Chapter 11: Chapter 1
Perhaps Lord Angun spoke way sooner and he defended Artemis to not be manipulated but he had no idea the things Princess Sansa and Lord Balon said to him. Instead of taking offence in being accused of manipulating the king – Princess Sansa rolled her eyes at Lord Angun, then she held Lord Balon’s hand and went on to stand at a different position. They made sure they were a bit far from Lord Angun for fear he may eavesdrop their conversation.
After a whole twenty minutes of cheers from the Maldonians who were so excited to set their eyes upon a dashing and handsome Artemis with a crown on his head. At twenty four years old, Artemis was the heartthrob of every maiden in the kingdom and many even dreamt of being deflowered by the King.
Aeryn stood beside her brother as they waved to the folks in unison, it was after all a big day for the family.
“Do you believe this sister?” Artemis was overwhelmed with joy “I think Maldonians have grown fond of me already” Then he stepped forward and waved more. The more he waved, the more Maldonians cheered for him. The royal announcer would have stopped the cheers but he and everyone present at the arena took liking to the cheers.
When they cooled down, Artemis took his position “Maldonians!” he screamed. Just at the sound of his voice, women took off their scarfs and threw them to him, while others showed their tits while shouting Artemis’s name. It was chaotic in the arena and the definition of calmness didn’t apply to the people of Maldonia. Men in their lose colorful robes collided with women who were also lost in the arena screaming and calling out Artemis’s name. The arena was like a definition of rainbow from it’s rich tapestry range of colors – one thing about Maldonians was they knew how to dress and show up for an occasion.
And what an occasion could actually be bigger than the king’s first time speech. The ones who were present during king Arteides’s first speech after his coronation were already old at that time, some deceased and some moved away from Maldonia to seek a new life. Hence it wasn’t only sacred but also historical. Aurora was amongst the crowds of Maldonians and one could barely point her out because of how crowded the place was. She was sitting amongst the people in her red long dress, and a black scarf which covered her hairs.
“The people of Maldonia. Today is the new dawn of Maldonians, the gods have been so good to us. They gave us a new king...” The royal announcer started the ceremony.
Artemis waited for his people to finish cheering, then he was allowed to continue with the royal announcer when the whole arena turned quiet. This was the moment which defines the kings, like what Aurora told him “A good speech lives in people’s hearts for generations” and the good one comes from his heart. Hence he was conflicted whether to read the one Aurora wrote six months ago or say one of his own. But Aurora’s voice wasn’t his, nor did she understand the pain he went through after his father died, perhaps that’s what Maldonians needed to know.
One thing Maldonians were aware of was how much Artemis suffered after the death of king Arteides, perhaps that’s what they wanted to hear.
Artemis cleared his throat “My good folks of Maldonia” he said, the cheering erupted again. He was pleased to see how much his people responded to him. “I stand before you as a king, but also as a man who has lost his father. Over the years we have all lost our loved ones. We’ve lost our wives, husbands, children, sisters, brothers and friends. I am familiar with loss right now more than I was before my father’s death” he paused.
Suddenly the whole arena changed from cheering to silence. The topic of loss somehow had everyone relating to it and they felt Artemis’s sorrows on a high level. Artemis went on to speak of the days he went hunting with his father, the days he taught him how to fight, how to throw an arrow and the days he joined him fighting the wars. “I was never the one who wanted to hide under my mother’s skirts. Or provide an excuse of being so young to fight. I am not a coward and that I have proven to my people... I hereby stand before you with an oath to defend and rule Maldonia with my blood. I sympathize for anyone who would dare pick a fight with me for they will be crushed to the ground” he finished and the cheers resumed.
The topics of war excited Princess Sansa and Lord Balon, that’s what exactly they wanted to hear from Artemis. Lord Angun didn’t take his eyes off the couple because he knew they were hiding something fishy.
Artemis adjusted his crown and then called upon Lord Balon to where he stood. “Lord Balon of Nemphis, I summon you” he said proudly.
Just like Princess Sansa and almost everyone at the stage, Lord Balon was shocked “Me, Your Grace?” he asked pointing his hand to his chest.
“Yes, come forward Lord Balon”
Lord Balon walked forward leaving his wife shocked and scared at the same time. What really scared Princess Sansa was Lord Angun and what he could have told Artemis. Maybe her husband was being called forward so he can be beheaded in the mass of people for attempting to fool the king. But she remained calm and looked, carefully.
Artemis held Lord Balon’s shoulder “This is Lord Balon of Nemphis” he said and allowed the people to cheer for the lord. Balon waved to the people but he was so scared and shaking, at his scariest moment he managed to turn back and his eyes locked with Lord Angun’s who seemed to be as confused as everyone else.
Out of nowhere Artemis took out a golden brooch which was only meant for the hand of the king. Aeryn wanted to stop him, what was he doing?
“Artemis...” called out Aeryn.
“What is it sister?”
Aeryn showed the confusion on her face, yet she couldn’t speak even though Artemis gave her the chance to. When Artemis realized no one had nothing to say, nor anything to object his decision. He placed the brooch on Lord Balon’s shirt and then he raised Lord Balon’s hand to the people of Maldonia “The hand of the king...” he said proudly grinning from ear to ear.
That day was the best day in Princess Sansa’s life, she thought the day she married Lord Balon was the happiest but it clearly didn’t beat that day when her husband became the hand of the king. A lot of people thought the task would fall under Angun, first he’d been so loyal to king Arteides and he was wise and experience. Lord Balon was a thirty five years old man who only owned one castle in Nemphis which is frequently freezing and gothic, he also owned few acres of land which he had tenants staying and he collected rents whenever they are due.
Was it wise for a young man like Lord Balon who was only a decade older than Artemis to be the hand of the king? Was he even up to the task especially him being an outlander who’s never stepped foot in Maldonia with an exception of that day. Those were the questions around the closer circle, but for the citizens all they did was cheer and that’s because they weren’t aware whether Lord Balon was a stranger to Maldonia or not. These people have never even walked inside the sacred palace of Maldonia, how could they differentiate who was new and who was Maldonian.
“Your Grace, I...” Lord Balon was speechless. “Why me?”
“Because you said something earlier, it was powerful and it stuck inside my head. I believe you are the man who I can rule with” said Artemis with a smile again. Lord Balon curtsied before Artemis and then slowly walked back to his wife.
The four lords in Artemis’s inner circle, with Lord Angun included were so shocked. One of them attempted to speak, but Lord Angun prevented him from saying anything. The whole stage was in a shock moment because no one saw it coming. The royals who knew Princess Sansa and her reputation which was wide and clear, she supported King Mithandir’s brother rebellion against Prophis were all surprised. The rumors which were going on inside the palace and the sudden departure of King Taelin had everyone admitting that perhaps it was true Artemis refused king Taelin’s proposal to his daughter Princess Thelma.
Even though it was a beautiful day, it ended with terror inside many people’s hearts and the possibility of a war in the near future. Taelin hadn’t yet declared a war against Maldonia, but perhaps soon and what would Artemis do? Who would they side with, Prophis was a powerful kingdom in its own and Maldonia likewise. Aurora’s visions confused her from where she sat, there was something strange going on at the stage but she couldn’t hear exactly what was going on. The noise also clouded her visions and every time she wanted to focus on Artemis – someone would push her or punch her hence she lost focus. When she was done with being pushed she took an ally at the back of the arena and walked away, hoping she will meet Artemis back at the palace.
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