ADRIEN

The Fire-Breather sailed through the gulf ever so smoothly; the journey was anticipated on being rocky due to Captain Gerard's detection of strong winds, earlier at port.

Adrien was known for his strong characteristics however the sea was always something he had feared. The old stories that his uncle used to tell him about the giant sea monster of Syong-Yang scared him as a young boy of five, but the fear only struck him proper when the sea monster had actually shot from the depths of the ocean to attack the Fireagonian army in the Battle of the Mussonwang. No man truly believed such a beast existed, but only a figure to scare off children, up until that moment. He had never laid eyes upon such a creature, nor will he ever, as the beast was slain in an explosion of fire ignited by the infamous Fire Maker, whom served Adrien's father during the war of all wars. He remembered the returning men who spoke of the beast inside the healing temple, "It was the length of Fireagon itself, I tell you! Blue as the ocean with eyes white and cool like the winters of Chessalyn! A roar that flung off our sales and sent a hundred men smashing into the sea." One soldier yelled at the young prince. Adrien stood, still as a rock. He could feel the piss running down his garments only to be concealed by his oversized blood-red cape. He stood there, imagining the beast tearing off the ships, swallowing ten men, and whole. It is dead now. He can't hurt me he told himself.

If there is one, there is another.

There he stood on deck, as still as he stood in the healing temple, fearing the possibility of the sea monster bursting through the bottom of the ship like an arrow. He felt his groin for wetness, thankfully there was nothing. A Thirty-Five year old man he was and yet the fear consumed him.

Adrien shrugged off the foolish thought and gritted his teeth together.

He made his way through shouting sailors, his red and black doublet stuck to his skin ever so tightly with the humidity of the waters. Mere El Court was nothing but a vivid image as he looked from the stern of The Fire-Breather. The castle was high above all else as it was built with high and sharp red towers with black accents and golden tips that reached the clouds. Spikes of red and black shot from the sides of the high towers like thorns on a rose stem. It was a magnificent sight, yet a powerful warning to those who would ever think to defy the house of Brouben. This brought a sense of power to Adrien, even after three years of his crowning; looking upon the castle made him feel like it was only yesterday. A splash of salty water shot across his chiseled face, his shoulder-long blond hair was beginning to curl, as it always has done in humidity.

As Adrien went down the steps to make his way to his cabin, he glimpsed a young squire leaving. He went inside the cabin with decorations with blood red and black velvets, the colors of Fireagon. A feather-stuffed bed faced the windows that had a view from the stern of the ship, a wine cabinet with nails and heavy locks to prevent them from spilling during rough sailing and a writing desk with all the king's letter-writing equipment.

Standing by the mirror was his queen, Seline. She stood, slender and tall with hair as gold as the sun and smooth as silks. A beauty unparalleled as she was seen by the people, yet a cunning woman nonetheless. During their sixteen years of marriage, he had grown to dislike her. Often times he thought of marrying another, but Seline had given him the greatest gift a man could ask for, two strong and healthy children, his eldest, Carter and their youngest, Patricia. For all those times he dreamt of leaving her, he thought of the devastation that might cause his children.

But Carter is Eighteen, a man grown and Patricia a girl of sixteen, surely they can handle it he found himself thinking as he stared at Seline.

She was combing her hair, as she always had done, she wore a gown of the same colors of the room and his doublet. He approached.

"Those blasted tangles, see that you untangle them..." He pointed to his head.

She continued combing her hair, not paying him any mind.

"Seline…" He called.

She turned to him and laid the brush on her dressing table, with a big smile on her face, a sight so rare to him.

"Don't bother with your curls, love. We have magnificent news." She swayed into his arms, as if they were the young couple of nineteen they once were.

"What is it, Seline, tell me." He said, holding her into his arms, yet feeling no affection nor longing for her.

She took a breath and smiled. "The bastard Moront is dead!"

He let go of her, and she studied him with almond shaped black eyes.

