Chapter Four: The Court
Defenders of the Night
Chapter Four: The Court
Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy or Gargoyles.
Xander was jolted out of a restless sleep by the sound of pounding on the door to his bunk. Blearily and cursing under his breath he pulled his eye patch on and stumbling a little in his haste moved to open the door.
“Princess Katherine!” he exclaimed startled.
The young princess was staring at his bare chest in obvious surprise her cheeks flushing bright red and her bright blue eyes wide as saucers. She looked kind of like Dawnie for a minute. The man in guard livery behind her shot Xander a sympathetic look as Xander bowed low to the Princess. Xander for once didn’t mind the bowing; it gave him a few seconds to get his embarrassment under control so he was able to meet the Princess’ gaze without blushing like a nervous teenager.
“Alexander, we are glad to see you well settled. You will dress and attend to us in the Great Hall,” she ordered regaining her composure quickly.
“As you wish, Princess,” Xander agreed.
Xander was forced to wait another few minutes until Katherine disappeared from view to close the door. He groaned as he pulled on his shirt and belted on his weapons. He would make a complete fool of himself in front of the princess on his second day at Castle Wyvern, answering his door in nothing but his breeks. How was he supposed to know it would be the princess? He splashed some water on his face, re-adjusted his eye patch with a disgusted sigh.
“You’ve got to stop putting your foot in it Harris,” he told the rippling blur that constituted his reflection in the water.
The hall was empty when Xander emerged and he retraced his steps from yesterday to get out into the main yard. From there the Great Hall wasn’t difficult to find, as the masses of brightly dressed nobles and disgruntled looking peasants flocked in one direction, clearly the princess was holding some kind of petition day where people could come to her and have their disputes and complaints dealt with.
“Ah you must be Alexander,” Xander turned to face the grave white haired young man dressed in robes.
“I am, the princess asked me here,” he explained gesturing to the orderly line forming in front of the raised platform where Katherine was seated regally on an elaborately carved wood chair.
She was flanked by a few nobles, and the Captain of the Guard was present at the end of the table but there were still empty seats here and there.
“I am the Magus, the chief advisor to the Princess, she asks me to bid you welcome, and she asks that you stand and witness the proceedings to get a better idea of how the castle and its occupants operate,”
“I’m glad you agree,” the Magus said leading him to a spot in the shadows where he could stand and watch and listen without being obtrusive, “Not everyone is so understanding of the Princess’ forward manner and unusual practices in the beginning,”
“You’ll get no judgment out of me, for awhile anyway,” Xander said shrugging, “Magus, so that means you would be a magic-user right?” he asked to confirm his suspicions.
“Yes,” The Magus said startled.
“Well if the name didn’t give it away the white hair and robes were a good hint, that’s pretty much the standard magic user ensemble,”
“Yes well, our work rooms tend to be quite drafty and chill so ‘tis useful to have a long warm garment,” said the Magus with a hesitant grin.
Xander laughed and the Magus smiled more easily.
“I have to go now, the petitions will begin shortly, come and visit me some time when you’re free, the servants all know where to find me,” he suggested.
“Will do,” Xander agreed.
The Magus moved to sit on the princess’ right side and she flashed him a welcoming smile. They were apparently very used to working in concert and they were very fond of one and other unless he missed his guess. Xander shook his head, this castle ran off the opinions of two people younger than him, he could only hope they knew what they were doing.
Once all the seats at the high table were filled the nobleman dressed in black and red on Katherine’s left stood.
“The petitioning may now commence, will the first plaintiff please step forward,” he boomed over the buzz of the crowd.
The crowd fell silent and the first person in line, an old man with a slight gimp stepped forward.
“What is your grievance?” asked Katherine regally.
“Well milady, it’s my cow ye see, she’s sick and I would like your physician to come have a look at her, she’s not doing to good and she’s my family’s bread winner…I don’t know how we’ll get by without her,” said the old man shaking his head.
“We understand your concern, and we agree, our physician will examine the cow and determine if there is anything to be done,” Katherine nodded to a page and he led the old man out another door presumably to fetch the physician in question.
The next petitioner, a plump young woman, stepped forward.
“What is your grievance?” asked Katherine.
The day continued in this pattern for a good four hours until the petitioners had all been heard. Most times the dispute was simple neighborly squabbling, but Katherine never showed any impatience as she dealt with them all quickly and with compassion.
The guards were right, she was a good leader, and the few times the Magus or one of the councilmen got involved the princess listened to their advice and made her own decision. And if after the petitioners had all been seen to and the court nobles had all made their honeyed comments, the Princess slumped in visible relief and rubbed indiscreetly at her sore but undoubtedly lovely bottom, well Xander wasn’t about to rat her out.
Instead he slipped quietly out the servant’s door and made his way back into the courtyard to stretch his legs a bit. Standing around for more than three hours, if he judged the time correctly, was just as hard as sitting on a stiff wood chair for the same three hours.
AN: A little interlude. Next Chapter Xander gets in a fight and meets some more gargoyles. Please review!