Crystal Throne

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 


Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to any real
person alive or dead is coincidental and unintentional.

CHAPTER VII

     Bailor sat patiently through what seemed hours of pointless
discussion.  He had little interest in details of the government of the
eastern sectors.  He was only attending this council meeting for one
reason, and that was to be proclaimed king.  As steward of the land, Bailor
was required to attend all council meetings, but he rarely paid attention
to this.  The high council got along fine without him.  They were all old
men and women except him, and he had no use for their preoccupation with
the redundantly minute details of everyday life.

     The council chambers themselves were located in a large structure
adjacent to the white tower.  The room where the high council met was a
fairly large, round hall with overhanging galleries above the main floor.
The council met at a long, semi-circular, wooden table on the main floor.
People required to give testimony at any of their proceedings were admitted
to this area through large, wooden doors located on the wall in opposition
to the table.  The council members themselves gained access to the hall
through a smaller entrance to the rear and left of the table.  Directly
behind the council sat a locked wooden cabinet that held the symbols of the
crown.  Members of the court, and the general public who might take an
interest in specific deliberations were permitted to view the hall from the
gallery seating overhead.  At the apex of the circular room's ceiling was a
skylight covered with an intricate, crystal window that seemed to amplify
the light on the center of the hall below.

     As Bailor waited for the business at hand to be concluded he leaned
back in his chair and stared up at the crystal window, trying to discern
pictures in the abstract placement of the gems.  Finally, after much
testimony and debate over inconsequential trivialities, Mordin brought up
the question of a monarch.  Bailor would have raised the subject himself,
but he felt he should have some semblance of humility.  As steward it was
his duty to crown the next king.  Since this meant he would have to crown
himself, he felt that at least another should raise the issue.  Mordin was
a stoop shouldered old man with a bent and twisted body that seemed to
match his disposition.  He would long ago have been removed from the
council had it not been for the protection afforded him by his devotion to
Bailor.  He owed many such favors to the steward.  Bailor knew he could
easily prevail upon the old man to do whatever was required.  It was, in
fact, like having two voices for himself on the council.

     "My lords and ladies, it grieves me to set before you this next
question," the bent old man began.  "As well you know, our great lord and
sovereign has been absent these many years.  During this time we have had
no contact, nor heard any tale, nor even wind whisper of him.  We all know
the high king left for the Eldritch Mountains.  We must assume our lord has
passed on to the western islands and his spirit no longer can reach our
land."  At this point several cries and shouts of protest arose from the
spectator galleries surrounding the chambers.  Bailor as steward had to
pound his staff on the floor to call for silence.

     The old man quietly waited for order to return.  When it finally did,
he continued with a condescending smile.  "My lords and ladies, the gallery
echoes my own sad feelings at the obvious loss of our great king.  But to
survive, our race must face such facts and embrace the pain of grief.  And
then we must move on."  Again he was interrupted with shouts and jeers from
above.

     "Silence!  There will be silence!"  Bailor shouted as he again pounded
his staff to obtain order.  "If we are interrupted again we shall clear the
galleries," he threatened.  Actually Bailor had no such intentions.  He
wanted an audience to witness his greatest achievement.

     Again the bent old man began.  "My lords and ladies, since the great
king is gone, we must choose a new king.  We cannot continue as a people
ruled by stewards.  We have grown weak and are dying.  With the return of
the king, all of Tuatha will grow strong.  We will once more rise to our
glory."  Mordin paused for effect, casting his eyes over the surrounding
faces.  Most of them contained looks of encouragement and agreement.  They
knew he was telling at least a partial truth.

     "My lords and ladies, I propose that we choose a new king to ascend
the crystal throne.  We have no other choice as our great king left us
without heir."

     "But there is an heir to the throne!"  The protest came from Hyller,
delegate for the greenwood tribe.  "The great king and his lady left a
child with her departure."

     "And where is this child?" Mordin asked with an artificially sweet
smile.

     "The child was left in a safe guardianship awaiting the return of the
king."

