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Wednesday, June 07, 2006 The Order of Lions

Robert is summoned by Duke Walthorn at night to stand near him in the royal feast – in case Walthorn will need anything. And Robert stands right there – the royal dining room. A grand hall consists of three long tables: One on the platform for the royal family, one at the left side and one at the right side for the ministers, lords, civil officers and generals.
Walthorn sits on the nearest seat to the platform at the right table. As the king hasn’t arrived yet, Walthorn whispers to Robert to introduce some of the important ministers and some of the members of The Order of Lions to Robert.
‘The man sitting opposite me is the Royal Chief Advisor, Rael’charon. He is superbly brilliant and he has no ambitions whatsoever. He assists us here as a token of our friendship and alliance with Thyrine elves, so he serves for both Thyrine and Lore. You know, Robert, elves can live for hundreds and thousands of years naturally. And you know how old is he? 132 years old!
Robert is surprised.
‘I beg your pardon, milord?’
‘Oh yes, you better believe it – he still looks in his twenties, though. And we can see elves are fair creatures. I bet elf girls were chasing him back in Thyrine, and he came here just to avoid them.’
Robert tries not to giggle.
‘Well, he’s one of the nobles here that I respect, along with my comrades-in-arms in the Order of Lions. You see there, at my side, my first lieutenant Sir Mallard. Just you wait until you see him in full armor. You’ll also be marveled by his prowess in battle. Sir Eldric in his blue tunic, always in vanguard – he’s known as The Diehard. Sir Vincent the Raging Bull, with big thorns on his helmet and a big maul to match. And at the opposite, well this is the one you’ve never heard of – A lady knight, Lady Irene of Everglades. His husband Rudolph was a weak, sickly man, rest his soul. But this lady is tough, real tough. She once broke through an Arcadian encampment with only sixty-three men and in the end they returned with no casualties. ‘Twas enough to break their morale, I daresay.’
‘Wow, I bet they are great generals, milord.’
‘They sure are. They are my lieutenants, the Four Pillars – Sir Mallard commands West Wing Army, Sir Vincent East, Sir Eldric North, and Lady Irene South. And I, of course command the Center Main Army. The Order of Lions consists of sixteen members including myself. You see at the outer rows, Sir Alaric, Sir Eldric’s elder brother; Sir Cyril – the knight with two swords, Sir Galford, Sir Harman, and ah, Sir Theval is here too. He supposed to be at the border with Sir Zigurd. I think he comes here to report something important. I must summon him after the feast. Well, the others are not present at this moment, but you’ll meet them later.’
Walthorn pauses for a while to see whether the royal family has arrived, and then he continues.
‘Sir James Hickram, you know him already – my vice commander in Varestine – He is in the order too. Now he is in the citadel to carry out the idea I told you, about reward improvements for hunters. And the rest: Sir Tylich, Sir Barnaby – he’s in Rand, Sir Wallace… and Sir Hulferd… he just proposed his resignation from the order to serve this kingdom as a monster hunter. Well, that’s all of them.’
Robert thinks. This Hulferd guy is interesting – He began as a soldier and converted to a hunter. Maybe I’ll follow his footsteps one day. I have to bear him in my mind - always.
Walthorn notices the change of Robert’s expression when he talked about Hulferd, and comments.
‘Aha, young lad. I see you’re interested about Sir Hulferd. He’s a brave young fellow – and he loves his family more than anything in this world. I think you should meet him someday.’
And Walthorn continues in his own mind, and learn from his easy-going, friendly personality. Among all the members of the order, I like him the most.
Then they hear the sound of the trumpets, announcing the arrival of the royal family.
Walthorn reacts, ‘Aha, here comes the royal family now. You just stand there, Robert, and I’ll tell you about them later.’
Robert doesn’t reply and immediately does what he was told. Meanwhile King George XIII enters the room and goes to sit on the center seat at the platform. He looks so feeble because of old age, but he seems so vibrant – thanks to Walthorn who comforted him with his pledge of loyalty. Then he is followed by the Crown Prince Gerard and his consort, The Crown Princess Elena. Princess Elena is expecting a baby in about the next seven months. Then following behind her are Gerard’s sister Gwen, Gerard’s daughter Eloise at Gwen’s side, and the rest of the royal family. They are all taking their seats according to their ranks, with Gerard and Gwen sitting by the king’s sides.
Then a royal announcer delivers a quick speech before the feast.
‘My royal guests, sirs and ladies, Your Majesty and Excellencies, we are gathering here to celebrate the restoration of our beloved king’s health. And we also announce that our beloved Crown Princess Elena is expecting a child. Let’s pray for Your Majesty’s and Princess Elena’s maintaining good health and May our beloved princess bears a fair, healthy child. Long live the king! Long live Princess Elena!’
As the protocol demands, the king rises and raises his glass first to propose a toast. All the other royal family members, court officials, lords, ladies and knights follows suit and cheer…
‘Long live the king! Long live Princess Elena!’
The king says, ‘Let the feast begin!’
Trays of delicious and grand food are brought. Finest beef steaks from the finest cows in the farms in Leddingsford, grilled tuna fishes from Wagnerport, roast ducks from Wardstone, the vassal kingdom of Lore, assorted vegetables, mixed asparagus, broccoli and abalone soup, five-flavored puddings, and of course the choicest grapes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries and apples. Finest wine, ale and juice are poured, and everybody enjoys the food and the party. Of course the pages and non-noble guests are not allowed to join the festivity or even talk during the feast except on their lords’ order, and Robert has already had his dinner at the evening, so he is not quite tempted with the royal meal that’s way beyond everything he has tasted before. Robert only stands there waiting for Walthorn to talk to him, expressionless. The naughty little princess Eloise, now nine years old, finds Robert there. She looks at him with curiosity, and when Robert glances towards her, she blows raspberries to attract Robert’s attention.
Robert thinks. Wow! That pampered princess again…! Doesn’t she know it’s impolite? Kids!
But he realizes that he is also a kid, and he accidentally scratches his head.
Princes Eloise smiles, looking at Robert’s reaction. She thinks Robert is getting more and more interesting, and she decides to find out about Robert and make fun out of him the day after tomorrow (after her punishment expires). These secret glances are noticed by Rael’charon the elf, but instead of reporting to the king, he smiles. Princess Eloise often plays with him when he’s off duty in the palace, and Rael’charon thinks it’s time she gets a friend about her own age, and although it’s rather a violation to the palace protocols that a page is forbidden to consort with a princess, but this wise elf will cook up something to make this new friendship undisturbed.

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