Written to rix_scaedu‘s commission.
The armorer wasn’t entirely copacetic about giving Chress a knife, but Arisse was still Crown Princess, and there was little the woman could do except voice her concerns.
She did that in at least three different languages and seventeen different turns of phrase, but when Chress tested the weight on the dagger and found it the best he’d ever held, she seemed at least a little mollified.
“You shouldn’t be running errands, you know, Princess.” The armorer shook her head. “You’re Crown Princess, remember.”
“I remember.” It was surprisingly hard to forget it. She’d lost siblings to get that title. Arisse smiled brightly at the armorer and tried not to think about funerals. “I was concerned he might get lost – or fall down a set of stairs and break his neck. Accidentally.”
The armorer winced. “Accidentally. Right. Clear skies, your Highness.”
“Sharp blades.” She caught Chress eyeing her thoughtfully as they left, but he said nothing until they were alone in the hallway.
“If I… ‘fell and broke my neck,’ all your problems would be solved.”
She snorted in a very un-princessly manner. “My problems would barely be touched by you being hustled off the living plane.”
“Hunh.” He kept walking, although his pace was growing considerably slower.
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
He snorted just as inelegantly as she had. “My enemy’s Princess will only be mildly inconvenienced by my death. I have failed as a warrior.”
“Are we?” She looked him up and down again. “We, Kuresh? I did not think we had issues with Iorjania.”
“I’m not from Iorjania.” Chress smirked; it couldn’t have been the first time he’d heard that assumption.
Arisse raised her eyebrows. “You look Iorjanian. You sound Iorjanian.”
“Common misconception. Iorjania spends a lot of time trying to conquer Ovainesc.” Chress twitched his shoulders.
“…Ah.” And Kuresh had a treaty with Iorjania against several small nations, including Ovainesc.
“You thought I was Iorjanian, and didn’t wonder how your father had gotten me in chains?” He paused to look at her. She did him the courtesy of ignoring how he was leaning against the wall for support.
“You could have been Kureshi and I wouldn’t have been surprised. Slaves come from all over; all you have to do is irritate the wrong judge and you find yourself bending knee or bending over a headsman’s block.”
“Hunh. We don’t do that in Ovainesc.” He twitched his shoulders again. “Did your father build this castle as some sort of torture device?”
Arisse snorted. “My mother’s great-great-great grandmother built it. Every generation since has built on. We Kureshi like to accumulate family. For a definition of ‘family.’“
“‘Family?’“ Chress forced himself back to his feet with obvious effort. “People like that lady who’s not fucking the king? Or the one who split his pants?”
It was Arisse’s turn to shrug. She certainly wouldn’t call Dame Sessaly kin, not given any choice in the matter, and Sir Nateron… he was a story all of his own. “Some of the courtiers here are people my mother brought in, or her parents. Some of them… the King brought in.”
Chress walked a few steps, his expression thoughtful. “Sounds to me, Princess, like you need to bring in your own family.”
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