Serafyr Halfdrake walked the corridors of the Castle of Anonymous with a rare smile on his face. The day had begun well, and he had barely needed to raise his voice at the rookie royal guards during the morning’s inspection. They were finally learning how to dress themselves correctly and stand still for a while.
Never the less, Serafyr was acutely aware that, by way of experience, no day would pass by in the Castle without some incident. Either a villain would attempt an invasion, or the kitchen would catch on fire, or the ghosts would stage an ectoplasmic battle in the main antechamber, or Azaril would accidentally blow something up with his Little Alchemist-playset. In the back of his heroic mind, Serafyr dreaded what would go wrong today.
As he came closer to one of the Castle’s sitting rooms, this one being a favoured spot of repose for the royal party, a distinctly displeased string of words reached his pointed ears.
“You can’t be serious! But... This is... I don’t even know what to call this!” Princess Simiel‘s voice rang out into the hallway. “I don’t care what some ancient bit of scribbling from way back when dictates, Daddy. Since when have I let tradition, or anything or anyone else, tell me what to do?”
Serafyr stuck his head through the half open door. Simiel was leaning over the coffee table, gripping her cell phone as if she were attempting to crush it. Azaril was sitting on the couch across from her, fiddling absentmindedly with the hem of his robes.
“Daddy... So what? I’m not going to... Seriously, there‘s nothing that would-” Simiel gasped. “No way, you can’t do that!"
“Beloved, what is amiss?” Serafyr entered the room, arching a brow at the princess.
Simiel, too busy with her ongoing phone conversation, waved Serafyr off.
The warrior turned to the adolescent wizard. “What is going on, Azaril?”
Azaril shrugged. “Don’t know. We were going to watch a movie, but then she got a call from Uncle Valitris.”
“But why would the old king be calling her?”
“Like I said, I don’t know.”
Serafyr raised his brow further and sat down next to the wizard. “Have you not been listening to the conversation? Surely you possess the adequate telepathic capabilities to be aware of what each side is saying.”
“That’d be eavesdropping, and that’s bad,” Azaril said with his usual childlike matter-of-factness.
“But... What imminent threat? Look... I gotta think about this. Say hi to mom. Bye.” With a dejected sigh, Simiel laid the cell phone down on the table.
“Beloved, what could have occurred to upset you so?”
Simiel leaned back on her plush chaise lounge and her dark curls, the most fashionable hair style and colour this week, fell around her face.
“Dad called and told me I have to be crowned, 'cause of some stupid prophecy or something says that Hypnosia can’t be without a crowned ruler for longer than four years.”
“Oh yeah!” Azaril piped up. “It‘s been pretty much four years since Uncle Valitris retired.”
“Thank you, Azaril, for stating the obvious. And if I don’t get crowned, Daddy said he’ll appoint William as Heir Apparent and I’ll have to find something else to do with my life.”
Serafyr folded his arms, recalling Simiel’s long lost half-brother, William ‘The Chosen One’ Nonsyrnamé. The last Serafyr had heard, the idealistic youth and his culturally diverse companions were in Fable, on a quest to discover the missing pieces of the Puzzle of Infinity. Should William be made King of Hypnosia, he would surely be too busy with quests and utopian dreams to actually rule the kingdom.
“For the good of the kingdom, we cannot allow that to happen!” Serafyr declared.
“Well, it’s not like I want to lose my position or anything,” Simiel said. “But if I get crowned, I can’t be a princess anymore, I’ll be a queen. A damn queen!”
“I... Do not quite comprehend why it would trouble you.”
“Queens aren’t youthful and modern! You’ve seen queens; they’re old, wrinkly, and wear non-revealing clothes, like my mom. Do you have any idea what it would do to my image, if I stopped being a princess and became a queen?”
“While I do sympathise with your woe, beloved, I cannot believe that a mere change of titles could damage your image to that severe an extent.”
“Yes it can. We live in a really superficial world, nobody’s safe from public condemnation.”
“In that case, why not change the law? As the de facto ruler, titles aside, you can alter all laws to suit your every royal whim.”
Simiel rolled her eyes. “Cause it’s not a law, it’s a prophecy. If I wanted to alter a prophecy, I’d have to alter the Cliché Law where it says that prophecies are beyond any laws, and that would take too long.”
“Did Valitris say where this prophecy is written in?” Azaril asked. “Maybe there’s a loophole there. Most prophecies aren’t true anyway.”
