Epilogue

8 years later…

"Hello, grandmother," Eliza said softly in the cemetery, her words flying in the light autumn breeze. "It's been a while, huh?" She tried to smile, but it was a little wobbly. She hadn't spoken with the old woman in years. She hadn't had the time to swing by the royal cemetery.

The Heir to the throne stood silently in front of the perfectly well-kept tomb. How do you catch up on eight years?

"The Mongasian War is finally over," she said, "after almost nine years of conflict. New Asia annexed the Mongolian Empire, and now they kind of do their own thing. It's going to take years before they are a united front, but at least, the conflict is over. They swallowed a lot of kingdoms with them, and many lives were lost in the process."

She paused and tucked a red strand of hair behind her ear. The wind was slowly becoming stronger. There would soon be a storm over Los Angeles.

"Dad didn't step down," she said. "He didn't want to give me Illéa until the war was over. But now? The crowning ceremony is tomorrow." She paused. "I feel like I'm ready, but I'm so nervous at the same time..." She gently put a hand on her protruding belly. She was six-month months pregnant with their third child.

"You're going to do just fine," her husband said, lovingly wrapping an arm around her thick waist. He placed a kiss on her brow.

"Tom," she said also wrapping an arm around him. "How long have you been here?"

He grinned "I heard you talk about your dad." He turned towards the tomb. "Don't worry, your Majesty," he said to Andromeda. "She's doing an awesome job, and I'm right by her side all the way."

Silence surrounded them and she leaned her head on his shoulder. They just stood there, motionless, for some time.

The wind was getting chillier by the minute and Eliza shuddered in her husband's arms.

"Come on, let's go back inside," he said. "And let's enjoy your last evening as Princess of Illéa."

Eliza rolled her eyes and chuckled. "Nothing's going to change, Tom. I'm still going to be attending endless meetings, reading and signing countless papers, and going to international summits and doing conference calls." She paused. "Dad made sure that I would be ready to do this on my own. He's just not going to be here anymore."

Tomlin frowned. "But he's still going to be around, right?"

Eliza shook her head. "With Mom gone, he doesn't want to stay around and see her in every memory, you know? It was a big enough scandal when she left with you-know-who..." They never said his name, but the Lieutenant-General, Samuel Murray had been discharged from the army when it was discovered he had an affair with the Queen, and the Crown was taken from her.

Tomlin nodded. "Yeah, I understand."

They walked hand in hand back to the Palace, where a little girl was waiting for them, sitting on the stairs, outside.

"Gracie!" Eliza said, calling out to her daughter. "What are you doing outside? It's getting cold!"

The four-year-old princess with the brown locks wobbled down the stairs and ended in her father's arms. "Guess who just arrived!" She said with a big toothy grin on her freckled face.

"Santa?" Tomlin asked.

"No!" The little girl said giggling.

"Aunt Millie and uncle Kamran?" Eliza asked, more seriously.

"Yeah, but that was not who I meant," Grace said.

"Grannie and Grand-papa from New England?" Tomlin asked, and their daughter nodded vigorously. "Well, let's go meet Mom and Dad, then," he said.

Inside, in the music room, the whole English congregation was there, sipping tea, because it was tea time, along the Iranian-Illéan couple and their two boys, with Oliver.

"Ah, there she is!" Millie said, standing to greet and hug her sister. "I've missed you. How are you feeling?"

"Nervous," Eliza said regarding the coronation, "and tired," she added talking about her pregnancy.

Millie offered her a tight squeeze of the arm and Eliza and Tomlin greeted everyone in the room. Their oldest six-year-old son, Eric, had been entertaining the guests until his parents arrived. Now that they were here, he and his cousins from Iran and England ran away to their own playrooms. Making conversation with adults was boring.

After catching up with everyone as best they could for the next couple of hours, they all retired to their rooms to change for dinner, where a gigantic table had been brought in to accommodate everyone. The kids had their own table at one end of the room, under the supervision of two royal nannies.

-x-x-x-

The next morning, Eliza couldn't sleep very late. For one, she was anxious. Not of the ceremony in itself, but of what lay ahead. And second, baby number three was kicking like a demon in her womb. After their daughter, she had said she didn't want any more kids. The pregnancy had been really hard and painful, and they almost lost the baby when she was born.

