"Again!" He yelled, harsher this time. But it seemed to blend in with the other sounds that filled the courtyard.
The sun’s harsh rays were unforgiving on the knight’s of The Kingdom of Sermattei as they trained. The pungent smell of sweat pierced the air, but it went unnoticed by the knights who were practicing in the training circle. Enclosed in the castle walls, they grunted, focusing on the task at hand. Squires cheered on their respective Knights. Squeals and giggles filled the air as pages chased each other around with their little wooden swords, careful not to get into the Knights' way. Many of the respective workers around the castle watched from the entrance, entranced by the knights’ smooth movements. They seemed to work in harmony despite the fact they were dueling. The movements seemed to be almost graceful. Fotia relished moments such as these.
Taking in a deep breath through her nose, Fotia attempted to blink away the sweat. She didn't want to wipe it away with her arm, for fear of giving her enemy an opening. Grunting, she charged her opponent once more. Both their swords clashed, blending in with the similar surrounding sounds coming from others practicing around them. Seeing an opening, Fotia thrusted the metal sword forward as it clashed with the knight's armor. Caught off guard, Fotia took the opportunity to swiftly kick his feet, causing him to tumble over, falling on the hard, scorching, stone floor.
"It seems that you are getting worse with age, old man." Fotia couldn't contain her large grin. "Should I be concerned? I mean you are a first-class knight after all." She then held out her hand, offering it to Galien.
Not being one to waste an opportunity, Galien brought her down to the concrete with him, laughing as she landed right beside him.
"Time only refines one's skill, Fotia." He said sternly, but Fotia didn't miss the twinkle in his eyes.
Laughing, she shook her head and quickly got up, wiping the imaginary dirt off her practice armor. This time when Fotia held out her hand Galien took it, pulling himself up.
"I beg to differ. I think-"
"FOTIA!" Fotia was interrupted by a booming voice. Its familiar timber causing the rest of the clashing swords to immediately stop.
Embarrassed, Fotia quickly hurried over to her father. His dark brown skin gleamed in the sunlight, his bushy eyebrows furrowed in anger. Today, he wore his black locks in a low bun, some still being able to manage escaping its tight hold. The tips of the locks were adorned with gold clips that matched the crown that sat atop his head. A few gray strands peppered her father's locks, but it could never take away from his handsomeness. Though his stern face was able to frighten most and intimidate those in court meetings, his daughter knew better.
"My King." She bowed dramatically. "To what do I owe this great honor?" She enunciated each word perfectly. Her etiquette teacher would be proud. A beat of silence passe.
The stern facade Fotia's father had put in place cracked.
"Oh Fotia my dear, I was so worried!" He gave her a quick once over. "You cannot scare your father like that, you know how I feel about you and your sword fighting." Although her father loved to play the serious persona in front of the court and his people, he was truly a big softie. He loved his family and would do anything to protect them. However, this seemed to come with incessant worrying and over-dramatic theatrics.
"I know, father." She rolled her eyes at his dramatic antics.
"What if you had died?"
"What if your sword slipped?"
"Oh my! What if a dragon came and swooped you off the ground?! What if-"
"I think that's enough, my King." Her mother's smooth voice interrupted her father's incessant rambling. She placed her dainty hand on his shoulder. Her mother's skin, a shade darker than her father's, seemed to soak up the sun's rays. It gave her mother a faint glow around her, enhancing her regal aura. Her heart-shaped lips were painted with gold glitter, matching her crown. Small jewels hung from the crown's band and its cross-party, amplifying her mother's beauty and the crown's elegance. She had a different hairstyle from the previous day, today the tightly wound coils were pulled back into a bun mimicking her father's. Like her father, gray strands were also sprinkled throughout her hair, but it could not distract you from her beauty.
"You're right my love." He seemed to agree, then turned to the rest of the knights and squires training. "Everyone, I am dismantling the knighthood, return to your homes and find new jobs."
Confused, the knights glanced around, unsure of whether they should follow the King's orders.
One of the pages began to cry.
Sighing, her mother cleared her throat. "Resume training." She then shook her head, but it didn't hide her smile. The clashing of swords filled the air once more as Queen Alysia pretended to scold her husband.
"You jest too much my dear." She smiled.
