Ciara stood on top of Cearnach Castle and looked down at the city that sprawled all around her, then out toward the distant farms and forests that fed and sheltered her little kingdom. From the battlements, the people below were nearly invisible, but she could feel them as they moved through their lives. She could feel their hope and their fear, and their expectation that she could guide them and keep them safe, just as her family had done for a thousand years. She supposed she should be happy. In all the stories she'd read as a pup, being king was the hero's reward. It was what they'd fought for, and all they could think about. Now she had her kingdom, but not for being a hero. She'd just been the king's bastard, beloved and ignored, until he was dead and there was nobody left who could do the job. Now, all she could think of was her father.
Connor had been a distant figure all through her childhood. She'd loved him as family, and admired him as a king, but she'd never really understood him. He'd always been so concerned with protocol, with doing what a king was supposed to do, that he'd rarely had time for anything else. Including her. It had cost him his life in the end, and she couldn't help but remember that the last words she'd said to him had been spoken in anger. She'd pleaded with him to swallow his pride end his war before it ended him. She'd demanded that he listen to her for just one time, but he had just hugged her and told her that she'd understand one day. She'd just been a child, then.
Now, she had her own war to fight. Now, she had her own family to take care of, including a nine-year-old sister who was too much like the father she'd never met. Now, as she looked down at the thousands of people who were counting on her, she wondered what Connor would say if he could be with her today.