While Zane and Daire transferred the furniture out of the portal chamber, Arabelle and Jazzlyn filled the big chest with precious jewellery. They had to keep the scales balanced, lest the portal implode.
Dr. Waldemar and Sir Cecil Shay watched jealously. They had no objection to Arabelle trading her furniture etc. for jewels. They just saw no reason why they should exert themselves. They would soon profit from the jewellery. The jewels would be sold to pay for the missing Ready-Maids. The crown's evaluation would be much lower than market value.
Lured by the glittering jewels, Dr. Waldemar stepped towards them. Why shouldn't she pick out a piece or two? The king would support her in this. She deserved a reward for keeping a close eye on Dame Arabelle.
Arabelle slammed down the lid and whipped out a knife. "Don't even think about it!" she snapped. "These belong to me and to Daire. Keep your greedy paws to yourself!"
"They belong to the crown in compensation! His majesty will confiscate the lot. You'll be lucky to be permitted to keep your title, Dame Arabelle."
"I don't owe the crown anything! Slavery is illegal! The Ready-Maids are free by right. These jewels belong to me and my family. I will protect what is mine! Get back or you will regret it."
"You wouldn't dare! I'm the granddaughter of the king!"
"I'd knife the king, if necessary," Arabelle snapped. "Try me! Be stupid and get hurt."
"Majesty! Treason!" shrieked Miranda. "They are stealing the treasure!"
"Treasure!" yelled the king, bursting into the portal. "Yes!" He stopped as he saw Arabelle holding a knife on MIranda."Lady Viksne, there is no need for this. You succeeded, as I knew you would. There is enough treasure to pay off your debt and leave you with a handsome profit. Just trust me and I will take care of everything."
"I did trust you," Arabelle said, "to my sorrow! You took all but two pieces of MY trove and my portal from me in exchange for my own inheritance....after you had your lacky, Sir Cecil, steal most of it. You broke your vows to me as quickly as you made them. That frees me from my oath of fealty to you. As for your present claim, the Ready-Maids are sentient and you knew it."
"I'll have you arrested for treason," the king warned.
"A trial," Daire said mockingly. "Won't the press love that! What a world shaking scandal: a king stealing treasure and breaking his oaths. Is the king above the law? As your majesty claims to be."
"That is not what I am claiming!" King Gregory said hurridly. "I uphold and represent law! The portal belongs to the crown. Lady Viksne is the crown's agent. All treasure so discovered belongs to the crown."
"This treasure was not 'discovered'," Arabelle informed him. "This is my payment for my furniture and other belongings. It is mine."
Daire held out the DNA contact. "The portal says it belongs to Arabelle. Any challenger has to have the will to take it from her. I'll make you a bargain, your majesty. Arabelle will permit Miranda to challenge her for control/ownership of the portal, if you agree to make reparations to those you have wronged. You will uphold the law of succession according to the Royal Compact. You will see to it that Lady Viksne's full estate is given to her, or compensate her in full at market value."
The king glanced at the chest full of jewellery. Lady Viksne's estate couldn't compare to the promise of untold riches the portal offered. Maintaining a monarchy was expensive! "Agreed!"
Arabelle felt Miranda's attempt to wrest the portal from her. She concealed a snicker. Arabelle longed to show Miranda just how petty and pathetic...but that wasn't what Arabelle wanted most. Arabelle loved Daire! Daire loved her and was trusting her to fight for their future. She couldn't marry him if she was tied to a portal. She released the portal to Miranda.
The portal's reaction was immediate. The door slammed shut and everyone, except Miranda, was knocked off their feet.
"I did it! I won!" Miranda gleefully proclaimed her triumph.
Arabelle kept her opinion to herself. Miranda would soon learn that she had lost her freedom for a dangerous, erratic portal that might never open for her...if she was lucky.
"The portal is yours," Daire said. "Lady Viksne's property will be restored to her....and the crown of Erisky is mine!" He grinned at the king. "I am Prince Adaire Wayfair, the rightful Prince of Erisky! My father was the rightful heir to the throne, until Prince Arthur kidnapped and exiled him. I vowed to reclaim the throne. Under the Royal Compact you must immediately proclaim me the ruler of Erisky."
"I can't do that!" the king protested. "It's been approved by Parliament."
"You have no choice but to proclaim the good news and to officate at my coronation," Prince Adaire stated. The vow was witnessed by the portal and transmitted to Parliament and all the official records. Arabelle saw to that during the so-called challenge. Your Miranda didn't beat Arabelle, Arabelle gave her the portal. The force that knocked us to the ground was the portal re-locating itself back to it's chosen site: Lancaster Isle."
"Don't look so hurt," Arabelle told Miranda and the king. "We all win! Miranda has the portal and can marry Sir Cecil, since she's now out of the succession. Prince Nicholas can return to his newly-restored palace on Laosky. Your majesty has the satisfaction of knowing that Erisky is in capable, honest, hands. Adaire will be a wonderful prince! The monarchy will be stronger."
"You will compensate Lady Viksne for her lands and property on Laosky," Prince Adaire stated. "Lady Viksne is going to marry me and be Princess of Erisky. With her at my side, we will be able to restore faith and pride in our monarchy."
"If I refuse?" King Gregory asked bitterly.
Prince Adaire flipped out a sword, holding it ready. Arabelle brought her knife into position as well.
"You were an excellent king," Prince Adair said, "but you have become devious and untrustworthy. Temptation and the fight against Prince Arthur's corruption have tainted you. We must restore the honour of the Sky Islands. Great wealth will not earn the respect of our people. We must address their concerns. The law must be just and to apply to all. The environment needs to be protected and nurtured. We must work together for everyone's benefit."
The king nodded. "Welcome, Prince Adair of Erisky. May your rule be long and happy."
The others left the portal chamber and Arabelle and Daire were alone. Daire put his arm around Arabelle. "I wanted to tell you but that would have made you an accessory to my 'crime' of trying to regain my grandfather's throne."
"I was the official pretender to Erisky's throne," Arabelle told him. "Two pretenders who are now the real Prince and Princess of Erisky. As long as we are together, we can do anything."
He nodded. "We both won and we will make our marriage a happy one. We're a team. There are a lot of improvements we must make to see Eriksy prosper. I can't think of a more rewarding job, especially since I will have you as my partner."
Arabelle smiled in return and snuggled closer to him. "That's the best part. To love one another and live together all of our lives."