Winter – 1023 YD
The Custodian of the Throne of Miggest took up her sceptre and held it upright before her.
__‘In the name of Miggest, King of the Black Dragons, I initiate you into the covenant of his rule. You will guard his lands and safeguard his people. You will protect the faithful from torment and shield them from disaster.’
__The man who knelt before her lowered his head. ‘I will be as a wolf to his young.’
‘You will obey the dictates of the Throne, and uphold the teachings of the faith.’
__‘I will uphold and obey.’
__‘You will place the needs of your charges before your own, and relinquish your title if you are found unworthy of your privileges.’
__‘I will be duteous.’
__Custodia Galluel lowered the staff to tap each shoulder with the iron Lehius symbol that comprised its handle. ‘You are hereby appointed the title of Duke of Trialle.’ She placed the sceptre on the crown of his head. ‘And I bind you to your oath.’ A bolt of energy passed from his chest to the head of the sceptre, temporarily illuminating the black diamonds embedded therein.
__The choir began to sing a hymn and Lord Haine, now Duke of Trialle, arose.
You face the night
Where Lord protects
To burdens borne
His strength He lends
__The High Priest stepped forward with a cushion bearing an iron torc. Custodia Galluel lifted and curled the cumbrous jewel around Haine’s neck.
__The Custodia turned to the nobles who occupied the Great Hall of Trialle Castle. ‘These are difficult times. I understand many of you are eager for an audience; I will remain until each of your concerns is addressed. Let us begin by enjoying the feast our host has prepared.’
The night marched forward, and when opportunity came Galluel summoned Sevína to request the name of the unknown, rust-bearded noble in her company.
‘That is the Duke of Edeen, Your Majesty; Lord Vilsonius, who converted to the faith last year. He is under my guidance.’
The Custodia smiled to herself.
‘Perhaps you knew this.’
‘Yes; truly, it was an introduction I sought.’
Sevína bowed, and went to collect him.
As Lord Vilsonius bowed to the Custodia, the room hushed slightly. Noticing this, Galluel waved a dismissive hand; the nobles forced themselves to resume their conversations.
She extended her hand, which he took, kissing the black opal of her ring.
‘Lord Vilsonius. Your name has been spoken in Delus; I desired to meet this converted Duke, but custom demanded patience.’
Again he bowed.
‘Walk with me.’ They began to move about the hall. ‘Sevína has surely informed you of our mistrust in foreigners, and your inability to enter the capital until the proper time.’
‘She has, Your Majesty.’ His Iulithan accent was unmistakable with its rolling r’s and bent vowels.
Galluel held her goblet to him, which he took and refilled from a nearby serving table.
‘The tale behind your defection and conversion is long, I assume.’
He met her eye, unwillingly smiling at its convivial light. ‘It is quite a protracted narrative, Your Majesty.’
‘I would like to formally invite you to attend the capital and share this, for what I have heard is most intriguing. I also thirst for an outsider’s perspective of our plight.’
‘I am your servant, Your Majesty.’
‘You may also address me as “My Lady”, Lord Vilsonius, erstwhile Duke of Edeen.’
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