Kai Linaa meets Prince Lamir Elladrin of Lucentia
A moment from book 11.
After agonizing over having nothing suitable to wear, Kai Linaa was told it was time to pay her visit to Prince Lamir. She said her worrisome goodbyes to her family, telling them to give Leraa her few possessions and unfinished portraits should she not return, kiss her mate, embraced her father, and set out for her first and possibly last journey to the palace. She asked numerous questions, all of them in a quick and successive tenor, and all of them regarding the mysterious Lucentian ruler. She asked everything, wanting to know as much intelligence as was possible in order to give her a topic of discussion with which to hold the conversation should it begin to falter, but she had not received two answers to her several buzzing inquiries when they arrived at the royal plaza. Kai Linaa had been so engrossed with posing her queries that she had missed the splendor of the grand fountain, the brilliancy of the marketplace, and the homes of the large royal family interspersed with the edges of the guilds district. She stopped in her place when the tiered balconies of the palace came into view and her stomach churned when she observed a tall, regal figure standing on the highest circle overlooking the plaza.
“Is that him?” Kai Linaa said quietly as though the prince would be able to hear her from such a great distance.
Ladrei smiled. “It is.”
She felt a tremulousness overpower her and Kai Linaa could walk no further without Ladrei urging her across the stone patterns of the plaza. She looked down briefly to observe likeness of Myrellenos beneath her feet, and though she did not believe that the matron of the elven people would grant her powers of courage, she prayed to her regardless, making a silent petition for Lamir to treat her with a mild disregard if she could choose inattention over callousness.
As they entered the palace grounds, Kai Linaa was astonished at the number of women dressed in delicate silks and golden bangles walking about the front courtyard. “Are those royals?” she quietly asked.
“Those are the palace servants.”
“There are so many of them, and they’re all dressed so well.”
“Lamir likes his women looking a certain way,” Ladrei smiled. “We are a wealthy nation and he wants everything in his home to reflect the state of his princedom.”
“Why is he still a prince and not a king?”
Ladrei shrugged. “He didn’t feel it was necessary to change his title for people to know that he is their ruler.”
They made a slow crawl through the open corridor. As they walked toward the steps leading to the balconies, Kai Linaa’s eyes darted in every direction: the quietly attentive servants, the glistening of the alabaster walls in the shafts of morning sunlight, the scent of the palms in the courtyard, the quiet whispers of passing royals, the sheen of the hanging fabrics were all her concern. The grandeur and the openness of the palace amazed her, but it was only when they climbed the steps to the grand circle that she saw a prospect truly remarkable.
There, standing at the far edge of the balcony, was Prince Lamir. He stood with his chest high, his hands held low behind his back, and his eyes toward the scene of the capital, regarding his lands with a calculating expression. His imperial bearing suggested him as the master of all his surveyed. His light eyes glowed, his long flaxen hair undulated in the delicate breeze, and his stern countenance was kept firmly north basking in the radiance of the Lucentian morning. Here was a picture of majesty, and Kai Linaa was immobilized by it. His appearance and character seemed to different from that of Alasdair’s as to make the prince seem wholly unapproachable. He looked a god more than a mere man: his perfectly combed and tied hair, his impeccable dress, and his pristine complexion gave him a numinous aura. Kai Linaa exhaled when beholding such an object of dignity and she must confess herself unprepared and ill-equipped to speak to so transcendent a creature.
Ladrei pressed Kai Linaa’s hand and gave her a moment to recollect herself. “He usually stands on the balcony at this time in the morning. He takes great pride in watching how his people thrive knowing that it was all his doing. He might look distant and have a reputation for being bad tempered, but he is a brilliant ruler. In seventy years, he managed to turn a starving and desolate people into the richest princedom on the Two Continents, much to the disappointment of Thellis and Livanon.”
Ladrei’s commendation of Lamir, though well meant, only served to make Kai Linaa more afraid of approaching him. She eyed the radiant and exemplary prince with tremendous awe. “How did he do it all by himself?” escaped from her parted lips in a weak voice.
“Why don't you ask him?” Ladrei said, gesticulating toward the untouchable ruler.
Kai Linaa gave a curt shake of the head. “I shouldn't ask something that might be common knowledge.”
“He will be happy to explain it to you.”
“He doesn’t look very happy,” Kai Linaa whimpered.
“That is just how he is. In the many years I’ve known him, I don’t think he has ever smiled,” Ladrei simpered. “He has two expressions: calm and livid. You can see that he is not angry.”
While it was true that his expression could not be mistaken for furious, she could not agree to him appearing calm. He seemed rapt in intent contemplation over matters of state. He must be to be out of court so early in the day, or perhaps, Kai Linaa pondered, he did not have a court as Alasdair did in Frewyn. They took a few steps closer and the distinction between Alasdair and Lamir became even clearer: though each was particular about his vestments, where Alasdair’s were excellent in style, Lamir’s were of only the finest quality. His white, silken chemise framed his thin waist and broad shoulders, his parted surcoat displayed his superior height, his jeweled scimitar denoted his position in rank, his golden sandals suggested that his feet should walk upon no less a finery, and the various thick-banned rings ornamenting his fingers prized the very prosperity his name projected. He appeared the embodiment of Lucentia, and Kai Linaa’s heart was seized when the godlike figure suddenly turned and looked at her. His blue eyes accorded her a penetration she had never before felt, and she knew she must turn and escape before being made to speak to one so worthy of his consequence.
Kai Linaa thought to turn away but suddenly she was moving, she was walking, and the prince was walking toward her. She sunk under her own petrifaction, and how she was before Lamir was Ladrei’s doing. He carried her forward by the hand, cradling her forearm to lift her, until the intensity of the prince’s presence compelled them to stop. Kai Linaa looked up when she was able and marked that though Lamir’s countenance was unsympathetic, his handsomeness could not be refuted. He was handsome, unfairly so: every feature faultless, skin pastel and taut, but his eyes were the article most astonishing. The clarity and unique azure of his eyes and the manner in which they inspected everything with an enforced concentration astounding her, so much so that she nearly forgot to bow when he approached. Ladrei assisted her movements, and once she recovered from her inclination, she received one of the same.
Ladrei made an introduction, which Kai Linaa had not heard through her beset state, but she suddenly found herself being obliged to speak. There was a pause and then a silence and the beginning of which she was meant to make her overture. “ . . . I am honoured to meet you, Your Highness,” she garbled, surrendering to the motions of profuse bows.
“And I you,” Lamir replied.His speech was slow but firm, his voice was placid and pleasant, his inflection was sagacious, and from three words, Kai Linaa resigned herself to his reign. Her respirations quickened and she struggled to say anything else. She pleaded with her mind to exert itself and impel her mouth to move but nothing came. Her intellect teemed with animation where her body froze. She must have gawped at Lamir for some time but his expression had not changed; he was still regarding her with the same unblinking and incisive gaze. Would that he look away for an instant so that she might regain command of herself was all her aspiration, but he would not, and she felt herself a simpleton standing before the splendor of a deity.