“Azaril, how can you question the validity-” Serafyr began.
“Because most prophets are insane, alcoholics, quacks or all of the above. We’ve talked about this, remember?”
“And I refuse to believe it.”
Simiel gave Serafyr a longsuffering look before turning to Azaril. “He said it’s in The Olde Royal Codex, volume one.”
Azaril smiled and snapped his fingers. A small cloud of pink, sparkly dust appeared above the coffee table and an aged, leather-bound, tome fell down and opened before the tiny wizard. Azaril bent over the book and flipped a few pages, scanning the handwritten text with his big eyes.
“I doubt that the Royal Librarian enjoys the way in which you magically pilfer her books,” Serafyr muttered, earning an attempted glare from Azaril.
“Find anything?” Simiel sat up.
“Not yet... Most of this just looks like recipes for salads...” Azaril skimmed ahead. “Knock knock jokes... Speech... Gossip... Here it is!”
“What’s it say?”
“And lo, the Archprophet Laloure did speak onto Adeornir the Heir: ‘Thou shalt be King of this land and thy descendants shall in turn be thine Heirs. And thee and thine offspring will thus rule o’er this land as the High One hath decreed. But, take heed, Adeornir, for great shall be the doom onto thy land, if thy descendant doth not rule o’er it for more than four turns of the mighty golden wheel. Thine offspring must be anointed as King, Queen or gender-neutral Ruler, lest thou wish this doom upon thee.’ And Adeornir did nod his head and all did feast on varied sweets and drink of the barrels of mead.”
Serafyr and Simiel looked at each other. Neither of them spoke the cryptic Ancient Language, Azaril may as well have been reading a Nonsencian manual for a steam engine.
“Um... And that all means...”
“Well.” Azaril propped himself up with his arms. “Laloure said that, if Hypnosia doesn’t have a ruler, something bad’ll happen.”
“Is he right about it? Like you said, prophets are prone to be less than trustworthy.”
“Most are, but not Laloure. He actually made correct prophecies, sort of the exception that proves the rule.”
“There’s got to be something we can do...”
“Unless you want to resurrect Laloure to ask him to make a new prophecy, there’s not really anything we can do. And resurrecting someone who‘s been dead for thousands of years is real icky business.” Azaril shook his head and closed the book.
Simiel moaned and leaned her head back again. “Damn it, I don’t want to be a queen.”
Serafyr stood up from the couch and walked in front of Simiel. “Think of it this way, my most enchanting one, you have made being a princess into something worth people’s envy. With your flawless ways you can do the same for the status of queen. You have ignored all naysayers before and proven them wrong, and by the gods you can do it again!”
“Yeah, maybe it’s not that bad,” Azaril said. “Besides, a big royal party can really boost your visibility in the media.”
“Precisely! The common herds love pomp and circumstance.”
“And everyone loves cake and a day off from work!”
“Well,” Simiel mused. “It’s been a while since we last had a party in the Castle. And since we’re finished fixing the damages from that one, we’re pretty set for a new party. But this would have to be the most awesome and fantastic coronation ever.”
“Then we shall make it so. Let no expense be spared!” Serafyr put his hands to his face and called out, “Send for the Royal Chamberlain!”
Soon a tall, thin man, prematurely aged by the stress of his position, stood at the door of the sitting room.
Pantworthington-Smith bowed low. ”You bellowed, my lord?”
Simiel got up from the chaise longue and deposited her cell phone within the pocket of her custom made jacket. ”I’ve decided to have my coronation as soon as possible. And I want it to be as luxurious and festive as possible.”
”But, Your Majesty, organising a proper coronation takes months. There are people to invite, protocol to discuss, the whole Castle has to be furbished for the occasion...”
”Hire some more people then. Get every party planner in country, if you need to. And call the media together right now, I want to make a statement before the tabloids start spreading rumours.”
Pantworthington-Smith spluttered for a second before clicking his heels and bowing. ”At once, Your Majesty. May I be so bold as to suggest that the statement be given in the Throne Room.”
”Sounds good, we’ll do that.”
”Very good, Your Majesty.” The chamberlain retreated into the hallway, before taking off in a mad dash to hand out tasks among the numerous departments and subdivisions within the Castle’s staff.
”You guys head for the Throne Room, I need to change my clothes,” Simiel said and exited the sitting room, heading for her private wing.
