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The Cat Who Dreamed in Opal and Diamond - a TFKRS chapter
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sirtimberwolf
sirtimberwolf's Gallery (10)

To Protect or Serve - a TFKRS chapter

The Cat Who Dreamed in Opal and Diamond Installment 2
fkrs_-_story_2_-_duchess_diqune.doc
Keywords male 639647, female 519699, rabbit 64502, human 46877, tiger 23771, lion 22806, fantasy 11597, clean 7935, ferret 5556, adventure 2918, submission 2074, series 1965, medieval 811, serial 17
" Author's Note:

Thank you -very- much for reading this installment of Tales From the Kingdom of

the Red Sun. I hope you enjoy it! Our update schedule is twice weekly with primary

entries in the series occurring Wednesday and supplementary ones on Saturday. More information,

other entries and links to my other fiction can be found at   HYPERLINK "http://johnenright.info/"; http://johnenright.info


Tales From the Kingdom of the Red Sun

Series 1

To Serve or Protect

Chapter 1

Tamira ran the tips of her fingers down the silk braid wrapped around her waist, trying to calm her nerves. She sat in the middle of the servant's quarters, pinned to the chair by an old ferret woman who went through great pains to ensure Tamira's long blonde hair had perfect coils and laid between her upright ears in such a way that highlighted her features rather than hid them. The process was laborious and Tamira's restless foot kept bounding up against her dress at a gallop a minute.

The ferret tending her hair tutted softly. “I thought rabbits were known for their patience and wisdom, where's the Tami Diqune I used to bounce on my knee, hm?”

Tamira's bright grey eyes flit towards the woman and she set her foot flat against the floor. “My apologies, you are right as always. I should be focusing on what is to come, but time is short, will you have it done before. . . that man arrives?”

Kulla chuckled. “Boy you're just like your father, he was funny that way too. . . Always worried about appearances!” She carefully removed a coil from Tamira's hair. “But neither of you seem to remember that I changed your diapers!”

“Kulla!” Tamira almost broke her focus from the point on the wall. “That is hardly appropriate talk for a--. . . That is to say. . .” her cheeks warmed. She had no right to speak to such a close family about social status.

“Ah, yes every bit like your father.” The woman patted her back, dancing around the chair to consider her work from multiple angles. After a moment she nodded in satisfaction. “Say what you like but don't forget, you're made of the same stuff as those you rule over. Duchess or not, you're a fur first and a woman too--”

She knew where this was heading and tried to cut it off. “I will remember that, of course. Are you done?”

“Mmmm could be.” Her narrow head weaved left and right, abruptly she frowned. “Ah, seems I left something in that crows nest.”

“Please, be done with it! I have important work to do!”

She reached for Tamira's hair, lingering at the base of her ear, “ah, there it is.” She pulled back with a tiny gold medallion neatly held between her foreigner and thumb. An engraving of Samien and Urda standing back to back had been embossed within a wreath of silver. It was blasphemy of the highest caliber, a human god and the Mother of all furs depicted together, but to some it was a symbol of hope.

“I-- where did you find it?” Tamira stared at the charm. “It was missing from father's study!”

Kulla smiled. “Little Lisine made off with it, he tried to give it to his mother as a gift! The poor girl nearly had a heart attack!

“Lisine. . .” She bounced her foot a couple of times. “The chambermaid's son?”

“That's right.”

Tamira took the charm in her palms and hugged it close. The most personal thing her father had ever shown her and now it was where it belonged.“I will have to thank her for returning it, ah--” she smiled. “And thank you, as always.”

“Off you go, then!” The ferret made a shooing motion with a playful smile, “go wow the masses and bring holy vengeance upon your enemies or whatever it is you do.”

Tamira rolled her eyes and smiled as she turned away and started towards the main bailey, passing through the rear Hall which was a flutter of early morning activity as maids and cooks fought with one another over where the tables should be placed to serve the visiting contingent of knights from the city-state of Vesper.

Amidst greetings of 'My Lady', they eventually settled the tables before Tamira had cleared the distance from one side of the room to the other, already laying out the sittings with staggering efficiency, one of the many benefits of hiring out from the cream of the various Labor unions.

Tamira crossed the threshold into the circular hall that separated guest facilities from the castle's inner courtyard and the straightened her shoulders, perked her ears to their full height and put on her best practiced smile. She had no particular animosity or concern for humans in general, yet it was beneath her as a scion of the city to appear casual in his presence. He was an aide, his opinion of her would be formed in the first seconds.

“Chin up, little one, one day this will all be yours, just don't forget that you serve your people as much as they serve you.” Her father's voice whispered in the back of her mind.

“I won't, father.”

She paused in front of the wide double doors, her delicate hand caressing the steel handle. “Deep breath. Human.” Could she do this? It was not too late to turn back, she could create an excuse or simply eject him from the property. The sergeant at arms would savor the chance to evict a sapien from the castle-- preferably by catapult.

