Ceremony

Ceremony

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
"

King Haroldris conducts the initiation ceremony for the Order of the Knights of Northmarch, but has a few surprises in store.

"

25.

Ceremony

 

 

 

Rori was already tired, and she had only started her new job.   The spiraling staircase of the Ducal Keep kept her out of breath as she carried trays of food and drink up the winding stairs to the guards on the third floor.  

“Why couldn’t they put the kitchen nearer to the guard station?”  She said out loud to herself as she hurried up the stairway.

“I feel your pain.”  A voice came from above her on the stairs, causing the young Sorceress to jump.   Down the stairway, wearing the suit of armor that her aunt had worn the day before, came the Duchess.

Rori bowed, the plates of food sliding toward the edge of the tray as she tried to pay respect to the lady.

Aurei quickly stopped the slide of the plates, to Rori’s relief.

“Sorry.” The girl said, embarrassed. 

“That’s alright, you are doing fine.   It will really get you in shape, doing this each day.”

“I thought I was in shape… until this morning.”

“Well, at least you are not trying to walk down three flights of stairs in these stupid high heeled boots.   Look at these things!   Have you ever seen something so stupid?   High heels in plate armor!   I wonder how many Drow matrons have broken their necks falling down in battle wearing such ridiculous foot pieces?”

Rori found she was laughing as Aurei displayed the wedge-like heels of the Drow armor.

“It’s actually rather stylish, m’lady.   Sorceress in Aeropolis wear raised heels all the time.”

“Yes, but not in plate armor, and not on these narrow winding stairs.”

“Ma’am, if I might ask… why are you dressed in your Drow armor so early in the morning?”

“Good question.   In fact, I was wondering that myself.   Actually, it is a Royal command - Alis and I were ordered by the King to attend the Consecration ceremony of the new order.”  Aurei frowned unintentionally.

“You don’t seem too thrilled about it, ma’am.”

Aurei shrugged, “I have mixed feelings about it, actually.   So how is your first day of work going?”

“Well, I’ve only been at it for about an hour, but I think I’m probably going to burst into flames, as I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be able to keep up at this rate, and then the Geis will activate and ‘Poof!’ I’m gone.”

It was Aurei’s turn to laugh, “Don’t worry, we know you are only human.   Oh, that reminds me; you asked about Luke, yesterday; well I spoke to him this morning.”

“You did?   Already?   When did you get up?”

Aurei smiled, “Rori, my day began about two hours ago.   I rode over to Brolen’s farm in the snow and Luke was there feeding the livestock.   He’s done it every day since his father… died.   Anyway, I mentioned to him your idea of being his guardian, and I was very, very surprised that he actually thought that was a wonderful idea.   So later today, when you start your duties over at the Muddy Boot, I will sit down with both of you and go over a few things; then you’ll get the job.”

Rori smiled, but it was a somber, respectful smile, “Thank you, m’lady, I swear to you that I will do everything I can to try to make his life better.   I know I’m to blame for his parents’ deaths.”

“I know you will, Rori, I have already sensed a change in you, and we Paladins can sense that, you know.   Now if you’ll excuse me, I must continue my dangerous descent down these stairs.   I’ve only got two hours until the ceremony and at the rate I’m taking these stairs in these heels; I might not make it on time.”

 

Rori moved aside and Aurei slowly passed, taking great care in walking.   As soon as the Duchess passed, Rori continued her ascent up the stairs.  She was surprised to find Pectros waiting for her on top of the last flight.

“There you are!”  He said pleasantly as she staggered up the last few steps.

“Sorry,” she said, trying to catch her breath.

Pectros took the tray from her and brought it over to three of the guards seated at a table across the room.   Rori turned to head back down to the kitchen.

“Wait a minute!”  Pectros called to her, and she turned, fearful of what she might have done wrong.

Her quizzical look caused him to smile, “You need to take a break.   I have my chessboard set up over there; it’s time for our daily game.”

“Sir, I don’t have time!   Duchess Bugley expects me to-“

“She expects you to obey me.”  He interjected with a grin, “I’m in charge of you during the morning shift, don’t forget, and I’m ordering you to sit down over there and engage me in a game of chess.”

“But-“

“No buts, young lady.   Chess is a game of strategy and very good for the mind.   I know I need mental clarity, and I suspect you do as well.   If you play well, you just may get half an hour to rest.   Besides, I enjoy playing against you; you have a good mind for the game and I intend to keep that mind sharp.”

Rori sighed, “Yes, sir.”

“Good, now if you would…” he gestured to a small table across the room where he had set up the chessboard.   Rori brushed a sweaty strand of hair away from her forehead and followed him to the table.   Maybe this new life won’t be so bad, after all, she thought to herself as she sat down across from the Captain of the ducal guard.

 

 

***

 

The consecration ceremony was very fascinating, and in spite of her misgivings about the membership standards, she found the whole thing very interesting.   While the knights and knights-in-training knelt and took vows of fidelity, King Haroldris and Matron Zeatt walked in front of them, leading them through the consecration.   Zeatt asked them a series of questions that they each replied to, swearing fidelity first to Yesh the merciful, then the King and Queen of Northmarch.   Then King Haroldris would touch each of their shoulders with the flat of a sword and announce, “I hereby consecrate you as a knight of the Order of Northmarch.”   Next, Queen Eioldth, who was standing behind her husband and Zeatt would come forward and present each man with a pair of spurs and a shield emblazoned with the arms of Haroldris:  a red lion clawing at the side of a black tower on a field of green.  Then a servant behind the queen would quickly bring another set of spurs and a shield from a pile on a nearby table and the ritual would begin again.

