The Royal Scheme

(CW: Extremely taboo topic, reach out to me for clarification)

14th November, 2023
Neylapdor, Lapliszna

“Yes, I promise I’ll be back soon. I’m just taking a very quick visit to Auntie Esta.” Wilan said in a tired tone as he held his phone with his shoulder while walking up the stairs to his sister’s palace once more.

“Okay papa.” His not-children gave a sad tone in unison. “Will you come back soon papa?” Carl Jr. Spoke up in his sad voice.

“Yes, Yes I promise I’ll be back soon.” Wilan couldn’t help but let out a sigh as he shook his head in amusement as he got on top of the staircase and right in front of the doors of the palace. Though glancing around while trying best to keep his phone on his shoulder, he was surprised to see that Esta was nowhere in sight. Usually she actively waited for him at the doorstep.

He felt a snowball hit the back of his head. A quick turn around showed his daring little sister behind him on the steps with Ny’Jon rubbing his very cold hands. “Good hit Ny’Jon, prepare another.” Esta gave a smile towards her brother, waving at him.

“Fuck.” Wilan muttered to himself annoyed as he rubbed the back of his head giving a firm look towards Esta, having almost dropped his phone. Though realizing he was still talking with his not children he quickly had to speak up. “Please do not repeat that.”

“Fuck!”

“Carl Jr!”

“Fucky fuck!”

“Ny’Kino! Okay that is enough time with your father. Tell him goodbye before you two wash your mouths out with soap.” Their mother Ny’Kuil spoke up, Wilan can hear her steps through the phone. Rather very angry steps he might add.

“Bye papa.” The children collectively said in unison. The phone call ended before Ny’Kuil could give Wilan a piece of her mind about their children and his language. Thanks to Carl Jr of course.

Wilan let out an annoyed sigh at that, knowing full well she was going to complain a lot to him now. Putting phone into his pocket and putting down his suitcase as he crossed his arms looking down at Esta who still had a smile on her lips while having another snow ball prepared. “Don’t you dar-”

Ny’Jon the coward simply raised his hands in the air, showing he will be taking no further part in one of the few times that the siblings bonded normally. Esta of course for her part threw a snowball at him, that hit harder than one would think a snowball would cause. Square in the stomach, as the prince looked down he saw that the little elven shit put a rock in her snowball.

“Oh you bitch.” Wilan hunched a little at that, placing a hand on his stomach as he glared at her, though a more playful one as he crouched down quickly making his own snowball. With him soon throwing the snowball at Esta hitting her right in the chest. Luckily the Prince was wearing a heavy winter jacket and black leather gloves. Having a smirk on his face as he took cover behind a statue.

Ny’Jon, as much as he would love to watch the two siblings bond like actual siblings for once, was shivering from the cold as he was just wearing his normal butler outfit. As such seeing his boss being distracted took this moment to quickly excuse himself and go inside to make some hot chocolate for them. Mainly for himself but he knew Esta would want one.

Esta with a laugh hides behind a statue across from him, picking up another rock to cover with a snowball. Taking another shot at him, the stone covered snowball making a mighty ‘wack’ at it against the statute. “I’m gonna get you again!” She giggles out, brushing the snow off her chest and reaches to grab another rock.

“You’re not supposed to throw actual stones, you know!” Wilan yelled out to her, as he saw a small opening to throw his snowball just as she was about to throw hers. Quickly stepping out from other side of his statue, once more perfectly hitting Esta in the chest before quickly hiding behind the statue. Soon enough he saw the stone snowball from Esta hit the statue harshly. Swearing he heard a small crack sound from the statue as well. ‘How harshly is she fucking throwing?’ He thought to himself.

“Ow! You can’t hit me there, I’m a girl!” Esta shouts back, throwing another snowball stone at him. “Now come out of that statue and stop being a coward!” She playfully shouts at him.

“What? I’m just throwing at the easiest hitable area!” Wilan yelled back as he crouched down to quickly make another snowball, still hiding behind the statue. “Also you’re throwing gods damn stones! You do not get to complain!”

Esta creeped towards him, throwing snowballs with stones in them as cover. When she was close enough to her big brother, she tackled him into the nearby pile of snow. “Gotcha!” She gives a snarky smile looking down at him, attempting to pin him down but it was only a matter of time until she was overed powered by the soldier’s prince.

Wilan let out a small groan as he fell back first on the snow pile, though he was letting out a genuine laughter as he looked up at her. The back of his head and hair were covered in snow. “Gods, you are insane.” He said as she kept her hands on his wrist. “Sometimes I wonder if you are actually trying to kill me.” He gave her a small smirk.

“Hmm, maybe but you’re too much fun to kill right now.” She gave a giggle looking down at him with a crazed look. “You know, you would look so much better with a bit of blood on your cheek~” Esta gave a teasing tone.

“I disagree, one doesn’t keep such a perfect handsome face by letting it get bruised and cut.” Wilan said with an equal teasing tone of his own. “Maybe If it was somebody else’s blood then I’ll test out if it looks better.”

“Oh maybe that’s the case~ But I think you should let me just have a small cut on your cheek~ Just to try it out~” Esta teases him further, leaning her face towards his. “Quick cut that’s all it takes~”

“Esta you have literally admitted to me that you actively stab mannequins that look directly like me.” Wilan said in a flat tone.

“What girls can’t have hobbies~” Esta teases him, lowering her head down further until she is only a few inches away from his face. “Just a small cut~”

“Shouldn’t gods be above simple hobbies?” He raised an eyebrow at her, more taunting her now. Not making any comment of how close her face was from his.

“Nope~” Esta leans down and gives her brother a kiss on the lips, not an Akuan greeting but a romantic one.

Wilan for his part did not push her away, did not lean into the kiss but rather just let it happen. Closing his eyes for a moment before she pulled away from him, having a lewd smirk on her lips as she did so. “You know, I sometimes question how divine you are.” He teased her further, the tiniest of smirks on his face.

“Oh, you do now?~” Esta stares at him with a batshit crazed look in her purple eyes. She pushed his wrists up above his head, so she only had to use one hand to pin him. Reaching into the coat’s pocket and pulling out a knife. “Well heresy must be punished now my dearest subject~”

Wilan eyed the knife with quite a bit of concern before speaking up. “How about you just make me shut up in… less threatening ways, hmm?~” He said in a deep tone, as his cold gray eyes looked into her purple.

“How about you carry your goddess to the bedroom and allow her to instruct you~” Esta placed the knife down next to his head, still sitting on top of him but did let go of his wrists finally. Looking down at him with that flirtatious look in her eyes.

_ _

Ny’Jon was carrying a tray with three cups of hot chocolate on it, all with cream in them with bits of chocolate spread on top of it. Though when he looked right out the window his face couldn’t help but become green as he saw the Crown Prince lift up his boss all while the two made out with each other. As he quickly put down the tray on a nearby table before hurrying off to the nearest toilet.

