Three months later.
Three hooded figures in cloaks damp from the torrent outside are unceremoniously shoved into the royal reception room of the Citadel of New Halifax. Two spear wielding guards watch over their bound prisoners as their liege is summoned. Before too long, a beautiful blond woman in an equally beautiful (and slightly revealing) dress walks in and scowls at the soldiers.
“What was so important that my dinner with the Jarl had to be interrupted?
I appreciate your loyalty to your lady, but…. You do understand that without his support, I would probably not be your Lady for very long, right?”
One of the guards bows deeply and replies haltingly. “My Lady Astrid….we felt that you would wish to…talk to these prisoners yourself.” He gets out of the way as she strides over to the three on the floor.
“Now, why would I care about three random prisoners? And since when did we even let prisoners into the royal reside-“
The man in the middle stands up and removes his hood, exposing a familiar visage. “When the prisoners are royal themselves.” William smiles as he says this.
“Oh. My. That was rather dramatic. And stupid considering my land and yours are at war right now.” Despite her words, she can’t contain her own excitement and joy. “So…uh…why are you here?” She coughs to hide a blush.
“That is a rather long story. But first, I would like to express my condolences for the death of your uncle, the former lord of….whatever you call your collective lands. And I also wish to express my congratulations over your accession to the throne. I heard of it through my….informants not long after my own coronation. Funny how that worked. Both of us becoming rulers of our lands within a month of each other. And right after we…figured out who the other one was.”
“I am tempted to say it is fate. We could not go back to the way we were, now that our identities would be so well known. If any of my descendents decide to go to battle, I do hope they don’t carry a sword that announces their heritage. That was rather stupid of us. Without the war to occupy me, I was forced to return to politics. Fortunate in a way. Had I waited much longer, others may have intervened. While I was having fun raiding your towns, some were conspiring against me. My rule has not been an easy one. In fact, when you interrupted me, I was having dinner with the Jarl of Newer Brunswick,”
“Sorry about that. Also, that is a rather ridiculous name.” He smiles, hoping humor will lessen her anger.
It works, and she laughs. “Yeah, most of those who came before really wanted to remember the way things were. Most of the names are pretty stupid.” She starts to stride about the room. “But don’t worry about your interruption, it’s not like he was one of my greatest supporters. Or that now he is threatening open rebellion against me unless I marry him. Or that interrupting our dinner will make him fly into a rage. Except that all of that is true. I may be able to placate him by handing you over to him, and allowing him to torture you for a while. But that will probably make your people angry. And then whoever came to rule after you would have to destroy us for honor reasons.” She stops her walk and stands right next to William. “You have placed me in a very difficult position.” They are less than a hand’s width apart from each other. The tensions almost visible.
William takes a deep breath, but does not step away. “I may have a solution. As you know, I am King of New England. I was doing pretty well as my lords and ladies waited to see if I was going to go off my rocker like my father. They hoped so, so that they could then try to claim the throne for themselves, and having an heir or wife would complicate things. It turns out, I’m perfectly sane. For now.” He smiles charmingly. “They may change their minds later. Probably will after today… But, since I have been king for a while now, they are getting anxious about my lack of heir, and the chance one of their enemies might try and take the throne. And so, their positions have flipped and they gave me an ultimatum. I must have a wife within the year, or they start getting annoying. I paraphrase of course. They used much more flowery language, as they do.”
“I don’t see how this helps me with my problem.”
William bites his lip to steady his nerves before continuing his speech. “I came here with their ultimatum in mind. I want to fight you one last time before I am tied down. One last fight to decide my fate.”
She snorts. “Let me guess, you win I let you go, I win I get to try and use you to salvage my rule? That is the stupidest idea ever. You would not have had to do this if you hadn’t come, and I have no reason to accept your proposal! And I just said my land is pretty much doomed anyway.”
“Well… either way you still hold me captive. You only got half of it right. You win our duel; I am yours to do with as you please… If I win….you accept my proposal of marriage.”
The entire room is silent for a moment. The first noise is Jim laughing from beneath one of the hoods. “I know I suggested something like this….but not like this! Will, you are the ballsiest man I have even known! My Lord King.” He laughs some more.
Lady Astrid is the next to make a sound. “M…marry….you?” She wavers between spluttering and blinking her eyes very rapidly.
William rubs the back of his head, now very embarrassed. “Uh…yeah..kinda. Very much so. You, me, declaring our eternal love and all that. Solves all our problems too. With the Kingdom to support you, no Lord will challenge your power. Also, it gets my lords off my back, and should pretty much end the raids. Or at least make them less….terrible. My land will be at relative peace for a while. But…most importantly…..uh..um…” He leans over to span the distance between himself and Astrid and kisses her hesitantly. “I love you.” Suddenly a huge smile splits across his face. “I’ve wanted to do that for a very long time now.” Suddenly he looks embarrassed again. “Crap. Um...if you…don’t…you know…feel the same….then…um…kill me please. For offending your per-“ He is cut off by Astrid grabbing his head and kissing him passionately.
“Yes.” She says after a while as she comes up for breath. “Yes. Yes, yes yes. And I feel a fight would be superfluous. I really don’t want to damage the heart I captured. Of course, you seem to have managed to steal mine a while ago, so it works out.”
William laughs. “So…yeah. I guess that is it then. Time for us to live happily ever after?”
“Unless you plan to have a spontaneous dance party, I’d say yes. It is time to live happily ever after.” She smiles and they kiss again.
And so they did live happily. Peace was brought to the land for a while,
And everyone was fine with having a badass King and Queen.
And thus was the last Doom of Kings: love.
I am aware it is corny.
I like love, Ok?