“Parchment for King Driscoll,” called the servant at the entry of Rhutgard’s War Room.
Thank the gods. Driscoll hoped it contained news of interest, for he was tired of this room. They had given him certain concessions, given his age, as he was the eldest king not only in the Eastern Alliance but possibly in the Land, though he took no comfort in this latter.
Driscoll believed he was of an age with King Romand over in Corstarorden. There had been King Mend’alair Beaudalain of S’hendalow, who had been about ten years their senior, but he had recently passed from the wasting disease, or so the reports sent out claimed. Driscoll grimaced. No one should die in such agony.
“Lord Berringer,” Rhutgard said dryly as he handed the rolled-up parchment to Driscoll.
The five of them had come to an impasse as to whether to announce a War Council or not, but the truth was, they could not continue to cloister themselves inside this War Room of Rhutgard’s. Sequestering themselves thus, having meals brought to them, it was as if the War Room was a hospice. He and Gerard believed a formal War Council should be called, whereas Rickstan and Reaghann believed it too soon and the more privacy they had to plan, the better. Rhutgard had abstained for the moment and would call for a vote again after more information had been obtained, for he believed both arguments had merit. Perhaps if Rhutgard’s country was not being immediately threatened, he would feel differently.
And fighting – bosh! Rhutgard of all people in the land should have known better. Reaghann was young enough yet that he didn’t have a firm enough grip on his temper. Though it had made for good sport, Driscoll had to admit. And no one had said a word of rebuke to Rhutgard, for they were quite sure his wife had words enough on that subject.
Driscoll accepted the parchment from Rhutgard and unrolled it. Finally. Word from Ormon. He had two men placed inside Ormon but of late, reports had been skimpy.
He felt the eyes of the rest of the Alliance Kings watching him.
Driscoll looked up and met their gaze. Then he sighed. He did not like to be the bearer of such news. He addressed Rhutgard next. “I think it may be time to call a formal War Council.”
Quietly, Rhutgard nodded at him to continue.
“I have two men living within the Ormon borders. One finally reaches me,” Driscoll held up the unrolled parchment. “He writes that the Ice Queen is marching toward the Green Gates, but that her force is divided. Most of it will be headed West, but a small division of it will be sent East to the EverWinters.” He paused and glanced at King Gerard, for another detachment of Ormon and Stordish men was already stationed at the northeast border of the EverWinters. That surely meant that Ormon wanted access to Ghiverny, or to his own country, or both. Either was about as bold a move by the Ice Queen as Driscoll could imagine. Second to regicide, that was. Murdering her husband in cold blood the way she had, well, would that her spouse had boasted half the balls she did or they wouldn’t be sitting in this position, Driscoll thought with disgust.
Rhutgard frowned and glanced all about the room at the Kings of the Eastern Alliance. He nodded shortly.
“Then it is not simply time to call a War Council. It is time to call our Armies to their fighting stations, as we have planned.” He gestured at the strategies they had designed. “And… it is time to announce to our people that we are now at war.” Rhutgard’s blue eyes were cold. “I will declare a formal Proclamation of War against Ormon this afternoon.”
The words echoed in the study.