Vote by April 21, 2014
In the previous episode, Gremlaw returned from an outing with his daughter to find that a letter had been delivered. Readers voted for the letter to be a summons from Lormenio, the King of Trathlain.
As his eyes caressed the elegantly formed, cursive script, a furrow developed between Gremlaw’s eyebrows. His wife stood silently before him, her nervous hands worrying at an old cloth as he read the letter. She looked deeply into the gray eyes of the man she had loved since childhood once he had finished, wondering at the content of this missive. Gremlaw sank into a chair before saying,
“It’s from the king.” His tone was so oddly conversational neither Huleta nor their daughter, Neevis, paid heed to his statement for a couple of seconds. Both women exchanged a glance before Neevis asked,
“King Lormenio?” Her father cast a glance towards the young woman, his eyes speaking in harsher tones than words ever could, Of course, Lormenio, his gaze said, Which other king of Trathlain would it be? Aloud, he announced,
“Transport has been arranged for me, well us really, tomorrow at noon. We have been invited to the royal palace.” He scratched at one cheek for a moment, staring at the polished floor of his home in deep thought.
“Why, Grem?” Huleta wondered in a small voice, her husband shrugged,
“It doesn’t say. It’s just a politely worded command to be ready at noon tomorrow.”
Huleta could not settle in the bed she and Gremlaw shared that night, her thoughts roiling within her brain as she pondered over the same questions; Why does the king of Trathlain want to see us? Have we done something wrong? Will there be trouble for us, for Grem? A bitter lump formed in her throat as the thought of her husband in pain or danger again insinuated itself into her mind.
“What’s the matter, love?” Gremlaw asked from the other side of the bed as he awoke to the sound of his beautiful wife sniffing through her sadness. He rolled over and took her in his arms, stroking her fine, blond hair and the soft skin of her back. Huleta confided her fears regarding the royal summons while inhaling the masculine scent of her husband’s neck, where she had buried her face.
“We’re not in any trouble, my love,” he reassured her, “He would have sent the Watch to arrest us if that was the case.”
“But still, it’s odd, why would the king want to see me?” She asked, tracing a design onto his back with her nails. Gremlaw shuddered, gooseflesh running down his legs as he told her playfully,
“Perhaps he has heard of your radiant beauty and wants to see it for himself,” he planted a kiss on top of her head, “Now go to sleep.” He instructed.
“I’m not sleepy.” His wife said in a slightly petulant tone.
“Well,” Gremlaw said as he ran his hand down her spine to cup her buttock, “Maybe I should do something to make you sleepy.” Huleta giggled and nipped his neck with her teeth.
At the sun’s zenith the following day, a large carriage pulled slowly through the open gates of the academy run by Gremlaw. Fashioned from some black wood, polished to a mirror finish and decorated with gold inlay, the conveyance had been hitched to a team of four identical, brilliant white horses. Ribbons of royal purple and crimson had been woven into the horses manes and tails, their coats brushed to an almost opalescent shine.
Huleta’s nervousness increased even as she gasped at the beauty of the horse and carriage, due to the stiff formality of the man who stepped down from the driving seat. Fully garbed in the royal colors of Trathlain and sporting the royal crest, boots polished as highly as the wood of the carriage brought him to the ground and the few steps towards the small family,
“His most gracious majesty, King Lormenio Ethrinsal, sovereign ruler of Trathlain and Supreme Commander of her Armies, extends his hand in invitation to Gremlaw and his wife, Huleta, along with such a guest as they might determine suitable.” The driver announced in a loud voice which was heard by the people who had gathered in the academy courtyard. Gremlaw stepped forward to escort his wife and daughter, both dressed in their finest gowns, to the carriage. A second man, dressed in the same fashion as the driver held open the small door to the carriage and had placed a small set of steps to ease access.
“Oh, Gremlaw,” Huleta whispered as they were driven towards the capital city, “This is unbelievable!” She ran her hand across the plushly upholstered cushion of the seat, the creamy color a stark contrast to the black wood. Her husband nodded,
“No less than you deserve,” he said truthfully, “I would give you this kind of lifestyle if I could.” Huleta chuckled nervously,
“As long as I have you, I have everything I need.” She gripped his hand as Neevis smiled at her parents.
A squire led the wide eyed trio through the opulence of the royal palace, hereditary home of the rulers of Trathlain, his aging footsteps muffled by padded boots. They passed through marbled hallways decorated with intricately carved frescoes depicting scenes from Trathlainian history before reaching a huge door upon which the elderly man hammered a fist. Hearing a shout from within, the squire opened the door and indicated they should enter.
Gremlaw led his wife and daughter into a huge room which was dominated by a vast table of some polished wood atop which sat several decanters with spirits inside along with bottles of wine and numerous crystal glasses. A few platters of fruit, cheeses and bread were laid alongside small cakes and pots of expensive honey. The room was luxurious beyond anything the two women had seen. Gremlaw, however, took the sights in without response as he had seen the imperial apartments of the Lavashian rulers many years before, noting even then that Trathlain compared unfavorably.
A man in his thirties sat at the head of the table, eyes alight as he studied the newcomers, Gremlaw bowed deeply before his wife and daughter even realized this was their king.
“Really, there is no need while we are alone,” king Lormenio shot to his feet and indicated the genuflection be stopped, “Come and sit with me, please, feel free to take some light refreshments if you need.” The king offered, gesturing to the table. Lormenio sat again, bracing his chin on his fingertips and resting his elbows on the polished tabletop. Dressed in a simple, yet expensive, white shirt and black, silken trousers, the king had long, dark brown hair and beard to match, his angular features complimented by the square cut of his facial hair.
Gremlaw poured himself a large glass of deep red wine and passed another to his wife and daughter, sipping the drink before bluntly asking,
“So, majesty, what are we doing here?” Huleta gasped,
“Gremlaw!” She hissed before noting the young king was laughing at her husband’s remark.
“I was told you were a blunt speaker,” the king said, chuckling, “It’s so refreshing not to be surrounded by obsequious fawning idiots.” Gremlaw nodded,
“You’re quite blunt yourself, majesty.” He observed. Lormenio nodded as well, adding,
“And it is in this spirit of speaking bluntly that I have brought you here. Word has been received from the emperor of Lavash.” Gremlaw spluttered, his wine spilling, “An old acquaintance of yours, I know. The empire…” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.
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