In the palace

We were all set to go and visit Charpatong’s dad’s Palace when we suddenly stopped… And looked at each other. Was it actually wise to go up, and let his half-brother Bhuvanath or step-mom capture Charpatong? Probably not! So we decided to slip away. That was not easy! We needed a real plan, but one was easily found. After all, we’re Valdyan semti! Well, almost…

Semte enough that I could make Charpatong really sick, by grabbing his stomach with my spirit and tickling it. He started retching almost immediately, and the guards, frightened, allowed us to take Charpatong to a doctor’s practice, a doctor he knew from before he was stolen.

The doctor tut-tutted a lot and told the guards to, well, guard, outside the house, and we could discuss the situation inside, with all of us and master Jeran. All these politics are complicated, though perhaps not as complicated as the politics back home where you’ve got Princess Maha and Princess Lyse and Princess Feneng and Queen Ledu. But the doctor could tell us that the King, Charpatong’s dad, he had gone to the Imperial City, where there’s no emperor anymore, for a big meeting with lots of other kings.

And in the meantime, Prince Bhuvanath, pushed by his mom, was trying to grab all power in Ayuthaya! Charpatong said, well, he probably was given the regency, at least temporarily, with the Great Seal of the Kingdom. We all had to wonder what that was, but apparently it was a sort of stone with a decoration on it, a bit like a Velihas coin, only bigger and thicker. It works like the Sathafái birthright, apparently, but it’s still stone, not power. I was wondering whether there would be power inside, like there is in some places in Velihas, but Charpatong didn’t know.

So we started to think… If this Bhuvanath was trying to take the kingdom away from Charpatong’s dad, he certainly wasn’t going to give it to Charpatong now that he’s back! But what if we could nick the Seal? Then Bhuvanath wouldn’t have the birthright anymore, so he wouldn’t have the power! And we could take the Seal to Charpatong’s dad and explain to him what was going on!

I have to admit, part of the reason I really liked this plan is that I’m a pretty good thief, and I had never stolen someone’s birthright before, which I know can be done, because Princess Lyse told us about the Honeybee people who tried to steal Prince Fekemme’s birthright. Of course, those people were just amateurs. And another reason I liked this plan is that Charpatong knew of a secret passage into the guest house of the Great Palace. And secret passages are fun, who can resist one of those?

So up we went, and it’s amazing how a palace like Charpatong’s is really badly guarded! I mean, there were guards around, walking up and down the courtyard, standing next to doors and things… But once we’d donned some servant’s clothing, nobody even saw us. With a broom and a mop we reached the door to the King’s study, and when we asked the guards to step aside, they moved away and let us clean in front of the door!

So I sneaked in, being extra careful to also hide myself using semsin, and I found that Bhuvanath was right there, going through some paperwork and drinking some wine. So I slithered closer and put some sleeping powder in his wine, and he finished the glass in a big gulp!

Then he looked surprised, as if the taste had been off, started yawning and fell asleep! Well, it was easy enough now to find the Big Seal, even though it didn’t have any power! It was right there on a big pillow as if it were a lapdog. I also found a pretty fancy dagger which I took for myself. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that, but that’s something we found out later.

So, with the Seal in a bucket of dirty water, we sneaked out again… And reached the doctor’s house without problems. That was when guards started running all over the place, so we had to find a good place to hide, and start our journey from. Mahesi’s dad has a place where sails are repaired or made or something, I don’t know, and she knew we could hide there, so we did!

The next morning, we had a cart, and one of the girls we had found in the floating harbour, Kalyana, she knew how to make sure that the horse drawing the cart would do its job, and so we left town! It was a good moment for it, because there was this festival going on, and lots of people would go to the villages where their ancestors were born to celebrate ferticility. (That means, stuff grows and you get food out of it, but also making babies, ew).

With a bunch of streaming ribbons tied to the cart, we were perfectly disguised! Until we were held up by a man who was dressed like a Valdyan merchant, but actually was a Khas bandit! Stupid of him, of course, because in the first place, robbing a bunch of children, we didn’t even have Jeran with us, where’s the profit in that? And what with us all having had enough of adults threatening us, we had him disarmed soon enough!

And then he turned the tables by offering to become our personal guard! Well, anything better than letting him go and try again…