None were the wiser to what had occurred amongst the scented candles. A resting Treasor was unlikely to say anything either, though he did smile wide, unable to wipe it off his face as he rested against Red’s bosom. Red lay sprawled next him also resting, she gave him a playful nibble on his ear. He was a bit embarrassed as he groaned a bit, but it was a huge step up from the last time she had done it.
“You enjoy that gesture, don’t you,” he teased.
“Means something different this time.” She retorted caressing his muzzle.
"Good to hear, if it meant what it meant last time, I'd be insulted," he teased, giving her a soft nuzzling around her neck. "Tell me this isn't a one-off."
Red pressed against him, “It’s not. Lately you’ve made me feel like a lovestruck girl, I haven’t felt like that in a long time.” She confessed. “I don’t wish to cast you away, when you make me feel so special.”
“...have I?” he said, embarrassed at being told such a thing. He glanced away, “That is kind of silly, I mean...I have not been ideal mate material,” he chuckled.
“It started when you actually opened up. Then you saved me.” Her ears twitched.
“Hmm, is that all?” he teased. “Just lucked out it was me who did those in that exact order.”
Red gazed at him, “No, there’s just something about you.” She ran a finger over his ear. “I guess we should make an appearance though.” She said sadly, not wanting the moment of blissfulness end.
“In a few minutes. I had express orders that you’ve had a rough day, your highness,” he grinned, his ear twitching as she touched it.
Red grinned at that, “Oh whatever shall we do?” She asked coyly. Treasor Rested on Red’s bosom.
“...I have no idea.”
Sometime later they finally left, Red smoothing her clothes out as best she could. Treasor was having even less luck, lamenting that he was not neat in undressing himself.
“No one would notice, yes?” he blurted out.
“Treasor, no one will question it unless you act suspicious, didn’t you learn that in the resistance?”
“Well, I was more frontline than anything. But yes, though this is far different than any smuggling operation,” his ear twitched.
Red looked around before giving him a quick peck, “Calm down, when I’m crowned I can choose who I want as mate, so if you’re worried about a scandal don’t be.” She gestured him along.
“You’d do that? I mean, not that you wouldn’t but...I didn’t expect to hear that is what I mean,” he said, glancing away in embarrassment.
“I think, maybe… I don’t…. Ah, you can be so frustrating.”
“I’m sorry, I just second guess so much when I really should not. I’ll be honored to be chosen as yours.”
“Conversation for another time,” Red responded.
“Is it really? Because I think I’d make an interesting King,” he smirked.
Red flattened her ears, “You missed something in your studies. You’re guard captain, you would remain so unless you wish to have another take your place. So which title would you prefer? King-Consort or Captain of the guard?”
“I’m kidding,and I know my studies. Even if I could appoint the perfect royal guard, this is what I’ve become. But it’s OK, you know why?” he asked, patting her ear. With noone around he leaned in to give it a loving nibble.
Red let a squeak of surprise and joy out which probably would have earned some reproachful looks. “Had to get one in, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I’m sorry. I will be your guardsman. But that’s not the point- you love me for who I am right now, I assume.”
“I do,” Red assured him.
“That’s why it doesn’t matter what you call me,” he grinned widely.
Red blushed beneath her fur. “I don’t care what you call me. Well in private, of course. Let’s just go, I'm hungry.” he concurred, they were almost to the commissary when a messenger waved them down.
“I come on behalf of prime minister--’
“Yes Yes, that’s all well and good, I thought...you all had other assignments going on,” Treasor grunted, stopping himself from giving the politician a stiff arm on the way to the cafeteria.
“I’m to inform lady Rejita the next trial starts at three.”
Red glanced at the clock, “It’s past three already,”
“No, I mean in the morning. Also you are not to actually sleep till then.”
Red flattened her ears, “Is this a joke?”
“What she means is that less than 12 Alliance hours ago we had a bombing attempt. We do have a suspect in custody, but that proves nothing, is it so safe to do this right now?” he grunted, not wanting to sleep deprive his now-secret lover.
“The trials will continue, security has been heightened, we must not allow the trials to be waylaid. Unless you’re trying to say she’s unprepared? A leader must always be prepared.”
