“I’m glad you agree, ma’am. And I’ll thank you to never bring it up again.”
The woman smiled wryly a moment, then looked to her side and laughed.
“Did Mehlsanz say something?” said Lynnette.
“Yes, she said--”
“Tell her I said to shut up.”
The Queen laughed again. “She heard you.”
“Why the sudden interest in my love life, anyway?”
“Mostly to tease you, I suppose.”
“Also, I am trying to have a bit of forethought. I told the media that Hector works for me, but of course, he does not. Nothing binds him and Garovel to Atreya other than good intentions. They have no investments here.”
Lynnette’s brow depressed. “So that’s why you gave him a castle? It wasn’t to reward him?”
“It was both. There are two things required in order to form a truly enduring alliance with someone. The first is an amiable relationship, and the second is a shared investment. Without either one, any alliance can be easily compromised when difficult times inevitably come calling, and unfortunately, those are the times when you will need that alliance the most.”
“Your Highness... honestly, that is a bit disgusting. With respect, you do know that there is such a thing as too much scheming, don’t you?”
“Lynnette, if I were truly ‘scheming’ to pair the two of you up, you would not be aware of it.”
“...I’m not sure that makes me feel any better, Your Highness.”
“No? My apologies, then.”
“And you say I’m the frightening one...”
There wasn’t much time left for conversation, and soon, the Queen was off again to another meeting, this time at the Ministry of the Interior on the other side of Sescoria. The majority of the talks concerned reparations for the extensive physical damage that the country had seen of late, especially that of Belgrant Castle. Admittedly, Lynnette couldn’t follow a lot of what was being said and eventually just stopped listening--that is, until the Queen started to raise her voice and then went on to fire several people in front of the entire assembly.