It was unusual for a person to visit to his quarters during these hours, where the midnight oil burnt the greatest and the moon shone the brightest. Erlander had lost count of of many hours he had spent upon this desk, and when he did realise it was already night – his hands were already stained in countless of ink blots from writing so many letters to other nobles of various dynasties, as well as to other realms in the Known World. There was a particular Heartonian noble house that requested his aid not too long ago, and he felt somewhat terrible that he was only replying now after about two or three weeks since their request – but that was the price they had to paid for the help of one of the most powerful, if not – the most powerful man in the world.
When the door to his quarters swung open, he was greeted by the sight of a boy in dark blue sleepwear, the clothes loose and now sticking to his body. The breeches he wore were of the same colour as well, and the lantern that he held within his left hand burnt brightly. At the edges of the door, Emperor Erlander, second of his name, could spot his guards with axes in hand – still standing by as this boy came in.
It took a while for him to see who it was, but when his rather sandy blond hair and greenish-blue eyes entered into the sight of Erlander – he instantly knew who it was. There were only seven people in this world that boasted this eye colour, and with Erlander being one of the seven – it was almost obvious that it was one of his sons, come to visit him during the hours where the nightly winds blew.
“Aydriandorr. You should not be up.” The Emperor spoke sternly as the boy of eight pulled a chair, and sat right in front of his father. The boy placed the lantern upon the wooden table where the emperor’s hands rested, and he looked into the eyes of his father a few moments afterwards. The bright orange flames illuminated his face in the dark, and while the moonlight shone upon his right side, coating it in white, his left as of orange. Erlander was confused on why Aydriandorr had come, and there were very few reasons he could think of. “Did a nightmare grace his sleep? Or did he see things that he meant not to see?”
To be honest, he could not recall why he named the boy the name he currently bore to all. There was the usual names on his list – Haraldr, Sigurdr, Arthyirr… he had also considered naming the boy after his father, Radligr III, who was in fact named after the founder of the Roylian realm that existed today, Radligr the Forger. Of course, his wife, being the picky maiden she was – refused any of these traditional names. She opted for something far less common , and after a few moments of brainstorming within the winter gardens, she came up with Aydrian. With a smile, the Emperor accepted the name, and added a little ‘dorr’ at the end of the name to make it seem more Roylian. It as quite a unique name to say the least, for as Erlander could recall, no man born to the Radligr dynasty had been named as such before.
“Father? Are you still busy with your letters?” The boy snapped the older man out of his thoughts, his two hands clamped together.
“Hm. Yes. Father is quite busy trying to appease other adults, yes?” He smiled back at the boy, who in turn did not smile back.
Aydriandorr shifted in his seat a bit, before finally continuing his words after fidgeting with the handle of the bronze lantern that sat on the table. “Mother made me eat carrots again. The taste will not leave my mouth.”
Erlander raised an eyebrow, with a smile forming on his lips. “So this is what this is about? Carrots?”
Aydrian nodded his head, and Erlander chuckled. He had not done that for awhile, for he had secluded himself from social interaction for the past week or so to finish up all the paperwork that had laid dormant ever since the start of the month. It was quite funny to see how the concerns of children differed greatly from the concerns of adults, and he remembered that as a youth, he had quite a disdain for carrots and milk too.
“Well… vegetables are good for your health… you do remember the teachings by the tutors, right?” Emperor Erlander placed down his quill, setting it into the ink container that was warmed from above by a melting fire. “Yes, but mother has been forcing me to eat entire carrots! She usually never does that if you are around, father. And older brother Jorgudann has been very annoying lately, for he hangs with those weird boys from other families, making a ruckus out in the gardens with their wooden swords…”
The Emperor simply frowned at those words, somewhat recalling the fact that this was the first time in a week where he had seen one of his children. His heir, Baligr, had visited him a day ago with a foreign wine in hand – a gift from a Vesthorlian diplomat that had stopped by the visit the emperor but was unable to meet him personally due to the royal decree of seclusion until he left his quarters. But that was all the interaction he had, and that saddened him quite a bit. He was a family man after all, who cared deeply for his children, but these letters could not wait anymore longer…
“You are almost done with all your letters and papers and writing right? Will you leave your room soon and come back to the dining tables?” The prince said in a sad tone, with an expression that signified that he was somewhat irritated by the things that were happening. The Emperor wanted to say yes, but that would be far from the truth.
With a sigh, he simply shook his head.
Aydriandorr frowned, and that was a sight he never wanted to see on the faces of his children. Looking to the papers, then back to his boy, he closed his eyes. A moment of pondering was all it needed to take, and added with that expression… he simply could not resist. “You can always write any other day of the week, father.”
He had a point. These sheets of paper would not run away from his desk anytime soon.
“All right. Tomorrow, knock upon my door and bring me to the dining table. That is the best I can do, is that okay?” His hands reached forth to ruffle the hair of his third son, who chuckled in glee with closed eyes. “Yes, of course, father. Mother would definitely not feed me any carrots while you are around!”
“Good. Now go back to bed,” Erlander withdrew his hand as his eyes looked up the door. “Guards!”
A man in mail upon his body, with leather and rags underneath and an axe on his left hip and sword on right – strolled into the room with a shield in hand. The dark wood shield was painted in dark maroon, and the symbol upon it, a tree shedding its leaves with a sword in his trunk – was in full black. It was the symbol of his dynasty, and while other noble families liked to show off a lion, a serpent or sometimes even a king kraken – the tree had always been the symbol of the Radligrs. They were steadfast, loyal and strong in will after all, and the tree best displayed that – staying rooted in the ground for countless of centuries if left undisturbed.
“Bring Prince Aydrian back to his quarters.” The Emperor spoke as the guard nodded. Turning his head to look down at the boy, with his free hand grabbing the bronze lantern, he coughed. “Alright, prince – time to head back to bed.” His accent, a thick Middlelander one, was quite obvious.
The prince jumped off his chair, and followed the guard out of the quarters. The door out was closed quietly, and as the fire that had burned brightly next to his table dimmed – Erlander sighed to himself, returning to his papers and writing.