Itabil'kka il Cori (second of his dynasty) stood tall on the stone dais, resplendent in his falcon surcoat and gold-stitched doublet. Five hundred serjiens stood before him in perfect ranks, green in their military regalia. Two thousand people and half a hundred courtesans from the capital and surrounding towns stood in reverence behind the wrought-iron gates. The sun hung low and red, basking the world in her morning glory. The statue of his father stood to his right while his own likeness stood to his left, veiled with linen.

His father's statue was a bronze ecstasy. It radiated power and supremacy. The man held up the head of the dread baron Ragnar il Ause (last of his dynasty, if the accounts were to be believed) of Aia in one hand, his grand poleaxe-bardische in the other. Itabil'kk'a was forbidden to gaze upon his statue while it was being rendered; the revelation of his likeness would be equally as surprising (and, hopefully, as impressive) to him as to everyone else.

The seneschal cleared her throat, put her fist to her chest in salute, and fell to one knee before him. Five hundred men and women followed suit behind her, with the first ranks kneeling first, and so forth. Then, the seneschal stood. The serjiens remained kneeling. Never dropping his salute, he knelt before her. She took the end of the royal scepter in her hand to accoler him, pressing the tip to one shoulder, then to the other, and lastly to his chest. He stood, the High Serjient barked, and the ranks before him all rose in unison.

A king through and through, he strode to the linen sheet that covered his statue and tore it away with far more force than what was needed. His likeness stood before him, fifteen go' in height. He was depicted on one knee with one arm raised, greatsword held over his head. A smile graced his face, his real one. This was everything he could have wanted. This was him.

The crowd cheered. He turned toward them to address. He had to wait for them to get done cheering.

"May my reign bring honor upon my father, first of his name and founder of our dynasty," the crowd cheered. "I ask one thing of you and one thing only - your confidence. With your confidence, we will crush the false barons of Aia. My father left a glorious kingdom and legacy to rival that of the kingdom of Aia. With your confidence, our people will live in enlightenment and leave a glorious legacy for the next generation. With your confidence, our dynasty will last a thousand years."

The crowd roared in approval. He raised his arms, the High Serjient barked, and the serjiens all stood in salute and began to pound their fists to their chests in unison. With that, he turned, the ranks following suit in two lines behind him. He was walking away, and he never saw the bullet shoot forcefully into the brick beside him. He never knew the attempt on his life, as it whizzed just a hair short of his skull and shot into the stone-paved ground.

He never knew that he almost died that day.

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