1. Refusal to acknowledge The Laws will be punished severely.
2. New Laws can only be created by the agreement of the entire Court.
14. A Leader may only take rule if he takes it according to the established laws of that Kingdom.
Extract from “The Laws: in translation.”
“I can’t see them any more,” Rhydyn said in a tone of great disappointment.
“They’ve probably moved on,” Tanon replied resignedly.
“They were getting closer,” he said, still infused with some optimism.
“Who knows where they’ve got to,” Tanon shrugged.
Suddenly, two forms materialised in the centre of the room, stretching and unfolding into two women. One was slightly taller than the other, with piercing silver-blue eyes, but they were otherwise very similar in appearance. Rhydyn and his parents jumped back in shock.
“Who are you?” Rhydyn asked warily, his eyes moving between the two.
“I am Riarna Ruanthi and this is my sister, Srynia Ruanthi. We are horse farmers from Ystia.”
“Ystians? Well, citizen of Callania, I suppose I had better introduce myself in return,“ he replied with a touch of ironic grandeur. “I am Prince Rhydyn and these are my parents King Tanon and Queen Elerina,”
“Your highness,” Riarna and Srynia murmured in unison, inclining their heads in a royal salute.
“Less of that,” Rhydyn replied, waving his hand in a slightly admonishing gesture. “Twins are you? Non-identical though.”
The sisters nodded acknowledgement of the fact.
“What brought you here? It isn’t safe, you know,” Elerina asked, a slightly worried frown creasing her face.
“I just knew we had to come,” Riarna replied, slightly embarrassed. “We want to know what we can do to help.”
“We’ve lost both our parents to this war already,” Srynia added, with a shake of her head. “We want to put things right.”
“There’s nothing we can do from here,” Rhydyn replied and began pacing the room, rubbing one hand against his neatly trimmed beard. “How did you get in here anyway?”
“Flea-form,” Srynia replied proudly. “They are very poor at recognising Invertebrate-shifters.”
“It is very rare to find invertebrate-shifters,” Elerina replied in some surprise, looking at the two sisters with increased respect.
“We just want to know what we can do to help,” Riarna said, looking at each of them individually.
“Our country is in dire need of military assistance,” Tanon replied, meeting her gaze. “Even with the help of Aetyorthiri, there is little we could do against the combined strength of Silvetera and Arrozale.”
“Could we not turn them against themselves? Like in the old days?” Rhydyn asked, a slightly hopeful expression crossing his face.
“Not as such,” Elerina replied, looking thoughtful. “Penry is too clever for that.”
“We could try to prove that his control of Arrozale is illegal,” Tanon continued thoughtfully.
“Illegal? He’s the King; he makes the laws,” Rhydyn exclaimed, slightly bewildered.
“But if it is illegal, then there is some hope for us yet,” Tanon replied, leaning against the window frame.
“We could incite the assistance of the Law Makers,” Elerina continued serenely, folding her hands delicately across her lap.
“Of course!” Rhydyn exclaimed excitedly, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Srynia said in her most polite mannerisms, “but who are the Law Makers?”
“The Tygeriqans,” Rhydyn replied with a broad smile. “The pinnacle of power in the East. They influence every Kingdom from Gentrare eastwards. They make certain incontrovertible Laws. And they enforce them. They are singularly the most powerful military nation in the world!”
“But why would they help us? We’re not an Eastern Kingdom,” Riarna asked curiously.
“Money,” Tanon stated blandly. “They were constantly fighting a tax-war with Silvetera over trading rights and such. If we could prove this war was both illegal and financially detrimental, they’d be bound to act.”
“That’s no small ask,” Riarna replied dubiously. “How do we even begin to do that?”
“First, we’ll need to speak to Aetyorthiri. We need to be sure they are on our side,” Tanon replied, with a nod of his head.
“They may be able to help us put together our case for the Tygeriqans,” Elerina continued.
“From there, we will probably then have to travel East. Meet the Leaders directly,” Tanon added, with a slightly wry smile.
“But first, we’ll have to bust our way out of here!” Rhydyn exclaimed happily, rubbing his hands together.
“You will have to,” Tanon corrected. “Elerina and I will remain here.”
“But you’re not safe here! Penry is probably counting down the days until he has you executed!” Rhydyn replied in some distress.
“No, your father is right,” Elerina answered him firmly, putting her hand on his arm. “We are the elected monarchs of this country. If we escaped, Penry would tear the country apart looking for us. He will not spare the same expense over you. I’m sorry to be so blunt. But it’s true.”
“I don’t know whether to be pleased about that or not,” Rhydyn replied ruefully.
“You can still act as our Royal Emissary. Speak on our behalf in the Councils,” Tanon added, his tone reassuring.
“First we need to think of a way of getting you out of here,” Riarna said thoughtfully. “Can you manage any small-scale shifts?”
“Some,” Rhydyn replied, shuffling his feet slightly uncomfortably. “How small-scale are you
“Well, Srynia and I got in as fleas. Something of that sort?”
