~ Chapter 78: The Political Barrier ~
[Seryanna's point of view]
After the meeting with King Feryumstark, together with Kataryna, we were pulled by the Queen into one of the reception rooms at the second floor of the Palace. These rooms were big enough to accommodate even a party of fifty dragons. It was beautifully decorated, and in the middle was a luxurious couch. In front of it were a pair of armchairs from the same model, and between them was an elegant table that didn't even reach past my ankles. It was meant to be used to serve tea and snacks.
“Please, have a seat. Oh, and don't mind the polite speech. We're among friends here.” Queen Elliessara told us with a smile on her lips as she sat down on one of the armchairs.
Although she said that, no matter how close we were to this dragoness, in the end, she was still the most important and most powerful individual in this entire Kingdom. A single word from her could send ripples throughout our nation. An order was obeyed even by the King.
From what I heard, unlike other royal families, the Seyendraughers appeared to be very relaxed and calm when approaching their subjects. Their powerful positions weren't reflected in their gestures and words as often as commoners and low nobles tended to believe.
That was why until the Queen said anything, both me and Kataryna kept quiet.
After a minute or so, a maid entered the room and placed three cups in front of us. At first glance, it appeared to be just ordinary tea, but it had a certain aroma that tingled my nose. The taste was probably one to match a noble's tongue as well.
“Do tell me if you like the taste of this All Cure tea. It's a new recipe. I added a bit of mint to it. Alkelios was kind enough to tell what I could and couldn't mix with it.” the Queen told us as she picked up the tea and gently moved it below her nose.
She didn't drink, just took a whiff of the scent before she placed the tea back down.
“I think this one will be quite good! Unfortunately, I need to let it cool down for a minute.” she said with a smile.
“Thank you.” I said and picked up the cup.
After taking a sip, I found it to have a rather pleasant taste. Although I wasn't an expert in tea, I could still tell that it had a rich flavor that calmed me down.
“For someone who has affinity to fire, this tea isn't hot at all, is it?” the Queen showed me a wry smile.
“No, your Majesty.” I replied.
For me, the tea wasn't hot at all. Since my Awakening, I could even drink boiling water without a problem. Alkelios was the same as well, although, he sometimes had the tendency to forget when it was night outside just like Kleo did. I did enjoy our night plays together, but I wanted to look at him when we were making love not stare at a bunch of shadows in the dark.
“A new recipe, huh? It won't be the same as the one with the Mandrakian root, will it?” Kataryna asked raising an eyebrow.
“Oh, heavens forbid! NO!” the Queen denied the thought.
That batch of tea was one that managed to send all three of us running for the toilets. It was a very disgraceful moment for us, but the only one who had to suffer was the King who suggested that terrible concoction. I heard he slept for three days in a row outside the door of the royal bedroom with only a thin blanket to cover him. The Queen gave orders to keep him out of all bedrooms until she said otherwise.
“Good.” Kataryna said and took a sip from it.
Just like me, the dragoness with silver scales had no problem with the tea. Those who had an affinity either to the ice or fire element were the same. The extent of temperature change we could withstand depended, however, on our levels and skills.
At this moment, Princess Elleyzabelle entered the room. She was wearing an elegant dress suited for those born in the royal family. The amount of frills and decorations on it weren't to my taste though.
“Yes, my dear. Have a seat. We're going to have our important talk now.” the Queen said.
The same maid as the one from before entered the room shortly after and placed a cup of tea in front of the Princess.
After she left, the Queen looked at us and then said “We are here to talk about Alkelios' marriage with my daughter, Elleyzabelle.”
The said princess spat out the tea in front of me. I dodged at the nick of time.
“Oh, my! Well, it's not like you didn't know. I told you this back on the battlefield, right?” the Queen showed her a concerned smile.
“Y-Yes, mother, I... well... I thought you had changed your mind, and...” she looked at me then at Kataryna who appeared to have frozen in place with the cup just a short distance from her lips.
I was the only one who didn't appear to be so affected, but that was only because I knew that my husband had no such feelings towards the Princess. He loved me more than he showed.
“May I ask what this is about?” I calmly asked the Queen.
“Of course.” she replied with a nod.
The Queen clapped her hands and a maid entered. After she cleaned up the table and couch, she left and the conversation continued. The princess was as red as a tomato from embarrassement.
