Edrich of Haluken

Chapter Seven

When Valla had left the Regent sat and sighed deeply.

“What troubles you My Lord?” I asked.

“I’m still trying to come to grips with how this all transpired. I am shocked to know that people want to kill me because they hate my cousin. I am at a loss as how to prevent it in the future.”

“Have you considered having a highly trained man as a personal secretary. He could attend any meeting or gathering and not look out of place,” I suggested.

“Would you like the job,” the Regent chuckled.

“No My Lord, I know that I only succeeded because the man didn’t expect a boy like me to attack him, let alone wound him deeply,” I replied.

“That much is true, you have also considered the events then?” The regent noted.

“Yes My Lord, I have.”

“Halkar, when we’re in private or with your Father call me Halkar as he does. In public My Lord is fine but it becomes tedious during conversation,” Halkar said. But when we’re alone, or taking a sauna I am just Halkar. It’s hard to wear a crown in a sauna you know.

I giggled a bit at the thought of a naked man wearing a crown and thrashing himself with birch branches

“I’ve heard no news, what was the public reaction to the attempt Halkar,” I inquired trying it out.

“Typical, many want anyone with black hair and olive skin jailed and deported. Greeks, Italians, Serbs, it’s ridiculous. Typical knee jerk stupidity. Sometimes I dream of going to Greenland and staying there, or perhaps to the New World,” Halkar sighed.

“But you know you are needed here, you have brought so many good things to the people of Norway and you’ve broken the grip of the Roman church on our land,” I protested.

“It’s only a dream, don’t you sometimes dream of returning to Haluken and living a simple life with sheep or goats to tend? I was very happy in the army but then I met Iris at a ball. It sealed my fate. We married and I accepted this posting. The King needed someone who wasn’t after his throne to get things done here. I think I’ve done that, though I have much more to do.

“I will be giving a speech in the main square to put the deportation sort of thing to rest though. I will have no pogroms like they do in the east,” Halkar proclaimed.

“You know you will have to accept a medal at the very least for your actions, but I have written to my cousin for his advice. The King is better at that sort of thing. How would you like to be Sir Edrich?” Halkar half teased.

“Wouldn’t that make it difficult for me to join the army if I needed to?” I asked.

If god forbid you were needed in the army, I would commission you as an officer in the unit of your choice. I hear you’re quite a horseman, perhaps the calvary. With your education and intellect, it wouldn’t be a hollow man commission. You have a sharp mind to go with a sharp dagger. The sword master tells me all of you boys are formidable adversaries. He suspects you practice away from the palace,” Halkar divulged. “Besides, would you make my daughter a widow before you’ve even married?”

Halkar was smiling but he was quite serious.

“Would you ever allow her to marry a boy from the clans?” I asked.

“No, but a nobleman of great spirit and courage would be an excellent candidate for her hand,” Halkar said seriously.

“But don’t you have to be born into nobility?” I asked.

“In some countries that is true. But Danish law is different. A man has a path of nobility through service. Your Father is a nobleman and he is genuinely noble. I’ve met nobles from countries with strict accession that can’t poor piss from a boot whilst examining the heel. We are the descendants of Vikings, Norsemen made the world what it is today. People have just forgotten where their heritage lies. You have a better claim than I do, my bloodline is polluted with Gaul’s, Austrians and all manner of inbred idiots. You are a Norseman through and through. When you return to school ask your teachers to teach the sagas. You will feel much better about your kinsmen and being a clan boy as you say.”

I took what Halkar said to heart. We of the clans who still followed Lord Odin and made wards against Loki the trickster. We were the remains of the Viking world. I would think on it whenever time permitted.

Halkar and I talked for some time, but Lady Iris came and led him away for his dinner and I was served in my room. But I was able to sit at a table and eat like a man, not an infant.

When I woke I rose from my bed with only a twinge in my leg. I walked to the commode and emptied my bladder and bowels. I moved to the wardrobe and found fresh clothes. It was my uniform with new trousers. The others were ripped and bloody after the attempt on the Regent.

The nurse arrived as I was leaving and bade me farewell. I kissed her cheek and thanked her for her ministrations. I used the stick on the stairs but tucked it under my arm as I walked into the court chamber. The guardsmen on duty snapped to attention and saluted in the old roman manner while holding their lances, arm across the chest and fist on the heart.

“I apologize for being incomplete My Lord, but I couldn’t find my hat,” I told him.

“Your old one suffered a bit of damage during the fray, I have a replacement for you here.