     "My lords and ladies," Mordin began again, purposely turning his back
on the wood elf.  "I, too, have heard this child's tale of a lost heir.  It
is only that; false hope to which a dying race may cling.  If there was a
child it would have been raised by the steward in this very castle.  We
must move beyond such stories of fantasy and face our destiny.  Are we to
die due to the plague or are we to rise again following a new leader?"

     "But the plague has gone," protested Mensen, the delegate from the
merchant guild.

     "Has it?" Mordin asked.  "Just because we have enjoyed a time of
respite, be not fooled.  The plague has abated for a time because of the
closure of our borders.  But I say to you, my comrades, we are still in
danger.  Until every human has been eradicated from our land, Tuatha shall
not live in peace and prosperity.  We need a strong leader for this task."

     "Hear me, great council," Hyller called, rising from his seat.  He was
small in stature, like all the woodlings, but his voice belied his size.
The little, bronze skinned man, dressed in the long robes of the council,
but green in the color of his tribal affiliation, spoke to the other
delegates.  "We have heard this tale of woe before.  Always blame the great
plague on humanity.  There is no proof of this.  We have grown stronger and
we still have humans in our land.  This is only the raving of fearful old
thought."

     "My lords and ladies," Mordin again called for attention.  "My lord of
the greenwood is right about our strength growing, but he protests that it
is but by chance.  This is all irrelevant.  The issue is, who shall lead
us.  My lord of the greenwood bids us wait because of a tale of a lost
heir.  I have heard the stories, as have we all, of a child raised in the
great wood by his tribe.  My lord of the greenwood only bids us wait for
his own people to seize the moment and take over our land."

     A furious cry went up from the galleries at this.  Many woodlings
watching from above broke into loud protests and a brawl all but developed
between them and others in the seats.  Bailor stood and pounded his staff
loudly.  It did little to quiet the disturbance until several guards armed
with staffs charged into the galleries to separate the combatants.

     "This argument is only going to cause further strife," Bailor finally
interjected once a form of quiet had again been restored to the room.  "If
there is an heir to the throne coming from the greenwood, I will be the
first to welcome him in the name of the land, as will all Tuathans.  But as
this seems not to be likely, let us proceed with the discussion at hand."

     "I am glad that you will lead the welcome of your new king, my lord
Bailor," a voice called from the back of the hall.  Someone had evidently
entered through the testimony doors on the main floor.  Everyone in the
gallery leaned over trying to see the author of this unusual comment.  The
council as one turned toward the sound of the voice.

     "Who is that?" Mordin demanded.  "Who enters the chamber floor
unbidden?"

     A figure enveloped in a traveling cloak stepped from the dark corner
of the room toward the center of the hall.  He threw back his hood to
reveal his grey hair.

     "Well, old father," Bailor said, standing again.  "You are certainly
interrupting us at a most inopportune time.  We have just discussed the
human problem, of which you may be a part."

     "My lords and ladies, we must have this one removed.  He brings his
contagion into our very midst," Mordin shouted.

     "Lords and ladies of the high council, I ask to speak," Thomas called
above the hubbub.

     "This is improper," Mordin cried.  A babble of discussion arose
between the various delegates while the general confusion reigned.

     "Let him speak, for all the good he may accomplish," Bailor shouted
sarcastically, commanding silence from the group.

     "My lord Bailor stated that he would be the first to welcome the heir
to the throne if there indeed was one," Thomas said, stepping to the very
center of the semi-circular council table.  "Then I ask my lord steward if
he will come down here and kneel before you in welcome?"  Thomas turned
back to face the dark corner from which he had entered.  "May I present his
high lord, Robin Goodfellow, Oberon the Mighty, son of the Stalwart and
rightful heir to the crystal throne," he said proudly.

     A hush descended on the room as all eyes turned toward the testimony
doors.  A figure walked slowly toward the council center.  As he stepped
from under the overhanging balconies of the gallery a ray of sunlight from
the crystal window struck him as if a spotlight had been aimed and turned
on.  Standing tall, his head thrown back in pride, Robin stood at the
center of attention, the golden cape floating and shimmering from his
shoulders and the golden circlet in his hair giving him a regal look.

     A voice broke the silence.  "This is preposterous indeed."  It was
Bailor.  "It takes more than royal robes to make a ruler.  We have no proof
that this is the missing heir."

