Fallen Blade 04 - Blade Reforged

Fallen Blade 04 - Blade Reforged by Kelly McCullough Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Fallen Blade 04 - Blade Reforged by Kelly McCullough Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kelly McCullough
     and it continued to make her an outcast among the peerage. It was also going to make
     putting her on the throne that much harder, though I had to assume Fei knew what she
     was talking about when she said it was less of a problem than her bastard status.
    But then the palanquin was ready for her and she had to climb up into her narrow ivory
     chair. I fell in at the back of the procession with a couple of her guards. Within
     a few minutes of hitting the main thoroughfare leading from the Sovann Hill down toward
     the river and the palace, we encountered the coterie of the Earl of Anaryun, and had
     to pause to let his people move out in front.
    We stopped again when the Duke of Jenua claimed precedence in front of the earl. Later,
     as we left the Sovann behind, a couple of baronets fell in behind us. Then, as we
     approached the Sanjin Island bridge, the Duchess of Kijang coming down the river from
     her estates west of the city bumped everyone back a place. She ranked fourth in the
     peerage, behind only the Duke of Anyang, the Duchess of Tien, and the king himself.
    The streets directly in front of the palace gates were an absolute madhouse, with
     every high noble of the realm and their entourages jockeying for proper position in
     the march of the peers. Most of the baronets and clan lords and lesserlights weren’t high enough in the peerage to be granted entry to the meeting of the
     Council of Jade, but they had to attend the Winter-Round court that followed or risk
     formal censure by the Crown.
    For that matter, Maylien’s participation would normally have been limited to a gallery
     seat for the Council of Jade, because of the relatively minor position of the Barony
     of Marchon. Only her uncle’s formal recognition of her and her sister as
bastards of his late brother allowed her to claim a place at the council table, informally
     ranking her with the earls and dukes and counts. That was also the only thing that
     made it possible for me to attend—each of the jade councilors was allowed an unarmed
     personal attendant whose job was to kneel behind their master’s chair and await commands.
    The Council of Jade met at the high table in the largest of the palace’s formal chambers—built
     purpose specific for the twice annual event. The king sat on his throne at the head
     of a long table that jutted out into the center of the room on a raised platform.
     The lesser peers placed their chairs of office around the councilors on three sides,
     sitting on the lower level of the floor. I set Maylien’s chair on the left side of
     the table, very near the foot, then joined the other attendants, going to one knee
     at the edge of the dais holding the council table.
    The first twenty minutes or so of the convocation was eaten up with a brief welcoming
     speech by the king and other court formalities that left me quietly thinking that
     if I ghosted Thauvik now at least he’d shut up. That was followed by the official
     presentation of credentials by the participants, starting on the king’s right with
     the Duchess of Tien who also served as chancellor of the realm, and then alternating
     back and forth across the table in descending order of precedence. Mostly it was a
     matter of each noble rising and stating their antecedents, which the chancellor dutifully
     attested to the king, who acknowledged them with a nod.
    Occasionally however, a seat had changed hands eitherthrough the normal course of succession or by right of challenge in the previous few
     days and the new holder had to petition for the formal recognition of the Crown. In
     both instances, the newly made noble had to bring their documents up the table to
     be formally examined by the Duchess of Tien. In the case of traditional succession,
     they presented wills and certificates of legitimacy. With challenges, they brought
     documentation of blood relationship to the challenged and witnesses’ statements as
     to the conduct

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