"Oh what a joyous day! Finally, God has forsaken us from his presence in this world!"

The thought was almost difficult for him to believe for King Moront was a friend to his father's before the wars. After his decision to not help his friend, Adrien's father, Roryan, punished Chessalyn after the victory.

Two heirs will be put to the sword his father declared. He could remember seeing Moront's two eldest grandchildren being dragged in front of the people and beheaded almost immediately. Their heads were kicked and made a sport of; men placed them in sacks and started swinging them around like toys, leaving a trail of Chesslanian blood across the city of Mere El Court.

He is dead now, and that leaves one last veteran king who survived the war. It came almost an irony to Adrien, as he was sailing to visit that last living veteran right this moment.

"His death makes no difference to me nor my people. He was dead to our continent the moment he abandoned my father." He said dryly. "But why wasn't I informed first?"

Seline went back to combing her hair, sitting down this time.

"Love, you clearly told everyone aboard this ship to not say a word to you unless you command it… remember?" She said, not looking at him. "A strange request if you'd ask me… but yet again, a crown makes all things strange oh so normal."

Indeed Adrien has commanded not to be spoken to onboard. He felt nauseous all the time, and he could not tolerate anyone or anything when he felt as though he would spit out his guts on deck.

He nodded, and seated himself on his desk. As he pulled a few parchments he could hear Seline humming a tune… a familiar tune.

"What's that you got there?"

She cocked her head to one side and looked at him through his reflection on her mirror.

"The Weeping North, a fool was singing it on the day of those bastard's execution. I find it quite soothing…" She smiled. It was in that moment, she looked her true form, a conniving, heartless snake.

Adrien was nowhere near as excited as Seline on the death of Moront. To him, it is just the death of another foolish man. Nothing more. However, he knew of his wife's hatred towards the Chesslanian's, as she lost her father to the hands of King Moront in a combat when she was only eight. A rivalry between two men was never greater than Moront's and Benjamin's. The cards were dealt and her father fell, that was the way of the game.

Four nights have passed and Fireagon could not be seen, only clear blue sea. The sailing was smooth the first two days, however, on the third, a storm had emerged and it was there that Adrien wished he never took this voyage to Raegreen.

His cabin rocked left to right, up and down and in circles it felt like. He vomited into his chamber pots three times that night, and Seline could not bare the disruptions during her sleep.

How could anyone sleep during a storm as such? Does she have no fear? But yet again, she didn't. She had neither fear nor feelings, he knew.

On the morning of the fourth day, they were ascending into the Bay of Green. The structure of Raegreen was far more advanced than any other continent in Omen. Thousands of years ago, the Raegreenians carved their continent into a round shape with an open mass in its center. That mass was then filled with ocean water that gave the impression of a massive lake in the middle of the newly designed land. For further details on how the Raegreenians actually carved their land and filled its center with water, was unknown.

Thus, the alliance of Fireagon and Raegreen during the wars was a great strategic and political move for them, as it gave them access to Raegreen's wealth and technological advancments.

Adrien couldn't fully remember the lessons on Raegreenian history and culture with his tutor, although it would serve him useful at this moment.

He knew of their alien physical features, gleaming purple-tinted skin, rich green hair and eyes as white as milk. They were known for their high intelligence and equal high temper. He even read that some possess powers of magic, yet scarcely any of them existed in the last century and so that claim was forgotten.

Only the high-borne possess these alien features and intellectual characteristics his father had told him.

Adrien remembered his urge wanting to desperately meet a high-borne Raegreenian, but they were known to never leave their continent, save for when they fought alongside his father in the Mussonwang battle.

You're finally seeing them he thought to himself as if he were the little boy who once fantasized in meeting those alien-like people.

Seline was walking along the deck she told him late in the afternoon, she claimed the Raegreenian salted air lifted the skin and made it look more youthful. A folly claim he thought, but after studying on people with purple skin and green hair, whom carved and shaped an entire continent to their liking, the notion of their salted air was not so folly after all.