     "The test, my lords," Thomas said quietly.

     "The test, the test!" voices echoed from above.

     "What test?" Bailor demanded.  "About what are they speaking?"

     "Know you not the old ways, great steward?" Hyller questioned, looking
at Bailor.  "If he is indeed the new king we shall know."

     Thomas walked to Robin's side and took his hand.  He led him to the
far end of the council table.  Hyller stood at his place with the wooden
table separating them.  He looked deeply into Robin's eyes.  Robin could
feel the questioning, the hope and anticipation in this man.  He trembled
in his heart, but was encouraged by the imperceptible squeeze Thomas gave
his hand as he held it out to Hyller.  The old delegate from the greenwood
looked for a long time into Robin's eyes.  Then he reached across the table
and took the young man's hand.  He grasped if firmly, and dropped his eyes
to the floor.  Hyller came around the edge of the table, still holding the
hand, and dropped to his knees kissing Robin's wrist.  He slowly rose and
looked up into the young face again.  In a loud voice he proclaimed, "You
are the rightful heir to the great throne, our lord liege, the king of the
land.  I pledge you my honor and ask the other council members to come
forward and verify."

     Slowly the other members of the council rose and came around the table
to stand in a line facing Robin.  Thomas led him from person to person.
Each one looked deeply into his eyes as had Hyller.  They each seemed to
peer into his very soul, and they each in turn lowered their eyes and
pledged their honor.  During all this time a deathly stillness covered the
spectators in the gallery.  Finally a quiet, murmuring buzz began to stir
among them as Mordin came forward to meet the new king.  He froze his face
into a sneering scowl, as if to say he would not be taken in by any
impostor.  As he looked deeply into Robin's eyes, his countenance slowly
crumbled and he began to weep like a child.  "My great lord, forgive me,"
he cried and dropped his bent body to the floor, kissing Robin's feet.

     Only one remained.  "Will you not welcome the lost heir to the throne,
my lord?"  Thomas asked quietly as Bailor slowly came forward.  There was
obviously no hope for the steward, and consequently he did not even look
up, but kept his eyes focused on a small stone in the floor as he took
Robin's hand.  He nodded briefly and turned away to return to his seat at
the council table.  With this last confirmation the murmuring buzz rose to
a crescendo in the gallery, excited voices shouting back and forth and
pounding feet on the floor in excited acclaim.  The tumult lasted for quite
some time.  Bailor totally ignored his duty to demand order.  He sat as if
in a trance, looking out at the noisy crowd above him.

     The voices and noise finally died down as Thomas raised his hand for
silence.  "My lords, you have hereby proclaimed your new monarch.  Shall we
not set the time for the official coronation?"

     Another great burst of noise rose in the gallery.  Mordin took the
opportunity to lean over and whisper to Bailor.  As the noise slowly
abated, Bailor rose in his place.  "My lords and ladies of the council, and
great liege, we have much to discuss concerning the disposition of the
kingdom and the transference from my stewardship to your rule.  These
discussions were better held among the council in closed session.  We
require a short term of hours.  At the end of this time we will inform you
of your duties to the land."  A quiet descended upon the room as everyone
tried to digest what Bailor had just said.  He was actually dismissing the
monarch so he could discuss the situation alone with the council.

     "I must protest . . ." Thomas began.

     "You have no rights here, human," Mordin spoke up.  "The king will
realize that we need to decide what disposition to make to him from our
lord steward.  The council requires a closed session as is our right."  All
the members nodded in agreement.  The chamber guards opened the doors above
and began to empty the galleries.

     "I fear some treachery," Thomas whispered to Robin.  "But we appear to
have no choice but to leave them alone."  The two turned and exited the
chambers.

          * * *

     "Is this right?"  Ellenia was totally confused.  "Can you be ejected
from the council?  You are the king."

     "The council has just been given the biggest shock of its collective
life," Thomas mollified her.  "Give them a chance to adjust."

     "But I fear Bailor and Mordin."

     Thomas agreed.  "So do I, but what choice do we have?  And what can
they possibly do?"

     "I know not," she answered.  "But I fear them just the same."

