Justice For The Queen

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Chapter 17

In the morning Sir Matyes was at the sea when he noticed something. Something seemed to be passing from the south towards the north in the water. It was merpeople. He had never seen them before and was curious to look. They had unicorns. Only this time they were pulling sled like things. Since the merpeople did not have legs as the nyads did, they could not ride astride. So they rode on sleds. They sat on something that was like a pelvis and their tails hung over the edge.

But that was not what Matyes noticed. He was too busy taking note of the long horns that were really tusks on the males. If he could just kill one or two of them, he would have those horns to trade to people that lived along the border. If they were as hard up for medicine as the people in the town had been, he would trade for anything he needed. So he began to work on his tridents. That would be what he would need to deal with these beasties.

He wished that Sir Kendrew and Sir Joopi were still with him. With them the work would go better because they would be working together. Then he realized that he needed one of those sleds to stand on. Well anchored it would make one fine hunting platform, he thought. But it would take time to finish another larger stronger trident.

Bask at the camp of the king, more females were arriving. They were assigned to different officers and men, each according to his rank. Finally, in this group, at least, any male capable of supporting a mate had one. This made both the females and the males happy. The hunting parties of the men ranged further afield to find food for so many. King Kirillo gave stirct orders. They were to leave the mounts of the King and his people alone. Including te ranks of the shee.

As the king left the camp of the chimerans, more females were coming in. Approximately half of them had young. Of those, most had two, some had three and one had only one. Most of the young were male and female. But there were cases of all males or all females. The females without young were dole out to lower and lower ranking males. Finally came the time when the guard on duty could say to a female, “Do you know who you are? You are the last of the females to arrive for the season. Therefore you are my mate. When the time comes, I will mate with you.” In the meantime he had to feed her.

When they got back to the human camp King Jehan called to his men, “Come and help with this man.” “Who is it?” Sir Fridolf asked. He thought it was Storus and that there had been some kind of a problem. “It’s Sir Ken-drew,” the King told him. “One of the men who raped the Queen?” Sir Fridolf asked. “Yes,” said the King. “One of the bands of King Kirillo’s men found him. They took him and were breaking him to slavery. These chimerans do not consider what he did to my queen important.” King Jehan wanted to tell his lieutenant that so the man would know how to deal with these chimerans. “They did not think what happened to a woman so important to a man. But he did it because they believe these men had insulted me terribly. They said ‘the female was under his protection at the time’. They decided that insult cannot go unavenged. It might encourage others to insult their own king the same way.”

“Humm, that’s interesting,” Sir Fridolf said. “They do not have the same concept of husbands and wives as we do.” Then he added, “We’ll get this one into the cook wagon.” “And tell the cook to look after him. I want him to survive to get hung,” the King ordered.

A few minutes later the 20 young warriors of the chimeran people got to the camp. The King was in his tent, examining the maps one more time. “The chimeran warriors are here with their commander.” “Good,” said the King. “We’ll break camp immediately and head for Sibelius.

Outside the salamanders were reacting the way King Kirillo thought they would. At the sight of horses they decided to attack. After all this was meat on the hoof. Their young riders were struggling to control them. Officer Koruth began yelling orders at them, telling them what to do to control their mounts. It took time, but it began to work and order began to be restored.

“Alright,” Sir Fridolf yelled. “Men, break camp and we will rejoin Lt. Sibelius and his men on the other side of the ridge.” The humans began to do that, while the chimerans with their salamanders now under control, sat and waited. In a few minutes everything was ready.

They moved out and soon were at the ridge. A few minutes later the first salamander spotted the first pegasus. He reacted immediately, and it was the scene in the camp all over again. Again, a few shouted orders and all was back in order again.

The chimerans selected their own site for a camp. When they had set up, they returned to check in with King Jehan. He was going over the map with his scouts and those of the shee. “We’ve been tracking horses from the human town we were in,” the chief scout told him. “We found signs that they explored this area,” he indicated the area on the map. “But we think they found no one because the female chimerans were still hibernating and the males were still far to the south. After that it looks as though they broke up and went into other areas. We have seen Sir Kendrew. We were told that a group of males coming up from the south found him. We found other tracks that went to the east.”

“The sea is very near to the east,” one of the shee said. “We would like to search there. We will report back immediately if we find any sign of humans there.” “That sounds like a good idea,” the King said. “In the meantime, what about the one that went to the north.” “We will look for him,” Koruth said. “That will give me a chance to train these young men in tracking. That is a skill they will need when they become hunters.”

