It was a late summer afternoon when Isran was sworn in as Theuden’s bodyguard. In the throne room, the two stood side by side. Behind them was a gathering of nobles, all packed in rows in the tight throne room. On the throne was the Duke, sitting there impatiently as the room began to fill. With the doors closed, and all the guests there, it was time to begin the inauguration.
Theuden held back a grin as the Duke clenched his teeth. If one had dared look him in the eyes at that moment, they would only find furious disdain. He coughed before he stood up and began the proceedings.
“We are gathered here today to appoint this year's champion with the honor granted to all who win Heir’s Game: the position as the personal bodyguard of the heir of Belluna.”
Isran and Theuden both got down on one knee, keeping their heads low so they could sneak a glance at each other for a moment.
The Duke turned to the Head Priestess. “Is the church in agreement?”
She bowed her head. “The church agrees with the throne."
He then turned to the Chief Governor. “Is the governance in agreement?”
“The governance agrees with the throne," the governor responded with the same solemn bow.
“Then… " The Duke faced to the young couple. "I, as my father before me, speak now what the gods willed true. Through flesh and blood, with steel you have proven your worth...”
Even with his head down, Isran could sense the Duke’s cold stare.
“To be the one who will protect the heir of the Davut family.”
Theuden took a steady breath as he felt his father's judgement pass on him.
“Lord Theuden Davut, Sir Isran of Manalia.” He paused, as if only now realizing the reality of the situation. “From now on you will be forever tied together.”
We're practically married, Isran mused
“Decided in the four heavens, now made true in the four duchies.”
Theuden's heart skipped a beat. Prayers do get answered.
“Thus came to conclusion, the Heir’s Game of Theuden Davut.”
With that, the room began to fill with gentle applause. Sir Isran and Lord Theuden both got up from their knees and faced forward. With the two of them side to side, the crowd couldn't deny that something felt right about it all. With the sunshine lighting them from behind and the smiles on their faces, it was a joyous note to end Heir's Game on.
"Well-- Now that this drab little ceremony is over with-- Let's move on to the ballroom, shall we?"
After the ceremony, as the custom of Bellunian nobles, the Davuts, held a function in the ballroom. Isran found himself busy with nobles, who much like the other folk in Lamezia, were just as curious about him. He never planned much for this. As much as he wished to dodge their questions, he couldn’t blame them for asking. He was a stranger to them. A commoner from Manalia who, other than his skill in combat, was only known for his secretive nature. With such a background, he knew rumors would arise, and perhaps they would lead to the truth of who he was…
Out of instinct, he evaded their questions until the guests became bored with him. Now unbothered, he settled to the edge of the ballroom, now admiring it in scale.
It was the same hall that held the balls in-between duels. Rather than the joyous energy the duelists brought, the poised nobles were bathed in the soft warm light by the chandeliers above. The wide windows were now draped in rich green curtains, which were adorned with bunches of golden leaves. Isran thought about his future with Theuden here, forever warmed by the glow of the candlelight. It was more than he could have ever dreamed of. But something about this grandeur felt terribly fragile. One spark in the wrong place and it could all go to ashes.
He was looking out the window when a familiar face approached him.
“Lord Davut,” Isran greeted, nodding in his direction.
“Sir Isran,” Theuden replied back.
And for a moment, they stood next to each other in silence, as if they weren’t exchanging glances the entire ceremony. Now, alone for a moment, the two turned to smile at each other, holding back the sheer excitement they shared. They could truly be together now. Oh, how kind the gods were to them.
“Isran?” Theuden asked, “You know, from what I have heard, you have been quite humble about your skill as a duelist. I do find it interesting that a man as talented as yourself is so shy about it.”
“Thank you for the compliment, my Lord,” Isran replied, “I suppose I have always been shy-- I have never been one to talk much about myself.”
“Well perhaps we could change that?” Theuden teased, “We are to be more than co-workers-- After all, we have been bound together by the gods, and if I am to trust someone to guard me, I would be more comfortable if he were not a stranger.”
Isran played along. “Let’s not be strangers anymore then?” he said, gesturing his head to the side, away from the party.
Theuden’s eyes sparked. “Very well--”
The two walked away to the side. Isran held out his hand and Theuden reached out for it, only to retract when they remembered the crowd around them. They had plenty of time to do that away from the others.