There were many amazing perks that came with being god-queen of a country, not the least of which was the fact that Phrayne was now the owner of a large wine cellar full of vintages from all over the five kingdoms. And where was better to enjoy a glass in a giant throne while talking to a new ally?
“Where’s this one from?” Haldir asked, examining the red wine that swirled in his glass, occasionally taking a sip to consider the flavor.
“It’s local, actually,” Phrayne answered. “Relatively young, too, if I’m correct, but it doesn’t taste like it. Some people say that the water feeding the crops that make the grapes exceptional. I suppose it really only matters if you actually care that much about wine.” As if proving a point, she took a gulp, emptying her glass and filling it up again.
There was a short break of silence between the two before Haldir spoke up again. “So did you just call me here so you’re not drinking along? I’m sure there are a few more people around who wouldn’t mind sharing a few glasses with Her Majesty.”
“Can’t someone want to spend some one-on-one talk with a trusted friend?” she asked innocently.
“Are we friends?” he asked pointedly. “The last few people who considered you a friend ended up having to flee the city and are now actively working against you.”
Phrayne scoffed. “I never considered them friends,” she explained. “I didn’t want to be part of their little group in the first place. I wanted to get out as soon as possible.”
“But that means I am your friend?” Haldir asked as he sipped at his glass.
“I suppose so,” Phrayne answered. “After all, you’re one of the few people I can actually stand. I think that’s enough to consider you a friend.”
“And you don’t regret it? The fact that you had to put aside people who considered you a friend even if you didn’t think the same of them?”
Phrayne thought back to the time she met the others – the boat, Turtle Bay, fighting their way into Ani, and everything else that happened. They were certainly annoying, but they had their charms. The time she spent with them wasn’t completely terrible, despite everything that happened.
“Queens don’t have the luxury to regret their decisions, no matter what happens, Lord Haldir,” she finally answered. “We are where we are, and no matter how someone feels about it, we can’t change the past.”
Haldir laughed. “I never thought I’d hear you, an actual god, say that something can’t be done.”
“Just because I have powers doesn’t mean I don’t know my limits,” she clarified. “If I thought that I could change the past, I would never get anywhere. Instead, I have to look forward.”
“That’s actually very wise,” Haldir agreed. “I’m sure your former adventuring party think they’re doing the right thing by trying to oppose you, but perhaps if they heard you give your point, they would change their minds.”
“One can only hope,” Phrayne said as she held out her glass as if to toast, and the sound of two glasses clinking echoing throughout the throne room.
“And what is this?” Sirena asked, eyeing the flask that Rina held out in her hand. The smell coming out of the opening wasn’t exactly pleasant, nor did it seem anything like the wines she remembered were in the cellar of the palace.
“Ironwood Brew,” Rina answered, pushing the flask into the other’s hand. “Brought it from home. Nothing better to drink on a cold night to warm you up.”
Tentatively, Sirena took it and quickly took a sip before immediately dissolving into a fit of coughs.
Rina cringed. “Oh yeah, I forgot how harsh it was,” she apologized. “I guess it takes getting used to.”
“I think it’s because it deadens all the nerve endings in your throat,” Sirena spluttered as she handed the flask back.
“Yeah, that’s probably true,” Rina said, putting it away. “But sometimes it nice to have a little taste f home on a cold night like this.” She leaned back on her bedroll looking up at the sky. The stars twinkled in the black expanse. It was a bit comforting to think about the fact that, no matter how far she was from her home, the people she loved back there were still looking at the same stars.
“You miss your home,” Sirena observed.
“Don’t you?” Rina asked, looking over at him. “You didn’t think that you were going to leave home either. There was nothing to prepare for, and you left suddenly. Factor in that you were used to a much more luxurious way of living, and now you’re just on the road without any of that.”
“That’s true,” Sirena agreed, “but that doesn’t mean that I won’t see my home again, and you will as well.”
“You’re really optimistic for a queen who was deposed by her wife almost immediately after getting married, you know,” Rina laughed wryly.
“I have to be,” Sirena replied, chuckling along with the other. “I mean, I have to hope that I’ll see my home again, and everything will be made right eventually.”
“Will it?” Rina asked. “We could lose this all, you know. That’s not exactly a ‘glass-half-full’ situation.”
“Aren’t you the god of luck?” Sirena asked. “Maybe you saying things like that is going to hurt our chances more than us just trying to go along with our plans.”
“Interesting way to look at it,” Rina said. “Maybe if I believe we’ll get through this and everything will be fine, it’ll happen.” She looked up at the stars. “And maybe the Kadarian’s will stop chasing us and the world storm will calm forever.”
“You say those things like they’re all equally likely,” Sirena pointed out. “I think it’s more likely that we will win this. And when we do, I’ll visit your home with you, and then you can teach me how to enjoy the awful drinks your people make.”
Rina laughed in earnest this time. “Alright, your majesty,” she said. “You have a deal.”