Passage Chapter 4

The New Commander

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“This is no joke. Now stop fidgeting and put the rest of it on.”

“I...but...” The teenage boy grew unusually distressed by the order, but reluctantly obeyed. He pulled on the black vest and wrapped himself in it, tying the satin belt around his waist. “M-Mueller...” Richard finally turned around, though his troubled expression did not wane.

“Don’t give me that look,” the man ordered sternly. “This is the uniform of a Queen’s Knight. More importantly, it’s fitting for the Commander.”

“ doesn’t suit all.”

“What are you talking about, kid?” Wilhelm asked, practically gaping at him. “Quit whinin’, would ya? Do you have any idea how many girls will be fawning over you? Hell, you already won over the queen with that performance yesterday. I’d kill to be in your shoes!”

“But for the sake of good everywhere, you aren’t,” Mueller said coldly, and then resumed his rebuking of Richard. “And just what is this attitude of yours? It is an honor to be one of the Queen’s Knights, no matter the length of time. You need to show a little more appreciation and enthusiasm for your position.”

“It’s not that,” Richard insisted. “I don’t mind taking on the duties! It’s just...ergh...” He ran a hand over the black-and-yellow trim. “...this...this uniform...”

“...comes with being Commander of the Queen’s Knights!” Mueller finished sharply. “You’re lucky the royal family has a tailor on call at any hour of the day. Besides, do you think you’ll be taken seriously, giving orders and protecting the queen the way you’re normally dressed?”

“” The teen’s face grew warm, and he hung his head. “I...I see your point. It’ll...just take a bit of getting used to.”

“Then do that quickly. You’ll be standing by the queen’s side for much of these times. Spend a little more time formulating defenses and a little less time being preoccupied with what you wear.”

“Y-yes! Of course, Mueller!”

* * * * *

“...what was decided in the parliament,” Luserina Barows was saying to the seated queen. “It’s been a week since the latest murders, and though everyone has increased their security, there haven’t been any signs it’s really necessary. Still, they will accept any additional help from you, if needed. And, of course, they all agree to send anyone over here at your request.”

Lymsleia looked up at the blonde noble girl with a nod. “Thank you, Luserina. And thank you for coming out here on top of all the work you’re doing in Rainwall. And...I’m glad you and your brother are safe with everything that’s going on.”

“You’re too kind, Your Majesty,” Luserina replied, bowing before the queen. “I thank you for your concern. My brother and I were traveling back and forth quite a bit these last few weeks. I hate to think that’s the only reason we weren’t targeted, but...” She emitted a sigh. “ may very well be.” Her graciousness, complemented by sincerity, then returned. “But no matter what they try, we’ll always be loyal to you. As far as Rainwall goes, my brother is cleaning up quite nicely there.”

“Yes, I was a bit surprised to hear how much he changed.”

Luserina grinned. “Not half as surprised as I was. I’m...grateful to your brother for making it happen...” Before her thoughts could turn into wistful ones, something interrupted her.

Both girls, as well as the three knights present, turned in the direction of the doors as they opened up.

Then, in marched a familiar soldier dressed in most unusual costume. “Your Majesty!” he called to her with a salute. “Reporting for duty, my liege! Oh...did I do that right?”

A speechless Lymsleia could only gape at him, as wide-eyed as everyone else in the room.

Miakis was the first to verbally react. “R-Richard?!” she cried shrilly, her jaw nearly to the floor. “Is that you?!”

“Yes, Lady Miakis!” he replied enthusiastically, oblivious to her state of shock--and everyone else’s, for that matter.

“Wow!” The young woman ran over to him, circling him several times as she studied his uniform. “Oh, wow! I can’t believe it! You’re really wearing the knight’s uniform! Though I dunno about your choice of fashion. No sleeves?”

“Well, the tailor thought I’d be used to something like this, so she customized it to be more like something I usually wear.” Richard suddenly looked insecure for a moment. “ don’t think it looks odd, do you?”

“, not at all!” Miakis said, her grin returning. “I think it suits you. I’m just not used to the style, is all.”

“Heh, heh.” Kyle began to approach the two. “I hate to admit it, but you look even better than the last commander! And I’m not just saying that because I prefer serving under you and not him. Welcome aboard...Commander.”

“Thanks!” Richard responded cheerily.

Galleon remained where he stood, but he let out a lengthy, relieved sigh. “At last...we have a commander again. My deepest gratitude...Commander Richard.”

“Commander Richard...” Luserina repeated, and then turned to Lymsleia. “Your Majesty?”

“Huh?” Lymsleia looked at Luserina, blushing. “Oh! Uh...yes.” She brought her gaze back to Richard, standing up. “Please come here, Richard, and kneel before me.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.” The teenager walked toward the young queen and went down on one knee.

