The next morning dawned cold and crisp. Nearly everyone from the Town surrounding the castle came as well as many others from across the kingdom. At the appointed time they were all seated in front of a small platform with three steps leading up to it on one side. All seven of Lilly’s nobles sat on the platform in front of another chair. The chair contained a pillow upon which sat the elegant yet simple crown.
The crown had one jewel, an emerald set in the center spire. It was quite plain. Almost ugly when any given part was taken by itself, but together the workmanship was the finest anyone in the kingdom had ever seen. Luckily Lord Trapsfield had sent a highly trusted messenger to retrieve the crown as soon as coronation was a possibility or they wouldn’t have had a crown to use.
The trumpets blew and Lilly appeared at the rear of the crowd with Galahad, Sir Doyle, Roddie, and some fifty knights in her train. She was dressed regally, but simply and wore a veil so that she would not upset the stomachs of her people unnecessarily. Perhaps a third of the crowd showed up only to see for themselves how ugly their princess was, the feast and ceremony were just bonuses.
Seven trumpeters announced the princess. She walked up the aisle and ascended the platform. Sir Doyle, Galahad, and Roddie followed taking up positions behind the seated nobles. The fifty knights splayed themselves out in a fan to each side of the platform.
Lord Trapsfield removed the pillow from the chair. Lilly sat down. Lord Trapsfield then embarked on a speech so long and boring that several attendees considered assassinating him just to get him to stop. Finally when he had finished clarifying his preeminence. He turned to Lilly. All seven nobleman took hold of the crown and placed it on her head.
“All hail, Queen Soliloquy,” shouted Lord Trapsfield.
“All hail!” The assembly shouted and dropped to their knees.
The crowd went silent as Lilly prepared to speak. None of the peasants wanted to miss it if she lifted the veil.
“Greetings,” she said. “Many of you knew my father. He was a great man who loved his people. He ruled with an iron hand and an open heart. He expected much of you, but gave much too. Though few of you have seen me, I think you know me through him.”
“And why is it they haven’t seen you?” boomed a voice from the rear of the crowd. Everyone turned to see Count Riverton dressed regally and walking up the aisle, ceremonial sword drawn. “Is it not because you are so hideous that your own parents exiled you to the tower?”
“Are you hear to swear fealty, Count?” Lilly asked in a dangerous tone.
The Count reached the area between the kneeling crowd and the podium before he answered. “In short, No” he said, “and neither should these people.” Count Riverton’s soldier marched up behind the crowd. A second contingent showed itself behind the podium.
“Your quarrel is with me. Do not bring harm to any assembled here,” Lilly said.
“Why would I harm my subjects?”
“You are not the ruler here. By birth and by right I am lawfully your queen. Stand down.”
“I shall never serve a monster such as thee.” He raised his sword. And ran toward the platform. At this signal some of the knights fanned out behind the platform drew swords and turned on their brethren. Count Riverton’s soldiers, weapons raised, surrounded the crowds. The nobles behind Lilly along with Sir Doyle drew their swords and attacked the traitor knights who had caught their brethren unawares. Roddie dispatched the three gold-tipped ceremonial arrows he’d brought which were supposed to be shot into the air, signifying the rise of the new queen. He took down a foe with each.
Meanwhile Count Riverton still charged the queen with his sword raised. She stood transfixed, frozen with both fear and incredulity. Before she could awake from her stupor, the count was on the platform and Sir Doyle had jumped between them, stopping the blade with his own.
Galahad grabbed Lilly and pulled her from the platform. “We must get you to safety,” he said.
“No,” she cried, “I will not leave my subjects to be massacred by this self styled King.” She tore herself away from him and ran back to the platform.
Count Riverton bested Sir Doyle and left him a gift of a rather serious wound in the thigh.
Riverton smacked Lilly with the back of his gauntlet. She screamed and fell back. “I’ll make you prettier yet!” he shouted and raised his sword to hack at her but before it could come down, Galahad rose up and stood between them. The blade crashed upon his shoulder instead of Lilly’s.
The Count snarled with rage and threw his nephew to the side, his sword red with his nephew’s blood.
“Foul Beast, you made me kill my own nephew,” He said. “Your ugliness has poisoned even him.”
He then took to thwacking at the princess with his sword. She dodged easily as rage telegraphed his moves.
Galahad’s left arm was useless, in fact he couldn’t really feel the whole left side of his body. He looked to Sir Doyle. Sir Doyle had risen again, but was now in a fight for his life against one of the traitorous knights.
With difficulty, but speed reminiscent of a younger man, Galahad pulled a dagger out of his left boot and rose to his feet. As he came close to the count and Lilly he called out, “Lift your veil.” She looked at him then threw up her veil.
Count Riverton had never seen her face in person before. A wave of nausea overwhelmed him and caused him to lose his lunch over the side of the platform. As he wretched Galahad shoved his dagger between the grieves of Riverton’s armor.
Count Riverton turned and spluttered at this betrayal. He attempted to speak, but no words came out before he flopped to the ground. Galahad held the briefest of smiles before he too flopped to the ground. Lilly ran to him. He whispered something to her, but before she could respond to him she jumped back to avoid the arc of an angry sword.
To Be Continued…