Myles of Olau watched as she knelt down carefully onto the dais, her back straight and stubborn and facing the immense crowd. Her eyes were trained unwaveringly at the priest in front of her, who was dressed in his best finery once again. The words of law and church were dictated loudly and strongly from the minister's lips and filled the stifling air of the silenced hall like precious air. Yet, he paid no attention to it, focusing only on the faces that surrounded the coronation floor.
His lovely wife, Eleni, sat in the front pews with a humoured look in her usually subdued eyes. Beside her was George—a man Alanna loved, and would continue to love as the years flowed on—whom Myles was proud of in his own fatherly way. The former Rogue held only pride in his eyes as he witnessed his lass take on her greatest adventure. Princess Thayet held her husband's hands tightly, a look of respect and sadness in her kind expression. This could have been Thayet's moment; but the fates had been denied and Thayet's heart now belonged to the hazel-eyed man at her side and the infant babe that rested in her lap.
So many had come so far this day. Alanna of Trebond was not the only eagle that would soar this night.
Coram Smythesson, Buriram Tourakom, Maude, Geoffrey, Douglass, Sacherell, Baird of Queenscove, Cythera of Naxen, the Lord Provost… all those individuals created a solid and solemn network that stood firm and forward behind the red-head that was biting her lip in impatience. A small smile painted its way across his lips, and the grin on Raoul's face as he guarded the ceremony eased the anxiety he nurtured in regards to the conservatives' reactions to this occasion.
It wasn't easy. It was never easy—particularly when it came to the Lioness of Tortall and how much power she held in influencing Jonathan. The council were wary, traditional, senile and strict. And having the Lady Knight as their queen went against every principal Tortall had upheld for over a century in its politics and its culture.
The crowd shifted tensely as Alanna tersely sealed her vows. Gary leaned closer and commented on Jonathan's pale, nervous face. "I don't think I've ever seen him so frightened," the knight whispered.
Myles shook his head and was reminded of the phenomenon he had beheld eleven years ago. Page Alan had reached into the Black God's well and extended her hand to the Crown Prince amidst a room filled with vibrant violet fire and malicious sorcery. The memory surged into his mind as Alanna pledged and bound her soul to the throne. As the rustle of robes adjusted the glittering crown high above Alanna's bowed head, Myles of Olau knew that his adopted daughter had come full circle.
Gareth of Naxen's old but familiar hand gripped his shoulder from his other side. "She's now destroyed this court and in its stead—made it a family. Is it no wonder that a Lioness is a queen too?"
Myles sucked in a breath and tried to hold in the emotion that threatened to overwhelm him. As he let it out, he caught Alanna give him a quick desperate look before the crown was placed and locked on her head. He heard her soft growl at its weight.
A haunting chuckle pierced his ear and he saw a ghost-like figure appear by Alanna's side. It caressed the prized diadem that circled the locks of Tortall's new queen as a familiar black cat purred against Alanna's knees. "Vivat Regina!" the young, mesmerising maiden exclaimed. "Long live the Queen!"
When Myles blinked, only Alanna remained. Her husband surged forward and Myles' beating heart pounded to a new rhythm. This day—as the two monarchs finally turned to face their people—it was not Jonathan who made a point to the world. It was Alanna, and her will alone.
Author's Note: If you really think about it, it's only the beginning. This is dedicated to everyone who read and reviewed… thank you for all your support!