”Have you noticed the way in which the princess seems to dismiss the thought of one of us needing to change our attire?” Serafyr remarked as he and Azaril strolled down a series of corridors which led to the Castle’s centre.
”Do we ever change clothes?” Azaril looked up at the warrior. ”I feel like I’m pretty much always wearing the same robe.”
”Perhaps you’re still being dressed by the royal dressers.” Serafyr smirked.
”Hey! I’m old enough to dress myself! I just... don’t seem to have anything but really big, green robes in my closet. Maybe the closet monster eats everything else.”
”We have been through this before, my vertically challenged friend. There is no such thing as a closet monster. If there was, I would have defeated at least one such beast during my many illustrious monster hunts.”
It did not take long for the representatives of every conceivable form of media to send their crews and reporters over to the Castle. Most notable news agencies, aware of the fact that the royal party was a great source for news material, even rented buildings close to the Castle so as to be near the endless fountain of front-page stories.
Serafyr surveyed the scene before him as he and Azaril stood on the Throne podium, awaiting Simiel’s arrival.
Usually royal announcements were made through a small army of royal publicists, headed by the Press Secretary Royal. So, when it became apparent that Simiel herself would be making the announcement, the room erupted with speculation and near frantic curiosity.
Serafyr raised his lip at the cacophony echoing off the stone walls, the stained glass windows, the arched ceiling and the marble floor. Why were people so loud?
Serafyr glanced at Azaril. ”Please tell me that Simiel is on her way here. I fear I may unleash my wrath upon this discordant crowd.”
”She’ll be here in about twenty seconds, just enough time for you to tell these people to be quiet.”
Serafyr let out a relieved sigh. ”Good. SILENCE!”
At the sound of the semi-reptilian warrior’s roar, all mouths shut and all eyes turned to stare at him.
Serafyr shifted his weight and eyed the press. ”Please welcome Her Majesty, Princess Simiel of the House of Buduar!”
The door beside the throne podium was opened and Simiel walked in. She was clad in a deep blue gown with long slits at both sides of the hem, revealing her legs in a manner which was simultaneously sensual, modern, and oddly regal. Dozens of flashes went off and every lens, crystal ball, and whatever other optical devices may have been present followed her every step onto the podium and to her seat on the Throne.
Once seated, Simiel crossed her legs and held out a small note. ”Thanks for coming on such short notice, everyone, though I’m sure the paparazzi among you were already hiding in the bushes outside.”
A low chuckle went through the crowd.
”Anyway, I called you here because I have a very important announcement to make. I intend on being crowned exactly three weeks from now. There will be a six day celebration and national holiday to celebrate my coronation and it will be the most fantastically awesome coronation ever.” Simiel threw her note away and casually folded her arms. ”Any questions?”
Reporters practically fought each other in order to get a chance to ask their questions. Tabloids were interested about the guest list and what Simiel would be wearing. Reporters perceiving themselves as the more prestigious sort wanted to know why Simiel had decided to have her coronation now and what it implied about current politics, culture and economy. Simiel brushed most of the questions off by saying that they were currently a national secret, or that she did not know or care about the answer.
Eventually Simiel appeared to tire of the questions and raised her hand for silence. ”Now, to make this completely, utterly, and totally official, Serafyr will read the Coronation Proclamation.”
Simiel handed Serafyr an old piece of parchment. The warrior looked at the text, only to discover that it was written in the Ancient Language.
”Simiel, I cannot read this. I do not know what it says,” Serafyr whispered.
”Just read it. I’d have Azaril do it, but he’s so camera shy that he'd faint if he has to say a single word right now,” Simiel hissed back, nodding her head at the wizard who was looking at the press much in the way a rabbit looks at a fox.
”Very well.” Serafyr focused on the text, furrowing his brow at the incomprehensible content. ”Let it be known far and wide, within and without the borders of this grand kingdom and beyond the spheres of this world, that the right and just Heir hath made public her intention to be enthroned. The Heir hath hitherto been declared as befitting the task of ruling the kingdom and adjoining territories of Hypnosia. Thus mote it be, by laws divine and the Laws of Clichés, Simiel shalt rule o’er Hypnosia.”
The reporters, most of whom were as clueless to the meaning of the words as Serafyr himself, clapped their hands and cheered. A great royal affair was more than worthy fodder for several articles, talk shows, documentaries, and special editions, and thus good for business.