“Will you send runners back to us, if you find anything?” King Jehan asked. “I promise,” Koruth said. “Then it is a plan,” the king said. “We will go at first light. In the meantime, Sibelius, I have an errant that I need to have run. One of your men would be the best to carry it out.”

“I have had to send some of my men back to our lands,” Sibelius said. “We grow short on supplies. “Can you spare one to go to my city?” the King asked. “I must send a message to my queen and get some things from her.” King Jehan did not want Sibelius to know, but those things were coins from the treasury. It looked to him as though he was going to run short.

“I think I should send you two,” Sibelius said. “After all it is a long way, and one man would be vulnerable. Two would be better.” “Thank-you my friend,” King Jehan said. So by the setting of the sun two of Sibelius’ riders, with their pegasi, reported to King Jehan. He had a note written and addressed to the Queen by then.

Also, by that time, the chimerans were ready and were leaving camp. “Are all of your hunting weapons ready,” Koruth demanded to know. “you must have them at the ready at all times.” The young men lined up and showed him the weapons they had. Unlike the humans and the shee, these warriors had to earn the rights to weapons. For the chimerans did not make their own. They traded with humans to get them.

Koruth looked at them and nodded. There wasn’t much, but the young men had kept and maintained them well. “Alright then,” Koruth said. “To your mounts.” The young warriors approached their salamanders. They holstered the weapons on the animals and stood to one side of them with the reins in their hands. They were ready for the next order. With a short, sharp command from Koruth, “Mount!” they were in the saddle. At “Forward,” they prepared to urge their mounts forward, at “Ho,” they did it.

They proceeded out of their camp and along the trail to the north in good order. First they went to the place where the human scouts had found signs of a fire. There Koruth began to teach his young warriors to look for signs of horses. “See here,” he said to them. “These are prints that are made by horses that the humans say are shod. That means that they have strips of metal affixed to their feet. Now I want you to look around very carefully and see if you can find any that go to the north. Also notice that the footprints of the horses are never very near the signs of fire. For some reason the humans keep the horses away from the fire.” One of the young warriors asked, “Why are those marks shaped the way they are?” Koruth cuffed him one, “It’s because that is the shape of the horses foot, you idiot.”

They began to move out then. “Remember,” Koruth said, “it is the one that went to the north that we want to follow.” In the north, Sir Joopi was finding the hunting going well. He was getting a lot of tender meat of the young. He had more than enough to eat for himself and did not have to hunt very often. He thought in terms of a shelter for the winter and decided that the cave he was in would do. All he needed was a door of sorts across the front to keep any drafts out. He would put an area to stable his horse near the front door. That way the animal would not freeze and he would not have to deal with the stink too much. So he began to fell some trees and make a rough palisade across the front of the cave. Then he made another palisade between the area he considered was his living quarters and the area where the horse was.

He didn’t think of any feed for the animal for the winter yet. It was almost summer, so why worry about it now. He also didn’t think of ventilation. At the moment the cave did not need it. It was getting warmer every day.

Near the sea, Sir Matyes was still seeing merpeople go by. He was still working on his trident and hoping that he could finish it before all the fish were gone. He didn’t notice that his horse was not finding a lot of grazing along the shore and was wandering further and further afield to find something to eat. One day he looked up and his horse was simply gone. He never saw it again.

The men that Sibelius sent to the shee capitol and those he sent to Shinna rode together for the first leg of their journey. They found themselves a good camp site for the first night. Again, they urged their mounts to the ground with many slaps on the shoulders. When they tethered them, the pegasi were almost immediately in the sky again, eating the tender new shoots on the trees. In the morning some of the men reached the capitol of the shee with a progress report for the King. “They have captured one of the knights that killed your cousin,” Sibelius said in a note. “We believe that the others are near at hand. We have enlisted the help of the chimerans and are hopeful of getting the other men soon. In the meantime, we run short of supplies. Please send fodder for our animals and food for us by these men that I have sent to you. Two more are going on to Shinna on an errant for King Jehan. He continues to be a most honorable ally. Sibelius.”

At that point the shee warriors parted company. Some to take back the supplies that Sibelius asked for, and the others to go on to Shinna to deliver a note to Queen Medora. When they got there it was the next day. The Queen was up and about. The town too was awake and business was happening. Then one of the watchmen at the tower ramparts noticed some-thing. He gave a loud “Halloo,” he called out. “Halloo.” His calls had the effect he wanted them to. They got the attention of his sergeant of the guard. Very few people this far south had ever seen a shee, let alone a pegasus. The guard pointed up to the sky, to the flying things in the distance. At that time they were so small they looked like some kind of strange bird in the sky. The sergeant came and took a look. He couldn’t figure out what they were so he went in to the Queen. Perhaps she would know.

