"Johann Farriss, there are those who counseled me not to trust you when you first came to me." Lucius's arms folded over his wide chest as he stared at the kneeling warrior before him, his words taking both back to the day when the then-mercenary had arrived at the gate of Gharnholme, escorting his children and Myrialla from an ambush on the road from Ivory Flails. Farriss had refused to obey the order of his patron Nikolas Urevan to capture or kill the young DeAusters, and in fact had fought the mercenaries of Urevan's ally Argus Torvien. All this had stood in his stead when he came before Lucius, who, at the favorable word of his fianc?, had taken the commander and his men into his employ.
"I made a proverbial leap of faith, and you have rewarded it time and again." Lucius's soft voice brought Farriss back to the present. "Now, I can properly reward you for your service." A predatory grin slowly crossed the features of the Dark Sovereign. "I understand there is a solemn ceremony for this, but I believe that, between us, it can be set aside." Farriss closed his eyes and took in a breath, using the motion to keep his feelings steady as Lucius continued. "Today I proclaim Johann Farriss a knight of the realm of Mercivya, with all the duties and rewards provided. Now, rise, Sir Farriss."
Farriss rose smoothly, and he took Lucius's hand, the two clasping forearms in the traditional way of the warrior. "Thank you, Your Majesty."
"It's more than earned." Lucius replied. "And the first duty I charge you with is the building of a new order, the Order of the Axe." The smile returned as Lucius gave voice to something he had been considering ever since taking the throne from Urevan. "You are to find those of similar temperament, skill and loyalty to the throne, and build them into a force to make us proud."
"Your will be done, Sire." Farriss nodded deeply, bringing a soft chuckle from Lucius. The sovereign turned to address those gathered as witnesses.
"Thank you for being here today, my lords and ladies." He inclined his head, and in turn the nobility bowed in kind. "And now, let us join the others, and enjoy the feast that has been prepared. At a wave of Lucius's hand the doors to the main hall were flung open, where others of the court had already started gathering and enjoying the tables laid out.
Cieara soon found herself meeting several of the nobility, the names blurring together as she was introduced as the newest countess of the realm. In truth, she found herself a bit intimidated by the crowd, and was thankful as one of the ladies who had witnessed the ceremony, The Duchess von Bellgrade, joined her to talk about her new holdings. The presence of the duchess kept many away and provided a buffer, until Fiona joined them. "I hope ye will forgive your father, but he did want to surprise ye today with the honor and title given."
"He did." Cieara nodded, a hint of color touching her pale cheeks at the memory of her anger earlier. "But he doesn't like all this the pomp and circumstance, so why not just proclaim our titles?"
"This was for the court more than yourself." von Bellgrad answered, taking a demure sip from her glass before continuing. "Some of the witnesses were also ambassadors and courtiers from other nations and realms, and by holding the spectacle it helps solidify your rightful hold to the title, as well as quash some of the loose lips of the court." Fiona nodded slowly in agreement.
"Aye. As Lucius told ye brother some time back, politics be as dangerous as any battlefield. Every act, every word holds hidden meanings." She smiled warmly then, and gave her daughter a one-armed hug. "This ceremony will serve you well soon enough." Luminous green eyes moved to her mother, though the next said widened them a bit. "The son of the king of Malirid is reaching his majority, and Auric is holding a grand birthday celebration in his honor. Both Daniel and yourself have been invited to attend."
"Do I have to?" The words escaped her before Cieara thought about it. "The last time I saw that...princeling I broke his nose." The duchess brought up a hand to hide the smile, and Fiona just shook her head slowly.
"And I trust ye will refrain from doing so again...unless he allows his hands to try to wander once more." The two ladies did laugh now, while Cieara pouted. "Ye won't be alone, sweet. Daniel will be with ye, as will Sorcha and any ladies-in-waiting that ye may have by then." Cieara perked up slightly.
"Ladies in waiting?"
"Aye. It is customary, as a princess of the realm, for you to have such attendants." von Bellgrad inclined her head to her left, where a young woman stood at a respectful distance near the wall. "Not only to help you prepare for the day or attend to errands you may have, but they are also confidants. Perhaps, even friends." Cieara glanced over, then back, her lips curling into an impish smile.
"I will remember that. Thank you, Your Grace." She looked to her mother again. "I do have to ask something, mathair. I know there was a lot to do this morning preparing for all this, but why couldn't I watch Daniel's fight before having to get ready?" Cieara's question was asked just as Lucius came up behind her, having edged away from where Daniel stood talking with Kaelyn and Myrialla to join his wife and daughter for a moment. A questioning expression crossed his features, and Fiona and Von Bellgrad both started laughing as his question nearly caused Cieara to jump in surprise.