Episode 4 –
[details=spoiler]Nike has an ordeal with a corset and run in with the country’s top designer. Oh, the things one must do! She also finds out that there’s an engagement ceremony to take place before the wedding. And those dirty old Elders still crack me up! But I think Livius just jinxed himself, expecting things to go as planned.
Nike is summoned to the king’s office, where Livius tells her that their engagement has been canceled by the Ministry of the Priesthood. They gave the excuse that Nike is a foreigner, and Livius is obviously upset. He knows that the priesthood is really against him and not Nike. However, they will accept Nike if she undergoes the “Rite of Illumination” where Nike will have to retrieve a ring to be given the king at the engagement ceremony. But it’s going to be an extremely dangerous undertaking in a place where others have died. All that aside, Nike immediately agrees to do it. But there are other issues at stake. If this ritual is agreed to, Livius will also be acknowledging the fact that the Ministry of the Priesthood has a say in the matter. Politics again! Nike may also have to face other enemies of the king. Livius vows to protect Nike.
However, Nike is uncomfortable with the thought of Livius protecting her. She doesn’t want to be a burden. Nike asks her maids where she can find the priesthood. But no one can enter without permission, unless they’re a servant. Disguised as a maid, Nike walks into the temple. However, she’s quickly found out when she tries to save another maid from a beating. Then she comes face to face with Aristes!
Aristes is very charming and not at all what Nike expected, until he shows his true colors. Aristes tells Nike that he knows of her powers, and that rain and clouds cover the sun. Therefore, Nike is an ill omen and not wanted in that country. Not only does Aristes make light of a punishment for speaking thus, he also insults the king’s mother. Nike now knows that this is a formidable enemy, and also gets a taste of what the king must face every day of his life. Nike can’t stand it and goes to attack Aristes, but is stopped by the maid she saved. To raise her hand against a priest would mean losing everything.
Aristes mentions the rite and leaves her. Nike just breaks down. Everyone has hurt the king in one way or another and now she’s just added to that. She cries harder at the thought of not being able to stay with Livius. The maid takes her back to the palace, but makes a stop along the way. She takes Nike to an orphanage for children of “other ethnicities”. Considered “lower class” when the king abolished the class system, the children came to the notice of the king and he became a patron of the orphanage.
A little girl gives Nike some insight about how the king feels about her, and the maid tells her that everyone is saying that the king has changed because of Nike. They already consider her their queen. But Nike still wants to be worthy of the title and their regard. Back at the palace, Nike wakes the king up from a brief nap and he sleepily calls her “Shelia” which was kind of sweet. He fully awakens and finds his bed covered in rose petals. Nike laughs when he gets annoyed. She tells him that she learned a lot about him that day and wants to go through with the rite.
Nike wants to be accepted, but Livius warns her that she won’t come away unscathed. He still wants to protect her and while Nike is grateful for that, she takes the king’s hand and tells him that she wants to share his pain. She says that she wants to fight with him, but that also annoys the king. But not for any real reason other than he wanted to act chivalrous and Nike just took that away from him! However, he is going to allow Nike to go through with the rite and even gives her Shelia’s ring to protect her. Livius tells Nike to wear it around her neck for now, but the ring will go on her finger at the engagement ceremony. He kisses the ring he’s placed in her hand and tells Nike to come back safely. Wrapping her hand around the ring, she promises that she will.
The Rite of Illumination begins with Aristes officiating. Nike is told that once she enters the temple, the entrance will be sealed and she will need to find another way out. She has until the morning of the engagement ceremony. In this time, she must retrieve the engagement ring for Livius from the Sun God statue in the deepest part of the labyrinth. Given a torch, Nike stands before the opened doors of the temple. Livius gives her a final word and Nike tells him to trust her. With that she enters and the doors close.
I’m sure that Nike has just played into the priesthood’s hands. If other princesses have died during this ritual, I’m sure that many traps were laid for them, and Nike will be no exception. In fact, by the look that passes between Aristes and Livius, I know Aristes is planning to kill off Nike. Meanwhile, Nike was told to follow the path, but it’s dark and Nike now thinks that there might be more than one path. She was given a map, but it is totally useless when Nike comes to a fork in the road. Which way to go? She takes a guess and moves to the right, but the path crumbles beneath her. She barely manages to save herself. At least she knows she has to take this seriously now and is more determined than ever to see this through.
Nike finally finds the Sun God’s temple and enters. She eventually comes upon the statue, and even finds the secret compartment where the ring is. But the ring itself is missing! I thought this was too easy. Nike suddenly realizes that Aristes never planned to allow a successful conclusion to this ritual from the start, and all this was just a way to be rid of her. This is confirmed when a bunch of assassins show up. One steps forward and drawing his sword, tells Nike that Livius has done nothing but belittle the traditions of the country with his outrageous ideas. This guy says that Livius favors the commoners and threatens the structure of society. Things have only gotten worse with her arrival. And now Nike is a threat that must be eliminated as well. This is bad. Worse, because Nike can’t call the wind. How the heck is she going to get out of this?[/details]