“I must insist, Lord Yelvin,” said Mevrin in his most imposing voice, “but this is for His Majesty’s eyes only.”
“Captain Mevrin, you are but a member of this Royal Guard, and I am the King’s Chief Advisor. I will have that parchment. For that matter, from where did you get it? What has a Captain been doing in the Royal Pigeon Loft, may I ask?” Lord Yelvin was infuriated.
Mevrin told the man, “If the King cannot view this parchment, then I am under strict instruction not to give it to anyone else.” And Mevrin slipped the parchment into his uniform.
Lord Yelvin’s face turned a shade redder. Mevrin then decided at that moment on Lord Yelvin as his personal choice as conspirator number one for keeping back information of magnitude from His Majesty.
Which was why, some months ago, King Rickstan set up Mevrin’s personal pigeon loft. Mevrin, of course, was in no way a Captain, nor any way a member of the military. Just a loyal subject and highly knowledgeable in the means and ways of pigeons. He’d trained them for years, in fact.
When King Rickstan approached him not long ago while on a ride about the countryside, he asked Mevrin to set up a personal pigeon loft so that all correspondence go through him instead of to the castle now, to train the birds, he’d said. But the King gave him a sharp look, a read between the lines look that meant he didn’t trust the pigeons in the Royal Pigeon Loft.
King Rickstan also gave Mevrin strict instructions that if any pigeon should ever fly from the Eastern Shield, then Mevrin was to immediately find him and give it to him, for Rickstan’s eyes only. Not Lord Yelvin’s, not anyone’s. Should anyone interfere, take the message back and refuse to give it, burn if need be. Mevrin had blinked at that but solemnly agreed. He left Mevrin with the Captain’s uniform so that he might be admitted immediately. And, of course, when he brought these pigeons to His Majesty, he was never to reveal their sender under any circumstance.
Mevrin lived only an hour from the Capital, and so this arrangement was simple enough. He was afforded with more than enough to provide for the birds and his own personal living needs.
But today was the first time anything from the Eastern Shield had arrived and he was suddenly unnerved at just why the King had made this personal arrangement with him, for this Lord Yelvin seemed a man to be reckoned with. Now Mevrin understood exactly why this arrangement existed.
He would not, of course, disclose that there was also a letter from the Eastern Shield inside his uniform as well, which the King had set up, too. Mevrin wondered why, if the King believed there to be such conspiracy surrounding him here in the Palace, did he not just dismiss all the servants, or advisors, Councilors all? But what did Mevrin know of politics….
“I shall have you arrested, sir!”
Mevrin was worried now….
“Your Majesty! It is Captain Mevrin, with a message for you!” Mevrin yelled. The King had best be in that Study….
Lord Yelvin nearly throttled him. “How dare you!”
Suddenly, the King himself appeared and paced down the few darkwood steps to his Study, an alarmed look on his face.
“What is this? Lord Yelvin, this is a Captain of our Royal Guard, what do you think you are doing to him!”
“I – he said that he had a message for you, Your Majesty!” Lord Yelvin insisted as he tugged his surcoat back down.
“Well, by all means, allow him in! Whyever should we disallow Captains of the Royal Guard to give messages to their King? Captain, I must apologize,” King Rickstan told Mevrin.
“Your Majesty, he would not give me the message, and I ordered him to,” Lord Yelvin was not to be dissuaded.
Mevrin bowed low and then saluted. “With all due respect, I told him, as I must now tell you, that I was instructed to tell you that it is for your eyes only, or none at all.”
That was exactly how the King had instructed him to tell him that it was an Eastern Shield letter, after all.
“Very well. I’ll take a look at it,” the King said dismissively.
Was it Mevrin or had the King put on a bit of weight? Hm. He looked much better than he had the last time he’d seen him, anyway.
“Also, Your Majesty, I was instructed to give this to you, for your eyes only as well.”
“I see, Captain. Thank you for carrying out your duty so well,” mused the King as he read the parchment.
Suddenly, he crumpled up the parchment and tossed it into the fire, rubbing a hand over his eyes in what looked like tension.
Then he sighed and popped open the seal of the letter. Whatever he read there, Mevrin thought, was no more gratifying than the pigeon parchment, for he crumpled it up and tossed it into the fire as well, watching it burn into ash.
The King stood away from the hearth then and said, “Captain, you’ve ridden a long way and under great peril. Take some rest a few days before returning to your regiment. Possibly, I may even reassign you.
“Lord Yelvin, ready a retinue for me and horses. I’ll be gone for at least a week, perhaps more. Alone, no servants.”
“Excellent, Sire. I’ll see to it at once. I should like to get out of the Palace for a bit. Where will we be going, then?” responded Lord Yelvin.
King Rickstan looked at him. “Lord Yelvin, perhaps you did not hear me when I said, ‘no servants.’ That means you as well.’”
Mevrin held back a smirk.