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"How can this be? My brother was an amazing king! His people loved, respected -" Jase's uncle, the king's younger brother chocked, unable to finish his sentence.
His wife, the Duchess of Lingrid, passed out after receiving the news and had been taken away by her handmaids. The boy's grandfather remained in a haze, his eyes glassy and his body still, unable to accept the death of his firstborn. The servants were weeping and even the knight commander was brought to his knees by the devastating news. Jase's grandmother, the former Queen of Esyria, was the only one who remained calm and composed. Her brain was already analysing the reason behind the attack and carefully considering their options now that the king and queen were dead and their only heir is an elevan-year-old orphan. Jase! In the midst of this chaos, everybody had forgotten about Jase. He stood in the middle of his father's study, running a finger down the blade of his father's sword.
The crying and mourning suddenly annoyed the old queen. She stood straight up to her full height and announced with authority "Today you mourn, tomorrow we plan. All those in the king's circle will meet here at dawn for a discussion."
Everybody looked stunned. "You are dismissed."
When nobody made a move to leave the study, the former queen repeated herself one last time. "Leave, now!" Everybody filtered out of the room like an army of ants.
The old queen stood beside her grandson. When Jase lifted his head to meet her questioning gaze, it was as if she could read his mind. "You want revenge?"
"Don't you?" came the innocent reply.
"Will you promise to show me how?" His voice was filled with desperation and desire, and something she could not pinpoint. It sounded a lot like anger... or was it rage?
* * *
"Who is responsible for this treachery?" boomed the Duke of Lingrid. Jase counted. It was the seventh time his uncle had asked the same question.
"That's what we would like to know Edward," replied his grandmother tiredly. She was thoroughly exasperated with her son. "Unfortunately, we are unable to find out and confirm our suspicion until our spies capture the hired murderers or at least return with some information," explained the old queen for the second time.
"It's Bellerania! I'm sure of it!" announced Edward for the fifth time.
Great, just great, thought Jase. This was a total waste of time. He could be sparring or practicing archery or even studying geography, yet he was stuck here counting the number of times his uncle repeated himself.
Sensing Jase's annoyance and impatience, the old queen decided it was time to move on from humouring her short-sighted son. Fortunately Edmund and Leila had an heir, or else Esyria would be stuck with Edward as their king. She mentally slapped herself for being biased, but it was so taxing not to compare Edward to his brother. King Edmund was a great king and under him Esyria had prospered and grown. He was a better leader than even the old queen herself.
"While waiting for the reports form our spies, we might as well plan Jase's coronation." Silence fell upon them like a huge blanket.
"The wh-at?" stuttered Edward.
"The coronation, of course," replied the old queen. "Surely you know the meaning of coronation. You attended your brother's remember?"
Jase was too shocked to laugh at his grandmother's sarcasm. Of course! How could he have failed to realise that he was the sole heir to the Esyrian throne. He would be crowned His Royal Highness King Jason Christopher Chauntler, King of Esyria.
No, I am not, thought Jase. "I don't want to be king," announced Jase with almost as much authority as his grandmother.
"You are the heir Jase"
"It's your duty."
"You have to."
The circle members bombarded him with questions and explanations as if he didn't know that it was his duty. He had a new duty now, and it did not involve sitting on a throne with a diamond encrusted crown.
"I applehead the throne," announced Jase proudly. Instead of shocked expressions, he received blank stares from members of the circle. He knew the word. It wasn't "applehead", well what was it? It sure sounded a lot like "applehead". "Abdicate," whispered someone.
"I abdicate the throne," repeated Jase as if that was what he said all along.
"Jase? What are you doin -" begin his grandmother but was swiftly interrupted by Jase.
"You promised - you promised you'd help me get revenge. I don't want to be a king. Kings are weak and vulnerable! Look what happened to daddy -" he managed to choke out before his throat closed up with all the buried grief. Jase counted to ten and slowly regained composure."I don't want to be a king; I want to be a knight. I want to be the knight commander and I want to be the strongest and most feared knight in all of Esyria."
The old queen recognized the look in her grandson's eyes. It was the same look she had when she set her mind on something. Nothing, not even the end of the world, will stop her grandson from achieving what he wanted. Whether she agreed with his decision or not, he would be the knight commander and he would be the strongest and most feared knight in all of Esyria.
And she was going to help him.
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