He dressed in his black velvet doublet with a ruby broche shaped in the Brouben Sigille, a burning flame. His hair was combed and untangled by one of Seline's handmaidens, he was oiled and shaved and looked like the king he lived up to be.

Seline took longer than he had; she was bathed, shaved, scrubbed, oiled and perfumed. That was only her body.

Her garment was an off-shouldered red gown, with embroidered black flames meeting each other in at her waist. Over the gown she wore deep red chains that went across her shoulders and met at her breasts and wrapped at the waist. Her golden hair braided and wrapped like a bun atop her head with a few curling strands running down her neck. As beautiful as she looked, Adrien could not see the beyond her hateful character. She vexed him many times during their voyage. She took great pleasure in angering him, but a great king takes no business in the affairs of his queen. Her only duty in this world is for her to bare me an heir that was all. Whether he loved her or not, that was not his concern.

The ship docked in the biggest port in Omen, the Bay of Green. It seemed so big to Adrien, it was as if he was in an entire ocean.

A carriage with white stallions greeted them at port; they were bigger than any he had ever seen. He and his queen rode a white carriage that seemed to have been made from a material foreign to Adrien's eyes…marble perhaps? It was cool to the touch yet moved as light as Oakwood. The cushions were a shade of cream with pearls decoration the inside of the carriage. He looked outside the open panel where the warm summer's air blew across his face. The people gathered outside the streets to look at the king of Fireagon as they made their way through the streets of the city of Pelysium. He looked closely for the purple-skinned people yet found none. Now, he had high hopes to meet them in the palace.

They descended upon the palace of Emperor Zessus and the carriage made a halt. The palace was pale to the sight. A square in shape with giant cream-colored pillars in the circumference and the roof massive and prism shaped. On the two pillars that stood in front of the gates supported two statues of Emperor Zessus. One of them was of him muscular and tall with a leaf crown on his head and a thunderbolt in his fist and the other of him sitting proudly on his throne.

A fat man stood as Adrien and Seline stepped down from the carriage. As they came closer to him, he saw that the man had yellow hair and a green beard with robes that seemed to behold every color that ever existed. He smelled of perfumes, almost as Seline did.

The fat man bowed and stroked his green-dyed beard. "Pelysium is made brighter by your arrival, your grace."

Adrien nodded as Seline stood behind him.

"You are looking ravishing as always, I'm sure, Lady Seline."

"I'm charmed, dear sir." She said curtly.

"I am Lero Maylabathos, the emperor's treasurer and garment designer." His breathe smelled of wine, "I hope your voyage was pleasant?"

"Yes, very much." Adrien replied. He looked behind him and found Seline looking at the palace with astonishment.

"I presume the little prince and princess aren't accompanying you, your grace?"

"The prince will rule in my stead, it's about time her learnt a thing or two about ruling."

Lero nodded in approval.

They were led across the throne room and into a massive court that turned out to be a balcony. Its round shape sculpted ever so delicately with large trees with white leaves surrounding the circumference. Lero came at a stop right at the entrance where the emperor sat on his long couch of green velvet with a grand table filled with wines of red and gold with different cheeses all across. The emperor gave them his arched back with his white hair curling at his ears showing hints of green. Lero walked to Zessus and bowed and introduced Adrien and Seline. He signaled them to come forth.

Adrien saw Zessus in all his finery. A grey man with an arched back, sipping goblets wine and eating the cheeses laid in front of him. He noticed then, that a maid was feeding Zessus; she looked no younger than fourteen.

"Welcome to Raegreen your grace. To what do I owe the pleasure?" The emperor said in a feeble tone.

Adrien now noticed that the emperor was not looking directly at them, but above them, the man is blind.

"The pleasure would be mine, emperor." Adrien said back.

"Your city is most beautiful, Emperor Zessus." Seline added.

"Ah, you must be the beautiful Lady Seline, I was told. I was glad to have gotten word from Fireagon for it has been more than twenty years since I've had a single letter. Now…after twenty years of disappearance, your business here must come from extreme importance…what is it you need, dear boy?" Zessus said slowly and not unkindly.

