The next morning, Zalair waited patiently at the front gate for his pretty basic carriage to arrive. It wasn’t like he was expecting anything extravagant, he was just going to Dragon’s Bane for only a few days, so he didn’t need to arrive in something really rich looking. After all, he was going to visit another king. Best not to flaunt your own money about, and all that.
Queen Rose came down to greet her son with a warm open hug. “Oh, Zalair~” she whined, “Why can’t you wear something a little more… Well else?”
Zalair chuckled at his mother’s enthusiasm. “No, thanks, Mom. I’d rather be comfortable in someone else’s house. Isn’t that a rule of hospitality?”
“Another rule is to look your best in another’s house, dear.”
“Yeah, well I think this is my best,” Zalair said, dressed in his usual outfit adorning the ten wondrous rubies.
The Queen sighed, “Now, Zalair,” she cupped his cheeks in her hands to make him look down into her brown eyes, “Try to behave.” Zalair huffed a groan; It was that talk again. She laughed, poking his nose with a smooth fingertip, “Now, now. Don’t you dare ask me to endure the sight of my oldest child living the rest of his life alone.”
“I’m not alone.”
She frowned, sincerely concerned, “Dear, you have servants, but no personal vassals and no friends… You have me worried about how you’re going to behave when you meet your soul mate.”
Zalair huffed again, looking away, “That’ll never happen anyway. I’m starting to doubt this soul mate even exists.”
She chuckled, “Oh, it does. Just look at your father and me.”
He gave her a stern look, “If he loves you so much then why does he have other wives, and have other children with women other than you?”
Queen Rose wasn’t sure how to reply. At first, she was silent, then she let her son go from her hands. “Do you hate your father’s polygamist outlook on life that much?”
“Yes.” Zalair answered, putting his hands on his hips.
She smiled, gesturing to a tall male servant at her side. “Get my son his cloak, would you?”
“Yes m’lady.” And off the servant went quickly.
Zalair rolled his eyes up, “Mom… It’s not like I’m going to be gone that long.”
“Well, you never know, you may meet your soul mate so try to look your best and behave. Please, for me,” the Queen asked with a smile.
Zalair stared his mother down, not really liking the idea of going to Dragon’s Bane anyway. There was someone there whom he’d try to avoid at any cost.
The servant returned quickly, “I fetched the brown and black cloaks, m’lady. Which would you have him wear?”
“Well since he’s going to go in that, give him the black,” she answered with a smile.
Zalair took it from the servant and wrapped it around his shoulders, buttoning and tying it shut at the throat. He gave his mother a good-bye hug, then climbed into the carriage.
“Behave, I know.” Zalair answered, with a grin, his head resting against the door stop from inside the carriage.
She smiled, pulling a finger from his chin quickly with adornment, “That’s my boy.”
Zalair pulled the door shut once his mother was clear, then the carriage started off.