As we’re about done with breakfast, I see Howard approaching.
“Good morning, Howard!” we greet him.
“Good morning, Rowan, Aster!” he answers, “since you’re done here, let’s go!”
We follow Howard outside, and take the hidden passage to the castle. Finn and Rory are waiting for us in a library.
“Good morning!” we greet each other.
“This place has so many books!” Rowan exclaims.
“Yes, it’s amazing,” I add.
On Earth, physical books have become rare, only few collectors and literature enthusiasts bother having those around. Myself, I think they are too much hassle to store properly, so I prefer reading them on my terminal in reading mode. In reading mode, the terminal screen mimics the properties of paper.
“There’s a certain book, we want to show you,” Rory states.
“You can’t take it with you, but you can definitely take your time to decipher it,” Finn adds.
Decipher? Now, I’m interested! They show me a certain book. It’s old, the title seems to be in Latin letters, but I can’t read it, it’s in a language I don’t know.
“Mittens, do you have information on that language?” I mumble.
“I have found a match in the database,” Mittens answers, “it is an extinct European language. The vocabulary is very close to our language, so re-translating should nt pose much of a problem. The risk of chain translation artifacts is minimal. The title of the book is ‘Amaugan High Society for Dummies’, yet the first part seems more like a dictionary. We can at least use this to improve on the translation program.”
“Can you make use of it?” Finn asks.
“It seems to be a dictionary. I think it should be helpful. Thanks for showing this to me!”
“It’s a historic treasure, as we said, we can’t let you take it with you, but you can read it over there,” Finn shows me some chairs in a reading area in the library.
“That’s plenty, I’ll do just that.”
I take the book to the reading area and sit down, having Mittens scan every page and add the information on it to the language database.
Aster is currently reading that book Finn and Rory have shown him. Is he really reading it? It looks more like he’s browsing through it. I guess that means Mittens can read.
“Rowan, can you read?” Rory asks me.
“Yes, I can,” I answer.
“That’s good, there’s a lot of things you need to learn. Let’s start with the nobles of our country: there are multiple factions, some back our family, and others like to stir up some trouble.”
“They won’t outright attack you, but they might try to ruin your reputation. Others might want to push you to take the throne.”
“But…” I start.
“You don’t want it, I know. But they won’t care. They just see someone without political ambitions, so you’d make a perfect puppet for their ambitions. But as long as you’re on guard against them, you should be fine.
Sadly, both you and Aster have to navigate politics, it’s unavoidable, but we can at least support you on that end. These are the lists for the family names.”
The lists he shows me are quite long. Can I really learn all those names?
“Take your time,” Rory encourages me, “I’d start with the names of the royalists, the faction that supports us.”
Aster hands the book to Finn, “thanks, it helped a lot.”
“That’s fast! You’re already done?” Finn asks.
“Mittens is the one doing most of the work,” Aster explains, “without his assistance, I wouldn’t be even able to talk to you.”
Aster takes one of the lists and looks at them.
“Mittens can help you with the lists, too,” Aster says to me, “of course, we still have to try to remember these lists, but it’s good to be able to rely on Mittens.”
“Thanks, I’ll do my best.”
“There’s something I wanted to ask,” Finn reluctantly says, “the design on your rings, that’s the shield of Dewick, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Aster made them. I told him how many merchants use the crest of their hometown, so he made these.”
“It’s a common mistake to call it a crest,” Finn explains, “now is a good time as any.” She grabs a handkerchief from her pockets and spreads it on the table.
“This motive is my hatchment. At its centre is the shield. In my case, it’s a white cat on a blue background. Above the shield, you find a golden crown, meaning I belong to the royal family. The top part of the crown, is what is the crest. In my case, it’s a single ball, saying I’m the first princess. Under the shield, is the family name. And surrounding all this is the family motto.”
