Chapter 46: Queen Cecilia
I lay comfortably on the floor, lazing around as I magically held the book above my head. I was in a rather comfy room. Apparently since Averlon used to be part of the Elysian empire there were some areas of the palace designed to house monsters. This particular room used to house Wyverns so there was plenty of space.
Cecilia had commissioned some craftsmans to make some furniture for me. I was most excited for this giant cushion that she wanted to make for me. That way I could lie on something comfy, don’t get me wrong the floor is fine. I don’t sleep after all, but it would make a nice place to read.
Well I know there’s now a bit of waiting to be done, Cecilia is going to be crowned today and after that it’s a long time of nothing to do. Well to be fair there wasn’t strictly nothing to do, I had a few more things on my to do list. I have Project: Phoenix Slaves, Project: My Personal Cult, Project: Living Battering Ram… I should probably come up with better names…
Then I heard the door open, I titled my head to see this girl walk in, she had a head of curly brown hair and she wore the biggest glasses I have ever seen. She doesn’t know I’m looking at her, because you know… no eyes, 270 degree vision and all that. I can tell because she’s hunched over as she peeked at me, eyes filled with curiosity.
I shifted my head slightly and she let out a small eep. She turned and bolted out the door and I heard her talking to someone behind the door.
Are you crazy?
I just wanted a peek…
There is fine line between curiosity and stupidity!
Do you think we could knock?
Knock? What you want go back in there?
I listened quietly as the two voices argued. Well it’s obvious the girl at least wants something from me…
I raised my hand and casted a simple spell that opened the door revealing the two frozen figures who were now looking at me, faces pale as parchment.
“Knock, knock, is anyone there? Yes I’m in, come in. There I did your human rituals for you, now what do you want?” I asked dryly.
“We didn’t mean to disturb you, great one.” the other figure said.He was a man with a head of blonde hair and a rather lanky physique.
“Well consider myself disturbed, I knew you were there girl, I saw you when you entered. I’m an ancient predator, if you could sneak in like that I would long be dead.” I said dryly and the girl jumped at my words.
“Oh…” the girl muttered.
“Alright… fine, first off, who are you two?” I asked as I sat up and looked down at two of them. Their eyes followed my body as I reared up to my full height and I heard the pair audibly gulp.
“I’m Beatrice… royal beastiarian…” the girl said in a tiny voice.
“Beastiarian, ah the monster scholars… I assume you’re a beastiarian as well?” I asked as I looked at the man who nodded mutely in response.
“So what are you her assistant? Or did you leave your good clothes at home?” I said as I noted how the girl’s robes were far more ornate.
“Erm yes, I’m her assistant.” the man said.
“And the assistant’s name is?” I asked.
“Aaron.” the man replied.
“I see, now what do you want, Miss Beatrice?” I asked as I lowered my head slightly and loomed over her.
“I just wanted to have a look at you… I was curious if you really were a Progenitor…” Beatrice squeaked in my shadow.
“You know we didn’t exactly classify ourselves much back then. We just had the Firstborn, the Primordials and everything else…” I said calmly.
“Oh I see…” Beatrice replied with a stiff nod.
“Anything else?” I asked as I tilted my head.
“Oh yes, actually…” Beatrice began but Aaron kicked her foot and gave her a look.
“What is it, out with it.” I grumbled, this was starting to seriously feel like a waste of time.
“Erm can I take a sample of you?” Beatrice asked hopefully.
I shifted my gaze and I saw Aaron standing there with his mouth hanging open. Honestly, if his jaw dropped any lower it would be on the ground and rolling out the door…
“What?” I asked, well this was funny, a brave question certainly, alright my interest is piqued. Let’s see how this plays out.
“Oh I mean, could I cut a piece of you off and study it.” Beatrice said. That poor Aaron boy looked to be on the verge of tears.
I didn’t reply to that, honestly I wasn’t sure how to reply to a question like that.
“For academic purposes.” Beatrice added quickly.
