QUEEN OF CALAMITY
Artist: Kaki King - Song: Night After Sidewalk - Word Count: 1,245
Umeko didn't have the words to express how grateful she was for the bar being at this function. The availability of alcohol was a blessing in and of itself as events this crowded tended to make Umeko anxious and short of breath in a way that only inebreation seemed to be able to placate. As the queen reached the bar, the bartender gave her a look as if he was about to tell her to take a hike. However, he wasn't born yesterday nor was his home located directly under a rock and so it didn't take more than a cursory glance for his sharp look to morph into a more respectful acknowledgement. Umeko might look young, but she had been around for a very long time. The newly crowned monarch was older than even the kingdoms themselves, and more likely needed a drink more than ninety-eight percent of the other beings within the room.
Umeko looked resignedly at the man working and raised two fingers, signalling for him to slide her one of the mixed drinks that had been prepared in advance for this function. It was something that was a favorite of the court apparently. Umeko couldn't help but laugh as the bartender slid her the full glass. As far as she remembered, she had never even been asked about what drinks were going to be served. She hadn't been asked about the guest list. She hadn't been asked about the schedule. She hadn't even been asked about the time or date. The green-haired queen stared downward into the surface of her drink for a moment before taking a long and contemplative sip from said beverage. She coughed almost immediately after swallowing, not used to the burn after going so long without having consumed any sort of intoxicant. Umeko raised a hand to signal to the bartender that she was okay before wiping her mouth briefly, sighing before turning around and facing outward back toward the crowd, resting her elbows on the edge of the bar and leaning her weight back against it, cocking her hips as she did so. This crowd.. she hardly knew anyone here.. then again, she hardly really knew anyone at all.
Since having returned to the Sugiuran realm, Umeko found that finding good company was challenging. The only people she had gotten the chance to speak to so far had been advisors or subjects with no middle ground. All of them either wanted to control Umeko's life and decide what was best for her, or were afraid of her or Avalon and over-compensated in the venue of respectfulness or kindness as a side effect of this. This meant that no matter what walk of life people were coming from, it was almost a guarantee that they would be acting less than honest when interacting with the Queen.. and it meant that, typically, Umeko was forced to keep to herself. Since she had come back from her self-imposed exile with Avalon, the guardian beast had been the only one that Umeko had felt she was really able to trust. All others whom surrounded her either wanted a piece of the kingdom or a name to drop in conversation with their friends. It was exhausting.. and disheartening. Was it too much to ask for someone who wanted to talk to her just.. because?
Umeko's thoughts drifted in this manner for a good while, long enough that she didn't even notice the stranger approaching from the side until they had already seated themselves beside the monarch. Umeko noticed three things in order. The first was a smell so sweet it could've come from the garden of the Gods themselves. The second was the way that the stranger sat down, immediately drawing Umeko's attention to the leg that had crossed over which would've set off a red flag.. if Umeko didn't find the person in particular so immediately enticing. The second that Umeko's eyes came to rest on the knight's thigh, they had been encapsulated by the beauty of the woman who it belonged to. Her eyes began to trail up slowly as they widened only enough to visibly show her surprise at catching the attention of such a ravishing creature, taking in every curve, every visible bit of skin, and the body language that cooperated with her outfit in such a way as to create the perfect combination to ensure that if this had been a cartoon.. Umeko would've had to pick her jaw up off the floor. The third, and final thing that Umeko noticed though.. was her voice. As the knight spoke, Umeko could feel her heart skip a beat. Tall, dark, and with vocal chords that made the sweetest music Umeko had ever heard. Where had this figure been all her life?
Umeko smiled sheepishly, trying her best to mask the fluster that had overtaken her face as the woman complimented the Queen as well as introduced herself. The ruler kept a level expression, her eyes glinting with a hint of delight as her lips turned into the ghost of a smile, her eyes turning back to the crowd for a moment. "If I knew a single one of the guests in attendance beyond my own council, I absolutely would. However, all this.. flash and preening is for bureaucrats. I prefer observing.. waiting until these peacocks think no-one's watching and seeing who they really are in that moment.."
The smaller girl smiled slyly as she turned her head, her eyes lifting to meet the knight's for the first time and immediately finding themselves lost within the buxom beauty's orbs. She tried to maintain her air of mystery and authority, hoping she could act confident enough to cover up how taken aback she was by the gorgeous vision that had appeared before her and livened up this drab event.
Umeko bowed her head briefly as a sign of respect and as a companion to her own introduction. "Good evening, Miss Kayta. I have no doubt that I will commit that name to memory, but I am curious.. why do you say it will be heard all over?"
Umeko tilted her head slightly, allowing herself to be curious if only out of boredom alone as her smile became a bit more visible.. not as much sly at this point as it was hopeful, attempting to gauge whether or not this being was one of those who was just talking to her because of some hidden agenda or whether or not this conversation was brought about due to genuine interest. "Regardless.. I do not doubt that fact. You have the bearing of a noble, and soldiers would gladly fight and die for a commander with a voice as heavenly as yours."
Umeko's smile gleamed as she continued. "I'm Umeko.. of the Zhilan clan, First Monarch of the Eastern Lands.. and I'm sure that introduction would have been a lot more impressive had the lead advisor not given it about half an hour ago.."
She chuckled before waving dismissively, her eyes glinting with a kind of playful mischief that foreshadowed the kind of person Kayta was dealing with here. Umeko could only hope that the knight was up to the challenge.