The world of Irath was a disconnected realm full of misguided, uneducated people. The world was once fraught with a lengthy war accompanied by plagues unlike all that had claimed the world before. During the war, people changed, not just mentally, but physically as well. People’s bodies warped and shifted into beasts and hybrids, still able to be housed in the shape of an ordinary human. The change those people undertook split the world into two: those of the normal humans and those that paraded as them.
It was the new group, the ones that were warped humans, that struck down the wars and ended them. The war, that no one could remember why started, had ended. Time had been lost to them and so had the civilization of peoples that they had once come from. Even the ordinary humans were, truly, far from human any longer. Their world, as their people had come from, was gone. The knowledge of the age before was destroyed in ash and ruin. Yet this came with a calming air as seeing that no one knew what had caused the war and the things that allowed it to become such a disaster that quaked the very existence of every living thing were also part of that ruin. The plague of progress was cured, and the deformed child birthed by that progress was left to grow on its own.
With the world in its new infant state, the world fragmented into various groups and tribes and from the rubble of the previous world, kingdoms grew. The heart of it all was the kingdom of Naric. Naric as the first kingdom that had reorganized the inhabitants that came to exist with its vicinity. Many of the initial inhabitant were those that had fought in the long war and it was their peaceful regathering that allowed their future descendants to live within some sort of structured existence.
It was said, that the first ruler of the kingdom was a person of leadership of the part of the armies, and no one could describe the awe that the people who followed that individual felt when in that person’s presence. It was that ruler that had laid down the future groundwork of how the kingdom was run; and very few knew the process of which their heir and ruler was put in place. And every so often a new ruler would take the metaphorical throne of the kingdom, the weight of the lands on their shoulder and it had been over a long period of five hundred years before the more recent ruler, a lady known simply as Princess ruled her keep. As heir and figurehead, she was never given a true name, or if she had been, she was never told that name. She was raised in a nature that would give her no bias and a spell was placed upon her to further resist those ideas of individualism.
And it was she that was one of the nine that gathered every week in the large chamber as one of the councils. And so, the council gathered. The conference room was rectangular, tiled with white marble, which reflected the light that emanated from a series of wall sconces. The sconces gave off and amber hue of light, the light sourced by some alchemical magics created by the top wizards of alchemical science. The leader of that alchemical society sat within the room in one of the nine chairs that sat around a large wooden table. The table was fanciful: a dark wood with decorative inlays that adorned the top. The inlays were all unique and variant in their coloring; each inlay represented the man or woman sitting in the chair just in front of them. The table housed the meeting of the minds within the Kingdom of Naric.
In front of one inlay close to the head of sat a rotund man with graying hair, slicked back upon his rounded head. His cheeks were chubby and painted with a reddened blush; age wrinkles gathered at the corner of his eyes and forehead on his pale skin; and he wore a simple pair of silver spectacles in front of his deep green eyes. He wore a simple style brown jacket over a cream tunic. The tunic was laden with embroidered designs in floral patterns; his trousers were the same simple brown as his jacket, clearly part of a set. He was the man who held the seat the longest out of any in the room as he had been there through the last person who sat in the ruling seat; he as on the edge of needing to retire but stayed as there was no suitable replacements for him at the guild he headed. The inlay that was on the table in front of him was crafted of darker brown, yellow, and cream wooden pieces. The design was finely cut and designed, and it represented stacked golden coins on a book on the darker background.
Sitting across that man was a woman. Her ebony hair, coiled and crimpled, cut close to hear head. Her skin was a reddish-brown and her completion was clean; her face painted with a thin layer of makeup. Her eyes were bright and the color of chestnuts, which she highlighted with her applied makeup. She wore a thick red tunic that was ornate with decorative, embroidered trim of geometric designs, and a simple pair of black slacks that were tucked within knee-high lace-up black boots. She was in her late twenties and the newest member of the council, chosen after the last head of her guild retired; she had been there but only a year but already knew her role as well as any of the others and was selected due to her genius nature of her craft. Before her laid her inlay, colored in various shades of brown, depicting a road leading through a series of buildings before vanishing off towards a gray set piece of what represented the castle.
