Two Heirs (The Marmoros Trilogy Book 1) (54 page)

BOOK: Two Heirs (The Marmoros Trilogy Book 1)
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The farmers outside the valley were happy to be compensated for the supplies that Kraxis had already taken and agreed to sell the remaining surplus that they had hidden away, to the new rulers of Marmoros. Together with the supplies from the tunnels, they now had sufficient food for the winter as well as enough for a grand feast to celebrate the coronation.

The front wall of the palace courtyard was rebuilt and the crater in the centre was filled in. On David’s advice, they left the mangled remains of the tank in the bottom of the crater and simply buried it. However, the damage to the doors and the façade was more extensive and the best they could do in the time available, was to tidy it up.

The problem of where to hold the coronation ceremony was tricky as everyone wanted to be able to see it even if they were not taking actually part themselves. Jeren eventually settled the arguments by ordering a stage to be built in the courtyard, large enough to hold all the participants and high enough for everybody outside the walls to have a view. Naturally, as soon as that was announced, every house and public building with a window or roof space overlooking the stage, was swamped with offers to buy a viewing space.

Jeren put off dealing with Raslo for as long as he could but eventually decided that the situation had to be resolved before the coronation. The audience chamber was packed with every councillor seated beneath his family crest, the wooden panels having been reorganised to everybody’s satisfaction. The lower end of the hall was filled with townspeople who had either witnessed the original incident or were simply curious to see the traitor who had attacked their prince. Jeren and Falaise occupied the two thrones and seats were placed on the dais for David on one side and Rachel and the ambassadors on the other.

There was a gasp from the crowd as Bern led Raslo in, manacled hand and foot. Jeren had ordered that he be provided with washing facilities but he had not made much attempt to clean himself up. His hair was long and greasy and his clothes were little more than filthy rags.

Bardsley was on his feet immediately. “Why has the prisoner been brought before us in this condition?” There were a few murmurs of agreement from the benches.

“My lords, the prisoner is manacled because he is a traitor,” David replied. “As for his
appearance, he has been provided with washing facilities. If he has chosen not to make use of them, there is nothing that can be done other than make him stand downwind.”

That drew a few chuckles from the crowd as Bardsley seated himself once more.

Jeren addressed the prisoner. “Raslo, you are the son of a traitor and were banished with him from our lands and from all contact with our people. Why are you here? Why did you come back?”

“To kill you,” Raslo said sullenly. “You are the traitor to our people, not my father.”

“Then you are condemned out of your own mouth. Your associates in this crime are already dead.
was killed during the attack and the other two have been hanged. Is there any reason why you should not join them?”

“You would not dare. My father is still a powerful man with many friends. You cannot afford to kill me.”

“That was probably the most stupid thing I think anybody has ever said to me. I was inclined to let you live but, if I do so now, it will be seen as a sign of weakness, that I am afraid of your father.”

Raslo looked puzzled and then started to look worried as the implications of what he had said began to dawn on him. “I didn’t mean…”

“Shut up. Is there anyone here who will speak for this idiot?”

There was no movement on the benches and a deathly silence throughout the hall. Jeren tried again.

“Come my lords, is there no-one here who will speak for him? Lord Bardsley? Lord Grekan?”

Bardsley slowly got to his feet. “The boy is obviously weak in the head, your highness. It would be generous not to take seriously everything the boy said.”

Grekan rose equally unwillingly. “To show clemency in this situation would not necessarily be seen as a sign of weakness, your highness.”

Jeren stood and came slowly down the steps to stand in front of Raslo. “They ask for clemency on your behalf, you wretch. Do you even know what clemency means?”

Raslo started to slide towards the floor until Bern’s meaty hand grabbed his collar and hauled him upright again. Jeren glanced down and gave a short laugh as a damp stain began to spread across the prisoner’s trousers.

“It appears his mind is not the only thing that is weak.”

A ripple of laughter ran round the hall as Jeren went back up the steps to the throne.

“Raslo, son of the traitor Gaelan, this is my judgement. You were banished from these lands along with your father. Yet you came back and, with others who have now paid the ultimate price, you attempted murder. Lord Bardsley has asked me to be generous. Lord Grekan has asked for clemency. Very well, I grant you your life. You will be taken from here and flogged, one dozen lashes, and then you will be thrown out of the valley without weapons, food or boots.

“Captain, turn the prisoner round so that the people can see his face. Look at him, my people. He was banished before as the son of a traitor. He is now banished in his own right as an attempted regicide. If any of you ever see his face again, you have my permission to kill him without recourse to law.

“Now get him out of here and would somebody please mop up that puddle on the floor of the chamber.”


The day of the coronation got off to a misty start. Autumn was well advanced now and
snow capped
many of the surrounding hills although the thermal springs kept the temperature at a comfortable level inside the valley itself. The city was already bustling with activity as many
people were up before dawn to prepare for the feast. The fires had been lit the night before and banked down to provide a bed of coals over which to roast the cattle and sheep. The smoke from the roasting pits mingled with the early morning mist and drifted eerily around the roofs of the houses.

Tables and chairs arrived from all directions and were laid in great rows up and down the avenues leading to the palace and spreading into the gardens in-between. Flags and bunting of every colour were strung between the balconies of the houses and the statues and trees in the gardens. To the sides of the palace courtyard, wooden grandstands had been erected and early comers were already squabbling over the best places to view the events of the day.

By mid-morning, stalls had been set up along the sides of the avenues and sweetmeat and pie sellers were hawking their wares. There were meat pies, fruit pies, savoury and spiced pies; their smells adding to the aroma coming from the roasting pits. And entertainers of every description were there; troubadours, jugglers, tumblers and fire eaters, moving through the crowds and pausing to perform at every sight of an open purse. By Jeren’s decree, all the slaves were given a day’s liberty and they swelled the numbers thronging the area around the palace walls.

