“Your Majesty – I have most important news for you.” The soldier wheeled his horse alongside Varley’s so that he might speak with him.
“Parchment please,” Varley held his hand out to the soldier.
“Begging your pardons, Your Majesty, but I was to relate these to you verbally.”
Varley raised an eyebrow. That was different. At least it promised a slight bit of change. His trip from Romeny had been a long one thus far and he was tired. Still two days from the Storden border, too. A slight smile tugged at his face. His Storden border now.
“Very well, then. What is it?”
The soldier eyed Varley briefly before he began. “Your Majesty, by King Harvick’s hand, Irving Whittemore Goddard took the throne in the line of succession. He has now installed himself in Pikeston Keep as King of Storden, along with his wife and sons.
“He has a document given to him from your father, King Harvick, written, stamped, and sealed by His Majesty, King Harvick, that says you, Varley, were disowned and are banished from the Country of Storden for the Crime of Warmongering. The entire country is talking of it, Your Majesty. Irving read the document before all in the City of Kingston and says your crimes against the Country of Storden, as they are Treasonous, are punishable by Execution only. The folk are already calling him – forgive me, Your Majesty – they are already calling him King Irving. He even rang the bells and they Changed the Guard….”
With that, the soldier urged his horse away from Varley. Well, Varley wouldn’t have driven his sword through that soldier, he thought, for he had informed him of such news that without it, Varley would have walked into a trap, or worse.
Disowned. His head spun. That couldn’t be. Where were those ridiculous, howling little brats? Or had the Queen taken them and run? Undoubtedly a forgery. Father would never have known ahead of time. He scoffed a bit. Warmongering.
“If you please… Your Majesty, I’ve more news.” The soldier eyed Varley warily.
Varley’s eyes narrowed. More news than such as what he had just heard? It had best be good….
“Three hundred warships, seen last in the harbors of Port Dembledon and Port Senswick, are missing, and sources from both Naval ports report that King Harvick sent them and the troops aboard them to join Clemongard’s Navy, as a neighborly gesture to Queen Selby.”
Varley did not hear this last. It washed over him, like a tide, and it did not sink in. His entire Naval fleet, the man said. Three hundred warships – all fifteen thousand troops. Now in… Clemongard.
By his father’s hand. As a neighborly gesture.
And Varley now himself a man to be executed if seen upon Stordish soil.
He let this sink in, slowly. Slowly.
The Ormon woman’s ships were on their way, so those former ships of his would get blown from the water in just two weeks hence, while her other ships would be stopping at… Storden. His… former home. Very well. King Irving, fight those twenty thousand men of hers, for Varley would be taking his own twenty thousand men and riding south.
As another… neighborly gesture.