The warm glow of salamanders filled the small stone room. Candles would have been too dangerous, as the open flame might ignite some important papers or chemicals lying about. King Hedrick sighed. Royal blood didn't mean much in Holm as far as work was concerned – in fact, the king worked the hardest of them all, sacrificing most of his nights if neccesary. While his people toiled away in hard labor, Hedrick was coming up with new tools and methods to ease their workloads, to make life more managable in this cold rocky quarry.
Right now, he was in the middle of correcting some blueprints for a mechanised crane, one that would replace the lifting system that was slowly falling apart. He had gone over all the numbers, double-checked every single detail, yet something was still-
Sir? I'm sorry to bother you, but your wife-
A young child, barely a teenager, was standing at the door dressed as a servant girl, which she was. Everyone had to work in Holm, that was the way of the people.
My wife, began the bearded krawk king, knows well enough the importance of my work. Whatever the matter is, she can wait.
B-but sir she's-
She can wait.
Silence fell, and after a moment of it, a nervous servant girl closed the door, leaving the solidatary man to his work.
The salamanders shifted in their nests.
She was only ten, the daughter of a lowly miner, who had offered his only daughter to serve the royal halls. It was a common practice those days, most of the servants were either girls too young for hard work, or old men and women who had not much strength but more knowledge and patience.
Running through the halls, she felt very scared.
Huffing and puffing, she reached the queen's bedroom, where a handful of old women and girls had already gathered. The queen, looking very tired, was half-asleep in the bed, mumbling something to herself.
Where is the king? asked one of the women, who was busy cleaning up after something. The once-white rag she was washing in a bowl was stained red.
H-he said it, um, he said he was busy-
That daft old fool. The servants looked down for a moment shyly, then at their queen, who had spoken. Andra hadn't moved a all, but she had opened her eyes and was more coherent now than before. Always been one, always will be...
My lady, shall I call a doctor?
Pah! What she needs right now is a good cup of tea and plenty of rest! A doctor, pah... spoke one of the old crones.
Andra sighed and looked at the bundle next to her. They were right, she thought, everything had gone so... Smoothly. Wasn't that the whole point of her status? No fuss, no mess, but to keep everything under control, like right now. Yes, she smiled, all she needed now was a hot drink, rest and a name...
That stupid little girl, she should have told me outright what was the matter, I would have been here in an instant! King Hedrick was sitting on the edge of his wife's bed, cradling the newborn in his arms. First time he has ever seen such a small creature, and all he could feel was shame and curiosity.
Andra smiled weakly. We still need a name for him..
A boy? Huh, muttered Herdick, staring at the sleeping babe, who was very unaware of the world around him. I suppose that'll get the council to finally shut up. The little boy yawned widely, then smacked his lips and continued his sleep. He was much lighter toned than his dad was, but at the same time, not nearly as white as his mom. No markings yet, those would come later, and his little tail was barely visible in the bundle of cloth he was wrapped up in.
We won't have him for long, you know. The room suddenly felt ten times bigger than before.
We'll probably have to wade through the few noble houses there are here, Hedrick thought, some of the councilmembers have young daughters. They needed to keep good relations with the other kingdoms as well, so they might have to start sending their son around the world. Holm didn't need much import, besides for the smaller merchants who brought in exotic spices and new raw materials. But the kingdom did rely on a lot of export of various tools, weapons and gems. Besides that, Holm didn't have much of an army – mostly because every able-bodied man or woman knew how to defent themselves if needed. Still, that meant they needed a good reputation, although for the most part, everyone knew Holm to be a soliditary place, too cold and up north for the rest to care much. Hopefully a new prince would help fix this status, bring a better quality living to the people of the mountains.
At least their first child wasn't a girl. That would have been too painful..
Hedrick smiled under his furry chin and moustace. Sleep well, little Dhanny, you have a lot of work ahead of you.