Reaghann paced about his study. He had sent out so many directives, he was unsure of what was left next. He was exhausted, as well. Much of his work he had accomplished on his way home from Romeny, but a fair pile he found awaiting him when he returned. Damn this war.
Finally, he flung himself into his chair and drummed his fingers upon the mahogany.
Almost guiltily, his eyes strayed toward his upper right-hand drawer. He knew no one would have opened it or gone through it… but….
On a whim, he pulled it open and riffled through the paperwork inside it. Still in the same order he left it. Lady Green Eyes had left. But he had held out some hope when he’d seen her handwriting, signed Anonymous, back at Fairview Palace.
Idiot, he scolded himself.
Well, at least he knew he wasn’t being observed. He’d covered up the spyhole from the outside. Listened to, well, that Reaghann would never be able to guarantee. But he had dismissed half his Cabinet as well as the members Lady Green Eyes had warned him about. He’d replaced them with new Lords and Councilors, some of whom, it seemed, had truly taken their new posts seriously in his absence.
He wondered if Lord Drury had been seen, or if he was colluding with anyone. Reaghann hoped neither, especially the latter. Hardewold was immensely difficult to police due to its size. Worse, no one would believe that a man of Lord Drury’s integrity would be capable of such crimes, and so no Wanted posters were distributed. Only word of mouth among select individuals.
His Crown Captains reported that Prince Rilstrom had not been found. Reaghann started a bit at the news, then nearly smiled. He now had a loyal Guard. He dismissed the search on the part of King Rickstan.
No Western galleons had been spotted in his waters, neither along the coastline nor in the Treasure Sea. Reaghann was not sure if only the number of soldiers who had been sent through to the EverWinters had been previously agreed upon, or if they knew they had been discovered and stopped sending men. In either instance, Reaghann’s Navy now owned the sea again. He distinctly believed that something under the table had taken place, allowing those galleons through, keeping his own men far out at sea, unaware of what was transpiring. However, it was too late to unravel the mystery now, with him going to war. At least ten ships would be docked at each port, and another ten stationed in that port’s waters, watching for incoming ships from the West. Two hundred more would be stationed around the Sea Straights, and two hundred more at sea in random formation at the south of the Wet Lands. If – if he had to send the Clemongard Queen ships, he could spare one hundred and that would make it tight… but sending ships around that far would likely be seen by the Coastals, especially if they were going to be called in to war by the Northern Countries. Undoubtedly, they had assumed attack formations to prevent assistance from the East as his Navy had from the West. And by attack formations, he meant for his Admirals to fire at will. There would be no Twenty Years War if he could help it….
But his Captains had given him strange reports from the South. People going missing, ships and merchants, both by land and sea…. From Southend and west. He didn’t like it, he didn’t like it at all. Not pirates, too bold for pirates. There was no reporting it to Rhutgard now, of course, that the Eastern Shield was already in the EverWinters somewhere. Reaghann would have to take care of it himself. Damn.
And what was he to do, when he had a war to plan?
He sighed and slammed the right-hand drawer of his desk shut.