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What would you do with the power to change a country?

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Some people gasp in surprise when they realise that the Bishop has finished – he is not going to add a title after “King Iannus the Second”. If he was to add “of Chalcedonum,” the original area of Uther the Great, then the Red Prince would be upset. Everybody knows that the Prince is actually behind the invasion by the barbaric mugus that have overrun the north-eastern counties on the other side of the Snow Mountains, and southwards to the holy city of Chalcedonum. Everybody knows that they are controlled through money and witchcraft. This sentiment is never expressed out loud, and nobody dares ask why the Bishop feels so secure in the church compound just to the south of the invasion. On the other hand, adding some minor title would have upset the royalists, as Sorm is after all the direct heir of Uther.

“So,” Sorm thinks with some amusement, “he has chosen a clever way out by not saying anything.”

Sorm stoops slightly to kiss the Pope’s signet on the Bishop’s finger and then stands up straight.

The Bishop gestures towards the marble throne at the end of the hall. Sorm folds his mantle under him and sits down rather uncomfortably. The twenty pike-men of the ceremonial guard enter and form a ceremonial corridor up to the throne.

The gentry and officials come to the throne one by one to kneel before the new king, as is customary. Some present gifts or symbols of towns and areas that submit to the king. Khula appears next to the throne with his mantle hung low over his forehead, carrying the letters they had prepared, as well as a vase of warm bee-wax.

Sorm gets up and removes the head-piece of Khula’s mantle so that his dark skin is not hidden anymore. Khula blinks his shiny eyes and stands even straighter. Then Sorm takes the vase of warm bee-wax from him and gives it to The Secretary, who stands on the other side of the throne with a very critical look on his face. Then the new king sits down again to receive the kneeling subjects.

Khula hands the relevant letter to Sorm whenever someone who is to be a member of the Committee of Uther or of the Castle Committee takes a turn before the throne. Sorm then presses the signet of his sceptre in the warm wax, seals the letter and hands it over.

Sorm’s own brother and sister are at the end of the queue of subjects. His mother watches from a little distance, now carried by helpers. She looks so tired and pale. Sorm puts a hand on the heads of his two siblings. Then there is another series of sighs from the on-lookers as Sorm removes the signet of succession that he has been carrying for many years, from his own finger and puts it on his little brother’s finger. Then he gestures for Krog to come closer and says loudly:

“In the presence of everyone here I appoint the Cardinal of Edburg as regent for my brother, who shall be Iannus the Third upon my death.”

Then he touches Krog’s shoulder with the sceptre of authority.

Now there is a undisguised murmur amongst the on-lookers. Krijger and his comrades, who are still forming a half-circle a little distance from the throne, make a show of putting their hands on their swords, and the audience quietens down again.

“I ask you to take my brother Ioan with you to Edburg when you leave, and to start training him”, requests Sorm.

“Yes, majesty,” says Krog. Then he turns to the audience and announces with a booming voice:

“Long live his majesty, King Iannus the Second!”

Krijger confirms it quickly and then the rest of them follow, some more enthusiastic than others, until their voices echo amongst the walls of the throne-room.

Sorm takes this as his cue to get up. He walks through the guard of honour formed by the twenty pike-men. Krijger moves brightly to open up room for him to move to the door where they had come in. Sorm halts half-way in front of his mother’s carrying-chair. He softly touches her hand. Then the new king walks through that door into the sunlight of the small garden with the staircase which he climbs up to the wooden bridge. He then stands close to the balustrade so that the people in the court-yard can see him. Krijger tries to wedge in front of him, but he gently pushes him away. The assassins will not try again today. Maybe tomorrow or the day after or next week, but not now...

Sorm waves to the crowd of commoners, and applause rings out amongst them, firstly only from a part of the crowd but then it grows loudly and spreads to the people standing outside the castle gates. He turns to the slightly unwilling Secretary who is still quietly following him and announces as loudly as he can:

“Let there be a huge feast outside the castle walls tonight and tomorrow. I donate fifty barrels of beer from the castle stock and I command the castle’s hunters to leave immediately. Everything that they can hunt and bring back tonight belongs to the people outside.”

Sorm knows that a feast was not prepared for the common people, and he leaves the Secretary with the embarrassment of hasty preparations. This time it will not only be the gentry and officials who sit down to a feast table.

