Jon missed his grandpa. Jack Gibson had been gone for a little over half a year, and Jon still warmly remembered his trademark dry wit, array of fascinating traveling stories, and his heinous risotto recipe. Actually, no, Jon didn’t miss the risotto recipe; it was terrible and the world was better off without it. More importantly, Jon especially didn’t miss how scary Jack Gibson could become.
Once upon a time, a young Jon broke an old vase. It was a prized vase; Jack had acquired it during an excursion to Germany described as “my most extraordinary exploit. Kiddo, I only you hope that you’ll be blessed with memories like the ones I made back then.”
Broken. Gone. Jon panicked and tried to hide the pieces. But grandpa Jack wasn’t an idiot; he heard the crash and was devastated to find the wreck. Unfortunate, yes, but that's life. But he was furious with Jon. Glass everywhere, and the juvenile was right in the middle of it, unprotected! Jack went ballistic. Red-faced cusses and curses were hurled at the boy in a fierce cacophony, some of which the youth had never heard before and would never hear again. Most impressively, more things of value were broken that day than just the vase, and Jon was not the one at fault.
Jack Gibson was terrifying. Queen Seraphina was even more so.
Sure, she had that “could snap her fingers and people would die” sorta aura to her—but it was Karen in there. The curtains were pulled; Jon couldn’t take her seriously at all.
No, Queen Seraphina was terrifying for a completely different reason. She was hot. Unrealistically so.
When she appeared from nowhere, dramatically posing like someone on America’s Next Top Model, the only thing keeping Jon’s jaws from falling straight to the floor was his stony obligation to be Allaria. Which, much to Jon’s discontent, focused his eyes towards stupid Darian, and not the really pretty newcomer who was just so much more interesting to look at.
But that’s exactly what irked Jon so. Yes, the queen had a bosomy physique so perfect that it felt like she shouldn't be real—technically none of this real, but that’s besides the point—but that was Karen! His Karen! He wasn’t supposed to be… Ahem… He didn’t want to be attracted to her! They were friends since they were, like, kids! This was weird, right? Right!?
But she’s so hot.
But she’s also Allaria’s…
Good God! Karen was Jon’s mom now! Fuuuuuuuck!!! Unresolved sexual tension was one thing, but not only did some cruel god have to go and make Jon so much more attracted to his best friend, it had to make it so, so gross!
I want to gag myself— Wait, since when were we get in a carriage?
Ah yes, Jon was in such wretched state of guilt-painted existential self-reflection that he completely dissociated from the reality around him. Had he been a tad more grounded, he may have appreciated just how unreal he and Karen truly appeared when near the other. Yes, his friend was very much a dream-like High Elven beauty, but Jon was very much her daughter, like it or not. The curves Jon admired, visage, even laughably exaggerated mannerisms? He was victim to all of these himself.
The queen moved with dignified purpose, and the princess with free-spirited splendor… Together, a harmonious dance. Balletic steps were taken, absurd hips were swung, even gentle hands were employed in brushing their lushes manes away from their all-too-similar faces. Non-important characters stared at the two in equal admiration, like an audience to a performance. Some could muster the bravery to greet them, but others could barely even muster a single word.
Jon was so distracted that he couldn’t even acknowledge the very-horse-like-but-not-quite horsey fantasy animals pulling the royal carriage. Instead, he was now alone with a matured, shaplier Karen who, even while sitting, managed to hold herself with enough poise to make a ballet dancer look clumsy—nearly forgetting the he was holding himself in near-perfect parallel.
Jon wanted to scream. He could not, so he opted for some polite conversation while pretending that everything was fine.
So Karen… You’re looking fly… Why on earth would I say that?
“You are looking well today, mother.” Good Allaria, make it sound casual, normal. Just two pals going out to… Where were they going again?
Karen said nothing. If she heard Jon, and she probably did, then she wasn’t interesting in answering… She just kept looking out the window with the exasperated expression of someone who very much wanted a nap and was very much not close to having one.
Right. She’s probably not super jazzed about having an oversexed body either. Let’s trying asking about how she’s holding up.
“How was your morning? Ivy was hoping to see you, but it seemed that—”
“Five other Elven rulers are coming.” Business-like. Factual. Also entirely irrelevant to whatever Jon was hoping to get coax out of her.
Karen turned to look at Jon. She had really pretty eyes, but for once, Jon actually did feel intimidated by the queen, despite the cartoonish body and all. She just looked so… Tired of everything.
“Five of the other six Elven rulers will be joining tonight’s summit. The summit I had the displeasure of orchestrating for those dreadful round-ears.”
A long winded, sensuous sigh emitted from the queen’s lips, womanly legs uncrossing and re-crossing with such practiced style that it, as simple an action it was, came across as a dramatic flourish. With the collected proficiency of a surgeon, she reached an uncharacteristically delicate hand to just where the dress forced her probably unwanted breasts into an equally unwanted cleavage… and pulled something from between them. A cigarette—or at least the fantasy equivalent. It was even in one of those dainty cigarette holders that Jon kept seeing in those old movies.
What the hell? Karen didn’t smoke. And as far as Jon knew, Karen hated the very idea of doing so. Sure, this entire situation was a mess, but this was way too out of character for…
Of course it was out of character, she was out of character this entire time. Just like when Jon got trapped in the garden, or the closet. This wasn’t Karen acting like Queen Seraphina, but Queen Seraphina herself.
Queen Seraphina who was taking a long, long drag from the magically lit cigarette… Man, she, uh, looked really good while doing it. Like in the old smoking commercials that played the poison-intake as one of the coolest, sexiest thing anyone could possibly do. Karen was probably hating every moment of this.
One probably-magical purple cloud of smoke later, and Seraphina deemed it acceptable to continue with the unwanted dialogue.
“Queen Diana of the Night-Elves received a prophecy from the moon goddess. With the solitary nature of her kingdom, it was most convenient for her to use my formal event to…”
Jon immediately tuned out. It was just an info-dump. Dumb, boring, tell-not-show exposition. They were in the actual fantasy world! What kind of author was so inept that they made fiction feel like it was part of a textbook?
Boring. Boring. Boring. Where are we going?
“I humbly apologize for my ignorance, but… Does our destination have any bearing on the matter of the summit?”
Seraphina rather abruptly halted her tedious info-dump. She blinked, looking almost surprised. Well, as surprised as the queen would allow herself to look, anyway. Then, a very faint smile, as if some piece of Karen’s mischievous spirit was just barely cracking through.
“Did the servants fail to inform you? I shall need to disciple them for such negligence…” She tossed the cigarette out the window and looked at Jon, who was starting to feel that asking was probably a big mistake.
“As we will have visitors of actual significance, I have deemed it necessary that that we—mostly you, really—must be outfitted like the High Elven royalty that we are. I refuse to be outdone by the damn Sun-Elves even further.”
Very briefly, Jon stopped thinking. Then, just as quickly, his brain rebooted like some sort of computer. Surely, Karen didn't mean... She couldn't have! She was stuck acting as Seraphina!
Karen! Why!? Do you see what I have to wear now? No more clothes bullshit! Please! I had enough problems this morning to even consider
“Shopping!?” Allaria, Princess of Tyr and well-reputed Elven fashionista, squeed with the delight of a 14-year old girl.