But fate wanted it differently and they were having a third child.

She got out of bed as silently as she could so as not to wake up her husband who was sleeping peacefully – how lucky he was – and went to the adjacent room to lay down on the couch. She picked up the book she had been reading for the past year – finding time to read was hard – and dived right into it. It was the last book in the Tales Untoldseries, written by none other than Adriel L'Alfayage himself, or also know to Eliza as Prince Harihuto of Mikasa, in exile somewhere in the world.

"Why are you up so early, love?" Tomlin asked, shuffling his loafers and rubbing his eyes.

"Go back to bed, honey," she said. "I can't sleep."

"Yeah, well, neither can I when you're not next to me."

Eliza chuckled. "Then come here." She scooted forward on the couch so he could sit behind her and he wrapped his arms around her, resting his hands on her belly.

"He's moving," he said in wonder.

"Yes, I know. That's why I can't sleep, thank you very much," Eliza replied. "Also, he could also be a she."

Tomlin chuckled deeply with his morning voice and kissed her cheek from behind. "I know. but I don't like saying it."

They were silent, leaving the early palace noises to fill the silence. Eliza read on, and Tomlin dozed on and off behind her.

Then, out of a sudden, it was breakfast, then visiting with the guests, revising the oath, getting ready, and going to the cathedral.

It all happened as if it was behind glass. Eliza knew it was her saying the words, promising to be a faithful Queen and to lead Illéa as best she could, but she felt like she was floating above it all, and watching from above. Then the ceremony was over, they drove back home, and the banquet that followed was huge. Guests and family were here, and that was it.

Eliza was no more the Princess if Illéa. She was Her Majesty the Queen of Illéa, and the most powerful person in Illéa. The only thing was that she didn't feel any different.

-x-x-x-

Eric knew he was the crown prince of Illéa. But he didn't care about that. At six years old he had other priorities. Like dodging his tutors and hiding in improbable places around the Palace. It was his favorite game until his father found him and told him what he thought about it. Then Eric would go back to the classroom and sit for the rest of the day in a very bad mood.

"Shouldn't we put him in a normal school? With other kids?" Tom asked Eliza one day.

"Yes, at some point he will," Eliza said. "But not just yet. He's six, Tom."

"So? Isn't it now that he needs some friends his age? He sees his cousins twice a year. At the best."

Eliza sighed. "Look. Normal school will wait. But we can maybe put him in some other things with other kids? I don't know, like soccer or whatever? Something he would like to do?"

Tomlin chuckled. "Something to channel his energy, then."

"Yes, exactly."

The royal couple exchanged a smile. Whatever their differences in opinions, they managed to find common ground. Most of the time...

After several years of playing a game of hide and seek with his dad, his tutors, and the palace staff, Eric had become really good at it. He was now thirteen years old and knew practically every nook and cranny of the Palace.

Except for this one. He had never come to the attic of the Palace. A room filled with dust, spiderwebs, old wooden trunks, and picture frames with old family paintings. Walking slowly on the creaking wooden floor, he was making footprints in the dust.

And seeing the large black spiders in some of the webs he knew instantly why he had never come here before. But then again, if this place looked so abandoned and forgotten, maybe no one would find him and he'd have some free time away from diplomacy classes? Ugh. Bo-ring...

He avoided the web-filled corners and walked slowly around the room, taking in the objects there. He even saw a painting of his great-grandmother, the queen mother Andromeda. He smiled. There were other pictures of her around the Palace but this one was different. She wasn't quite looking at you, like in most royal portraits. It seemed like she was smiling at something just out of view. Her husband, maybe? A grandchild? Eric decided he liked that painting and would take it downstairs to his room if no one wanted it.

Next to it was a wooden trunk that didn't seem as old as the others around the room. He lifted the latch – it wasn't locked – and lifted the cover. On the top was a silk piece of fabric protecting what was underneath. One after the other, he took out the objects.

A blue dress; a pair of ice skates; a yellow Polaroid camera; a sword in its sheath – there was something written on the hilt of the blade, but it seemed to be in Swedish, and since he had dodged his classes on Swendway history and language, he couldn't read it – which he tried swinging around but it was too heavy, probably his dad's; there was also some exotic jewelry that looked Indian; a plush tiger cub; and many other things. To poor Eric, these objects had nothing in common besides being carefully put away in that particular trunk.

