Sunday 23 September 2012
Guards surrounded Francois as he was escorted into the courtyard of the castle. The platform at the northern end of the courtyard was designed and positioned specifically to allow an unobstructed view to everyone who came to witness the event. Francois was shoved through the screaming mob by one of the guards while the others swatted away the grasping and clawing hands of the crowd.
When they reached the makeshift stairs, Francois looked up and saw Elle, Barnaby, and their band of vigilante warriors all seated uncomfortably towards to back of the platform. He was ushered promptly up the stairs to stand in front of the waiting Cardinal. Glancing back to Elle and the others, Francois wore a defeated smile. The past few days had etched themselves onto his face; weary eyes that once sparkled with life looked tired, wrinkles had formed where there once had been none, and the warm smile he had always flashed had been replaced by pensive lips that appeared unable to manoeuvrer themselves into a smile. Wisdom had replaced youth, leaving Francois a heavily burdened man.
‘Kneel before me,’ bellowed the Cardinal. Francois nodded and dropped to his knees in front of the man of God. Once Francois was in position, the Cardinal held out his hand. Taking his cue, a guard standing to his left carefully offered the Cardinal an ornate, bejewelled sword. The crowd quietened when they saw the sword raised above the head of the man of the Church.
‘Bow your head before God and man,’ said the Cardinal. Again, Francois followed the instruction given to him.
The blade of the sword caught the reflection of the sun as it cut through the air towards Francois. It glistened the brightest when it fell upon Francois’ shoulder.
‘That,’ Barnaby whispered to Elle, ‘is a sign from God that a righteous man has been selected as King.’
‘Francois is far from righteous, Barnaby, but he will rule fairly. That I can promise you,’ Elle replied.
Adorned with his crown, King Francois slowly rose to stand before his people. A muted murmur swept around the courtyard. Peace had been restored to the kingdom in the defeat of Queen Josslyn, and by the coronation of the rightful King. He waited for silence to fall.
‘We begin a new journey,’ Francois said, ‘together. We will restore the kingdom to the noble land that it once was. We will work together for the benefit of all. No more hate, no more hiding, and only those who wilfully do wrong will have something to fear. Now, let us celebrate together.’
His words elicited a rousing cheer from the crowd, which quickly parted and began the rowdy celebrations.
Amidst the locals, a stranger seeking refuge pushed his way through the bodies. He made his way to one of the King’s guards.
‘What’s happening here today, good sir?’ the stranger asked. The guard, initially shocked by the man’s ignorance, beamed a broad smile as he replied.
‘A good man has come to power . . .’
. . . The end . . .