Kungstad, Blåskog

Torster let out a sigh of relief as he exited the office of Mr. Henriksen. While he knew very well the parliamentarian had his skepticism to the plan, and certainly critical of his brother. Which were criticism he did not fault. He was able to get him on board, which was already a big step. Now that Henriksen about to form a broad political alliance with Mrs. Stenberg in support of new reforms, all they needed was getting more influence in the Royal Council. With that the Prince took out his phone and quickly called up his brother, with what he knew Wilan wouldn’t be at Ny’Kuil’s home. So he should have freedom to converse without children annoying his brother.

He will admit he was quite proud of his brother when he heard about it. He knew it had to be emotionally taxing but his brother stood up and acted as a father to two kids that were not his own. That was admirable, made him almost forgive his brother for forcing him to bury a corpse when he was younger and told him to get over that scarring experience….

Okay he was far from actually forgiving his brother, but his opinion of him had starkly improved. After too many seconds of waiting he finally heard someone answer the call, but it was not his brother’s.

“We’re busy fuck off killjoy.” He heard his little sister’s voice in the background. As well what could be described as sounds of a struggle. “Stop wiggling! It hurts more if you do.” Few seconds passed silently, “Actually keep wiggling, it hurts more if you do.”

“Esta, gods sake you do not need to do this. Please, untie me.” Torster could hear Wilan’s voice say in the distance while hearing a grunting from his brother and a groan of pain followed up by a swear. “Fuck, why you even have damn needle?!” Torster’s eyes widened in shock hearing this, what was Esta doing! Before he could even speak up to demand an explanation his little sister once more spoke up.

“Why are you still even on the phone Torster? I told you we are busy!” The phone call was ended as she gave her final annoyed sigh.

The Prince feared the worst as he pocketed his phone and almost ran out of the building. He was going to get to Lapiliszna as quickly as he could. His brother was in danger and he had no idea what Esta’s plans were. But either way it was an emergency. He remembered how Esta was planning on killing him in the kitchen. If Esta was casual about the idea of killing him? What would her actions be if she had found out about Wilan’s plan.

_ _

Later that day in Lapiliszna

“What do you mean you fucked, Esta??” Torster asked in a shocked and disgusted tone as he looked down at Wilan.

“Try to not be so damn loud…” Wilan asked in an annoyed tone, winching a little bit as he tried to sit up in the bed, having needed to be put into the medical ward at Esta’s palace. Only wearing dress pants being shirtless as the tubes in him pumped out the drugs that his little sister had decided to put into him during their little escapade.

“You. Fucked. Our. Sister.” Torster was now glaring at him, leaning over the older Prince. There was a few seconds of silence before a smile creeped up to Wilan’s face

“…She is very good.”

“Gross no, don’t. Gods what’s wrong with you two.” Wilan could see his younger brother turning green from his comment having to steady him on a nearby wall.

“Look both her and I have done worse.” The Crown Prince said in an nonchalant way as he shrugged his shoulders.

“Oh for sure, but I would rather have just murderous siblings rather than murderous incestrous siblings, Wilan.” Torster rubbed the bridge of his nose as he let out a heavy sigh. “Just, why?”

“I mean…. You know why. She inherited the good stuff about mom.”

“Just stop talking.” The younger Prince looked as if he was about to gag. “I mean, why are you willing to take such an incredibly stupid action? I know your sense of morality is fucked Wilan.” He looked towards the Crown Prince, towards his brother with pure disgust in his face. “I know you don’t fully understand why some things are wrong and why some not, you borderline sociopath. But I know you’re rational. I know you know how to act in public, what is to be expected. What social norms there are.” Torster rarely stood up to his brother but he felt like he needed to put his foot down on this. “So what’s your rational? Why ri-”

“Because nobody will find out. No one in the public, it all will stay behind these halls.” Wilan for his part didn’t care much about his brother’s comments, shrugging his shoulders in a careless manner. “So why not take upon the offer she had been giving me for several years now?”

“So that’s it? That is the only reason why you decided to do it?” Torster crossed his arms, raising an eyebrow at his younger brother. “Your mind just went ‘well so long public doesn’t know about it, eh a little incest not too bad’??” He was met with silence from his older brother, as he seemed to think deeper about it all. Perhaps he finally spoke some sense into-

“Yeah pretty much.” Wilan said, shrugging his shoulders as he looked towards the door of the medical ward opening to reveal Esta. “Oh hi, we were just talking about you.”

“I know, I’m a goddess after all~” Their little sister walks in without a care in the world. “So Torster, are you planning on staying for dinner? I can have your room prepared.” She tilts his cutely at him, standing next to her brother.

“I would want to just so I can ensure you two don’t do anything stupid.” Torster said with a sigh. “Plus all the while I’m here I can check on Annette, have you and Estrid taken good care of her?”

“Yeah of course?” She gave a sassy tone with him, placing her hands on her hips at she looked up at him. “Also I fucked Wilan.”

“I know.” Torster gave a clearly annoyed look towards his little sister.

“He would not let me explain it in detail, very rude of him.” Wilan taunted his little brother trying to add more annoyance for him. “I tried to explain all how holy and divine it was.”

“There is nothing holy about what you two did.” Torster glared towards his brother.

“Sure there was, I was there. Finally gave him a religious experience and he kept whining about the herbs he was given.” Those herbs being hallucinogenic plants that suppose to be infused with tea to be least potent. It of course was made into a more pure form and injected into Wilan. “Honestly you were so ungrateful until you started being one with the spirits.” She gave a playful stare over towards Wilan.

“Well… I can always show you how grateful I am later~” The Crown Prince gave his little sister a playful smirk as he looked towards her, trying to keep his gray eyes on her purple ones.

“No. No. No. Not while I’m here.” Torster immediately stepped in, already becoming a bit green. “Where is Estrid? I want to be in normal company for a while…”

“I mean if you feel left out~” Esta gave Torster a playful look, taking a hold of his tie to play with it.

Torster’s cheek turned immediately red as he started to stammer, as he grabbed his tie and pulled it away from Esta’s grasp. “I-I am very very happily married, thank you very much!” He stepped far far away from his little sister much to the amusement of his older brother who just chuckled as he watched the two. Which caused Torster to glare at both him and Esta. Breathing in and out he calmed himself. “Just. Tell me where Estrid and Annette is…”

“They are playing in the indoor garden, ask one of my staff to take you there.” Esta gave a simple reply, giving him a warm smile. “I will be there shortly enough if you want to wait, I got some boring politics stuff to tell Wilan.”

“If you two are gonna flirt, I rather not be there to see it.” Torster said with a shiver as he took the moment to walk past his little sister and exited the medical ward. Wanting in that moment to stay far away from his own siblings. He was considering telling Estrid about this. Esta had just directly cheated on her, it would be wrong to keep quiet about it.

