She had scarcely entered the seas, leaving behind the curious two-legged beings that so amused her, when she saw the ominous suited form approach. Though she supposed she should have expected such, it still discomfited her.
As a daughter of the Royal House, she accepted her whereabouts and well-being were matters of some import, yet she hardly saw the necessity of her father having sent out a guard in full combat regalia and armed with a power lance. While, at the tender age of 435, she had not reached the age of maturity, she was hardly a helpless child to be so singled out for looking after.
She knew there would be consequences for returning late from her visit Topside, but, in her defense, time passed differently in the peculiar world of the Dirtlings and she could not be reasonably expected to follow an exact timetable. Their world was so very different than her home and she so treasured her opportunities to flee the protocols and ceremonies and endless intrigues of the court for some dalliance amongst those flawed, lesser creatures.
Calming her demeanor and adopting the stoic face of indifference her governess had demanded she learn. She waited, feigning disinterest, for the retainer to close the distance between them and offer her the ritual greeting of the servitor to one of noble lineage. She could scarcely have been more surprised when the man’s weapon pulsed to life, currents of raw power disturbing the natural state of the waters.
Her sense reeled as she noticed the insignia of his armor was not that of her father but of his long-standing rival Telemicus. Clearly there had been a most unfortunate change in the power structure during her absence. Swimming for the surface, she mentally prepared herself for a life in exile.
This story was written for the weekly Flash! Friday flash fiction challenge based on a phot by Toni Frissell.