"Do not trouble yourself, we bring nothing but good fortune. The Fireagonian and Raegreenian alliance is a great and old one, our visit here is to merely solidify this alliance, emperor." Adrien said as he looked closely at his eyes. Zessus took a sigh, the maid brought the goblet to his lips and he drank and then bit into a slice of cheese.

"Indeed. An alliance forged by your good father. A good man he was. Loyal. Strong. I am forced to admit I do not know what you are like, dear boy, only do I hope you are as wise as your good man… if it is the continuation of our allegiance you seek…it is not changed. Raegreen stood, stands and will stand with Fireagon, always."

Adrien looked at Seline and she had a hint of a smile on her face.

"I thank you emperor for your kind words. However, our journey here is not to just solidify our continents through words…" Adrien continued.

Zessus looked confused and squinted his eyes at the ceilings above.

"My heir, Carter is a man grown, he is to be betrothed to a maid by now, a daughter of yours would seal our continents through marriage."

"Done." Zessus took no time to think. "You can choose out of the nine, but only my youngest two meet his age group."

"We shall choose rightly, emperor, many thanks."

Zessus nodded. "As our honored guests, you shall share my feasts, pick any wing of my palace you desire and I shall give you maids to serve you day and night." He concluded.

"A grand gesture, emperor, as the Raegreenians always were."

Lero stepped in and bowed slightly, "Emperor, the king and queen traveled too far and too long, they would want to change and rest I would imagine…is permission granted?" He said softly.

Zessus nodded and went back to his wine and cheese.

In Fireagon, Adrien would never wait for any ones permission to leave a room, however the Raegreenian alliance was imperative for them and so he would comply by the traditions in this foreign land.

Adrien and Seline were taken all the way to the right wing of the palace where the walls were completely covered with leaves. As they walked, the courtyard beneath was filled with lords and ladies making their ways across. A slender female singer with pink hair stood naked and her voice echoed throughout the entire palace, sweet and seductive Adrien thought of it, yet he could not tell the language of which she was singing.

The white marbled double doors opened in one smooth push of Lero's fat arms and it was then and only then that Adrien recognized how rich and luxurious the Raegreenians lived in comparison to the Firagonians. The room shone from its immaculate decorations of whites, jade, emeralds and cool green velvets that were laid all across the chambers. Seline was taken aback as he took a quick glance at her, Lero spread his arms and his colorful sleeves hung down like two massive flags, "Your bedchambers your grace."

His eyes widened, "you mean to tell me that this enormous room is just the bedchambers, Lord Lero?"

The fat man laughed aloud and scratched his dyed beard. "Why, king Adrien, this is but the tip of the iceberg! Our great emperor will offer much more to such honored guests! Come I'll show you! "

Lero took them through a swift stroll across the bedchambers, then opened up another set of doubled doors that were imbedded onto the walls in front of the feather bed, Adrien could not have spotted those doors if his life depended on it.

Once they opened they walked into a sitting room with couches of green velvets embroidered with golden threads and an open terrace that overlooked the entire grounds. Nine maids in white togas with skin gleaming lavender skin, some with lime-green hair and others with rich green that matched the emeralds. He could see three of the maids had white eyes with no pupils, four with dark crimson eyes and the other two looked at him with eyes of honey-yellow. Those are the nine daughters of the emperor. They sat on the couches seductively, elegantly and strikingly, the strangest yet most beautiful women he had ever laid eyes on… he dared not show this in front of his lady.

Lero stepped forward with steps as smooth as silk and once again spread his arms; the nine maids were covered from the size of his sleeves.

"Your grace, I present to you the nine daughters of our emperor Zessus." He began, "This one right here is Clia, the eldest of the nine. Right beside her is Mela, the second eldest, then we have the beautiful Tera and Euna, the twins." Adrien now noticed why they both beheld the honeyed eyes.

