Crossbreeds Part 2: Chapter 22 I fail? by RedPhantom ()
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Andy followed Ann out into the garden. He massaged her shoulders to help relieve the tension she was feeling. She had been right earlier. At least some of her headaches were from tension. It was days like today that were the cause.
King Kamlia was an arrogant, greedy man with no regard for women. There had been several times that Ann had made a suggestion that he ignored until one of the men said the same thing. After a bit, she had started telling Pt’this what to say telepathically.
Now, the discussion was delayed. The treaty had stated it would not violate other treaties already in place. That was a standard policy. One of the treaties with the dragons stated that arranged marriages could not take place until both were of the age of consent. It did not state what to do when the age of consent was contested. Because Emeton was already under scrutiny for other treaty violations it was decided to let the Dragon High Council make the clarification. They had asked Nim to talk with the Council and he would return in a few days to let them know their decision and help answer any questions regarding the treaties.
It was a cool and damp day, typical spring weather. Ann noticed Jaidu sitting in the garden with one of their servants, a woman who had not been present at Jaidu’s presentation. The servant was collared which angered Ann and caused Drepal to stir in her sleep.
Jaidu’s dress was obviously to be her wedding dress and wasn’t suitable for outdoors. Ann figured she had to be cold.
They went over to greet her. “I’m sorry for scaring you earlier,” Ann said.
“It’s okay. I know you were growling at the other dragon.”
“I have warmer clothing you can borrow if you need it,” Ann offered.
The girl hesitated, looking to her servant for advice. The servant nodded. The girl looked back to Ann and nodded herself.
“Let’s go up to my room so you can change,” Ann suggested. “Your servant can come too of course,” she added when the girl hesitated. The servant nodded again.
Ann led the way to her room. “Do you prefer dresses or trousers?” Ann asked. “I don’t recall seeing many women when I was there so I don’t know what you usually wear.”
“I usually wear something like this.” Jaidu indicated the outfit she had on. Ann noticed the servant frowning with disapproval.
“Perhaps a dress then,” Ann said. She pulled out several for the girl to pick from.
Jaidu hesitated again. She looked to the servant who indicated one of the dresses. It was one of the nicer ones Ann had bought when she lived in Thager. It was warm and sturdy yet retained a look of elegance without looking flashy.
Andy stepped into the hall so she could change. The servant nodded with approval when she saw the dress.
“What’s your servant’s name?” Ann asked as she allowed Andy to return.
“We call her Shay. I’m not sure if that’s her real name, though. She has difficulty speaking. I think it’s the collar. She’s worn it for a long time. “
“How long?” Ann asked.
“As long as I can remember.”
“How long has it been?” Ann asked Shay. The woman shrugged.
“I know a healer who could probably remove some of the scars,” Ann offered. “It would probably be enough for her to talk at least.”
Shay shook her head. “No pain now,” she whispered.
Ann nodded. Continual contact with the eta-vie was painful. Shay had enough scar tissue that she no longer felt it. Ann had been collared when she had first been captured by Lyra until Drepal had destroyed the bindings. She couldn’t imagine what it was like to go so long without magic.
“Does Prince Remtani hate me?” Jaidu asked.
“Prince Remtani is… shy with women,” Ann told her. She didn’t know how much she should tell the girl. Jaidu should know what happened, but it was Remtani’s place to tell her. “He had a problem once and it still affects him.”
“Then why won’t he marry me?”
“Because you’re a child. Here, you aren’t an adult until your nineteen. That’s our age of consent,” Andy explained.
“Back home, it’s when you’re able to have your own children. For me, that was last year.” Again, Ann saw disapproval on Shay’s face.
“What’s he like?” Jaidu asked.
Ann wasn’t sure how to answer. It wasn’t her place to tell the girl about the spell, but it still influenced his life. It didn’t control him any longer, but he was still cautious of it and worked hard to make sure he never acted that way on his own. Andy came to Ann’s rescue.
“He’s a passionate man, and he has strong principles. He strives for what he believes in. He cares deeply for the kingdom. One of the things he sees as important to any kingdom is the children. Without children, the kingdom would fall apart. That’s why he feels so strongly about you. You may see yourself as an adult, but he sees you as a child. He’s not going to do something that might hurt you.”
While he was speaking, he moved to where she was sitting and squatted down in front of her. He laid his hand on hers briefly. Ann noticed Shay raised her lip in a similar manner as Pt’this or Nim might just before they would growl but she made no sound. She also made no move to stop him. He moved away shortly and she relaxed.
“So I fail?” Jaidu asked. She looked about in tears. Shay knelt by the girl. She held her face until Jaidu looked at her. She made some gestures, and Jaidu nodded. It reminded Ann of the sign language she had seen on Andy’s world.
Then Jaidu saw her watching. “Oh please don’t tell my father. He’d be furious if he knew. He says she used to have a terrible mouth on her, that losing her voice was the best thing to happen. I don’t know what he’d do to her if he found out.”
“I didn’t hear anything,” Ann said. She struggled to keep her face neutral while she fought to keep Drepal from waking. Andy moved to put an arm around her. He started to rub her neck gently, and she received a shock. She jumped. It wasn’t a normal shock like from static but one of magic. It didn’t feel like Andy’s magic either. It also didn’t help with keeping Drepal asleep.
