Prince, 108

“We will go back home, I think,” Cordelia said, looking at Isabella, who nodded. “Not right away.”

“No,” Isabella agreed. “But since the crown has unfrozen our assets and we’re not in danger anymore, it doesn’t make sense for us to stay in Dolovai. I hope that’s not a problem, my king.”

“No,” said Franz, who would be a little upset to lose them even if he’d known this would happen. “Now that Kyaine is safe again, you should go home. It’s where you belong.”

“It is,” Cordelia said, sighing deeply. “We are going to miss you, Franz.”

Prince, 107

“I must express my personal gratitude towards you for being willing to allow bards to sing during my wedding,” Franz said to a bard named Stanley the Suave, who was an older man with a thin moustache and velvet clothing. They’d been talking for about twenty minutes.

“Of course,” said Stanley, nodding once. “It was the least I could do to ensure that the royal wedding went off without a hitch.”

“And it did,” said Franz, from across the big desk he hadn’t wanted to start using. “I admit I’d hoped it wouldn’t need to be followed up with more meetings. I thought we came to the end of your guild’s dispute with my family.”

Prince, 106

It seemed weird to Franz that the funeral and the coronation were on the same day. In Kyaine, a coronation was supposed to be held as soon as possible after the death of the previous monarch, and then the funeral after that. Having them on two different days just made sense to Franz, but apparently not to the Dolovins, so the coronation was about to start even though they’d just finished burying Gerard.

It was a lot for one day. It was a hard day.

Prince, 105

Franz was on his third cup of tea of this sitting and he had to go pee, but he made himself wait until he was done reading over the document in his hand, which was a summary of grain production on House ven Sancte’s farms.

Once he’d gotten the most important parts of it he set it down. “I’ll be right back,” he said to Boey and Silas, and he went to pee, grateful for the distraction. Once Gabrielle was crowned after Gerard’s funeral, he was going to officially be queen-consort, which added a whole lot of things into his life that hadn’t been there before. Managing all of House ven Sancte’s lands, for one.

Prince, 104

Dominic had either been lying or wrong. Gerard’s assassins weren’t coming in a week. They’d come a few hours after he’d left, and now it was too late.

It was too late for Helena Quate and Franz’s uncle Hans, too. All three of them had been killed in the same night and Franz simply didn’t understand why.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Dahlia said, shaking her head. “If the Empire wanted to destabilize us, that’s one thing. But am I really to believe that their information network is so shoddy they didn’t realize Hans wasn’t in charge in Kyaine anymore?”

Franz nodded, looking down at his uncle’s body. It was being prepared for transport back to Kyaine so his funeral could be held there. Franz would go, except he couldn’t, because Gerard was dead and that meant his wife was about to be crowned queen of Dolovai.

Franz had known he’d be king someday. He hadn’t thought it would be two weeks after his wedding.

Prince, 103

“The miners in your lands are complaining,” Boey told Franz.

Franz blinked. “Isn’t that their parents’ problem?”

“Yes, you’re very funny.”

“I know. The ones in the south of the mountains, right?”

“Yes, the ones you were gifted as part of the contract.”

Franz regretted that he’d never been there, but they’d visit during the honeymoon. “Okay. What are they mad about?”

Prince, 102

“So, you’re the little shit who married my sister, huh?” Franz asked, crossing his arms at Giacomo DiSheere.

Well, he was going by Giacomo DiGorre, now. But he hadn’t yet convinced Franz that he deserved to. He smiled at Franz, playing with a lock of his hair. “Is that what that ceremony was? I’m so used to priests telling me off that I just tuned her out, honestly.”

Dahlia slapped his arm. “Don’t be cute, Franz doesn’t like it when boys are cute.”

Prince, 101

“Your apartments are considerably larger than mine,” Franz considered, looking around Gabrielle’s bedroom. Their bedroom.

“That’s because I’m considerably more important than you,” Gabrielle told him, pinching Franz’s nipple.

Franz smirked at that, looked sidelong at his wife. “Well, now I’m going to move into your large apartments and fill them with all my things.”

“You don’t have that many things,” Gabrielle told him.

“No, but I have a lot of people.”

“Yeah, they’re not allowed to move in.” Gabrielle waited just a beat, then snorted on Franz’s shoulder. “Imagine if I’d waited until after the wedding to be that bitch.”

Prince, 100

It was a good day to get married.

The weather was nice, everyone looked perfect, the church was packed, and Franz’s sister had gotten here just an hour ago.

“We can talk more about me later,” Dahlia told Franz, helping him fix his makeup. “It’s literally your wedding day, stop asking how I am.”

Prince, 99

“So, how many orgies are you planning to pop into tonight?”

“Oh, all of them,” Franz said. “How many are ongoing at any given time in Three Hills? One for each hill, I should hope.”

“Sounds about right. Well, you’d better be careful not to bump into me, the whole point is that we’re supposed to be apart.”

Franz grinned. “I’ll make an effort to run the other way if I see you. How many orgies are you planning to attend for your bride party?”

“What?” Gabrielle asked, twirling a wineglass. “Women don’t do that, we just sit around and do our hair.”

“Bullshit. I heard Olivia’s bride party bought out half the city from oil.”