(1866-11-07) A Royal Knighting
A Royal Knighting
Summary: Princess Antonia l’Valdan is knighted and joins the faction of the Falcons.
Date: 1866-11-07
Related: A Royal Duel and Good News.
Jean-Paul  Louisa  Antonia  Silvio  

Chapel - Aveyron Palace - Rovilon - Couviere
In the scene set
Novembre 7th, 1866

At dawn on the 6th, the Queen had and her ladies had escorted Antonia to the royal chapel of Aveyron palace to begin her Reflection. A day and night of meditation, fasting and prayer, meant to give prospective knights a chance to reflect upon the duties and burdens they’re taking, and if they choose to do so, decline the honour. Few decline however and how the Queen and her ladies approach this moment with a festive note to their practiced solemnity it seems they do not think to find Antonia among that regrettable number.

There are words of encouragement, a few jests and then the Queen bids her the One’s guidance in this most holy time before she and her ladies sweep from the room and the doors are closed behind them.

The chapel they leave Antonia in is spacious, elegant and stark, with walls of pale marble, a mosaic floor and windows of the finest stained glass. The windows display famous kings and Couvieri saints including the most recent addition to that former category, Maris, crowned and armored, a sword in one hand, the scepter of rulership in the other and a dead raider at his feet. More warlike an image of the man than he would have liked, but then his last and most celebrated deed had been in battle, so perhaps there is a certain fittingness to it. All the same the rest of the chapel is bare besides a few wooden pews, and a stone altar before the east facing Sun Window, the stained glass sunburst lit by dawn’s light, as it must be again for the Reflection to be at an end.

A day and night of deep contemplation have not changed Princess Antonia’s outlook on the subject, when in fact she has had these past eleven years to mourn what she thought would be forever be denied to her. Still. The first wave of enthusiasm had soon subsided, the giddiness glowing in her grey eyes vanished after the first hours at the chapel; when she soon had indulged in prayers to the One, and the famous knights and saints depicted in the stained glass of the window had inspired her to contemplate those heroes of the past, and the duties that would come with the honor.

In fact, this Reflection was bound to be different, as Antonia l’Valdan was not the squire she used to be eleven years ago, young and lacking in experience both in regards to battles and life in general. Now she was here in this chapel, kneeling before the altar of the One, hardened by other battles, life had imposed upon her. The experience of giving birth to her son; to learn and accept duties she had not strived for in the first place; to pursue her swordsmanship despite those other duties imposed on her; not to give up hope, that once she was given the opportunity she would serve the realm, and defend it with her life. Grey eyes drifted to the depiction of the late King Maris, and memories of that fateful day of the battle against the Brodlund Raiders appeared before Antonia’s inner eye, the moment her father-in-law had accepted her plea to ride with him against the threat, the image of the battle itself still vivid in her memory, on the day the defenders of Rovilon met the ferocious attack of the foreigners. Images of death, glory and loss; the moment when Sir Michael l’Corren and she saw to it that the severely injured King was brought to the safety of the Cathedral; the wisps of hope that were soon dispelled by the healer who stated there was nothing left to be done to save the King’s life. The letters, the King asked her to write, the labored breath of his words she put down on paper; his tenacity to manage the signature, after reading his missives; the weight of those hours; the dreadful moment when the other members of the Royal Family returned from their other battles and had to be confronted with the inevitable truth they had learned of already – the demise of a King both respected and loved.

Her thoughts and prayers turn to her family; her son Etienne, a smile tugging at her lips when she considers the instruction she has already imparted on him, the first lessons in sparring, and swordsmanship; the possibilities her knighting offered, also in regards to him; then her thoughts turn towards her husband, brother to the King; always encouraging and kind; her eyes close momentarily as she recalls the moment she told him, and he sensing at once how much this means to her.

There are more contemplations on the code of chivalry and honour, principles according to which she had already acted in her life so far. The day passes swiftly, when morning shifts into afternoon and then evening. And night. Antonia l’Valdan kneels still, now and then rising to exchange candles that are in danger of going out, but these are the only interruptions in her reflection. Grey eyes blink when the first rays of dawn breach the windows, and light the stained glass playing with its vivid colours.

With dawn's light comes a knock at the chapel door, then one of the Queen's ladies, indeed her Blue Cavalier protector, and cousin, Andrea l'Valdan, enters, "Your Highness, the king and queen bid me ask if you are still willing to give your oaths, and be dubbed a knight of Couviere?" it was a ritual question, asked to all squires and doubtless, the king and queen were waiting beyond the door for the deed to be done.

When Andrea enters she will find Antonia already standing and expecting her, the manner composed as she inclines her head to the Blue Cavalier’s inquiry. “I am.”, Antonia states, in all simplicity, grey eyes flickering with anticipation. She glances towards the door. Her gaze shifts back to Sir Andrea l’Valdan, and the corners of her mouth lift just a tad.

