All the King’s Horse and all the King’s men
King Rolande marched down the east hall of his summer palace, his cape billowing out behind him and snapping in the faces of his entourage.
“Majesty, we should consider this an act of war, and we should retaliate in force!” said one of the advisors jogging beside him.
“No!” said Roland as he stopped and spun towards the advisor, causing him to nearly walk into the king. “We have not exhausted all avenues. We have not yet sent an emissary to discretely determine the reasons for this attack with. And if we have determined that there was no reasonable reason for this attack then we will first attempt to capture her to stand trial for crimes committed against the kingdom.” Roland spun on his heel again and continued marching down the corridor.
Another of his advisor’s, a man wearing a pale white mask that covered his whole face, spoke up from the back, causing everyone else in the pack to jump slightly at his apparent sudden materialisation, “But your Highness, you must understand that the Gypsies would never do something like this without careful consideration. Besides it is well known that the Talo have been one of the loudest voices against the reformation of the Monarchy. It is not unreasonable to believe that this attack was a planned offence against our navy when it was weakened from battle with the Bleakmire armada. We must attack now, and deny safe harbor to her fleet at all ports.”
Roland slowed down and eventually stopped to stare out over the palace gardens. He was quiet, and had a look upon his face that made the advisors all shift uncomfortably in their shoes. Just as one was about to ask if the king was feeling alright, the king suddenly spoke up softly. “You are of course correct, my friend.” He turned around to face the group of people and in a louder voice said: “But let it be known that I dislike this course of action and regard it as our last resort. I will first send a raven requesting Justice Scara of house Talo Da’Lua to meet with me at a location of her choosing to discuss this affront on our nation. If I find that her answers are unsatisfactory, I will consider the house of Da’Lua to be outlaws.”
As the protesting started from the advisors, Queen Sigrah stepped around the corner of the hall and glided towards her husband. “My Love, you have barely slept in the past few weeks and you have spent no time with your family. Do I need to fetch my bow?” The advisors suddenly started excusing themselves and bowing out of the presence of the royal couple.Roland turned towards his wife and stroked her cheek. “My dear, you know I can’t sleep peacefully knowing that innocent men have died for no good reason. It worries me even more that a house that has favoured negotiation over violence could so suddenly and for no apparent reason massacre hundreds.”
Sigrah took his hand and started leading him away “I understand this, but do you really think that you can make the best choice for your people when you cannot even stand upright anymore. Come, sleep now and worry about this in the morning. I will ask Armand to draft the letter for you and you can read it in the morning before you send it.”
Roland resigned himself to his fate and retired for the evening but his sleep was not restful for that night he dreamt of death and war.