A few days after the announcement, Serafyr, Simiel, and Azaril were in the Throne Room, going over the media exposure the upcoming coronation had received.
Azaril sat cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by every publication in Hypnosia, Fable, Saagania, and every other country in the world of Imaginaarium. ”The Anonymous Period has written a whole appendix about past coronations. And the Gossipy Wench is taking bets on who’ll be invited.”
Serafyr huffed hot air out of his nose and leaned against one of the Throne Room’s columns. ”How can something of such low standards sell so well?”
”People like tripe, even when they recognise it,” Simiel said, stretching herself over the Throne. ”Point is, nobody’s criticising me for making the decision so far. If they only knew how much this is going to cost...”
One of the heavy double doors to the Throne Room opened and Pantworthington-Smith stepped in. ”Excuse me, Your Majesty, but His Holiness the High Priest of Haande is here to talk about the coronation ceremony.”
Simiel rolled her eyes. ”Fine, send him in.”
The chamberlain moved aside and a robust man dressed in a white robe strode in. Serafyr had always been of the opinion that High Priest Evanquition had obtained his position simply due to the volume of his voice.
”My dear child!” Evanquition exclaimed as he half ran to Simiel. ”I was most elated when I heard the joyous news! I knew that the very hand of the Highest One must’ve been at work. For as it says in the sacred texts, ’I shall poke you in the back along your path, so that you might not stray from it’!”
”Okay...” Simiel looked at Serafyr and Azaril, both of whom shrugged. ”That’s nice, I guess. Now, about the coronation...”
”Fear not, child, all shall be done as the sacred texts command! We wouldn’t want any vile heathen ways to infiltrate the festivities!” Evanquition proclaimed, waving his arms about as if he was either trying to fly or fight off some unseen foe.
”Yeah, about that. See, I-”
The priest, overcome with his self-induced rapture shook his head. ”Oh yes, I feel Her most Holy of wills talk to me, and She says-”
”Shut up!” a disembodied voice screamed, shaking the whole room.
A flash of soft light came from the centre of the Throne Room and as it faded away a woman, beautiful beyond all words in all languages, stood on the spot. Golden hair floated around her head, suspended by some strange force, and the hems of her long, pearly robes, lined with red and gold, pooled around her on the floor.
Evanquition fell to his knees. ”My Lady! Oh, Highest One!”
Haande, the Supreme Goddess, groaned, ”Shut up already. For the love of Me, you’re loud.”
”But, holiest of all things holy, I am Your most humble servant.”
”You and every other person who gives Me a holy headache with their shrieking.” Sighing, Haande glanced at Simiel. ”Hi, Simiel.”
Simiel smiled at the deity. ”Hi, Haande. What are You doing here?”
”I was just dimension-surfing on the Worldpool when I found out about your coronation. Congrats, by the way. So, I thought I’d drop by to tell you it’s about time to find a new High Priest.” Haande pointed to the grovelling man on the floor. ”Can’t have this moron ruining the thing. Living proof I should really watch over My people a little more often.”
”Where are we going to find a new one so soon? We’re less than two and a half weeks away from the coronation.”
”Not a problem. There’s this remote temple in the Indifferent Mountains, Shan-Shintrill. They’ve got a few promising acolytes and any of them would make a great High Priest of Me. If you want ultimate purity of mind and body, the only place you can find it is in a remote temple.”
”You think they can get an acolyte here in time?” Simiel asked.
”If they can’t, then I’ll send My own chariot to pick one up. And don’t worry about the elder priests, I’ll have Meede appear to them and tell them I’ve personally chosen the new High Priest. Oh, and Evanquition.” Haande turned a pair of golden eyes at the priest. ”You are so fired, you’re be glad I’m not the vengeful type.”
Evanquition went pale, his mouth opened and closed without a sound. Finally the former High Priest swayed back and forth and slumped to the floor.
Serafyr shook his head. ”Guards!”
The two guards outside the Throne Room’s main doors came in. Unlike Evanquition, the guards paid very little heed to the presence of Haande; the deity was not all that uncommon a visitor in the Castle. Serafyr pointed at the unconscious cleric and then at the doors. The guards nodded and dragged the body out of the room.
Simiel sat up on her seat, smiling at Haande with pure gratitude. ”Thanks for getting rid of that idiot.”
”You’re welcome. And while I’m here, would you like any special arrangements for the coronation?”
