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[size12 The door to the council chambers stood grand and intimidating. Lined with ornately carved stone and lightly gilded, it was the image of all that was powerful in the kingdom of Arlington. Though she had been here many times before to both discuss practical applications of her arcane sciences in the kingdom and her role as a consultant for anything common observance couldn't explain, there was hesitation in stepping through those doors every time. As something of a court "magician", she often resented the constant beck and call she was placed in, but she always gritted her teeth and bored it. After all, wasn't struggle the key to advancement. ]
[size12 Essinia knew that before her was the true power behind the throne, although the throne did sit on the council as well. The throne carried a power that she deeply desired, but less for the ability to rule. She felt that the kingdom needed change to see them through the coming ages of turmoil she foresaw. And they would need to restructure themselves in order to survive. Who better to do so than to entrust that power with the holder of these visions that plagued her so?]
[size12 She, however, did neglect to address this plan with her dearest friend and heir apparent to the throne, River. She knew the girl wouldn't accept the news all too well, given her suggestion was essentially deposing the royal family in favor of a different set up. Monarchy was the tradition of the country for centuries, but it was time it would have to end. And Essinia knew that. ]
[size12 As she stepped through the council doors, she took in the familiar sight. It felt much like the royal courtroom, and was set up rather similarly. Seven seats rested at the back of the room, raised up far above all remaining space. At the center was a replica of the seat that formed the centerpiece of the throne room, a seat for the king himself. Her footsteps echoed upon the marble floors and she found herself feeling more and more nervous as she approached the dais, walking amid the ropes what separated presenting parties from invited galleries. Though today, it seemed there would be no galleries to view the proceedings, which gave way to a greater sense of unease. Aside from the council, every seat remained empty.]
[size12 She ran through her mentally committed proposal as she approached. It wasn't radical, but suggested a gradual removal of the system of monarchy was a deep proposal, not to mention the information she suggested she had access to. It had been less than a week since her draft had been presented to the council, and there was already a hearing for it. ]
[size12 At the foot of the dais, she knelt, head bowed low and eyes lowered. [b "Good morning, your majesty, and good morning council leaders. I deeply appreciate the time taken to listen to my proposal among all pressing matters."] She looked up to the nod of the king allowing her to rise to her feet. [b "If I may, I would like to..."] ]
[size12 Before she could continue, she was interrupted by the king's voice. [b [+red "We, on the council, have deliberated your...proposition, and while it is admirable, we have since decided to decline and move forward with other business."] ] ]
[size12 Essinia's eyes widened in surprise. Rejected outright? That was impossible! Usually, all matters were deliberated with the involved parties, one of which was her. But to be outright declined without much of a chance to present her case? That was unheard of. ]
[size12 [b "Your majesty, with all due respect, I..."] She held her tongue as the king rose his hand in silence.]
[size12 [b [+red "Your concerns are admirable, but without substantial or tangible evidence to support your...[i visions], the council is left with no choice but to instead decline any suggestions for how the kingdom should reform itself. There is no place in the council for superstition and witchcraft."] ] ]
[size12 The last words stung. She knew that she and the king did not always see eye to eye regarding her craft and her contributions to the kingdom, but she had at least hoped others on the council would be amenable to her proposal, but as she came across all of there faces, she could see naught but contempt for her presence at the moment. Was her suggestion so reprehensible to garner unanimous dissent so fast? She even glanced to councilwoman Ammaritia, cousin to her late mother the court diviner Diyana Artemisia, and saw a distant look on her face where once there had been sympathy. What had changed? ]
[size12 [b "But..."] ]
[size12 [b [+red "You are dismissed, Lady Artemisia, as we must proceed with more pressing matters regarding my fair daughters confirmation voyage. I trust you are still able to provide your talents as Listener for the ritual?"] ] ]
[size12 Essinia nodded in defeat. [b "Yes, your majesty."] She bowed in thanks and turned toward the doors. As she approached them, River entered. She nodded to her longtime friend and exited behind her without a word.]