Beside the woman sat a man. His hair was a thick, brown, and curly; cropped to his ears. His complexion was ruddy and tanned from many hours outside in the light of the sun. Hanging on the back of his chair sat a large hat made of thick brown leather. The jacket he wore was made of the style leather. Both his pants and shirt were simple cloth, the shirt being a white tunic, and the pants a darker brown shade but made of sturdier woven linen. Boot adorned his feet; the boots were leather and laced up their knee-high length and were adorned with swirling designs of repeating patterns. Before him on the table was the inlay. The inlay was adorned with a pasture of green-colored wooden inlay inhabiting several forms of animals; all of which the wooden inlay had wood stained to fit the animal.
Sitting across the leather-wearing man sat another woman. She was in her thirties but looked more like a teen. She was petite and short with large blue eyes. Her hair was strawberry blonde, pulled tight in a bun at the back of her head, though a few strands escaped the bun and hung in front of her face. She was extremely pale, yet freckles crossed her cheeks and the bridge of her nose, upon which set a small pair of reading spectacles. She wore very simple clothing: black tunic and similar bland slacks. Yet she wore a long-sleeved white cloak that fell to her knees adorned with pockets along the waist, all fastened with shiny brass buttons. There was no decoration to her clothing, and her shoes as well: just a plain set of black shoes that slipped upon her feet. In front of her was an inlay that depicted books laid in with stained wood, and delicately shaped glass inlay into the table to represent vials and bottles.
Sitting next to the plain woman was another woman. This woman was aged but wore it well. Her tanned skin just barely showing the sign of her age, even though her raven shoulder-cut hair was speckled with silver. Her eyes were brilliantly green and echoed the life within her, her spunk. She wore highly decorated clothing. Ever piece of her outfit, to the red silken blouse to her long, pleated, black skirt, was donned in various designs, some embroidered and others made of lace patches. Her red boots, laced up with silver cording, was painted with silver designs. Before her the inlay on the table depicted various tools of the craft, from blacksmith tools, to spools of thread and needles.
Across from the fancy lady sat a tall man. He was clean-cut, hair just a dark fuzz upon his head. His face was earthen in shade and he wore a full neat beard upon his face, and amber eyes showed signs of command and intrigue. He wore a militaristic outfit of matching navy-blue clothing articles, upon which only showed signs of rank as décor upon his jacket. The decorum was a series of five golden pins upon his collar; nine colored pins just above his pocket; and inscribed polished brass buttons donning the front of his jacket. Before him on the table, the inlay depicted an organized group of soldiers facing yet another organized group of soldiers.
Next to the military officer sat a woman. Her hair was brown and billowed out in untamable curls even though a red headband lay tied around her head into a knotted bow at the top of her head. Her eyes were a wide and a mix of blue and green with speckles of brown. She was wearing a thick black jacket over green colored clothing. The jacket and tunic were just lightly decorated with cream trim. She wore a similar pair of boots to that of the man who wore mostly leather just a couple of seats from her on her right. In front of her, the inlay depicted orderly forests and fruit trees, as well as fields of crops; all stained to match the objects they represented.
Across from the curly haired woman sat a man in his twenties. His hair was brushed neat, straight, and a deep dark red. His skin was pristine and rosy; and decorated with a light dusting of makeup on both his skin and his eyelids; eyelids that lidded grayish-purple eyes. He wore ivory colored clothing. His tunic was decorated in black, large floral designs; and his slacks seemed to mick the designs only in smaller scale and more along the trimming instead of taking up the entire front. He wore white boot, that laced with golden-colored cording, that disappeared under his slacks, so no visible designs were apparent, although they, too, were decorated in golden motif of floral and vined designs. In front of him, the inlay depicted various beasts such as winged serpents and other various animals, animals some would label as mythical beasts.
“Tax was down ten percent this season,” the rotund man spoke up, looking around at the gathered group.
“That’s because the crop yield was down,” the curly haired woman with the headband responded, “The people have to put up for the cold season, so trade was down with the neighboring areas.”
The rotund man hmphed, “We can’t make this a normal.”
The curly woman shrugged, “There was little we could do; the rain season came and stayed much longer than expected. The fields were water-logged, and some fields were unsalvageable.”
“W-We used a se-serum on the p-p-plants to make it re-resistant, b-b-bu,” The plain woman paused as she bit her lip, “However it did li-li-little to help.”
The reddish-brown skinned woman sat straight, “We have been planning to cut new channels to divert the flow of the rain, yet we would require funding for any go forward in construction.”