“I guess even if you put up a cool front, there are some matters which will turn your cheeks red when in the presence of friends.” the Queen joked as she poked the Princess' cheek.
“M-Mother...” she couldn't retort.
“Well then! The matter about this marriage is one strictly out of politics. We want to tie Alkelios to our royal family in order to stop the insane ammount of marriage proposals those foolish nobles keep sending him. By the gods, I was even thinking of declaring a new law just to put a stop to this foolishness!” the Queen furrowed her brow and showed an expression of disgust.
“I understand, but I didn't receive anything.” I said.
“Of course. I made it so that they all passed through me before any got to you.” she replied.
“Beg your pardon, your Majesty, but why would you do something like that?” I asked.
“Seryanna, my dear, you may be an Awakened of a High Elemental, but you are rather naive and foolish when it comes to our politics. Those dragonesses out there would eat you alive the moment you showed a sign of weakness. As for Alkelios, he is not one to be bothered with such matters as far as I know. But do correct me if I'm wrong.” the Queen showed me a smile.
“No, your Majesty, you are absolutely correct.” I replied.
“I know, that's why I suggested and decided to make this political marriage official. As you know polygamy isn't an issue in our Kingdom. Alkelios will be married to you and maybe in the future Kataryna as well, so I will add my daughter to your group to act as the political wall between your happy married life and the rest of the buffoons out there.” the Queen explained.
Kataryna still wasn't moving.
“I understand, then will the Princess have to carry Alkelios' egg?” I asked.
Elleyzabelle couldn't turn anymore red. If she did, she would have matched the color of my scales.
“Of course not. Unless something actually develops between the two, I would never suggest or allow something like that. The marriage is in name only. A simple document signed in consent by the dragoness who is currently married with him, which is you, Seryanna, and my daughter who is to be his wife. There will be no grand marriage like yours.” she explained.
“Ahem!” Kataryna coughed and finally put the tea down.
“Yes?” the Queen asked.
“If what you are saying is true, then I can understand why you would wish to put the Princess there as a political barrier, but isn't this a bit too much both for her and maybe Alkelios?” she asked.
“I do believe that after he returns, he won't have that much time on his hands while trying to get the two of you pregnant, so...” this time it was my turn to spit out the tea.
“Ah! I apologize!” I said.
I was lucky none of it got on the two dragonesses and ruined their attire.
“Sigh... Maybe I should have went with snacks?” the Queen pondered and clapped her hands.
After the maid cleaned up the table again, we continued the conversation.
“I suppose it will be natural for him, right? He was a former human, and I know humans are horny 24/7. I mean, it's no secret that the two of you made love together more than the whole castle in a year.” the Queen giggled.
“That sort of thing... is...” I blushed and looked down.
“No worries, it's good to be young and full of energy. However, the fact remains that the two of you wish to have a family together, right?” she asked.
I nodded silently.
“Kataryna also expressed her desire for this more than once, right?” she looked at the dragoness in question.
She nodded silently.
“Then there is no problem with that. I am just very surprised you haven't gotten pregnant yet. He's not infertile by any chance, is he?” she asked in a worried tone of voice.
“No! He just... made a wish before we did it.” I spoke the last part in a low volume and with tinge of red in my cheeks.
“My! No need to be shy about it!” the Queen giggled. “But I see, he wished for it not to happen. I guess if he wished the opposite, then... Hm, I see. I see. When he returns, I will have him wish for the fertility of some of my aquaintances.”
The Queen just then showed that type of smile you would see only on the face of a scheming noble. We all got chills running down on our backs, and it made me wonder if she was or wasn't referring to friends who had problems increasing the number of their family.
For a moment, I thought about my good friend Dregarya Gorrashy and her secret lover Prince Charmeill, but something like that... the Queen wouldn't, would she?
“Well, going back to the subject, as I said before, the political formality for this only consists in a small paper, which is this one.” the Queen said and then clapped three times.
A maid entered carrying a decorated golden tray in her hands. She placed it on the table between me and Princess Elleyzabelle. After she bowed once, she left the room. On the tray she brought, I could see two documents decorated with golden ink, while the text was written in black. In the middle was an engraved ink bottle, and two feathers with golden tips were placed on the right side of each document. Their tips were aimed in opposite directions.
“You can read it if you wish.” she told me.