As the door closed to the medical bay, Wilan just raised an eyebrow towards Esta, his little playful smile having gone away. “I was hoping for a round two, but I suspect it’s actual politics.” His tone was quick to be more professional.

“Apparently my Prime Minister has been snooping around and talking with some boring people in parliament over in Blaskog. He hadn’t really said or asked much to them reportedly but just getting a feel over there or whatever.” Esta gave a bored tone, looking at her finger nails with a outstretched hand. “Figured dad would want to know about it and I don’t feel like calling him.”

“Noted, I’ll tell him at the earliest convenience.” Wilan nodded his head to the information. “I was planning on talking with Liljeström anyway before I leave tomorrow. So I can ask him directly if I have questions about it.”

“Well in that case everything is fine.” Esta gave a shrug. “Gonna hang out with Estrid now, enjoy getting your stomach pumped!” She turned around and walked away from him.

After few minutes of walking the Blåskovian Prince finally found where the Norgsveltian Princess was at, with her sitting on a stone bench gently lifting up his one year old daughter up high with both having wide smiles on their lips as he heard his daughter letting out adorable giggle. With the Princess wearing surprising casual clothing, with her wearing a pair of blue jeans and black t-shirt of a metal he does not know about. Torster couldn’t help but smile warmly at the sight as he leaned his back on a nearby wall. The Princess almost seeming to preoccupied with entertaining the kid to notice the Blåskovian looking at her, though that was not until the kid noticed and spoke up in a soft tone.

“Pappa!”

Hearing that Estrid was quick to turn around and gave the Prince a surprised look. “Oh Torster! You’re back already?” She said walking up to him with a warm smile on her face.

"A small emergency came up here so I had to check it out.” Torster stopped leaning on the wall and stood up right again, chuckling as he saw his daughter reach out to him. In which he was quick to take her from the Princess’s arms. “Glad to see Annette been in good hands.” He gave his daughter a kiss on the forehead as she wrapped her arms around him tightly.

“What you worried me and Esta wouldn’t be good with children?” Estrid said as she placed a hand on her hip while raising an eyebrow at the Prince while having a teasing smile on her lips.

“Well I wasn’t worried about you not being good with them but I was worried about Esta.” The Prince couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle shaking his head in amusement before falling quiet.

“Don’t worry I’ve been the one mainly in charge taking care of her. With help from Ny’Jon of course.” Estrid said letting out a small giggle as she remember Esta having shoved Annette either toward her or Ny’Jon’s direction moment she needed change. Or when Esta was just bored from taking care of the girl. Though the Princess was quick to notice something was off as she gave a concerned look towards Torster. “Everything okay?”

He was just quiet as he held his daughter tight, looking down on the ground for a moment as he contemplated everything. There wasn’t exactly a good way to bring up the matter so he just let out a sigh as he looked up from the ground and rather looked directly into her eyes. “Estrid, I know this be very difficult to believe this. But I wouldn’t lie about this.” His tone was serious, wanting to make clear there was no doubt in his mind. “Esta… Well she ha-” His voice stopped up however when he felt a sudden kiss on his cheek causing him to immediately take a few steps back in surprise in which his blue eyes landed on his little sister. Who was just smiling at him…

“Esta has arrived!” She climbed down his side, giving a warm, well-rehearsed laugh. Reaching over to give a head scratch to her niece. “Sorry I had to leave so quickly, I had to do some boring goddess stuff.” She gave a eye roll at the mention, walking over towards Estrid with her arms out stretch.

Estrid let out a small giggle as she felt Esta wrap her arms around her and as she gave her a tight hug. “Only you would find goddess stuff to be boring.” She teased before giving a kiss on Esta’s forehead, before putting her attention back towards her girlfriend’s brother. “Sorry what were you saying, Torster before you were oh so rudely interrupted?"

“I…” His eyes landed on his little sister, falling quiet as he looked at her. He felt disturbed how calm she was acting, no hint of guilt or any shame at all. He really wanted to tell Estrid.

Esta gave a kiss back to her girlfriend, before looking back at Torster with a tilt of her head. Her arms still wrapped around Estrid, and gave a polite smile at him. Though she did give a quick look at his daughter before looking at him again. Her smile growing wider after doing so.

“…It was nothing much. Just wanted to let you know that Esta was checking on Wilan in the medical bay.” Torster held his daughter closer, who he noticed was now taking a small nap in his arms.

Estrid eyes did widen at that as she looked down at Esta for answers. “Oh gods, is he okay did something happen?” She spoke in a quick and concerned tone.

“He’s okay, he joined me in a ceremony and took too much of our tea. It’s lowers the moral perspective barriers so it can be a lot for someone, even more so when he drank the whole cup.” Esta gave a small chuckle, though she should actually explain it better. “It’s a hallucinogenic tea. He be fine but he have to have his stomach pumped out and fluids drained.”

“Well you gotta stop him from drinking so much next time!” Estrid poked Esta’s side giving her a stern look before letting out a small sigh. “I’m glad he is fine, was that the emergency you came here for?” She raised an eyebrow at Torster.

“Yes, actually. I was very concerned so I took a private jet immediately here. Partially helped by the fact that was not good at explaining the situation very well through the phone call.” He lied as he looked towards the loving couple.

“Ah, well he wasn’t supposed to take his cell phone into the ceremony at all. The spirits tend not be be forgiving to those who break the rules.” Esta faked a sympathetic, sad sound tone downright sound pitiful and scared though Torster knew it was all a act. “I thought he would be able to handle it, he always was the strong one of our family. I’m sorry I caused you to worry Torster, I made my amends with Wilan already but I’m planning on a more proper apology fitting his standing later if you are staying the night.”

“It is quite alright. I’m just glad to know he is doing fine, in fact I should go check on him. Could you two place my Annette to bed? Seems like she is completely out of energy.” He said giving a warm smile as he made a conscious effort to ensure it was Estrid who was the one to hold her as he walked up to the couple.

“Of course! Greet Wilan from me and tell him I hope that get well soon!” Estrid said as she reached out to the sleeping kid, holding her in her arms ensuring she held her close to her body. “She just so adorable when she is asleep!”

Esta leaned over to give a kiss to Annette’s forehead. Looking back towards her big brother, “Torster, children’s week is coming up soon. If you want, I can have her as my reindeer pelt bringer. It’s a pretty big deal and she be on TV but other than bring pelts it’s super fun.” She gave him a warm smile.

“…I’ll ask Velina about it, but I’m certain she would be completely fine with it.” Torster gave a weak smile as he looked down at her before turning around to quickly get out of the gardens. He did not want to be there, hel, doesn’t even want to be at the castle in the first place.