 

Aurei looked over to Alis, who sat beside her, wearing the brand new, shiny plate armor that Thorm’s workers had hurriedly finished late last night, just in time for this morning’s ceremony.   The Half-Elven girl drew more than a few stares from the knights as she sat there with the morning sun shining through her long golden hair.   But it was Sir Aeric who had the most trouble, for throughout the ceremony he would frequently look over at the girl, who pretended not to see his long stare.  

 

Aurei leaned in to her best friend, “Alis, you are the only woman in Westmark that can look beautiful in plate armor.”

“Ah, I feel really silly sitting here like this, Aurei.   They keep looking at me, too!”

“They’re looking at you because you are by far the most interesting person to look at!   You look like an angel of Yesh.   Then here I sit beside you looking like a demon.”

“Aurei, you do not!”

“I don’t fit in with this kind of ceremony, wearing this Drow armor.   I want the type of armor you are wearing.   Something more traditional, without these blasted heels.”

“It is very exotic, Aurei.”

“Too exotic, I’m afraid.   When Aunt Zeatt was wearing it yesterday, I got a good look.   The armor is too sinister looking, Alis.   It looks like something the Necromancer’s Guild would wear.”

“Well it is certainly the best made armor in the room.”

“I just don’t know why in the world the King wanted us to suit up for this ceremony.   I mean, we’re just spectators.”

Alis shrugged, not understanding either.   The ceremony went on for a little while with Eleazar being the last to be consecrated.   The King gave him the title of Grand Master of the Knights of Northmarch and Earl of Coldburn (which was the name of the river that ran past Westmark).  As his list of responsibilities was carefully announced for all to hear, Aurei was thinking ahead of talking to Thorm.   She was wondering about the cost of having suits of plate armor - or at least half suits with the upper half covered in plate and the legs and feet in simple leather- made for all the guards and any troop of soldiers they could raise in the King’s service.  

 

Her daydreaming was interrupted when, as the ceremony ended, the King turned to Aurei and Alis and gestured for them to come forward.   With a glance of puzzlement to each other, the two women arose and went forward to the King, who, once they stood before him, turned to the people of Westmark that were gathered for the ceremony.

“People of Westmark, you are all aware last summer that I granted the title of Duchess to Aurei Bugley.   Since that time, there has been a rapid escalation of her responsibilities, and her military commitments to her King are now greater than any of my other Dukes or Duchesses.   Due to the trust I have in her commitment and loyalty to her King, I am giving her a new title, that of Archduchess.  Her authority as Archduchess will extend to all the King’s forces that are not under my direct control."

"Other duchies that muster forces for the King’s armies will be under her control when I am not present, or if our forces are divided.   Some may ask why I have chosen a young Elven woman to serve this post - it is not because I think she can, by herself, serve as a Field Marshall for my forces, for I know she has limited military training.   Rather, it is because I know she takes the role seriously and will wisely select and appoint others to help her."   

 

"Her responsibilities will include meeting with the Dukes and Duchesses of the realm and coordinating the various forces into a force that will be able to withstand an invasion, if one does arrive.   My military advisors and generals will certainly assist her in these duties."   

 

"I also have noted the bravery and loyalty of Alis of Westmark.   As she seems to share the common sense and charisma of the Duchess, and seems to be her deputy, it is fitting that I establish Alis of Westmark this day as Viscountess Alis of the Lance.   Ladies, kneel before me.”

 

Aurei and Alis took a moment, frozen in surprise, but then knelt down beside the knights.   Haroldris went to Alis first, “Alis of Westmark, I dub thee Viscountess Alis of the Lance.   I charge thee to serve loyally to your lady and remember your allegiance belongs to your King.   I grant thee the authority to lead in battle and keep the King’s peace.   May Yesh grant thee his blessing.”

The King tapped her on each shoulder and the Queen handed her a pair of spurs and a shield - but a shield without the King’s crest upon it.   She glanced up at Haroldris, who leaned in and whispered, “You are a peer of the Kingdom - you have the right to design and display your own coat of arms.”

He then went over to Aurei who gave him a rather terrified look.   He whispered, “Don’t worry; you’ll have plenty of help.   Trust me.”

He then tapped Aurei on each shoulder with his sword as he said, “Aurei, Duchess of Westmark, I dub thee Archduchess of the Lance and give thee authority to command all the King’s forces when the King is absent.  I grant thee the authority to lead in battle and keep the King’s peace.   May Yesh grant thee his blessing.”   Aurei was also presented with spurs and a blank white shield by Eioldth, who grinned at her still terrified expression.

 

Following her initiation as Archduchess, the King had all of them stand.   The audience broke into polite applause, but Aurei sensed that - like her- they had misgivings about her ability to hold such an important title.  

 



© 2014 Eddie Davis


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"My day began today about two hours ago."
You don't need the today in that sentence.

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Added on November 20, 2013
Last Updated on May 28, 2014
Tags: Knights, Paladins, ceremony, undead, necromancer, magic, fantasy, adventure, romance, wizards

The Chronicles of Aurei Book 2: The Knights of Northmarch


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

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A Chapter by Eddie Davis


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A Chapter by Eddie Davis