Today is a day of mourning, for the Queen has died. She had reigned for nearly half a millenia, despite her illness, and was beloved by all her subjects. Four whole centuries of complete tranquility had been her gift to the island nation, and hopefully its continuance will be her legacy. It was an honor to serve under her, and it will be an honor to serve under her son. He will need much guidance, as he has hardly even a handful of decades on him yet, but he will be in good hands. We will raise him to be a good king…he will make his mother proud. His brother, who should be the true successor, has not the heart to rule. He, who has begun already to go grey, instead holds his position as The First, and will help guide Filverel from his position.
But today is not about young Filverel. Tomorrow is his day. Today is for Queen Lyra Caltur, who has at last succumbed to her lifelong illness. Old as she grew, she was always young to me, and she was very dear to me. Anaril will miss her…but I will miss her so much more dearly. I do already. Tomorrow I will publicly rejoice, as is social requirement, but I will never finish mourning Lyra…not in my heart. She was a gift.
The Secretary places the pen back in its inkwell and gazes at the page. Her normally neat handwriting is marred by smudges, shaky pen strokes, blots, and tears smeared over the parchment. With still shaking hands, she closes the book and places it back underneath the bowl of pearls she keeps on her desk. A single, shuddering breath is taken into her lungs, and a smooth, composed one is expelled from them. Having handled her pain where none can see, Secretary Viatorem Aes has returned to her worldly station- regal and impossible to shake, as always. Today is a day of mourning…and so she will mourn. Her typical constantly exuding warmth is rather dimmed on this day. Smoothing back her silver grey hair, she rises and leaves her chamber to meet Queen Lyra Caltur for the last time. She will keep vigil over her until twilight when she is to be cremated and her remains scattered at sea afterwards.
When she reaches the room of mourning, the people are only just finishing clearing out. Visiting hours only extend so long before only authorized people may stay…and for now, that meant only Via. Ancillas had been kind enough to bar all others. Until the crowning of his brother tomorrow, as The First, Ancillas is the acting king of the isle. Allowing Via the time alone with the Queen she'd raised as a daughter was a gesture he didn't have to make…but he made it all the same. She did so adore Lyra's boys. At least in her passing, they would still remain, for a time…though unfortunately, Via knew she would likely outlive even them. Such is the curse of one like her spending so much of their life with the younger lived races, like humans and elves…sooner or later, they all become lost while you still remain.
She looks over the peaceful shell of Lyra, laying with her frail arms crossed over her chest as if she might only be sleeping…but there was no breath in her lungs. At the very least, she would no longer have to fight the illness that had caused her so much suffering in her life. The poor child…
Her eyes were closed, but Via remembered the soft grey that they were as she gazed upon her. No longer the young thing she was when Via met her, Lyra's hair is the same colour as Viatorem's, and her skin is deathly pale…and was even before she died. Thin as a rail and showing a face with hollow cheeks…Lyra had looked dead long before she truly was, if not for the warm glow that was always in her eyes. Even as old as she was, her frame belonged to someone no more than perhaps ten. She had been weak her whole life, but was such a determined fighter against it that she still made it to old age for her kind.
A sort of pride in Lyra, her Queen, her nearly child, her friend, wells up in Via's chest, and ties itself there in several hard knots. The Secretary keeps silent vigil over her queen until twilight.
The sun is creeping down from the sky, lighting up the horizon with painfully beautiful hues of every colour of dusk. Mother would have loved to see it…she always loved watching sunsets.
While it only technically required one person, Ancillas and Viatorem together raise Queen Lyra Caltur's body up onto the pyre Ancillas had constructed during the day. When they retreat from the pyre, The Fourth steps forward and speaks flames into existence. The inferno roars as it swallows the frail remains of the girl who had so much spirit and strength in her heart, even as her body had been weak her whole life.
The whole court has gathered to see her off, and the whole city stands outside the gates watching, mourning as the remains of their queen are incinerated. All is silent but for the blazing fire before them.
After the fire is finished, only ash and dust remaining, the ashes are collected and Ancillas and Filverel alone set out to scatter them at the shore. Traditionally one is supposed to go into the water more…but young Filverel inhereted his mother's illness and has not the strength to handle it, but wants to accompany his brother in the task regardless…so a slight deviation this one time can't hurt much.
