Elaine 15: "Small Favors"
The city below was much like
the people who inhabited it: tall, graceful and pale. Smooth contours
vaulted skyward, ending in elegant spires against a pale blue sky, that
cast delicate fingers of shadow across the landscape.
By coming into the shadow
practically at the city gates, I hoped to avoid a scene such as what
passed in Lira. I had no desire to see the spires and arched crumbled in
a seige battle. I am tied by blood to this city, and perhaps I felt that
I owed my true father this little bit of consideration, to make up for
That though, is a sentiment I
will have to quickly excise, or I fear I shall spend the rest of my
immortal existance making up for my mother's deficiencies.
Fortunately, my intention
seemed sound, for we entered the city with only small ripples of
difficulty. The palace and the gates were soon held by blue and
silver pennants, and as I stode up the steps of the dias in the Imperial
throne room, intent on the black swathed portraits, the silence was almost
It was erie, as I had seen
this place only once before, and that in the mind's eye of a dying man.
And as I reached for the mourning cloth covering the right-hand portrait,
I was silently thanked poor Lytos for that bit of intelligence, for it
made my actions that much more profound.
The cloth came away with a
soft whisper that echoed loudly in the deep silence, but was quickly
overhwelmed by the startled and astounded cries of both the Danjan court,
and then by my own troops as I turned back to face them and the startling
similarity of my features and those of the woman in the portrait become
that much more apparent.
And so I laid my claim to the
Imperial throne and began the task of keeping two kingdoms of bitter
enemies from killing each other, or me.
Three weeks passed in relative
calm. I believe they were waiting for me to relax, but as I had not
gotten quite that comfortable, I was not taken in immediately b the first
assasination attempt, thoug I did not handle it with any extreme
Fortunately, neither Christoph
or I were permanently harmed, and Joaquim said little to me upon his
arrival beyond a well-intentioned, and well-deserved remark on learning
from my mistakes. Harlan and Jero, on the other hand, I was less than
pleased with, and I made that quite apparent with my lack of regard for
either of them for several days. My anger at them had dissipated within
hours, but Jero has long known the results of angering me, and Harlan may
as well learn it now.
To my surprise, Joaquim stayed
for a day or so. He seems much changed of recent. Gone are his displays
of brillant colors and foppish mannerisms. But the essential Joaquim, the
sarcastic and sharp wit, and keen observations, have thankfully remained.
While I don't exactly trust my enigmatic cousin, I do respect his
abilities and biting honesty, garbed though it may be in courtly
drollery. Respect him enough, in fact, that I requested his tutelage in
an area of the sorcerous arts I find myself sorely, and perhaps
dangerously lacking. Some might think that owing favor to one such as
Joaquim foolish, but I have found that even owing favor can be as
advantageous as being owed favor, with the right person.
As things settled enough for me
to pause Glorethien and return to Amber, I let Jero and Harlan off the
hook, having punished them enough to make my point. And so I went back to
my other life in Amber. A period of days passed, in which my status was
settled by Kier when he confered upon me the title of Royal Duchess. No
more has been said regarding my precarious position in the line for the
throne, for which I am grateful. The fewer who realize it, the better for
I was enjoying the quiet week
when Christoph requested a favor. I agreed, as much out of curiosity as
that fact that I indeed did owe him. It seemed harmless enough; trump him
every two hours to make sure he had not fallen to harm in his shadow