“No. You asked for this,” Tamira took a half breath and pulled the handle. She squinted against the bright spears of rusty red sunlight until her eyes adjusted. In the middle of the bailey, near the memorial statue to her ancestors and surrounded by a square flower garden, she saw him. Facing away from her, she could only get a sense of his general size; tall, broad shouldered. Finely clothed but not too ostentatious. He had his hands clasped behind his back as he looked at the center statue, perhaps reading the plaque she decided.

“Not too late. . .”

“Father would never forgive me.” Tamira followed the path toward the garden, acutely aware of the crunch of her high heeled boots against the packed dirt, the tiny beading sweat growing on her palms and the uneasy sense that she was exposed. There were soldiers on the ramparts, of course, unseen by the careless but nothing passed by them without being noticed. If there was trouble, they would protect her as they always had. Fifteen heads away, she spoke. “That is Mesa and Tyrcan Diqune.”

The man turned. He was young for a human, perhaps in his thirtieth summer but extremely well kept with his hair carefully draped over his ears so as not to be offensive and a light dusting of facial hair around a strong jaw. His eyes gave him away, though. Perfectly rounded and open, smiling almost. He turned to face her and lowered himself to one knee with his those eyes carefully downcast.

It was a human acquiescence to her position and yet instead of being offensive, the gesture sparked something in Tamira. A subtle smile pulled at her lips as she reached out her hand. “Please, mister Richard, stand. I am no human royal.”

“Perhaps not human, my lady,” his southern accent was barely discernible, “but it would not be right of me to stand in the presence of such beauty, nay, the proper place of one such as myself is kneeling in awe of it.”

She knew empty flattery, she lived such realities most of her life and yet in his voice she could find none. Tamira's hand felt heavy. Heat warmed her cheeks. Nervous laughter tittered in her chest and she cleared her throat to keep her composure. “But I have no use for an aide who spends his time buffing the cobbles with his knee, mister Richard,” she surprised herself with the ease of her words.

“Then may I have your permission to rise?”

“Of course,” Tamira stood at a distance while the man righted himself. Idly it occurred to her that she was staring but she could not bring herself to care. “So what is your preferred method of address, mister Richard?”

“What ever my Lady wishes it to be,” he lowered his head once more. He glanced briefly towards her through his wispy bangs. “I only ask that you not call me late for dinner, my Lady.”

Tamira looked at him oddly. “I see.”

“A joke, my Lady. Forgive me if it was in bad taste.”

“Not at all. . .” She turned on her heel and motioned him to follow, feeling a new kind of heat build on her cheeks as she lead them to the opposite side of the courtyard. It was an odd sensation, one she had never felt inspired by another. Almost as though his joke had disarmed her in some way. Hardly the case, of course, but his easy manner made her comfortable almost instantly.

“My Lady, I have taken the liberty of preparing an assortment of letters of recommendation from my previous employer which describe my skills and abilities as well--”

“Forgive me, mister Richard, but I do not need to see those. If the princess found your skills satisfactory enough to make such a glowing recommendation, we shall have to make do with that. I do hate to 'throw you in with the wolves' as the saying goes but I have a matter to attend to before we can begin our normal routine.”

“Of course, my Lady. How may I serve?”

Again that twinge of something tickled the back of her mind.

“We are to meet with the head of the Testrine family. He is a chieftain from one of the northern tribes who have been elevated to noble status for their role in suppressing a barbarian incursion against the northern border,” they approached the door to the eastern keep, Richard stepped around her and opened the door for her, lowering his head as she passed. “Strange custom, but as you wish.” She mused.

“I see. Guests, then, my Lady?”

Tamira stopped. “How long have you been here in Exter?”

“This is my first day, my Lady. I arrived five hours ago, before sunrise.”

“You must be exhausted, then.”

The human furrowed his brow and looked at her with an unreadable expression, his eyes turned downward ever so slightly in supplication and he smiled. “If I may say so, it is a small price to pay to bask in your radiance.” He met her eyes. “I assure you I am fully capable of performing my duties. If you are unsatisfied, I shall take my leave at your word.”

Tamira pulled herself away and swallowed against the lump in her throat. Her cheeks burned hotter now. For some reason her heart clenched in her chest. What was this irritating sensation of loosing control? The legend that humans had sprung from the fairy world to walk among furs also said that they could master minor forms of magic given enough time. Was this it? Some sort of cantrip? She blurted her suspicion out. “Are you a wizard, mister Richard?”

He blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

“Were you touched by the fey realm?”

“I--. . . Not that I know of?”

She turned away with a frown. “See that you keep your magic to yourself,” she nibbled on her lower lip when she was sure he could not see. “Right this way, then.”

#

Lord Byron Testrine was a hulking mass of muscle wrapped in tiger fur with a broad head and canines as long as any of Tamira's fingers. He presided over the table with a goblet in his massive paw as though it were a gavel. He slammed it down with a solid clunk and motioned one of Tamira's maids over to refill it. “Profits! Do you know how hard it is to make a profit selling. . .” he fumbled for the word for a second, “how do you say, Scions?”

