The queen smiled triumphantly when he told her that he would take her offer. By the next morning his wounds were seen by the palace physician, he was back in armour and was now on the way to the throne room to meet with the king and his advisors. All the usual suspects were there Chrisoncor and Lurion. Huma was notably absent, his place was taken by his father. He wondered about that as he looked at the queen. Her face however betrayed nothing.
All the men in the room seemed surprised at his appearance, his father more so but he could also see relief imprinted in his features.
“What is he doing here? Shouldn’t he be rotting in a prison somewhere.” sneered Baston.
“Lord Doranand has paid for his crimes and is here to perform another act of penance, this time in service to the king.” answered Ana-Moriah.
“I see Your Highness.” Doranand could see how much it rankled him that he had to defer to a female. He smiled.
“My wife tells me that you have a plan.” said the king without any inflection in his voice.
“Yes, I do.” he said as he rolled out a map of the continent before them. “For years we’ve had a pointless squabble over the useless piece of land that is Block Isle.” he started.
“It isn’t useless it is just a few miles away from the capital. Them controlling it leaves us open to attack from the sea.” said Baston.
“Yes under your leadership Evan has been made vulnerable as your tactics thus far has been worthless. Garion owns the isle now.”
“Do you have a better idea?” he bristled.
“Currently most of Garion’s army has been deployed to the southern tip as they plan to invade via Block Isle. What I am proposing is that we send ten ships to meet them on the isle, while the rest of our armada sail further north to the Dykelands. Most of that area is below sea level and the majority of the country depends on produce coming from that area.
Our attack will be centred on destroying most of the dykes causing the sea to take hold of that land once more. From the geographical drawings of Telsa, Turion Lake would be connected directly to the gulf if not for the dykes. The pass right here would be deep enough for our ships to sail unimpeded into the lake and towards Turion.
“The city would be at our mercy since all the troops have gone south. In the meantime our armed forces from Riverdale, Gohara and Lurion would converge east of the Landing and would invade the northern cities of Havendale and move east to Mistwall.
“With no food, and the cities captured, the entire country will experience famine and the monarchy will be entirely at our mercy. Mercy which we will not dispense of course as Garion will cease to exist. They may own Block Isle, but we will own the continent.”
“What did I tell you my love? He is brilliant. It would be too much of a waste to have let him rot in the dungeons.” beamed the queen.
“So it seems.” he said flatly. “You have been offered a royal pardon Lord Doranand and will be re-instated in the military of Arnay with the rank of Admiral. You have responsibility to wipe out the southern borders of Garion. I will leave the northern assault to Lord Baston.”
“My Lord, what he is proposing goes against the conventions of war.” said Conway who for the first time ever dared to disagree openly with the king.
“All conventions were nullified when they took my daughter and made her their whore. I want them all dead. From the suckling babe to the blasted king. All of them. If you have a problem with this Conway, I could always find a more willing replacement for you at my table.” he said darkly.
“That will not be necessary Your Majesty.” he said looking partly chastised and thoroughly horrified.
“I thought so.” said Arro-Bar as he walked out of the room. The queen with him.
“You stupid child! You whipped dog!” roared Baston. “Do you know what you have done?”
“Of course, I chose to win a war and exact the perfect kind of revenge on those who wronged me.” he shouted back.
“Years of work gone!” he continued.
“Baston calm down.” said Conway grabbing the other earl. “This is neither the time nor place and we are definitely in the wrong company. Let us leave. We have our orders.”
Doranand was left alone with his father who had said nothing.
“So you have taken Huma’s place.” he said.
“The old man was not as amenable to the queen’s will. I was placed here as I had more than enough reason to be.” Meaning if he erred his father would be punished. The converse was also true.
“You never did say what you thought of my plan?”
His father took in a deep breath. “In all honesty, it is brilliant. Brutal but brilliant. I don’t know why you have chosen to tread this path son, but tread wisely.”
“Is it true about what they say? Aliana is to marry the prince?”
“The announcement came a day ago.”
“Then I have indeed chosen the right path.”