[Story] Story a Week – 25

[[ Prompt: A story set at the summer solstice.

Just some more background stuff in the same world that Tamazi and Harvian live in! Far, far to the north, the citizens revere the sun dragon. On the longest day of the year, a festival is held in her honor. ]]

The capital city of Adekhari was ablaze in white and gold, ribbons and banners wound around every post and hung from every doorway. In the streets, her citizens had donned their finest clothes in honor of the holiday, and children darted to and fro, racing their flying paper dragons.

“Why such a gloomy expression, Nomara?”

Nomara, chief advisor to her Exalted, frowned further. She turned away from the balcony, retreating into the cool shade of the room. Though a slight breeze stirred the curtains, the day was already hot and would only grow hotter. She wore a loose garment of thin fabric, and the long hair of her ears was pinned back into a gold clip. But it would still be difficult to keep cool. Nomara had no idea how the guards could tolerate wearing all that armor on a day such as this.

“I believe you know the cause of my concern, Captain.” Zimos presented an intimidating figure; taller than herself by a head and at least as far across. The captain of the guard bristled with gleaming armor and all manner of weapons from large to small. His face and arms bore the scars of many battles, yet underneath all of this Nomara knew the kiraal’s ferocity was saved for only his enemies. They had something like a friendship, having worked closely together for many years in the city’s defense. Certainly, he knew her well enough to know when she was troubled.

Zimos grunted quietly, stalking over to one of the chairs, settling his sizeable body into it. He also knew which chairs would support his weight, Nomara was thankful of that. “No one would try anything today, of all days.”

She shot him a sharp look. “On the contrary, today would be the perfect day. The crowds, the chaos, Her Radiance will show herself–”

The kiraal scratched his chin. A recent cut was healing there. “Will she?”

“I trust the guard will be aware of the potential danger,” Nomara said, crossing her slender arms in front of her. “It would upset the citizens if she doesn’t show herself. They will worry that the rumors are true. That she’s in danger.”

The flight of the Exalted, the High Dragon, was the high point of the festival. Even working at her side every day, Nomara’s breath was taken away by seeing the great dragon take to the skies, every golden scale glimmering in the summer sun. Zimos nodded. “That’s true. What of her son?”

Nomara frowned again. “That I don’t know. He’s –” she paused, taking the time to select the right words. “Willful. I expressed my opinion to him the evening last.”

The High Dragon’s son was a much more unpredictable creature, given to youthful exuberance and the lack of good judgment that came with it. Being much smaller, he emerged from the palace more often — which was good, as the citizens were thrilled to catch a glimpse of him, but it also put him at greater risk should someone plan an attack. There had been rumors of such since the Temple of the Moon far to the south stood empty, and they had only increased as time went on.

Nomara moved to the balcony again, watching the people in the street below. The parade would begin soon, and citizens had gathered on either side of the street. Some clutched flags of white and gold, others held snacks bought from the carts wheeled up and down the street. Zimos would be needed soon; he and his guards would lead off the parade. She hesitated, but in the end decided that her friend could be entrusted with her secret. Perhaps it would put his mind at ease and he, at least, could enjoy the holiday.

“There won’t be any problems,” she said quietly. “I hired someone.”

Ziros’s amber gaze fixed on her. “Like who?”

“You needn’t worry about that. But he’s good. Very good. No harm will come to Her Radiance, nor her son, nor Adekhari.”

Nomara said it as much to convince herself as anyone else. But she had searched for the finest, and paid for the finest. The asenji had given his word, and while that wasn’t worth much, he knew who Nomara worked for and what would happen should he go back on it. And everyone she spoke to said that Harvian was one of the best, even among the asenji.

Her ears perked to the roar of the crowd in the street below. Her Exalted, Glory of Aurilahn, the ancient High Dragon herself, embraced the city in the shadow of her wings as she soared overhead.

 

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