Red’s fur bristled, she started to retort when Treasor spoke.
“Sir, she is prepared, but just know we did come from the hospital, visiting some of the victims. I would refrain from questioning her integrity.”
“Of, course. We shall see her at the appointed time then.” He left at that as Red and Treasor stared blaster bolts at him, the informant doing his best to vacate the area.
“Unbelievable,” Red muttered.
“Indeed, he’s lucky he was never in my squad. He’d have gotten that mouth smacked out of him,” he growled before apologizing. ‘I tired you out a bit too much.”
Red blushed beneath her fur an ear twitching, “Hopefully it was worth it,”
“Me too,” he sighed. “No rest. I’ll call the Palace cooks. Whatever can give you long term energy for what’s to come.”
Red nodded, when the time came and she stood once again in parliament house she feared it was another debate as she saw Rhys take position behind a podium too. Although he was far from in perfect shape as he looked positively miserable. He stood tall for the sake of the challenge, but Red could see right through his facade.
She was willing to bet he felt worse than she did which was saying something, Red wanted to keel over and sleep, her eyes and ears drooped.
“We are glad to see you both so...awake. Now, the challenge may seem unfair, but you never know when you’ll have to act and make decisions under pressure, at inopportune times. With that said, let us begin our trial, we will be asking general knowledge questions. Simple trivia and basic knowledge.” Milligan explained.This sounds like one of those awful human gameshows
. Red thought. Rhys had no visible reaction to the comments.
“I’ll ask a question, you will type your answers on the provided datapads, you have sixty seconds to answer. First question which ruler established the parliament?”
It was an easy question for Red, she typed out :King Tarvis: She looked up to see the results. That was the answer, a good start. Rhys managed to have the name sprout from his head...though he had managed to misspell the surname. And King.
“...I’ll give that one to you, General. Alright, the next question is another history one. What is the earliest known usage of gunpowder for ancient Daedalians?”
With only sixty seconds Red was hard pressed on how to answer, she typed out :Graath, kingdom: a now forgotten country they were believed to be the first to use gunpowder in war. Rhys had about half of that answer written down when the time was up. He was in a bit of a daze now, unsure if he did it right or not.
“Umm, yes well...good effort to you both,” the prompter grunted before moving on.
“Here’s a curious case. A freight hauler driver was going the wrong way down the street, yet the constabulary didn’t stop him. Even though they saw him. Why?” At that logical question, Rhys just stared at the host lackadaisy, never leaving his glare until the 60 seconds were up.
Red had her answer though, :He was walking: childish really. She couldn’t help notice Rhys hadn’t even made an attempt. It couldn’t have just been lack of sleep.
“...this one might be a bit more challenging then,” he grunted, looking down at his papers as Rhys rubbed his hand over his face.
“Which past queen was called, the beloved queen?”
Red shuddered at that, it could only be Tela known as the mad-queen a petty tyrant from ancient times, she insisted her subjects referred to her as their beloved queen. Red had her answer down. Rhys had written down the name of the queen after Tela’s ruling. Nothing too noteworthy, but it was a minor miracle the royal line hadn’t been decimated by that point. He at least spelled the name correctly.
“Perfect,” Rhys grumbled under his breath.
“Both correct, moving on. How many times can you take two away from a hundred?”
Rhys visibly growled, annoyed at the process of how things were going, but he steeled himself despite his displeasure. Red started to calculate when it dawned on her it was a trick, she wrote out: Once then it’s not a hundred:
Rhys meanwhile was still calculating when the time was up. He sighed deeply again, taking the loss on that one.
"Next problem then… who commanded the 1st fleet during the invasion of Daedalia?”
Rhys looked down to his paper, before his face went blank. Red couldn’t beleive it, given his past how could he not remember admiral, Gorth? She wrote her answer feeling like se wasn’t really competing against him. Unlike the problem he had lost patience at, his mind seemed to be racing. Every time he thought he had an answer, he hesitated for fear of losing any dignity by getting it wrong. This happened a good 5 times before he started to write Gorth before being stopped partway through a G.
Finally, mercifully for Rhys the challenge was over, Red was declared he victor but she didn’t feel right about it. Rhys was not himself, Red had to find out if it was just exhaustion or something deeper, rival or not.