At the bottom of it all was a big large book. A photo album, to be precise. He took it out, sat cross-legged against the trunk, and opened it on his lap. He went through the pages and saw pictures of her mom much younger than now, with lots of different guys. There were no notes. Only Polaroid pictures and some were probably taken with a phone. Slowly, he looked at all the pictures, recognizing some of the men to be royals from other countries, and some he had no idea who they were.

"Eric."

Eric snapped his head up to see his father with a grim expression on his face.
Tomlin frowned when he saw the familiar objects scattered around his son and the photo album in his lap.

"What do you have there, buddy?" Tomlin asked, sitting next to his son in the dust.

"I don't know," Eric replied. "Maybe you can tell me. You're in lots of pictures." He paused. "Among other guys. Did Mom really date all those guys?"

Tomlin chuckled awkwardly. "Yes and no." He cleared his throat. How do you explain to your thirteen-year-old son the concept of an international and political Selection? "When your mom was younger, there was a tradition. Every generation, the Heir to the throne would hold a Selection to find a husband or a wife among the Illéan people. Only, there was the Mongasian War going on and they were slowly eating up kingdoms from around the world." He paused, but Eric was listening with rapt attention. "Your grandfather thought it would be a good idea to unite the nations by having their young spares compete for your mom's hand in marriage. Alliances were made during that Selection, and well, your mom made her choice with me."

Eric looked at the pictures in his lap. "So all these guys are princes from around the world?"

"Not all of them, because not all countries are kingdoms." He turned some of the pages. "This one is a pastor from Brazil." He turned another page and fell on a picture of Rafe. "This one... He was half a prince. The South African king had an affair."

"Was?" Eric asked. "Not anymore?"

"No. Rafe died during the Selection. But that's another story." He didn't want to tell him about the robot drone attack. Not yet. He turned some other pages. "This one, for example, is a Swiss Air Force lieutenant. But from what I heard last, he's now a Colonel." He chuckled lightly. "He was my biggest rival in the selection."

"You had to fight him?" Eric asked. "With that sword I saw?"

"God, no!" Tomlin said, trying not to laugh. "First, I would probably have lost at swordfight against a soldier. Second, this sword is your mom's. Prince Aleksander of Swendway gave it to her for her birthday. He taught her how to swing a sword. Not me."

Eric was dumbstruck. "Mom can actually swing a sword?"

"Yup."

"Damn."

"Language, Eric."

"Sorry."

Father and son were both silent as they went through the pictures together. Bittersweet for Tomlin, and extraordinary for Eric. All this time he had thought his mom and dad had had an arranged marriage between kingdoms that had turned out for the better. Because they clearly loved each other. But why didn't his history teacher tell him of all this? Maybe because he dodged the classes? No. He would have known…

When the last page was turned, Eric asked: "Will I also have a selection, when I'm older?"

Tomlin didn't reply right away. He and Eliza had never spoken of that eventuality. It was too soon, anyway.

"I don't know, son." He paused. "Only if you want to, I guess."

Eric took a deep breath. At thirteen years old, the weight of the country's future suddenly fell on his shoulders. He would need to find a queen. And if he could choose one instead of being given one through an arranged marriage, then all the better. "Maybe I will," he said.

And from that day on, he never played hide and seek again, or stepped foot in that attic.


This time, it's really the end of "The World Is Watching". I can't believe it's been almost a year since the first chapter came out, on Oct 22, 2018.

But today is Oct 10, 2019, and by this TWIW Epilogue, we are celebrating the Discord Chat's 1st year anniversary! Millyna thought it would be nice to celebrate that 1st year with the end of the story that brought us all together, in the Discord Alliance (used mainly for the Country Alliances in TWIW, but that I kind of ignored at some point, because the countries' allegiances were not following the alliance... anyway...)

Thank you all for following this story, it was the story that took the most energy and emotion to write, and I hope GMSS will be as awesome to write!

Don't forget to check out the Magazine! it's posted on Pinterest, in the art section of the main board! thanks to all who collaborated with me, it was really fun to do this second edition! :D AND the Aesthetics (mostly the kids and some nice pics) on the Aesthetic Board!

This is goodbye for now, but I'll definitely see you again through GMSS for those who are reading and supporting that crazy story!