Vella's arm was gently held by her husband as she curtsied and he bowed his head to the Emperor. Her swollen stomach causing a look of surprise on her father's face. He smiled gently.
"Vella my dear, in your state you need not follow such formalities. It has been far too long." he greeted her and smiled warmly. He found her eyes were filled with disappointment.
"I came as soon as I heard things were unsettled in the house of my birth. A fake letter was sent to me by some unknown party accusing my brother of treason. I expect you to look into this fully and provide the Shadow Veil Kingdom with answers." Princess Vella replied and her husband nodded his support the look on his face was cold and angry. He took the letter from his black tunic. He was dressed as he always was, for battle with a sword on his hip.
"I do not wish to have disagreements with my wife's home lands. However it seems someone wishes for me to medal in your affairs. I suggest you watch your ladies closer." Prince Mordrin warned and the Emperor took the paper from him. A icy chill ran through his heart as he realized the implications. No matter who he called for help, the Shadow Veil would never be a kingdom he could fend off.
"I will look into this thoroughly after today's meeting." the Emperor assured them and glanced at his daughter again. She was so much more than she had been last he saw her. Confidence could only account for part of her change, she was becoming every inch a Empress.
"Good." Mordrin replied and led his wife to her mother's side. Clovis was left alone facing his father. He stood tall, his long blue robes edged with silver but secured more fittingly. The flowing robes of a scholar had been traded for the less cumbersome tunic and breeches of a warrior. A leader. His hair fell long down his back but tied into a bundle mid way down letting the last 4 inches form a tail.
"Father." he greeted placing his fist to his palm and bowing at the waist. The Emperor nodded in greeting as well.
"Are you sure about this?" he asked quietly, and Clovis met his eyes.
"I have no choice. I will become Emperor." Clovis replied soft enough that his father was unsure he had heard him clearly but the firmness of his tone convinced him. The Emperor nodded and turned to the tree. There were many extinguished lanterns still gracing the trees strong branches. The five charms still danced in the soft winds, one for Alexi, Damar, and Basil but one for each of the younger, sons who were lost to the sands of time. Their memory living on upon the tree. Their charms made of glass and glowed with the phoenix Flames. Behind the tree, upon the wall may charms of different styles and from distant generations of the royal family.
Clovis walked to the wall and bowed to the memory of so many son's passed. He wondered briefly if any of them had faced the same struggle he was now. How many Ladies of the court had suffered alongside their children for the sake of peace in the family? The Silver charm with its simple cords with the gold and brown banded stones and warm green jade adorning the the crest of the Dancing Winds. He gently unattached it from the wall while everyone watched.
Queen Kira's eyes flashed with realization as Clovis handed the Emperor his charm. It had been such a long difficult road to convince Clovis to remove his name. 'How could this have happened?' She wondered her heart was suddenly angry. Without him Bastil was sure to win the crown but… She wasn't blind. The soldiers hailed Clovis, as did the servants. The nobles were behind Bastil but the masses would be behind Clovis as would the Emperor. Queen Kira stepped forward but was too slow.
"Your Majesty, May I speak?" She asked curtsying low before the Emperor. Prince Clovis froze hearing her voice, but his father took the crest from his hand.
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