that everyone enrolled in the army, and only in times of peace when they were on reserve status, were they allowed to do other things. Except for people who had children or had reached a certain age and wanted to retire. Impressively, both mothers and fathers were allowed to leave the army when a child was born, or if one wanted to remain in the army, they were allowed to so long as the other parent wished to stay home. I felt this was quite progressive considering how closed-minded most militaries I'd heard of were.

Thus, pretty much all of the business owners had decided to get married at some point and have children so that they could leave the army. Even if they only had one child and that child grew up, they were never required to return to the army. This might well be the only reason that the population of the Kingdom hadn't died off completely!

The other thing Nathan had once explained to me – that women were usually offered reserve status first – meant that women were actually very frequently the owner of a business while their husbands stayed in the army. This had led to some of the progressive laws and policies that I had admired so much. I sincerely hoped that things wouldn't change now that the war was officially over!

After the incredulous silence dragged on for just a bit too long, I grinned and purred happily. “Excellent! Now that we're all in agreement, I declare this meeting over!” With that, I got to my feet and walked out of the room, calling over my shoulder: “I'm going for a run! Who's with me?”



***



After my run, I invited Kyle to my Royal Bedchamber for tea and a chat. Nathan, Ian, and Sir Barrett were with me, somewhat intimidating him, but he had a look like he felt he had no choice but to obey me. I smiled at him kindly, trying to reassure him that I didn't have anything bad in mind.

True to my word, we simply chatted. To set him at ease, I also played a card game native to Rolandia that Nathan and Sir Barrett had taught me at some point. I asked him more questions about his life, and when he got tired of answering them, I told him a couple of stories from when my brother and I were young.

Suddenly I grinned at Ian. “You know what I just realized? I'm now going to be living just an hour and a half from where he goes to school! I should go call him and see if he's in class. Wait...”

I ended my thought softly because something else occurred to me. I got up and went to my mirror, but rather than get close enough to touch or kiss it, I held out my hand to it. “Bruce told me something unbelievable...”

Bruce?” I heard Nathan question softly, probably wondering who this new guy was and when I'd had time to meet him.

God,” Ian informed him with a whisper.

God's name is Bruce?” Both Nathan and Sir Barrett asked in confusion, but Ian could only shrug.

With my power, I focused on the mirror and pictured my brother – my real one back in my home world. He suddenly shimmered into view, looking passed out, half hanging off his bed, wearing nothing more than boxers. I grinned and turned to my posse at the table.

I'll be right back!” I promised and then kissed my mirror before anyone could think to protest.

The first thing I did was grab my cellphone and call Kyle. It took calling him about three times in a row, but eventually he answered his phone. “Wha ya wan?”

Kyle!!!” I exclaimed an a way too cheery and delighted tone of voice.

Shh!” He begged with a groan. I imagined him clutching his head.

Get dressed and brush your teeth! You're going to come visit me in about five minutes!” I announced with a merciless laugh.

What???” He asked in utter confusion.

Just do it!” I insisted. “Because you're coming to visit me in five minutes whether you want to or not!”

But I got class!” He whined in protest.

That's okay, you'll be back before it, I promise!” I was subtly using the same tone of voice I used when I wanted Lord Gregory to stop arguing and just give in already. “Five minutes!”

He growled a sigh, but I could hear him moving, so I knew he was listening. “Fine...”

Thank you! Love you!”

Yeah yeah,” he grumbled.

After I hung up my phone, I kissed my mirror. To my surprise, I could see my brother pulling on a pair of sweat pants and a muscle shirt. Ian laughed in the background.

He is so adorable when he first wakes up!”

I looked over at my best friend. “Was this on the entire time I was gone?”

Yep!” Ian confirmed. “Hilariously, the time difference is evident, so it took him like five minutes to finally wake up and answer his phone. It flashed and blinked, so I'm sure it was also quite loud and annoying. How many times did you have to call him anyway?”

Like three,” I mumbled. Then I turned my attention back to the mirror and willed it to fast forward until my brother was dressed and ready. Grinning, I faced Ian. “I'm going to need you to explain things to him.”

This is going to be so much fun!” Ian stated with a devious cackle.

Walking to the table, I took this Kyle's hand in mine. “I told you that I'd show you my other world. Come on, it won't take long.” I paused as a thought occurred to me. “If we get separated and you end up in my brother's room, just feel free to snoop around but don't go anywhere.”

Uh...” he droned apprehensively.

I didn't really give him a choice, dragging him to the mirror and kissing it before he could think of a protest. To my delight, he stayed with me. I gave him a kiss on the cheek.

This is my bedroom in my other world. It's currently rather empty because I'm packing up to move in with my husband. I'll probably be back in just one second, but if I decide to test my time power and leave you here for a few minutes, don't be afraid. The absolute worst that could happen would be my mom coming to look for me and finding you. Just answer yes to any questions she might ask you or avoid answering altogether. Same if my grandmother sees you. Both would naturally dote on you, so you'll be fine. And the outfit is a costume!”

After explaining that at top speed, I let go of his hand and kissed my mirror.

What the hell Kaity?!” Kyle demanded angrily. “You have a mirror spying on me in my dorm room?!”

Kyle!” I exclaimed in glee and hugged him.