Then he instructs the leader of the ceremonial guard to ensure that nobody bothers him, and hurries with his small group of confidants down the other stairs into the sleeping hall. He wants to inspect the weapons smith, the arms store, the stalls, the treasury and other units to monitor progress of the various projects and preparations that he had already started before the crowning. Maybe there will be more dedication amongst the staff now that he has the final authority. He must also speak with Krog, Krijger, Khula and others before he returns to the throne-room for the rest of this days’ ceremonies and feasting. But, above all, he needs a moment of solitude in his little prayer room, his sanctuary.

By the third day of feasting most of the gentry and representatives have left to return to their homes, some of them carrying the letters of invitation to revive the committee of Uther the Great. That is a gesture of peace, a call for cooperation and, for those with bad intentions, maybe a sign of weakness from Sorm’s side. Or, at least, so he hopes...

“We shall see the masks come off if it looks like there is an opportunity to attack the castle,” is what he thinks as he contemplates what he has done. Then he turns his thoughts to his next step.

Sorm’s Castle Committee meets that very day for the first time in the old throne-room. With one exception, the most important members are all present: Krog; Krijger (hovering in the background for now due to his low rank); Barac (the captain of the royal army); the very influential Secretary Rabian (known simply as The Secretary), the mayors of the major loyal towns of Edburg, Castle Town, the North-Eastern district, Comien (the major town of the South-East), Khula as representative of the Earl of Sean (for now) and the Earl McKenzie of the western districts.

The Red Prince and the other Earls, all from the regions that have long since fallen from the authority of the throne, are not part of this smaller committee, and neither are the leaders of the vanquished holy city of Chalcedonum, once the seat of the throne of Uther.

The only one missing is the Count or other leader of the Midlands, the area just north of Chalcedonum, who have been distancing themselves from the rule of Sorm’s father Iannus for some time. To make matters worse, the Midlands have been suffering increasing incursions from Chalcedonum by the mugus. These are the barbarians who have come from the far north and north-east, from the other side of the Snow Mountains, and who have with the aid of mysterious benefactors surrounded Chalcedonum and made it ungovernable. They have trekked southward on the other side of the Snow Mountains and then turned westward where that mountain-range ends, to surprise the south-western and southern regions from the east. They have passed unhindered through the territory of the Red Prince and the Bishop.

The Midlands and the area around Castle Town have always been protected by wild forests and the almost impassable Snow Mountains on the northern and eastern side, but now the road to Castle Town is open through the holy city Chalcedonum from the south-east. The mayor of Ametus, who represented the Count at the crowning, has disappeared unnoticed during the feast. He was probably afraid of showing too much support, and under pressure to go and protect his town.

The final person present is the architect of Edburg, a special guest of Sorm’s.

Sorm begins by formalising the agenda for the meeting, which largely consists of the issues that he had discussed with Khula and Krog three very long days ago. This mainly concerns the establishment of a stable government, the strengthening of the border-towers and of the castle, a new training program for soldiers and the prevention of famine and the plague in the short- and long term. Captain Barac helpfully suggests that the Midlands issue should be added. Sorm also reserves an item for an important royal announcement at the end of the meeting. Then he formally closes the agenda to establish the practice of order for these meetings and to show the members the importance of getting their issues listed in a timely manner.

Those gathered around the huge old oak table in the throne room appear comfortable with what is going on, with the exception of Barac. He is a mighty warrior, previously a mercenary from a faraway land. He holds no title or lineage and feels threatened by all the changes that have happened since the death of the old king. He was the king’s confidant during his final few months, and he has does not know this boy who has apparently inherited the throne.

Sorm tries to understand this core group of officials in his government, and he notices the discomfort of Barac. He continues by explaining that he expects everyone around the table to use their skills and knowledge to render sound advice on the matters on the agenda.

As they proceed with the matters at hand, the work that will evidently have to be done keeps on increasing as do the costs that will have to be incurred. Aided by Krijger Sorm has already gained access to the treasury before his coronation, and he knows that it does not contain sufficient funds. He also knows that the treasury is on the decline, exacerbated by the increasing disloyalty of certain parts of the kingdom. The current flow of resources cannot for long sustain the materials and men needed to do all the work needed to maintain and strengthen this government.

