Author's note: Here it is the final chapter. I usually put a comment at the end of each of my chapters and stories, but this time I didn't. I think it would have ruined the ending to me. I hope you have all enjoyed this project of mine. I know it has been my privilege to share my thoughts with you.
General Rethoboth blinked a couple of times as the dust settled around the interior of the pavilion. He'd been sent to negotiate peace with the four rebel lords currently sitting across the table from him. He had pretty much decided to stall for time until Duke Valliere decided to join them and conclude the discussions with the surrender of the absent queen's guards.
Now he was looking up at a gaping hole in the ceiling of the tent above the large round negotiation table staring at the rear end of a young man who was apparently responsible for that aforementioned hole as he knelt down in the center of the table with his sword drawn and driven point first into the center of the table.
"What is the meaning of this?" Lord Finchley bellowed. "We're under a flag of truce!"
The four pasty lords sputtered as their four bodyguards dropped into fighting stances prepared to defend their masters.
"Are you still breathing?" The young man asked in a low dangerous voice. The four lords looked at each other hesitantly before one of them mutely nodded. "Then we're still under a flag of truce."
Until I decide otherwise. The threat seemed to hang unspoken in the air between the four men and the young man that now confronted them.
"We are trying to discuss the terms of surrender." Lord Rumple sneered nasally at the violent interloper.
"The terms are simple. You will surrender your soldiers totally and completely to the queen. You will take only your personal guards and you will return home in peace, or else you will be summarily executed for treason." The swordsman stated flatly.
At this the four lords laughed. The general noted however his guards weren't laughing. The four of them were looking uneasy and ready to bolt.
"Why should we surrender? The queen is no longer here and Duke Valliere only has 30,000 men at his command while we have brought 50,000 men to the field. We outnumber you by nearly two to one. We have already laid siege to the capitol and we control all the food coming in and out." Lord Quigley snorted.
"You are mistaken. The queen and I have returned from our honeymoon, and we are not amused to find what you've been up to. Didn't you gentlemen recognize me?" Saito said raising his fist with the glowing runes of the Gandalfr. "I would hate to think I'd left such an easily forgotten impression."
The general gulped and looked at the gathered guards. The lords were useless nobles who knew nothing of war and thought even less about sending men off to die for one. Their soldiers however were veterans. They'd been at Tarbes, they'd gone to Albion, and they knew exactly who they were facing.
"You're still just one man." Lord Puvelant asserted.
"One man that fought an army of 70,000 men to a standstill. I stopped an army larger than yours to allow your men time to flee Albion. I figure that means I'm worth about 70,000 men. That and the 30,000 men the queen has at her disposal means we outnumber you by two to one. And if I die, then I'll just have Tifa resurrect me from the dead just like the last time somebody got lucky. So please gentlemen, explain to me why I'm not pulling this sword out of the table and cutting the heads off four traitors." Saito growled.
General Rethoboth watched the lords getting ready to argue. Lord Finchley's bodyguard began whispering furiously into his lords ear. Lord Finchley was the brains of the outfit, and he wasn't quite as stupid as the other three. His brow furrowed as his guard informed him of the mortal danger he was now in.
"What is Saito doing down there?" Henrietta asked as she peered over the rampart at the gathered army. She was dressed once again in her royal garments and they felt tight. She much preferred the loose garments of Saito's world.
"I think this book calls it 'shotgun diplomacy', whatever that means." Tabitha said flipping through the book Grandfather had given to Henrietta and trying to translate the words.
"That man is going to start another rebellion." Henrietta fretted.
"Just make sure everyone down there sees you Majesty." Osmond said seriously. "They have to understand that you have returned and that if they fight it will be treason."
Henrietta nodded and watched the carriage below departing the castle. A solid wall of soldiers blocked the road leading to the academy. Henrietta was sure they were going to be stopped until a soldier came running from the ruined pavilion toward the soldiers laying siege to the castle screaming something unintelligible at them and flailing his arms madly. The soldiers parted hesitantly as the carriage started getting up speed to carry Louise to her fate. Henrietta sighed and once again envied Louise.
The ruined pavilion seemed to come alive shortly after that with lords coming out and running for their horses and galloping off as if the devil himself were after them. Their guards started running out to the army and shouting orders. Word passed slowly through the ranks of the soldiers who apparently couldn't believe their ears.
Finally Saito stepped out of the ruined pavilion and glared at the invading army. General Rethoboth, her chief military commander walked beside him and the two of them started walking toward the officers and soldiers standing around leaderless. As the two started passing by, soldiers began saluting before dropping their weapons and armor. Saito nodded and turned to the general before turning to look up at Henrietta.
Her husband bowed deeply, and then turned on his heels and commandeered the nearest horse. She didn't have to guess where he was headed.
Some time later...
Dawn arrived as it usually did over the land of Gallia, light pouring over the countryside filling in the cracks where night reluctantly let loose it's tenuous grip on the morning. At the royal palace of Gallia, the peaceful morning was getting off to its usual slow start.
"You're going to get us in trouble if you yawn again." Albrecht said to his tired counterpart.