I just saw you like two days ago!” Kyle roared, trying to pull free from my hug.

I tried to explain the time difference to him,” Ian murmured.

And the mirror doesn't spy on you, I simply looked for you to make sure that you weren't in class when I made the switch,” I explained. “I happened to get lucky!”

Staring at my mirror, I wished the image of his room to fade. “Happy?”

Better,” he grumbled, yawning and scratching his head as he looked around. “Whoa, this place looks like a palace...”

I laughed merrily at that as Ian chuckled and Nathan and Sir Barrett shook their heads in amusement. Ian got to his feet and slung an arm over Kyle's shoulder. “May I present to you Kaitlynn? Queen of Rolandia. This would be her Royal Palace.”

You're trying to pull one over on me, aren't you?” Kyle asked, giving Ian a secretive little smile.

Flirt later!” I insisted with a chuckle.

They both gave me a pouty look. “Aww, but flirting is so much fun!” Ian protested.

I threw my hands out with a flourish to indicate Nathan. “Kyle, meet Nathan, my husband, and Sir Barrett, my bodyguard. Nathan, Sir Barrett, meet Kyle, my big brother.”

Another husband?!” Kyle demanded with a frown. “The last I heard you two were broken up, and you know, the more I look at him, the more he looks like Andrew.”

Nah,” I assured him. “I met Nathan first, so if anything, Andrew looks like him. But more importantly, they look nothing alike.”

Ian squinted his eyes at Nathan. “Yeah, I don't really see that much of a resemblance. The only thing they have in common are blond hair and green eyes, and even those are very different shades.”

Nathan tilted his head and gave me an interesting look. “You chose your other husband because he looked like me?”

Well...” I mumbled with a blush. “Sorta... After meeting you and totally falling for your gorgeous looks, I went back home to my birthday party and saw Andrew. His blond hair and green eyes confirmed for me that I had dreamt about the right man for me...”

Nathan smiled, but then tried to look like he was playing it cool. “Good.”

I laughed and gave him a quick kiss. Abruptly, I turned back to Kyle and grabbed his hand. “You remember that time difference now?”

Yeah,” he confirmed with a shrug.

Well, it's been almost three weeks since I've spent more than a couple of minutes in our world – so I plan to go home in the morning. That means that you get to spend the night here too. Lucky you!” I informed him with a grin.

But I have class!” He protested, looking around urgently for a clock.

I rolled my eyes at him. “You'll be back in plenty of time for class! You may even have actual sleep!”

Oh...” he murmured. “Right...”

In the meantime, it's evening here. We'll have dinner in a few minutes, and then I'll give you a tour of my palace, and then you can get a good night's sleep before I take us home in the morning,” I explained.

Kyle glanced at Ian, who grinned at him suggestively. “Well, I don't know about that...”

I laughed and kissed him on the cheek. Just then, a soft knock on the door echoed through the room.

Pardon us, Majesty,” my maids purred as they entered the room. “But we should get you ready for dinner.”

I looked at myself. Since it was surprisingly comfortable, I was still wearing my military uniform, which I had been wearing while riding home. “I suppose I could use a little freshening up. Any requests?” I directed this at Nathan.

That blue dress I love!” Nathan insisted.

Nah, the red one!” Ian argued.

I vote for the red one too,” Sir Barrett added with a grin.

Oh but Your Majesty,” my maids protested. “There's a new green one that will bring out the red in your hair.”

Hmm, green...” I mused with a soft smile, and then looked at Nathan. “That could be fun to wear.”

Yes!” The maids cheered happily, dragging me to my closet so that they could strip me.

Try to contain your kisses so that we aren't late for dinner!” Nathan called after us. “I'm rather hungry!”

Me too!” I called out over my shoulder. “I feel like I could eat an elephant!”

What's an elephant?” Nathan and Sir Barrett asked in unison.

Seriously? There are no elephants in this world???” Ian asked, and then sat down to explain it to them.

My maids had me naked and into my new dress in very little time. Ironically, Lady Leeza must have decided to try modesty, because aside from a very daringly low V in my cleavage, I couldn't really see my breasts or my vagina. I have to admit that I was kind of disappointed... until I realized that when the light hit me just right, they were slightly visible after all. I passed out kisses to all four of them a few times.

It got quiet in there, you're busy kissing aren't you?” Nathan asked loudly.

Guilty!” I exclaimed with a laugh as I emerged from my closet. I then pointed at my maids. “I'm already wearing my circlet and a braid, so no fussing with my hair tonight.”

Aww...” they pouted in disappointment. I kissed them each one more time.

Sir Barrett huffed in thought. “You know, it just occurred to me that I should probably be jealous. After all, they're all carrying my children.”

The maids and I all gave him a dark look. “And what? You think this means that you own them?” I asked with a challenge.

No!” Sir Barrett replied hastily. “I just meant that I don't get that kind of love from them, and – ”

My maids promptly purred and surrounded him. “Aww! You want kisses too?”

Sir Barrett gave them a tilted grin that said: It would be nice.

As they took turns kissing him, I slipped my hand into the crook of Kyle's arm. “Come on, you're probably hungry too.”

His stomach growled as if on cue. “I guess I am.”

Go to Chapter 25 

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