The Regent presented me with a hatbox and bade me open it. Inside was the sort of hat the guardsmen wore when they weren’t wearing their helms. It had a cockade and a larger version of my collar pin on the front of the crown. The brim was wide and rakishly shaped so that the effect was of a man of arms and one not to be trifled with.

“Well…put it on,” The Regent said impatiently. I could see where Valla got it from.

I placed the hat on my head and gave the brim a flick of my fingers as I had seen Father do. It was a perfect fit. Then I removed the hat brought it to my waist and bowed deeply.

“At your service My Lord,” I said and I was serious.

The Regent beamed at me, “You must never were the hat unless you are wearing your Sabre. You are incomplete without it,” the Regent informed me.

“But I don’t have one My Lord,” I confessed.

“Oh, what about the one on the far right side of the rack?” He asked.

 I turned around and hanging from the rack I saw a sabre in its scabbard hanging by the belt. It was two thirds the size of a standard sabre and was perfect for a boy my age.

“Well go and get it boy,” The Regent urged.

I practically ran to the sword rack and pulled down the saber. It was a cavalry style just like Father’s. When I turned around Father was standing next to the Regent smiling broadly. I walked back carrying the scabbard and sabre .

“Now Edrich, present the hilt to the Regent and grasp the scabbard,”

I did so and the Regent drew the sabre and saluted me with it, then he touched the flat side to each of my shoulders and sheathed it.

“You are now a member of the Guard. Your commanding officer is Lord Marshall Karl of Ikast. When you are feeling better, the Sword Master will show you how to wield your sabre from foot or horse. You know the basics and the Master tells me you have the same finesse with a blade as your father,” The Regent told me.

I received instruction on performing a salute with a sabre. It’s not something for the uninitiated to try. First you draw the sabre, then touch the tip to the floor then raise it to a vertical position with the hilt in the center of your chest and the blunt side of your blade towards your face. The spine of the blade should just brush the brim of your hat.

I practiced a few times and got it right except for sheathing the blade. Father showed me how to do it without looking or stabbing myself. It was simple. You swing the sabre down to the scabbard and then capture the flat of the blade as you pull it outward and guide it to the scabbard with the first finger. The rest of your fingers hold the scabbard still. Once I knew the method it was easy to master. We didn’t wear scabbards in practice. Just a ring for the wooden sabre to hang in until we drew it again.

I will teach you how to keep the blade sharp but remember, it is not a toy. Keep it out of the hands of small children like Ivy, Bolly can hold it but you must watch him closely. You will only wear your uniform for ceremonial occasions unless there’s an insurrection or the city is under siege. You will be trained for those situations and many others,” Father instructed.

“Now then, when you leave, the guardsmen will salute you either with sword or lance. Return the salute as you’ve performed it for us. “Stop in and see me when you next return. I will have things to tell you.” The Regent informed me.

We took our leave from the Regent so he could get on with royal business.

The guardsmen all saluted as we encountered them and Father and I returned the salutes as they came. On the carriage ride back I told Father I was glad to be going home.

“Was Valla making it difficult for you to behave? He chuckled.

“You have no idea Father. I think she wants me in her bed,” I shared.

“I’m sure she does. She’s of the age when young girls start to learn what is expected of a good wife. Some girls fear it and others revel with anticipation. I don’t think Valla has a fearful bone in her body except where you and her father are concerned. It is good that you have become friends with the Regent. Halkar is a good man and he has an attachment for you. He is a good man to know. Listen to his advice and question it politely. He is a very good thinker and problem solver. And now I must tell you there is some unpleasant business ahead. We will meet with the magistrate, prosecutor and disputing counsel tomorrow. Answer only the questions that are asked, tell the truth and be calm in your demeanor. You are not on trial,” Father told me.

“He asked me to call him Halkar in private Father.”

“Yes, and there is another change you must cope with. At home and with friends call us Mama and Papa. The other is too formal and lacks warmth. Your mother loves you all, the same as I do and it would warm her heart to have a more traditional greeting from her sons,” Papa shared.

“That will be an easy thing to do Papa,” I told him. “Will you adopt Ivy?”

“No, we will not. His surname is his link to his inheritance. He has lands and wealth and he will be their master when he finishes his schooling. But you will treat him like a brother as we will treat him like a son,” Papa said.

“We already do that, it was easy. You just have to look at him and fall in love with him. I will call him my brother until he asks me not to,” I announced.

Papa kissed my temple and smiled at me.

