The companion story is The Iron Throne – King Haajensen which can be found here.
My name is Stavish. I am an ambassador of peace and a diplomat. I am also a warrior. Fluent in a dozen languages, I am able to converse in several others. I am attached to no specific land and no leader has ever been able to convince me to stay, once I feel my mission has been accomplished.
I learned everything I know at my father’s right hand and now, with his passing, I wander. Where I find strife, I attempt to mediate a settlement. When I find war, I study the politics of both sides, choose one, and lend my considerable talents to winning.
I had no inkling that my life was about to change when I mounted the steps and entered the hall for my first audience with King Haajensen. This is a small country surrounded and beset on all sides by imperial threats and martial forces. My investigation into the circumstances had determined that the royal I was about to meet is the most upstanding and trustworthy of the squabbling lot, and his goals admirable. As such, I decided I would do my best to help him prevail against his enemies, before moving on.
“The peace ambassador, diplomat, and warrior, Stavish,” the chamberlain announces, and I enter the throne room. Wardens step back, holding the doors open. I sense the space behind me becoming crowded but no one stands between me and the seated king. The crown he wears is not as ostentatious as some I’ve seen and its simplicity suits his outwardly calm, controlled demeanor.
There is no sound except the breathing of our silent witnesses.
I have served kings, emperors, and potentates. I have arranged peace accords between feuding warlords and supposedly implacable clan chieftains. I have associated with the best and worst rulers throughout the known world and, therefore, I thought I was immune to power. However, it seems I am not, since I am intrigued by, and drawn to the personage across the room.
Haajensen sits on his iron throne but it’s not the innumerable swords making up his intimidating chair that entrance me. It’s not even the weapon, clenched in his leather-clad hands, the point resting upon a square of wood laid into the floor.
I had heard tales of the Sky Sword and fully admit they were part of the reason why I chose to come to this land. Reputedly cast from a fallen star, its edges and tip are supposedly impervious to damage. It is also said the sword can only be taken from its rightful owner by treachery. It was that which had been employed when the former king was betrayed and slain, and the sword stolen.
This son, this man who sits before me, had avenged his father’s death during the act of recovery. It is clear that the blade — longer than that which a man of normal height could wield, and gleaming as no sword wrought from earthly metal could match — is well suited to this monarch and might reveal its awesome power in battle for him, alone.
I pause, suddenly incapable of moving forward. Haajensen appears weary beyond bearing and I’m sorry, for an instant, that I requested this meeting today. My sources informed me he only recently returned from a border dispute but I had not realized how desperate the encounter must have been.
As if sensing my hesitancy, his gaze, focused on the steward slightly to my right, snaps to mine, unblinking, and I am captured.
His eyes, which are the color of the sky on the brightest of days, clear of their weariness, and the fire I suspect is usually present in them, blazes. I have looked in the eyes of the most important leaders of this world and not been moved or impressed. For some reason though, the intensity in this minor monarch’s gaze has pierced my heart and lodged in my soul.
The word is said softly and, instinctively, I know this is the voice I will listen to for the rest of my life.
My eyes never leaving his, I cross the distance between us. “Majesty.” I begin to bend a knee.
With his gauntleted left hand, he grips my right arm. “Never.”
Even through layers of fabric and leather, his touch electrifies me. Had I not been gazing into the other half of my soul, I might have taken offense at the stern command, but my mind understands his true meaning and I answer with my own thought: I hear, and rejoice.
Indrawn breaths and foot-shuffling shift my attention, while my eyes remain fastened upon his. Has this king not previously waved the normally required gesture? Perhaps not, and I immediately vow never to dishonor the gift he has given me.
He stands, tightening his fingers on my bicep. “I should have felt your coming, but I did not.” His earnest stare warms a part of me I hadn’t realized had been cold. “Nevertheless, and I say this with all my heart, you are welcome, Ambassador Stavish.”
He turns me to face the throng of guards, knights, and civilians who are standing three- and four-deep against the walls. Casually, although I know it is not a casual move at all, he drapes his right arm, the hand still holding the hilt of his magnificent sword, over my right shoulder. His left hand grasps the blade and, using it flat against my chest, pulls me back against him.
Gasps are audible and more feet shuffle but the faces show only relief and joy.
“You have heard this warrior’s name and know that he and I are not related.” Haajensen’s voice rings clearly for all to hear. “But I tell you this, he is my brother.” He draws me even closer. “I believe we have both waited for this moment all our lives.” He releases me and turns me to face him again. “Is that not so?”