“Perhaps we should find Remmy and you can talk with him,” Andy suggested. He felt Ann’s struggle against Drepal. “If you want to be his wife, you’re going to need to spend time with him.”
Andy led them from the room while Ann pulled out a bottle of whiskey and took a long drink. Drepal needed to stay asleep for now. I’ll do what I can to help them, Ann promised her and she quieted.
Jaidu followed Prince Andy from the room. She was quite confused. This was supposed to be simple. She was to marry the prince, bear his children, and keep him happy. But that didn’t happen. They apparently didn’t think she was capable of this or something. Why else would it matter how old she was?
Everyone was being very nice about it, however, even that green dragon. After his first reaction, he had calmed down and was quite civil. His actions hadn’t been aimed at her anyhow. He had been looking at her father. They all blamed him. She hoped they wouldn’t send her back. If they did, her father would see it as a failure to do her job and he would take it out on her.
He would also take it out on Shay since she had been responsible for raising her since her mother had died. He’d be especially harsh with Shay. Her father hated the woman. Jaidu wasn’t sure why he kept her around. He always said she was well-trained. She had been around long enough she knew what should be done.
Shay put an arm around her shoulder. It was her way of saying it would be okay. She smiled at the woman. She was going to miss her when they went back to Yarba, assuming Jaidu stayed.
After talking with a page, they found Prince Remtani talking with the green dragon who now looked like an elf. “I waited that long for Sapphire,” the dragon was saying. Then they saw her and smiled.
“I must apologize for my actions earlier,” the dragon said. “I’m afraid I forgot my manners for a bit. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“It’s all right,” she said.
“If the young ones behaved like that, you’d have them scrubbing floors with toothbrushes,” Prince Andy said.
“I’m not going to ask what a toothbrush is,” the dragon laughed. Jaidu wondered what one was. Why would teeth need to be brushed? They didn’t get messy like hair. “But I do believe there is still charcoal on my balcony from Nim’s drawing spree. I suppose I have work to do.” He bowed to them. “If you will excuse me.”
“I need to check on Ann. I think that shock I gave her gave her a bit of a jolt,” Prince Andy said.
“Shock?” Prince Remtani asked.
“Oh, you know, drag your feet and touch someone. I just got her in a bad spot on her neck.” Prince Andy waved it off and left.
Shay touched her shoulder and gestured she’d be nearby if needed. Jaidu nodded and the servant left too.
The prince looked at her. She was struck by how tall he was. She didn’t even come up to his shoulder. He must have thought the same thing because he suggested they sit.
“I’m glad you put on something warmer. You must’ve been freezing in what you had on before. You look very nice in that.” He looked her over. “I think my sister has something similar.”
“This is your sister’s.”
Prince Remtani smiled. “I guess that’s why it looks familiar.
“I must apologize for my behavior today too,” he said.
“There’s no need to apologize for being ill,” she said.
“But that’s the thing. I’m not ill,” he told her. He sighed and ran his hands through his hair.
“If you don’t want to talk about this, your highness, we don’t have to,” Jaidu offered. He was obviously uncomfortable.
“You can call me Remmy,” he said.
He shrugged. “It’s a nickname one of my nurses gave me when I was little. Everyone picked it up.”
“Remmy,” she repeated.
“Anyway, I do need to tell you about this. Several years ago, I hurt someone bad. She was your age. I don’t know when but sometime when I was a child, someone cast a spell on me that makes me hurt my sister and those close to her. No one has been able to remove the spell.” He told her of his time in prison and how he struggled to avoid triggering the spell to the point of avoiding the sister he loved.
“I worry that I’ll hurt you too.”
Jaidu shook her head. “If that happens, it’s my fault. I need to do what you want.”
“Always? What about what you want?”
“It’s not about want. It’s about duty.”
“It’s my duty to make you happy and to give you what you want.”
“But what if I want you to think for yourself?”
“Why would you want that?” Jaidu was confused.
“Because you’re going to be my queen. I need you to help me rule. Do you know where my mother is, why she’s not here today? She’s in Grywell, meeting with the dwarves. They’re concerned that our treaty with you might violate our treaty with them. She’s there to assure them it does not. How can you do things like that if you can’t think for yourself?”
She didn’t know how to answer. This wasn’t what she was told to expect.
“If anyone else hurts you, tell me and I’ll arrest him. No one hurts the prince-general’s pledged.”
“What if they decide we can’t get married?” She asked.
“We made a pledge to marry. There’s no law against that. As long as you’re my pledged, no one touches you. If we don’t marry, then it’s your father’s responsibility to protect you. If anyone hurts you, your servant there, or any of the women that came with you, they will be arrested.”
“I did and I went to prison for its. For three years I was beaten almost daily.”
“That’s terrible,” she said.
“Not as terrible as what I did to that girl. What I did to her is still affecting her these days.”
Her servant came and tapped her on the shoulder. She gestured for her to follow.
“I need to go. I think my father wants to speak with me,” she told him and left. Her father was upset, according to Shay, but at least she had some good news. She was still pledged to the prince. There was still a chance.
Image Comments (3)
zaqxsw () 8:45AM | Fri, 12 March 2021
Absolutely delightful... another fine chapter! I know how hard it is to do a lot of explanation without sounding preachy and you did it very well. Can't wait for the next installment.
Leije () Online Now! 10:35AM | Sat, 13 March 2021
I like the trees and the characters, touching scene !