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“I will not fail. I will not falter. I will not cease in my pursuit until justice is done.”

The court was silent. She kept her head down, kneeling in silence behind her father’s sword, praying that her nerves would not make it shake.

“Such an oath is not to be taken lightly.”

She swallowed. The King rarely spoke directly to anyone.

“I do not take it lightly, sir,” she said, not looking up.

“Rise,” he said. She looked up. He was holding his hand out to her. She took it, and rose to her feet.

“It is easy to make such an oath in the heat of passion,” the King said. “Harder, however, to carry it out. Justice can be a nasty business, even for my hardiest knights.”

“I am sincere, your majesty,” she said quietly. “I will catch the man who killed my father, or I will die in the attempt.”

He looked down at her, his head cocked to one side as he assessed her. She hoped that she was not blushing.

“Justice lies in the hands of the knighthood,” he said. “Personal vengeance is against my law, so I have little choice in this matter.” He reached out. “Give me the sword.”

For a moment, she did not move. Her gaze met his, and her hand tightened around the grip of her father’s sword.

She wanted to rebel, but he was the King. She lowered her gaze and presented the sword to him.

He looked along its length and held it up, appreciating its fine balance.

“This is a good sword,” he said.

He held it high for a moment, then lowered it to her shoulder.

“Wear it well, as a Knight of my court.”

© Kari Fay