My eyes re-lock with his and I bow my head slightly. “It is, Sire.”
And, for the first time, his beautiful face lights up. My heart, which was already in his keeping, shatters into a million pieces, over which the honey of his radiant smile flows. Although it normally beats quietly, it now drums in time with the pulse I feel through his glove. Every ache, injury, and wound I’ve ever taken is instantly healed. I am whole.
He sheathes the majestic blade, puts an arm around my shoulders, and turns me again to face his subjects. We stand side by side, almost of a height, and I can sense the stresses leaving his body.
“Together,” he says, his tone making it clear that he will allow no dissent, “this man and I will forge a deep and lasting peace like none our besieged land has ever known.”
Cheering erupts and builds as we march through the throng and out onto the landing at the head of the broad staircase I had walked up only minutes before.
“I prayed to Thor.” His words are, perhaps, unheard by anyone else.
“My lord?” I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly.
“I don’t often. Pray, that is.” His slight smile is self-deprecating and any resistance I still retained against my utter capitulation to his will, is swept away. “But, I did,” he murmurs, “and here you are.”
I nudge him lightly with my elbow and laugh very softly. I certainly didn’t want to presume on our new friendship but I wished to further lighten his burden, if possible. “I’m no god’s emissary, Sire.”
He smiles and I am happy, for I have evidently not offended him.
“I know. But I’m more grateful than I can say that you are here. For whatever reason. And here I hope you will remain.”
“For as long as we both live, Your Majesty.”
He tightens the arm around my shoulders. “As I ask you never to bend the knee to me, I also ask that you not use such words. I believe we are equals and I mean to have you at my side, as just that, from now on. I have no power to make you royal but it’s my sincere hope that you will be my trusted friend, partner, and companion, as Lars Knutson was to my father.”
“If I am not to use your title, King Haajensen, how shall I address you?”
“Do you doubt that we will think of something, Ambassador Stavish?”
“Since the moment I entered your throne room, I doubt nothing.”
“Good!” Under cover of the continuing joyous noise, he leans against me. “We must get you a sword.”
I shake my head. “Unnecessary. I already have several.” I glance down to his left side. “Nothing as grand as yours, of course.”
He laughs again and his left hand falls lightly to the hilt. “There is no other like the Sky Sword in the known world.”
“So I’ve heard.” I shrug. “I may even have made my way here simply to find out if the legendary tales are true.”
Standing at the top of the steps, he surveys the still-cheering throng but, instead of the haughty look I would expect from any other leader, this king is contemplative. “Some of them, perhaps. I’ll tell you about it when we have time.”
“I look forward to it.” Then I shrug again. “I make do with mine though, simple and utilitarian as they are. My squire has them in his keeping, along with my horse, at the inn.”
“Excellent! For, although it is peace we seek, we cannot overlook the probability of having to fight for it.”
“This is true.” My life of wandering is ended. I’ve come home to this man and his iron throne.
Another wonderfully original piece. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Annie Booker, and, again, I thank you! So glad you liked it!
This story was equally as wonderful as the matching story!
Thanks, again, Nancy. I really appreciate your kindness and support. Grateful for the AWESOME and KUDOS, too! THX!
Great companion piece! Thanks.
I’m happy you think so, kat, and you’re very welcome. Thanks for reading and then for writing!
Great companion piece. Thank you. Love the image of Stavish.
Thanks so much, wightfaerie. Take bows yourself, kid, ’cause you inspired it.
The kid thanks you, but you did all the hard work x
The wanderer has found a home and a friendship like no other.
I love this: ‘ . . . I know this is the voice I will listen to for the rest of my life.’
Thank you, Chocolate Egg, for reading and then for quoting your favorite line. Both are greatly appreciated.
Commendable.An awesome companion story with an apt image of Stavish.Thank you so much for both the wonderful stories.Thank you so much for your efforts.
I’m so glad you liked them both, Beena. I LOVED writing them! Thanks for reading and then for taking the time to let me know you enjoyed them. I’m grateful.
I’ve always loved the idea of S&H having lived a thousand years, always finding their way to each other. Wonderful stories to go with amazing art! I can’t imagine any better gifts.
Awwww, what lovely things to say, Spencer; THANK YOU!!!!! I, too, imagine them finding each other through countless lives and this one just put the encounter a few centuries father back than I’d ever thought about. It was the image, last year, that did it, of course. I really appreciate your reading, and then writing your kind comment. THX!