Well I should hope so, commercial purposes is insulting and sexual purposes is just wierd…
Is that supposed to be bargaining? Sweetening the offer?
“HAHAHAHA.” I laughed. You know what? I think I like this girl, she is certainly amusing. The groveling is boring… I like this much more…
“Alright, tell you what. I’ll give you the sample.” I said with a smirk.
“You will?” Aaron asked in surprise.
“Err I mean thank you, great one.” Aaron said, quickly correcting himself.
“So you get this, but I want one thing in exchange.” I said as I plucked two feathers off the side of my head and handed it to Beatrice.
“You can study one and for the other I want you to try and destroy it…” I said with a smile.
“Destroy it? But if we find out how to do it, that would be something that can be used against you.” Aaron asked in surprise.
“Oh I don’t mind, I'm just curious if you will succeed at all…
You know what, I'll give you a little something else for free since the two of you are interested in this kind of thing.
The creatures now usually at most have a single defensive layer. Wyverns have their scales, trolls have their regeneration but long ago that simply doesn’t cut it.” I said as I cut my hand with one of my blades and showed the pair how fast the wound closes.
“If you could find a way to pierce my first layer of defenses, you still have to contend with a lot more than that. Show me you can destroy that feather and I’ll let you test my next layer…” I said as I bent down to look at the pair of them.
Honestly, this was free information, the more I know about my own combat limitations the better I can fight. Yes, giving this information away is dangerous but the alternative is go out there and get hit. So this was an ok trade off in my book. Besides the feathers were the weakest layer of defence, their main purpose for the aesthetics and aerodynamics. The defensive properties were just a nice bonus.
“Sounds good?” I said.
“Deal.” Beatrice said with an excited nod.
“Now go on, I’m curious to see the results.” I said and the pair left with another round of thanks.
Well that was a fun distraction, humans are fun in small doses…
Now then back to my book, where was I? Ah yes the page about this old form of magic coin, the most sought after form of currency, the coins of black gold, the coins of the Watchers, Grahanam Crowns…
This is certainly an interesting read, this world is certainly interesting... There’s even this zombie pirate captain sailing the waters around this place called the Isles of the Dead. The Captain is apparently this female goat like creature, she wears a red coat and has a mane of wool as hair. Half her wooly hair was brown and the other half was white. The white half of her hair also apparently covered a torn, decayed face. It says here that if you want to visit the Isles of the Dead, you need to pay a fare in Grahanam Crowns. If you pay the toll she will guide you past the mists that surround the islands. The stories here say that the island is filled with old artifacts, the only problem is to take anything out you need to pay a fare as well that scales with the value of the artifact. Also… Grahanam Crowns aren’t exactly easy to find, there are a few held as family heirlooms by some noble families but that’s about it…
I enjoyed the peace and quiet for a few more hours until the symbolic time of sunset started approaching. Apparently by old Elysian tradition which Averlon had adopted, the new ruler will take the crown at sunset. This is to symbolise the sunsetting on an era of rule. Then the next day the new ruler will speak to the people at sunrise to symbolise the dawning of a new era.
Just seemed like fancy rituals to me, Cecilia wore the crown because she won the crown. Who gives a rat's ass about this dusk and dawn shit. Well I suppose the people like to see this type of theatre. Maybe the ritual makes the oath seem more sacred and serious. Well anyway Cecilia said she wanted me to be there, so I’m just waiting for that…
After she takes the crown, tonight she apparently wants to put her brother on trial and of course she asked me to be there as well. Personally I would just eat him and be done with it. I mean he stabbed the king in plain sight after all, what is there to say?
Well I guess now that I’m some big important figure there are some hoops I have to jump through. I’m not strong enough to make my own rules… yet…
Then I heard the door open again and I saw Cecilia standing in the doorway.
“Hey Cecilia.” I said as I put the book down.
“What are you reading?” Cecilia asked curiously as she walked over to me.