Lymsleia placed her hand lightly on Richard’s shoulder. “You are hereby recognized as a Queen’s Knight for the time being. Furthermore, you are to take upon the duties of the Queen’s Knights Commander. Do you accept these duties unconditionally and pledge to serve your queen until the end of the assigned period?”

“I do, Your Majesty.”

Though it was a simple oath, Lymsleia felt genuine relief from it. “Thank you. Now, please rise.” When he did so, she looked at the other knights and Luserina. “Everyone...please welcome...Commander Richard of the Queen’s Knights!”

The room broke into light but heartfelt applause, and Richard smiled at this. “Aww. Thanks, everyone!”

* * * * *

Whatever relief felt in those moments had been replaced by a feeling of restlessness several hours later. This was not limited to one person, however. To subdue the feeling, Lymsleia had ordered an increase of security at every entrance of the town and palace, as well as the patrolling of the streets.

“...and I’d just feel safer knowing you were checking up on things, too,” Lymsleia said to Kyle and Galleon. “So, could you check for any suspicious signs of...?”

“Of course, Your Majesty,” Galleon replied. “We hate to leave you, but we know you’re in the hands of a competent warrior.”

“Yeah,” Kyle said, and turned to the other man. “Well, come on, Galleon. The sooner we get back, the sooner I can talk to that cute female guard...”

“...I’ll go with you,” Miakis suddenly offered.

“Miakis?!” exclaimed Lymsleia. “But why?”

The female knight forced a smile. “Come on, Your Majesty. Don’t you remember? You have the commander now. There’s no need for me to be at your side all the least, for the time being.” Bringing a hand to the back of her head, Miakis let out a giggle, though there was a sense of sadness behind it. “You’ll definitely have to get used to this one day. Lucky for you, he’s not a Godwin, huh? Well...take queen.” She nodded to Lymsleia, then looked at Richard. “Hey, Commander! Take care of my Lymsleia, okay?”

“I will!” Richard replied with his usual confidence. “You can count on me! So three will be back here in two hours, won’t you?”

“Of course,” Kyle started to say, but Miakis interrupted.

“No, no, no!” she said, shaking her head. “That won’t do, Richard! ‘You three will be back, won’t you...’? You’ve got to say it more...Commander-like!”

“Oh! Um...” Richard thought for a moment, and then took a more assertive, rock-like stance as he looked at each of them. “Sir Galleon! Sir Kyle! Lady Miakis!”

“Yes, sir!” the three knights responded in kind.

“Search the town for any and all suspicious activity and put a stop to it! Then, report back here no later than two hours!”

“Yes, Your Commandership!” With that, the Queen’s Knights were gone from the audience chamber.

After they left, Richard let out a chuckle. “That was weird.”

“Not really,” Lymsleia said, turning to him with a smile. “It just feels like that if you’re not used to being in charge. I should know...”

“Huh?” Richard looked at her, his face turning red. “Oh...I forgot about that. Forgive me, Your Majesty! I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m complaining! I don’t mind it at all.”

“It’s all right. You’re allowed to feel weird about it. It’s just...sometimes, you have no choice but to hide it.”

“Do you...feel weird about becoming a queen at your age?”

“Yeah. But...” The girl’s smile, one serene and profound, spread just a little. “I suppose, like you, I don’t mind it. Or I should say, after all I’ve been through, I don’t mind it as much.”

In contrast to Lymsleia, the commander’s expression was turning serious. “Yes...I suppose those kinds of events would force most people to grow up. It just seems...cruel.”

“It does,” the queen said in agreement, and then lowered her head. “It was a real nightmare, in fact. was also reality, and I had to accept it. But sometimes it’s strange, the idea that my brother and I are orphans now...”

“Yeah...I know how that is...” Richard said softly, but not at all intentionally.

“You’re an orphan, too?”

“Huh?” Richard turned to her, realizing he had already revealed more than he had ever planned. “Err...I...” He blushed again and briefly scratched the back of his neck. “N-no! Nothing like that! I-I mean, well...let’s just say I...I sort of know what it’s like to lose a parent.”

“Oh...then...that man, Mueller...did he take care of you when that happened?”

“Wh...why do you ask?”

“I don’t know...” Lymsleia said, looking intrigued. “It’s just...if I didn’t know anything about you two, I would’ve just assumed that he was your father...”

The smile returned to Richard’s face. “Ha ha ha ha ha! I wish that were true. I...guess you could say that he took me in when I was about your age.” Quickly moving past the sensitive subject, he added, “But enough about that! I’m just lucky to have ended up fighting with Mueller! He’s the greatest!”

“Heh, heh...” The queen secretly wished to press for more, but decided to let it go.

Chapter 5

All That Glitters Is Cold 3 Fanfic Competition

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