First Page: The Companion, Alternate World romance
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Golden light streamed through the glass dome that covered the Hall of Lunatium, the capital of Lunatia, the Empire of the Silver Crescent. Granite pillars lined the walls of the oval Hall, and its marble floor gleamed with the rays of the morning sun. A pair of Imperial Guards stood at each of the doors positioned at the four points of the compass, their red uniforms stark against the white walls.
At the northern end of the hall, a shrouded dais protected the future Empress, Syndra-Kai, from curious eyes. The law forbade any but personal maids, tutors, or family to look upon the face or form of the young Princess, until after her Initiation. The fabric of her shelter had been designed so that the Princess might view the Hall with little obstruction, yet was completely shielded from view. Only a dim outline of the Princess was visible through its folds.
Syndra-Kai sighed with impatience, twirling a strand of her gleaming black hair, pulled back into the Royal style. A silver circlet adorned the mass of hair piled high on her head. The mass of curls was interspersed with braids, their ends capped by silver beads.
“What a farce,” she thought to herself. “In a week’s time, things will be different. I will be Empress, and those that come after me will praise my name for the changes I will make.” Her mind churned with all the plans she had for her Empire.
Interrupting her thoughts, the Royal Chancellor, Xan-Rul, bowed before her, saying, “With your permission, Your Highness, we can proceed.”
Xan-Rul was also her tutor, and before that, he had been her mother’s faithful servant, Chosen by her mother, just as Syndra-Kai would Choose for herself today. Syndra-Kai sometimes pitied Xan-Rul for losing his manhood. Xan-Rul was quick to dismiss her concern.
“The honor of becoming your mother’s Companion was greater than any temporary pleasure those parts could have given me. It is an ancient custom, but it was necessary, and as a daughter of the Royal Family, she was obliged to go through with it. If you disagree, and many do these days, when you become Empress, you may change it. Until then, you must abide.”
Syndra-Kai had laughed contemptuously. “But in order to become Empress, I must go through with a ceremony which is both antiquated and barbaric.”
Xan-Rul smiled. “That, my dear, is called irony.”
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