Haande shrugged. ”You know... Divine apparitions, heavenly trumpets. When Queen Yemma was crowned I had all the rivers in Hypnosia filled with wine. Not that great of an idea in retrospect, though.”
”I’m not sure.” Simiel perched her lips. ”Do You have any ideas?”
”I could rain down gold flakes and have every flower open that day.”
”That sounds good. Could You also heal all the sick people?”
”Sure. They won’t stay healed forever, but at least they can enjoy the celebration. And before I forget, I should remind you of inviting the Supreme Elementals. Last time the four of them got left out of a coronation, Fuagra nearly burned the country down.”
”According to this,” Azaril spoke up, holding an issue of The Period in his hands. ”The Elementals are supposed to carry the Golden Canopy of Regal Abundance.”
Haande nodded in affirmation. ”Yep. Just make sure they get their invitation. I ought to get going, I’m pretty sure I scheduled a meeting with the other primal gods for today. Have a good coronation!”
With that casual blessing, Haande was engulfed by light and vanished.
Simiel looked at Serafyr and Azaril. ”Maybe that bit of divine intervention means everything’ll go fine.”
Serafyr frowned: he was not convinced.
A scream rang out through the Castle, originating from Simiel’s private wing.
Serafyr ran towards the sound. The Sword of Might was unsheathed and ready to lay waste any fiend that would dare threaten the princess’ safety. His red cape flapping, Serafyr flung open the door to Simiel’s dressing room, only to find her standing before a mirrored wall in absolute shock.
”Simiel, what is wrong? Have the paparazzi acquired flying carpets again?”
”No! It’s worse!” Simiel wailed and turned to Serafyr. ”Look at what I’m supposed to wear for the coronation!”
Serafyr sheathed his blade and regarded the outfit Simiel was wearing. It was a simple, though clearly costly, white robe that covered more of the princess than Serafyr could ever recall seeing covered at once.
”What precisely is wrong with it?”
Simiel laughed hysterically. ”What’s wrong? This does nothing for my figure. I did not spend all that time taking fitness classes and hiring personal coaches to have my rear covered in something like this.”
”But surely, the other Robes of Regalia must be more suited to your taste,” Serafyr said, gesturing at the set of heavily embroidered, luxurious robes and capes that hung on mannequins next to the wall.
”Pfft, hardly. They just cover me up even more. I could handle that, if they were only tailored to fit me.”
”To my understanding the Robes of Regalia have been the same for centuries now.”
”Well no wonder they smell like someone died in them! We have to have these things redone now. I’m not going to go through this stupid rite of initiation wearing an ancient tablecloth.”
”I doubt that the royal tailors will be pleased.”
”They should be happy.” Simiel pulled the white robe off and flung it in the mannequins’ general direction. ”With the way the royal dressers were fussing over all the robes, you’d think it’d be an honour just to touch them. By the way, have you seen the guest list anywhere?”
”Ah yes, I was just discussing it with Pantworthington-Smith a moment ago. He was inquiring whether we are going to invite Belia of Fable or Malva of Fable as both princesses refuse to be in the same region with each other.”
Simiel shook her head in disbelief. ”Are they still fighting over that assassination Malva tried to pull on Belia? Seriously, the way Belia acts, it’s like she never had anyone threaten her life before.”
”I do believe the princess has in fact never been threatened by anyone other than her malicious sister.”
”Thank the gods William’s too straight-laced to even swear at me.” Simiel paused to think. ”If we invite Malva, she’ll probably get hammered on the wine and break something, which would distract the tabloids from anything I might do wrong. On the other hand, she’ll bring her obnoxious lackeys with her... If we invite Belia she’ll do nothing, other than curtsy at everyone as if she’s some country maid. And she always smells of roses, which can be really irritating in the long run. But we’re already inviting the Supreme Elementals and they really hate Malva, so I guess Belia would be a safe bet.”
”Therefore we are inviting Belia?”
”Yep.” Simiel moved to exit the dressing room and proceeded down the corridor. ”Do you know, if she’s still dating Prince Sandar?”
”Judging by the rumours I have heard, the noble prince and the lovely princess are only one kneeling away from marriage,” Serafyr commented as he walked beside Simiel.
”Seriously?” Simiel tilted her head. ”Gods, what happened to being happy and single?”
”The two of them are far less modern than you, beloved.”