"Jest? Who said I was jesting?" King Alston cried. "She could have died!"
Fotia rolled her eyes. "Father."
Sighing, Alston brought his daughter closer and squished her face between his hands. "I just love you so much my dear." Fotia swore she saw tears in his eyes. This caused her to roll her eyes once more.
"Alston." Alysia had said in a warning tone.
"I know, my queen. I know. Though I support everything she does, I do not understand her continuous pursual of this knighthood nonsense. She belongs beside us, learning how to deal with foreign kingdoms and how to act as a proper diplomat. She will have to when Floga becomes queen." He let go of Fotia's face, but not before placing a sloppy wet kiss on her forehead.
"Ew father, gross!" She blanched, her hand immediately going to her forehead as she wiped off her father's spit. "But to address your statement, you know my heart belongs to sword-wielding," Fotia spoke, hoping the passion in her voice would convince her father. Just because she and Floga shared the same blood, doesn't mean that they were the same person. Floga wanted to be queen just as much as Fotia wanted to be a Knight.
Anyone was allowed to join the knighthood, both men and women, as long as you adhered to its rules. Ever since she was little, Fotia had dreamed of joining the Knighthood. She looked up to them. She'd often find herself jealous of the kids her age who were pages, already on their way to becoming a knight. Although each member of the royal family was required to train with the knights in order to be able to hold their own in battle, Fotia wanted more than that. She wanted to be able to lead the knights, to become one. When she failed to be able to call upon her powers at the proper age, she believed it to be a sign. However, her duties as a princess prevented her from doing so and her parents believing she was a late bloomer did not help the matter.
"How about we discuss it after you come into your power." Her father said sternly. Fotia's hand immediately went to the intricate gold marking that covered her arms and she felt a small tingling sensation at the ones on her back and neck. She looked at her father's and mother's, thinking back to how they seemed to glow whenever they called upon their powers. To how her older sister's glowed when she was training, learning how to control them.
Her father's words saddened her. She knew she probably never would come into her power, and though it wasn't exactly unheard of it was still very rare. She was about to argue when a deep voice interrupted her.
"She would make a fine Knight my King." Galien seemed to appear out of nowhere, as he placed an armored hand on Fotia's shoulder.
Galien was the only one allowed to even make suggestions like this to the royal King and Queen, despite not being an advisor. This was largely due to the friendship he had with the couple. He had practically grown up with the queen, and when the Fotia's father had married her mother, they had also become fast friends. His status and reputation as a knight were highly regarded throughout the kingdom. Although his reputation as a ladies man seemed to precede him even further. When most women saw his golden-brown skin and gray eyes, they couldn't help but swoon. He had a large full, black beard, but it could never hide his charming smile. Despite his older nature, he was still very fit, his arms and legs toned from years of knight training. And none of the ladies ever seemed to be put off by his shiny bald head.
"Oh I do not doubt it Galien," The King said on a raised brow. "but I would feel much better if she stayed in the court."
Although Fotia appreciated Galien coming to her aid, she knew her father's mind was made up. She didn't even know why she teased herself by training with the other knights.
"You are right my King." Even Galien seemed to understand this.
Her mother remained silent throughout this interaction. Though she technically held all the power when making political and social decisions that would benefit the Kingdom, she allowed her husband to manage the family and royal household. He attended court meetings with her because he was her closest advisor and confidante. Plus, not every kingdom she interacted with was comfortable conducting business with a woman. And although Fotia’s mother did not care, she was advised that the king’s presence would make interactions with foreign nations much smoother.
"I cannot remember a time I was ever wrong." The King boasted, thumping his chest with his fist.
"My dear surely you remember when you thought there was a dragon in your study?" Now it was her mother's turn to raise an eyebrow.
"It was those damn rabbits, I can never figure out how they would get there. And besides, have you ever seen a rabbits shadow in the middle of the night?" Her father said accusingly. "I think not." He pouted, crossing his arms.
Fotia and her mother both held back their giggles and Galien attempted to keep a straight face. When her father saw this, he began to laugh, and everyone joined in as well.
The others training in the courtyard admired the royal family, thankful that they had such happy and jestful rulers. They prayed every day this would never change.
Obrigado pela leitura!