"It's not like anything is going to happen anytime soon. Not even the elves would attack on a day like today. Can you blame me for starting the celebration a little early?" Boris replied leaning heavily on his spear after a night of binge drinking. The man hadn't even slept before coming back on duty.
Albrecht snorted and watched the road leading up to the gates. There, on schedule was the royal carriage that would be carrying Queen Henrietta and the ambassador from Tristain for the coronation ceremony.
Behind them, a familiar voice had already started bellowing. "Get back here you two little imps!"
The guards watched in amusement as two of the palace's youngest inhabitants bounced out of the doors leading to the kitchen. The two black haired little kids jumped over the rail in one leap to land athletically on the grass below before tearing out at a dead run. Each of them had a piece of cake stuffed precariously in their mouth as a portly aged maid came running out the door after them wielding a frying pan over her head.
The old woman had to take the stairs while the two boys ran like their life depended on it, which it most likely did. The young boys were well gone by the time the old maid had reached the bottom of the stairs huffing. "Respect your Nana!"
The two bowed to the old maid to hide their grins and turned back to the coach as it finished coming to a stop just inside the gates. Albrecht reached up to the door only to come nose to barrel with a pistol.
"Back off, soldier boy." The young woman said imperiously.
The guard slowly raised his hands as the young woman in trousers got down off the carriage and opened the door to the royal coach.
"Must you cause a scene everywhere we go?" Queen Henrietta asked as she stepped from the carriage. The queen of Tristain was a stunning beauty so it was little surprise that her guards were so protective.
"Oh Henrietta, you look so beautiful child." The elderly maid said waddling up to the Queen of Tristain like she was cooing a five year old.
"I've missed you Nana." The queen said embracing the old woman warmly.
"Oh. You really should eat a little better girl. You look so pale and frail." The motherly old maid said pulling out a handkerchief and daubing it on her tongue before wiping away dust that had dared to settle on the foreign dignitary.
A second carriage pulled into the royal courtyard. The two guards turned to the creaking carriage that rode low to the ground. Albrecht slowly approached the door and opened it to make sure there weren't anymore pretty young women with pistols waving in his face.
He opened the door which bore the symbol of the Magic Academy as a rotund old man tried to pry himself through the door. The obese old mage had a belly as large as a mountain and his grey beard cascaded down it like a waterfall. As he stepped from the carriage, the beleaguered conveyance sprang back with enough force to nearly throw the driver from his seat as the springs made the body of the carriage pop back up a good two feet above the nearly bent axles.
"Headmaster." The two guards muttered respectfully as they bowed. The old headmaster was as huge as his reputation. As he turned to hold out his crooked staff of office to allow his owl to light from the carriage to the tip of the staff, he looked around and let his eyes immediately fall on the elderly maid.
"Why hello, Siesta." The old man said with a broad smile,
"Malicorne." Mistress Siesta muttered dryly. "You're still too fat."
The old headmaster deflated (slightly), and sadly turned his attention to the queen. "It's good to see you your majesty."
"Headmaster Malicorne." Queen Henrietta II said with a formal nod of the head.
"Is Saito with you? He's been skipping lessons again and Professor Longueville asked me to make sure I came back to the academy with him in tow." The headmaster asked seriously.
The queen turned to the carriage. "You might as well come out Saito, the headmaster isn't going to take 'no' for an answer."
"Aww, Aunt Henrietta, do I have to? I mean I get so bored at the academy. I mean what point is there? None of my spells ever work out right anyway." The young black haired boy said peeking out of the carriage.
"Some master I ended up with." The young pink haired girl who had shoved the gun in Albrecht's face snorted. "Why did I have to get saddled with you?"
"He's your brother Ayaka. You should take care of him. That's a Gandalfr's job after all." The queen instructed her niece.
The roguish young girl wore leather breeches, and had two flintlock pistols at her side as well as a wicked looking rapier. The girl walked over and dragged her older brother out of the carriage. "I will. I just wish he'd stop embarrassing me. Now get out here Saito Hiraga de Valliere, you're supposed to be the ambassador to Gallia!"
Boris and Albrecht had no idea why the maid and the headmaster were chuckling, but they let it drop. It was the day of the new king of Gallia's coronation. Her majesty, Queen Charlotte the Wise was stepping down and handing the reins of the kingdom over to her eldest great grandson. The elderly monarch had ruled for over seventy years. She was now the oldest monarch in all the lands. Age had dimmed her eyes, but had never dulled her wits. She and the Queen of Tristain's grandmother had been the first to institute the concept of a 'parliament' in each of their countries, allowing for a House of Nobles and House of Commons. Today the enduring peace of that great movement which had brought equal rights to nobles and commoners was being celebrated. There was even talk of a marriage between the new king's son and Queen Henrietta's eldest daughter, a marriage that would unify the 'Twin Kingdoms' into the 'United Kingdom'.
Ayaka was busy scolding her brother as the guards looked on in amusement. Albrecht looked over to see a stray tear trickle down the cheek of the portly maid. "Is everything alright Mistress Siesta?"
"Oh, yes child. I was just remembering a couple of people I loved long, long ago. Everything is just as it should be."