Knighthood, 102

If You’re Focused Enough on Guard Duty, No Attack Is that Serious

Ao3 Link

Rich people really did get all the perks in life, Edwin thought. Aside from all the obvious shit, they even got to have weddings on perfect spring days.

It was the first day of Remin and it wasn’t actually spring for another week, but it was warm and sunny and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue and everything looked very picturesque. Even though Edwin knew the streets had been cleaned and the dirty snow moved in preparation for the wedding, it still felt like the kind of thing that had just happened naturally rather than being bought.

The streets looked much nicer now that a lot of the people lined up to get into the First Church had been checked and let in. “Okay, thank you for your cooperation, your Majesty,” Edwin said.

King Niall hee-Minda was a cute boy about his age, wearing more makeup than most, and flowing clothes. He was the king of some country called Netchee or something, which Edwin had probably heard of at some point but also didn’t care about, because all Edwin cared about was making sure he didn’t have knives in his sleeves. He smiled at Edwin. “No problem,” he said, in accented Daolo. “Thanks for keeping us all safe.”

He didn’t sound upset, which was more than Edwin could say for most of the other royalty they’d stopped and searched, even though they’d definitely all been warned this would happen. There was a fuckton of royalty coming to the wedding, as it turned out. Edwin had figured it was just a protocol thing, but Gavin had told him it was more than that and that it had to do with all the kingdoms around Dolovai and Kyaine shoring up their alliances in case the Empire attacked.

That was obviously really serious, but it was also way above Edwin’s pay grade, so unless the Empire was going to attack the church in the middle of the wedding, he wasn’t worried about them. He smiled at King Niall. “Just doing my duty, sir. Enjoy the wedding.”

He ushered the king along, waving forward the next in the line of people who needed patting down. That was the last of the royalty, he was pretty sure, which still left most of the Dolovin nobility and the other rich types who’d been invited. There was probably some super serious order that dictated when people could enter the church, and it wasn’t like it was hard to figure out that kings got to go in ahead of the Lord of the White Trees or whatever, but Edwin didn’t care.

Oh, it wasn’t the last of the royalty. “Hello there, lowly knight,” said the Emvel Degmen of the underwater Imperium of Ran Errevir, holding out his arms for Edwin to pat him down. “I’ll permit you to touch my royal personage just this once, but don’t get handsy.”

Edwin rolled his eyes and started searching Denver for knives. “If any of you are wearing weapons I’m divorcing you,” he said.

“We’re not,” promised Denver, smiling when Edwin gave his ass a squeeze. “But you should strip-search me just in case.”

“If I strip-searched every hot royal who’d come through here in the last hour, nobody would ever get into the wedding,” Edwin said, spanking Denver. “You’re fine, go. I didn’t know you were invited to the wedding. Hi, your Majesty,” he said to Alse, as he started patting him. He wasn’t wearing clothes, so it was easy to tell he was unarmed.

Beside him, a city guard named Aiden was patting down Louis, looking terrified. Louis looked annoyed, probably because he was wearing clothes and because Edwin hadn’t patted him down. Edwin would make it up to him later.

“Our invitation was somewhat last-minute,” Alse explained, as Edwin stood up. The rest of his retinue were being searched too. That was the thing about royalty. They never travelled alone. Alse had about twenty people with him and that was a small group. “I’m given to understand that Prince Gavin convinced his family it was politically advantageous.”

Edwin nodded. “That sounds like Gavin.” Ran Errevir was underwater but it was still a neighbour of Dolovai. And Edwin figured if they were going to fight a war with someone across an ocean, having allies who lived in that ocean would be helpful. He decided not to raise the question of how they’d gotten here with all the portals closed. “Well, enjoy the wedding. It’s going to be a lot longer than yours was.”

“So I’ve been warned. Thank you, Sir Edwin.”

Edwin nodded, let Louis kiss him before the three of them and their crew went inside. He waved for the next batch of people to come forward. “Didn’t know there were merpeople coming,” said Aiden.

“I’m starting to wonder if there’s anyone who’s not coming,” Edwin said. He was getting along better with the city guardsmen than he’d expected to. Which was to say they were doing what he said and not being assholes about it, even if he did sometimes see them rolling their eyes when they thought he was distracted.

Searching people was pretty mindless, and despite his fears, Edwin’s unit was fully staffed. The knight commander might have been looking for an excuse to get Edwin in trouble, but he wasn’t going to ruin the wedding over it.

Would people showing up late ruin the wedding? Probably not. But rich people were weird, and they were getting progressively more agitated as the line moved and they’d been waiting for longer and longer. If Edwin were good at charts he’d probably also be able to draw a line between how readily they got annoyed and how important they weren’t compared to the people in front of them, he thought.

Just as he was thinking that while they searched the party of some minor noble whose sigil was a hat, Edwin heard singing. He’d been hearing it on and off all morning; it had been declared a public festival and the royal family had made food and drink available to everyone, so the whole city was partying. But this was different. It was chanting. Slow, deep, weird chanting.

Edwin looked down the street, and there was a small crowd of people dressed in black and red, wearing crowns or something. He looked at Aiden. “Keep searching people and getting them inside the cathedral. Don’t miss anyone.”