“Your majesty,” he said. “Your majesty, you must come and see this. I don’t know what this is, Your majesty, please come and tell us.” “Calm yourself,” the Queen said. “I will come and tell you.” She followed him to the tower. There the guard pointed. The thing had resolved itself into two things now. They were flying very near each other, obviously together. “Oh my goodness!” the Queen exclaimed. She was surprised, but not alarmed.

Someone was beating a drum now. It was a call to alarm. The people were manning the walls, preparing to defend the city. “Tell that person to stop beating that drum,” the Queen said. “We are not under attack. For some reason out neighbors to the north, the shee, are coming for a visit. Those are two of their warriors riding their pegasi. The horses fly. They should come and land in the bailey. Clear the bailey out of animals and have the men line up facing each other. That should tell out visitors where to land. And have Prince Inigo brought down there. I want him to meet these people.”

So it was that when the shee were nearing the castle and the bailey and looking for a place to land the Queen’s orders showed them where they should land. All of the people had heard the drum, so they were all at least outside their houses to see this. The shee circled the baily a couple of times. They saw people richly dressed below them, rich enough to be part of the royal family, they decided. They tapped their mounts on the shoulders and began to descend.

The animals landed between the two lines of men. The sergeant of the guard stood forward to take their reins. But the men were loath to dismount. They didn’t think it would take them long to complete their errant. Instead one of the men bent and said to the sergeant of the guard, “I am Sir Lambeth of the shee. Please tell your queen that I bring a message from her husband with a request.”

The sergeant ran immediately to the queen, just as the prince was arriving with his nurse. “Your majesty,” the sergeant said. “The man says he has arrived with a message from the King.”

The queen hurried forward then. “You have a message from my husband,” she said. “Is he well?” she asked. “He was hale and healthy the last time I saw him, madam. He gave me this message to give unto you.” He handed her the piece of paper.

“My dear,” it said. “I am as well as can be expected when you are not by my side. The leader of the shee, an honorable man by the name of Sibelius, has allowed me the use of these men to ask that you do me a great favor. I find myself growing short of funds here. Please send me 1,000 royals from the treasury. Please send the money back by these men. I will need them to meet obligations that I have to the chimerans. We have gotten from them Sir Kendrew. They had begun the process of making him a slave. We will be bringing him back for trial. So pray for us and hope that we get home safely. Give my love to my son, Inigo. Also I send my love to you, my darling one. Your loving husband, Jehan.”

The queen read the note right then and there. “My husband wants me to entrust something to your keeping. Please wait here while I fetch it.” She turned and hurried into the castle from the bailey. In the meantime, the little prince got quite excited about seeing shee and their pegasi up so close. He had the courage of the young. Nothing was going to happen to him. So he toddled right up the man. He reached out and touched the animal. At a word from its master it stood perfectly still. The man then dismounted and took hold of the little boy’s hand. Sir Lambeth helped the prince to pet his mount gently. Then the nurse called him back.

In the castle the Queen called the King’s Treasurer. “My husband has sent me this note,” she said. She showed the man the note. “He needs 1,000 royals,” the Treasurer repeated aloud. “For expenses he owes to the chimerans for their assistance, he says.” The Queen said. “I can get it for him, of course,” the treasurer said. “But what will he do with it. Will he bring the unspent portion back to us?” “What does that matter,” the Queen said, “it is his money.”

The treasurer agreed that, by law, it was his money. “Then why are you standing here quibbling,” the Queen said. “Get the money.” While the treasurer made out some papers for the Queen to sing, she wrote the King a note. “Here is the money you asked for,” the note said. “I am pleased to hear that you have Sir Kendrew. I hope that you will execute him in the most terrible manner possible. I hate to say that I have come to hate him and the others most terribly, but I have. Medora.” When the treasurer had the papers ready she signed them. Basically they absolved him of any wrong doing should the treasury come up short of what was considered to be in there. Then he gave her the bag containing 1,000 Royals. She put the note in and took it out of the castle.

When she was in the bailey again, she saw the young prince standing with the shee beside the pegasus. She let out a little start. My goodness, what if something had happened to the young prince. She was suddenly frightened for him. She came forward immediately, almost running. “Here is the money my husband asked for.” she said to the shee. “Thank-you your majesty,” Sir Lambeth said, bowing deeply. “I must say, your little prince is quite a young gentleman. He mounted his beast and said, “It would pleasure me to be able to visit him again in the future.”