Estrid couldn’t help but tilt her head as she saw the interaction finding it weird of how Esta’s brother felt to be in a sudden rush. She looked down at her girlfriend giving her a curious look as she spoke up. “Did something happen between you two?”

She gave a small sigh, looking up at her goth girlfriend. “Same old arguments, he was originally supposed to be the one to get enshrined and become the Jarl of Lapliszna. Then I was born.” She rests her head against Estrid’s shoulder. “He always says he got over it but every now and then, it comes back up again.”

“Aww that’s unfortunate to hear. Maybe what you two need just some good quality time together.” Estrid said resting her head on top of Esta’s wanting to comfort her.

“Maybe, but Blåskovians aren’t ones to let things go unfortunately.” Esta gave a perfect pitiful sounding tone. She kept her arms wrapped around Estrid, scratching her back.

“Well let’s go put Annette to sleep then we can find out how you two can bond as siblings. You two must have something in common after all.” The raven haired Princess said before giving Esta kiss on the forehead as she began walking towards the baby room her girlfriend had made for her niece. Though Esta still was hugging her as they walked making it bit more awkward.

It took a moment, but Esta did finally let go. “Thank you Estrid for helping.” She gave a hopeful tone, something she practiced quite a bit on.

_ _

Later that evening

Jonas Liljeström, the almighty chain leader of Lapliszna. While Esta on paper is the absolute leader, in reality it was a bit more complex. It was his political party, the Nystapi’s People’s Party truly ruled the country. Not out of the political guil or cut-throat policies, rather Esta the Protector just didn’t care about politics, and until recently thought she was ceremonial leader of the country and only really wanted to handle the religious side of things. Which… She still quite awful at and if it was not for the minister of Akuan affairs she probably would have been doing far worse.

Thankfully, Esta, not caring much about politics or wanting to do much work at all, honestly freed his hand. However his other hand is tied by the Blaskovian nobility seeking to colonize the land they were only ever so recently been given. Yet, times were changing and his meeting with the so-called soldier’s prince was a curious one. A promise given to him that the elven elite which sought to drain the land of its resources would stop, Lapliszna would be allowed to industrialize itself properly and so much more.

All of this, of course, sounded like some fairytale bullshit, Blaskovians don’t change not without violence. His Majesty King Carl wouldn’t have ever approved any of this despite the Prince assurances he did. As such, like any good East Borean he was paranoid about this. For decades he wanted more changes but one day, the prince walks in tells him he good to make all the changes he wanted to do. Then have the head of the military be replaced, a man that was a very close friend to the king and was replaced by a Nystapi man who after a bit of digging was a good friend of Wilan, it turns out. Served together in the military even. Toss in that Wilan said he was good to completely remove and change the officer core of the rest of the military?

So many things were changed overnight, he was allowed to get investments in for something other than the elven settlers, the military was completely changed and was allowed to trade with neighboring states. All of which, the Soldier Prince said was okay and his father agreed with him on. It was too good to be true, it was fairy tale and Jonas was not a fool. In spirits we trust, in everything else he verifies.

He wasn’t blunt with his questions to his contacts of course, always phrasing the question in a way that doesn’t show his hand. Question about economic policy here, asking others to read the tea leaves there and so forth. All of which led him to two possibilities, he was being set up, soon to be removed from power and replaced by someone loyal to Wilan. Second possibility, which seemed more likely given a few rumors and the generals being replaced. His Majesty King Carl was soon to be replaced by his son and Wilan wanted to secure his position with their Litlåttes region. In which case, he needs to prepare for himself for the good of the Nystapi.

Though soon enough the Nystapi PM’s thoughts were broken by his office door opening, revealing none other than the oh so famous Soldier Prince and the Reformer Prince. With Wilan wearing his dark blue ceremonial army uniform, while Torster wore a typical dress suit though with black and blue in colour scheme. “Mr. Liljeström it’s a pleasure meeting you sir.” Torster said having a wide smile as he reached out to shake the prime minister’s hand, bowing his head respectfully to him. “Sorry for the late arrival, my brother had to visit a hospital.”

Wilan meanwhile just gave a respectful bow towards Liljeström but not much else as he sat down, placing a hand on his stomach to where he had that damn tube put into him in.

The elven prime minister gave a warm smile, standing up and bending, giving a respectful bow in return to him. “It is as the spirits will it, can I offer you two some coffee?” He started to walk towards his coffee pot, one that was position next to a mirror so he could look behind him.

“A nice cup of coffee would sound lovely about.” Torster said having a small tired smile as he sat down. Being mainly tired over the fact that he and his brother were having an heated argument during their drive ride here. Well it be wrong to say it was a heated argument, no he was the one becoming while his older brother found amusement in his anger. He glanced towards his brother in which Wilan just had a small smirk on his face. Torster couldn’t help but glare at him before mouthing out. ‘I hate you.’

The Crown Prince just rolled his eyes at that as he mouthed back. ‘I hate you too.’ Yet kept that shit eating smirk on his face that Torster just hated. With a quiet sigh the Prince turned his focus back to the prime minister. “Now from what my rather thoughtless Brother told me, you’ve called up this meeting over certain concerns you have. Am I correct?” He raised an eyebrow at Liljeström still trying to act as friendly as he could.

He stared at their little hateful interaction through the mirror, before turning around with a tray that held their coffee on the top of it. He approached them laying the tray on his desk, before moving to sit down at his seat. “Of course, just a few minor bureaucratic things I want to ask about.” Jonas gave a warm, disarming smile towards them. “I have tried to reach his Majesty’s secretary for few moments now to arrange a small meeting. We’re having ceremony for our independence day, and I thought it would be wise to have a member of the royal house there, besides her holiness Esta the Protector of course.”

“The Secretary is on her much needed vacation, If you need to reach out to my father then a quick call to me will do.” Wilan spoke up in a stoic tone, being immediately prepared to give cover for the sudden silence from the Secretary. Beating his little brother to the punch in finding a cover.

“Quite so, and we will gladly have our house be there to celebrate that day with you. Me and my brother both be able to come to join the ceremony.” Torster said keeping smiling as he added into what he was saying.

“So his majesty won’t be attending?” He gave a curious tilt of his head, took a sip of his coffee. “I have invited a few rather pretentious investors, who… Let’s just have a deep interest in speaking with him at the ceremony. They are the easily offended sort.” He relaxed in his chair, maintaining a friendly attitude with them.

“Our father is unfortunately gonna be quite busy on that day I’m afraid. It during Yule time and well, things becomes much more hectic back in Kungstad when Yule comes around.” Torster said letting out a small chuckle as he then took a sip from his cup.

“In that case, could you spare a few invites for the Yule celebrations at the palace? Five would be enough to satisfy them.” Jonas took another sip from his cup, taking a good look at the two princes in front of him.

“That can be arranged.” Torster said with a nod as he took a sip from his cup once more, wanting to calm his nerves while his brother mainly sat there in silence. Wilan simply studying the body language of the prime minister.