“What? Why would we…” he was looking at the chanting group too.

“Because if I was a rich fuckhead and I wanted to stab someone at the royal wedding, I’d hire some guys in costumes to come distract everyone so the guards would start rushing everyone inside and not search them. I’ll be right back.” He waved two of the knights in his unit, along with two palace guards and two city guards, to come with him as he descended the steps down to the street.

The chanting people were headed right for the church, and they stopped when Edwin approached them. “Greetings, friends,” said the guy in front. He was short and wearing a robe that made him look shorter. On his head was a bird’s nest fashioned into a crown. “On this most joyous of all days.”

“Yeah,” said Edwin. “Hi. There’s plenty of public celebrations if you’d like to attend one. I’m pretty sure you weren’t invited to the wedding.”

As he said that, he realized he’d seen this guy before, last summer. He was wild-eyed and pointy, and he’d yelled at Edwin and Erik about the Leader being in the city.

The man smiled. “And yet warriors of the lord must go where they are bidden.”

“Nobody bade you come here.”

“Nobody in this world, perhaps,” said the man. He was still smiling. “But we answer to the same master as all of you should. And we are here to kill the Leader. You will help us.”

“We will not help you kill anyone,” Edwin told the man, standing firm. “This is your only warning. Turn around and go home.”

The man sighed, shaking his head. “It was thus prophesied. The swords of the world shall turn on the faithful, the Leader’s words corrupting their hearts with the Liar’s sweet honey. Humans need no encouragement to prostrate themselves before the abattoir of divine disfavour.”

“Okay,” Edwin said. He was pretty sure that wasn’t a Leader prophecy, but even if it was, he didn’t give a shit. “You’re under arrest.”

“This oppression is necessary, for only through the torment of the human soul can the messiah rise to his glory,” said the man. He reached into his robe. Edwin drew his sword.

The man pulled out a bottle that looked to be filled with smoke. “Nevertheless, we must try. If the Leader can be killed here and now, a century of suffering can be avoided.” He smashed the bottle on the newly cleaned street. Smoke filled the air.

Only for a second, though. The billowing coalesced into a form, a giant with four arms, easily twice Edwin’s height. The guards and knights drew back. Edwin watched it. It wasn’t a wraith, and he wasn’t sure it was a demon. But he hefted Monstersbane anyway. It was glowing more than usual in the daylight.

And after one slice, the smoke dissipated, leaving the street empty of anyone but humans. “Our…angel of justice…” said the…Edwin really thought it was tacky to think of him as the leader given the situation. The ringleader.

“Yeah, an actual angel gave this to me,” Edwin explained, sheathing the sword. “To use on demons. So it killed your smoke monster. Makes me wonder whose side you’re really on.”

The man lunged forward, pulling a knife. “You are a traitor to your kind! You will be our destruction!”

Edwin punched him in the face, and he collapsed. “I’m so fucking tired of you. You’re under arrest. Like, a lot of arrest. And all of you assholes,” he added, pointing at the other guys, who were drawing back now. “If you all get off on listening to this piece of shit in your free time that’s on you, but go the fuck home and stop being a public menace, because there are a lot more broken noses where that came from.”

They all backed up, and most of them broke away and started running. A few lingered for almost ten whole seconds. One of them called Edwin a traitor. Then they were all gone.

Edwin huffed, turned around. All six of his companions were staring at him. “What?” he asked.

“That was, uh. Something,” said one of the castle guards.

“Yeah, no wonder you keep getting put in charge of everything,” said one of the knights. His name was Trevor and Edwin thought he was normally on patrol duty outside the city, so Edwin had only met him a few times.

Edwin blushed. “They were just a bunch of idiots wanting to make a scene. Anyone could have intimidated them into fucking off. The smoke thing was probably just an illusion or something anyway.”

They all looked at each other, and Edwin rolled his eyes. “Look, will you two get this guy in a jail cell?” he asked the two city guardsmen. “And the rest of you get back up there so we can get people into the church before the princess and prince’s first anniversary?”

“Yes, sir!” They all hopped to do what he’d ordered, and Edwin went back to the steps with them.

There was a contingent of mages from the academy being searched. “What was that all about?” asked one of them. His name was Peter, Edwin had met him a few times. Isaac was here too, being searched just over there. He seemed into it.

Edwin shook his head and went about patting him down, being careful with his weak leg. “Nothing serious, just people who think the Leader is here to kill us all.”

Peter snorted. “More of those around lately, huh? I kind of blame the High Presbyter.”

“I wouldn’t know. You’re good to go, enjoy the wedding.”

Edwin lost track of how many more people he told to enjoy the wedding, but he eventually got them all inside, so hopefully they fucking did. Once the doors were shut, he started organizing his unit into shifts and patrols, making sure nobody used any of the cathedral’s seven entrances for anything violent. Nobody had told him to do that, but he was doing it anyway.

The weather was perfect. The day was perfect. And Edwin wanted Gabrielle and Franz to have their perfect wedding. They were nice people and they deserved it. And nobody was going to ruin it on his watch.

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