“Nothing much, just a little something about this old type of coin called Grahanam Crowns.” I said as I floated the book over to Cecilia.
Cecilia opened the book and scanned the pages for a moment. This was one of the books given to us by that Seer in the swamp. She gave us a ton of books, it’s been months and Cecilia and I haven’t even finished half the books.
“Grahanam Crowns…” Cecilia said as she looked at the drawing of the strange coin.
“Yeah, I saw them a… long time ago…” I said and Cecilia gave me a look as she caught my meaning that this wasn’t my memory.
“If you are that interested in them, we have two in the Vault. You are welcome to have one.” Cecilia offered.
At those words the two royal guards seemingly balked at the statement.
“Your majesty, those are heirlooms dating back to the time of the Elysian Empire.” one of the guards said.
“They are relics of a lost time, we don’t even know what they do. They are collectors items, but knowing my friend here… I assume you know that something about them don’t you? They aren’t just simple coins…” Cecilia said as she gave me a look and my small smile was all the answer she needed.
“Very well, one of them is yours. I’ll take you to them after the trial.” Cecilia said as she closed the book and levitated it back onto one of the tables.
“So is it time for a princess to become a queen?” I asked.
“It is, come my dear friend, walk with me.” Cecilia said and I moved to follow her.
“It is customary for the one handing over the crown to present me with the title of queen. But seeing as my father is dead there is a hole in the ceremony roles.
The idea behind this tradition is to symbolise the transition of power. That power is given and received with gratitude and humility…
I can think of no one more deserving to crown me than yourself…” Cecilia said as she gave me a small smile.
“A queen crowned by a monster… won’t that be a problem? To be a bandit king is one thing but to be crowned by a monster is something else entirely.” I replied.
“The other nations will have their opinions but their opinions matter little when we hold all the cards. Tralis is coming, that alone will compel action, already Sarana has told me there are talks of a conference of the Elysian nations.
Whether this will be a simple alliance or the birth of an empire will be decided within the next year. When spring comes after this cold winter, this region will change forever. We are facing a turning point in history and I intend to be the one steering this change.
Whoever wins this war will take the lands of both Ancient Elysia and Old Voleria. Whoever wins will control a quarter of the Old World. Never has forces like these clashed since the days of the old empires.
The rules are changing and I want to be the one making the new rules.” Cecilia replied as we continued down the hallway.
“Will the other nations accept that? No matter what they will live at our mercy, they won’t mind you but me? They will have difficulty accepting that.” I said.
“They will accept it, as for approval… well I do not need their approval. When our lands become the most prosperous in the world, they will see the merit of our vision...
Yes, vision, the nations and leaders here lack vision. They squabble and writhe like worms in the dirt. We have spoken at length about this and I think you are right.
Every form of life has succeeded in their own way, every form of life a success story. It is a waste to discard anything, all can serve. We will make an empire where anyone and anything can find a place. Any race, any species, if they are willing to contribute they will have a place in our Empire. I will rule the men and you will rule the beasts.
We will champion withered Terra in no name but our own.” Cecilia said as we paused at the front of a great door. Behind this door the noble houses await to see their new queen.
“To the future then.” I said with a smile.
“To the future…” Cecilia said as she nodded at the nearby guards who pushed the door open.
As we walked down the aisle flanked by the great men and women of Averlon. They owned lands, businesses and had ties to great institutions. Cecilia described them as keys to power, they helped the nation function. Many had private armies, although much smaller than the forces of the crown when united they could pose a threat. Well at least they used to be able to pose a threat. With me around, there is no longer anything they can do to contest Cecilia’s power. Blades always speak louder than words and I have more blades than this entire room combined. The best way I can keep her safe is to make it clear that I value her greatly and I would be very angry if something happened…
I could sense their hostility, this was a sudden change. The court does not approve of my presence or my relationship with their new queen. But with Sarana in our pocket there is now no whisper unheard, no plot able to be concealed. That combined with Legiana’s ability to tell when someone is lying will make rooting out traitors easy. I just need one of them to try and I will make an example out of them. The rest will fall in line soon after, if they don’t… then they will fall in battle. Fall in line, fall in battle, doesn’t matter to me, they fall regardless.
