It is mid-morning and the sun is shining brightly through the long windows of the Grand Library. Ta’lin reserved one of the library’s many reading rooms in order to tutor the young king Jacob and his brother Tom. A large table sits in the middle of the room with 3 chairs and a chalkboard sits against the far wall. She has stocked the room with parchment and writing utensils and has a cart stocked with various books. The thick, crimson and gold curtains are pulled away from the windows so the room is flooded with natural light. Ta’lin’s hair has finally started to grow out over the course of the last few weeks. It is now about the length of a pixie cut and she only uses her wig if she is meeting with the Empress’s envoys or other formal occasions. She stands by the chalkboard with her eyes closed taking in the scents and muted sounds of a full and active library. It almost feels like she’s back home at the college in Il’Valiran studying with her fellow bards.
She is pulled from her reverie by the sound of the door opening. Jacob walks in and goes to take his seat. “Good morning Tali, I trust you’re well? What will we be doing today?” She smiles at the boy and grabs a couple books from the cart.
“Well Jacob, I thought we’d start with your favorite, history. Today though We’re going to look into the histories of your betrothed’s lands. I was surprised that there were actually a few books on the subject of the lands to the far west. This library is truly amazing.” At the mention of the God Empress, Jacob look turns from eager to slightly sullen. Ta’lin picks up on this immediately and comes to sit beside him. “What is on your mind my dear?”
Jacob avoids eye contact and fiddles with the seam of his coat. “Do you think I am making the right choice? What if these people do not abide by their contracts and try to take over the whole country again later? What if This is just part of their game?” He looks up at Ta’lin, genuine concern on his face. Ta’lin takes his hands in hers and gives them a reassuring squeeze. “I think you are choosing the best option to help you and your people and this country get back to their rightful positions. The God Empress has a very sizable army and they will help you reclaim your throne. The people that I have met with have all been cunning but also fair and willing to compromise. I believe that in the end, we all have the same base interests at heart which is to eliminate our common foes and set the world back to rights. The empress is a woman of her word and seems to have a very intelligent head on her shoulders. To say that they have no interest in our lands would be foolhardy, but kingdoms merge and split like the flows of the tides. It is just another space in our history for a merger. From what information we have gained, these people have the capacity for ruthlessness, but are also very amiable and willing to find peaceful conclusions to conflict. I think you are proving yourself quite capable of making wise decisions and I believe that this is a good choice.”
“But what if…what if me and this God Empress Chinwe don’t get along? I know we won’t actually live together until we’re older, but well…” Jacob pulls his hands out of Ta’lin’s grasp and flushes a little. “I don’t really know how to talk to girls, er-women.” Ta’lin watches Jacob as he fidgets with embarrassment. “You don’t know how to talk to women? But you’re talking to me right now.” She grins at the boy as he rolls his eyes at her teasing. “You know what I meant damnit!” Ta’lin fakes a stern look “Language young man!” She ruffles his hair and laughs as he swats her hand away. “Well, If you want to learn how to woo your young bride, I can assist you, but for now, we must focus on your regular studies.” With that, she opens up a large dusty tome for Jacob and goes over to the chalkboard to begin their lesson. After some time has passed, she looks at the clock on the wall and notes the hour. “Where on earth is your brother?”
As if he was summoned by her question, Tom strolls through the door and sits in a chair across from Jacob. He already looks annoyed to be there. Ta’lin crosses her arms and gives him an annoyed look. “Tom, you are 45 minutes late! I know for a fact that your morning sparring lessons ended over an hour ago. You really must take care to be more prompt. It is unprofessional to not honor your appointments.” Tom leans back in his chair and grumbles to himself. “I should still be sparring with Tyna, I have no need for all this gods awful reading. I’m supposed to be my brother’s protector am I not? I can’t very well protect him with my mind. I’m not a magician.” Ta’lin give him an exasperated look then plops a heavy book down in front of the boy. “Tom, you can’t win all contests with strength and speed alone. In order to fulfill your role, you must be swift of foot and of wit. All the greatest tactical military minds of our age were extremely studious, intelligent and cunning people. You must be tutored so you will grow to become a well rounded adult. Always remember that a well read man is a well respected man, no matter his station. Besides, I will not have a giant bumbling fool for our king’s champion. If my lecturing isn’t enough to convince you that you need to come to your lessons on time, I will insist that Ardutyna personally escorts you here every day.”
Tom just rolls his eyes and lazily opens the book. “Fine, fine. You win Tali.” He raises his voice in a poor mockery of Ta’lin “I will try to me more prompt. We must not be improper and untimely and unintelligent.” Jacob can’t help but chuckle at his brother’s imitation. Ta’lin walks over and lightly smacks the side of Tom’s head, but her smile betrays her facade of annoyance. “If you are quite done sir, let us move on.” She turns back to the board and begins a rather tedious grammar lesson. In all her days, Ta’lin had never thought she would have to take on the role of a teacher in any capacity, let alone to two of the most important people to her nation. She sat and watched the boys work on their lesson in silence, heads bent studiously over their parchments and wondered what the outcome of these events will be for them. They were so young and have already gone through so much. She hoped that whatever came to be, she would be able to be there for them and aid them on their journeys.