“With the taxes low,” the rotund man said in a gasp, “That would be far too costly, too costly indeed.”
“However, if we don’t do something,” the leather-wearing man peaked in, “Even the cattle will suffer at the hands of a low stalk and grain yield. We can’t feed ourselves if the animals aren’t getting food; and we definitely don’t need our milk products to suffer.”
“The rain season is making it hard for the herders to gather hide for the leather workers, so we can’t afford our live-stock to suffer.” The fancy-dressed lady added. “The crafters need to make tunics and coats for the cold season of the people will face illness.”
“That would make the trade suffer further, preposterous!” The rotund man replied.
“We can’t control the weather,” The curly haired woman stated, “The only good thing that’s come out of it is that the fruit predictions are higher for this season’s gathering. Seems the rain did some good for the orchards at least.”
The group continued to bicker about weather, yields, and trade for several more minutes. Each of the eight gave different points of view and the cause-and-effect of a poor crop yield due to the un-expected increase in the rain and lack of drainage for the crop’s fields. Whilst plants need water to grow, too much destroyed them. This was the very issue they were facing. In a Kingdom of more than five thousand strong, famine due to lack of food, and the lesser supply of goods the crops would inevitably create, was lackluster at bet. This wasn’t a large problem in the matter of things, but it was indeed an important issue of survival.
As the group trailed off from this debate and discussion, the clean-cut militarist man in navy-blue, peaked in, “This is when we ask the Princess for her input.”
The group ceased their debate before all turning to face the person at the head of the table. This person had not spoken a word during the debate as she had not been requested to speak. She was a pale, pretty woman with long platinum hair, and eyes of a very striking green. She wore a form-fitting black leather bodice over a white tunic that had billowing sleeves. The bodice was embossed with swirling patterns and was laced up on both her sides. She wore a simple pair of black slacks and lace up, embossed leather boots. In front of her was an inlay: the inlay depicted a single object: a crown. The inlayed object was not made of wood; no, it was made of gold, carved and imbedded into the wooden surface before the same clear-coat of varnish shielded its design like any of the other designs at the table. She was the head of the table, the head of the group. She was “Princess” in name and status and she was the unbiased word of the table.
“Well then,” the rotund man spoke up, “What say you, Princess?”
Princess looked around at every one of the people sitting around the table, “I have heard your discussion and taken it in stride.” She spoke very calm, her tone blank and unfeeling. “It is true that yield is down, and all will suffer as result, so the issue has to be remedied at source. The water is the issue, yes? So, drainage will aid in fixing the fields that lost to prevent them from future suffering. It will cost; yes, however, it will continue to cost if the problem isn’t somehow remedied. Build the drainage or the tax yield will continue to suffer as will the people.” After she finished her word, she fell silent a moment and glanced around the room’s inhabitants once again. She glanced at the dark-skinned woman to her left, “See to it that you get with the Agriculture and Arboriculture Guild to draw up and plan for installation,” she looked toward the rotund man, “And give them the funding to hire workers so our next season’s tax will not suffer as this one.”
With that, Princess said no more and stood from her seat. This was the sign that the conference was over. After the council requested her unbiased input, she was complete with her task, and she would always leave after processing the information and giving her response. She was groomed to be unbiased and direct to the point and solution. It was how she was effectively made, and she held no personality, as it was sealed deep within her, to have any preference to one side or the other. She had no desire, no need, no want. She was given all that she could possibly need to survive and that was all she really needed within her life; that and her ever watchful protection. As she was unbiased, she was also fearless, which meant that she had no desire to run or fight is someone dare try to harm her. That is were the man by the door came in.
Princess approached the silent figure at the door and nodded slightly to him. The man had raven hair, pulled back in a lose ponytail, and tan skin. His eyes were a deep dark green; his vision with his eyes sharp. He was dressed in black clothing and a long black cloak. There were embossed patterns upon his cloak but no decoration to his clothing. Simple and black, that’s all they were, same as his books that were low-cut and laced to his ankles. He carried with him a set of weapons. Upon his back was an adorned crossbow, finely made; a series of bolts in a tubed pack strapped across his mid-section; a small dagger in a sheath on his boot; and a long sword, sheathed at his right side. A small glinting of silver highlighted from under his clothing, revealing he was wearing chain armor beneath his plain clothing.