     Through all this Robin sat placidly.  "Have you no comment, lord?"
Ellenia asked, turning to him.

     Robin smiled up at her.  "I have come this far with the help of my
friends.  I never expected to be here."  She sat beside him, trying to be
patient.

     "My lord."  Rood entered the room in an apparent state of agitation.
"Something bad is afoot.  I know it."

     "Why?  What is it?" Thomas asked, his face lined with concern.

     "I just saw the lady Melusine being escorted into the council
chambers."

     "Melusine?" Thomas queried.

     "What could they want with her?" Ellenia asked.

     "She is an embarrassment to her kingdom, a woman who lives only to
satisfy her sexual appetites."

     "And how well I know it!" Rood interrupted Thomas' comment with a
grin.

     "I fear some evil plan in all this," Thomas said.

     Robin only sat quietly beside Ellenia.  There was nothing he could do,
so he would do nothing.  The other two men paced.

          * * *

     Jubilation on the street was all encompassing.  The news of the return
of the king spread like flashweed fire.  People who were in the gallery and
witnessed the event told people who weren't.  People who heard the story
passed it on to those who had not.  Finally those who heard the story or
witnessed the events began to hear the news second hand from others like an
echo rebounding again and again from narrow canyon walls.  Apparently,
Bailor, the original odds on favorite to become king was fairly universally
disliked.  Everyone expected this council meeting to produce a new ruler of
the land.  Yet it was not until the story of Robin's confrontation with the
council members that a true joy seized the hearts of the populace.  Even
residents of the blue tower were more lighthearted.  Bailor and his
perverted sister were not easy taskmasters.

          * * *

     The call was given at last.  Thomas and Robin again walked to the
center of the chamber.  As they did so Mordin's stooped figure rose.  "My
lords and ladies," he began in his same oily fashion.  "We have discussion
with our lord, the heir to the throne, ruler of all Tuatha.  We need not
human intervention.  That man must leave."  He pointed a bony finger at
Thomas.  There were murmurs of agreement from around the table.

     For the first time since his original entry into the room, Robin took
a firm step forward and spoke.  He calmly but authoritatively said, "He
stays."

     This elicited a condescending smile from old Mordin.  "My young lord,
you realize not . .  ."

     His voice was firmer this time and filled with a powerful authority.
"I said the man stays.  He is now and will always serve as my advisor.  He
stays with me."  The intensity of the voice pushed the old man back down
into his chair, a look of shocked surprise on his face.  Various council
members turned and exchanged hushed whispers and quick conferences.  The
new king had shown a tiny bit of his power.  Many were concerned.  Perhaps
their previously chosen course of action should be reconsidered.

     Bailor seized the moment by rising and speaking directly to Robin.
"My lord, we all agree to your claim and your authority.  Please bear in
mind that what we are about to say we say only for the sake of the realm."
He paused, looking around the table at the other delegates for moral
support.  "Our last great king, your father, almost destroyed our land by
waiting too late to have a son.  Your mother, the queen died giving you
life.  In your absence many of us, myself included, have humbly managed to
hold the land together.  Tuatha owes us gratitude for saving the land,
despite the folly of your father."  Again Bailor's eyes searched the table
for support.  "My lord," he began slowly.  "We cannot and will not permit
this course of events to repeat itself."

     A look of concern crossed Thomas' face.  "And what," the old man
asked, "do you intend?"

     For the first time Bailor looked directly at the man standing beside
the young king.  "Old father, our lord must join and produce an heir.  We
will affirm him and hold a grand coronation .  . . only if he agrees to a
binding at the same time."

     Robin felt the air leave his lungs and refuse to return.  His heart
stilled and his blood ceased its life giving tidal flow.  His scope of
vision narrowed to a small round tunnel, focusing only on Bailor.  He heard
a voice, it was Thomas speaking as if from hundreds of miles away.  "A
binding?  And who is the boy to join?"

     Bailor's face broke into a sympathetic smile.  "We have chosen a bride
who will bear him many children and serve him well as queen of the land."
From a dark corner of the room a short, heavy, dark haired woman came
forward into the light.  Bailor smiled again.  "The lady Melusine."

 

 

 

 

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