“Oh by the way there will be an honor guard to welcome you home. Step out of the carriage and don your hat immediately. Remember your salute and try not to grin too broadly,” Papa instructed.

“I still feel as though I’m playing dress up. But I’m not really. I was not expecting it,” I confessed.

“This is only the beginning of the honors you will receive. You have done a very great thing and our families are strongly linked because of you and Bolly’s actions,” Father told me officially.

“Not just ours Papa, you have served the crown for many years and you have the Regent’s confidence,” I put in.

 We rode on in silence until we passed the gates that were being repaired after the wagon ran into them. The mason’s and blacksmith’s men were working together to hang the gates.

We entered our drive and I grasped my hat nervously. I was happy to be home but worried about making an error as I saluted. Father exited the coach first and I followed. I put on my hat and approached the steps. There were sixteen guardsmen standing on the stairs. Eight on either side. The captain of the guard met us at the carriage and saluted and we returned it. He walked behind us as we neared the stairs and the troop of guardsmen made a loud whacking sound as they struck the steps with their lances and held them at an angle. They drew their sabers and saluted, I was able to return the salute perfectly and sheathed my blade. The guardsmen sheathed their sabres and we mounted the steps. Two by two the guardsmen raised their lances to vertical as we passed, We walked through the open door as the captain dismissed the men.

“Father, I left my stick in the carriage,” I gasped.

“I can get it,” Rilla announced. Papa stopped him and explained that we still need to go out so the guardsmen could drink a toast to Edrich. He is a member of the Guard so they need to welcome him.

I barely had a chance to kiss mama and my brothers before I was turned around to go back out.

“First we will toast the King, then the Prince Regent and then you. We will remain outdoors until the carriage is out of sight,” Father whispered in my ear.

This was my introduction to the world of military protocol.

The toasts went well but it was more wine than I usually drank. After three glasses I had a warm glow.

“Father, may I propose a toast?” I asked.

“Yes, of course, just keep it short,” he cautioned.

I raised my glass again and the others joined me.

“To the Guard and all who serve in it, Skål,” I said rather loudly.

It was well received and the men all cheered. Even the coachmen cheered. Father slapped my back  and the men took their leave to mount up. We watched as the captain of the guard climbed into the carriage and I remembered my stick and hat box. He handed them out to me and eight horsemen rode out of our gate  followed by the coach and the other eight, Their helms caught the summer sun and gleamed brightly. I set about trying to put the glasses on the tray but Papa stopped me saying I would break half of them before I was through in my condition.

“What condition,” I asked.

“You’re drunk my son. Let’s get you inside before you dishonor your uniform. Papa guided me up the stairs and undressed me. He stowed my sabre and uniform and put a nightshirt on me before I collapsed on the bed. I slept for several hours.

Later I dressed for dinner and used my stick on the stairs but carried it to the dining room. Everyone was seated so I joined them to eat. I was famished.

“You were too nervous to eat this morning weren’t you? Father asked. I should have given you some goats milk or olive oil to drink  so you could coat your stomach. You drank four big glasses of wine and it was strong too,” Papa extolled.

“Did I say anything stupid?” I asked.

“Not at all, your toast to the Guard was well received and appropriate. What gave you the idea?” Papa replied.

“It just entered my head. Possibly it was like something I’ve read. I can’t say for sure,” I rambled.

The roast beef soon had me feeling better. The wine had really taken its toll on me and I felt drained. Later I sat with Mama and told her the doctor’s orders concerning bathing and activities. My brothers kept trying to bring me things but I was enjoying being held by Mama. With the meeting the next day we made an early night of it. Ivy wanted to sleep with me so I let him lay on my good leg.

I took my bath according instructions and dressed in formal clothing. I went through Papa’s instructions again and felt ready. The six of us boarded the coach and rode to the city court building. It looked like a castle with bars on some of the windows. The court and the jail were in the same building and the gallows was behind the walls in the rear.

Father and I were led to a room where we met the Magistrate, the prosecutor and the disputing counsel.

I went over the events as I remembered them. The  counsellor and prosecutor asked many questions.

When we were done the prosecutor, Magistrate and counsellor were all very chummy. They said nothing more about the trial and discussed fishing and other pursuits. Father and I took our leave and the next witness arrived. He was a kitchen worker who brought out the meat. He smiled at me when we passed but didn’t speak.

The day of the trial was tense. I was out of the bandages and my stitches were removed. I could bathe and swim and ride horses as it pleased me.