As the building cleared out Red made her way to Rhys, Derror stood between them. “Rhys,” She called. “A quick word away from curious ears?”
“I really don’t feel like it” he brushed her off curtly, probably the most rude he’d been to her.
Red flattened her ears, “Yeah? Well I’d rather just go to bed myself, but I’m taking the time to do this, you can at least humour me.” She paused. “Sorry I’m cranky when I’m sleep deprived.”
“Perhaps I am too,” Rhys sighed. “Apologies, your highness. I will talk with you.”
The two moved to a more secluded area their guards keeping watch to make sure they weren’t interrupted.
“What’s going on with you? It’s not just the sleep deprivation is it?” Red cut to the chase.
“Admiral Gorth. I forgot. How could I have forgotten such a noble officer? Something is wrong with me….I don’t know what.”
Red tilted her head concerned. “I think I know. We had an attempted bombing after we, well vented the previous night, and your beloved is suspected of being a traitor. You have good reason to be distracted.”
“I thought I could power through it, but I..clearly didn’t. I did not end up seeing her. Worrying was all I could do.”
Red wanted to offer some comfort, “Maybe you should see her, give you some closure. There’s still a chance, a slight chance mind you, that maybe there’s more to this.”
“I understand. I just don’t want to hope when I’m needed… have you seen her?”
“No, I doubt she’d want to see me. She hates me, but you have my word I’ll chase down any new leads. We may be rivals but we are not enemies, and the trials are no good determining which of us is fit if one of us isn’t performing at their peak.”
“Of course, I’ve failed in doing that. You are a worthy successor, but I don’t want you to think you did not earn it. I will see her, then I will rest and be fit, but I wish...I will talk to her. I’m going to trust her, but at the end of the day, I thank you a thousand times for agreeing to keep an open mind. I wish you two could stomach each other…”
Red inclined her head, “Till we meet again, whatever they throw at us next, I want you to be a worthy rival.”
“I intend to become that again...Rejita, I must ask. Do you have anyone you...love?” he asked offhandedly.
Treasor’s face popped into her head, swiveling an ear back she replied, “Yes,” Not long ago she would have said no.
“Keep them safe,” he said, patting her on the shoulder. ‘If she is guilty, I promise to take it as best I can. My only regret would be that I could not sway her when I believed the love was real.”
With that the two parted, Red gathered her guards and they headed back to the palace. She had Treasor sitting by her during the drive. “That went too well,” Red said to him.
“Did it? I’m glad, we’ve had enough bad things happen,” he said, visibly holding back an urge to kiss her.
“Yeah…” Red suddenly trailed off. Next thing Treasor knew she had fallen asleep on his shoulder. Treasor glanced around to make sure no one was looking before pecking her on the cheek.
“We will plan when you wake then,” he said before driving off.
The next day after Red had had a nice long sleep she spoke with Treasor about her concerns that perhaps Malisha wasn’t as guilty as she looked.
“We need to investigate further, I know we’ve got investigators but I want us to look into this.”
"Say no more Rejita...erm your highness, I'll contact Arlon. Maybe he has some insight as Rhy's left hand. It's noble of you to do this, as Malisha isn't doing herself many favors."
A short bit later Treasor informed her that Arlon had invited them over to an outpost by the jungles. He only said he was on the trail of something.
"Odd place for an investigator to be..." Treasor mused. "I hope he's Ok."
“Must have found the trail of something.” Red muttered as she slipped behind a privacy screen, she had been wearing casual Daedalian clothes, but when she exited she was dressed in her old hunting guide clothes, a khaki coat, shorts, boots and a tank top. She’d buckled on her Daedalian blade and strapped her tooth dagger to her thigh.
“Let’s go,” She said.
"Uh, what are you wearing?" Treasor whined, his ears parting as he seemed embarrassed to say anything else.
“Call it my lucky outfit, we’re on the hunt aren’t we?” She paused, “What? You don’t think I look good in these clothes?” Treasor took a good long look at her. Despite the intimacy they had shared he turned, choosing to not give the honest truth.
"Err, those will do very well, human culture has its tastes," he said, zipping out of the room like he had something to hide.
Red swiveled an ear back and followed him.