The cats were at their usual position next to the throne; Tom was to the right, Puss to the left and Kit was lounging on the floor in front. All three were the head of their parts of the castle cats, wearing the jeweled collars of their positions and very little else. The visiting dignitaries were uncomfortable looking at the animals shaped like people. The countess sat on the throne, waiting for them to approach and state their business.
The young man in the group was the first to step forward and bowed to the woman in the throne.
“We thank you for seeing us on such short notice and allowing me to petition for the position I have been raised for all my life.”
The countess looked at him and dropped a hand to the right of the throne to stroke Tom’s hair. “You’re a bit young, aren’t you, to be bringing this kind of petition? I wasn’t aware you had reached your majority, yet.”
The young man cleared his throat and looked back at the older man who had accompanied him. The older man stepped forward and bowed to the countess as well.
“You are correct, Regent, that he has not yet reached his majority, either by your laws or by ours. However, he has proven to be a very apt pupil and I would see him claim what was his and learn the rest of what he needs to know under your tutelage. There is no kingdom on this continent that is better run than [magic kingdom] and he would benefit greatly from your rule.”
The countess frowned at the men in front of her, feeling deceit in their every word, but they’d done nothing yet to provoke her. “Yes, this is a well run kingdom, and I would thank the boys maternal grandfather for that. However, you should know that he is not the only claimant for the throne.”
“Yes, but surely the countess can see the wisdom of installing a young man who is a grandson of the late king on the throne to settle the matter of the succession before it comes to war between all the claimants.”
“I do not see that as wisdom,” the countess said. “And neither did his grandfather. The terms of the succession have been set and followed to the letter thus far. Now, please explain to my why it would be wise to allow the terms of succession to be broken in order to prematurely crown an unproven boy?”
The young man blushed and stepped forward only to be stopped by the older man. “Unproven perhaps, but he is not a boy, and should not be treated as such. We have come to you in good faith, to ask you a favor that would relieve you of this heavy duty you have been forced to bear. If we are premature, then I apologize.”
The throne began to glow under the countesses arms and her voice took on an echoing quality. “You would seek to relieve me of this burden, would you? This young man is your nephew through your sister and you would see him sit on this throne, a puppet to your desires, this kingdom subjected to your kingdoms needs.”
The floor of the throne room began to move, wrapping around the visiting men’s legs, forcing their guards to stay back and the men directly to the front of the throne began to bend over in pain. The countess stood and walked towards them, Tom and Puss pacing her, staring at the men in front of them. The necklace around the countesses neck began to glow and the same fire appeared in her eyes.
She grabbed the young mans chin and pulled his face up so she could meet his eyes. “Yes, you are young, and you dislike this kingdom. Your uncle has promised you an alliance and another kingdom to live in while he rules this one. I see cowardice in you and a lack of wisdom. But your uncle is right in one thing; you do belong to this kingdom and you would learn wisdom under my tutelage.” The floor released his ankles. Tom was behind him, wrenching both his arms back and looked to his mistress.
“Yes,” the countess said. “Take him to the guards. We will begin his training there.” She moved to the older man and pulled his face up to look at hers.
“I see your greed, old man, and how you see these young people in your care. You would use them as your puppets, your play things. I see your neice in your mind, soon to be an addition to your other mistresses.”
“You can’t stop me, and you won’t live forever,” he spat at her. “No matter what magic your dead lover did to you.”
“You are correct, I will not live forever, but before I die, I will see you brought lower than any slave in your kingdom.”
“You can’t keep me here,” he said, more desperate than certain.
“No, it would not be wise, but before you go I will make you my plaything,” the countess said. The floor released him into the arms of Puss, who held him the same way Tom had held the would-be prince.
“To the trainers, Puss, the ones for naughty kitties.”
The glow slowly receded from her eyes as the countess walked back to her throne. She sat back down and addressed the guards. “You are my guests until your masters have learned their lessons. If you don’t wish to stay, you may be escorted to the border.” Everybody filed out of the room, dismissed by a hand wave, except Kit. She crawled to the countess and put her head in her lap, purring as she was petted, soothing her mistress the only way she could.