Eleanor now has the courage to stand up to her father, but does she have the strength to learn the truth behind his actions?
The castle has fallen, but Adelaide is nowhere to be seen.
Has Eleanor betrayed her family for nothing?
Is there still a route to peace?
A Princess, A Knight And A Tyrant King.
When war is brewing she must fight or die…
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“What are you doing?” The King snarled at her.
“I’m doing what you have always taught me, Father!” she snarled, feeling enraged and elated. She knew she had to make a stand. It no longer mattered that knights surrounded her. She had to tell them all how she felt. “I’m clearing away my enemies,” she explained. “Isn’t that what you have always taught me? If someone stands in the way of what you want, then cut them down!” She was becoming angrier as the words poured out, her father looked incensed, but he knew he couldn’t make a move, he knew it was a stalemate between him and the knights of Perrigor, none of them felt they could attack while the princess stood between them.
“Put the sword down,” her father said, quietly and through gritted teeth, trying to keep his calm.
“That’s what you did to my Grandfather isn’t it?” She’d crossed a line, and she knew it, but she also knew it had to be said. “You cut him down, didn’t you? Then you cut down my uncle as well, didn’t you, father? You cleared your way to what you wanted, cleared your way to the throne, and now you are trying to clear your way to Perrigor, to take back lands that were never yours, to reignite wars from generations ago! All so that you can be the greatest—”
“No!” he shouted at her, finally snapping. He still had the power to make her jump and make her heart beat in fear. “Not for me, Eleanor.” He strode forward, breaking rank and towering over her. “For you.”
She looked up at him, still clutching her sword, but unsure of what to do with it.
“If I did not fight for you, then who would?” he asked. She looked at him blankly. “You are not a warrior without me to protect you, to fight for you. Without these men, you would have nothing, you would inherit nothing; you would be nothing.”
She looked up at him, hating him for every word he said and knowing it was true.
“You’ve had your games,” he said and moved to take her by the arm.
She pulled away and raised her sword. “I would rather be nothing than a tyrant,” she said.
“Eleanor! Stop this now!” he yelled.
The knights on either side were looking at one another, questioning what to do. None of them knew who had the upper hand, and none of them wanted to risk starting a fight they would lose.
“You’ll have to cut me down!” she shouted.
“What?” he looked at her as though she were mad.
“Cut me down, like you cut down everyone else. Cut me down the way you would have cut down Adelaide.” She was pointing the sword directly at him, and the weight of it was pulling at her arm, she knew she wouldn’t be able to fend him off, she knew with one strike it would be over, but she knew she couldn’t go without a fight, she couldn’t give into him without making a stand.
He threw down his sword.
It clattered against the ground, ringing out in the courtyard as everyone stared at it.
Loyally, his men followed suit, all throwing their swords to the ground, and the Perrigor Knights closed in and surrounded them all.
Eleanor stood in stunned silence as her father kneeled before her.
“Without an heir, there is no reason for me to fight,” he whispered.
She looked at him, not knowing what to do or what to say. Suddenly she saw in his eyes the man who’d played with her when she was a girl, the man who’d taken her out horse riding, the man who loved her as only a father could.
But she didn’t dare lower her sword. So she stood there, holding the heavy blade to her father’s neck, while the Perrigor Knights, now loyal to her for leading them to victory, all looked to her for their orders.
“Hand over…” she said, trying to find her voice. “Hand over all your castles and lands to me.”
“It is done,” he said, his voice sad and quiet, more disappointed than angry.
“Then I declare a truce,” she said, as loud and commanding as she could muster, and then stepped back, lowering the sword and allowing the Perrigor Knights to take her father captive.
She turned away from the scene, trying to take in what had just happened.
She hadn’t noticed a crowd had gathered behind her, more Perrigor Knights, and with them were her mother, servants from the castle, as well as Edward Bly, her loyal guard. But standing at the front, in the dress Eleanor had given her, and holding a sword in her hand, was Princess Adelaide.
“I accept your offer of a truce,” Adelaide said, smiling.
Eleanor wanted to cry, and scream and run into her arms, but she held back, almost laughing in relief at seeing her again. “I thought you had… gone,” she managed.
Adelaide shook her head and stepped towards her. “I promised I would come back for you; I had to free my attendants. But it looks as though you could manage by yourself.”
“I couldn’t have done it without you,” Eleanor said, thinking of the purpose that Adelaide had given her life.
“Well, if you don’t mind,” Adelaide turned to a knight and beckoned for a horse to be brought forward, “my generals, can continue to hold this castle, while you and I travel to Perrigor to sign a peace agreement.”
Eleanor looked around the courtyard, and she saw her father, still proud and standing tall, being led back into the castle with his knights and attendants. While others were repairing the damage and healing the wounded, everything was slowly returning to normal.
Only everything had changed.
She looked up at Adelaide, seated on the white horse, and decided that she now had everything she wanted.
“We ought to make haste,” Eleanor said, climbing onto the horse behind Adelaide. “If we want to have peace by nightfall.”
Adelaide laughed and Eleanor held her by the waist as, together, they rode out of the castle.