At the head of the long aisle, paved with a mahogany carpet stood an altar. Next to the altar stood Cecilia's mother. I looked around at the large church-like room, with it’s white marble tiles and gilded accents. The imagery of the Seraphim was everywhere, large murals covered the pillars and the ceiling, high above the people below…
Then at the far wall was a massive mural with a particularly detailed artistry. On that wall of gold, a figure was painted with arms wide as if awaiting an embrace. A figure in a green robe and eight great white wings. A figure with a pure white face with two halos criss crossing at it’s eye level forming an X. The face had no features except for a single gold eye and a wide smile. Curiously one of the figure’s hands was made of gold and from that golden hand led green threads that spread out from the figure.
I recognised that visage from the old memories. The memories say he is dead, slain long ago by a warrior without equal. This figure who is portrayed like a god is none other than the Lord of Dreams. The architect of Heaven’s great order, the great puppet master, the God of honeyed words and blissful dreams.
As we approached the altar I saw the priest give me a look that was mixed with fear and disdain. Cecilia warned me that the Church of Order would be a problem. We would need to placate them for now, if we went against them from the get go we would draw the attention of Heaven. The Doctrine of Order is chock full of holes for an agile mind to pick through, we would just need to set the stage and watch them take the fall themselves. Blind dogma narrows your vision and more than anything, it makes you predictable…
“Crown Reagent… may I ask why is…” the priest began.
“My dear friend is here to crown me Queen…” Cecilia replied calmly.
There was a wave of murmurs from the surrounding nobles, I guess this a clear enough message that Cecilia won’t be playing by their rules… at least not completely by their rules.
I guess if she does something like this and she manages to pull it off it does say something about her power.
“But Crown Reagent, the crown can only be given by the one…” the priest began.
“By the one who is to give me the power. My dear friend here saved me from my fathers treachery, his words gave me strength to return and take my rightful place. I can think of no one else who has carried me further on this road than he. Without him I would not be here, this crown is given by him in all but name and... after today it will be given in name as well.” Cecilia replied calmly.
“... as you wish Crown Regent.” the Priest said with a small bow.
“Now then friend, do you remember the words?” Cecilia asked.
“Naturally.” I replied with a nod.
“Kneel Princess Cecilia, heir of Averlon.” I said as I casted a simple spell and the gold tiara floated off the red cushion on which it rested. Cecilia gave me a quick run down on the ceremony when we chatted. I previously thought I would just be observing, thank god for my perfect memory…
As I looked down at her kneeling figures I began to speak the words of the seven principles of virtue.
In the name of the Principality of Virtue
I charge you to be wise in your rule
In the name of the Principality of Temperance
I charge you to be just in your decrees
In the name of the Principality of Charity
I charge you to be benevolent in your power
In the name of the Principality of Diligence
I charge you to never be idle in your labours
In the name of the Principality of Integrity
I charge you to be loyal to the people
In the name of the Principality of Patience
I charge you to be merciful in judgements
In the name of the Principality of Humility
I charge you to be humble in your station
Do you swear to uphold all seven virtues in your rule?
“I do…” Cecilia said with her head bowed.
I hereby hold you to your oath Cecilia of house Averlon
Rise Queen Cecilia, Sovereign of Averlon, Protector of the Realm
With that I placed the tiara of the Queen upon her head and I heard all those gathered say in unison.
Rex tremendae majestatis
Qui salvandos salvas gratis
Salve me, fons pietatis
Salve me, fons pietatis…
These words were the language of the Seraphim, the religion of Order still had a strong influence all across Terra. It will take some time to fully unroot it…
As Cecilia rose to her feet I turned to look at the rest of the court…
Kneel before your Queen
The sunsets on the old era
A new future awaits you...