Chronicles of Ennea: Book 6
Chapter one- Volume 6:
The twins, Burton and Edward, are born to Claire and Pem. Tess and Royard have Fitz. The three babies are inseparable. Pem, as King of Lunaria, supports programs that help the population, while the Council plot to gain complete control over the economy. Claire, with the aid of a local Magister, begins to set up schools based on merit, not privilege. First Councilor Torvall Garrund, spurred by the influence of Dark Sage Jallis Ruffin, sends out a warrant to arrest Queen Claire for treason. With Gilbert’s help, Pem and Claire, Tess and Royard, flee with their three babies.
Chapter 1: Home!
My birth mother insisted that my real name is Claire Ellen Fisher. That’s a lie; I’m a Miller. Just because my father was lost in Iraq doesn’t mean she was entitled to force her maiden name on me and abandon my father’s memory. By a quirk of fate, I am also known as Queen Claire of Lunaria. It’s a long story and I was very young when this began. I begin to think it was all a dream.
They say that home is where the heart is. When I first walked with Pem into Lunaria, I thought of Ridgeville, Texas as my real home. After a while I thought of Greyhaven in southern Lunaria as my real home and Astora Garrund, Gilbert’s widowed daughter, as a surrogate parent, and now, as a married woman about to produce children, I think of the Palace in Lumminea as the place where Pemburton Windover, my husband and King, will build our more-or-less permanent nest. I expect to spend the rest of my days thinking of this as my real home.
After losing my father, my much-missed Grandmother Miller seemed to take over my education from my mother, who didn’t seem much interested in me. As I remember it, Grandmother prepared me for most everything in my life—even this displacement. My story can be confusing, so I mostly don’t talk about myself. Except for a few strange talents and prodigious good fortune in marrying Pem, I prefer to think of myself as a rather ordinary person.
Although I am married to the King, I remain a Lady of the Realm. Everything I personally own or control is near the capitol. My personal property, my estate vineyards, are close at hand where I can keep watch over my vintner who so far has done an excellent job. In keeping with tradition and fortunate coincidence, I sell a great deal of my finest wines to the Royal Cellars which are overseen by my father-in-law and former Regent, Edward Godwyn. I’ve added fields of flowers that sell in their season in the capitol at a good profit. None of this would be possible without my Lady companion, Tess of Tribana, who handles my accounts and helps Gilbert keep a close eye on the Royal treasury. Everything else belongs to the King, which is to say, the State. Even the gold ring on my finger belongs to the State. Life is good, if complicated.
When I say that life is good, in large part I am talking about my friendship with Gilbert Greybaird, widely known as Lord Greybaird of Greyhaven, who has been my staunch friend since my second day in Lunaria. Among other things, as a close friend to the Regent and prior Queen, he raised Pem in lieu of Pem’s father, Edward. Pem’s mother, Queen Rachael, was killed leading troopers against a border raid, and her consort, Edward Godwyn, as the actual Regent, drank too much and seemed generally too unreliable to raise the future heir of the nation. Knowing Edward as I do, I doubt that was more than a convenient façade which allowed both men to keep an eye on the Great Council. There’s a lot of unproven palace gossip about Gilbert’s relationship with the Queen. I really don’t care. My cultural background in Texas, as exemplified by my Grandmother, was quite liberal on these points. I’d have to say that Gilbert did a credible job of raising my husband. Pem is generous by nature, kind towards women—though occasionally too friendly in my way of thinking—and dedicated to the future of his people. I’d also say he is inclined to be charmingly naïve, stubborn, and apt to take what people tell him at face value if it pleases him. Also, he is inclined to listen to my proposed populist ideas.
As Gilbert so often reminds me as our official Privy Counselor, that is where my job begins. I seem to have lots of jobs.
Mags pretends to be my faithful maid. She may be admirably attentive to my needs—at least those she considers needs and not whims—but she is anything but a maid. While she may perform these duties, she is actually a transplant from Gilbert’s security services, one of his palace operatives who form the backbone of his network. I rely on her more as my friend and confidant than someone who takes care of my appointments and folds my clothes. She has set out to find me the perfect Nanny for my upcoming change in situation. She also keeps a seamstress occupied letting out my gowns and making me look less like a hippopotamus and more like a Queen worthy to stand by the King.
Pem, to my delight, has taken into employ a personal aid—someone to see about his clothes, his grooming, and other details of a man’s life that he desires to keep separate from me, his wife. It is strange to me, but I accept the choice as part of the way men are brought up in this society.
Egan is a slender, dapper man, dark hair parted in the middle with a few gray threads, and always neatly dressed, much like a male equivalent of my Mags, though I don’t think he is as smart as my assistant. His long thin nose divides his face and makes his eyes look close together and less alert, but this is an illusion for I have noticed that Egan, like Mags, sees everything.
I made an addition to my personal retinue while we were visiting with our good friends, the Ranapuis, in Ranaputkin. I received a petition from Sidra Ranapui’s daughter, Ribecah, to become a companion or Lady-in-Waiting. I accepted, even though Sidra was somewhat against it. She thought—with some justification—that she would be putting her daughter in danger being close to me.
Ribecah resembles her mother in many ways. She is fair of skin, with large, exotic green eyes, and glossy black hair pulled back and pinned up on the nape of her neck. She is slender, but not as delicate as her mother.
I had promised to look after Ribecah, and I have. One of the reasons for this decision was that I detected in Ribecah a latent talent to use the nanites that infest this world. It’s what makes my Healer’s Sight, as my friend, Sage Leandra, calls my ability to visualize the microscopic and open strange channels of communication. To others, I have been known as the Hands of the Healer. I should explain that it isn’t my ability at all to do these repair-things. The magic-like talent is nothing more than interacting with these microscopic nanites. It’s something to do with the individual’s genes. Lunarians have lost all knowledge of these things—except for a few scruffy peasant types like me who happens to come from a technologically advanced world.
My plan is to assign Ribecah to Tess who has so far refused to consider someone like Mags in her service. Tess, who normally has such remarkable clear sight, misjudges her importance to me. I know that Gilbert greatly desires the placement of someone in Tess’s household who will function as Mags does in mine. Ribecah would do nicely, though not in Mags’ role, but in the role of shared companionship and a measure of protection. Ribecah is accomplished with the sword, though not so good as Tess, and four eyes are better than two when there is your backside to consider. As Tess has pointed out to me, not even the Palace is entirely safe.