The king was dying. Hector went into the man's room almost every day. The stricken man was about to be his father-in-law, after all.
His bride-to-be, the beautiful Princess Gabrielle, was at her father's bedside more often than not. No other nobles were experienced enough or willing to see to the day-to-day running of the kingdom, so Hector went about the task with relish.
The ease with which he slipped back into the role of monarch surprised him. It had been over four centuries since he had been a human king, yet in all that time, not much had changed in the world of men. People still needed to eat, still needed a bed to sleep upon and clothes to wear. They required all the mundane trappings they had in times past. Nothing had changed.
Except perhaps the situation was even easier to deal with than it had been during Hector's life.
When he had killed his final brother, the current king, Hector had been forced to fight off other claimants to the throne. Everyone knew foul play was involved with the king's assassination, yet they were helpless to stop Hector's ascension. Of course, in the end he was killed himself, murdered by his own valet. Hector had gotten his throne and although his reign was cut short, he had risen again as a wight lord, one of the aristocracy of the night.
In Castle Drakenhof, things were much more simplistic. The queen had ruled with an iron fist. There was none of the court intrigue and back-stabbing he was accustomed to dealing with. The people of the land had been through so much in recent years, so much death and destruction, a deep sense of apathy had settled over the populace. Even the smaller outlying towns were reeling from the war Marcus Ravenholt had brought to their doorstep.
The vampire had done the difficult work, the taxing, tiresome fighting on rain and blood-soaked battlefields. Hector considered it a necessary evil, but one not altogether suited to his skills. Now the wight lord had defeated them from within with guile and treachery. They were defeated and desperate for assistance to rebuild.
Hector Brightblade would provide that assistance. He would help them rebuild. He would give them hope of a more secure future. He would also give his own life purpose again. He would not allow himself to fall prey to the despair that had destroyed the vampire or give in to the unrelenting tedium that was the lich master's existence.
No, Hector would not allow that. He had come too far.
Over the past couple of weeks, he came to realize how the kingdom had been held together by the icy grip of the late queen. No one knew what to do without her. When Hector stepped in and began giving orders, no one questioned it.