"After the twins, we have Caela and Erae…only 11 months apart." Lero giggled, "Polaea came after, then came the sweet voice of Erae. Here is Uraea and the youngest of the nine, our sweetling, Thalia." Lero clapped his hands together as he concluded.

Seline shifted slightly as she stood across the doubled doors, "Such lovely maids I see… unlike any others…"

Adrien wanted to agree so badly yet he knew he must hold his tongue.

"I would presume Uraea is the age of my son, is she not?" Seline looked over at the smiling Lero.

"Why yes my lady, and Thalia is of a two year age difference from the prince."

Seline nodded and stepped closer towards the silent maids, who did not speak a word, only look upon Adrien and then look at each other and smile as if they spoke telepathically.

Seline had made her duty to take control of the choosing of the maid and so she stood center and straightened her back and her chin in attempts to intimidate the daughters.

Crimson, honey-yellow and white eyes looked at her though it was not intimidated eyes it was eyes of strength…

Adrien stepped in and stood in front of his lady, "we are pleasured to make your acquaintances, ladies..."

The nine only smiled and looked at one another yet again.

"I wish to know more of them—

"The emperor has organized a dinner for our honored guests tonight… he will give further details on the nine then." Lero interrupted.

Seline nodded and looked back at the maids.

The eldest daughter, Clia looked back at Seline with white almond shaped eyes, and due to the lack of pupils, it was hard to tell how she was looking at Seline, but Adrien knew it was likely a look of agitation as this was how most people felt after meeting Seline for the first time.

Lero clapped his hands and lead Adrien and Seline though the terrace, then to the wine room where the seating was on the floor with tens of silvers jugs of many colored wines. The pillows were spread out elegantly with feathered fans and an open ceiling that looked up at the slowly moving sun. Soon after they were lead through the entire apartments of the right wing and Lero gave the maids their tasks, as how they shall serve the guests.

As the sun was setting, the sky turned a shade pink and purple amongst a sea of orange.

The maids dressed Adrien in a red velvet doublet with black embroidery on the sleeves. Seline was taken to the clothing rooms that were three doors down from the bedchambers to be dressed by an entire team of maids and was told that Lero had been working on a gown for her since the news of their visit was sent out.

Adrien's maids did not look at him in the eyes nor touched him in any way inappropriate, yet it was customary for the maids to dress the emperor and so Adrien and Seline both abided the traditions as a sign of respect.

He took a closer glimpse at one of the maids that possessed a slender body and pastel-pink hair. He immediately recognized her from the courtyard.

"Are you the girl that was singing today?" He asked sternly, trying not to show too much interest.

"Yes my king, it was I." She answered back softly.

She was much shorter than he was; he looked closely at her face as she laced his breeches. Soft, pale, and innocent features he noticed, much like Seline when she was younger.

"What is your name?" He asked.

Her dark eyes darted left and right and inhaled quietly. She was uncomfortable.

"You alright? Did you not hear well?" He said.

"N-no, my king, I heard. But it is not customary for the emper-king to speak to the maids…" She said shyly.

To hell with the customs!

He could sense the other maids looking at her as they began to bring the scented oils.

"Well… in any case, you sang very well today… I quite enjoyed it." He cleared his throat and looked straight ahead.

"I offer my thanks for I am deeply flattered, my king." She gave a hint of smile yet did not look up at him.

He was oiled and perfumed and fully clothed and was ready to make his way to the dining hall.

The signing maid and one of the others lead him across the palace. They were in togas yet not as fine as the ones the nine daughters wore. He could catch a few glimpses of their pale breasts as they moved and he was deeply in awe of the pink-haired maid's figure.

They descended upon jaded doubled doors and the other maid gave a loud knock with her fists and the doors opened momentarily.

The two maids went in first and bowed to the already seated emperor and then they introduced Adrien.

As he went through the doubled doors the two maids stepped out and the singer stood and looked into his eyes with a seductive smile,

"Vladora… my name is Vladora."