To celebrate the completion of Leagende as a series, I will post the openings to all the books.
All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2019 Cat Hartliebe
Seven days after returning to Kee, King Zeus felt overwhelmed. Where he thought the kingdom would complain about his marriage to a child turned into them enjoying five years of planning a wedding. She readily enters into court proceedings making comments and pushing buttons. Queen Madeline is nothing like the people expect. She rose high in everyone’s mind so easily.
Actually, Zeus feels slightly inferior to the youth. She is eight years younger. When he was twelve, he received pity not acceptance. He understands his aunt far too well because of that. Which reminds him, the letter from Dereksean says it is time to make the trip.
“Queen Madeline?” Someone follows Zeus’s wife. The queen looks determined to see Zeus, though. Actually, the determination is probably due to anger. What did he do now?
Madeline glares up at Zeus. The difference in height is greater than is expected between twelve and twenty, but that is because she is slow to growth. “You denied me knowledge.”
Zeus blinks looking at the man following her asking for help. With one cough, the man scurries onward. “Excuse me? What did I deny you?”
“My brother and sister are at the front fighting a demon war.”
“You are quite aware of that,” the king points out very confused.
“Crown Princess Castella is pregnant.” She glares. “You made no note of such to me in all this time.”
“Wait, what?” Zeus blinks to the point of unable to communicate his question.
Madeline glares as Zeus stands tongue tied. After a while, she spins no longer holding her anger at Zeus. “You did not know. Ignore my comment.”
“Ignore it?” Zeus moves quick taking Madeline’s shoulder to spin her back to him. “Ignore the fact I have a pregnant female on my border fighting against things that wish to devour the world?”
Madeline reviews Zeus smirking slightly. “Demons do not wish to devour, just rule. It is the main reason I believe you carry the blood.”
Zeus ignores the taunt. Madeline does it far too often. She has learned how easy it is to rile him from Izzy. The princess will make the queen unbearable. “Madeline… I need to pull my sister back.”
“She is fine.” Madeline steps closer to Zeus. She pulls out her wings letting her face settle an inch from her husband’s. “Would it not suit you better, make you feel more comfortable, if she loses the child? I heard you. You dislike demons on the throne.”
That was a shot to the heart and then some. Not only does Zeus carry demon blood, Queen Madeline is half demon. Her blue eyes make that point very clear. She still has the common green skin of the Leagende Forest Elf. Even though she only has half blood, she still has the figure that says elf. Her ears still point. Her voice can carry a quick difficult conversation without concern.
“Well? Is this not better?” Madeline crosses her arms leaning away from him. “Your sister could kill the child that grows inside her. Why put her on the year’s bed rest? She would not wish for it anyway.”
That is true. Castella could only be called headstrong. Zeus exhales thinking of his sister just barely two years his junior. “She will accept bed rest during the last few months. She will have no choice.”
“So you do not deny her?” Madeline drops to the ground arms still crossed, her wings away. Her eyes still offer that sharp strong glare. Many have succumbed to Madeline’s truth spells, and several do not even need it to just hand over everything. She is a powerful queen. A worthwhile choice. Zeus does not reprimand himself the decision at all. Still, she is a child. She should not have this power. “Well?”
“I do not.” Zeus exhales dropping his eyes from the child. He glances around noting no one wants to be around the royal pair having a bout. If only they knew to just side with Madeline. The girl wins every single one. Zeus feels like a pushover. “Castella and Joshua may have their child. As many children as they deem is acceptable. What I am to say to that? Try to curse her with inability? It would destroy her far more than struggling with children would.”
Madeline nods. “That is better. When you receive official word, keep your head high and congratulate her.”
“Well then.” Madeline begins walking. When Zeus does not follow, she pauses and spins back to him. “I cannot do everything.” She motions him to follow.
Zeus regrets choosing her when she is like this. He is the one who was trained to rule. Not her. Why does she drag him around?
“Do not grind your teeth. It is bad for them.”
“It is like you are my mom.”
“I would love to be considered like your mom. Lady Ellone is someone highly respectable and much loved.” Madeline smirks back at Zeus. “If only.”
Zeus grunts annoyed by his wife. “Where are you taking me?”
“To the library.”
“Court Mages received a message from Her Majesty.” Madeline flinches. “I mean, Alaenia.”
“It is fine. We still have the black silk up for her. I know people still call her by title.” Zeus sighs. The real queen still calls the previous one queen. “You may call her Grandmother before me. It means the same.”
Madeline nods. “Well, Grandmother sent a message. We do not know who it is for, so they want you to figure it out.”
“What is that supposed to mean? Did she make a code?”
Madeline refrains from answering as they walk into the library where the mages pour over texts. A letter sits to one side with random scrolls open beside it. “Any luck?”
“Thank you, Your Majesties.” One of the mages nods to the pair entering. “It does us trouble to receive such. Besides messages written to Prince Hank and Prince Bludi, none have come from the cottage. This is not written in any language I have ever seen.”
Zeus moves to the table to look over the writing. The paper just looks scribbled on. Why did Grandmother do such? “It looks like a child’s hand.”
Madeline reviews frowning. She looks to have no idea either.
“Would you mind seeing if any demonic words are written? Can you scan it?” Zeus asks the room as a whole. No one seems to have any hope of finding words inside the letter itself. It looks more like artwork than message. “Does it have a destination?”
“No. It was written for the castle.” The note is pulled off the table to show off the reverse side. ‘To the castle’ is written in unique letters.