As Princess neared, the man of many weapons opened the door for her allow her to exit the room without another word. The man followed suit, shutting thee door behind them all and leaving those sitting around the table to gather their items and prepare their own exit to the council hall, as no meeting carried on without the presence of their one and only Princess.
And so, they did, the motley group of eight, though the rotund man murmured to himself about finances and figures, gathered themselves. The leather-wearing man slipped back on his hat and we went over to the curly haired woman who spoke about farms. He placed his hand on the small of her back and the pair of them were the first to leave, followed shortly by the plain woman the woman or suggested building drainage for the farms. The others were slowly filter out from there, leaving the room, alchemical fire lamps still illuminating the room, for next time.
The hallway beyond the council chamber stretched long in both directions. It was floored by similar tile to that of the council chamber and the walls were cream-colored plaster. There was thick, dark wooden trim bordering the floor and ceiling and a carved wooden trim around the doorways. The doors within the hallway, including the doors that lead from the council were doors inset panels of carve motifs of various items such as plants to various animals. The hallway was lavish, indeed, but to Princess, it was just a passageway; as gorgeous as the palace was, she lacked all carrying for the material nature that the palace represented, even though it was her home.
Princess walked down the hallway, her guard following close behind. “Tyrone,” she spoke to her guardian, not facing him, as she continued down the hallway. “Have the cooks bring me my meal, I am in need of substance.”
“Yes, my Princess, once you are safely in your chambers, I will see to it.” The guard, Tyrone, replied with a slight nod of his head.
“And see to it that the Alchemical Science report is prepared for me to view so that I review it for next week’s meeting.” the Princess stated.
“Yes my lady.” Tyrone responded as the reached a junction in the hallway.
The right path led down a short path and lead to a rather large set of doors, more ornate that the other doors they had passed along their way. The door led to the central chamber that operated as some sort of throne room and conference hall with the citizens during monthly invites to the castle.
It was a room central to government as was ten council chamber. People knew they could come and vent their concerns as the Princess took no sides for or against them. Things the council would likely not elaborate on was expanded by the input from those that were beneath the members of the council.
Tyrone glanced at the large double doors just a moment as they passed and turned down the left-hand hallway. The Princess passed several sets of doors before coming up upon a spiral staircase made of marble steps and polished brass railings. With elegance, the Princess ascended the spiral of stairs, hand lazily upon the railing as she glided. The landing above opened up to a short hall, decorated with paintings and ornate benches and tables upon and against eh wall. Ornate vases of gold and silver sat upon the tables filled with an array of flowers and jeweled stems. The colors of the flowers were based always in seasonal colors. At the time, they were red, yellow, and in more autumn color shades and arrangements as they flanked the tables in organized patterns and framed the sides of a large set of double doors with embossed silver and gold designs upon the cream painted surface. A thin strip of gold edges the recesses into the door and large golden pull handles hung in two loops attached to their golden supports.
The Princess approached the doors but stopped just a few feet from them. Her guard, Tyrone walked around from behind and opened one of the large doors. He stepped inside, glancing about before stepping aside to allow the Princess to pass by him and into the room.
“Princess, I will now go and see about your meal.” Tyrone stated as the Princess circled to the right side of the room where a large ornate desk was set.
The Princess ran her hand upon the glass surface of the large desk as she walked around to the side sheer a large oaked, red-velvet cushioned armchair.
“Thank you, Tyrone.” the Princess said as she sat down upon the large chair.
Tyrone bowed his head and exited the room, closing the large door behind him.
The Princess sat in silence just gazing upon the door a moment before reaching towards a pile of parchment upon the glass-topped desk. She pulled a bound stack of papers and began flipping through them. The papers were reports from the previous week’s council meeting that she had made upon her return. She would make her report of the one she just existed after her meal was brought to her. It was her job and duty to keep track of the meetings and the very goings on that related to her actions within the council. No one dared doubt her word as she never lied.
Behind her was a large book case of leather-bound books upon the rows. Each book represented one year of meetings with the council, and a smaller leather-bound book next to each year was a record of the monthly audiences with the peoples’ that inhabited the kingdom. There were twelve sets of books upon the shelves; one for each of her twenty-two years of life that she sat within the meetings and halls. The first was written when she was ten years old, and not much had changed with her, other than her age.