Andrea’s lips curl in a smile as well as she nods once and slowly. “Wait a moment then,” she says before she turns smartly and vanishes through the door. It is not long before the doors re-open to admit the king and queen, dressed in royal finery despite the early hour, followed by the sleepy eyed, crown prince Lyonel carrying the l’Valdan sword Prudence, for his father. Behind the royal couple and their eldest son comes princes Silvio and Etienne, Antonia’s young son carries a pair of golden spurs on a blue velvet cushion, and seeing his mother breaks into a smile which is quickly stifled when he remembers that he was told he ought to look grave at such important occasions.

Silvio is wearing his courtly clothes today for such an event though a sword at his hip of course and looking quite the princely figure his arm around his son's shoulder as they walk. He looks down to the boy smiling just a little himself glad so far he’s behaving during such an important event. The first look that he gets of his wife looking both beautiful and knightly both in kind he smiles a little to her but nods in solidarity to her.

Antonia grey eyes flit down when she is told to wait for a moment – when indeed, she would wait for hours if it were required to get her those spurs. Her gaze is lifted when the King and Queen enter, respect evident in her gaze as it meets that of the former, a slightly conspiratorial flicker added in when she glances towards the latter. Lyonel is offered a warmer smile of course and a nod of acknowledgement for him carrying the sword of his father. Then Silvio and Etienne enter, and even more warmth flashes there in her mien, a brow lifting when she sees the task that has been entrusted to her own son. Her own attire of course the set of armor she wore at the Battle of Rovilon, polished though, and reworked as not to show any traces of the fight against the Brodlund raiders six months ago. As it is evident what is to ensue, the hopefully soon-to-be knight Antonia l’Valdan drops to her knee before the king, her gaze lowered in respect for his station, and only she and the One can be aware of how loud her heartbeat feels as she waits for the ceremony to begin.

The Queen does return that conspiratorial flicker as Antonia gazes in her direction and indeed, the king acknowledges her with a slight nod, though the absurdity of formality in such a closed family setting does get his lips to tug slightly upwards as he does so. Still he soldiers on, taking a place by the altar standing before the spot Antonia has chosen to kneel. Behind him the Queen stage manages the others, manoeuvring her son the crown prince to his father’s side, sword at the ready, and directing Silvio and Etienne to one side, as their part would come after the dubbing.

The king looks to his queen and receives a nod that all is in order and he looks down at Antonia, “Doubtless you’ve been asked to death if you want this and if you are ready,” he says a smile coming through in those words. “But I shall ask you again, sister, are you ready to take this oath and live the life of a knight for the rest of your breathing days?”

Silvio will follow the instructions given to him by his sister-in law, and will make sure his son does the rest. He looks to his brother a moment and smirks just a little bit knowing he is probably bored with all the fancy this is taking, given who is here. He stands though tall and proud ready to help when it’s their turn to act. It's to his wife he now looks to see her reaction to the words spoken and the question asked.

Antonia blinks a little, noting Jean-Paul's hint of amusement at the formality of it all, even so, her lips curve even further and her brows lift as if to say 'that's the way this game is played, right?'. That smile fades, however, when she moves to kneel, with her gaze lowered so all other arrangements supervised by the Queen are perhaps noted but not really seen. When the king addresses her, Antonia raises her gaze, meeting his with undeterred determination. "I am ready, Your Majesty.", she says, the tone steady and devoid of any amusement. Keeping to formalities, even if these must feel so odd for Jean-Paul. "I want to become a knight and serve as such till the day I die." No glance is spared to others but the king, aware as she is of Silvio's and Etienne's presence.

Jean-Paul meets the looks from both husband and wife with small smiles of his own, before he reaches out a hand and draws the l’Valdan blade, Prudence from the sheath held by Lyonel, the dark blade glinting in the light pouring through the chapel’s Sun Window, he lowers his blade to Antonia’s left shoulder, “In the name of the One, I bid you to serve your liege with courage and loyalty, to defend those that lack the means to defend themselves, to be generous towards the downtrodden to act with courtesy towards all,”

He moves the blade to her right shoulder, as he continues, “To carry yourself with dignity and humility, to find glory and honour in the fulfillment of duty, to refuse undeserved rewards, to fight for the common good.”

The blade is moved back to the left, “To obey those given authority over you, to uphold the honour of the institution of knighthood, avoid deceit, injustice and cruelty, to deal fairly and honestly with others.

Finally the sword lands once more on her right shoulder, “To fulfill your promises, to never refuse the challenge of a worthy foe, to face your foes with valour and skill and to honour the faith of the One God and defend His faithful.”

He lifts the blade and he looks down at his sister-in-law, his kingly face in place, “Do you so swear to take this code into your heart and live by its tenents?”

Antonia watches as Jean-Paul draws the blade from its sheath, so conveniently held by Prince Lyonel, noting the play of the rays of the morning sun upon the steel. When it is brought towards her shoulder, she lowers her grey eyes, her back straight as she kneels before her king and brother-in-law, a faint nod here and a tiny twitch of determination occurring at her brows there when the king again voices the principles of the code of chivalry she would have to swear to. When he is done, she looks up and meets the King’s gaze, her voice that is heavy with determination showing off a slight tremble of sentiment when she gives her reply.

“This I swear. By the One above.”

