Hello darlings! Today's story was brought to you by Arcanist Lupus! Darling you send me such interesting prompts! Thank you for all your support!
Prompt: Queens Crowned, to THIS SONG!
Essyina was a tease.
Aeliatari really hadn’t expected that, all things considered. Most of her experience with the journeyman mage was with a woman who, although beautifully powerful, magnificently talented, and decorative to boot, was reasonably quiet.
But no. Her lady wife, her queen, had taken to her role with an enthusiasm that was just entirely unreasonably, all things considered.
Today, for instance, she was dressed all in almost-white green gauze that made her look like a particularly stunning ghost. Layered beads in the fabric made her glitter, and the sheer nature of the fabric, probably magical and cleverly layered, kept offering tantalizing glimpses of the milky skin beneath.
And damn it all, Aeliatari was trying to run a war council.
It was both annoying and satisfying that she was not the only one distracted by her lovely queen. Satisfying, of course, because that was herqueen. Her wife, who only she was allowed to gather into her arms and kiss breathless.
Annoying, because that was her queen, her wife, and Essyina was being distracting.
And knowing her double-handful of trouble lady wife, she was probably doing it on purpose.
“You are distracting,” Aeliatari finally growled, half-playful, the next time Essyina circled past her, bouncing in all the right places and glittering with magic as she powered the tactical table, which showed all the positions of their forces. It was an incredibly valuable tool, and while Aeliatari could power it herself, it was easier to have someone else do it so she could focus on the tactics. Focus, however, was in somewhat short supply. “Come here, you.”
The rest of the war council stilled as their warlord captured her blushing, giggling wife, kissed her collarbone in passing, and settled into her throne with an armful of mage.
“Right,” she said once she was seated and Essyina had wiggled into a more comfortable position on her lap. “Now, we were talking about the elementals on the border.”
‘I have a report about them.”
Essyina spoke up before anyone else could. Much to Aeliatari’s dismay, she escaped and returned to the table, but not without a very promising flounce of her mostly-transparent skirts. The beads caught the light, and she looked like a daydream in the mist for a moment, before she turned her distracting smile on three of Aeliatari’s generals. They knew that Essyina was one of their most capable mages, but they weren't’ used to seeing this playful side of her, or of Aeliatari.
Bright magic dripped off her fingers and left tiny yellow stars across the map like constellations.
“We figured out how to scry for wind spirits,” she said, still smiling with that troublesome glitter in her eyes, but absolutely professional besides. It was a strange combination, considering her dress, and the silver filigree that decorated her throat. White gems trailed down from her necklace like water droplets, and Aeliatari lost a minute to a brief, but filthy daydream. Reluctantly, she drew her mind back on task. “They don’t know we can do it, seeing as it’s supposed to be impossible and all.”
“How did you manage that?” Grannth, one of the better mages at the table and one of Aeliatari’s advisors, asked. His tone was surprised, but admiring. He was spare with praise, but genuine when he gave it. If he was impressed, it was a harder task than Aeliatari truly knew. “They’re hard to detect on any day, let alone at a distance.”
“It’s an old sailor’s trick,” Essyina explained delightedly. She was still distracting, but now it was because she was brilliant, which was even more lethal to Aeliatari’s clear-headedness than the gauze dress. “See, we’ve always known that the little fishing boats had a trick for knitting up winds, right?”
“Aye. Doesn’t work for larger winds though. Didn’t that one fellow try to tie up a storm?” Grannth asked, apparently more educated on the topic of arcane scholarly pursuits than Aeliatari. Not that it was a surprise. She kept him around because he was an expert. “Didn’t he explode? How is that relevant?”
“Master Tidesmith, he styled himself, and yes. The storm blew him into tiny pieces. It was a substantial mess, I’m told. We’re not tying up the elementals, more, we’re putting a placer-stitch in them,” Essyina said. She waved a hand over the map and a complex magical formula, which seemed to be utterly incomprehensible to Aeliatari’s eyes, shimmered into sight. By the awed noises of her council’s mages, it was dully impressive, so Aeliatari did her best to focus on that, and not her distractingly brilliant wife. “Or more precisely, on their attendant breezes. They go where they like, but that little breeze that follows them around belongs to us. Since those attendant winds can’t leave their host-spirit, we can track the spirit by the attendant’s location.”
“A clever workaround,” Grannth said after some slow, careful thought. His gaze, when it turned back to Essyina, was still admiring and a little taken by her low neckline, but now it also carried the respect of one powerful mage to another. “Very clever. Can we use this same trick on other breezes?”
In response, Essyina gave a very troublesome smirk, one that was very nearly Aeliatari’s undoing, and raised her hand. Magic coiled around her like a pet, familiar and obedient to her whims.
The map burst with stars, color-coded, and following the paths that echoed the map in Aeliatari’s head of their troop movements. Armies of stars, some brighter than others, flowed here and there, mimicking troop movements in real time like even their finest map-spells could never manage. The war, Aeliatari’s conquests, now and future, played out across the land.
“My lords,” Essyina said, flirty and so incredibly competent, and still distracting. “Allow me to show you what a little magic in the wrong hands can truly accomplish.”
Aeliatari needs a queen. Essyina volunteers.
Smoke Bomb (Subscriber-Only!)