Taste of Royalty (Princess in the Tower #7)

A country’s religion doens’t usually dictate their government. Oftentimes, the ruling class is created first, and religion comes in at its heels. Still, I’m feeling inspired by the Godden. The tower’s library has shown me countless stories with monarchs ruling the people, and even the occasional strange story of the people ruling the people. But if the fliers feel that balance is important in all things, then they wouldn’t want to be ruled by one single person, nor have their government cluttered by too many minds.

The palace will be just as inspiring as the cathedral, because it won’t be a palace per se. In the empty expanse before me, four flowing town houses rise out of the ground. They’re tall, like the shop houses in the main part of the city, but not quite as rigid. I envision the interior as spacious, with plenty of room for plenty of guests. Halfway up the wall, a wooden panel depicts the sigil of the family who lives there.

And in the center of these four town houses is an angular behemoth building, sprawling up and out. At its center is the great amphitheater, where public decisions are made. Other rooms are for more private discussions, for plots and controversial decisions. A room for war and a room for peace. A ballroom. Guest bedrooms, for those not invited as someone’s personal houseguest. That may happen frequently; the town houses would have to host the royal family’s entire house (in the royal sense, not in the “abode” sense). Besides, would you really want the diplomat of a country you’re at war with to sleep under the same roof as you? No.

There are several landing platforms on the center palace, for those who are not royal, and guards stationed at each one. But the town houses are connected to the center palace, too, for the four families of royals. Beautiful, swooping walkways attach the center palace to the houses so that it looks almost like a spiderweb.

I smile. Four Godden, and four ruling houses to speak on each god’s behalf. Would the fliers go so far as to let women rule them alongside their men? Most countries in the real world assume men are the only beings rational enough to entrust an entire country with. (Of course, men also start wars over a stretch of land that is perhaps only a mile wide in what they coin “territorial disputes” and think the most important aspect of life is what one claims at the end of it rather than how one behaved in its duration. But that is only what the books say, and the books perhaps might be wrong.)

If the people are willing to pray to the female Godden for aid and strength, I don’t see why they’d be opposed to looking to female mortals for the same. So each of the four winds gets a symbol — and I know if I return to the cathedral, I’ll find the same symbols that are now etched onto the side of the town houses will be at the feet of each god. The houses of the North and East, representing Kyro and Maru, are patriarchal. The houses of the south and west, representatives of Lyfa and Gamaer, are matriarchal. And because humanity can sometimes fall to stupidity, the rest of the city follows a patriarchal structure. There will be more than a few exceptions to that rule, but that’s another beast to tackle.

People appear beside me, their wings brushing by like a ghost. They wear four different color schemes, and have four different symbols etched in thread on their chests. Many wear fine clothing. Many… not all. Obviously, there are those in charge, and there are those who serve those in charge. Those who serve wear the lighter fabric that I’d already envisioned in my clothing shop not too long before. Their masters, of course, wear thicker, though spacious, clothing that declares their status. They all take to the sky, entering their new house for the first time as if it was commonplace.

I step forward, and watched the world blur around me. Then I’m in the amphitheater, where decisions will be made. There is a square table, with an intricate chair on each side. The beautiful chairs all have a circular headrest, and on the circle is the individual symbols of the four winds. The table and chairs are on an uplifted dais, and a great retractable wall separates it from the rest of the amphitheater. Four people open a carved door that leads into the partial-amphitheater room — two women, two men, both in thick cloth — and pull out their chairs. I envision great decisions being made here.

Their mouths move, but no sound comes out. They nod and gesture like they actually think they’re talking, and to a certain extent, they are, but until I have an essence of their language, their speech will be nothing more than this.

The scene disappears, and once again I am surrounded by the impenetrable darkness of the Blank Room. And though Count Saber is waiting for me in my room, I don’t rush up the stairs like I usually do. My heart feels as heavy as my arms, as if being in the new world made me weightless and returning to the tower clad me in heavy, heavy armor. The whole thing feels pointless sometimes. I can create things like Count Saber, change how many rooms are in my tower, produce food with just a thought, but… make the tower go away? Impossible. Create another real human to keep me company? It results in the blank stares of the oblivious, like the fliers of my made-up world.

I’m just not strong enough, that’s all. The tower’s previous occupant kept journals of his stay, preserved carefully in the library. He said that the tower was infused with the magic of those who stayed within its walls. But an especially strong magician might be able to prove him wrong. I can’t stay here all my life. So if I can create complete reality from scratch, perhaps someday I can break apart the magic that keeps me here.

Each successive thought takes off the heavy armor, one piece at a time, until I’m finally light enough to move. And I remember Count Saber is up in my room, no doubt just as bored as I am without my companions, so I skip out of the Blank Room and take the stairs two at a time, singing Count Saber’s name to the tune of an old, old song.


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