The Foyer to the Lady's Apartments, Angabar
How is she so beautiful? Ragnar questioned the fact - yet quickly shunned himself for doing so. She is my lady, not... not anything else. Just Lady Alva, my sworn liege. She was travelling down the stairs, not the spiral ones in the entry hall but another set further back into the compound. They were rectangular, gold leaf patterns decorating them; flowing up the sides of walls in a spiral splendour of shimmer metal. Alva was coming from the Lady's apartments, where she had been moved to immediately after the coronation had been announced. It was a large portion of the fortress, taking up an eighth of the building with a private court for small affairs. Her rooms would have been almost identical to her older ones, with only a little more space. "Captain," Alva curtsied as she finished climbing down the stairs.
Ragnar bowed back, his hand clasped to his chest with absolute, undeniable loyalty. "My lady, you look most prepared for your coronation," the maid servants behind giggled as he spoke, but received a glare and quickly subsided back into listlessness. But she did. Her dress made Alva look like the living embodiment of flame, shimmering with every step she took, a swirling mass of black and red material that turned to liquid from the firelight of the many candles. Her feet were bare, as was the custom, her dark hair braided and pinned. Truly, she was divine to any man who saw her. "May I?" Ragnar offered out his arm, which she took to his relief. The servants behind held up the cape slightly from the floor, treading quietly and carefully so as not to step on the rich fabric.
They remained silent for a while, the footsteps they took echoing down every hallway they passed through. Ragnar felt the weight of his sword at his hip; knowing that there would be many at the ceremony who wish to show their disagreement with Alva's coronation, the Captain had kept it nicely polished and safe within its sheath. He would protect her no matter what the cost. Even if that cost were his life... All for her and none less. "I am sorry, Captain," her voice sounded, breaking him from his thoughts, "for the way I spoke to you on the other day. It was most rude, I should not have acted so."
"I understand," Ragnar replied without even a moment's hesitation. He will protect her, be loyal and obedient - but the matter of his affection clouded that. It had to be cast aside before someone became hurt or broken. Better to hurt now and be whole later than to live a lie and find yourself on the receiving end of a certain abandonment. "What you did was not done without cause, without perceived thought. Lady Alva, you cannot doubt yourself from now on. What you ay and do is final, there will be nothing other than your word. So I will give you some advice." Ragnar turned to her, breaking the rhythmic sound of their steps.
"It seems I am being given a lot of advice nowadays," Alva held her hand on his arm, a light whisper of encouragement and speed as they did not have long at all. "Go on, my Captain. You I will always certainly listen to."
"Good, but listen to others as well. That is my advice, heed everyone and everything - trust your instinct for I fear that they cannot be wrong at any moment during your rule; which will certainly be a long and prosperous one." Ragnar pulled her gently back into a slow walk. This required privacy and - despite the fact the maids were trailing on behind them - they had rather a lot of it compared to when they would arrive at the ceremony. "Many will follow you. I know it in my heart, my lady." Ragnar inclined his head as they continued on.
Alva held a fragile smile on her full lips, "I do hope so, otherwise I don't think that my duty will be fulfilled to the high standards it will require." She glanced at him and Ragnar saw the fear of what was to come in her eyes. But she knew that it was inevitable - it had been so as soon as her brother had died. The Captain's only regret was not being able to save him, then the rest of this bloody mess may never have happened. "I wonder how I will be received at my coronation."
Ragnar cast his eyes forward, the hall opened out to show the doors which led to the ceremony. "I'm sure that you will find out soon enough," they both stopped to bore each other's eyes out, the similar black irises mirroring each other. "For there is not long at all until you will truly be my liege, my master and my general, Lady Alva." Ragnar rested his arm on his sword, his jacket thick creating a padding from the prominent pommel with its brass and quartz decoration. His boots were shined, casting off every beam of light with a great intensity. Though the Captain did not particularly like them, three rings adorned his scarred hands; one on the left thumb, two on the right fore and ring finger. I do not like ceremonies; all the preparation and troubles they hold.... Ragnar thought, settling into a daydream and the worst time.
"I am not sure that I am ready," came Alva's short reply.
Ragnar looked to her again, taking in every detail as if she were about to go away forever. But she is, he realised, I will never have a moment like this again where we can just be friends. Now she will be all that I have said already, liege, master and general. "You are ready. High Lady Eerika would not be carrying this out if you were not." He frowned, knowing that Alva was nothing but ready. She could fight, knew of the laws of their land, had strategic skill, was of the right bloodline, was experienced with affairs of the court, could write and read, give speeches, make friends and allies - her statement made no sense. "My lady," Ragnar started but knew it sounded wrong for the context. He sighed and began anew, "Alva," she turned to him, "They are nothing but ants under your boot. You rule them for now and until you pass the throne on or die, only the Norns can take you from it. So you will walk in there, and let them see that is exactly what you are thinking. Then I promise you they will all listen."
Words of gratitude were on her lips, but the doors creaked open and they were soon traveling down the aisle to her destiny.