“That will be for my husband to say,” the Queen said, “not for me.” The shee urged his mount into the sky again. The downward draft of the wings did catch the people by surprise, but the baby did not cry. The people then waved good-bye to the shee. The prince followed suit.

It was three days for them to fly back to the camp in the land of the chimerans. In that time, they caught up to the shee with the supplies. They were more heavily laden. Sir Lambeth partner helped with the carrying of the supplies. When they got back to the camp, it was not there. Sibelius had left a sign on the ground. To the shee it meant that they went east. So the men loaded up again. Within an hour they were back with their people.

Sir Lambeth went immediately to report to King Jehan. “I have returned from my visit to your kingdom,” he said. “While I was there, her highness the queen gave me this.” He handed over the bag of royals the Queen had given him. “Did you see her?” King Jehan asked. “Yes,” said Sir Lambeth. “How was she?” the King asked. “She was well,” Sir Lambeth said. “She missed you though. And your son is growing into a fine little gentleman. He will soon want his father’s guidance.” “You saw Inigo?” the King asked. “He came right up to my pegasus,” Sir Lambeth said. “He was not the least bit afraid. I helped him to pet my beast without harming him. He is quite a courageous little man you have there.” The conversation quite delighted the King. “Thank-you very much for your service, Sir Lambeth,” the King said. “But I think Sibelius wants to see you now.” The shee nodded and left the tent, returning to his own commander.

In the north Koruth was teaching the young chimeran warriors more about tracking. “You don’t want to lose the beast that you are tracking,” he said. “So pay attention to the ground that he is going over.” Since Joopi was not expecting to be followed, he did not make any attempt to hide his tracks. Still he did go over stony ground and through streams and such. “Here Koruth explained, “he does not know we are following. He makes no attempts to hide his tracks.” One of his students came and asked, “How do you know it is a male?” “We have been told that we hunt 3 human males,” Koruth told him. “One went to the south and has already been captured. This you know. One has gone to the east, and the humans and shee are tracking him, hoping to trap him against the sea. The last we are following to the north. These are his tracks.” They continued on, making camp before it got too dark.

To the east, the shee and the humans were indeed working together to capture Sir Matyes. He was still working on his trident to catch fish with. When he thought he had got it right he moved out into the waves of the sea. He tried it with little success. Then, having frightened every fish he might possibly catch, he moved to another lagoon. He only noticed the fact that he could not see his horse then. He didn’t bother to go looking for it, although it was not far. It had simply gone further inland to get a drink of water and get some shelter. He was currently drinking from a fresh water stream approximately 1 mile in land. He had found some other horses and was happy with them. So after he had drunk, he had a roll in the grass. Then he got up and ran off with the other horses.

The humans looking for him tracked his horse for a full day. That evening they made camp. They could hear the rushing of the water, so they were near the sea. “We shall arrive tomorrow,” Sibelius said. “What do you plan to do then.”

“Capture him between ourselves and the sea,” King Jehan said. “He won’t be much trouble. He was never the ringleader of things like this. He won’t offer much resistance. The one I want is Joopi. Matyes won’t be much trouble. He was never the ringleader of the outfit. Not a cerebral thinker type.”

“Who was the ringleader of the outfit?” Sibelius asked. “Joopi,” the King said. “He always started things. If he had any honor, he would have won lands of his own by now. But he acted less honorable then his father, Lord Ghino. His lordship is an opportunist. If he gets the chance he’ll steal everything his neighbor has.”

“Then why don’t you take his lands away from him?” Sibelius asked. “Maybe I will one day,” the King answered.

In the North Koruth was teaching his students, for such is what they were, one more thing about tracking. At the camp he marked a tree. He got out his knife and cut the mark at the height of a man riding a salamander. “This is how you mark a trail,” he told them. “When you see this mark, you see that this is where we came into the camp from. In the morning when you wake again, you don’t know where you came in from and therefore don’t know when you leave which way you should go, this will show it to you. So we must follow the tracks in another direction if we ever want to capture him.”

Then he set his men about all the myriad duties of setting up a camp and getting all those chores done. They cooked the food for the men and prepared the food for the salamanders. They set up tents and got bedding laid down. And he set the watch. As senior officer here, in fact the only officer, he would sleep every night. He had to be the most alert every day.

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