”Right. Have you arranged security for the coronation?”
”Of course. I have handpicked the finest men from the Order of the Unreasonably Majestic Palace Elite Bodyguard-Knights to guard the party within the Castle and an honorary guard consisting of the Pathologically Loyal Paladins are in charge of your chariot escort.”
”Okay. Am I forgetting anything?”
”We have yet to determine the music for the ceremony.”
”I guess hiring Apathy to perform is out the question?”
Serafyr directed his eyes at the ceiling. There was no way he could imagine that group of bipolar, anorectic, minstrel pretty boys playing their brand of brow raising songs at the most prestigious event of the decade.
”I would suggest something less rowdy and something more classical.”
”Fine. Get an elven choir to sing then.”
”Very good, I shall inform Pantworthington-Smith of your decisions at once.” Serafyr nodded.
”Don’t run off yet. We haven’t talked about titles.”
”The Royal Master of Ceremonies told me that certain people will be given special titles for the duration of the coronation, according to what task they perform.” Simiel took out a note and glanced at it. ”I already know that Azaril will be the Lord of the Staff, since he’s the one holding the Staff of the Realms. My cousins are coming over to be Bearers of the Trails and Robes. The new High Priest of Haande, once the elder priest gets him to come out of his room, will be the Lord Anointer Sacred... There’s a bunch of titles for people doing stupid things like the College of Royal Proclaimers who get to hail me first... Problem is I never appointed a Royal Council, who’re supposed to do an oath for me.”
”I will gladly make any oath onto you, Simiel.” Serafyr placed his hands over his chest. ”For as sure as the rivers meet the sea and the sun rises, I am your most loyal companion.”
”Yeah, sure you are. But you’re already acting as the Lord Supreme of Swords.”
”I can take on more than one task. I shall stay up every night before the coronation, I shall wash the floors and hang the flags, I shall polish every boot in the Castle and bake soufflés!”
”We have other people to do those things. And you need to actually sleep once in a while. If you want the job of Master of Oaths, you can have it.”
”Thank you, beloved! You will see, this shall be the most glorious of ceremonies.”
Simiel chuckled. ”I thought you were the cynical one.”
”I fear I am currently overcome by a festive mood, which will undeniably be crushed by the next impending catastrophe.”
The big day was closing in on the members of the royal party like a herd of wild griffins. Serafyr would often find himself pacing the length of the royal study, trying to memorise his oath and fretting over the fact that his ceremonial cape with nine feet worth of train had a habit of getting tangled around his feet. He was constantly plagued by fears that, if he did not ruin the coronation with his own incompetence, something or someone else would.
The mighty warrior had sent out spies to follow every villain he could think of to make sure they did not disrupt the event. Thus far, there were no signs of possible sabotage, but Serafyr knew better than to trust good fortune.
While Serafyr was close to chewing his nails off, Azaril had periodically shut himself within the Wizard’s Keep and refused to come out until he was bribed with cake and toys. Simiel had developed symptoms of panic attacks, and she was seen wandering the Castle’s corridors, muttering to herself. Eventually the royal healer had provided the royal trio with a wide selection of sleeping remedies.
While the royal party appeared to be sinking into a sea of borderline insanity and herbal tea abuse, the rest of the Castle, few exceptions aside, was well within schedule when it came to the preparations. All around the regal abode, celebratory flags and crests were hung from ceilings and walls. A dozen silvery cannons were brought from the armoury and placed on the Castle’s battlement in order to deliver twelve blasts once the ceremony was complete. Every last candelabra, doorknob and windowpane was dusted. The floors were scrubbed and polished till most of the Castle resembled an ice rink.
Stumbling around with the ceremonial cape, Serafyr walked towards the Throne Room for the final dress rehearsal of the core part of the coronation. The whole ceremony went from dawn till dusk, but thankfully the actually crowning and anointing took only about fifteen minutes.
Serafyr adjusted the uncomfortable double tiara that topped off his costume. The rim of the tiara was pressing against the tips of Serafyr’s ears and he had a suspicion that he would soon be experiencing the phenomena of crownhair. Even in battle, where logic usually dictated one to wear a helmet, Serafyr would always fight without any headgear in order to show off his impressive mane.
”If heroes were to wear helmets and hats, how would people recognise them and give them and their gravity defying coiffures due respect?” Serafyr reasoned.