Father and I took a coach to the court. The accused was led out and placed in a heavy wooden box and a guard stood just outside it. The Magistrate called the court to order and the witnesses told the story of the event as they remembered but aside from a few discrepancies all the witnesses described the same thing. I was asked why I acted and then why I hit him with a plate first.

“I only had a plate in my hand, it was heavy and I hoped it would slow him down so the Regent could get clear. He wasn’t wearing his sabre.”

“I see, couldn’t the accused’s action be the result of an accident?” The counsellor asked.

“No, he had the knife in an overhand grip and was preparing to stab the Regent in the back,  I fought for the knife and he stabbed me with it. When he reached for another knife I stabbed him with the knife he left in my leg,” I said calmly if a bit grimly.

I was dismissed after that and the Magistrate recessed court to review testimony. I suspect he just had a brandy to steel his nerves before pronouncing sentence.

He returned after a few minutes and took his seat. The clerk draped a black cloth over the Magistrate’s hands and the Magistrate began to speak.

“Prisoner Djordjevic rise. You have been found guilty of bearing arms against the King of Denmark and attempted Regicide. You will be hanged in the prison courtyard at ten tomorrow morning. Do you have anything to say?”

The man sat mute and the guard led him away to a door.

The Magistrate dismissed the court and we walked outside into the warm summer air.

“Will you attend the execution with me, Father asked.

“I suppose it’s part of my duty to the Regent and the Guard,” I replied.

“We will be in uniform so polish your sabre tonight at some point and brush your jacket,” Father instructed.

I desperately wanted to go and swim with my brothers and the other boys.

We rode our horses to the river because they needed the exercise.  We found a shaded glade and let them graze and relax in the warm sun or the cool shade. They were well trained and wouldn’t run off. We stripped and took our small brothers to wade and play with others of the same size. There were watchful eyes present at all times. We took it in turns to watch the little ones. It didn’t take long before I was spotted by a schoolmate I had never really spoken with. He was older than me and had a bigger kuck and proper hair at the base.

“It’s Aksel isn’t it?” I asked.

“You know my name? I’m surprised, you seem to gather with the same boys every day.”

“Those are my brothers, we are very close. We welcome visitors though. Next time come over and chat,” I suggested.

“So are they all here now?” Aksel inquired.

“Yes Rilla is taking a turn with the little ones Kiva and Olaf are swimming over there,” I pointed.

“How old are you?” He asked.

Next winter will be my thirteenth, and you?” I inquired.

I will be fourteen in January we aren’t that far apart, he reasoned.

“I thought you were older, your kuck is bigger and you’ve got a lot of hair already,” I observed.

“That’s a nasty looking scar you have on your leg. I heard about what you did. I would have shit myself if that happened in front of me,” Aksel told me.

“You never know what you will do until it’s time to act,” I replied.

“Would you like to play with me behind the bushes?” Aksel chanced.

“That sounds very nice, I’m told my mouth is very nice,” I smiled.

Aksel picked up a small pouch and we walked to a clearing surrounded by thick hedges. Boys lay together in the tall grass and gave each other pleasure.

“What are they doing over there,” I asked and pointed.

“The boy on top is inside the other. It feels really good for both if it’s done right. Would you like to try?” Aksel asked excitedly.

“I might but let’s start with our mouths.”

“I demonstrated my expertise and suckled his kuck to a tremendous climax. I kept slowing down when he got close and then let it happen. He lay there panting and moaning his delight.

“That’s one of the best I’ve ever had,” Aksel declared.

I stretched out and waited for him to recover and he began licking my balls and tickling my ass. Rilla had done this and I figured he liked it so I had added it to my repertoire, Aksel apparently thought it was great. He fiddled with the pouch and brought out a small jar. He dabbed two fingers in it and began to probe my hole first with one finger and then with two. It was uncomfortable at first but it got better. Between that and his mouth I approached my climax quickly.  Aksel swallowed everything I gave him and tried to suck out a bit more.

Now it was my time to relax and absorb the wonderful feeling. When I was ready Aksel put lotion on his kuck and pushed my legs apart.

He hung my knees over his shoulders and leaned forward. There was slow steady pressure and I pushed out in response. It was the right thing to do because he was able to enter me. There was some pain from the size of his kuck but that subsided leaving only a very sexy feeling in my ass.

