Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.
Michael quietly stood on the balcony overlooking Christine City. There was a gentle breeze, cool to the touch, and the sky was beginning to darken with clouds.
He softly smiled and turned around, going back into his well-organized room. There was a massive television built into the wall across from the bed, and there was a large walk-in closet. The dark blue carpeted floors matched the silver-blue of the walls. The ebony banisters firmly held white curtains around his bed. Other bits of furniture were scattered about the room.
Michael moved to one of the side tables and delicately lifted a porcelain tea cup to his lips, drinking his now luke-warm tea with grace. There was never any time to be lax-- meetings with foreign politicians, dealing with "republicans," keeping up with the nonsense about a rebellion to the south in Misericord. But he remained firm, dealing with it all as he had been taught-- like a monarch of Belecthoria.
Already, he could hear the starts of a pitter-patter outside, and he smiled all the more. All summer long, Belecthoria had gone without a drop of rain. It had come out of nowhere in mid-September... though it had been too late for his parents.
He pushed the memories of their deaths away and stepped into his closet, searching for the umbrella his aunt Alexia had given him for his birthday earlier that year. It had been a promise of sorts-- that one day the rain would come back. And it had.
Overall, 3082 had been a rough year-- the winter had lasted longer, the summer had been harsh, there was the smallest harvest since the Long Winter-- but it was getting better by the day. The Whitestar woman in Misericord had dealt with her rebellion, and the only protesters left in Belecthoria were extremists and anti-monarchists.
Really, though, what did they have to complain about? Like his parents before him, King Rorimac the Fourth and Queen Esmeralda the Second, he had done his best to treat his people well. The unions were strong, working standards were improving on the international level, the navy was the strongest in the world. The Belecthorians still maintained their monopoly on the tea and sugar, as well as some spices, keeping a steady and reliable source of income for the entire nation. And yet-- they were unsatisfied?
As Michael clutched the handle of his umbrella and stepped into the hall, he looked into one of the many decorative mirrors scattered throughout the Summer Palace. He was clean-shaven with well-kept, orderly dark brown hair. His leafy eyes were bright, and his beige skin was like a swan feather pillow-- soft, smooth, and ideal for a young king. He straightened his silver tie, tucking it deeper into his midnight blue suit.
The Belecthorian king turned and continued down the hall, the familiar artifacts and paintings always in the same spots-- Grandfather Gerontius's portrait next to the sword of Vilnius the Second, the Bible of the first Pope sitting on a shelf beside a vase belonging to the first Empress of Nesrin-- all normal things to him.
Turning into the next hall, Michael was met by his two closest advisors, an older woman with graying brown hair and a wiry man with thinning silver patches. Both were almost as tall as he was-- most Belecthorians tended to be giants-- and thin.
"Aunt Alexia, Cousin Phineas," Michael said, greeting them.
"Michael," the woman answered with a small smile, her dark eyes looking him up and down. "I take it that you are ready for our trip to Nesrin?"
"I am," the King answered firmly.
Alexia nodded. "Good; this is your first diplomatic mission abroad without your parents by your side. Don't screw it up."
"Back off just a bit, Alexia," Phineas said kindly. "You're too much like that grandmother or cousin or whatever she is of yours."
"She's an old toad," Alexia said sternly. "I still have grace and beauty."
"She still has gentlemen callers," he shot back. "And at her age--"
Michael cleared his throat. "I think that it's high time we moved on," he said.
"Quite right, Your Grace," Phineas said. "Right this way, sir. Your plane awaits."
Asterin Fayeward sat across the table from Michael, a cold frown neatly tucked across her faced. The Nesrin Empress was of Belecthorian descent and an extremely distant, albeit an unliked relative of his. Nicknamed "Her Paleness" by several of the nobles back home, Asterin was several inches shorter than the King. Her curled platinum locks drooped, an her blood-red lipstick made her look like a vampire after a meal.
"Asterin," Michael said quietly.
"Michael," Asterin replied coldly.
"It's been some time," he said.
"Since the funeral."
"You weren't at the funeral."
"Let's not bother with the details."
Michael sighed. "I have come here today--"
Suddenly, a phone dinged. Irritably, Michael and Asterin glared at Phineas, who was reading something on his screen. Not ten seconds later, the other smart phones in the room had each dinged, until both Asterin and Michael had pulled out their own.
Michael opened the notification from the Belecthorian Times and froze, part of himself immediately dying on the inside.
"Airports Forced to Close; Rebels Successfully Storm Palace; Coup in Procession-- Live Updates"
The phone slid out of his hand, clattering onto the table.
What the hell had happened?