Now Sorm hands a parchment detailing the production, trade and expected tax revenue from each region, to each that has authority over such a region. He has already researched and gathered this information over the past few months. The committee members each stare at their respective documents in astonishment. Khula and Krog try very hard to not appear bemused. They have been watching this king coming into power for a long time and have often wondered how people are going to experience the meticulous Sorm. He may look like a child but his brain has moved on a long time ago, and he takes the affairs of state rather seriously.

One of the last items on the agenda brings them to a discussion of the improvements needed to the border towers and to this castle. The architect of Edburg advises them in this. They discuss the moving of the throne room and the changing of the old throne room into a castle chapel. Much stone and masonry will be needed to replace the vulnerable wooden structures. Iron, carbon and manpower will be needed for the programme of military improvement that Sorm requires.

The Secretary and Baron McKenzie have now reached the point where they start protesting that there are not enough resources for doing all of this. Sorm silences them by promising to deal with this as part of his announcement at the end of the meeting. He continues by tasking Krog to come up with a plan of moral renewal and improved national education, by the next meeting.

The time now arrives for each attendee to speak his mind on the Midlands issue. Captain Barac and one of the mayors insist on taking immediate military action to defeat the mugus.

Another mayor asks fearfully: “But what about the black magic of themuguwitches?”

Sorm frowns but stays quiet. Khula speaks last and he airs the view that leadership and gradual strengthening of defences would be more feasible. He concludes by saying:

“When the mugus attack in full force our current army and the defences of the border towers will be too weak. The only place where they can be stopped is here in this castle.”

Sorm stops the discussion at this point, thanking them for their frankness. It would take a few months for them to get used to his unconventional thinking. For the first of many times, he shocks and surprises his followers with one of his announcements:

“Midlands is without a true leader, and the Count has lost control of the hills north of Chalcedonum long ago, and the situation in the whole Midlands has become increasingly unstable. The fertile valleys around that border tower lie fallow because farmers are unsure of their safety. Captain Barac, I offer you this challenge: Take the small section of troops that I will give you with this letter of authority, draft a new army for yourself in Midlands on my behalf, establish a weapons smith and reinstall law and order in that area. Then also bring the gathering of taxes under control and use it for the government of Midlands. If you succeed, I promise you the title of Count with authority over the hills, farmlands and the significant town of Ametus, where you may establish your family as gentry. Do you accept?”

Barac cannot believe his ears. His secret ambition, the certainty that he is capable of more, more than these idle noblemen with their comfortable titles and who left the old king in the lurch, all of that has been understood by this strange young king. He knows Barac’s inner longing and he is giving him a chance to realise his dreams.

“Yes, my Lord,” is all that he can say in a voice filled with emotion.

In that moment Barac changes from a hard soldier who has resented this boy who has not even fought in one of the great wars, to a fanatic loyalist. Woe be on any soldier who dares to make fun of Sorm, as has been the custom in some circles, if Barac hears about it! He will confer all the respect that he has earned amongst the soldiers, to his new king.

The Secretary coughs up his last sip of wine in shock.

He stutters: “But you cannot…I mean majesty...I…”

Sorm asks while playing with his royal signet ring: “What can the king not?”

The Secretary desperately protests: “But surely there won’t be enough soldiers!”

The mayor of Castle Town joins in the protest with: “Yes, and these figures about commerce and taxes that must be achieved cannot possibly be true.”

Sorm firmly interjects: “Two points worthy of consideration,” and then he continues:

“My promised announcement, which is also the answer to the question, is twofold. This once mighty kingdom has been on the decline for some time because of a mysteriously underperforming tax system and because half of our army is doing service with the Bishop. He is borrowing them because he is supposedly under threat from the mugus. To make matters worse, we have to make monthly payments for their upkeep despite the fact that his Eminence is borrowing them. Their morale is also getting worse all the time due to the poor treatment they receive. It is not clear to me exactly what is going on, and what the relationships are between the various parties in the area outside our current borders. What is the position of the Bishop and the Red Prince with regard to the throne of Uther, and what are they doing to repel the mugus? I have in a wild moment even suspected that our soldiers are being used to control the mugus while they are taking over Chalcedonum on behalf of someone else.”

He pauses for a moment and then delivers another knock-out in words:

“Esteemed Secretary, I offer you an unprecedented ten percent slice of the monthly increase in tax revenues, if you improve the tax system for us WITHOUT increasing the tax rate. You see, gentlemen, we have an expert of considerable talents in our midst who can do wonders to solve our financial troubles for us, and we must reward him accordingly.”

