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Sunday, December 02, 2007

3.2.12.1. The Ultimatum (Part Two)


The guardhouse in Marlham Palace, as always, is full of rigid yet energetic military activities. Like typical military barracks, the dormitory-like rooms there are crammed with soldiers of various ranks. The knights get separate rooms. Robert’s room, for instance, is small and tidy, with simple yet good quality furniture: a cozy bed, a wardrobe, a table and chair for studies, and a book shelf.
Robert is just finished reading the book he borrowed from Rael’charon, a fascinating book of strategies and its applications in the historic wars in the land of Aurelia. The facts that we can win battles not by might, but with our minds are ever intriguing. Even the simplest tactics used in a right time and a right place can turn into a decisive, unpredictable maneuver that brings victory.
Taking a break from all that excitement, Robert looks out from the window. His eyes catch a glimpse of the Royal Orchard, and his mind begins to wander. He is so in love, obviously. The thought of his love alone puts a smile in his heart, if not on his face.
Suddenly, three knocks on the door snaps Robert back to himself. Then a voice says, ‘Sir Robert Chandler, I bear an urgent message from Counselor Rael’charon.’
Robert opens the door and sees that the speaker is a palace guard. ‘Proceed,’ he says.
‘Counselor Rael’charon wants you in his study right away. That’s all, Sir.’
‘I got your message, soldier. Thank you and dismiss.’
‘Yes, Sir.’
Without further ado, Robert proceeds to Rael’charon’s room.
==oOo==
‘Ah, Robert, do come in,’ says Rael’charon the elf. ‘Take a seat.’
Robert only has one book in his room, whereas this room is full of books stored neatly in shelves on the walls high up the ceiling. The books and scrolls there are all clean, only bearing marks of being read over and over again.
‘Here, Counselor. I’ve finished reading it,’ says Robert, putting the book he just read on the table.
‘Ah, about time. Now I want you to pack your things. I’m on a secret mission to Arcadia and you’ll be my escort. After that, we’ll go to Valanis. You’ll stand trial there and I’ll be your defendant.’ The elf finishes his instruction with a smile.
The time has come. The chance to clear my name and reclaim my father’s sword...
That thought still leaves Robert with curiosity, and Rael can see it through his eyes.
‘All I can say to you is we must reach Myrcalia with all haste, and Ney’varíth will be going with us too. Now do what you need to do. Meet me in the main gate in two hours and we’ll be on our way.’
‘Yes, Your Excellency. And thank you.’
‘Thank me for what?’ The elf frowns.
‘For standing up for me in trial.’
‘Save your thanks for later, when they say you’re not guilty. For now, just do me a favor: follow all my instructions and never question them, if you know what’s good for you.’
‘Will do, Counselor.’
With these words, Robert takes a bow and leaves the room.
==oOo==
Robert uses his time to say good-bye to Eloise formally in order not to rouse suspicion, reassuring her that they will meet again. He also tries to find Zigurd, but the old Knight is taking an extended leave, going back to his home village near Leddingsford to restore his own health.
And now, Robert is walking towards the Main Gate, clad in his new, shining armor. Silvery white-blue and made from iron plates, the armor suits just right for his body. Some may suspect that the armor was made by magic, but truthfully it is elf-made, made in Thyrine by Rael’charon’s request and transported instantly to Alceste by magic. Robert feels the armor is almost as light as his old leather Brigandine, and he can still move as swiftly and flexibly as ever.
So, when he sees Rael’charon at that gate, the first thing he says is, ‘Counselor Rael, thank you for this magnificent armor you gave me.’
Rael responds, ‘Don’t mention it. I have the feeling that his journey is going to be extremely dangerous, so we will need the best protection we can get. Here’s your cloak. Now let’s get going and make haste. I bet the enemy has known about our trip already.’
‘May Vadis and Enia bless us in our journey,’ prays Ney’varíth.

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