Count Jeronim regarded the boy seated on the little piebald pony next to him. The slender young child looked back at him nervously.
"Am I really the Prince now?" whispered Pellinore quietly.
"And heir to the throne," answered the Count of Joyeuse, as they rode forward. "Perhaps more, if our suspicions about King Pelleas are true."
Pellinore gulped. "I... I hope the old king is alive."
"We all hope that," noted Jeronim. Even if most of us rather doubt it...
"Grandfather always said he was a good man," noted Pellinore. "Very different than Prince Amfortas."
Jeronim nodded. It occurred to him that he didn't really even know the King. Pelleas had been a vague presence for most of his life, a man that you vaguely prayed to the gods that he would recover his health while you waited for him to die. The thought of him as a man with ideas, with goals, and politics all his own was... rather disquieting, actually.
The Count banished such thoughts from his mind, and shifted his gaze to the Great Gate of Joyeuse, where Eustace de Calx waited, sitting on a white horse. As the pair approached, he gave a stately bow. "Your Highness," he declared.
Pellinore blinked rapidly, as if trying to remember what to say. "I... I..." He gulped. "At your service. Duke."
Eustace gave a chuckle. "My Prince--I am here to serve you." He turned to the gate. "Open these, so Joyeuse may know its sovereign." With a clank, the gates gradually opened, revealing cheering crowds, waving flowers, and flags.
As Pellinore rode on into the city, the Count glanced at de Calx. "That went surprisingly well, based on what you told me you..."
"Please be quiet, as I am white with terror," declared Eustace forcefully.