The next day was the council meeting. The Lords had breakfast at Lord Shann’s and then came to the castle. They went into the council room where they were all allowed to sit in the presence of the King. “How fares the Queen?” Lord Shann asked. “Well,” said the King. “Her fever broke last evening and she sat up in bed and took some nourishment. She is not strong enough to come down yet, so cook has sent a tray up for her.”
“So what have we come here for?” Lord Curito asked. “The Queen has given me the names of the men who attacked her,” the King informed them.” “A moment, “Lord Curito said. He drew out a piece of paper from the side board and a quill pen with a bottle of ink. He dipped the pen in the ink and began to write. After he had written a few words he stopped. “The name please?” he asked. “Sir Joopi,” the king said. “Was he the only one, your majesty?” “No,” said the king, “He always has two compatriots. The Queen said this time was no different.” Lord Curito finished writing out what was, in fact, a warrant for Sir Joopi’s arrest. Lord Curito set the first piece of paper to one side for the King to sign. The King took another pen and another bottle of ink from the side board and signed his name to the first warrant. Lord Curito wrote out the second warrant. At the proper time he asked again, “Name, your highness?” “Sir Kendrew,” the King answered. When he’d gotten his signature on the first warrant he pushed it to one side. Lord Shann took some sand from another side board and sprinkled it on the document to dry it so that the words on it and the signature would not become smeared. Lord Curito finished the second warrant and pushed it over to the King to sign. The first warrant was laid on the second side board. Then, in a moment the second warrant joined it and Lore Curito was asking again, “Name of the third knight, your highness?” “Sir Matyes,” the king said. As Lord Curito make out the third warrant Lord Tibor said. “Too bad, they were good knights from what I heard.”
“Well then you heard wrong,” the King said. “They gave a lot of trouble, to their commanders as well as to me.” “What was the trouble, sire?” Lord Tibor asked. “Nothing big,” said the King. “Just not showing up for duty on time, having a hang-over while they were on duty, asking to be excused early very often. Now there is a contingent of men who have gone south to look for them. But I do not believe that they have gone south. Lord Ghino is Sir Joopi’s father. I believe that Joopi would have gone to him. I need a force of men to go north with me. We may have to force the boy out of his father’s hand.” Calling a knight a boy was an insult and a measure of how angry King Jehan was. He might well destroy them the moment he saw them.
“Sire,” said Lord Curito, “may I counsel moderate your temper. In this case, these men have committed a terrible crime against the Queen, against yourself and against the kingdom. In this case, an example must needs be made of them. Their deaths in a distant place would serve no good. Their executions here in the capitol would show all the populace and even peoples in foreign lands who hear of it, that such crimes must not be committed.” “That is one reason why I need you here,” the King said. “I believe that I shall have to call up a conscription to go after those men.”
“Well alight,” Lord Palton said. “But it will have to be for spring. The snow is too high already. You have neither the men nor the supplies for such an expedition now.” “I want to go after them now,” the King virtually grow-led. “We are aware of that, sire.” Lord Shann said. “But we simply are not ready now.” “Can you be ready, on the very first day of spring?” the King asked. “Now you know that is too soon also, sire.” Lord Shann said. “But we will be ready in good time,” he tried to reassure the King. “Be ready as soon as possible,” the King said. “For you know what they say, justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
Later on in the afternoon, the Queen was looking out of her chamber at the garden below. For some reason she did not know, she began to cry. Denisha came to her then and brought her a cloth. “Your highness,” Denisha said. Then she called, “Mother Hulder.” She had been having a nap in the other room. She came in and saw the Queen. She had seen reactions like this before. “It’s despondency,” she said. “Bring me some hot water and I will fix her a healing tea. It should help her.” Denisha did not ring the bell, or wait for the pages to respond. She went to the kitchens herself. “I need some hot water,” she told the cook. “Mother Hulder wants it for a healing tea for the Queen.” The cook poured hot water into a container for the Queen and sent Denisha with it back to the Queen’s chamber. Mother Hulder made the tea, and the Queen did indeed feel better.