He slid in slowly and I adjusted to this intrusion. He continued and soon he hit something that made skyrockets in my head. My kuck became as rigid as iron. There was a strange sensation when he pulled back and then he repeated what he had done before and I thought my kuck would explode. Soon he was moving in and out of me quite quickly. He began to move in a jerky fashion and then I felt his kuck twitching and a wonderful feeling exploded inside me while I gushed seed all over my self.

We lay there panting, absorbing the sensations of what just happened.

“Have you done this a lot?” I asked.

“A few times. Not everyone wants to try it. When you are rested you can try it on me,” Aksel cooed.


After a few minutes I asked him how to start.

“Put your thumb in the lotion and push it into me and move it around to stretch me. I don’t need much,” He guided.

I had been required to do something like that with the goats when they were bound up, I never tried to use my kuck though. I didn’t want to catch the goatherd’s pox.

“Now put some of the lotion on your kuck and do what I did. Just go slowly,” Aksel instructed.

He pulled up his legs and I pressed my kuck against his hole, it went in a short way quite quickly but then got tighter. He bade me push harder and I sank in up to my balls. I nearly came off right then but we held still for a few moments and I recovered. It was warm and slippery inside him. I could tell just from the first feeling that I wouldn’t last long. I began to move in and out in a motion as old as man himself. Valla’s face flitted across my mind and I erupted in a massive climax. It felt like I was pissing seed into him and that it would never stop. I kept moving a bit more and Aksel shot his seed on us both. It was thick and plentiful. I began to shrink inside him and slipped out. My seed oozed out of him as he lay there panting.

After a long few moments we caught our breath and Aksel suggested we go to the river to clean up. In the water we passed out each other’s seed and rinsed off our holes and kucks. We lay on the grassy bank and talked about many things. I asked if he knew about the sagas and he said he did. He told me some of it from memory and suggested I read about them when we returned to school.

I bade Aksel a good day and returned to check on my brothers. I relieved Rilla and watched Bolly and Ivy frolic with other little boys in the shallow oxbow. Ivy eventually waned and came to me. I held him to my chest and it was wonderful. He went to sleep and I held him there. The feeling of a child clinging to you while they sleep is one of the greatest treasures a man can have.

After a while most of the boys went home and all of the younger ones walked with their brothers or friends to their homes. I carried Ivy back to the horses and dressed him in the soft grass. I saw to myself and helped Rilla with Bolly’s tunic. Hs arm was free of the plaster brace but he still needed to wear a sling. The wound on his head left a tiny scar, but otherwise he was completely whole again. I carried Ivy against me while we rode back and Bolly rode in front of Rilla. We were the most mature of the older boys and probably the most caring towards the little ones. Kiva and Olaf would come along in time but they were still young boys. They were only just now producing seed but it was thin, runny and clear. It was also quite sweet to the taste.

We put Ivy and Bolly to bed when we got home. Rilla and I gave the little ones a massage and they slept like stones til dinner.

After dinner Ivy asked me to describe life in the forest clan. He thought it sounded like a great way to live and wondered why everyone didn’t live that way. Bolly asked for an explanation of the differences between Mountain people and Sky people.

Kiva did his best, they were originally the same clan but sky people lived at the top of the mountains and kept hawks and eagles as hunting animals, while the mountain people lived lower down the mountain and raised goats and hunted for their food. They lived below the tree line while the sky people lived above it in natural caves. Stone houses were built inside the caverns and overhangs and it was a secure way to live.

Bolly seemed satisfied with the explanation and he and Ivy went to play with blocks.

Later mother read to us about the new world and a new place called the Missouri valley. She showed us the drawings of Mandan warriors who lived there. They looked quite fierce. By then all the major countries were vying for bits of the new world. The Dutch, French, English and Spaniards were all trying to claim as much as possible. Portugal was pushing in there as well as in Africa. It was the sort of thing that filled boy’s heads with dreams of adventure. We went up to bed and put Bolly and Ivy in the same bed so they could dream together. I was exhausted. I had polished my sabre, brushed out my uniform and hat and polished my boots.

I didn’t eat much at breakfast. My brothers were glad they were not going with us. I didn’t want to go either but a man, even one as low as the assassin, was entitled to witnesses at his death by the rope.

I dressed and joined Father in his private chamber.

“You look appropriately grim this morning,” Father told me.

“We’re not going to a fete Papa,” I replied.

“No, but you know why I must be there. You don’t have to go but I will be glad for your company,” Father said.

“I helped to put him on the gallows, it is my duty to witness his death. That is the code of men is it not?” I asked.

