Beneath the Crown

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Chapter 19

Zasrus

“Lord Savnor,” I called as the man stood in the far end of the room speaking over his com, “You rushed me to return to this meeting. I do hope you will join us soon.”

He mumbled a bit more before turning to us, “Forgive me, my King. I had an urgent matter to attend to.”

“Is everything alright?”

“Everything is as it should be now. Please, let us continue,” he said and came back to the table.

“Very well. Do any of you have anything new to mention about this charter?”

I braced myself for the shouting to begin. All four of the men sat quietly, looking between themselves.

“No one has anything new to add?” I asked with a frown, “What about you, Lord Savnor? Do you have any arguments about the placements?”

He met my eyes with a smile, “No my king. I believe that the placements will become clear to all of us by the time it comes to sign it. I have said everything I need to say. The decision is now up to you.”

That is a quick change of heart from him.

I watched him for a moment as he tapped on his screen.

“Very well. Then if no one has anything more to add, I will call an end to this meeting. You are all welcome to stay for dinner. I will have the witnesses informed and make sure they are here in a week for the signing.

I stood from the table with a smile. This ended rather quickly. Now I have a few hours to spend with Ash before dinner.

I left the meeting room and looked down both ends of the hall.

I made my way to the garden to my children and Connie still sitting outside. As I approached, Azmurtas jumped up off Layla’s lap and came running to me, “Father! Come sit with us.”

I smiled and picked him up into my arms, “What are you doing?” I asked as I came to the others.

Connie looked up at me, “Just sitting talking. It’s a beautiful day. Do you want to join us?”

I looked around the garden, “Is Ash here?”

Connie smiled, “She went to the bathroom. She won’t be long. Come sit with us.”

I smiled and placed my son on the ground. He went back to Laylar and flopped down on her lap once more. I lowered myself to the blanket and lay back, placing my head onto my crossed arms behind my head.

“I was just telling them, father,” Laylar said and I lifted my head up to look at her, “About the time you and uncle decided that it would be a good idea to sneak away from the guards, fly off to Lord Jarnul’s house and spend all three days drinking with him.”

I laughed as her words brought back those fond memories, “My cousin may be a lot of things, but a bore he is not. I didn’t sleep for three days, and by the time we got back, I had the state visit to the new scholar's academy opened in my name, but I was so tired, and so sick, that I fell asleep as the children read the stories they had written for me. I was told I snored so loud that the other members of the visit couldn’t hear stories written by bright young children about me. I still feel so bad about it to this day.”

“What do you feel bad about?” Ash asked as she came into my view. Her long hair falling around her face as she smiled down at me.

I sat up, “At my own foolishness,” I said and gestured for her to sit next to me.

She lowered herself to the ground beside me and I noticed her taking quick glances at me from the corner of her eye.

“How did the meetings go?” She asked.

I sighed, “Long, frustrating, and infuriating. I would rather think about more pleasant things if you don’t mind.”

She smiled, “Sure. How about this trip? Are you coming with us?”

“What trip do you speak of?”

“Oh, Raylon and Connie are taking me to Parna for a few days.”

“I see. Did he mention that I will be joining you?”

“Um, no. He didn’t,” Connie said with a frown.

“Yes,” I said as I shifted to face her, “I have cleared a few days from my agenda. If that is alright with you?”

“Uh, yeah of course.”

Laylar chuckled from next to me. I turned to look at her but she just gave me a smile and a flick of the brows. I felt my face grow warm and my grin spread.

She stood up, “Connie, will you help me with the little ones. I believe it’s time for them to . . . be somewhere else.”

“Yip, I think so too,” Connie said as she stood, and despite the protests of my smaller children, I was glad that I could have a moment alone with her.

Once they were all gone, I lay down on my side, propped my head on my arm and watched Ash as she bit her lip with nerves.

“Do I still make you uncomfortable?” I asked.

She shook her head, “No. I just. . . I’m not sure what to talk about.”

“Anything. Tell me about how you met Connie.”

She smiled with a light in her eyes, “Well, it was a Saturday morning. I was hungover as hell, and I remember sitting in the shop, the smell of alcohol all around me and the sight of the bottles making me feel sick when this angel walks in and asks if I have a job for her. I thought I had dreamed her up for a minute, but she was really there. I gave her the job, even though I didn’t need anyone to work with me, I just really wanted some company in the shop. I’m glad I did.”

“So am I,” I said and reached for the drink they had standing on the grass, “Did you two become friends right away?”

“Oh yeah. The first day she came to work, I knew she was just as broken as I was. Not in the same way, but still wounded deeply. The first night she stayed to lock up with me, about a week after she started working there, we decided to have a cheeky drink in the storeroom. Ended up sitting there for hours, just talking. That was when I first learned about Raylon.”

“What did she have to say about my brother?”

She laughed, “She told me he was dead.”

My eyes went wide, “Why would she say that?”

“Apparently it was easier to tell me he was dead, then explain to me why she would never see him again. Humans are not all that clued in about life outside of our planet. Thinking about it now, if she had told me the truth back then, I probably would have fired her for being mental.”

“So your kind has never traveled outside of your solar system?”

She shook her head, “Nope. Just sitting there, on Earth, thinking we are all alone out here.”

I thought about that for a moment.

“Our history books speak of a time when this planet and its people thought they were alone. It was a very long time ago. But then, as time went on, the people reached out to the stars, and someone answered.”

“I don’t think Humans are ready for that yet. We haven’t sorted our own shit out yet, adding a new race to the mix will just create more problems.”

“So if I were to conquer your planet, and make it part of my kingdom, would I face a lot of resistance?”

She met my eyes with a frown as her mouth fell open, “I don’t know if I should answer that.”

I laughed, “I have no desire to do that. Your Earth is too far away for it to be a feasible path to take.”

“Good. I’d hate to think what would happen if aliens showed up at Earth and told the Humans they were to now follow one king,”

She laughed, “Oh man that would be a shit storm of note.”

“Do you miss it?”

“Earth?”

I nodded.

“Um. . . No. I mean, I miss some things from Earth, yes, but do I miss my life there? Not really.”

“Why not?”

“It wasn’t that interesting. I lived a very standard, boring life, just one day to the next.”

“Tell me about it. I am fascinated to know what a normal life for you looks like. What did you do every day?”

“Well, I worked at the shop almost every day. Most weekends I was out in town at clubs and bars, drinking and having fun. The rest of the time I was at home, alone, watching TV.”

“The simple life.”

“The boring life.”

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