But the shock of all shocks is still to come as Sorm continues:

“Furthermore, I order the immediate withdrawal of my royal guard and troops from the Bishop’s compound until the situation in Chalcedonum is clarified. Captain Barac, it is your responsibility to manage this withdrawal. I will award you one soldier for every two that you place back on a farm or with their families. Secretary, you will today inform the Bishop that, as the upkeep of my soldiers are no longer a burden on his Eminence, no further payments will be made to him.”

The whole committee is left speechless.

Sorm seizes the opportunity to end the meeting and says:

“As there is no further discussion and in sympathy with all the work that each of us now has to do, I declare this meeting closed. Khula, please complete the paperwork that we spoke about. All of you are welcome to finish your meal and freshen up in my castle at your convenience before returning to your work.”

“I expect weekly progress reports,” concludes Sorm while making eye contact with each one in turn. Then he, King Iannus the Second, gets up from his throne and leaves the room, crosses the wooden bridge and hastens to his special room. Krijger scurries on behind him.

Krog takes another fragrant apple from the bowl in front of him and thinks:

“And so the little boy has grown up and has become a king. He has more information about things that I can only muse about, to crown it all.”

The Secretary gets up while he remains deep in thought. He does not even hear the mayor of Castle Town addressing him as he leaves the room and hurries to his own quarters. The rest of the group mill about in confusion, except for Captain Barac, who walks to the barracks with confident strides.

Krijger catches up with Sorm in the corridor outside the king’s special room and asks:

“Uhmm ... Sorm, ten percent is a lot. Is it wise to give that much money and authority to someone who is under suspicion? The cost can be very high.”

“I want to answer your question with another, Krijger,” says the king and then: “It is ten percent of the monthly increase. If a frog is situated a mere eight feet from a pond where he must find food and shelter, and his first leap is a whole four feet but thereafter each leap is half of the previous one, when will the frog reach the pond?”

Krijger frowns deeper and deeper about this question while Sorm disappears into his sanctuary. The king needs to be alone for a while before he completes the next step of his plan. Every moment of this political game drains his strength.

The Secretary throws his papers on a table as he enters his quarters. He sits down on his bed to think. His plans and alliances were all in place and he was almost certain of becoming the regent for the little abbey prince. And then that obstinate old king messed it all up by clinging to life until the boy had come of age. But now, now it is time for him, Rabian, to become very, very wealthy. He will rake together a mountain of gold next to which even that dumb Captain’s title of Count will fade to insignificance!

The Secretary finds himself torn between the expectations of the little king and that of his true Master. Anyway, the years of undermining the royal treasury has not amounted to much. Yes, he will grab this opportunity with both hands! If he plays it carefully, he can make a fortune AND keep his Master happy by feeding him with information. And it will be valuable information that will count in his favour. The young fool of a king is making a mistake by discussing his decisions and agendas with the whole committee. He wonders whether anyone will notice if he raises the tax rate in some areas just a little ‘in the name of the king’. His virtuous train of thought is rudely interrupted by a knock on the door.

“YES?” to the helper standing in the doorway.

The helper responds fearfully: “E... Yo…Your honour, the king requests your presence in the old sleeping hall where he is setting up his audience room. Uh... and he requests your signet ring to be brought along.”

The Secretary hurries as requested but is brimming with irritation. He finds Sorm in the company of Krijger and Khula.

The king says: “Ah, Secretary Rabian, the letters that you need are ready.”

“Letters?” The aspiring regent-to-be can scarcely hide his confusion.

“Yes, the letters to every town and other jurisdiction confirming your authority for the improvement of tax collection, and confirming the good news that the tax rate remains unchanged. Your signet should be impressed next to mine and then the royal couriers will take care of the rest.”

The Secretary stares at Sorm in astonishment. It’s been less than an hour since their previous meeting.

Sorm continues in a friendly tone: “Yes, I expect proper paperwork and I expect it in record time. Khula has helped me produce this kind of correspondence and now he will assist you. That is, when he is not busy with the agricultural improvement programme and the rehabilitation of fallow land. Khula is eager to learn from you and will shadow you in your important work. For example, I want to reinstate the system of justice of the legendary emperor Justinian and I need a summary of its principles for next month’s committee meeting.”

