“…so then, without proper approval from the Court, in no manner can we, of the Major Houses of Westra, recognize this so-called marriage as binding to the crown. King Daniel is wise, it is true, but I do not think that he would have so brashly proposed such a monumental change in statehood if it weren’t for his illness and the coming of his own death. I believe that to unionize Ser Eric with Princess Celia, without first consulting us, was impetuous,” Father Simon Talbert concluded.
“Is it the will of this Court to defy the final command of its King? To break this noble engagement?” Ser Lance Riverman countered. “The writing is unambiguous. King Daniel clearly stated that Princess Celia was to marry Ser Eric on her twelfth nameday—in this regard he is to serve as Lord of Dragonfell and steward of the land. When he has married Celia, he will then be offered up the title of King and given the Crown of Westra. Daniel has clearly chosen a successor to his name, and we should honor his wishes.” Some of the nobles at Court muttered agreement.
“I believe that you are mistaken, Ser Lance,” Father Simon rebutted. “King Daniel’s will clearly specifies the matter of the engagement and his stewardship, but it does not indicate Ser Eric as the Lord of House Dragonfell until he has married Celia, nor can it stipulate that Ser Eric would be offered up the crown (for only the major houses can crown its King)—merely that he be steward and to be named the Protector of the Land after his union. By Benarius’ own wisdom, the allegiances of our own great houses shalt be offered up by our own volition. And so, it is only that noble office of Protector which Ser Eric can lay claim to.” The clergy and the scholarly appeared to be in agreement with Father Simon’s interpretation, and many of the nobles at Court nodded their head in approval.
“A title which is only given to the King.”
“A title which is traditionally given to the King. Being the Protector of Westra does not bequeath the strength of the crown, the loyalty of the Dragonguard, nor the Throne of Dragons!”
“But King Daniel obviously wished this man to be his successor! I have personally talked to him when he visited the Trident, not one month before his tragic death.”
“Be that as it may, I’m afraid that the Court would agree with me that it was, in fact, not obvious. King Daniel has never expressed his wishes on succession with the Court, nor has he ever indicated that he would bestow his crown upon one who would marry Celia.” Of this, Father Simon also had the truth of it, for while it was whispered of King Daniel’s intentions, never had his mind been brought to bear in the official channel of Court. “Daniel was young, and had yet many years in him to produce an heir. It should be very clear that the honorable and noble blood of Dragonfell has passed on through the fathers of the line—never has a King lay claim to the throne by the marriage of a princess.” Maid Beatrice, who was present at Court during the proceedings, was reluctant to agree, but Father Simon, again, had the truth of it. “Even a King cannot break the weight of that heritage: that a Dragonfell of male decent be the guardian of this Seat, and Savior of Westra. Verily has this auspicious line descended from our great Benarius (may the Lord of Light smile upon him) through the line of the men. The male is the principle gender of our heritage and our nobility, as I am sure that our gracious ladies would agree,” several ladies did, indeed, nod an affirmative, “and so it is only fitting that a male should continue the line. The Lord Baron is such a man, and might I remind you that, being the eldest son of House Dragonfell, it is he who now leads that august family…”
Celia quit spying from her perch on high above the Court. She had heard some of these arguments before from talk among the nobility who traveled with Beatrice, but none of it made a great deal of sense. Looking at the head of the Court one last time, she spied her “double”—pristine and quiet, straight of stance, she was absolutely lovely in her blue dress, pinned up blond hair, and her silver-gold band.
She looks better than I ever did, Celia thought. She’s so pretty and perfect. The noble that I could never be. The noble that my father wanted me to be.
She heard others talk before. “Bah! Our princess, she’s a cold one! Stoic, unmoving, always a nose in a book and this and that. A proper lady must be above that!”
Never had that bothered her. Not once.
Now the talk is different. She overheard some of the ladies talking recently. “She’s a bright one, now, isn’t she! So strong and polite. Always looking you in the eye and smiling properly. She’s a brave one, she is, with her father passing on and all that; she’s an example to all the other girls!”
She looked at her double, standing before the Court of Dragonfell, all conduct befitting one of her station… Celia didn’t know why, but she felt like crying.