AR 12-12-10 The King and I, er, Yari
Dressed almost entirely in flowers, Yari was more than a little embarrassed to be approached by such an important figure. The Festival of the Last Moon was a time for children to dress up in costumes, but Yari was starting to identify more with being an adult than being a child, and the king’s attention made him feel self-conscious. There was also that other thing.
King Yusoko’s daughter, Verona, was Yari’s girlfriend and date to the dance. She was also dressed in flowers. The idea was that they were almost too old to wear costumes, but not too old to enjoy the holiday, so they wore normal dress clothes, but made of flowers and leaves. Yari had grown the foliage himself, and the two teenagers had both helped weave them together.
This would be okay, Yari told himself. The king already liked him; they had already had this conversation. Yari had done nothing wrong – that Yusoko knew of – and this was just a per forma conversation. Yari’s own father would do the same thing!
Speaking of which, where was Sardi? The young cleric had lost track of his friend in the controlled chaos of the celebration. How was he supposed to play Big Brother to his older sister if he couldn’t even keep track of her and her date?!
“Are you alright?” the king asked. Oh, right! Time and place, and all that. Yari hoped his eyes hadn’t turned black in front of his girlfriend’s father. He never knew when they did that, and he really wanted them to behave tonight.
“I,” he stuttered, “I’m fine sir.”
“Alright. Do you have a moment?” When the king asked if you had a moment, it wasn’t really a question.
Yusoko smiled, but gave Yari a hard, discerning stare. Yari blanched at the scruntiny, and his cheeks brightened to a vibrant rose color. Yusoko rolled his eyes and walked away, signaling the boy to follow him.
Was that where Verona got it? Of course it was. Now, hurry up and follow your king, Yari thought!
They moved through the crowded dance floor, down a secluded hallway, and into a small room. Decorated with a simple table and a few chairs, it was not unlike the room once used when Yari alerted King Yusoko to the halfling Guido’s treachery. It actually might have been the exact same room; that would have been poetically appropriate.
The king marched purposefully in, and Yari closed the door behind them. “Your majesty,” he said, preempting the speech that was surly coming, and using his best formal voice, “I know we’ve been here before. I’m still the same person I was when we spoke at Golden Eagle. I still feel the same way about your daughter, and Odin strike me down if I have done anything approaching inappropriate with her!”
Yusoko turned around as the boy was speaking, and regarded Yari with an amused smirk. “Well, that settles it then, doesn’t it, lad?” he asked.
Yari had a feeling the matter wasn’t actually settled. “Your majesty?” he inquired.
“Please, Jarl,” the king said, holding up a hand. He pronounced Yari’s first name correctly, without adding in his middle name. That was odd to the boy, but he didn’t let himself dwell for long; Yusoko was still speaking. “You’ve earned the right to just call me ‘sir.’”
To another, not trained in the ways of courtly formality, that may not have seemed like a great thing. To Yari, it was an exulted privilege. The king apparently thought very highly of him!
“This is the second time you have escorted my daughter to a formal gathering.”
“I assume you have… escorted her to some less-than-formal occasions as well?”
“We’ve… we’ve gone on several dates, sir, yes,” Yari answered, still with the highest formality. The king may not have been as scary as his own father, but he was still the king. Yusoko was also the man whose approval Yari needed most just then; so, the boy was diligent to remain as polite as he could.
“I suspected as much. I trust you behaved like an appropriate companion at all times.”
It wasn’t a question, but Yari nodded anyway. “Of course, sir.”
Yusoko regarded Yari for several long breaths, then smiled. “Good!” he clapped. “I’m glad my daughter has such good taste in friends.” The king clasped Yari’s shoulder as he moved past toward the door.
“Um… sir?” It was now or never, the young cleric thought. Never was seeming more and more like a valid option.
“Yes, son?” replied Yusoko, glancing back. “What is it?”
“It… it’s just that we’re more than just friends… your daughter and me.”
“I know, son,” he sighed, turning to look fully at Yari. “And, I respect that. You’ve been good to her. I hope your friendship endures.”
“Sir, I…” Yari swallowed hard, and almost didn’t continue. He forced himself to meet the king’s eyes, and consciously moved each muscle in his jaw to keep speaking. “What I’m trying to say is that we aren’t just good friends. We’re in love. And, I wanted to ask your permission to ask Verona to marry me.”
For what seemed like a lifetime, Yusoko glowered at Yari. The boy felt his heart skip several beats under the angry, silent stare of the king. At last, the man spoke.
“Do you love her, boy?”
“More than I can ever express, sir.”
Yusoko flared his nostrils and inhaled sharply. He held his breath, then slowly let it out. Yari wasn’t sure whether to stand his ground or run.
“You are not noble, son,” said the man, more calm than his expression would suggest.
“I know, your majesty. But, my parents –”
“I know about your parents! If not for them, the world would have burned, and that is why I have tolerated you fraternizing with my daughter all these years!” His words came fast and violent, knocking Yari back on his heels.
The boy’s mouth went dry, and his mind switched into survival mode. He was not about to fight his own king, so his only option was to run away as fast as he possibly could. Yari was considering the consequences of rolling through Yusoko’s legs and dashing out the door, when his eyes went black.
“Sir,” he found himself saying, “I am the son of a demi-god. My family has almost as much money as the entire royal treasury. At no point in my entire life have I ever behaved in any way other than as a well-mannered, high-born heir to my family’s legacy.”
It was Yusoko’s turn to fall back on his heels. The king tried to respond, but Yari’s momentum carried him forward, interrupting his monarch. “And, sir,” the boy pressed, “if you will remember, you once promised me a favor. Any favor at all, for the service of protecting your daughter from the evil machinations of a worshiper of Lolth.
“I am calling in that favor now. I ask for nothing more than your permission to ask Verona for her hand. If she denies me, that will be the end of it.”
Yusoko took advantage of Yari’s need for breath to finally interject. He wanted to be angry, to rage at the impetuous child before him, but something stayed his wrath. Maybe it was the black eyes, but probably not. Yari was a cleric, and clerics were often known for changing their eye colors with divine magic. More likely, it was the earnestness with which the boy spoke.
For whatever reason, Yusoko was calm when he said, “Child, be at ease.
“It is not as simple as all that. I have already begun marriage negotiations with…” He paused, remembering the love his wife and he had shared. The look this brazen young boy was giving him was so similar to what he used to see in the mirror. It seemed the king may have to change bargaining items in his negotiations with Tahoo.
“Son,” he said, matching Yari’s earnestness with his own, “when you ask my daughter to marry you, make sure that you are her soul mate, not just her first love. For no other reason will I allow –”
Yusoko’s words were immediately cut off. Yari’s eyes were immediately blue again. Yari’s face was immediately taken up by his smile. Yari’s arms were immediately filled with the king, hugging him in a tight embrace. After a startled shout, Yusoko relaxed and patted the boy’s back.
“Thank you, your majesty,” Yari said, releasing his king.