The king gestures towards the small mountain of parchment rolls in Khula’s arms and says: “I’m quite convinced that you will grow to be very grateful for his able assistance with your manifold responsibilities!”

The Secretary groans in dismay while Sorm and Khula smile encouragingly at him.

Storm dreams one of his worst repeating nightmares: This time cackling witches with deformed faces lead the hideous miscreants with their hateful red eyes who surround him and his family in a hut. They whisk through the air on brooms and scream in high-pitched voices. The light is smoky and the sun sets in stains of bloody red that grow upwards from the horizon. It appears as if a hand full of blood has been wiped on the cloth of heaven. Storm wants to move to help his little brother and sister, but the screamed magic spells prevent him. This enrages him because magic spells don’t exist, so why is he stupidly being controlled by them? He knows that there is something that he must and can do, but he cannot remember what it is. His arms and legs feel numb and his aching head feels fuzzy. He awakes with a shock and looks down at the sweat pearling on his naked torso and running down onto the bedcover. He lifts the glass next to the bed and struggles to force the life-giving liquid down his parched throat. Thereafter he gets up on tired legs to shower and to drag himself to school. He remembers at the last minute to write down his dream in a journal as instructed by the therapist. Soon the dream will melt back into his subconscious and disappear forever.

Autumn obliges the poet by ripening in golden acorn leaves that drift to earth on the wind and become next year’s compost. A few weeks later the snow comes and covers all in a cold white duvet from Edburg in the north-west to the border tower south of Ametus.

Sorm, accompanied by his bodyguards, persists with regular visits to inspect farming, cropping, food storage, tax gathering, building, renovation and military projects all over the country. He visits the poor communities regardless of whether they live in the faraway boroughs or in the slums of Castle Town itself. He joins ordinary townsfolk in planning and executing small improvements – reopening clogged up offal ditches and strengthening them with stone, mending fences and so forth. He even buys material with his private funds to mend damaged houses so that families can shelter from the cold.

Eventually the sight of the young king on his magnificent pitch-black steed Icarus becomes a familiar and welcome sight in most parts of the kingdom. Sorm frustrates The Secretary by continuously changing travel itineraries and routes, and by frequently not being in a predictable location. It is virtually impossible to set a trap for Sorm due to his unpredictable mobility.

Sorm’s call for the revival of the royal committee of Uther falls on deaf ears. Only the Earls of Sean and McKenzie respond to it. The tension in the rest of the country builds up mysteriously.

The depleted treasury of the old kingdom would not have been able to carry the burden of Sorm’s plans; however the finances appear to be flourishing. The Secretary performs wonders and wealth streams into the royal coffers under his guidance. It is hard to keep on achieving an increase, and he has to work harder and harder. The sudden increase of available soldiers and horses returning from the Bishop’s court enables the reinstatement of law and order. In addition, Captain Barac manages to control large portions of the troubled Midlands and collects vast sums of outstanding taxes there. Sorm and Khula also manage an efficient royal court which costs much less than in the old days.

There is much resistance to the new rules, especially amongst the rich merchants who appear to have been allowed to avoid taxes before, but Sorm’s ever improving army instils a healthy respect for the law across the country. The increasing commerce and trade opportunities in the revived Midlands also appease the businessmen.

To the chagrin of some people Sorm even arranges for poor fishermen to be taken aboard the idle royal fleet for fishing expeditions. The royal stock of dried fish for the winter swells and Sorm intends to use it for the hungry people in the slums in Edburg and Castle Town. Sorm also slips new laws concerning the rights of ordinary citizens and of women into the busy government agenda. Almost no-one notices these subtle changes.

It soon becomes apparent that there is a shortage of officers for the returning soldiers who have previously reported to local officers at the Bishop’s court. Captain Barac and his lieutenants are also too busy to fulfil any normal duties in the larger army. Sorm therefore arranges a competition for all soldiers. The intention is to determine the best swordsman, horse-rider and archer.

Krijger wins the sword-fights as expected and Sorm, with a sigh of relief, promotes him to lieutenant. Lieutenant Krijger is responsible for the royal bodyguard, for training and for the continuous testing of soldiers in simulations of war. He also guides the production of new quality weapons.

