CHAPTER FOUR

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The chanting lessened when they approached the Courtyard. The streets were lined with people, but they meet the royals with solemn faces and smiles. The packed, busy civilization extended itself into the gentle and simpler houses of the little countryside of the capital. There were people here, tears streaming down their faces and love in their eyes. Revy smiled at them.

It is time.

The other guests of royalty and powerful people were already gathered. And when Revy approached they rise out of respect. Some of them were bored, some curious, but the majority were pleased with what they saw—a beautiful, young, and strong Queen.

Regal.

Revy dismounted her horse as gracefully as she could, fretting at the state of her cape, reading to walk when...

The royals of mighty kingdoms bow. They incline their heads and their torsos. Bowing. Bowing.

They are bowing for me.

They show Reverie of Analide the ultimate sign of respect and welcome someone of their rank could offer. They bow to her, a young Queen.

They have never done this. Revy has read the history books and the protocol. They do not do this. And even as a Queen visiting other kingdoms in the future, she does not bow.

But here they were.

She loosed a breath and steeled her nerves.

Revy readjusted her top carefully, and began to walk.

She walked with shoulders back, chin raised, hands relaxed, and her golden cape dragging behind her. It was tradition for to-be-crowned kings and queens to walk to the where they shall be crowned. It symbolized the path they will take, and the last few steps of being free from responsibility.

But right now, Revy savoured it.

She looked straight ahead to the crown at the front. It was beautifully done, simple looking. But she had no doubt the engravings and details to it were beautiful, in that certain way Analidian culture preferred it to be. Revy imagined its weight. She imagined the throne. She imagined that these steps she took led her closer to the people.

And, strangely, instead of complete silence—the royalties murmured amongst themselves. They talked to each other in awed whispers that were loud enough for Revy to hear.

"What is that flower crown?" "I've heard she bowed and stopped for a child." "Really? I never knew she was so humble..."

Five steps to the crown.

Whip. Whip. Whip.

She deserved this.

Four steps to the crown.

"You will never be Queen."

She deserved this.

Three steps to the crown.

"You are a disgrace to our family bloodline."

She deserved this.

Two steps.

Her people needed her. Her people need someone to defend them. Her people have waited long enough. My people. My people.

One.

Revy knelt.

"Reverie of Analide," King Thanatos said in a voice that carried across the entire valley. Loud enough that it reached every person gathered there. "You stand before the crown of Analide, in bloodline and worthiness. You stand before the allies of our kingdom, as a symbol of our friendship. You stand before me, the King, and now you shall take your vows." He took a long breath. "Are you aware of your responsibilities as Queen?"

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