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Knight of the Horn
Young Princess Isabelle assumes command after her father became ill just as the armies of country returned to their respected territories. That included her only knight who she needs more then ever.
The day had been excessively long for the young princess to where all she wanted was her bed. Since late morning her time had been monopolized by the bureaucracy for establishing governance in the empire’s newly conquered lands in the west. Normally such a task would fall to the Emperor but since taking ill, Isabelle assumed her father’s role as leader.
Torches lit the hallways she listlessly traveled down, the frilly dress she enjoyed all day needed to come off as soft pajamas waiting for its wearer just a few doors away were calling her. All the pins in her golden locks had long overstayed their welcome.
“Ugh, how does father manage do this every day?”
Juggling through oppositions and conniving factions all while maintaining an appearance of absolute strength was a nightmare, but what she said had to be absolute before all those nobles. Father fashioned her to be strong for when the time came though Isabelle hoped it would be a little while longer before putting everything use.
She knew she wasn’t strong but she couldn’t admit that to anyone. Hugging to herself, the only person Isabelle was allowed to be herself around already left for home. Looking back on it now, if the princess asked, Edmond surely would have remained and the southern army would continue just fine.
“But he hasn’t been home in years. I couldn’t ask Edmond to stay here with me, could I?”
Her childhood friend spent the last two years of his life fighting on the frontlines of the west. Both he and his clan deserved to go home and rest. Not be saddled by a frightened girl in a den of enemies.
‘Summon me when you are in trouble. Call me and I’ll answer.’
She gripped the seashell colored horn dangling from her waist that looked to be a fine accessory to her gown. The gift he had given to Isabelle when she anointed him as her very first and only standing knight.
“Would he be upset if I used it? If I called him back now?”
Edmond would undoubting answer and be here right away. If she asked to be held and protect, he would do so just like before. But Edmond was a man of the south and longed to return to make good of his birthland. She had to get use being without her Emperor father and without her childhood hero.
The clanging of metal down the hall rocked Isabelle from her daze. Her feet froze in terror as there was no mistaking those sounds of battle.
“Ahhh!” came the cries of a desperate young maiden fleeing the conflict.
“Da-Delana?” Isabelle called to her lady-in-waiting.
“My lady! Please run! Please—
Several arrows struck the maiden’s backside, killing her on the spot.
“…! No! Delana!”
Seeing her friend fall, Isabelle’s senses returned. After bearing her teeth before the assassin she recognized as one of La Grant’s men, the young princess understood the meaning behind this bloodshed.
“A coup d’état!”
“Princess Isabelle!” a palace guard appeared charging from behind called to her. He took position in front of her with his blade at the ready.
“Where is everyone?” Isabelle stepped back.
“This is happening all over the palace. Prince La Grant’s forces attacked the barracks then came for you. You must flee, your highness!”
“What about my father? Is the Emperor safe?”
Delana’s murderer took aim but before he could fire his commander pulled the bow downward.
“No, you fool! Capture the princess, that was our orders.”
“I’m just aiming for the guard.”
“Don’t risk hitting her, you dolt!”
With a shove from her only protector, Isabelle took flight in the direction of the Emperor’s chambers. The brave man bought her time but did not last long against numbering foes. Isabelle would mourn for him, but not now. Right now, she needed to be elsewhere.
It was foolish to think she could do anything good going to him but a daughter could not just leave her father to die.
There were many fights still taking place, forcing Isabelle to divert several times to avoid being caught up between the soldiers killing each other. With each passing fight, it was made very clear that the palace forces were being overwhelmed by her cousin’s black op teams.
“I just have to get father and run!”
The doors to the Emperor’s chambers opened and Isabelle ran to her bedridden parent.
“Father?” She tried to stir him awake. “Father!”
The old man’s breathing was shallow. He wasn’t going anywhere. Before long, the footsteps of many soldiers entered the room. They waited as the teen gripped her father’s hand, trying to find her strength.
“You dare enter the chambers of the Emperor?!” Isabelle bellowed.
“Princess, by order of Prince La Grant, you are hereby—
“Silence!” Isabelle stood.
The men obeyed. The Princess turned and glared with all fury.
“I am the heir to my father. Not my cousin! Lay down your arms! I command you!”
They looked to each other, hesitant to take the next step.
“If you cease your betrayal here and now, I will see to it that the Emperor shows mercy for your transgressions against the empire.”
A man dressed in black stepped forward. “The words of a child to a feeble old man doesn’t hold much sway, your highness.”
“…!” Isabelle backed away.
“Your father is nothing but a usurper the Iron Lord put on the throne to benefit the southlands!” The man in black drew his blade.
Edmond’s father was the ender of the last emperor, that much was true, but Isabelle’s father was no puppet. He was a good man who loved the people. He worked to better all citizens of the empire, not just those in the south.
“If you weren’t so taken by his son, you will see that the Iron Lord is an enemy of the empire!”
She was scared. Terrible frightened. It was taking all of Isabelle’s strength to keep from trembling before the enemy.
“Please come quietly. Your only salvation from being ravaged by each of these men is that you still hold some favor with his majesty Prince La Grant.”
‘Summon me when you are in trouble. Call me and I’ll answer.’
Isabelle touched the horn hanging from her waist.
“You’re wrong,” Isabelle said defiantly presenting them with the source of her hope in this dark hour.
“Hm? What is that?” the man in black asked.
“Sir,” a soldier behind spoke. “That is the horn of the Iron Lord’s son. It is said that if it is used—
“Heh.” Isabelle ran for the balcony.
The men moved to intercept, just as Isabelle reached the edge of the balcony. Warm tears caressed her face as she placed the horn between her lips. Closing her eyes, the picture of Edmond smiling back blessed the young girl with a comfort that should not have been possible under these circumstances.
With all her might, Isabelle called to him.
The air filled with song. A mournful melody, etched with all the anguish of its user and loving trust placed in its activation. As the girl was taken and the horn separated from her grasp, the wind carried her cry for help from the castle onto the lands. Under the cover of the starry skies, the song traveled further and further south.
Come back to me, my knight.
The man in black approached, irked for some reason unbeknownst to him.
“You’re too late. He’s already on his way,” Isabelle dared the man in the eye.
Far to the south, a young man in command an army upon receiving a song only his heart could hear turned around and charged full speed towards the capital.
When they asked him why, the knight replied: “I have a princess to rescue.”