The Great Hall
The Great Hall appeared to be caught in the act of flowering. The ceiling was so high above Keroqui that he could barely see the ends of the vines that seemed to grow from the floor, twisting among the tall, thin windows lining the long hall, letting in golden sunlight. The glass of the windows was broken into a hundred thousand tiny pieces, each shaped like a different leaf in the forest, and stained in clear shades of green and brown. They were held in place by the tiniest and most intricate brass work he had yet seen, the glass leaves fitting together as a puzzle would. The veins of each leaf was made of tiny spiderweb threads of gold. A single piece of one of the windows would be a fortune to a common man.
On the far wall was a window shaped into the eight pointed star crest of his father, perfectly framing the sun as it sunk lower in the sky. Each summons to the Great Hall was made so that those entering would be treated to the most glorious view of the sun in the entire kingdom. The bright light made Keroqui blink before he could see clearly again.
The floor beneath his feet was smooth dark wood, polished to a dull gleam, but as it spread out before him, roots began and grew in size, until they became two great trees growing on either side of the star crest window. These were the thrones of his parents, where they now sat, appearing to glow with the sunlight behind them. Beneath their hands grew branches, and over their heads were canopies of leaves reaching out so that the ends of the branches of his father’s throne curled among the budding branches of his mother’s.
His father was wearing his best, as was customary when holding audience in the Great Hall. The king’s coat was emerald; a hue as fresh as though he was wearing the essence of all things alive. At his waist was a belt of gold, interlocking stars that reflected the light at sharp angles. In contrast to his bright finery, Gundear’s leathery face held no emotion. His gray eyes seemed blank, as though there was nothing behind them but emptiness. If he had looked enraged, it would make Keroqui feel better then the hopelessness that seemed to have settled on his father’s brow. Gundear’s white hair was grown down to his waist, neatly combed, and with pure gold threading plaited in a braid tucked behind one ear. His shoulders, which had always seemed to carry the weight of his position with pride and strength, now seemed to fold in, with only an air of royalty remaining, hinting at something that was lost.
His mother, Anthery, smiled at him reassuringly beneath red rimmed eyes. She had been crying, and seemed ready to weep again. The throne of the Lady of Allenya, the Lady of the Blue, was only slightly smaller then his father’s. She appeared to be clothed in water, the fabrics flowing upon her shoulders, in fountains down her arms that stopped just short of her fingers, and creating a shimmering pool beneath her feet. On her forehead was a silver chain that held a single blue stone, shaped into a droplet, or a tear. Around her neck was more silver, linked leaves, each no bigger then a joint of a man’s finger. She was the most beautiful woman in all of Gundear, so many told her, with her smooth cheeks and serene blue eyes. Her own hair was piled in delicate curls, like lace crowning her face, with silver threading glinting when she turned her head.