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Seven Deaths

Letter of Affirmation

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The sound of her footsteps bounced to and fro off the stone castle walls as she made her way to the tallest tower of Fairfax Castle. The Queen’s heart raced with something that was a mixture of excitement and worry. For as long as anyone can remember the tower in questions, colloquially known as the King’s Respite, had been off-limits to everyone save the King himself. Not even the castle staff were allowed up there to clean for fear they’d mess with the ‘magic of the room’ as King Charles had put it. When he disappeared and Christopher was King for a short time, the room had locked itself from within, impervious to many a mage’s attempts to gain entry, which gave rise to the rumor that Charles had locked himself within for some unknown reason. 

 

All these thoughts swirled in Clarissa’s head as she ascended the stairs at a run, pulling up on her dress so as not to trip herself, for if Charles was summoning her now, to this room, there had to be some reason. 

 

She feared the worst. 

 

Finally, the door was before her and it appeared so...ordinary. Made of some rough cut wood from the forests that lay nearby, the door held none of the sophistication that should have marked a room of such import. There was no ornate carvings, no gloss or gleam, it hadn’t even been sanded down. She felt as if she could get a splinter just looking at it. This was a peasant’s door. She took a deep breath and knocked loudly. 

 

“Come in.” Her hand found the handle of the door easily enough, but her heart stopped beating temporarily, as she pushed the door open, not sure what to expect. What she found wasn’t what she expected. It was small, much too small to be the fabled King’s Respite. One of the most widely spread rumors was that when SD was Arch-Mage, he mixed magic with Time Lord science to expand the room, making it larger on the inside. Some even said that the tower held an entire universe inside. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

 

Every inch of wall space was covered with shelving and those shelvings were crammed full with books. Old and new, large and small, some written in other languages, some in their native tongue, but it seemed improbable that one person could own this many books. Charles sat in the middle of the literary chaos at a desk that looked ready to fall apart, pouring over books. Pages upon pages of notes, scribbled in his hasty scrawl lay strewn everywhere in what Clarissa could only assume constituted an organized chaos. He looked up from his notetaking and spoke. 

 

“Clarissa.” He said formally, before smiling. The smile softened his face, removed the King from him and replaced it with friend; father. Charles was never a malevolent ruler, but he could be stern when he needed to be and sometimes his face wore it like a hat, no where else to put it, but easily tossed aside. “Claire.” He stood from the desk and came around the side, careful not to knock over any book or loose parchment, and embraced her. “I’m glad you’re here. How was the honeymoon?”

 

“It was beautiful, thank you. Currently, we’re arguing about whether to make our summer home at Shalefields or Arcadia.”

 

“Ahh, the squabbles of newlyweds. When I married your fathers, we had twice as many homes to choose from and it was a nightmare to sort out. Consider yourself lucky you only have one husband.” He smiled and gestured for her to follow him. There was a break in the wall that led to a small balcony that overlooked the whole of Bowerstone. From their vantage point, you could see the cogs turning down below as merchants sold their goods, townsfolk ate and laughed and worked, cats chased rats down alleys, dogs begged for scraps at the butchers, everything in Bowerstone had it’s place and kept the wheel moving.

 

“Father?” Clarissa has a tone of worry in her voice that was hard to hide. “Why did you summon me up here? Especially now, after all this time?”

 

“I didn’t summon you, my dear. I invited you as my equal. I’m leaving.”

 

“Leaving?” Her tone suggested the incredulousness of his declaration. 

 

“Do you know why I decided to build Fairfax Castle on this hill?” 

 

Clarissa thought about this for a moment. “Because the hill gave us a better advantage against any who might try to take the castle.”

 

Charles chuckled. “No, child. It was a long time ago when our small party landed on the shores of Albion, but to me it seems like yesterday. We crested the hill this castle was built on and I looked across at all the open land and do you know what I saw? I didn’t see the planes or the marshes that used to be there. I saw this.” 

 

He gestured out at the city now, bustling away unaware that their King was looking down on them, smiling gleefully. “I saw the potential and the future that we could have and though I am King, most of the credit isn’t mine and nor is it yours. It’s theirs.” Once more, he gestured to the city. “Albion has been lucky to have the best of souls leading her, but we are nothing without the folk down there. That’s why the King’s Respite is so ordinary. It keeps me grounded in reality and after I am gone, I’d like you to keep that in mind as you redecorate.”

 

“But you haven’t said why you’re leaving…”

 

“We all have a destiny, out there waiting for us, but if we sit cooped up in our tall towers all day, it’ll never find us. I love Albion. I cherish her, the people I’ve met and all the memories it’s given me. I’ll hold all of it in my heart for the rest of my life, but I have another love filling my heart. History. I intend to delve into the scholarly arts, but I can’t do that with a Kingdom to run, so I’m leaving my Kingdom with the person I trust most in this world. You.”

 

“So, just like that, you’re leaving us so you can study history?” She seemed more hurt than angry, but her tone just didn’t come out right. 

“There’s more to life than this. Staying tethered here… I’m standing still when I should be running towards the future with nothing more than my books and the knowledge that everything I’ve built behind me is safe. You’ll do that for me, won’t you? You’ll keep Albion safe for me while I’m gone?”

 

Clarissa broke slightly, a tear forming in her eye and running down her cheek. “Of course, father.” She smiled and turned to look at the city. The shops were closing and people were beginning to turn in for the night as the setting sun signaled the end to another day. They were her people now. Not to rule over, but to protect and inspire for years to come. “How do I know if I’m ready to lead alone?” Silence met her words so she turned and was faced only with an empty room. The rickety old desk, the walls of books, all of it was gone. The only thing that remained in the entire tower was a piece of parchment paper. She picked it up and written on it was a single word in her father’s heavy scrawl. 

 

“Faith.”

 

 

It is with heavy heart that I make this official. Our beloved King Charles Cerebella has decided not to return to NationStates and Albion. Originally he went on a leave to complete his PhD, however now he feels that he shouldn't and can't return. He wants everyone to know that he says hello and thinks about us all. Any announcement of mine wouldn't be complete without a little emotional rollercoaster. Charles Cerebella has been one of my closest friends, greatest mentor and dedicated teachers. He was patient and kind. A true leader who inspired people to discover their strengths and work around their weaknesses. The loyalty and love he felt for Albion has always been genuine. Working tirelessly, he ensured we survived and thrived.

 

With his leaving, I become the sole monarch of Albion. Of course I still have the wonderful support from you all, so I'm not alone in taking care of the region. I've always adored this region and the people in it. I'd like to give a big thank you to SD for writing the wonderful and emotional story. I still tear up reading it. The word 'faith' has a whole new meaning to it.

 

As we mourn his leaving, remember and celebrate his hard work. Let's make Albion thrive, just like Cere did for us.

 

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Thank you for sharing this news with us. My heart goes out to Cere and the people of Albion. Best of luck to the new Queen and may your Kingdom prosper!

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