Stavish and his king, a match made by Thor.
Beautifully worded, Dawn; thanks! Glad you approve.
Very sweet! I think my favorite part was when Hutch pulled Starsky against himself and declared him his brother in front of the room. Especially since I read Hutch’s POV story first, and he dazedly glosses over that moment, so it was a treat to see something so momentous had happened. I also love how the relief in the room was palpable to Starsky. This is a kingdom that knows partnership is important!
I’d happily read much more in this universe!
I’m glad you liked it, Garrideb. I didn’t want to duplicate too much in the two POVs. I glossed over some of the throne room scene in Haaj’s portion, so that I could detail it in Stavish’s; it was, after all, almost more important to Stav than it was to Haaj, right? Anyway, that was the thinking behind the difference. Thanks for picking up on it and then letting me know your liked it.
As a matter of fact, wightfaerie mentioned the same thing last winter, when I was writing these, and ‘the further adventures of Stavish and Haaj’ is in the works. Maybe next calendar? Again, thank you so very much for your kind, detailed comments. They mean a great deal to me!
Love how you describe their connection! I can picture their meeting & almost feel the electricity flowing between them
What lovely things to say, Lisa; I’m so glad you could ‘almost feel the electricity flowing between them.’ That’s exactly what I was hoping for. Thanks for reading and then for writing. Both are greatly appreciated!
Love the second story, too. Thanks for writing and sharing, Pat. 🙂
You’re very welcome, Hutcherie; glad you enjoyed them both. And I *thank you* for leaving a second comment!
“His eyes, which are the color of the sky on the brightest of days, clear of their weariness, and the fire I suspect is usually present in them, blazes.”
It’s always a challenge to describe our boys eyes in a story and I always notice when it’s done extremely well, like this! I love this story and the sky sword legend. I only wish it would continue!
I worked over that particular sentence for a long time, as you might expect, mvernet, so I’m thrilled that it spoke to you. I agree, it is difficult to come up with different wording but the setting for these stories gave me the opportunity to use a bit more ‘flowery’ phrasing than I could have gotten away with in a contemporary tale. Thanks for picking up on it, and noting it in your kind comment.
As I mentioned to Garrideb, above, ‘the further adventures’ is a possibility so thanks for the encouragement.
Love this companion piece even more than the other. Bravo, Pat! Feel very light today after reading 3 items of the calendar 🙂 Thank you, Pat!
You’re welcome, Sammy, thank *you*! I actually wrote this one first. Then, with her beta report, wightfaerie suggested I write Hutch’s POV, as well. When I sent them to Flamingo, she thought they needed to be read in this order, and I agreed. I’m thrilled you enjoyed both. I hope your ‘light’ feeling lasts right through the holidays. Enjoy!!!
Loved this, Pat! Will it be Haaj or (in times of trouble) Haaaaaaaaaaaaaj!, perhaps? Wonderful AU of these two souls coming together and connecting. I like how you mirror Hutch’s strained relationship with his father, and even the subtlety of Haajensen’s weapon being larger than Stavish’s.
Also loved the pic at the end.
Thank you, Laura! And, yes, it will be both nicknames in future stories, I’m sure (it’s in the works but who knows how long it’ll be before it’s ready for the light of day? Next Calendar, perhaps?) I tried for some subtlety but not too much; glad you picked up on it. As for the image at the end, I can take no credit for that – Flamingo’s Elves rule in that department!
I can only imagine that telling this tale from 2 points of view was tricky. It’s so true that any 2 people experiencing the same event will come away with very different details. Really well done! Thanks for sharing with us.
You’re right, CallieDoodle, it was a bit tricky. I didn’t want to duplicate anything except a few lines of dialog and I did want to describe the separate impressions that made up the same whole. I’m so glad you think it was “Really well done!” I greatly appreciate your reading and then letting me know you enjoyed. You’re welcome!
Who did the manip of Starsky as Stavish, Pat?
Wightfaerie’s manip of Hutch was FANTASTIC! Did she do the one of Stacih too?
I agree, Ursula, Wightfaerie’s original image was magnificent and is what started ‘all this.’ Flamingo and her Elves are responsible for the Starsky/Stavish manip, however, and deserve all the credit for it!
Thanks for commenting here, as well, U.
Happy & Merry!
Thanks to the elves for the Stavich manip and for everyone’s patience with the typos I am not catching in my replies before I hit send this year.
I agree, Ursula; the Elves are doing their usual stupendous job this year and I won’t mention typos if you won’t