Entering the Throne Room Serafyr gazed at the splendour of the room now that it had been furbished for the coronation ceremony. The domed ceiling, divided into three aisles by two rows of columns, was almost impossible to see behind the ornate flags hanging down from all three aisles. A red carpet reached from the main doors to the throne podium along the central aisle. The throne podium itself had a complex canopy draped above it, with heavy velvets of gold and deep fuchsia, along with the crest of the House of Buduar.
Simiel and Azaril were standing on the podium, admiring the handiwork of the royal interior designers.
Simiel was wearing several layers of tunics, robes and a fur lined cape with a fourteen foot train. Five pages were currently holding the train to allow the princess to move around. Simiel was absentmindedly tapping her fingers on the Coronet of Heirs which she was holding.
Beside her, Azaril had to use both of his arms to keep the gilded, jewel-studded Staff of Realms from falling over. The hanging sleeves of the wizard’s robes dragged on the floor behind him along with his cape.
“Beloved, you look magnificent beyond compare,” Serafyr said, kicking the train of his cape out of his way and wishing the Castle had more pages to spare.
“I’m just glad the tailors had time to fix the cut of these robes.” Simiel turned her hips, inspecting her back.
Azaril struggled beneath the headdress of the Lord of the Staff, an indigo mitre which was almost as tall as the tiny wizard. “This hat stinks.”
Simiel sighed and straightened the mitre on Azaril’s head. “Don’t move so much. If you stay still, the weight won’t shift around.”
“I look stupid with this,” Azaril muttered. “The pages were laughing at me.”
“Pay them no heed, Azaril. They are merely jealous of your position.” Serafyr looked at the pages holding Simiel’s cape in disapproval.
“Right now my position’s pretty painful.” Azaril leaned against the staff. “When will this be over?”
“Once the new High Priest gets here and we’ve gone over the script.”
“This is boring and my robe’s itchy,” the wizard whined.
“For the love of... Just try to bear it for now, okay? This isn’t exactly fun for any of us.”
“Yes, these outfit are quite impractical.”
The royal party’s criticism of old fashion was interrupted when Pantworthington-Smith entered the Throne Room and cleared his throat. “Your Majesty, the newly appointed High Priest is here.”
“Finally.” Simiel threw up her arms as much as her outfit would allow. “Get him in here so can get this over with.”
The chamberlain clicked his heels and stepped aside. “Presenting His Holiness, Holnewen, the High Priest of Haande.”
A stripling of a human walked in, looking very much out of place. He looked around himself in wide eyed wonder, clutching Ye Ceremonial Compendium to his chest. Serafyr raised his brow at the boy, who looked barely four years older than Azaril and, if possible, even less worldly.
“Nice to meet you, Holnewen,” Simiel said in the gentlest voice she could manage.
The priest yelped in surprise, cowering behind his book. “A-are you Princess Simiel?”
Three sets of jaws flew open at once and Serafyr, Simiel and Azaril looked at each other, then at Holnewen in utter shock.
“Uuh, yeah. Isn’t it obvious?” Simiel asked.
“Well... I’ve never seen any pictures of you.” Holnewen chuckled nervously.
“Man, when Haande said your temple was remote, She really meant it. No wonder we had to get mountaineers to reach that place.”
“Yes. I was rather alarmed at the sight of them. I’d never seen pickaxes or snow masks before. Actually I’m pretty sure I fainted at first,” Holnewen said, lowering the book away from his face.
“Ah, so that explains why you were so reluctant to exit your bedchamber at High Priest’s Residence in the Temple of High Holiness.” Serafyr puts his hands to his hips. “Being surrounded by all this all of a sudden must surely be a jarring experience.”
“Very much so.”
“Well, now that you’re here, lets get ready for your clerical debut.” Simiel put her coronet on and motioned to the podium. “You’re supposed to stand there, in front of the throne.”
“Oh, right.” Holnewen walked up to the podium and positioned himself on the top step and opened the Compendium. “Do you have the scented oil for the anointing?”
“It’s here.” Simiel picked up a container shaped like a dragon and handed it over to Holnewer. “Though I’d rather you didn’t pour it on me today, it’s kind of difficult to wash off.”
“Got it. And that’s the crown, right?“ Holnewen nodded and pointed to a crown sitting next to the oil container on one of two tables that were placed on either sides of the podium to hold the various items needed during the coronation.
