Repaying A Debt
"Her Majesty will see you now, Excellency," speaks the royal page of Queen Teleperien. Xenograg stands and moves to follow the man. Two more pages bring up the rear carrying an iron strong box secured with a lock. Xenograg straightens his silk robe and coat as he walks. The party shortly comes to a door flanked by a guardsman and another page. This page opens the door with practiced ease. Xenograg's escort stops just inside the door and bows.
"General Xenograg is here, Majesty," announces the man. Xenograg steps over the threshold into a sitting room rather than an audience chamber.
"Thank you, Pieter," replies Teleperien. The young queen is seated upon the best chair in the room but is otherwise unpretentious in appearance. The two pages set their burden down on its legs and withdraw along with Pieter. Xenograg approaches Teleperien with the intention of kneeling, but she stands to receive him. Xenograg can now satisfy protocol with only a bow of his head.
"Good morning, Fair Queen, and thank you."
"I remember, my friend. Do sit," is her reply. Although Xenograg is not lame, his scarred legs do make him look awkward and undignified dropping to and rising from one knee. Both sit down, and Xenograg glances around the room.
"What a warm, serene room this is."
"Yes, exactly," replies Teleperien with a smile at the compliment. Xenograg does not know that she chose the decor for this room personally. She then gestures towards the strong box. "So what brings you here today, and what have you brought me?" she asks gleefully.
"I am here to repay my loan early, in full, and wanted to bring it to you personally rather than the Royal Treasurer." Teleperien's mirth changes to surprise.
"In full? That was not a small sum you borrowed, Xeno! It is all there?"
"Yes, Your Majesty," he assures her with teasing formality. "I will bring it here so you can touch it." Teleperien slaps the back of his hand playfully, smiling widely. Xenograg rises and crosses the room to and fro. He unlocks the bolt and opens the iron lid. Inside are a variety of valuables: gold and silver plate; jewelry; and coinage, primarily in silver. Teleperien's eyes go wide.
"I know I borrowed ingots but thought you might like these craftings," continues Xenograg. "Many were made in my homeland and thus should be rather exotic to you." He hands Teleperien one of the pieces of bronze jewelry.
"Oh, they certainly are!" she exclaims. The two spend several minutes reviewing the larger pieces. A question then occurs to Teleperien.
"I thought you were short of hard currency?"
"Yes, I was. A few weeks ago, though, the emperor appointed my eldest son as Viceroy of Atmari, a major city."
"Eldest son? But you and Amaltea…"
"Amaltea is my second wife, remember. I married young and fathered an heir almost immediately."
"Yes, of course. Do continue."
"Along with the appointment, the emperor gave my son and I a share each in this year's tribute from Atmari. This is the bulk of mine."
"You do not have to repay the entire loan right now, Xeno. Half of this will suffice for the moment. You should keep something in your own treasury."
"I have enough to meet my obligations, Lady. And, your protests aside, I know that you could use the entire sum at present." Teleperien becomes slightly embarrassed at that.
"Yes, for truth," she admits with a sigh.
"Then the gods' gift to me is my gift to you and Eldicor. Thank you again for making the loan."
"Thank you for insisting on a loan instead of a gift!" retorts the young queen with a grin. Xenograg chuckles but does not reply. Both of them know that the loan had been taken so that Xenograg could pay the numerous indemnities to the families of the Rellugai warriors who had died fighting inside Mount Dread. Xenograg had a duty to pay the sums from his personal finances and thus had to decline Teleperien's offer. They can now jest about that day of little humor.
Their conversation turns to other subjects, not excluding affairs of state. His personal friendship with the monarch of Eldicor naturally makes him an unofficial royal advisor.