“Then, Princess Antonia l’Valdan, rise a knight,” the king says as he deftly sheathes the sword and ducks down to help her to her feet and embrace his new sister-in-arms as well as by law. As he steps back, he looks then to his brother and nephew, “Brother, would you and Etienne like the honour of affixing her spurs?” he asks.

While they await the perhaps, predictable answer, the Queen seeks out Antonia’s eyes and offers her a nod and warm smile, even as she keeps a hand on Lyonel’s shoulder to keep him from fidgeting with ancient sword in his hands.

And rise she does, Sir Antonia l’Valdan, the joy sparkling in her grey eyes unmistakable, holding the king’s hand perhaps for a moment longer he had offered in helping her to her feet, before she accepts and returns the embrace, a chuff of laughter escaping her, the release of the tension that had built through the Reflection, and the joy that the moment she had thought would be denied to her is finally there. “Thank you,” she murmurs to Jean-Paul when she releases him, the gratified smile evident in her features. Her gaze finds the Queen and that smile deepens, a nod offered to her as well. Then Antonia looks towards Silvio and Etienne, expectant of how they will respond, her eyes flitting briefly to the golden spurs her son is already carrying on a cushion of blue velvet.

The knighting ceremony is never something to be taken likely when it comes down to it, and so it’s a more solemn look to Silvio’s face when the oaths are offered by the king and his eyes look to his wife as she kneels before him in taking upon the burden. He smiles though once more when she raises Sir Antonia knowing this moment means so much to her and he’s quite glad that she gets it. “It would be an honor your highness.” He speaks to his brother urging their son forward holding the symbol on the pillow. Silvio will kneel before his wife and help attach the spurs and watch Etienne do likewise and help if he needs it. It’s only after this process is done that he will stand. “Sir Antonia l’Valdan.” The prince greets and salutes her he smiles to her after though will hold off any over affection until they are away.

The solemn part of the ritual done, now is the time for smiles, and indeed both Jean-Paul and Louisa smile to watch Antonia’s husband and son gird her with those long awaited spurs. While they watch, the king kneels to share a few quiet words with is own son, Lyonel, while the Queen beckons Andrea over from her position by the door. More words uttered there and a silver pin is produced by the Cavalier and pressed into her queenly cousin’s palm.

Jean-Paul stands, with a final ruffle of his son’s hair, which causes Lyonel to frown and try to put it back in place. The king laughs, at that then takes in Antonia with a nod, “The spurs suit you,” he says before his eyes cut to Louisa. “It seems my wife has some business with you and then I suspect there will be some much anticipated celebration,” he says with a twinkle in his eye as he regards Antonia and brother both before fixing solely on Antonia, “Well done,” he says with a final smile before he turns to his young son and nods towards the door. The boy leads the way, trying to be solemn, but finding it hard not to glance back at his playmate Etienne. The king smiles at that then, with a final nod to those assembled and a hand clapped on the shoulder of his brother, he strides from the room after his son.

With the king gone, Louisa takes the fore, coming to stand before Antonia with that pin in hand, naturally it is shaped like a falcon at rest, the same sort Louisa’s ladies wore. “Well it seems you are a knight now,” she says glancing at the spurs. “And as promised, you are a Falcon as well,” she says taking the pin and attaching it to one of the straps of Antonia’s armour. “There,” she says when she’s done. “No new oaths to swear, or any business to attend to today, but, we will talk most like during the festivities at Sunsreach, and in more depth when you return home after the tournament,” she steps back to look at both Antonia and Silvio both. “We will be counting on you to represent our house there as we will only be staying for the wedding.”

A smile then, “Anyhow, it is business for later, for now though, I will leave the three of you to celebrate.” Then like her husband the king, Louisa bids them goodbye and she and her Cavalier slip away to give Antonia and her family some privacy in the chapel.

Antonia holds still, a glance shot over her shoulder, where Silvio and Etienne are busy to attach the golden spurs at the back of her boots, the expression on her face a mixture of fondness and a hint of amusement - and most of it pride. Her smile deepens when both have managed the task quite well, grey eyes meeting those of her husband as he stands before her, a light incline of her head given in response to his using her new title. A title, that rings so beautifully in her ears…

The newly minted knight knows of course that more is to come. The conspiratorial glance shared with the Queen earlier, along with their conversation from two days ago, after the spar. When the king compliments her on the spurs, Antonia cannot help but smile, nodding then to his announcement. Etienne's eyes are on Lyonel when he leaves with his father the king, the regret from being parted evident in the slightly disappointed expression on the ten-year-old's features as well.

Then Queen Louisa steps before Antonia, to attach the pin that will mark the Princess from now on as a Falcon. "Thank you." Grey eyes drop to the pin, considering it. "This means much to me." A wry grin, as she looks up again, meeting the Queen's gaze. "I shall compete. My first test, even if it is in the courtly contests. And of course… We will represent House l'Valdan."

A respectful bow the female Princess knight offers to the Queen, watching her leave then with the Cavalier. And her gaze returns to Silvio and Etienne.

"Hah! By the One. Finally. I am A KNIGHT!"

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