“I need to visit my parents,” Rin-Arinya-Arinyanca had declared. They had only been in the palace complex for a few days, but Girey had already learned that, much as when they were on the road, “I am going somewhere” quickly became “we are going somewhere.”
In this case, it was, at least, reasonable. They were attending Elenerja’s wedding that afternoon, already dressed for it in Callanthe finery. This was, in theory, just a brief stop.
Nothing these people did was brief, any more than anything they touched was dull-colored. They could turn dinner into a three-hour affair with the slightest provocation. The wedding was supposed to last from sundown until sun-up, with a week-long celebration afterwards. He’d asked “how do you people ever get anything done?” only to receive a cryptic “we’re very efficient” as an answer.
He followed her into her parents’ suite with more than a little trepidation. So far, people had been either nice or politely chilly, but those were family members, cousins, aunts, uncles. This was her parents. The parents of the woman whose captive he was. It was…
“Oh, you must be Arinya’s Bitrani captive.” A big hand clapped him on the shoulder. “I’ve got an ancient Bitrani artifact I want to ask you about.”
“Uh… sure, sir.” He glanced at the hand – not all that big, by Bitrani standards, but for Callanthe the man was a giant – and then at the man, who was as tall as Girey was, green-eyed, and smiling fiercely. He collected himself, with a stern mental reminder that he was a prince, not a yokel, and ought to act like it, and stood up straight. “Where to?”
“Right here, into my study.” He steered Girey firmly through the door, then shut it with a solid thud behind them. Wood doors, Girey noted, and heavy – they might have far too many heirs, but they certainly lived like royalty.
“There,” the man smiled. This room was paneled in stone, with drawers, boxes, and shelves filling every spot. “I do have an ancient Bitrani artifact – it’s a scroll – though I know you’re a soldier and not a scholar. But Irri and Rinnie are going to go off about things that, frankly, bore me and likely bore you too. So I thought I’d get you out of there.”
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