“I understand that religious iconography is a light market, particularly in this season. Lamset is still six months away, then the market will grow again.”

“It's not just that! The mining of the metals, very expensive! Transporting them to build into things-- weapons, armor, even hinges! Horseshoes!”

“We still have yet to address the issue of the Simpleau, but to the point of labor. I cannot demand the Labor party continue to take lower wages, I have said this time and again. Your profits are your own concern--”

“If not for us merchants you'd have no trade! No income at all! What good is labor then?”

“There are plenty of freelance--”

“We tried! Freelance unionize, unions want higher wages and threaten to leave if they don't get them.”

Tamira rubbed the tip of her thumb against her palm as she eyed the tiger. The finer hairs on the back of her neck bristled with a sense of danger but she held her ground, fighting to keep her voice neutral. “It is probably a result of the working conditions--”

“Working--”

Richard cleared his throat softly, “My Lord, if I may interject?”

Tamira glanced over, surprised.

Byron's slit pupils focused on him sharply. Danger flared in his eyes. Tamira opened her mouth but the human was already digging his grave.

“I cannot say I have a knowledge of the conditions under which you employ these people but paying them low wages will always lead to discontent and resentful workers, making any profits gained by this method of dubious value. If your employees can't afford your products and spread rumors about horrible working conditions, many will--”

“Who are you to speak of such things in my presence, human?” Byron bared his teeth sending Tamira's heart into her throat. “Where I come from, we pay our slaves nothing and they are happy for work!”

Tamira cut off any reply, “that is because the alternative is being hunted by your tribes. . .” She leaned forward and steeled her voice against the shaking in her knees. “This is the south, a civilized city-state which I rule over. You will have to learn how to work with the unions or you can take your workshop to somewhere more fitting of your management style.”

Byron sniffed the air once. A dark grin swept over his face. “Oh, little rabbit is trembling, isn't she?” His massive frame shifted forward so they were only a few inches apart. “Tell you,” his bright eyes bored into her. “Many have tried to move a mountain but not many can. Do you think you're strong enough?”

The human started to lean over as though to grab Tamira if the tiger lunged. “I--”

“Silence, Richard.” Tamira snapped. She stood up to her full height and planted her hands on the table, leaning over to meet the tigers gaze. He started to rise and two lions in full mail were on him in a second, each planting an arm on his shoulder. He struggled against their grip until their claws came out. “I will speak to the labor unions and I will speak to the merchant guild but under no circumstances will I allow you to threaten me or my city.” Her knees trembled. She almost sat back down but she had come too far to give up now. “And if I ever see your Simpleau or your carriage pulled by anything but well paid laborers or yourself on your way out of my city, I will ensure that no one will buy another one of your products ever again.”

He growled. “You wouldn't dare.”

“You underestimate the power of good leadership.” Tamira flicked her gaze to the lions. “Escort Lord Byron to his estate.” She added for emphasis, hoping her voice did not crack. “See that he arrives in one piece. . .” It almost did.

“Yes, my Lady.” The two soldiers waited for him to stand, when he did not, they grabbed the larger cat by the arms. He fought against them.

Byron jerked away. “In the mountains many disappear, those who don't are forged new and become warriors and chiefs. That is leadership. This is soft! Pandering! I expect to hear of results in two days.” With that he turned and stormed out followed by the soldiers.

Tamira braced her hand against the nearest chair. She looked to the maid. “Excuse us, please.”

“Of course, Lady.”

“Are you all right?” Richard whispered. “You're shaking.”

“Fine.”

The truth was that she felt tired. Loosing even a single prominent merchant because she appeared too rigid could lead to a mass exodus of merchants, conversely the opposite was true with the labor unions. Without fighting to ensure they were paid fairly, many unions would withdraw their support for her and block production and trade within all the seven districts. The city could easily be shut down if the balance swung too far one way or the other.

Tamira licked her lips. “I believe I have your first assignment, Richard.”

“My lady?”

“Put on your best diplomatic tunic, life is about to get interesting.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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First in pool
The Cat Who Dreamed in Opal and Diamond - a TFKRS chapter
Duchess Tamira Diqune's attempts at negotiating a peaceful solution to the constant struggle between the Labor and Merchant parties takes a dangerous turn when she is forced to choose between lower wages for her subjects or having no jobs for them at all. Neither party is willing to give an inch and threaten open revolt if their demands are not met. If things weren't bad enough, her newest adviser is flirting with the ultimate taboo; relationships between humans and furs and even the young Duchess isn't made of stone and soon finds her self wondering what she her life has been missing during all these political games.

Keywords
male 639,647, female 519,699, rabbit 64,502, human 46,877, tiger 23,771, lion 22,806, fantasy 11,597, clean 7,935, ferret 5,556, adventure 2,918, submission 2,074, series 1,965, medieval 811, serial 17
Details
Type: Writing - Document
Published: 5 years, 2 months ago
Rating: General

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