The Crown of Asentrios was a relic dating back to Sar-Pladit dynasty that ruled Hypnosia before the House of Buduar. Its oldest part was a circlet holding four rubies and a curiously coloured grey diamond called the Moon’s Eye. Rising from the inner rim of the circlet were eight semi-arches that came together at the top of the crown beneath an orb made of gold that encircled a yellow beryl. Under the semi-arches lay a magenta cap and between them were set triangular golden flowers.
Simiel frowned. “You’ve never seen a crown before?”
“I’ve read about them, but not actually seen one.”
Simiel sighed. “Oh, boy... Can we forget the regalia for now? We can call the Master of Ceremonies over to give you a crash course on them after the rehearsal. I‘m starting to sweat, and I haven‘t done that in nearly a year.”
“Sure. Whatever you want.” Holnewen looked at his book. “So, after the opening declarations and music, the Heir enters and stands before the throne. Then the heir takes the Oath of Rule... Do you want to read through it?”
“That’s what we’re here for.” Simiel moved to the face the sacredly sanctioned youth.
“Okay...” Holnewen read form the Compemdium. “Dost thou, the true and just Heir, upon this blessed day take this august pledge onto thee, so that thou mayst govern over the Kingdom of Hypnosia, the Realm of Nowhere, the Isles of Yo-Ho-Ho and the Eight Sea?”
Simiel looked down at a note. “I do thus swear.”
“Dost thou swear to uphold henceforth the Laws of Clichés and all other laws of the land? And wilt thou protect the lands from evil and defend all which is good.”
“I do thus swear.”
“Dost thou swear to not upset the gods and offend them by acts of foolish judgement and mockery of their divinity?”
“I do thus swear to do that and all that which I swore before.”
Holnewen closed the book and gave Simiel room to sit on the throne. “Now I’m supposed to anoint you, but we’ll skip it... Next there’s the presenting of the crown... That looks pretty heavy.“
“It is, believe me.” Simiel said and she and the pages manoeuvred their way to the throne.
“So we’re skipping that too?
“Preferably. I’d like to wait till everyone can see my neck break.”
“Then comes the Oath of Most Glorious Loyalty. Who’s doing that?”
“It shall be done by me.” Serafyr stepped forward, his time to shine like glorious beacon of heroisms he was, had arrived.
The warrior stood with his hands on his hips and a confident smirk on his face. He sauntered up to the podium and reached for an overwrought sword that was set on a table and held it upward. He swung his cape aside and kneeled on the first step of the podium.
“If there be anyone of any birth in all the lands, who would dare challenge or gainsay the just and noble Queen of Hypnosia, who hath been declared the rightful Heir and today crowned to full power and glory, mayst thou know that I am the champion of the Sovereign Queen. I shall lay waste any person or beast who would say traitorous words against her or commit traitorous acts against her. I shall smite all enemies and combat to the death any knave or villain. By my honour and blood, none shall rise against my Queen!”
At that moment, Azaril’s strength left him and the wizard fell to his right side. The Staff of the Realm hit one of the pages and he took his colleagues down with him. As the pages fell they pulled on Simiel’s cape and the princess flew off the throne and directly to where Holnewen was standing. As the regal missile smashed into him, the priest in turn toppled a table of coronation items, sending swords, sceptres and incense burners flying in all directions.
Serafyr ran behind a column and rubbed his forehead. The gods only knew how the real coronation would go.
“That’s it, I’m calling this idiocy off.“ Simiel pushed herself off the priest and kicked a sceptre out of her way. “Azaril, you’re resurrecting Laloure.”
Azaril peeked out from under his hat, which was now tilted in an angle. “Aww, it’s gonna be smelly.”
“I don’t care, if the whole Castle smells for a full month. Either we get him to negate the original prophecy or we prepare for whatever happens, if I don’t get crowed.”
The wizard got to his feet as Serafyr walked out of his shelter behind the column. The two watched as Simiel marched out of the hall, slamming the doors behind her.
Azaril brushed his robes and shrugged. “Well, considering how many catastrophes we have on a daily basis, it can’t get much worse.”
Serafyr nodded. “If anything, I may find more pursuits to occupy my time. Whatever happens from here, it shall surely be very interesting.”
“I’ll get the ceremonial resurrection dagger, you get the shovel.”
Stories and artwork Copyright 2009 by Mette Pesonen. Copying in whole or in part is prohibited. However, you may link to this page.
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