“Ah that is most fantastic then, I’m sure they will be pleased. Another thing did come up, but it’s more of a personal matter.” Jonas gave a warm chuckle before he slipped out another lie. “He hasn’t made his move yet in our chess game for three weeks now, I was wondering if he just quit or is he taking more than normal to make his move.” It was a lie of course, but a needed one to see if they actually killed their father.

“Knowing my father it’s him not wanting to admit defeat.” Torster joked once more as he kept his charming smile. “He is quite an stubborn old man, right Wilan?”

"Extremely stubborn.” Wilan said once more in a stoic tone as he couldn’t help but be curious of why Liljeström was even bringing the topic up.

“Ha!” The PM gave a laugh at that, “That he is, it’s why all those policy changes came such a shock for me but I guess he finally was convinced. As for the chess game, knowing him, he probably knows he is about to checkmated and would rather keep the game going on until he perishes out of spite.” His eyes cut sharply to Torster, waiting to see any response about his off-hand dead dad comment.

But no reaction came from him nor from Wilan, with Torster simply taking a sip from his coffee cup. “He isn’t that stubborn." He said with a small chuckle shaking his head.

“No, he absolutely would be that stubborn." Wilan said completely serious, he knew full well how bad of a loser his father was.

With another sip of his coffee, he placed his mug down onto his desk. “I do have to ask, what did you two say to him to get him to finally accept the changes? My party has tried for decades to get him to allow Lapliszna to reform and allow industrialization to happen. Not to mention the break from settler policy, it just seems very sudden if you don’t mind me asking.”

“Well as stubborn as the old man is, there are still parts of him that will see reason. It wasn’t easy of course but he is a man that wanted less responsibility, not more. Allowing Lapliszna to reform and stand more on its own lessen the paperwork for our father. Less paper work means more time on stuff he enjoys.” Torster said his prepared line to that question, knowing full well the PM would ask it. In reality the situation was far more difficult. Mainly over the fact that they had effectively helped ensuring their father didn’t find out about the reforms to begin with. Which still meant dealing with resistance from Royal Councilors and Mr. Dalgerson, the Blåskovian PM. But Wilan had proven successful in pressuring those down by stating its policies pushed directly by the Crown.

“Oh, is he thinking about retiring then? I heard some rumblings about it.” He kept his smile up, keeping his firm gaze at Torster. “How did you get the royal council on board?”

“The council knows better than to challenge the Crown directly.” Wilan spoke up his voice being bit louder than he previously been. “Now, Mr. Liljeström, instead of doing this, can you just speak directly what you want ask?” He raised an eyebrow at the elven prime minister, ignoring the irritated look he got from his younger brother.

The attitude of the PM shifted instantly, rather than wasting both their time and denying it. He spoke up in a flat tone. “Well, you are either setting me up, or either have or planning to kill your father and take control of Blaskog.” He turned his gaze towards Wilan giving a frozen look towards him.

Torster opened his mouth to completely deny the fact that they were planning on assassinating their own father. Unfortunately for the younger Prince, Wilan had been the one to speak up first. “My father is unfortunately still alive, but he won’t be for long.” The stoic and casualness in his brother’s tone as he just admitted to their plans shocked Torster. Not words themselves but just the fact Wilan would just brutally say it in honesty. He gave a wide eyed glare towards his brother yet Wilan continued. “So no need to worry about your position, as long you keep doing your job, do your reforms, keep me updated what happens here and keep your mouth perfectly shut about this.” Torster rubbed the bridge of his nose hearing that, letting out an annoyed, frustrated sigh.

“That’s all I needed to know well that and I’m going to have your sister officially become the ceremonial ruler instead of the de-facto ruler.” Jonas spoke without a drop of emotion. “It’s better for everyone that way, she doesn’t want to rule outside of the religious elements and I rather not have spent several hours trying to reach her in order to get her permission for something minor.”

“I mean… I’m perfectly in agreement there, it would make things far smoother.” Torster said being more or less completely tired from everything that happened today. Earning him a sigh from his older brother.

“As long as the matters brought up today doesn’t leave this office and my friends in the army keep their positions.” Wilan said as he stood up and reached out to shake the PM’s hand, giving it a very firm squeeze as he shook it. “Though I hope it still all be done in her name, even if she doesn’t under what is done in her name.”

“Your friends can keep their pension, but none of them are coming close to anything remotely touching the economy. Had enough trouble with your father on that front. As for your sister, that is a given. She is after all, a Enshrined Spirit.” He stood up and shook his hand. “Have a good patricide, your majesty.”

The Crown Prince couldn’t help but smirk at that. “Don’t worry, I will.”

(CW: Violence, should be expected by now but just in case)

14th December, 2023
Kungstad, Blåskog

The light of the sun dimmed as it nestled between the mountain peaks for its rest. The long-suffering maid, always was cautious when it neared the time when she was ‘allowed’ to return home to her loving children. Ny’Kuil has returned to her work after her long vacation, and while it’s only been week. Her guard was never lowered, despite her ‘partner’ Prince Wilan keeping an eye on her and more importantly than king. To insure Carl didn’t take his painful revenge on her.

That being said, her protector is now gone. Tasked with keeping watch on her precious amethyst, Esta during the Nystapi independence ceremony. Well more as in taking part of the ceremony, keeping a watch over her is implied. Which just sent her mental defenses into overdrive. She was alone with Carl in the palace. Sure there was other staff in the palace, but they scared of him just as much as she was.

Only thing she could honestly do in this state of consistent of being on edge. Was keep working, keep doing her duties and avoid Carl as much as possible. Which wasn’t easy dodging him, given all of her duties is essentially being his personal maid. Taking care of his office, bedroom and running his bath, as well all the other things she does for him. However she knew his schedule as if it was a tattoo on her eyelids. That didn’t set her at ease however, tip toeing around the palace.

She was cleaning his office, according to the schedule she memorized he should be across the palace sitting his bath watching the latest Process of Creation episode in his bathroom T.V. As such, she began her work but kept two ears open for any sudden sounds that might creep along the hallway.

And soon enough clear heavy steps came from down the hall, getting ever closer to the office, much to the growing worry for the maid until it stopped right at the door to the office. With said door being quick to be opened as an angry Carl walked in with a briefcase of paperwork in it. Luckily for Ny’Kuil the king hadn’t even taken glance towards, not certain that he even noticed her presence as he sat down behind his desk as he angrily looked through the reports he got from his prime minister. Several months worth of unread reports, and of complaints that attempts to reach him have been fruitless since apparently his secretary had gotten paid vacation. To Vakrestrender. With no one notifying him that she took one, or that she even had vacation days to begin with. The king was wearing his usual dress suit, though a dress jacket was hanging on his chair. With him just wearing his dark blue dress shirt, black dress pants and a black tie he loosened as his eyes narrowed on the reports. “Get me a cup of coffee.” He spoke in a cold tone, signaling that he knew perfectly well that she was there. His eyes still not moving away from the report in front of him.