Inside the palace, preparations were proceeding apace. Garlands and bouquets of wild flowers arrived throughout the morning and were used to decorate the stage. Flags were hung from every balcony and there was a continual flow of servants through the corridors carrying costumes that required some last minute cleaning or adjustment. The palace kitchens were a hive of furious activity, not only preparing for the royal feast but also dishes to be presented to the people for the communal festivities.

David had ordered the valley gates to be closed for the day and had left only a handful of unhappy men there to guard them. The rest of the soldiers in the company were busy adding the final bits of polish to weapons and armour. They were unrecognisable from the group of fighters he had first encountered in the woods. Armour had been collected in the aftermath of the battles they had fought and had been carefully repaired and restored. With the exception of the red cloaks, they were not uniformly dressed but every man had his own armour and it gleamed in the autumn sun. The red cloaks would provide the honour guard to the king and the rest of the company would parade in front of their new monarch.

When the appointed hour arrived, six trumpeters who had been found amongst the Lyenar families, marched out through the ruined doorway, dressed as heralds and lined the steps to either side. The sound of the trumpets carried over the noise of the crowd and there was a rush towards the courtyard walls from everybody who was not already in a vantage point.

The councillors were the first to emerge from the palace, walking two by two up the ramp leading to the stage. All were dressed in their finest robes, each trying to outdo the others around him. Then the guests were escorted to the platform; the Ystrad ambassadors, Yuris and Yolanthe, Mandal and the city administrators. A position had been reserved for Marta, much to her embarrassment but David had insisted that she be present as an officer of the company and escorted her to the stage himself.

Every new arrival on the platform was greeted with a cheer from the crowd and when Rachel was escorted by Baltur to the place of honour, there was a deafening roar of approval. She looked magnificent in a dress of deepest blue that clung to her figure, sewn with hundreds of tiny diamonds that glittered in the sunlight. Around her neck she wore a sapphire and diamond necklace that Falaise had given her and on her finger, a matching ring that was a gift from Jeren.

There was a pause in the proceedings and the crowd fell silent, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the royal party. With another flourish from the trumpets, Jorgen marched out through the doorway at the head of the red cloaks escorting Falaise and Jeren. Falaise was wearing a dress of gold satin, with the skirt slashed to reveal an emerald green underskirt and a short jacket of the same emerald
green, covered in sequins and gem stones that sparkled as she moved. Jeren wore a gold tunic that matched the dress but with a scarlet
surcoat, richly embroidered with gold thread depicting the crests of the Lyenar and the city of Marmoros. Behind them marched Izzy, dressed as a page boy with a straight back and his chin in the air, carrying a golden crown on a velvet cushion of midnight blue.

The larger of the two thrones from the audience chamber had been placed at one end of the stage and the red cloaks arrayed themselves behind it as Falaise took Jeren’s hand and seated him on the throne. The councillors, the lords of the Lyenar people went down on one knee as Izzy walked slowly forwards. He stopped and made a bow that he had been practising for days and offered the crown to Falaise who lifted it up to show the people and then placed it on Jeren’s head. The crowd erupted in a tumult of applause as, one by one, the councillors approached to kneel and kiss the signet ring on Jeren’s hand.

When the councillors had all paid homage to the king, Jeren rose and walked towards the front of the stage. He drew his sword and raised it above his head, pushing the stud in the hilt that caused the blade to glow blue. The cheers and the applause from the jubilant crowd redoubled as he stood there acknowledging their shouts of encouragement. In the hills behind the city, a lone watcher observed the blue glitter of the sword and rushed into the cave behind him. At his signal a new sluice gate was opened and water rushed down a different channel.

After several long minutes, the fountain at the top of the gardens burst into life, sending a plume of water high into the air and soaking the spectators standing around it. One by one the other fountains down the length of the gardens started to spray water as the crowds scattered to the sides with whoops of delight.

Jeren lowered the sword and sheathed it. The noise abated slightly as the crowd waited to see what would happen next. He looked around the stage and then walked over to where Rachel was standing, took her hand in his and raised it to his lips. David and Falaise exchanged worried glances but it was too late to do anything about it. Together the young couple turned to face the people as the applause and cheers built up again. Then somewhere within the crowd a chant began that was quickly taken up and spread like wildfire. The people in the wooden grandstands started clapping and stamping in time with the chant until several thousand voices were raised in unison. Even the councillors and the red cloaks on the platform joined in, stamping their feet in time with the chant as it swelled to a crescendo of deafening proportions.






Peter Kenson was born in Bristol, UK and grew up in an era when computers were new, exciting and the chairman of IBM forecast that there was a world market for maybe five computers. He graduated in Mathematics with a Masters in Operational Research and spent the next forty years working in IT at all levels from programmer to IT director.


He has always enjoyed reading, particularly science fiction and fantasy and wrote his first book, Sertian Princess, commuting on a train in and out of London. The family loved the story and eventually they bullied him into taking the plunge and publishing it.


After a writing gap of many years, Peter now lives in Spain with his wife Diana, where he has rediscovered his passion for creating new worlds for his stories. The climate, relaxed way of life and the odd glass of wine probably help.



Other books by Peter Kenson


SERTIAN PRINCESS (available as a Kindle eBook from Amazon)






I would like to thank all the people who have helped me through the writing of TWO HEIRS, especially Denise Sissons, Jan Billingham, Don and Hilary Grant, for hours reading the drafts and most of all, my wife Diana and my sons Ken and Andrew for their support and encouragement throughout.

BOOK: Two Heirs (The Marmoros Trilogy Book 1)
11.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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