“It is, but technically you are not a man. You embody all that is good about men but you are still young. I hesitate to call you a boy but in truth that is what you are. If you were champing to view this scene I would have doubts about you. You are mature beyond your years but you have much to learn. Try to enjoy what boyhood you have left,” Father said and beckoned me near. He hugged me tightly and patted my back.

We left his chamber together and kissed mother and my brothers good bye.

We didn’t talk on the ride to the prison. The guards saluted and we gave the hand salute from our saddles. A man led our horses away and we entered the courtyard where the gallows was situated.

Several men were gathered at the foot of the viewing stand. The Magistrate, prosecutor and bailiff stood chatting amiably.

The Regent arrived with an entourage. Father and I saluted with our sabres and the Regent returned the same along with the guardsmen who escorted him.

“Greetings, Lord Marshall, allow me to introduce someone to you. You will be seeing him frequently from now on. Your son suggested I retain a personal secretary. I will tell you his duties a bit later when we are in private. But for now please meet Emil. He possesses many attributes which qualify him for the position. Father extended his hand as I did. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. With the Regent present and sitting in the center of the viewing stand, the rest of us took our seats.

At the appointed time the prisoner was led out and helped to mount the scaffold.

The bailiff rose and read the execution order start to finish.

A priest watched from the ground in front of the gallows.

“The hangman approached the prisoner and positioned him on a platform that stuck out from the floor of the scaffold. He placed a hood over the man’s head and tied his legs at the knees and ankles. Lastly he bound the man’s hands behind him and stepped back.

It was silent in the courtyard until the Magistrate gave a signal. A lone drummer played a long staccato roll. When he stopped the hangman pulled a lever, the hinged plank dropped away and the man was hanged. Beneath the scaffold was a gallery where I could see hands checking for signs of life. At a signal from below the hangman unlashed the rope from the gallows and it was collected in the gallery. The hangman dismounted the scaffold and the Magistrate pronounced the sentence to have been carried out. We all rose and walked out of the viewing stand. We walked with the Regent to his carriage and then joined the troop of guardsmen who escorted it back to the palace. People we passed raised their hats to us or made other gestures of cheer. They looked at me strangely but I kept my eyes on the horse in front of me. We made our way to the palace and  dismounted. The guardsmen were dismissed and rode to their stables to secure their horses. Two stable boys came and led our mounts away. One of them was no older than myself and he looked at me with reverence. He was stout and powerful and the horse followed him willingly.

We saluted the guardsmen at the door and walked in. Father and I unclipped our sabres from our belts and hung them on the rack. We kept our daggers and went to sit with the Regent. My dagger was no longer mere ornamentation, it was as sharp as the one in my sleeve.

The Regent explained Emil’s attributes. He was from Copenhagen and was an expert in knives and their use. He gave a brief demonstration of knife throwing. It was phenomenal to see that sort of accuracy from such awkward throwing positions. Most of us could put a dagger on a target if we took our time and threw carefully.  Emil threw underhand, overhand and sideways. He could throw from a crouch or casually fling the blade to its target from his waist as if discarding an apple core.

We left the Regent’s private chamber and took seats at the table.

“Do you think security is adequate My Lord,” Father asked.

“I believe so Lord Marshall. If they try again they will likely not send anyone who looks like a typical Serb. But I have known Serbs as light skinned as any of us. They could also hire an assassin from another country. But the warlord mentality will probably win out and he will continue to send his own men. They don’t trust outsiders,” The regent  replied.

“They don’t seem to like each other very much, let alone outsiders. Perhaps a missive to the Danubian monarch could encourage them to deal with this warlord so we don’t have to,” Father suggested.

“That is a task for the King, he has discussed the possibility with the Danubian envoy and the Monarch is sympathetic. He may grant us leave to operate in Serbia to root out some of their problematic tribal heads. Leopold claims he lacks adequate forces to deal with them and at the same time protect his borders from the Bulgars,”

“Edrich, this conversation is under the seal of the Regent so that means you may not discuss it with anyone who isn’t present at this moment, Do you understand?” Father cautioned.

“Yes Lord Marshall, I will not divulge a word,” I replied.

The conversation ended and the doors to the conference room were opened allowing members of court access.

The adult members and petitioners looked at me strangely as I strode out of the chamber with Father. Valla ran up and I embraced her Holding my hat as a shield I kissed her briefly on the lips and then her cheek.

“She babbled in adoration using adjectives such as dashing and brave. She tugged me to a sitting room where Lady Iris greeted me.