Thanks to Polina Kuptsova (Anarielhime on deviantart.com) for permission to use her beautiful “Gate Keeper”!
The guards in front of the throne room doors hesitated. Their orders were clear. No weapons were ever to enter. She stood motionless, still holding the pommel with both hands at her waist, and the blade pointing straight up: a formal declaration of war. The guards looked from her to each other, unsure of whether to admit their queen.
Finally, one bowed and reached for the great iron handle on his side. The other followed suit, and they swung the doors wide. As she stepped forward, the first to move murmured, “I will follow you, my queen.”
Surprised by his allegiance, she turned her head slightly and nodded to him, then resumed her steady pace into the great hallway. As she moved into the crowd of nobles and commoners of both Sudalti and Nordalti – Altiban under he peace her father had brokered at her birth—conversation faltered into silence that swept ahead of her. Every head turned to stare at the queen’s open blade.
Stopping at the base of the throne dais, she kept her steady gaze on her husband. His brow was furrowed, but his posture remained calm. In the silence, his voice rang strong and sure. “My queen, Peace Keeper of Altiban—”
“I am Peace Keeper no more.” She paused without moving as gasps and murmurs ran throughout the room. “Union requires true partnership. Give and take in equal measure.” She fought to keep her voice as steady as his. “My lord husband, king of Nordalti…” She waited once more for the crowd’s shock to fade to silence. “From this day forward, I am the Gate Keeper of Sudalti. I henceforth declare independence from our union.”
The king did not move, staring into her eyes as she lifted the sword high, then flung it directly into the heart of their joint throne. The point drove into the very center of the golden shield, carved in the image of their combined countries, the north and south of Altiban. It wavered side to side, as the shield cracked in a jagged seam along the ancient borders, unmarked on the shield as it was a wedding gift to celebrate the union of two countries by their marriage.
Staring into her husband’s eyes, she said softly, “It is begun. Goodbye…my beloved.”
She turned and strode with steady steps down the length of the silent throne room. Holding her head high, she refused to look at anyone. Friend or foe, it did not matter. If she hesitated now, she would collapse in tears on the floor. One step, then another. It is done. Another. It is begun. Another. What have I done?
June word count