Shadowfield Chronicles Part 6: Preparations
Lux, unlike Shadowfield, is an innovator in technology and magic. Wagons drive on wheels that do not require a horse. Residents carry around small, round mirrors to communicate with each other from far away. A social network exists within these mirrors, allowing the flow of information. But despite not having the same innovation and ingenuity, Shadowfield has its own magical way of moving and communicating long-distance….
Laelia prefers to be called Leia; this is something Dante has known ever since the two met one chilly night when King August had kicked Leia from the castle. It had been a week after Queen Mary died from complications during childbirth. She showed up on the doorstep of The Inferno’s Relief, shivering from the cold, shaking in the rain. Dante had just returned from a trip to the market for certain exotic ingredients when he found her there, wearing a blue dress with white lace details and a thin shawl wrapped around her shoulder, makeup smeared and running down her face; her brown eyes were red from where she had been crying. She had huddled on the porch, close to the banisters, trying to find any hint of warmth as the endless night dragged on. He recognized her instantly, he’d been to the castle plenty of times and saw her but never engaged in conversation, and a million questions ran through his mind. Instead of asking these, Dante handed his bags to his conquest at the time- if Dante truly cared, he would have remembered the name of the young woman he seduced over wine and blue cheese- and lifted her into his arms. He carried her to the basement, to a room that was neither torture nor pleasure. It was a room that came before others and did not get found without knowing it was there.
Leia never told him why August had kicked her out; even in a state of delirium from a nasty chest illness, Leia’s tongue remained steel. What she said, however, was how she got there and why. After seeing a poster for the bar, she hid in carriages and cargo runs until she got to the city The Inferno’s Relief dwelled in. Then, she had been timid and shy; she had been a princess. During her time with Dante, he had trained her to fight, and this hardened her, along with surviving on the streets for a month until the king had welcomed her back. To survive, she had to change. She couldn’t live on the streets as a princess. No, she had to have a disguise.
This is what Diamond gave Leia. And this is what Diamond is giving her now- a disguise.
Dante ignores the screams coming from his office as he and Prix pack Leia a bag. He ignores her vulgar language- King August had once sent Dante a letter reading, “I am not satisfied with the skills and words you taught my daughter while she was disposed of.” It had some “fee” he had to pay. Dante never paid for it, and it cost him a good bottle of wine- as he and Prix share a kiss while Dante fixes a rip on a cloak. When the packing’s done, he goes to Leia and is stunned into silence.
“Cat got your tongue, Dante?” Leia’s eye, now a brilliant crystal blue, glitter with mischievous. Her hair, now blonde where it was once brown, is in a simple braid common among women who work in the fields or in trading. “Prix, I’ve never seen him so silent.”
“Never have I.”
Dante takes a deep breath and places his hands on Leia’s shoulders. “You look great. I packed your stuff. Silver has more clothes for you downstairs.”
“As per your request, malady.” Dante steps back and salutes her. “You look more… regal.”
“That’s the point,” Diamond says, “I would have sculpted her body- perhaps given her a more voluminous figure. You could use some… better decorations, you know.”
In the corner, Prix chuckles; Dante asks him to lie out the maps of Lux in his office. “Sure.”
“So, why are you going into Lux?”
Dante knows she will lie. They had discussed the matter beforehand. No one other than Dante would know why Leia was heading into Lux. If word spread of her mission, it could lead to disaster. So, together they made up a reason:
“Just to piss off dear ol’ dad,” Leia replied, “I want to make my way into the capital. I want to get into the castle. Plus, there is a bottle of wine there Dante wants. Can’t just leave a friend without good wine now, can I?”
“I should have known. All right. Well, my configurations revert at midnight. Try not to get caught sneaking into Lux wearing one of my disguises. It would ruin me.”
Leia nods and thanks her. The plan to get into Lux: Leia will pretend to be one of Dante’s “servants” going to get a package from some place within the country. After getting past the border, it should be easy for Leia to find lodging and lie low while she tracks down the gem. But first, they need to get past the border.
And Dante definitely has a plan for that. Something he cooked up, has been cooking up for a while. Dante is a lover of chaos, and chaos he shall bring.