... well, Kaho, obviously!
But I have no real idea where I'm going with this and the style is all over the place and ... yeah. Help?
When Touya burst into his mother's room he was only half-surprised to see clothes strewn about and a pair of pannier bags open on the table. She was wearing clothes he had never seen her in, dust-colored travelling clothes that reminded him of the brat's digging-up-things outfit, although looser and better-tailored. Beside the bags, he notied, were stacked a neat pile of old books.
"Mother," he said through gritted teeth. "What is going on here? The cooks told me you asked for twelve loaves of waybread."
She smiled and patted his cheek. "Don't worry, dear. See? You're getting the hang of it already. That's what most of kingship is, you know - always acting like you know exactly what's going on, and that you're in charge."
"Where are you going? Why are you packing?"
His mother was still beautiful, although there were gray streaks in her long red hair and the beginnings of wrinkles around her eyes. It spun behind her as she whirled about to face the window that looked over the desert ruins, suddenly tight-lipped. "Surely you didn't expect me to stay."
"I did. How am I supposed to run the damned kingdom without you?" Touya sat on the table and crossed his arms, trying his best to look Firm and Kingly. He didn't have a lot of practice - only a few days - but he was sure that Mother would appreciate the effort. "What will Yuki do without you? He's not finished his training. And Sakura? She's only ten, for gods' sake! She's just lost her father, you want to leave her completely alone?" Touya bit his lip before he could point out that the same applied to him. After all, he was fifteen, and he was king. Surely kings didn't need bedtime stories.
Surely kings could get on without their mothers.
"Yukito's been ready to take over for me for a long time now," his mother said quite levelly. "Your father and I discussed it, you know, before he died." She said that word without any hesitation. "And you can take care of Sakura. She's a lot stronger than you'd think. You're a lot smarter than you think. If I didn't think you'd do fine without me, I wouldn't go, deal or no deal."
Touya kept his arms crossed and tried to look his mother in the eye, but she was still staring out across the desert, hands clasped together. "What do you mean, deal?"
"Did I ever tell you why I married your father?" She sounded quite wistful now, almost nostalgic.
" ... no." He'd always assumed there was some story worth hearing, since she was from a country so far away he couldn't even pronounce it - but they had never spoken of it. In that, as in so many things, his parents had presented a united front.
She paced across the floor, finally settling in a carven chair, folding her hands in her lap. "He won my hand in a bet," she said. "Does that shock you?"
"It does," said Touya levelly, trying to work out the implications. Slavery had been illegal in the country of Clow for as long as the country had existed, and his father, surely, had not been so heartless as to demand marriage as the price to free a woman he had - won - somewhere else - but that didn't fit; his mother had always had the bearing of a queen.
"Before you condemn him, let me state that the bet was with me and I offered it freely." She shrugged, and her eyes slipped shut. "It was on a riddle-game. I had already lost twice ... I should not have gone on. I do not regret it, but I should not have gone on. Do you want to know all of the story? I can see you're confused."
"Yes," Touya whispered, "if you're leaving, I at least once to know why."
Long ago, there was a girl named Kaho, who lived in a country across the ocean. Her mother was a priestess of the moon, who had won fame for her wisdom; it was said of her that she knew ten thousand riddles. Kaho was determined to grow as wise as her mother, and so she set out to travel to the hundred countries of the world.
She had many adventures, and discovered many riddles, and her story could fill a ten books - but at last she came to the country of Clow, where she determined at once to discover the mystery of the ruins that lay in the western desert beside the capital city. As had become her custom, she at once sent a letter to the ruler of the country, speaking of her quest and offering to trade riddles with any scholars who wished to meet with her. Then she found a room in the city and rested for a day.
That evening a messenger came to her room. "I bear a message from the King of Clow," he said to her. "He is a scholar himself, and he begs the honor of your presence at dinner, and wishes to trade riddles with you, if you know any from the far reaches of the world."