Tears creeping into the corners of his eyes as they stand at the shoreline beneath the castle, Ancillas looks down at his younger brother…only 55 and being crowned tomorrow. Tears are streaked down young Filverel's face. Momentarily, Ancillas feels a pang of guilt for having rejected succession all those years ago, instead choosing to follow the path of First Secretary. He still has no desire to rule…but it's not a burden Filverel should have to bear so soon. This life is so painfully unfair. Briefly he rests his hand on the young prince's shoulder, a gesture of reassurance, before he removes it and they together walk the shoreline, scattering their queen's ashes into the waters of the sea and uttering the words of tradition for safe and sure passage into the next life…whatever that life might be.
Prince Filverel Caltur has spent the past three hours composing himself while the secretaries, soon to be HIS secretaries, flit about him, preparing him for his coronation. Today is a day of rejoicing, as a new king is being crowned. Filverel does not feel like rejoicing. He has never felt so hollow or so terrified. He still aches from the loss of his mother.
How can they be acting so upbeat when she has been lost only yesterday?
Filverel grinds his teeth silently and does his best to externally match their merriment. It was expected of him to do so…but he didn't want to. The robes fashioned for him, even tailored for a person of his build, were too loose. They hung like so many tapestries cast aside onto a chair over his near emaciated body- beautiful if properly hung, but sad looking when not, and right now, on him, they were decidedly not. It is not long, now, before he is to be crowned.
As the sun is just beginning to kiss the dawn sky, the prince can hear the celebratory music begin to play from the coronation hall. The upbeat sound of it, the gorgeous hues of the sun against the morning sky…they insult him. How could anything be so radiant in the light of her loss?
He paints an artificial, but real enough seeming smile onto his face, knowing he must get through the day as expected regardless of how he felt. His older brother kneels in front of him for a moment,
"Are you ready, little brother?"
His smile is far more believable, but Filverel can see through it nonetheless. There is still sharp pangs in him, too,
"As ready as I'll ever be…"
He breathes in a shuddering breath and exhales a smooth one. Ancillas rises and hurries into the coronation chamber with the other secretaries. Filverel now waits alone for the signal to proceed into the room. He concentrates on listening for it and on keeping his imitation smile fixed onto his face. It is not long before the music quiets and he can hear Ancillas begin to speak,
"Yesterday was a day of mourning, for we lost our beloved queen. Today is a day of celebration, for we are gaining a new leader…a king to rule and safeguard this land! Queen Lyra Caltur has fallen, but Prince Filverel Caltur, her son and heir, will soon fill her role and lead us well! Come forward, my prince, and you will be made a king!"
Ancillas's voice rings clearly and confidently throughout the chamber. On the surface they sound confident and upbeat, but Filverel knows it is merely a facade…the same one he, himself, must put on today. Swallowing the lump in his throat, the pain in his chest of grief, the fear of leaving as she did, but sooner…the boy places the best, beaming smile he can upon his gaunt face and walks into the room, squaring his shoulders with artificial confidence and pride. The jubilant music playing insults him, but he tunes it out. After what feels like an eternity, he reaches his brother and looks up at him. Ancillas smiles down with genuine warmth and reassurance before raising the crown up and speaking to the room once more,
"Here is the Prince of Anaril, the successor of our beloved Queen Lyra Caltur!"
He looks down at Filverel, saying words technically meant for him but spoken to the room,
"Kneel, my prince!"
The boy kneels before the taller elf with relative ease and grace, despite the knives in his throat. He bows his head slightly, as he knows is expected of him, and does his level best not to tremble or show in any form his apprehension.
Ancillas slowly lowers the crown onto his younger brother's head. It is clearly too heavy for the boy, as he is so weak. It was too heavy for his mother, too, yet she wore it all the same. Filverel holds back a wince from the weight of it and keeps his head bowed.
After placing the crown on Filverel's head, The First steps back a few paces and raises his eyes to the massive chamber, gazing upon the populous of near the entire city, and speaks once more,
"Rise, now, as King of Anaril! May your reign be long and prosperous!"
Filverel rises again and turns to face the room of the people who are now his subjects, pasting onto his face the best confident and joyous expression he can muster and raises his hand to wave to his people, trying to quiet the welling panic in his chest and the room roars in unison,
"Long live the King! May you reign long and justly!"