If there wasn't one problem in the world there always seemed to be another. Queen Lymsleia spent the past year contemplating whether or not dispatching troops to the Scarlet Moon Empire would be in Falena's best interest. Apparently some Liberation Army was making a muck of things, which sounded awfully familiar. With that in mind, she decided to stay uninvolved in the end. The north was like a cesspool of war anyway. Best to have as little involvement in their internal affairs as possible.
Even so, the Falenan court was awfully nervous about their unwed queen. If an attempt on her life was successful, then there would be no heir to the throne, spelling doom for the traditions of the nation. Her sixteenth birthday had come and gone. She was ripe for both marrying and birthing. She was tall, and slender, and radiant as her mother before her. Eligible suitors were falling over themselves to receive her counsel, and the few who did receive it were turned away, never to be called upon again regarding such matters. There was no way to reinstate the Sacred Games with all of the gladiators free, and she pointedly insisted that she would marry only when she was ready, though the court was doubting that more and more each day. A viable solution to this problem seemed impossible at this point.
"Your majesty, if I may be so bold," said Miakis, the only one smiling rather than chewing around the supper table. If there was anything Queen Lymsleia hated it was bold topics while she was trying to eat.
"You may not," said Lym, almost forgoing table manners in favor of frustration. Mother lived long enough to ensure that she knew better at all costs. It was why Gizel Godwin was able to die without a face marred by unsightly burns and scars left by various kitchen utensils. She dined with him nightly at one point in her life. She didn't miss that stuffy atmosphere.
"OK, here it goes." Miakis cleared her throat. "Lord Thorp seeks your counsel."
"You are aware that what you did just now was high treason, yes Miakis?" said the queen, her scowl a contrast to her former body guard's mirth, which was undaunted by the queen's accusation. "May we have just one dinner where talk of marriage does not happen?"
"Yes, I agree," said commander Freyjador, always ready to hop to his sister's rescue. He knew quite a bit of her suitors, too, and approved of exactly none of them. One might just call that his brotherly inclination to be overprotective, but he simply called it common sense.
"That won't do, dear. It is an important topic," said Haswar, their guest for the evening. She seemed to have lost interest in her food in favor of this banter.
"As queen, I order you all to change the subject."
"Your majesty," said Lyon, offering the commander's sister a timid look of sympathy. Lym turned away, not wanting to betray her demeanor with anything but stark refusal to talk of suitors.
"Speaking of marriage," said Haswar, her attention pointed now at Freyjador. He had a mouth full of fish, and stopped chewing to gaze up at her apprehensively. He then swallowed hard, blinked, and swore that all of the eyes upon him were trying to burn holes into his skin. "I have also been wondering when our darling commander plans to have a bride."
"W-why?" said Freyjador.
"I've been wondering the same thing myself," said Miakis, raising a goblet of wine into a beam of orange sunlight that poured through the tall windows. "You've been the Queendom's number one bachelor long enough, commander, if I do say so myself."
"You are being much too bold this evening, Miakis," said Freyjador, who had as much authority to shut her down as their queen did. She was a queen's knight directly under his command, after all. More than that, however, she was Miakis, and no dragon cavalry, nor royal family could make her fold. It was like trying to tear down Stormfist with a spoon.
"Oh? What is your opinion, Lyon?"
"I agree with the commander. This talk is hardly appropriate." It was talk that made Lyon flinch and squirm, the subject of commander Freyjador's love life. No one had to even question what went on in his quarters when all but Lyon were dismissed. Those tender, longing looks did not escape Miakis. Before a group of prying eyes they were but children again, tiptoeing around each other. Behind that door was anyone's guess, though Miakis happened by Lyon on choice occasions, looking hot but certainly not bothered upon exiting the commander's chambers.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say the commander wants to marry you, Lyon," said Haswar, and the heat in their cheeks put the Sun Rune to shame. If the wine had only melted the inhibitions of Miakis just the slightest bit more she may have whooped for joy. Six years. It took six years for someone to finally say it. And Haswar didn't stop there. "If you two have a daughter, perhaps she could become the next queen."
"The idea has merit," said Lym all too quickly. She made no secret of her distaste in marriage in general, though she had yet to consider pawning off producing an heir upon her brother. How much of a stink would the nation make if they found out? The more she thought about it, the more it made sense. "Brother, do you wish to marry Lyon?"
"I... I... may I be excused?"
The commander left the table.
"Commander, wait up!" said Lyon, following him as she always did.
"I'll take that as a yes," said Miakis, all too proud of herself as the last trickles of wine seeped through her smiling lips. Haswar was practically swooning, and Lym continued to contemplate a beautiful world where she didn't have to deal with being married again.