So I noticed that we hadn’t used the site in some time and that, additionally, I have been looking forward to an excuse to get back into writing. This post is a result of an internal debate’s grudging conclusion that both of these problems could be solved in the same manner.
I am writing this header before anything else and scheduling the post in advance to force myself to write something and post it regardless of quality, which means this does not have the typical filter I apply to most of my public-facing communications. I’m battling akrasia here, so the result might be ugly.
In the words of painter Chuck Close, “Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
“My Lady, word from the capital: Consort Balia has given birth to a son and his lineage has been confirmed by the Grandmaster.”
The symbolier gave this delivery with no emotion in his voice or on his face, but considering his uncharictaristaclly rigid and withdrawn posture Jiveta suspected he was controlling himself carefully to avoid offense. To test this, she looked at him sharply, “The Overlord has secured a safe succession, then.”
“Indeed, madam.” He then swallowed and was watching for signs of trouble like prey upon discovering an ambush predator. Jiveta was surprised by his concern and made a mental note to investigate him more closely, possibly with psionics. A potential weak point.
She smiled warmly, “how wonderful! Send my brother congratulations and ask when he is planning the celebration.”
He relaxed and left the room slowly.
She was alone, now. Her room was lavish and her palace more so, decorated with a purple and white theme and filled with silks and tapestries of her own commission. If it had been built a hundred years earlier it would have been a castle but that had fallen out of cultural style and were pointless in the face of enemy magic. If the enemy did not have magic then walls were a waste of stone.
Jiveta was not given to bouts of anger or even intense frustration, but even so this was… disappointing. Her brother was advanced in age and had long been suspected infertile, which had placed her at the top of the line of succession. The actual position of Overlord was not necessary for her ambitions, but would certainly help in getting things done.
She might need to take a husband to get access to the power and resources she needed and she knew youth had passed her by. Not that many could easily refuse the sister of the Overlord, but any disadvantage in her negotiating position would cost her.
Besides, marriage would be dull and unpleasant, she knew. She had known since she was twelve that she would find no joy there.
Jiveta laid back on a backless sofa completely straight and began to think. After some time she sat up with an idea in mind. She waved her hand over one of several glass stones inlaid in a gold board and it lit red.
A brief moment later her scholar arrived at the door to her chamber.
“My Lady? What do you seek?”
“Bring to me all accounts of universities, campuses, or other learning institutions outside of Kurintur”
“Not many lands lie outside our control, madam. Of these few are developed enough to house such institutions. I am unsure if there are any at all.”
He spoke in a sort of deferential confidence that could only be put on by the learned staff. Jiveta considered his words carefully but commanded, “Look anyway.”
Helion stood on the rocky outcropping overlooking the city with a journal as he meticulously took notes on various interesting things he saw, marking the movement of people and goods, the flow of the small town. He was so focused he nearly missed the squad of armored cavalry with Kurint markings and an electric motif making their way up the road to his position.
Their leader, riding just behind the pointguard and just in front of the standard, spoke a loud, “halt,” and dismounted, making a direct path for Helion.
Helion approached her calmly but his mind was racing about the possibilities although there was one that stood out more than the others in likelihood.
“Price Helion, I am Captain Diseri of the Kurintur First Lightning. We were dispatched from our post to deliver an urgent message: Overlord Vition is gravely ill. We must ride for Kurvarde without delay to catch him before death does.”