I leaned over and picked up the document on the right. Princess Elleyzabelle picked up the one on the left.
From what I could read, the conditions and the results of the marriage were just as the Queen said. There was also one thing there that she didn't mention to us. Through this marriage, it became impossible for Alkelios to get married to another dragoness unless she got the permission of the Queen, but it said nothing about him marrying a Relliar, a Dwarf, or a Human.
Seeing my frown, the Majesty guessed what part of the document made me worry and decided to explain.
“The authority of this document extends only to the borders of the Dragon Kingdom. What happens outside may not be recognized inside just how what happens here isn't recognized outside. Declaring through a document of such importance that someone of another species than a dragon is allowed or not to marry your husband is the same as declaring that I have a ruling authority over all the known continents. I do not believe I need to explain in what sort of danger something like this could put our Kingdom and even Continent in, right?” Queen Elliessara explained and at the end looked straight into my eyes.
“I understand, your Majesty.” I replied.
Indeed, a war or another major political conflict was what we were trying to avoid at all cost, not advertise it in the face of our enemies.
“Mother, what if I wish to marry someone I fall in love with?” Elleyzabelle asked the one question that mattered to her the most.
“This document doesn't stop you from doing so. We are a matriarchy, my dear. This means that dragonesses have a ruling vote over dragons. Alkelios has no way of stopping you from doing so even if he has a one-sided love towards you. Elleyzabelle, you are free to choose your husband or husbands as you wish.” the Queen explained in a calm and kind tone of voice.
“Mother... Thank you.” the Princess showed her a soft smile and then leaned in to take another sip of her tea.
“But really now, you should learn to control your emotions better. Or at least your surprise. What would you have done if I said I was bearing Alkelios' egg?” she asked in joking manner, but this time, all three of us chocked on our tea.
Cough! Cough! “Your, Majesty... That's not a very good joke.” Kataryna pointed out while struggling with the tea that went the wrong way.
“I agree.” I said while looking away.
“Yes, Mother!” the Princess retorted.
“Then you three don't know that Alkelios has been secretly coming into my room to have fun with me while my husband was asleep or while I was taking a bath? I have to say, he is quite skilled for a half-dragon.” the Queen said in a nonchalant tone of voice.
We all froze when we heard her. No, actually I think I had a mini heart attack.
Looking at our stupefied faces, the Queen let out a sigh and shook her head.
“You three really need some lessons in both politics and absurd lying. Especially you, Seryanna, how could you believe that Alkelios had an affair with me? As for you, Elleyzabelle, do you really think I am such an easy dragoness?” Queen Elliessara expressed her disappointment and then let out a sigh.
“No, it's just that... you sounded like it was... normal... and...” I didn't know what to say.
“M-Mother, you... Yes, mother, you are right. I still have much to learn.” the Princess gave up and admitted while making a short bow in front of her.
“Hm, Kataryna? Are you alright?” the Queen asked while looking at the dragoness.
“Yes... I just feel like this conversation is a bit out of my league. Or rather that I don't have a place here? True, I do have a promise to bear Alkelios' egg, but that after she had it with Seryanna and if at that time we still feel the same. This talk about marriage and affairs and lies and whatnot doesn't seem to be on the same page as me.” she confessed.
“I understand, but one question though. Kataryna, you are still a virgin, right?” the Queen asked.
The silver-scaled dragoness turned red in the cheeks and in a low volume replied “Yes...”
“Then do you really believe that after you had your first time with him, you will really say 'no' the next time around?” she asked with a smile.
“What?” Kataryna blinked surprised.
“You'll see.” the Queen winked at her, but the silver-scaled dragoness was at a loss.
I for one knew exactly what she was talking about. But I had to admit that lie earlier sure scared me a bit. I was confident, however, that Alkelios wouldn't cheat me. Yes, he could be fooled into a political marriage, but not in the bed of another dragoness. He was a loyal dragon.
“Now then! Let's sign these documents, shall we? Once you do, you two will become sister-wives!” the Queen said with a smile as she pointed at the tray in front of me.
Without a thing to worry about now, I picked up the feather and signed it. So did Princess Elleyzabelle.
“Please take care of me from now on.” she told me with a smile.
“I will.” I nodded.
With this, Alkelios gained another wife, but she was going to be on paper only. Even if it was the Princess, I didn't plan on letting her have his bed that easily.
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