She stood there in a panicked state, her brain screaming at her feet to move but they refused. Her eyes staring at him in complete and utter fear, her hands shaking as she held her broom. For a few moments nothing but silence until her hands failed her and her mop handle escaped from her grip and crashed into the floor with a rather undramatic sound that echoed in the office. Ny’Kuil tried to speak but her throat tightened up barely letting air come into to her lungs.

The king let his reading glasses fall to the tip of his nose as he looked over them and looked directly up to Ny’Kuil’s face. His blue eyes give her a cold glare. “You had an very long vacation, Mrs. Ny’Kuil. But that doesn’t justify you being sloppy. Pour me a cup of coffee, now.” He was quick to then place his attention back to the report, pushing his reading glasses back up his nose. Frown on his face as he read a report about the elven settlement program having stopped. According to supposed orders by the Crown, orders he doesn’t remember giving.

She tried to move again but instead just fell to her knees, her breath became short and panicked. Her heart raced like a series one car. She tried to push herself up with her hands but all she could manage was pushing her hands against the ground. Panic and terror raced through her mind, living nightmare she had been having since she was on her so called vacation start has come to life and ordered her to go get coffee. Her body was shaking from adrenaline but it didn’t do her any favors.

Carl let out an annoyed groan hearing the maid falling down, once more looking towards her with clear cold anger in his eyes. “You know in most damn days, I’d love the fact you on your knees. Yet I have a lot of work, so. Get. The. Fuck. Up.” He glared down at her as he put down the report, though soon enough his attention was taken by noticing a small piece in his briefcase. Glancing towards it he noticed a white king chess piece in it. Causing the elf to raise an eyebrow at it before picking it up, giving it a curious look.

Ny’Kuil wanted to do nothing more than obey him. To stand up and get him coffee then disappear. Yet when she tried to force her body to move instead of standing. She let out a panicked crying sound. She really did want to obey him but the panic and fear of it all buried any chance of it. She couldn’t stand she tried but with each motion to order from her mind it resulted in a tear.

The king let out an annoyed groan as he heard the maid cry with him harshly putting the king piece on his desk as he stood up from his chair and walked towards her. “If you keep refusing orders then I will give you something real to cry about.” He growled out as he reached down and harshly pulled the maid up to her feet by grabbing her arm before pushing her against the bookcase. He was much taller and larger than her as he kept her back pushed against a bookcase as his eyes glared down at her.

Ny’Kuil instinctively spread her legs apart as she was pushed against the bookcase. Her trembling eyes bursting in a flood of tears running down her cheek. She gave a weak ‘yelp’ as she was violently dragged towards the wall. She tried to speak, but it just came out as a whisper. “S-sorry.”

“I’m glad that your training is not fully gone.” He said in a mocking tone as he glanced towards her legs, his knee placed between them to ensure they stay apart. He placed a hand on her chin forcing her to look up at him, and all that she could see was the cold smirk on his face. “Be a good little girl and-” He was interrupted by a knock on the door. And she could see his anger returning as he breathed in and out. “Leave me be, any matter can be brought up to me later.” The king kept his eyes on the maid, with both knowing full well what would happen If she spoke up or called for help.

Her eyes kept forward, looking into Carl’s uncaring eyes. She didn’t speak, she simply kept her hands at her side and awaited further instruction. Given how long it’s been, and how angry he currently is. It was up in the air for he going to act, but she certain it will be quite violent endeavor for her. After a few stressful seconds, she was able to speak up. “W-what would you like sir?” Every word was stressed in an uneven flow.

“Get on your knees while I lock this damn door.” He growled out as he took a step back mumbling under his breath as he walked to the door, turning the lock. “I refuse to be refused any long.” He fully took off his tie as he did so and threw it towards his desk, soon enough unbuttoning his dress shirt as he looked towards her. Waiting for her to obediently get on her knees.

She lowers herself onto her knees, never looking away from him even for a second. Running completely on autopilot, her hands lifting up her skirt slightly as she kneeled down as not to let it get dirty. Ny’Kuil even stopped her wasteful crying, drifting her thoughts elsewhere. Somewhere much kinder, and far away from his majesty.

“I always love it when you’re obedient. I guess you finally realized I have your children well being in my hands.” He spoke in a snarky tone as he threw his shirt away showing his pale chest as he walked close to her, placing a hand on her chin as she looked down at her. While his hand moved to his belt. Though before the king could unbuckle it he heard the door handle of his door being turned and twist to open the door. He growled as heard it, turning around away from the maid. “I told you to leave me be!” He yelled at the door and for a moment the twisting of the door handle stopped. After a few seconds the king turned around looking towards the maid with his smirk back on his face. “Now where were we a-”

Soon enough the door was forced open, as the sounds of someone slamming into it echoed in the office. Splinters of wood coming from the door frame at the same time, even the hinges creaking from the forced opening. Turning around the shirtless king immediately saw his eldest son, dressed in the army uniform he was supposed to wear for that ceremony in Lapliszna. Carl just rolled his eyes as he saw his son, not noticing the clear fully enraged cold look Wilan was giving him. “You are supposed to be at the Nystapi Independence ceremony.” He with a sigh as he began walking towards his desk to get his shirt back again, mumbling under his breath about how his son had cock blocked him again.

Ny’Kuil kept in position, not moving or saying a word. Keeping her eyes focused on Carl as she was trained too during these situations where someone walks in.

“Get up.” Wilan spoke up looking at the maid, his voice was cold and low. “Leave us.” He gestured with his head for the maid to leave the office before once more placing his full anger and rage towards his father. Earning him an annoyed look from the king.

“Come on, you do not have the authority to march in here an-” Carl began saying but was quickly silenced by his son who quickly closed the distance between the two, his right hand wrapped tightly around his throat. With all the king could do was just place his hands on the crown prince’s wrist trying to desperately pull the hand away from his throat. All the while looking up at his son, his blue eyes wide in shock by this development, the king having not even fully put his shirt back on properly.

Ny’Kuil kept to her training, watching the sudden development of father-son bonding. Keeping her eyes tracking Carl’s sudden movements as the king tried to fight back. Her hands resting on top of her lap while she sat on her knees. Just as he always trained her to-do. Her mind drifts off to thinking about what their children are doing right now, probably watching the tv shows they’re not to suppose to be watching without her or Wilan around.

The king looked around desperately, his eyes landing on the maid, small tears already began building up in his eyes as the pain from being choked became clearer and clearer. “N-Ny’Kuil get h-he-” His already hoarsed voice was stopped in the middle of his sentence as his son increased his already harsh grip on his throat.

