Regent & Duke
The Sleeping Lions
felt a slight squeeze of his hand as he exited the church following
behind the rest of his family. Looking down he met the comforting gaze
of his daughter, and he smiled weakly down at her.
"Daddy?" she asked.
Alexandra gave her father a determined look, "I want to go up and walk with Grandma."
Kelson stared at the backs of the heads of his family, then sighed. "All right, but Matt and Linda will have to go with you."
Kelson turned to look at the two, "Matt, Linda."
Kelson watched as they made their way forward. From his place at the rear of the procession he watched as his mother and a familiar female figure glance down upon the arrival of his daughter amongst them.
It suddenly dawned on him who the other person was standing with his mother as the two woman looked back at him in thanks. It was his distant cousin Paullina McLain, soon to be Duchess of Cassan.
Before he could much think about how that had all happened to her, the procession began moving forward and a cool summer breeze hit his face as he stepped through the doorway.
Saint Istelyn's was located two miles inland along Cassan's northern coastline. In her capitol city of Ballymar, it was not totally uncommon for such breezes to come wafting off the Atlantic Ocean.
In traveling the short distance to the crypt located directly beside the church, his family was finally able to spread out which gave Kelson a good look at the procession.
The two coffins bearing the Duke and Duchess were in the lead, borne on the shoulders of twelve of the Cassani household guard, six per coffin. The men walked slowly, wearing kilts and sashes of the McLain tartan, dark green with thin black and white stripes.
"Kelson? I don't feel right about being here," came a whispered voice from somewhere in front of him."
As he looked for the voice, he caught sight of his younger siblings walking directly in front of him.
"I feel like a hypocrite," Sidana whispered as Kelson caught up with them.
"Don't let it bother you," Kelson whispered back, putting a comfort arm around her shoulder.
"It doesn't look like it is bothering Alroy at all," Rhys Micheal quietly chimed in.
Kelson caught sight of Alroy at that moment, walking toward cousin Paullina in an apparent attempt to comfort her. "Perhaps he is just being helpful for once."
"Yeah right," Rhys Micheal said sarcastically.
"Kelson? "Jehana asked. " Why couldn't Grandpa Alexander come back for the funeral?"
Kelson sighed, putting his remaining arm around her shoulder. "Mom and I talked about it. I told her it might not be a good idea right now. With his advanced stage of Alzheimer's, I am afraid he might prove disruptive during the service and internment."
" You are going to tell him, right?" Rhys asked quietly.
"Yes," Kelson answered. "I will be leaving for the states in a couple of days." But not before I have some precautions in place first, he thought. Just as the lead stopped at the entrance to the cemetery, Kelson saw a lone bagpiper standing behind the gate dressed in a kilt of the McLain tartan. The piper did an about face and began to play a Cassani funeral march as some one whom Kelson did not recognize, moved to open the gate.
The McLain family mausoleum came into view as the procession slowly moved behind the piper. As he got closer, Kelson saw the Cassani shield emblazoned above the door. The top third consisted of a horizontal band of sky blue with a silver, sleeping lion facing left, the bottom two thirds was silver with three red roses forming a triangle in the center. The mausoleum sat overlooking the rest of the cemetery situated next to Saint Istelyn's on a slight incline.
The funeral procession came to a halt once again as the piper and Bishop Adrian McLain stopped at the entrance to the mausoleum. As the piper went silent, he turned to face the group. Adrian remained with his back to them saying a silent prayer.
Kelson began looking for his daughter as his family adjusted themselves to hear the final blessing for his aunt and uncle. Seeing her in the arms of her grandfather waiting for the prayers to begin, and assured of her safety, Kelson moved in closer to stand behind his parents and his daughter. Kelson's gaze froze as he glanced around at his family.
Alroy, with his arms around his cousin Pauline, glanced at Mary MacEwan who was standing next to him. Then he turned to face forward with a slight grin on his face.
Mary saw Kelson staring and nudged Alroy.
Alroy met Kelson's stare.
"Family and Friends," Adrian began solemnly.
"Why didn't he ever tell me?" Laura asked, wiping at the tears that were streaming down her face.
"Maybe he thought it would be too dangerous for you to know?" Susan responded, placing a comforting hand on her arm.
"Being from the house of Furstan isn't what it used to be," Melissa said from her council chair. "As a matter of fact, it can be down right deadly."
"And Craig found out first hand," Laura said distantly.
Melissa bit her lip as she glanced around at the others present. There was only Laura, Susan and Bart.
"Are you sure Anthony von Furstan killed him?" Laura asked, once again wiping her eyes.
"Positive," Melissa replied. "The Beldour police informed me that it was a perfect ID. And Laura, you may want to consider going into hiding."
"Why?" Laura asked stunned.
" Your children are heirs to the throne of Torenth," Melissa replied.
"They could be Anthony's next targets. I realize that the Torenthi are no-where close to getting the crown back, but when it comes down to it, your kids are the senior claimants to the throne."
"And, if Mikos and Tony want to push it." Bart added.
"My kids will be in danger!" Laura replied angrily.
"Laura," Melissa said laying a reassuring hand on her arm. "It will be all right. If need be, we can get you and the kids out at a moments notice."
"Does Anthony know about Laura's kids?" Susan asked.
"No," Melissa replied with certainty. "Craig's true identity was safe. He made sure that no one knew about Laura and the children."
Laura stood abruptly, "I need to go tell my kids about their dad Melissa. And I know for the time being" Laura continued before Melissa could object, "for their safety, I need to keep the von Furstan family name out of it."
"I'll come with you," Susan said, also standing.
"Bart? Can you keep an eye on the von Furstan's?" Melissa asked after they had gone.
"I'll try, " he replied. "But if it comes down to a confrontation, I'm as good as dead."
" I know your training is limited, but just keep an eye on them. And if it comes down to it, just switch them off."
"Okay, I'll give it a try," he replied.
I wonder if the council has an insurance plan?, Bart thought to himself as he stepped on to the transfer portal outside the Council chamber.
"Thank you for coming, Kelson," Pauline McLain was saying as she walked arm and arm with him down the hill. "And thank you for bringing Alexandra. She certainly has made things much more bearable"
"Your welcome," Kelson replied watching as his self same daughter came sprinting up to them followed closely by Matt, and a slightly out of breath Linda."
" Daddy! Pauline!" She yelled as she approached.
"Slow down young lady," Kelson said calmly, "and don't yell."
" Grandma Janette sent me up here to get you," she said excitedly. "There is a whole bunch of people just beyond the church waiting to see Pauline."
"Okay, Okay young lady, we're coming," Kelson said in an effort to calm her down.
Grabbing both of their hands, she began to pull. " C'mon, Grandma is waiting."
" Hold on a second Alex," Kelson said. "Why don't you take Pauline and Linda down and I will follow in a second. I need to talk to Matt."
"Oh okay," she said letting go of her father's hand, but continuing to pull on Pauline's.
As they moved down the hill, Linda shot Kelson a not too happy look.
"Did you want to speak to me, Your Grace? "Matt queried.
"Yes." Kelson said distantly as they followed the ladies down the hill.
"First, I want you to contact Duke Nigel and just tell him 'I will do it'.
Second, contact 'Carol' and tell her we need to meet as soon as possible."
"Your Grace?" Matt asked. "May I ask what this is about? They may ask me?"
"Nigel knows what it is about, and just tell 'Carol' that I have a couple of big favors to ask her."
" I would rather not tell you just yet, Matt," Kelson said noticing Matt's puzzled look. "All I will say is that I have a sneaking suspicion who may be behind everything."