“Well, ah, there’s the thing…” Rhydyn looked to his parents for help. With none forthcoming, he soon continued. “I can only do mammalian shifts. I can‘t do any others. Of any description.”
“Not even temporarily?” Srynia replied in some surprise.
“No, sorry. Never been able to. Sorry.” He looked slightly ashamed. Srynia gave him a sympathetic look, just restraining herself from giving him a hug.
“There are some small mammals,” Riarna said, tilting her head as if sizing him up. “What’s your strongest species?”
“Dog.” Rhydyn shook his head, blushing slightly at their raised eyebrows. “I know. Not very regal, huh?”
“Dog could work,” Srynia affirmed optimistically.
“You know, it actually could,” Riarna added, striding over to the door and running her hands down the panels.
“How exactly?” Rhydyn asked, slight doubt tingeing his tone.
“You keep dogs here, right?” Riarna asked, turning away from the door.
“Some. But they’ll know the difference between a Shifter and a dog. Otherwise I’d have tried to escape days ago.” Rhydyn gave her a slightly patronising look.
“Do you keep a hunt?” She met his gaze evenly, although slightly affronted.
“We do,” he replied cautiously.
“Good distraction, don’t you think?” she replied, returning his patronising tone measure for measure.
“High risk strategy,” Tanon interrupted the two.
“But it might just work,” Elerina added with a smile.
“We haven’t even thought of a way of escaping from this room yet!” Rhydyn exclaimed, throwing his hands up in the air.
“Mice,” was all Riarna said, raising an eyebrow, a slight smile curling round her lips.
“Mice? This plan just gets more and more crazy!” Rhydyn shook his head. “Fine! Anything to get me out of this room.”
“You’ll have to show us the way,” Riarna replied with a nod.
“Ok. But mouse is not a strong shift of mine. I might get a bit disorientated.”
“You’ll have to try, son,” Tanon reassured him, “You’re our best hope.”
“Don’t lay so much responsibility on the boy,” Elerina lightly rebuked her husband.
“It’s alright, I know what’s at stake. I won’t let you down.” Rhydyn set his expression, putting his hands on his hips. Srynia smiled encouragingly at him.
“Let’s go then,” she said and with a flourish and shifted down into a delicate brown house mouse.
Riarna immediately joined her, whilst Rhydyn closed his eyes, focused and slowly shifted down, emerging as a slightly patchy field mouse.
“Close enough,” Srynia squeaked with a wink.
“This way,” Rhydyn squeaked back. “At least, I think…”
I read your last letter with a great deal of interest. As I am sure you are aware, I have the best interest of the country at heart. I need not remind you, I am sure, that you do not have the power to act against me. So do not even try.
Your devoted Uncle,
Penry, King of Silvetera and Emperor of the Realms.
Extract from: Inter-regal Letters: a compendium.
With a resounding clang the metal doors of the Council Chamber swung open. The gathered crowd gradually grew quiet, waiting patiently for the announcement that was soon to come. A man and a woman emerged from the room, arm-in-arm, sweeping toward the podium, trailing their extravagant burgundy furs in their wakes.
“We come before you today to make a most serious announcement,” the man began. “It is our duty to deliver the final verdict of today’s Council meeting. It is a decision that I, King Lahaldi, fully sanction.”
With which he gestured to the woman standing to his right. She straightened slightly, lifting her head high.
“It is likewise a decision that I, Queen Reya, fully sanction,” she announced in a clear, smooth voice.
“It has been decided that Aetyorthiri will not go to war,” Lahaldi proclaimed loudly. “That is all.”
The crowd erupted in a cacophony of mixed responses. Some were cheering, others were heckling abuse. The royal couple merely turned and re-entered the Chamber, muting the noise from outside.
“It is as we expected then,” a soft voice whispered somewhere to the couple’s left.
“Yes, Leiron,” Reya replied resignedly, “the crowd are as undecided as the Council.”
“It’s not a good day when even the mob can’t find a single voice,” Lahaldi added with a bitter smile.
“We’ve made the right decision,” Leiron Reikiseryndrani replied in a smoothly reassuring tone. “We cannot act on the behalf of Callania in the current climate.”
“I know. I just wish we could do more,” Reya replied with a sigh.
“We are doing more than the crowd will ever realise,” Leiron said with a sly smile. “That does not mean we are not doing enough.”
“I suppose you have another update for us from Daiiroda?” Lahaldi asked with cautious optimism.
“I have certain news that it would be best we discussed in private,” Leiron replied with a small, sharp smile. “Perhaps your majesties would be so kind as to consider making an invitation.”
“Of course we would,” Reya replied mirroring his smile, “We would be most pleased to extended you an invitation to take visit with us.”
“I would be obliged,” Leiron swept into an elaborate bow. “If an hour’s time from now is convenient, then I will be able to prepare myself more adequately.”
Lahaldi and Reya nodded agreement and watched as Leiron did a quick bow and slip backwards amongst the myriad of corridors. Then together they ascended the sweeping staircase, leading up to the vaulted platform that connected the Chamber to the Castle.