“Just shut up, you absolutely waste of space.” Wilan growled out as his gray eyes glared into his father’s eyes, pushing his father into his own desk causing him to lay down on it as he leaned over him. He was bit annoyed that Ny’Kuil was still there but If she wanted to watch his father be killed he couldn’t blame her. “You truly think that the maid you abused for almost two decades going to help you?” He let out a mocking chuckle as papers and pictures on the desk fell off, with the chess piece from earlier poking against Carl’s back as he laid right on it. Wilan couldn’t help but chuckle and give glance towards the maid only for his chuckle to end, in which the anger from earlier was replaced with a completely stoic tone. “What are you doing?”

Carl’s words were static in her mind, just vague sounds that sound like an order. She uses her hands to reach behind her back start undoing her apron. Gently folding it up and placing it next to her before she started to work on her dress shirt. Only for a sharp voice cutting through the static ordering her to stop what she was doing. Ny’Kuil moved her hands back down to her lap. Waiting patiently for the next command. Maybe her kids are behaving as they should be and watching that one cute show with anime fox with a crown rather than something they’re not suppose to.

“I-I trained her we-” Carl tried to joke through but was once more interrupted by his son who let out an angry growl as he dragged his father by the throat from the desk and into the floor. The back of the king’s head slamming harshly to the cold floor below. With Wilan soon enough being completely on top his father, both his hands now on the king’s throat.

“I know everything father. How you made her dress up as my beloved, about the children you kept hidden, about you raping my little sister. Every single sin.” Wilan growled as he slammed the king’s head against the floor as he kept choking him, the grip on his wrists being there but he knew they were getting weaker. “I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since you forced my break up, forcing me to spend eight years in an miserable marriage.”

The back of Carl’s head began to bleed out, he could feel less and less blood coming to his head as he couldn’t breathe. “O-Olav f-forced m-my h-hand.” He tried to explain, on how he had no choice on Wilan’s relationship with Jørgen. He had no choice, yet any further explanation was stopped by mere fact he couldn’t speak more. His eyes become weaker and weaker, not even able to keep eye contact with his son.

“Shut up, just shut up you degenerative piece of shit.” Wilan snarled as his grip on his father’s throat tightened more and more, his father eventually letting go of his wrists as his father seemed to look increasingly into the distance. The Prince could feel his father’s blood running cold as the king let out few desperate attempts to breath, with attempted words asking for mercy simply sounding like coughed instead. Until finally, no movement in body was left and the king’s eyes no longer blinked staying perfectly still. Yet Wilan didn’t stop choking him just yet still gripping his father’s throat as he glared at his lifeless body for a few more minutes before eventually tilting his head at the lack of movement. “Hmm.” He gave his father’s head a few more bangs against the floor, just to make sure. More blood leaving the back of Carl’s head.

The New King rose to his feet dusting off his uniform pants as he let out a sigh. “Well, I’m glad to let all that out.” He said shaking his head as he looked down at the corpse of his own father, a small smirk on his lips. He had plans to rant a little longer but once he had his hands around his father’s throat he just couldn’t stop. Giving Carl’s corpse a gentle push with his foot, mainly to move it. “Genuinely dead. Good riddance.” His eyes couldn’t help but notice a small white king piece laying on the floor, next to his father’s head. Tiny bit of blood got into it. Picking it up he couldn’t help but look at it curiously before he let out a small chuckle as he realized who it was. ‘Playing chess, huh?’ He thought to himself with a smirk as he pocketed the chess piece and turned around only to see the maid still on her knees. “Goodness gracious, Ny’Kui!” He said loudly snapping fingers several times to get her attention to wake her up from her obedience training.

She blinked for a few moments, shaking her head looking up at Wilan. “O-oh sorry, I didn’t mean to get in your way.” The old maid spoke up dusting her legs off and picking up her apron. It was just then she saw the puddle of blood coming from behind the desk, she briefly looked at herself over. Trying to see where he hurt her this time. Even rubbing her head, looking for open wounds. Noticing there were no wounds on her, and more importantly was still fully dressed. Her curiosity was peaked, walking towards the desk only to find the lying battered corpse of Carl behind it. She started to scream until Wilan’s strong hand covered her mouth. Her eyes widen at the implication of it all. Her breathing started to run short again.

“Stay. Silent.” Wilan glared down at her, his cold merciless gray eyes meeting hers as he spoke in a cold tone. “I told you to leave earlier, you didn’t. You didn’t have to be here, but you chose to. If you scream, I will knock you unconscious." He kept his hand on her mouth. "Nod, If you understand me.”

Ny’Kuil nodded her head, the terror in her eyes reflecting back into his cold grey ones.

He let go of her mouth and like that he smiled once more. “Now with that unpleasantry done with, sorry about that. How about you go home to our children, take tomorrow a day off while I clean up all. Well this, Hmm?” He raised an eyebrow at her as he grabbed a handkerchief to dry off the small bits of blood that got to the back of his hand.

“I-I didn’t see anything.” Her tone was meek, as she looked up at him. “P-please don’t hurt my ch-children…” Her hands was firmly at her side, gripping the fabric of her dress. Looking at him with utter terror still. “I-I won’t say anything I-I promise just don’t hurt them.”

Wilan fell quiet for a moment as he let out a sigh as he put the handkerchief on the desk which was a utter mess of papers spread around the place, and pictures knocked over. “Ny’Kuil… I broke through that door and killed my own father, because he threatened them. His death wasn’t going to happen until at least two weeks.” He gave her an apologetic look. “Look, go to your kids. Tell them you love them, and that I love them as well. With my father gone well, you three might finally move in here full time. I promise I’ll ensure they are taken care of from now on. Okay?”

“I-I will, I-I will.” She kept a weak tone, keeping her hands firmly to her side. “I-I get them packed up but… I-I um…” Her words trailed off before she could collect them again. “Are you sure it would be wise to move them here?” She gave a cautious tone, not wanting to accidentally provoke him somehow.

“Perhaps not immediately, but there is room. I… Well, I just want to ensure you and your children have the option. Give it a few weeks of thought.” He said in a polite tone before looking back at his father’s corpse. “I’m gonna get all this cleaned up. Sorry you had to see this, please focus tomorrow on just taking care of your children.” He really wanted to add that he did literally tell her to leave, and that she just stood there as he killed his father but it was not the right moment.

“I-I will.” Ny’Kuil gave half-body bow as she left the room. Then proceed to start walking very quickly out of the office. Sure the bus wouldn’t be here until 30 minutes later but it most certainly is better waiting at the palace. Who knows if Wilan would change his mind or not.

