Runaway Empress

Kilysketch.jpg“I just got crowned empress of half the known world last week. What do you think I’m going to do?” Kily threw a wrench at the already overstuffed tool bag and studiously ignored Lila’s judgmental gaze.

“The people will be looking to you now. It is inadvisable that you spend your first few weeks in office missing on some ill-conceived adventure.” Lila removed the toolbag – the ease with which she lifted the fifty pound bag was impressive, much as it was unwelcome – and replaced it with several files she’d been holding under her arm. “Several of the guilds are still unhappy with the decision to crown you over Erosar and want placating.”

“Don’t talk to me about Erosar.” Kily turned to the ornithopter that took up most of her workshop, the Lady Grace, and retied one of the knots holding the canvas of the wings taught.

“He is your brother. And he will also need placating,” Lila replied.

“What Erosar needs is a good swatting on the backside. The little twerp had no right to pull a stunt like that. We’d agreed, and then for him to go behind my back and run for the crown as the Guild’s champion… hand me those pliers would you?” Kily held out her hand, engrossed in a slight defect in Lady Grace’s steering mechanisms. Lila sighed noisily and handed over the pliers.

“The fact remains that now is not a good time. You wanted this job, now act like a darn empress.”

“You must admit there is precedent.” Kily yanked at the offending foreign object.

“Emperor Julian, year 1611. Spent the first year of his reign traveling the empire to reforge alliances with the local rulers.”

“That was nearly a hundred years ago, when the empire was half the size it is now and communication was unreliable at best.”

“A hundred years ago. That makes this the perfect time to renew the tradition.” Kily cleaned out a rune and topped off it’s power with a pinprick of her own blood. “Come on Lila. Three weeks, it’ll be a working vacation, the people get to see their new empress, and it gives the guilds some time to simmer down. You’re not talking me out of this one.”

“When have I ever managed to talk you out of anything?” Lila asked with a wry grin.

“Never. Not once in the thirteen years we’ve known each other. I do wonder why you keep trying.”

“In the foolish hope that some day you will listen. I assume you’re taking that funny foreign boy with you?”

“Funny foreign boy is my husband.” Kily sighted down one of the ornathopter’s wings and made a mental note to replace several of the struts. Warping was terribly hard to prevent.

“And yes, he’s coming. Go find that fool, would you?”

“So you are hiding from responsibility.” Lila crossed her arms. “I wondered when I saw the dress hanging in the toilet.”

“I have been on display – wearing ridiculous heels I might add – nonstop for the past week. Twenty-three exclusive interviews in four days, not to mention the galas, the balls, the coronation itself… forgive me for fleeing for two hours.”

“Your secret is safe highness. I will send Windsong your way when I find him.”

“Try the top floor of the Pinnacle. The poor guy is probably going insane with the thousands of people around.”


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