“Your Majesty!” The tremor in the call weighed heavily against Lyra, drying her throat as she tore her gaze from a parchment to look up to the latest intruder. “Your Majesty!”He was a soldier with a fellow countryman leaning upon his shoulder; as they wobbled closer to the throne Lyra saw that the leaning soldier was wounded. Could it be an emergency with regards to the…rebellion? One of the many wars that her father waged? A wild dragon? The possibilities are endless.

“No need to bow now; pray tell what wind brought you thus?” She reminded herself to put aside sympathy and resume the impatient disposition according to her disguise as the missing Emperor.

The injured soldier showed gratitude nonetheless, “Your Majesty…for we were merely looking for the root of the rebellion…their leader…when we went to the village where General Shalot lived…The battalion was successful in…eliminating the target and his accomplice…but on our return…” — He was caught in fit of coughing, while his companion watched with more consternation than concern — “Oh, horror, horror…we were…ambushed by an angel…oh…an angel…”

Lyra cannot help but interrupt the narrative, “Are you the sole survivor of your regiment?”

“Aye, Your Majesty.”

“What is your name?”

To her amazement, a look of horror overcame both soldiers’ facade, before the wounded man fell to the ground, groveling more to fear than pain, “Please…forgive your…lowly servant, Your Majesty, your lowly servant had not abandoned his post…he would not dare…”

Lyra scoffed, “Get up, you are dirtying the carpet.”

“Your Majesty…please…I have yet to meet…my wife is with child…”

“You fool,” She gestured for the head servant. “Ara.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“Call for Athlem,” for that was the court physician. “Tend to this man.”

“Your will be done, Your Majesty.”

As the injured man was carried off the scene, his companion was tempted to follow suit.

“You stay: I have a small inquiry for you.”

And his face went paler still, “…Yes, Your Majesty.”

“When and where did you find this man?”

“I…Your lowly servant was merely guarding the post an hour ago when he stumbled towards the gate…he said…he was clearly not conscious of his words.”

“Pray tell.”

“He said, ‘The Angel of Death’ sent him here.”

“…” Lyra thought a little, for the title was not unfamiliar: could the so-called ‘Angel of Death,’ the champion of the rebels share the mind of a housecat who plays with an unfortunate sparrow, leaves it half dead, and presents it like a trophy by breaking the barriers the Empire’s finest sorcerers had stationed about the palace? That means the cat’s claws are to be reckoned with. “You’ve done well. Return to your post.”

“My life’s thanks, Your Majesty,” The watchman left after a low bow.

She was pondering on the conditions of the rebellion when Horatio and Lord Claud the Priest entered. She braced herself for another lecture.

“Your Majesty, if we can beg for some of your time,” Oh no, Horatio begged.

Lyra dismissed the guards and servants, and the second the doors swung shut, Claud began, “The rebellion is a lot more severe than we dared to believe. Even the Elite Guards faced defeat.”

Horatio continued, “It has become quite obvious that a…forceful confrontation is unavoidable for they had slaughtered our previous messenger.”

As always, Claud was impatient in flaunting his foresight, “That had been my opinion since the beginning, Lord Horatio” — Lyra raised an eyebrow at the emission of addressing her altogether — “Those rebels are allergic to sense…”

As always, Lyra was impatient in shutting this man up, “You know,” Lyra thought aloud. “I do not understand why we bother: why not stage an assassination, be rid of ‘my father’ for good then all of you could be freed from upholding this lie? Appease the rebels…everyone can be happy. You don’t even have to fear their retribution if you are the ones to work with them on getting rid of me. Or, is that already underway?”

“Your Majesty, how can you speak with so little trust — ” Horatio began.

“– Your frail, feminine mind does not allow you to understand the extend of your idiocy,” ah, she had done it again: the priest went ballistic. “The rebels loathes the present order, and desires nothing but chaos! Not only do you fail your part, your narrow thoughts only plan to avoid all responsibilities.”

Yes, here’s the priest with his attempt at giving a piercing analysis of her character, “So you think you know how to become a monster?” Lyra sprang up from the throne, sickened by it all. “Have you ever dreamt of finding the need to pretend to be the murderer of your mother, uncles, aunt, cousin and only friend? ‘Present order’? There is no order in such outdated ideals, if so many are so displeased with it!”

At this point, death was fairly appealing to Horatio, “Princess Lyra, please don’t mind him…Lord Claud, you are being quite blasphemous –”

“– Blasphemy can only be committed against the divine, and this foolish girl cannot be further from it with her tongue tainted with rebel’s speech lest she is the devil itself.”

“Ha,” Lyra knew not how the words tumbled. “You hang on my father’s heels as though your life depends on it, and still don’t know he is the devil.”

“Lyra…” Horatio tried.

“Insolence!” Claud cried.

Tedious, old fool…she spat, “Very well, this insolent, frail, feminine mind is the only instrument for the survival of your beloved ‘present order.’ Watch your own insolence since this narrow mind of mine is not allergic to reason and has no space for your foolishness,” Lyra strode off, threw the doors open with such force that warranted the court to keep their distances, and left Horatio fighting the urge to stab the clueless Priest and then himself knowing that he has to somehow summon the wisdom to comfort a poor abused soul.


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