“I see.” Zeus nods touching the letter gingerly. No magic aura comes off it. Nothing to indicate why it was sent or for what reason. “I would send Prince Bludi to review the incident, but Lady Ellone is pregnant. He will refuse, even for Grandmother.”
“I apologize, Your Majesty.” The mages shrink lowing themselves in the king’s presence.
“No need.” Zeus waves that off reviewing the note again. “Is Prince Sven still on grounds?”
“No. Prince Hank has travelled with the Germania group. He is the most fluent with the language.”
Zeus waves that off as well reviewing his option. “I would like a proper escort for His Highness, Prince Sven. I need to have high classed mages on his guard. This letter will be returned. The goal will be to see if Richard still lives and if he needs help.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” The court mages bow their heads again.
“Good.” Zeus motions Madeline into following him out. “Madeline, I need you to distract Princess Izzy while this goes on. Until the mages and Sven are gone, she will be too interested in going. Bring Rick. Make it a fun trip somewhere close by.”
“Pretend to be sneaking out even though you give permission.” Madeline nods. “I got it. I will go collect them now.”
“Thank you, Madeline. Take proper care of my little sister. Izzy is very important to the kingdom. She is even more important to her family. After Sven is gone and the current issues handled, we will move on to Dereksean. We have word the Crown Prince of Compast is ready to move on.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Madeline nods carefully to Zeus. She slips up into the air and kisses Zeus’s cheek. “I will see you tonight after this entire thing blows over.”
Zeus nods watching her escape him. Everyone seems to love the new queen. Why is it he finds himself more annoyed by the kid than anything else? Or maybe he is just annoyed at himself for choosing a child. Just because it was life or death does not mean she had to act as queen.
Who is he kidding? A queen like Madeline suits him. Zeus turns and heads for more work. There is always more work. If he cannot think of anything off the top of his head, Prince Bludi, his father would have some to place before him. The king is not the one who gets downtime.
Part of the reason Zeus looks forward to the trip to pick up the difficult crown prince is the freedom being out of the castle brings. In his twenty years living here, he was not given that freedom until he turned of age only a few weeks ago.
“Where is Prince Sven?” Zeus asks a counsel member.
“The baby room, I believe.”
“The baby room?” Zeus questions, but heads for it anyway.
The baby room is where all castle children grow up. Even Zeus’s father, the half elf prince spent five years inside its protection. Zeus does not mind the place. But it somewhat annoys him to go there. If Madeline was not queen and just living in the castle, she would probably still spend much of her time inside the baby room. Izzy fought tooth and nail to get out. So did he. He left at twelve though. Izzy is out at nine.
“Good afternoon, Your Majesty.” The head of the place bows deeply.
“Currently seeing Angel.”
Zeus questions even further. Why would Sven be spending time with Angel? “Uncle Sven?”
Sven walks out of a room holding a book in hand. “Hello, Zeus.”
Zeus chuckles. “You never once failed to name me correctly. I thank you for that.”
“Was tempted to change myself.” Sven shakes his head moving back into the room. “Would not have chosen the second coming of great king Zeus, though.” Sven nods to Angel.
Zeus reviews the female. She looks like a typical forest elf. She is one of the court mages, but on leave due to child. Actually, she is the newest court mage. She only came to the castle a week or so ago. And ended up failing the entrance test because of child. “Hello, Angel.”
“Can I please return to the library?” Angel turns to Zeus begging.
Sven frowns motioning to the female. “She has requested I put word in that she could handle it. But she is barely twenty one. Any female so young is put on bed rest during the pregnancy.”
“Unless they have already proven they can have a pregnancy without issue.” Zeus frowns at the female as well. “But I cannot see any reason to shove you in the baby room, Angel. I will let you have my course load. No spells at all. If you use mana even once, I will put a block on you.”
“Your Majesty?” Her eyes widen. “You cannot block a pregnant female.”
“I have my ways to block without removing. Do not tempt me.” Zeus calls the lead back over. “Can you call someone to escort Lady Angel to the libraries? Let them know she can copy my training regime. No spells or manas, just study.” He looks at Sven before the prince can offer. “No, Prince Sven.”
“But I have no other job right now. Hank left and I…”
“You do have work.” Zeus nods. He moves in to his uncle to whisper without touching, “Grandmother sent a weird letter. You are going to see what and why it was sent. I want a small squadron with you as well. I need to know immediately if Richard is injured or needs help.”
“Yes.” Sven bows his head. “I will gladly help.”
“Good. The letter is already with the mages. They are picking who goes before collecting you for transport. Keep it on the down low, though. Madeline is taking Izzy out for a trip about town. I cannot have Izzy realize the concern.”
“She will learn about it soon enough.”
“If you are far enough away that will not matter.” Zeus pats Sven’s shoulder. “Be well in travels. I will probably be on my own before you return.”
“Good luck.” Sven stiffly smiles before escaping for his task.
Zeus stands with Angel who looks nervous. “I know they stated this already, but pregnancy is highly valuable to our kind. Please take proper care of it.” He pauses looking her over. “Are you married?”
Angel blushes. “I am not, Your Majesty. I spent too much time focusing on my craft.”
Zeus sighs. “Whose?”
“Just a friend.”
“Not a demon friend, I hope,” Zeus questions her, but the anger riding her facial expression is enough to say otherwise. “Good. Is he unmarried?”
“I suggest you seek a marriage partner so the child does not stay as a bastard.” Zeus turns to the door as a guard comes forward to collect Angel. The mage looks solemn walking off. The situation she finds herself in could be better.
The king continues on to his father. Bludi will know the best next course of action. Zeus’s mind is half scattered. That is never a good thing when trying to change the course of the country.