Seeing Ash sitting on Mistasars throne caused a pain in my heart. It was not because Ash had sat where my beloved wife did once, but rather at the thought that no one may ever sit there again.
Ash was still so nervous and scared around me, and I feared she may never feel comfortable in my presence.
But to see her sitting there also gave me hope. Hope that maybe, one day, it will be her beside me.
When we got to the bottom of the stairs, I released her hand and smiled.
“Where to next?”
She shrugged, “I don’t know. Lead the way.”
I gestured for us to walk to another set of doors and when we went through, we found Connie still taking pictures with her little black device.
“There you are,” I heard Ash say in a somewhat relieved and angry tone.
“Oh hey, sorry I got carried away with taking pictures. Hey Ash,” she said and put her device into her pocket, “How confused do you think people would be if I posted these pictures online?”
Ash smiled, “I think everyone would just tell you its fake. Or a movie set or something. To be honest, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we have internet out here."
“Trust me, you do not want to get into the mechanics of how that works. Just be grateful it does.”
We made our way through a narrow hall, and at the end, we came out in a round space, held up by four pillars in the center. I met Connie’s eyes and she gave me a narrow-eyed look.
“I remember this place,” Connie said as she looked up at the painted ceiling.
“Yes,” I said and lowered my eyes, “Not my finest moment, but my plan worked so all is well.”
“I get the feeling this room has a story,” Ash said with a smile, “Do tell.”
“Oh, I will let him tell you this one. It’s all on him anyway.” Connie said and crossed her arms.
I let out a breath, “Well when Connie first arrived in my kingdom, she was on a Ful ship. We had just negotiated peace with the Ful’s and one of the terms of this peace was that they were not allowed into the kingdom. But, my brother decided to go against that rule, and let their ship in. I was told almost immediately what he had done, but instead of commanding my men to destroy it, I decided to watch and see what he was up to. That was when I saw Connie and my brother on the ship. She was ready to fight him.” Connie laughed, “Yeah but I didn’t know who or what he was. I just thought he was some guy trying to hurt Billy and Bob. So I got in his face, and totally hulked out on him.”
Ash smiled, “What did he do?”
“Well,” I said as I walked around the space, “Normally his guards would never let anyone speak to him like that, but I commanded them to stay quiet, to leave Connie alone and to get off the ship. My brother was left alone, speechless and bewildered by this little blonde woman. At that moment I knew I had to meet her for myself, and find a way to get them to speak again. No one in the kingdom ever looked at my brother's eyes, yet Connie glared at them without blinking. So I invited her to the palace for a party.” “And let me guess,” Ash said turning to Connie, “Things didn’t go as well as you hoped.”
“Nope!” Connie said and shook her head at me, “I got here, and Zasrus was all sweet and charming, and nice. Not a word about Raylon or that it was his brother. We came in here, and when Raylon came out from that door there, I freaked out. I demanded he be arrested, and the king was all like, guards take him away. That was when I found out he was the king’s brother. I was so pissed off, I just left the room, and ran off. I went into the side garden and Raylon was there. We started to speak, and as they say, the rest is history.”
I looked at Ash, and the open mouth and wide eyes.
“I felt terrible about it for days, but it worked.”
“Justification after the fact, ha?” She said to me then laughed, “That is genius though. You have to admit Con, it was a hell of a play.”
“Oh it was,” she said with a smile, “It just didn’t feel like it at the time.”
Ash moved her eyes over the space and when she looked up, I couldn’t stop my eyes running over her neck.
“Oh wow,” She breathed out when she saw the ceiling, “What is that?”
I looked up, “That is my great grandfather’s painting. His account of the battle of the suns.”
She spun her head to me, “your great grandfather painted this?”
I nodded, “Yes. It took him five years. Working day and night.”
“It’s incredible. The details and colors are magnificent.” “Thank you. It is one of many art pieces he created within the palace. Let me show you some more.”