Rosamund wanted to see the Lord Chamberlain before coming to any decision about the future of the king, a decision which would have echoing repercussions for the kingdom and the way it was ruled. I returned to the city and arranged two meetings for us, the first with representatives of the military family, the second with the chamberlain. I went on ahead while Rosamund stayed outside of the city until I could bring her in unseen. The mood in the city was troubled, the king’s men were searching for the Grey Lady and were starting to become arrogant in their manner. I overheard talk of the king questioning the need for the Mage. I heard support for the Grey Lady decrying the way the king was treating her, treating her as if she was some kind of an enemy. The populous were increasingly resentful of the highhanded way in which they were being treated and were starting to take against their new king. I stayed in the shadows using my magic to move around the city undetected. Once the meeting with the military was set I went to help Rosamund enter the city anonymously.
We met with the head of the military family and his sons and they put their case for removing the king from the throne and outlined what action they thought best to keep the kingdom safe from invasion. They made their case well and I could see that Rosamund was beginning to accept what I’d told her the night before was true. She asked the general to approach her and placed her left hand on his brow, uttering a few indiscernible words under her breath she searched his mind for any sense that he was lying or that there was any intention to use the opportunity to seize power himself. This changed the tenure of our meeting with the chamberlain, it was no longer just to convince Rosamund of his treachery; it was to confront him with it. One complication to be overcome were the king’s men, they were not controlled by the family, rather they were the king’s private guard drawn from all sections of society. A small private army within the city in parallel with the official militia of the family, they were a powerful force. To prevent unnecessary bloodshed it was decided that I would use my magic to disable the king’s men but to do this I would have to spend time in the Mage’s Tower preparing the spells required for the task. As the meeting with the chamberlain was to take place later that day in the tower we decided to go there now, escorted by a small contingent of the family’s soldiers. As we approached the entrance to the tower we ran into a group of the king’s men who demanded that we hand over Rosamund. I refused their demand, reminded them that I was the Mage and what the consequences for clashing with me might be — hinting at fire and brimstone along with death and destruction — and after some discussion amongst themselves they departed to report to the king.
Dismissing our guard we entered the tower, and I secured the entrance with magic.
‘The writing’s on the wall then, we declare the king to be an enemy of the state, arrest the Lord Chamberlain as a traitor, and then we take over the running of the kingdom with the blessings of the army.’ I said.
‘Yes, but first I must release you from the power I have over you before the king gets the chance to use his power over me.’
‘Can’t it wait until I’ve dealt with the king?’
‘No, if you try to go against the king or otherwise harm him before I release you the consequences for you will be immediate.’
‘So, what do you have to do to release me?’
‘There’s no easy way to put this. I must sleep with you to release you from my power.’
Taken aback by Rosamund’s reply I was momentarily dumbstruck. ‘You’re teasing me right? Like those times back at the cottage.’
‘No, I mean it, it’s the only way to protect you. Anyway, we both know that we’ve fallen for each other over the past few weeks. I’d have never believed that the day would come when I fell in love with the man that I used to fear and hate because of the power he held over me. But since meeting you and your becoming the Mage everything has changed.’
She moved next to me, settled her hand on my chest, then leaned in to kiss me. Despite my misgivings I found that yes, I did love her too. As she’d mentioned these past few weeks together had affected us both tremendously. She’d become my rock in an unfamiliar world, she’d been there when I needed her. Things moved on and before I knew it we were together in my bed. When I awoke later that afternoon it was to find that I was deeply in love but more than that, that my memory had returned. I was reborn.
When the Lord Chamberlain arrived we were ready for him. I now knew I’d been aware of his treachery before my memory loss. It was my haste to find a new mage that had caused me to make a mistake with the summoning spell and it was just luck that I had survived. Luck, and the fact that unbeknownst me I was fortunate to have enough of a tenuous hereditary link to the family of mages to qualify for the position myself. The chamberlain was no longer the affable person he was before, gone was the politician who helped us so eagerly when deciding who should be king. Instead we faced a confident man who thought that he was the winner in this game of thrones. Rosamund and I led him on and with some judicious questioning soon had him incriminating himself. When we had a full and clear confession that he was working for our enemies for the good of the kingdom we revealed that we’d known this for some time and that he was summarily charged with treason.
‘The king will destroy you wise woman,’ he blustered, thinking that he still had the upper hand.
‘You may have a point,’ I said, ‘it’s time to pay the king a visit and discuss this further.’
I called for the guards who’d earlier escorted us to send messages to the heads of all the major families requesting their presence at court along with one to the king telling him to expect us shortly. We waited until we could see the families lining up to gain entrance to court before we made our way to meet the king. Given the distractions of the afternoon I’d not yet had the chance to deal with the king’s men. I was glad to see that those few outside the keep had already been disarmed by common soldiers and that a few had even been detained by foresters. That meant the families were talking to each other. In time of war the foresters would be just as formidable as our army, especially if deployed in the Endless Forest where their skills would make them the ultimate foe.
Entering the court we were faced with ranks of the king’s men, all heavily armed. As we approached the throne I could see that the king was struggling to conjure up his magic, I could see streams of power flowing from his fingertips bouncing off Rosamund as he tried to neutralise her now vanished abilities. I moved in front of her absorbing the king’s magic, using it to bolster the magic that I was forming in my head.
‘Your majesty,’ I began, ‘I’m asking you to renounce your claim to the throne. I’ve learnt that you were falsely recommended for the position by a traitorous relative of yours, the former Lord Chamberlain, who has sold out our kingdom to a foreign power for his own personal gain. If you don’t stand down of your own freewill I shall be forced to use the power of the Mage over the King to remove you.’
Rosamund moving forward to stand by my side continued, ‘I have already relinquished my power over the Mage. He’s now the ultimate power in this land. Do not go against him or your death is assured.’
Some of the king’s men moved forward as if to challenge me but then hesitated. There was uncertainty among their ranks, it was only a few weeks since they’d served me, why should they lay down their lives for someone they’d only served for days? As the families moved forward to support Rosamund and myself, the king’s men lay down their arms and withdrew leaving the king standing alone.
The king dropped his arms in surrender, ‘I knew my cousin was a fool, I’d just hadn’t realised how big a fool he was selling out our country. I will write a letter of abdication and in recompense I offer my support and that of my family in the defence of the realm.’
‘Thank you, I’m glad it’s not come to bloodshed. For the duration of the threat from the North the Mage and the Grey Lady will rule the kingdom in tandem.’ I said.
‘Without any direct threat against us I’m unwilling to act aggressively,’ said Rosamund, ‘but we must make it clear that we are more than capable of defending ourselves. The army and the foresters are to fortify our borders while the Mage and I make ready our magical defences. You can rest assured that the city is safe under my aegis but the country as a whole is more vulnerable.’
‘If they return to the city, I want the army to apprehend the two agents acting as intermediaries between the former chamberlain and our foes.’ I continued, ‘I plan to use them to send a message of our intent. They have numbers and force of arms but given the magic at my disposal I can act with devastating force from a distance. I need to discover a suitable target with which to demonstrate our kingdom’s capabilities.’ As I finished a strange groaning sound came from beyond the hall, I noticed a look of concentration on Rosamund’s face and realised that she was strengthening the city ready for war.
She turned to me saying, ‘Stick with me and we’ll be unbeatable,’ before taking my hand and leading me out to see how our defences had grown. After her brief intervention the city walls now rose to twice their former height.
The city was impenetrable, it was now just up to me to protect the rest of the kingdom.
Written in response to the Creative Writing Ink April 19th writing prompt competition