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King of Spooks

Lord Acrimbatoli

I was led to a large tent on the outside of the encampment, where guards and servants alike knelt as we hopped off our horses right outside the opening flap. I had, led men before but never received such honor, but still I kept my head help high. The tent was vast, not quite as large as that of Prince Stanislav of Polyznia, but still larger than my entire house. There were about a hundred or so, officers, guards, servants, and strategists, scattered about, and they were all kneeling as we passed. In the back center, was a throne, against the wall of the tent, and a few feet in front of it, a map table, surrounded by several officers who did not kneel, but bowed to our arrival. There was a defining silence, building in suspense, as we strode towards the table. I was to the back, right of the tall man, following his lead, but not dropping my own confidence. As we neared the table, he stopped and I followed suit. Suddenly with a broad smile and in a booming voice, gesturing towards me, he announced “Signore Ward”! The room exploded in applause, as all who previously knelt came to their feet. We turned back towards the table where he told me matter of factly “translator”, gesturing towards the young man across the table, and briefly telling him something in his own tongue. The man was about my own age maybe a little younger, but he was larger than the man who had led me here. In build he looked similar to my brother James, but thrice his size. He was about seven foot tall with broad shoulders, which were rolled back. He wore a high quality uniform similar to his ruler’s. His gate was one of command, and youthful confidence. This would be a good friend to have. A broad smile spread across his face as he bowed to me, and reached his hand across the table to shake mine. “It is an honor to meet you Lord Ward, my name is Dominic Acrimbatoli, I am the youngest son of Lord Acrimbatoli, the man who brought you here and now stands beside you. More specifically I am his seventh son as he is the seventh of his own father, and I was trained as a Cacciatore di Streghe, like you, I believe you call it spook. After completing my apprenticeship five years ago, I came to serve as head Legate to my father. I am essentially his second, communicator, and lead advisor. About thirty years ago as a young military general, my father led some of the officers you see before you and about one-thousand of the men, in the surrounding tents, in protecting our home land of Italy from Spanish Conquistadors. His victory's were exalted across our lands, and as he was elevated to the noble position of Cavalaire, over the next 20 years, many men gave him there allegiance. We have become a self-sufficient force, and for the past ten years, wandered the world helping and protecting those in need as you do. My father has heard great tales of yours and your Lady's deeds, and we would like to align ourselves with you and your fellow county spooks. We all recognize you as our new king, and my father wishes to be the first non-spook to sit on your council. I offer my strategic abilities to help you delegate and decide what to do with this force, and we have already started planning our settlement and such near your home. Do you accept?" The man spoke with a thick accent like his father, but new our words almost perfectly. "Forgive me for my surprise and warriness Legate, this is a lot to take in. As I told your father, surely my wife and I have our accomplishments, but we are no King and Queen or Lord and Lady. If you would truly like to serve us, you will call us Master and Mistress, as those of our land do. I will have to investigate, so as to determine the truth of your claims, but assuming that all you say is true, I am delighted to hear that you have training in our trade. There is no doubt that those citizens of the world will do well to have the forces protecting them from all that which threatens them to be unified under a great collective. Although I am not sure that I am the best candidate to lead such a collective, if you wish it I will step up for such. Of course there is much to discuss, and it is not my decision alone. This would mean a great change in our lives, so I would have to speak with my mistress. Would the two of you wish to travel back to my home with me, to discuss this further before I make a final decision. Dominic turned to his father and the rest of the gathering who were now watching intently, and presumably translated what I had said into their language of Italian. After short deliberation he turned back to me and smiled again. "My father is weary, and wishes to ride no longer today, but instead converse with those in this tent. He sends me in his place to ride with you and meet your mistress. We understand your fears, but as you will come to see all that we have said is true, and if even half of what we've hear of you, you are the one to lead us. We will do as you say and refer to you by the titles Master and Mistress, but we still see you as our king and queen. And so with the large man I strode out of the tent back towards where we left the horses, but to my surprise they were gone. I realized quickly that they must have been taken to a stable. Sure enough around the corner was a large stable with hundreds of riding horses of many different breeds. After finding our own steeds, Legate Acrimbatoli and I rode back towards Chipenden.

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