Terrouge E-zine Archives
RoF: Chapter 5
My dear Princess,
I trust you will not deny me the pleasure of your company at a picnic, to take place tomorrow at noon in the rose garden. Also invited with be a number of our mutual friends:
And it went on to list a number of Castle Floret's figureheads. Count Veral, I noticed instantly, was not included. It was signed,
Your devoted servant, Countess Lily Trelant
My eyebrows lifted slightly. Countess Trelant, a rather imposing otter, was a very important figure in court. Trelant was one of the two divisions of the province of Elltiron. Lantara, governed by Veral, was the other. A slight smile spread over my face. So, the courtiers were choosing sides. I read over again the list of invited courtiers: foremost among them were Count Derech Orion, of Floret, and Duchess Alanna Ganym, of Trelant, in Elltiron. Both were leaders of fashion in Castle Floret, and if they appeared at the picnic, thus expressing their support for my views, a large number of the council could be swayed. Perfect. I picked up the other four messages that had been lying on my side table. I hastily scanned the names at the top of the envelopes. Count Derech Orion, Duke Markus Boran, Count Veral Lantara, and Commander Greyfern Floret. I gasped and tore open the last envelope.
My dearest cousin,
I fervently hope that my letter finds you in good health. I have little time to write now. I can tell you only that my brigade remains situated on the southern border, in Mernflor. If you ever want to be bored out of your skull, I whole-heartedly advise you to join the army. Whatever does the Attian border need to be guarded against, anyhow?
I am writing to let you know that I will be returning to Castle Floret on leave within a few weeks. I look forward to meeting your highness again, and your step-mother, whom I have not seen since her marriage to my lord the king. Until then, I remain
Greyfern was coming home! I could have leapt for joy. My father's favourite sister had died giving birth to Greyfern. We had been closer than siblings ever since we were very small. He had earned a name for himself fighting the searats in the 5th Sea War, and had been living as the commander of a border brigade ever since. This was news indeed; I could scarcely wait to tell Katarina, who seemed quite taken with him when they met at the wedding.
The next envelope I opened was the one from Count Derech. I carefully avoided glaning at the one from Veral. Derech's note simply stated that he looked forward to seeing me at the picnic on the morrow. If he had been a squirrel, this would have been considered a prelude to courtship. As he was a mouse, this was assurance that he intended to side with me in the battle brewing over the matter of the Attian request. Wonderful. This should sway several courtiers to my point of view.
The letter from Duke Markus, a relatively insignificant courtier from Mernflor, assured me of his support in the matter of the Attian request, and invited me to an entertainment on the day following the morrow.
I finally forced myself to tear open the last letter.
Princess, We are obviously not in agreement pertaining to the issue currently before the council. I trust, however, that our differences may be worked out agreeably. I beg a private audience with your highness this afternoon to discuss the matter, and attempt to reach a compromise.
Count Veral Lantara
I sat stunned for a moment, then set to work trying to figure a way out of this mess. I was not otherwise engaged this afternoon. I could tell him I was...but he would easily find out the truth. There could be no way to refuse this 'discussion'. I penned three notes and ordered my servant to carry them to their respective recipients immediately. The first was to Katarina, to inform her of the situation. The second was Kalud, the head of the spy network currently watching Veral. The third, to Count Veral, was my own death warrant.