A War of Two

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Chapter 8

When Lord Aleheardt saw the High Priest in his robes in the Legislative chamber he knew this would be important. He took a seat with the other lords.Cygon looked directly at him.“Come to Order,” he said.That was the signal for the lords to be quite and listen to what he had to say.“A committee of the Lords Temporal and Spiritual went at the behest of Lord Aleheardt to the castle this day.We went to the dungeon and examined a man that Lord Aleheardt admitted was Prince Willheardt, one of the twin sons of the late King Willmark.We found that this is true.He was who Lord Aleheardt said he was.We went to examine him to see if there was any reason that he would be unfit to reign as king.We had been told that he was in a delicate mental condition.We found that was not true.We also took it upon ourselves to examine him physically to see if there was any physical abnormality that would prevent him from being king.The thought was that we would then be able to pronounce Prince Alemark king and crown him.We found that this too was not so.Therefore we are unable to determine which man should be king in the place of his late father.It is therefore the order of the Lords Spiritual who are the final authority in this matter, that the Dual Royal must be fought.It is regrettable to us that this must be the means to discover who the Great Deity means to be king, but by the laws and traditions of our people there is no other way.”

“That is ridiculous,” Lord Aleheardt said. “Prince Willheardt is clearly unfit.”

“In what way,” Lord Yssidro asked. “I myself was present for the examination and saw nothing wrong with the man.He smelled a bit of basil, but other than that there was nothing out of the ordinary for a man forced to live in the desert for many years.He even told us the reasons why he did not come back to the capitol immedi -ately.You were trying to kill him.Many of us here have reason to know you are an ambitious man.We don’t blame you.But now this has been seen and a determination must be made before we are invaded.This is the clearest and easiest way to decide the matter.”

Lord Aleheardt was thinking again. Now everyone knew that Prince Willheardt was still alive, he would have to be disposed of quickly and in a way that would satisfy the Lords Temporal and Spiritual so that Prince Alemark could be crowned king.

“Alright,” Lord Aleheardt said, “I will arrange it for the inner court -yard of the palace tomorrow,”

“The Bailey would be better,” Lord Sayers said. “That way as many people as possible could see it.It helps to fix in the minds of the common people that this man is the proper king, that he won his crown in a way in keeping with the traditions of our people.”

Lord Aleheardt understood. One of the most important things to the lords was the control of the common people.Having them follow the lords was very important.They would follow where ever the persons that they thought of as their proper lords led.After all they were the ones who made up most of the army and did most of the fighting for those lords.They were also the ones who made up most of the believers in the Temple and who gave most of the support of the Temple.

“That will take more time,” he said, “perhaps a week.”’

“We will be able to stay,” Lord Cairpre said. Most of the lords and ladies had figured to stay that length of time anyhow.They had things to do in the capitol, especially the ones who had come from some distance and did not get there often.

“Then it will be done,” Lord Aleheardt said. “And Prince Alemark will be crowned.”

“The winner of the dual will be crowned,” Lord Sayers reminded him.

Lord Aleheardt returned to the castle. He found Prince Alemark in his chambers again, drunk again, and buggering the serving girls again.“Get out,” he ordered them again.“Get out of that bed,” he said to his nephew.

“What’s the word from the Lords this time,” the Prince said. He was not so drunk this time as the last, having just started his debauchery.“You are going to have to fight the Dual Royal with your brother.And you’d better get started practicing for it.He is not at all mad and quite fit.You have one week.And this must be won if you ever want to be king.”

“Damn,” said the Prince, setting down his goblet a bit hard. Lord Aleheardt practically stormed out of the chamber.“Get in there and help the Prince dress,” he ordered one of the pages.The boy scrambled to do as he was told.

Aleheardt went to the captain of the guard. “We need to have stands prepared in the Bailey,” he said.“Bring the artisans to me for their instructions.”

He went back to his quarters and rang for the Wise Woman Sasha. She came to him thinking that he was ill.He tempered his reaction to her, since he might still have need of her services.“What did you give Prince Willheardt?” he demanded to know.

“Prince Willheardt?” she asked.

“Yes, Prince Alemark’s brother,” he said. “He is still alive.You were supposed to give him something to make him insane.But it didn’t work.So I want to know what you gave him.”

“Two draughts of Basil tea,” she said. “That should drive any man insane.”

“Yes,” Lord Aleheardt agreed. “That should have done it, but it did not.”

“I wonder what he had what countered it,” she asked.

“I do too,” Aleheardt said, somewhat mollified. “But it is too late to find out now.”He knew now that the woman had tried something she was sure would work.It was not her fault if it did not work, just plain bad luck.

The artisans arrived in his lordships chambers just as Sasha left. “We need stands built in the Bailey as though for a joust,” he told them.There had not been a joust there since the King took sick, a few years before.Those stands had not stood up for the neglect they suffered.The artisans bowed and left to begin new ones.These would be for the Lords and Ladies only.The common people would simply stand around the outside of the combat area.This would be basically a grand arena.Lord Aleheardt let it be known that Prince Alemark would fight Prince Willheardt for his crown.After a discussion with the leader of the workmen and an inspection of the works he set the date for the fight.Prince Alemark did a little practicing with weapons, but mostly con -tinued with his womanizing until the appointed day.Prince Willheardt did what he could to keep himself in good physical shape for the coming fight.His desert brothers stayed in the city and did their best to prepare themselves too.

All this time Willheardt stayed in the dungeon. The food was not good and the air was not good.But none of that mattered so much to Willheardt as the fact that a cross quarter day was coming up and he would not be able to celebrate the event with his desert Bedouin brothers.His only hope was that they would be able to remain in the city long enough to see their mission through.

That night, in the dungeon the teacher came again. “I am trying to learn to take visible shape here,” the teacher told Willheardt.“I remember the shape shifting spells and the transformation workings,” Willheardt told him.“Do you want me to help you.”“If you feel able to do it,” the teacher said.“I have been doing nothing but resting all day.”So he helped the teacher go through long orations and certain actions necessary to help him become more visible to his former student.By the end the teacher could assume a certain grayish shape somewhat lighter then the darkness he was in.“I can see you,” Willheardt said. “I am getting tired now and it is getting close to day.You had better leave now.The jailer will come soon and he must find me asleep.”“Farewell little wise one,” the teacher said.It was something he had occasionally called Willheardt when he was the old one’s student.Then again there was a breeze where there should not be one and the teacher was gone.

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