Being Princess was not a status as her presence had always been decided as important: the unbiased figure, raised to give unbiased council to her subordinates. She feared nothing and cared for nothing: such was her life. Day after day, hour after hour, she waited, drafted papers and reports, and waited until the next meeting rolled around. Every word that had been spoken in the council meeting room that day would be dictated to parchment and bound at the end of the year and archived upon the shelving where the other twelve sets of books sat. Her predecessor had once put their books upon those shelves as well, but those were archived even further away in the library. She had read them once but, like her, her predecessor had no name and never mentioned personal ties within the many reports that had been written in delicate hand.
The Heir to the Kingdom of Naric was considered ageless, an enigma, and no one spoke of them as individuals and never spoke of them after their replacements. Only the books, written in different hand, remained of them. Whether they died or were released from their service, no one knew for sure. And the Princess cared not either way, she would carry on, sitting there at her glass-topped desk and begin her reports whilst waiting on Tyrone to return with news of her meal being prepared.
It was minutes later, after Princess began her council report, that Tyrone entered the room. He was the only one that never knocked upon her door as he was almost always by her side. Within the lavish room with a large bay window overlooking pristinely kept gardens; the autumn bloom of roses in affect, even though the poor weather had enticed additional pruning of the stems that year. The servants were out there that moment tending to those roses, the hedges, and sweeping paths of the first fallen leaves of autumn from the cobble-paved pathways that ran through the gardens.
The heavy golden-colored drapes were splayed wide, the thin shear white layer of curtain hanging loosely, pinching the full view just slightly smaller. There was a seat against he windows, cushioned in red velvet, the same as the Princess’s armchair and a ornate oaken table sat before that bench, already set for her coming meal, yet no drink was poured at the time: the wait-staff would bring wine and water with her meal.
Upon a raised platform behind a row of banisters was a large canopy bead, shear curtains hung from the four posts, drifting down in creams and golds. The bed was blanketed in red; the colors changed every season: being blue in the winter season, green in the spring, and yellow in the summer. The room, the palace, and everything altered with the seasons: every ninety days and they were washed once a week on clockwork.
Everything ran as clockwork and that was why the waitstaff never gave times on when things would be completed; they had learned to never promise times to the Princess as she would blatantly point out their lateness, so they allowed time to have no meaning when preparing or working with the princess. In time, they would always say, and gave no more.
Tyrone went to sit off to the left side of the room. There was set a small desk made of simple wood. It was a much smaller desk with a much smaller chair. The furniture was still slightly ornate but not as highly ornate as the Princess’s furniture. And a small single bed set next to the desk, dressed in similar color seasonal linens as the Princess’s larger bed. A folding dressing screen separated his small nook from the Princess’s raised bed and large wardrobes; and a rack built to house each of his weapons lines the wall near to his bed, and a stand next to his bead that his sword would always rest as he rested. Yes, this was his room as much as it was hers. He was posted to her guard and her side, raised to be a faithful watch-guard, since he was small. He was shipped from his home at the age of five to begin his training and was taught by the best. Just as she, he had never seen his predecessor; and at eh age of fifteen he began his charge. He, too made small reports, yet his was always bound within the Princess’s larger yearly bindings, and his was not a detailed. His weekly reports were short and distracted every single day of the week, hardly ever passing one page of documentation for every given week. His reports would come later, once the Princess had gone to bed. That would end the day and begin anew. Each day would report on Morning, Midday, Evening, and Night; and many lines read “No report” in simple text before carrying on.
It was just over half an hour later that the cooking staff and the waitstaff knocked upon the door. As was protocol, the staff would wait outside the door until Tyrone opened the door for them to enter. The Princess would always watch them and their every move as they brought forth her meal and dressed it upon the plates laid out upon the table. The meal they brought her that day was sliced poultry, baked and seasoned; a salad covered in vinaigrette; a slice of buttered and garlic-flavored bread; and small bowl of soup made from boiled tomatoes and celery. They left her with one half-full glass of wine and a full glass of water, splayed out her napkins and checked her silverware before going to exit the room. On the way out, one of the servants would hand Tyrone a small plate of similar food, which he accepted and took to his small desk which doubled as his table. No one spoke as they were in the chamber and they staff left silently, leaving the Princess and her Guardian to their evening meal.
The clock struck six in the evening several moments later as they continued their meal.