Sorm also promotes the second best swordsman, who happens to be Noël, the popular son of the Earl McKenzie, to sergeant. He assumes control of the ceremonial guard and of the schedule of patrols.

Sorm promotes the best archer to sergeant and puts him in control of the archery. He also launches a special project for the archery to produce better modern longbows and armour-piercing arrows.

The best horse-rider is promoted to lieutenant in charge of the selection and training of an improved cavalry.

Krijger and Sorm have already identified a very special group of soldiers and loyalists and have trained them as royal bodyguard: Noël, who also remains part of this elite unit despite his promotion; Amorn, a very passionate loyalist over whom the servant girls swoon; Peter and Smith, two muscled farmers from the eastern Snow Mountains; Mark, a cousin of Khula and loyalist with good contacts amongst the gentry; and, finally, Poilock, a serious monastic soldier of the old order.

Sorm asks Krog to train Poilock as soldier-priest for the new cathedral inside the castle and as special confidant for the king’s family. He also asks Krijger and Noël to intensively train the whole group, including himself, for sword-fighting and fitness. This unit becomes virtually unstoppable! Sorm struggles to keep up, of course, but he can hold his own. The young king’s left-handedness gives him a natural advantage and causes trouble for many of his opponents during simulations. Sorm needs and achieves respect as a warrior for when the inevitable war arrives…

By late winter the news arrives that the mugus are swarming southward on theother side of the Snow mountains towards Chalcedonum due to famine in their own land. Their numbers are reputedly overwhelming. There are even some stories that the Bishop and the Red Prince have postponed their plans to take over the holy city because they have lost control over their creepy allies. Sorm, of course, knows more and knows it before it becomes common knowledge, but he merely continues with his preparations.

Couriers soon arrive to tell of how two attacks by mugus who managed to cross the Snow Mountains have only just been warded off by the strengthened border towers. A further charge of the invaders has been halted in a narrow and difficult pathway in the mountains. Finally, a report from the far south comes of how the mugus, aided by a section of alleged mutineers from the Earl Duncan’s army, have surrounded the southern border tower. Fortunately Captain Barac has managed to save the tower garrison in the nick of time. It is clear though that swarms of the invaders are on the eastern side of the mountains and already past the southern tip as well.

Sorm makes an assessment of his new improved army and the sum of it is as follows:

· Two hundred and fifty cavalry, including his bodyguard, armed with swords and new crossbows. Twenty of them are stationed in Edburg and thirty are with Barac in the Midlands. The rest are on patrol duty with the castle as base.

· Approximately eight hundred elite swordsmen, most of whom have proper new weapons and wear chain-mail. Twenty of them do service in Edburg at the newly established university, two hundred and thirty serve at the border towers on a rotation base and two hundred and fifty are with Barac. The rest of them are stationed in and around the castle.

· Approximately five hundred lightly armoured elite long-bow archers. A hundred of them have been stationed amongst the various units and the rest protect the castle.

· The twenty royal pike-men who have been put in charge of a secret catapult unit. Three powerful catapults have been completed and tested thus far.

· Proper support units, including the helpers, cooks, wagon drivers and weapons carriers.

· One walled stone castle and seven border towers made of stone. Repairs and improvements to most of these defensive buildings have been completed. The castle with its own walled well and stables is virtually impregnable, although one secret weakness in the wall is still to be rebuilt.

· One relatively effective spy network.

The loyal men of the kingdom can be called up for service in time of war, which would add about ten thousand lightly armed militia and helpers. Sorm is proud of his army but worries about the extent of the danger that his informants have confirmed to him…

There is still room for agricultural improvements but the kingdom has managed to withstand the harsh winter relatively well. Sickness has been well contained and the threat of famine warded off. The army and militia are therefore in good condition. This has been a remarkable achievement in this day and age.

The last heavy snows of winter have begun melting by the time that Sorm receives certain reports that he has been expecting. His spies have risked and lost their lives in some cases to keep their king informed. Sorm reads and listens and has to calm himself in his sanctuary before taking action. His first move is to send his family, accompanied by a hundred of his best cavalry, to the half-completed house with wall and moat in Edburg, the last outpost. The cavalry have a special and confidential instruction to return once their wards are safe. Then he sends word to Captain Barac to prepare to defend the Midlands against invasion and to be prepared for the worst. Sorm hastily completes his own final preparations at the castle.
Trouble is imminent!

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