Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The Kingof Attolia, nor any characters and locations contained within. All right of the Queen's Thief series belong exclusively to Megan Whalen Turner and her respective publishers.
Rating: This story is rated K+ for brief consumption of wine. Otherwise, it would be K.
Spoiler Warning: This story contains spoilers for books 1-3.
Please, enjoy the story!
Breakfast With the King and Queen of Attolia
A Queen's Thief Short Story
A brisk autumn breeze, cool with the snows of an early winter, traveled swiftly down the mountains of Eddis into the warm valleys of Attolia below. It wafted through the high branches of towering trees, leapt lakes of tumultuous waters, conquered the imposing fortress-walls of ancient cities, and rushed straight through the open balcony doors of the queen's private dining chambers.
Attolia sighed as she watched her papers scatter across the marble tiles. Three of her attendants rushed to collect the fallen reports, while the rest ran about, chasing the pages still in the air. Ignoring her rising irritation, Attolia turned her head towards the origin of the gust. The scenery was bright, being gently kissed by the morning sun. The view calmed her and she breathed in deeply, relaxing; but then she remembered why she was waiting to eat in the first place. The irritation returned. Her husband was late for breakfast again.
She rubbed her strained eyes wearily. Her own sense of efficiency would not allow her to waste a moment of free time. She picked up the nearest page.
She had just completed meticulously sorting the stack when the ebony door soundlessly parted from its carved trim, and the queen felt more than heard the king's approach. She gazed at him as he pulled out the embroidered chair and sat down seemingly oblivious to her chastising glare. She could speculate why he was late, and a glance at the empty space behind him allayed all doubt.
Eugenides had recently taken to playing a tag-like game with his entourage in the twisting halls of the palace. He'd race through the corridors, run them in circles, vault over obstacles to leave them at dead ends, and taunt them from lofty vantage points with no apparent embarrassment.
The results were not surprising. Six attendants had magically developed severe illnesses. His guards drew lots to determine who would accompany him; and the rest attempted a facade of indifference, but were really just too stubborn to admit defeat.
As Attolia slid the pages back into a protective pouch, the servants quickly set out the dishes and poured the drinks. She gazed at her king as he unfolded his evergreen napkin. There was something she must speak with him about.
"I heard," the queen said sharply.
Eugenides looked up from his food in puzzlement, but he knew what she was talking about.
"Your antics yesterday evening. I heard about it." Her voice held a deep threatening tone.
"Oh... that. Just a bit of fun." He waved his hand absentmindedly.
She concentrated her anger into a boring glare. The king chewed happily.
"You call teaching our daughter to turn cartwheels on a peaked roof three stories off the ground 'fun'?" The queen sounded just a bit disgusted.
The king and princess had sent all observing palace staff into a state of terrified panic. Servants and guards of diverse stations shouted for ladders and ran in circles, as father and daughter carried on seemingly deaf to their subjects' distress. Certain, more senior, members of the staff gave in to exasperation and continued their work as if blind and deaf.
"She was perfectly safe," Eugenides commented unconcerned. "God-given gift of balance that one. Takes after me."
The queen did not lift her gaze from the table.
"That, my lord," said Attolia slowly, "is what I am concerned about."
The king laughed. He shoved a handful of pitted olives into his mouth and speaking through his chewing said,"So Mommy, what about me?"
"I am not your mother." The queen stabbed a knife into her cooked meat just a bit more forceful than necessary.
The king ignored her comment.
"Weren't you worried about me?" He widened his eyes to show anticipation of an answer.
Attolia set her utensils down delicately and drawing up her hands, rested her chin on interlocked fingers. She stared right into her husband's eyes. He smirked and causally laid his feet on the table.
"You," she said dryly, "could use a few knocks on the head."
The king exploded with laughter. Leaning too far back in his chair, he fell over with a reverberating thump. The guards at the door winced. Attolia merely lifted her tea cup away from the table, as it rocked slightly. She did not want it spilling.
After a few moments the king recovered, and ignoring an offer of assistance from a nearby servant plopped back down in his seat. "No damage," he commented raising up his arms.
"Yes," Attolia drawled, "the chair looks fine."
The royal couple finished their breakfast then took a moment to relax over a goblet of wine before their first appointments. Attolia took a sip breathing in the strong scent of the drink; but as she lowered her cup, she noticed the king's hand flash quickly over a dish. She studied the table top and saw only air where there had once been several sweet tarts. She recalled they had all been of the same jewel-toned shade - a bluish purple - the princess's favorite color.
The queen glared at him icily.
"What...?" The king spread out his arms and nonchalantly leaned back in his chair. "She can have some sweets with breakfast every now and then."
As she was still growing, the young princess required more sleep than her adult parents. She ate breakfast only with her nurse, Phresine; but the king and queen were certain to make a hole in their busy schedules large enough to visit her each morning.
Attolia readjusted the pouch as the servants took the dishes away.
"I should have known," said the queen sourly.
"Hmm...," Eugenides commented indifferently, as he arranged the tarts in amusing shapes upon a napkin.
"Our child. You indulge her every whim, and leave all the disciplining to me."
The king did not even look up. "What's wrong with that?"
Attolia slammed her goblet down hard. The vibrant, rouge wine rippled, spilling most of it.
"Careful, dear," said Eugenides cheerfully, lifting the napkin away from the spreading pool of liquid.
Irene gripped her goblet by its stem and raised it to signal for a refill. She was certain she would need it.
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Thank you for reading to the end,
Nine Days a Queen