[At the Yvaine, the dead of night. Standing in hushed, candlelit solemnity, some members of the household are waiting outside of King Julian’s quarters. Two members of Julian’s Royal Council, Treize Khushrenada and Tristan Owens, are standing aside and talking quietly.]
TREIZE How long does he have before he departs this world, Your Grace?
TRISTAN (Solemnly) He will probably pass very shortly, I overheard. The injuries he had sustained in the fall from his horse were far too severe. Not to mention, the King is no more a young man.
TREIZE His reign has been long and filled with peace. But, dare I say it, could this be a sign from the heavens above that it could be time for a new ruler? No man can walk the Earth for eternity. We knew that the time would come for him, just as it did for his father before him and his father’s father.
(There is silence for a moment, then Treize speaks again.)
TREIZE There have been questions about succession…
TRISTAN (Outraged) I do not think we should discuss this. This subject is unbefitting of the moment. The King’s bed is still warm, and his heart still beats. We should not count him out yet.
TREIZE Perhaps the Gods have, Your Grace. So then it does not matter overmuch what we mortals think. We should be prepared in any event. (Looks across the room.) Have the necessary arrangements been made?
TRISTAN (Head lowered) He has indicated what he wants, Treize. Because he is the sovereign of this land, we shall abide by his wishes.
TREIZE And if the will of the people demands otherwise?
(Tristan raises his head slowly, frowning.)
TRISTAN What do you mean?
TREIZE During no time in our history has there been a female ruler. What makes you think they will accept one now?
TRISTAN She is the heir! There should be no question of acceptance. She is the next in line. She is the one who naturally should assume the throne to the Sanc Kingdom.
TREIZE I never said it was not the natural choice. I just think that it is not the best.
TRISTAN She has been bred in the arts and sciences all of her life. She is quite intelligent and possesses more poise than women twice her age. Do you still believe she is not capable of ruling Sanc?
TREIZE I do not fully believe she possesses the heart of a King. She has been mostly kept inside these very walls with little interaction with the general populace on her own. I fear when it comes to the sticking point her judgment will falter to the detriment of the Kingdom.
TRISTAN Then we will be by her side to council her on such decisions and steer her in the right direction. I know I will be.
(Treize says nothing to Tristan’s comment but looks off in the direction of where the person in question is standing. Julian’s daughter, sixteen-year-old Relena, is standing amid her governess Isadora and her butler Pagan.)
PAGAN Would you like me to turn down your bed, Your Highness?
RELENA I would rather stay right here, Pagan, but thank you for your offer.
PAGAN You have yet to rest since His Majesty was brought back here. It is getting quite late in the night and you have been awake since the birds were singing the sunrise’s herald. This is quite unnatural for Your Highness.
RELENA (Wearily) If the doctor does not come out again until the larks sing, then I shall hear their song once more.
ISADORA Stubborn young lady you are, Princess! Your father would quite dislike you awake this way, and still in full dress. At least get into your bedgown.
RELENA Oh Dora! If only you could hear yourself fussing about me like a mother hen.
ISADORA I hear myself quite clearly, young lady, and if you’d open up your ears, you’d hear the sense in it. This is insanity! Look at you! I can see the paleness in your cheeks, the shadows under your eyes, and you would chide me as if I am the one half my age.
RELENA Father would be very appreciative
ISADORA (Patting Relena’s shoulder) We will know something soon, miss. Do not worry overmuch. Your father is a strong man. He will come out of this as vigorous as ever.
(Eyes shining with unshed tears, Relena turns to her and nods slowly.)
RELENA Yes, Dora, I shall think so. Father was never one to buckle under any sort of ailment, physical or otherwise. (Raises her head bravely.) So they say that he was getting on in years! It does not matter. Soon he will come walking through those doors and reassure everyone himself.
ISADORA (Mustering up a smile) That is the spirit, my sweet. With you singing his praises, he will be sure to…
(Isadora trails off as a grave-looking man emerges from King Julian’s bedroom. Everyone goes still and quiet until the man speaks.)
DOCTOR I am sorry. (Lowers his head, overcome with grief.)
(There is a long silence. Eyes wide, Relena breaks away from a weeping Isadora and goes up to the doctor.)
RELENA Are you sure? There is no mistake—?
DOCTOR I did all I could, Your Highness. His injuries were critical and his body could not sustain itself in its condition.
(Relena shakes her head vigorously and pushes past the doctor. He tries to grab Relena’s arms but she runs into her father’s room.)
ISADORA Relena—wait! Don’t go in there!
(Relena doesn’t listen. She rushes into her father’s room and pauses in front of his deathbed. The bishop does not pause in his benediction over the body. She gazes with immense disbelief at his prone form before throwing herself upon the bed.)
ISADORA (Standing in the doorway) Oh, my child… (Goes to Relena as she sobs.) He is in a better place now.
RELENA (Voice muffled) No he’s not. This place is much better…
ISADORA He was suffering, my child. This place was hardly better. (Strokes Relena’s hair as the men enter the room.) Cry to your heart’s content. No one will dare to disturb you. (Turns head slightly, speaking pointedly.) You are the sovereign now.
(The men share looks. The bishop finishes his benediction. After a moment, Tristan walks up to him as he slips the amethyst and pearl ring from the King’s motionless hand. The bishop drops it into Tristan’s palm. He nods. Tristan turns to Isadora but she shakes her head.)
ISADORA (Softly) Give her a little time. Just a little more time.
(Tristan nods and steps back. The sound of Relena’s sobs fills the room. Tristan motions the bishop out and leaves as well, closing the door behind him. He walks down the hall and past Treize as a young man comes running up to Treize.)
YOUNG MAN Your Grace, what is there to be done now?
TREIZE Sound the bells in the church. Send the messenger with the news. The whole kingdom shall know of the passing of the King.
(The young man leaves to do his task. Treize lingers alone for a moment before joining everyone else.)