January 25, 2017 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
The guards were in very plain uniforms with no insignia, their colors a non-explanatory mix of red, blue, and green. Their weapons explained enough, however; each of them was visibly carrying a long polearm or a gladius and a firearm. Something about their comportment suggested to Enrie that they did not need the weapons to be deadly, and that they were carrying many more weapons than she could see.
She had no interest in challenging them and moved very carefully in their presence, her hands folded politely in front of her, her bows careful and simple. From the corner of her eye, she could see her friends doing the same.
She didn’t see the Voice’s guard here, and this seemed to be a lot of guards for anything short of a Governor. Ilonilarrona had traveled here without anything but a single Reeve for a guard — as far as Enrie had seen, at least — so who could merit such intimidating guards?
“Do remember that you are honored, honorable Students of the Edaledalende Academy,” Wiltemika admonished them. Enrie bowed and did not retort that she never forgot it, thank you very much.
Wiltemika opened the door to the office and ushered them in. Enrie took one step inside and stopped dead.
That was not the Voice of the Emperor. No, it was the Voice of the Emperor, simply standing next to someone whose face Enrie had only seen in broadsides and woodcuts.
“Your Imperial Majesty.” Enrie bowed as deeply as she could.
The Emperor looked older in person than he did in his engravings. He had a long beard braided with so many beads that it must jangle when he moved, and hair in what had to be a thousand tiny braids. Both beard and hair, as well as his eyebrows, had gone completely white with age, and his face and hands were lined and wrinkled. Aside from the beads — a fortune in gems and stones and gold rattling around in his hair — he was dressed not all that much more elaborately than his guards: two long tunics over his pants, cut in the old-fashioned style, reaching nearly to his ankles, with a short vest and a long jacket, starting in red nearest his body and working out to violet for the outermost layer in rainbow colors.
He was flanked by the Voice, Elelakorra, on one side, and by another guard on the other.
He nodded his head to her. “Grand-niece Enerenarie. And these are your team, I assume?” He raised his eyebrows at her. “I have been hearing quite interesting things about you.”
Enrie bowed again. “I hope they were all positive tales, Imperial Majesty.”