Wilan let out a small sigh as he walked around the desk and towards the door closing it. Though let out a groan of annoyance when the door refused to keep shut. “Torster not gonna be happy when hears about this…”

Next day

Torster let out a heavy sigh as he looked down at the corpse of his father, grimacing as he saw bits of dried blood that was on back of Carl’s white hair. With the late king having clear bruises around his throat where his older brother had choked. Despite it all the Prince was surprisingly calm, mainly as a result having spent over a day mentally preparing himself. And well, helps that he has seen a corpse before. In a much worse shape as well. This time the organs are on the inside after all. Still he was still annoyed as he looked towards his brother.

“We had a plan, Wilan.” He said crossing his arms, the two of them were in the Palace’s medical wing. The staff being as loyal as ever didn’t ask anything, other than If it meant they could get the wage increase their father had denied them.

“Well I’m sorry brother but I doubt you be acting as a pacifist when someone threatens your child.” Wilan said coldly back as he went back to pulling the cover over their father’s face.

“They aren’t your children.” Torster said trying to reason but flinched when he was met with an icy cold glare from his brother. “Look, our focus now is what the plan is moving forward.”

“Well we certainly need someone to put the blame on, while also increasing anti-nobility sentiments among the public.” Wilan pondered for a few moments after saying that.

“…I don’t like planning murders with you, but… But your father-in-law Duke Andreas IV likely be a good pick.” Torster scratched the back of his head awkwardly. “He voted against the proposal of stopping elven settlements in Lapliszna and previously condemned our father over it. He would have the motive, and well with his wife and daughter dead… There is lack of people to seize his lands, other than well…” He gestured with his hand to make clear to his older brother that was talking about, well, him.

“Hmm. I have to kill not just my father, but also my father-in-law.” Wilan said with a small smirk as he looked towards his younger brother. “Seems like me and Esta finally rubbed on to you, little brother.” He wrapped an arm around Torster’s shoulder as he pulled him down as he rubbed the head of his younger brother.

The Prince just grumbled as he tried to fix his hair again as Wilan let go and began walking towards the exit. “You know we don’t have to kill him! We could just blackmail him to take the blame or something!” He spoke up annoyed being called in any way and form similar to his siblings.

“Nah, we killing him. See you later, Killjoy! Thank you for helping me cover this mess.” Wilan kept his smirk on his face as he left the room, leaving his younger brother to let out a sigh.

“…Its for a better tomorrow, It’s for a better tomorrow.”

_ _

4th January, 2024
Kungstad, Blåskog

As the Duke of Yvira left his limousine he couldn’t help but shiver from the cold. The long red-haired nobleman had shadow over his eyes from a clear lack of sleep which he had for almost the entire year now. Since now almost a year ago his wife and daughter died in that damn train accident in Lapliszna. Normally he would spend this week preparing himself to visit their memorial, and deal with the loss. Yet he got a surprising call from his son-in-law, suggesting the two meet and try to keep each other some company during this time of the year. He originally was not certain If he was going to entertain the idea, but well it was better talking with a family member than spend a day behind an office either burying one’s misery with work or with alcohol.

Pulling his winter coat closer to his body the duke began his walk up the stairs of the Royal Palace, some Yule decorations were still quite around. He couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle as he saw even some of the historical statues having some Gavbringer hats on. Shaking his head in amusement he grabbed the palace’s door knocker as he gave three clear knocks on the door. In which after a small moment the palace doors opened, revealing the Crown Prince in a dark blue ceremonial uniform on and wearing black leather gloves on his hands. With Wilan curiously having a handgun in a holster at his right hip, with him having a small smile on his lips. “I hope the cold wasn’t too bad, Andreas.”

The Duke rolled his eyes yet matched the mood with a small smile of his own. "Well, it wouldn’t be East Borea if the weather was warm.” He said taking off his coat and hanging it on a nearby coat hanger. “How have you been, Wilan?”

“Well, It’s a weird feeling, not having her here. You know?” Wilan said scratching the back of his head as he gestured for his father-in-law to follow him deeper into the palace. “I’m surprised you didn’t join us for Yule.”

Andreas let out a small sigh as he followed the Crown Prince into the Palace’s parlor room, the fireplace warming up the large space. “I would have, but, work has been taking up a lot of my time after my wife died.” He sat down on a sofa where a cup of coffee had already been prepared for him.

“Well you have to be careful not to drown yourself in it.” Wilan said with a small warm chuckle. “I’ll go and get ourselves some snacks from the kitchen.”

“I’ll try.” The Duke for a long moment had a genuine smile on his face as he looked back at his son-in-law. “And thank you doing this.”

“Anytime, Andreas.” The Crown Prince had a kind tone as he spoke before turning around and exiting the parlor room. Leaving the older gentleman there alone.

Andreas took a sip from his cup, his smile still on his lips. It was nice knowing he had someone who wanted to ensure he wasn’t drowning himself in his own grief and pity. He had practically spent entire Yule to either drink or encourage others in the council to oppose the Crown’s sudden new policy directions. Especially the ending of the elven settler program in Lapliszna. A move he knew was a result of the king’s sons actively pushing for it, especially Torster who have somehow helped getting the common council united against them.

Still despite his political disagreement with the Princes, he was happy they at least wanted to bury that hatchet for Yule. To spend time with him. He couldn’t help but look around the room, to see the large Yule tree that stood near the fireplace and the large royal painting that stood over the fireplace. As he looked up at the painting he saw the smiling faces of a king Carl IX and late Queen Trudi, with Crown Prince Wilan standing in front of the king while a young Prince Torster standing in front of the Queen. With the Queen having her arms wrapped all around the young Prince, with Torster seeming to have a nervous smile with his face for some reason being entirely red. Such warmth was nowhere seen with the King and Crown Prince however, with the closest to warmth there was the fact that the King had a hand on Wilan’s shoulder. With them both wearing military uniforms. Contrast to the other two royals wearing pair Yule outfits. Though the Crown Prince was not smiling in the painting, a cold stoic face was there instead. If not bordering on angry with the slight frown one could see.

Most curiously however for the Duke was the lack of Princess Esta in the painting. Wilan must be at least 20 in the painting, with Torster still being in high school by that time. So why was there no little Esta in the Royal family painting? He raised an eyebrow at that before taking another sip from his cup. Though his mind did not wander too far over the matter as he heard few footsteps coming back into the room. “Ah you back. Thank you for doing all this, genuinely. I’m still grieving so this helped a lot.” He said looking over his shoulder towards who he assumed was his son-in-law.

And it was, but the Crown Prince’s friendly charade from earlier was gone. Instead the Duke saw the icy cold gray eyes of Wilan’s looking down at him, and more importantly was the fact that he withdrew his pistol from its holster and aimed it directly at him. The pistol having a silencer on it in. Andreas looked up at him shocked with his yellow eyes wide in fear. “Do not worry, Andreas. You won’t be in grief for much longer.” He heard the Crown Prince’s cold icy voice say so clearly, before soon enough the trigger was pulled and the last thing he would ever hear was the bang from Wilan’s pistol…

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