It was on a mountain that the king died that day. How perfect of an end for a man to die as the physical image of his own family's banner.
Many would say that he was the star at the top of that mountain.
It was the same one that had long been a struggle for many bears to climb, as opposed to how quickly the legendary phoenix could rise to the crest of the tallest peak.
And yet, in his prestigious life of famed heroics, he had done it. He achieved greatness in the most blissful way possible that his family could have imagined.
But what was to become of the throne? Heirless kings were not unheard of and the circumstances surrounding the assumption of power after their death was typically steeped in death and turmoil.
But, there was someone whose blood ties would make him a worthy candidate.
A quick breeze flew past the entourage of blackened robes and tunics that walked in a volume of silence as they approached a grave.
Some held tears, some let them flow freely, and others had no tears left to give.
Prior news bore witness to torn clothes and heavy drinking with seldom communication except where needed, and today would likely be no different.
The air was heavy and cramped with a missing warmth replaced only by the dread of a sharp chill.
The candles and sconces that once burned brightly, were small and insignificant; they failed their job in providing adequate light and potential warmth for the attendees.
But amongst the frail visage of all who attended, both living and inanimate, there was only one individual who masked himself with a composition of apparent indifference.
"Your highness," a somber voice spoke from the shadow of an archway that drooped over the two individuals who stood before it.
The man on the other side had his gaze chasing the sun as it slowly peaked its head over a snow covered horizon; he seemed disconnected from whatever words that pricked his ear.
"The ceremony is to start soon. Would you be joining us?" the voice continued to speak as it provided him with a question.
There was no reason for him to reply; a thought that was so immediate to him when being approached by lessers.
But, the wintry wind carried a miasma of seriousness around them and he was not willing to let his voice go unheard under such circumstances.
"The day has started," the man spoke rather softly, which made him too quiet. In truth, it was more of a mumble than anything and he gave it reluctantly.
Where there was so much emotional suffering, he was likely to drown in it sooner rather than later. Why did no one show this much care all those years before?
"Pardon, your highness?" the voice begged the question in airy confusion. Its ears were obviously weak and he was not one to concern himself with repeating words already spoken.
"For twenty-seven years, I've watched the sun rising over the horizon, constantly wondering if the day would ever come where I could be something more than just a prince."
He leaned his back against a stony wall caked in ice as he crossed his arms; the only thing keeping him warm now were the furs of his robe.
His eyes still refused to acknowledge the voice inside the arch, despite knowing who it was. But his mind could not afford to care, not when there was so much for him to do now.
The time had finally come.
"You know me well uncle. I've always wanted this. Everyone knows I've wanted this. Father knew it. Mother knew it.
And my brothers knew it most of all," he spoke with a voice full of passion that was matched only by his vivid daydreams.
His uncle managed a sigh as he approached his nephew from the dark.
"Barrett... I am aware of your fantasies for power and the growing list of maladies our family has suffered since the first betrayal. But the matter of who will ascend to the throne is unclear. You forget that one of your brothers has a son--"
"Who is not the heir to the throne," Barrett interjected with a hiss.
"Harry missed the chance to become king when he turned against father, so his son will earn nothing, the blasted fool. Now, Samson is gone with no son to call his own. The law dictates that I will take his place and you should know that better than anyone!"
An unsteady silence fell between them, broken only by the steady breeze that occupied the area.
Barrett's brown eyes fell to the frosted dirt path beneath the soles of their feet as he could feel himself starting to choke on the inside.
"Do you at least wish to speak of Samson? " his uncle spoke up, desperate to change the subject.
"He thought highly of you, despite everything."
Barrett looked back at his uncle with an empty stare.
He did not want to admit the truth of his words, and although he tried his best to ignore them, it only added more strain to his iron heart. That was when the first tears broke through.
"Why did no one feel this way about father?" he questioned out of grief. Indeed, the passing of his father was uneventful and caused no issues; the subsequent funeral was fairly vacant. He never understood why.
His uncle slowly approached the boy and comforted him, albeit there were signs of a rejection that made it more awkward than it should have been.
He looked his nephew in the eyes and told him, "Your father is one of the most honourable men that I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Even then, it is possible for such men to gain enemies amongst their own blood. You've seen this."
Barrett nodded as he quickly regained his composure; he was not known to cry, at least not for more than a few seconds.
It was a trait he developed in an effort to be more like his father who he believed to have never shed a tear because, "a courageous man should never let others see him cry".
"You know I would've killed them," Barrett responded further, his voice now low and filled with contempt.
"I know it would've been foolish," his uncle replied with opposing concern.
"Harold gave you many things but the ability to lash out at your own family is not one of them. They did what they felt they had to for the same reason as you; to become king. And you're not the king just yet. You need to be coronated first, remember? As for Harry's son, Peter, we should hopefully have no issue with him.
After all, I doubt our vassals will want to be ruled by a twelve year old boy, legitimate or no."
"Uncle Newman," Barrett spurred from his lips, not even sure if he needed to say anything else.
For all the trouble that life had given his family and his upbringing, Newman was somehow always there to support his family, especially during the rebellion.
It was no surprise that he has been the steward of the royal court since Harold made it so. And Barrett felt he was destined to keep that title a little longer.
"Are you going to come inside now or do you wish to take your leave, your highness?" Newman proceeded to ask Barrett a final time.
After a moment of conflicted silence, Barrett swiftly moved past his uncle and entered the temple, leaving the middle-aged man in his lonesome once again.