There was nothing more that River loved than her kingdom. Not the way that the sun looked as it rose over the quivering horizon, mounting itself into the azure colored sky; Or the way her favorite family of ducks regularly woke her before the rest of the residents in the castle, just before the sunrise, so she could watch them swim across the lake before the rest of the kingdom began their chores. All of these things paled in comparison to her passion for Arlington itself, and that is what she found herself thinking of as she readied for the day.
The young woman knew exactly how the morning would play out. She would dress, followed by breakfast with the King and Queen, and by lunch they would tend to meetings with the villagers that addressed several problems around their small kingdom. By the end of the evening, the three would dine together- possibly with Essinia, so long as the King didnt mind- and they would all go their separate ways for the night. As River ran her fingers through her chestnut colored mane, she realized that it was quite possible her love for Arlington even rivaled the love she had for her own parents.
Listening to the bustling of the servants in the hallway, River twisted her hair into a tight plait that rested gently against her back as a knock sounded on her chamber doors. The knock itself was unusual, but when she considered the time, it was even more peculiar. Father never sends summons before weve had breakfast...
'Enter.' The large oak door opened slowly, and a male figure emerged from behind it, carrying a letter on a silver platter. The man said nothing as River lifted the parchment and began reading, scanning her eyes across the sharp writing that had become so familiar to her.
Immediate council meeting before breakfast, you will join us.
A heavy feeling sat in her stomach as she closed the note, returning it to the servants tray absentmindedly. The last time I was summoned to a council meeting, it was for father to make an example out of a woman who dared to admit she wanted to commit treason. I wonder why he wants me now. The thought alone made River want to run off towards the lake and far, far away from the council members. The poor woman was sentenced to death, so what would today bring? The memory of her cries still haunted River in her dreams sometimes, and this meeting would likely be just as bad.
With a final glance into the mirror, the future heir of Arlington tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and began her descent down the grand marble stair case only a few feet from her private quarters. Rivers last thought before reaching the final step was, Perhaps I'll get to go on a voyage of some sort. Father never lets me do those kinds of things...
[size12 Essinia breathed a sigh of relief as she held the mirror to her face. She had succeeded in cleansing the black pallor from her hair and returning it to its natural pale state. It was an interesting experiment, but not in her realm of favorites. She was more interested in medicinal and practical magicks and sciences, not really that of glamour and beauty. But as she had surmised from her brief research on the subject, an ingestible concoction was a much more viable route for immediate and invigorating change of all the body's hair, even if the taste would make the very gods themselves upend into their realm. The application of glamour-based concoctions did sound pretty feasible, though. She'd have to consider that in apothecary studies. ]
[size12 That brief assignment aside, Essinia turned back to her book which lay on a stand in the center of her work room. She wrote down her brief notes on the subject at hand and set down the mirror on a nearby table. It was then when the glint of sun reflected into her eyes that she realized that it was late afternoon. Had morning already gone? Had she really spent more than a few hours on such a trivial subject?]
[size12 She ventured to the window and sat at the sill, glancing from her low spot on the tower. Outside, she could see her view of the rest of the grounds, and it always managed to take her breath away. She wanted little more than to see all of it from the best vantage point in the kingdom, the royal solarium. But despite even her rank as the court "magician", though she loathed the term, she had only been there once when summoned, and even her best friend couldn't get her in as she desired.]
[size12 And so, Essinia had to content herself with this view.]
[size12 As if by chance, she heard a chime from her mirror and its tone gave her cause to freeze. It was a council summons, that much she knew, but it was her earlier petition that made her anxious.]
[size12 Her petition for the throne.]
[size12 It wasn't a half-baked petition as far as Essinia was concerned. She had carefully put it together after months of research on the familial lineage and she had a few theories regarding what would or should happen. It was less a go for the throne and more a proposal of a new system of ruling. The time of the monarchy was meant to end, and she wanted to help usher in a new era.]
[size12 And with that, she stood, swept her long, pale hair over he shoulder, and began her descent.]
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