“Do you have any ideas for your personal shield yet?” Rory asks, “when your status get publicly announced, you will receive a hatchment, too. Most elements are set because of your status, but the shield is where you have some freedom to choose.”
“Don’t worry about our tools, I can simply adjust them,” Aster says.
“I…” I take a deep breath, “I’d like to have my connection to Dewick in it.”
“How about dividing the shield into two halves? On the left with a copper cat on a blue background and on the right with a single blue drop on a green background with the pattern of a single leaf? Putting the actual drop on the edge of the leaf would be too much detail, so I’d advise against it.”
I try to imagine how it would look.
“Just to make sure, where is left on a hatchment?” Aster asks.
“Over here,” Finn points to the left side.
It’s a strange question, but I’m sure Aster will explain why he asks.
“So it’s different here. Where I’m from, left and right refer to the view of the person carrying the shield,” Aster explains.
“That sounds complicated,” Rory states.
“It is, it messes with my head,” Aster answers, “but back to Rowan’s shield, what do you think of it?”
“I like the sound of it,” I answer.
“Great,” Rory jots it down on some paper, “we’ll have it prepared.”
This part is in the point of view of Aster again.
“So what about the other elements of the hatchment?” I ask, “aside from the crown, of course.”
“As a couple, you’ll both use the same shield with the crown as headpiece,” Rory explains, “as the second prince, Rowan’s hatchment has two pyramids for the crest. For you, as a spouse to the royal family, the crest is a ribbon.”
“The motto”, Finn continues the explanation, “should be our family motto: Power, Progress, Prosperity, Peace.”
A four-part motto? I guess that’s normal here. But I like the sound of it.
“Power, Progress, Prosperity, Peace…” Rowan repeats. It seems to strike a chord with him.
“What do hatchments look like where you are from?” Rory asks.
“I have to admit, nobility and everything associated with it are long history,” I answer. “But from what I can remember in class, hatchments in my world have more ornate elements than this, like supporters, animals on the sides that hold the shield. I also think the family name and motto are in different positions to here. And I think three-part mottos are common.”
“I have already modified the schematics for the items that need adjustment according to the specifications that were discussed,” Mittens reports.
“Thanks, Mittens,” I answer.
“Schematics?” Rory asks.
I definitely should not tell them about the replicator. What do I say now?
“It’s how my people prepare for everything. With a proper schematic, you can recreate things to great detail. Even with everything we discussed, there are things can be variable, like the size of certain elements.”
It seems Rory is content with my answer, at least he acts like he is.
I wanted to confirm the changes as soon as we returned to the shuttle, but I guess I’ll do it now. I take out my terminal, set it to holographic mode and put it on the table.
“Display them on the terminal,” I order.
“Sending information…” Mittens states. After a few moments, two hatchments appear in mid-air.
“So Mittens’s power does possess Aevita’s rare blessing,” Rory exclaims.
“What’s the power of the that blessing?” I ask. I still need to go back to their temple to receive their rare blessing, so I’m somewhat interested.
“It can influence the perception of people as the user intends. You can make things appear or disappear.”
“Thanks for the info. So, do these look right?”
“I don’t know…” Rowan answers, “shouldn’t the cat have more details?”
“That wouldn’t work for smaller sizes…” Finn answers.
“Can’t you just add optional details for larger sizes?” Rowan asks.
“I don’t think there’s a precedent for that.”
There’s no precedent for that on Earth, either. But then, hatchments are a relic from even before the digital age. Specifying when to add what details might have been too much of a hassle.
“I don’t think it’s practicable,” I add, “it should be easy to recognize. So maybe for a version that you display at home at most.”
“Can you make us something like that?” Rowan immediately asks.
“Sure, let’s make some to up in our house when we return to Dewick.”
“I hope you’ll let me see it when you’ve finished yours,” Finn states, “it might even take off as a new trend.”
“You’re exaggerating,” Rowan answers.
“Just slightly,” Finn mischievously adds.