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Sovereign of the Dragon (Part 4)
by J.J. Massa

"Why did you do that?" Nadya growled the moment Tikan rounded the corner of their little encampment.

Tikan, shocked to the bone that she was even capable of such an angry tone of voice, could do nothing more than stand and gape at her.

His dragon, however, was in no way supportive or sympathetic. "I must depart, youngling. Good luck to you." Tikan whipped around, attempting to stop the old lizard from deserting him.

Nadya stomped closer to him, hands on her hips and frowning angrily. "You had me…" she waved a hand vaguely, "put to sleep or something! I just found out that you talked to my uncle. You talked to my uncle, whom I have never seen or heard, and I got put to bed." Her eyes narrowed to slits, reminding him uncomfortably of their dragons. "I want an explanation and I want it now!" With her words, a curl of flame wrapped around the two of them, flaring once before it disappeared. Shock widened her eyes. "Wha-what was that?" she croaked.

Immediately, Tikan stepped forward, taking Nadya into his arms in a brief hug. "You are the Sovereign, my darling --the heart and crown of the dragon. When you issue an edict…you have a dragon's power behind you." He stepped back and held out a hand to Nadya. "Will you sit with me and let us talk about it?"

For a moment, she looked mutinous, and Tikan wondered if she would forgive him at all. He nearly sighed his relief aloud when she reached toward him, accepting his hand.

Helping her as she stumbled over a large, water-worn tree branch, they were both soon seated and facing one another at a little table conjured up by Ram.

"I’m sorry, Ram," Nadya said quietly. "I don't think we have any candy just now."

The brownie dipped in something like a curtsy. "Ram is honored, young princess. So honored." Before another word could be spoken, he disappeared, leaving the couple with only the other to distract them.

Taking the initiative, Tikan jumped right in. "I apologize, my darling, but I did what I felt I should. Your uncle, His Majesty, Dragon Regent George Edward, needed to know things you couldn't tell him and in a way that you…"

"That I couldn't do?" she interrupted in a quiet voice. Tikan nodded reluctantly. Nadya folded her hands on the completely incongruous table  that Ram had situated on a flat rock overlooking the fitful surf. "Why don't you tell me what you did and why I can't do it?"

Her anger at him had faded, leaving a shadow of hurt and disappointment behind. Tikan couldn't say which was worse, only that he would do almost anything to bring a smile to her face once again.

"It is a way that only advisors can use to contact their sovereign." She opened her mouth to speak, perhaps to object that she, too, was an advisor, and then she signaled him to continue. "You are my sovereign--my beloved, too, of course," he said, grinning at the truth of it. "But your uncle will always be the king that I recognize. It has to do with how I grew up. There is no King save George Edward, and no queen at all since Anna Elisabeth cannot be saved," he recited. "That was something I was taught in the cradle, and grew up learning, knowing, and feeling my whole life. My father has a picture of His Highness in his study. There are others in the house, but it became something of an unofficial no-no, however, to display them openly after he stepped down and your mother…" he shifted uncomfortably. "I don't really know what happened…nobody does."

Nadya nodded solemnly. "I hope my uncle can help me find out." After a pause, she asked, "Are you saying that, since I am this Sovereign of the Dragon, I am not actually an advisor?"

"Not exactly. You've got all the power, and maybe more, of any advisor, but you're also the ruler of rulers…I couldn't take a chance. With you awake, he would be unreachable for my magic."

Pinning him with her vibrant blue gaze, she seemed to be inspecting his very being. "Don't do it again," she ordered him finally.

"I promise," he agreed quickly, nearly wilting with relief. There would be more questions, more conflicts, but this one was safely behind them.

~~~

"Verbs, nouns, full sentences, now!" Lionel growled. "Explain!"

Exhausted from head to toe, Rupert sighed, turning toward the door. "Not in my bedroom," he demurred mildly. "I need tea."

He could hear the grumbling of the foursome left behind. If they wanted to know anything, they'd have to follow him. He was more than a little disgruntled to find himself king once again, and worried about the fallout. He couldn’t fault Tikan York's reasoning. Still, the boy was young and everything was black and white at that age.

Rupert was certain that the teenager hadn't considered all of the repercussions of his actions. "If only they knew as much as they believe they do at that age…"

"What happened, Jefe?" Antonio asked soberly as he, Grace, and Ally entered the kitchen.

Lionel chose to lounge in the doorway, not speaking, simply brooding. He had a flashfire temper, but when frightened, he tended to nurse his anger.

Keepign his back to his friends, Rupert continued to prepare a pot of tea, carefully screening his thoughts of all trappings the monarchy brought with it--such as sevants.

"You were there. You saw," he shot back waspishly. "Just wait a moment, won't you?"

The shuffling scrape of chairs moving told him that at least some of his audience had seated themselves. The rattle of crockery behind him meant that at least one of them, probably Ally, was setting out tea cups in  an effort to help him.

"If you’re a king, why don't  you get someone else to do this for you?" Lionel sneered. Rupert started at him for long moments, until the younger man began to fidget and finally dropped his gaze. "Sorry," Lionel muttered after a long, drawn out pause.

"I am king," Rupert said slowly, enunciating every word carefully, "because my sister has been comatose for fourteen years, my heretofore unknown niece is in grave danger, and her teenage boyfriend needed an authority figure he knew he could trust. Is that quite all right with you?" He paused, anger at the gravity and overwhelming injustice of the situation swamping him like  a rising tidal wave. "Is that quite. All. Right. With. You…Mate?" he snarled, jerking away from his table-full of friends.

Before he could make it to the door, Lionel had a large hand on his shoulder. "I’m sorry, prof. Really, really sorry. I--that whole thing scared me." When Rupert stubbornly remained unmoving, Lionel threatened in a singsong voice, "Better come stop me. I'm gonna put all the sugar in all the tea."

Alarm propelled Rupert back into the room to snatch up the teapot before anyone could make a single move. The entire room remained a frozen tableau for long moments.

It was Lionel's snickering that broke the scene. "Man, I can't believe you thought I'd really do that. Your face!" he laughed. "You shoulda seen your face!"

The rest of the crew joined in the laughter and Rupert relaxed, releasing his own anger, and chuckling along with the rest of them. They would have this conversation, but it didn’t have to be so angry and charged. He would be fine…with a bit of help from his friends.

March 28, 2012

 

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