The next morning, Valun rose, called his valet, saying simply “Your duties commence.” and continued on to the breakfast table. As he had given orders that Robert the Ram was to be found and ordered to wait upon the king in the morning, Valun was not surprised to see Sir Robert sitting at the breakfast table waiting for him.
After Valun had seated himself, he ordered his valet to inform the kitchen that the king was waiting for his meal. Valun then turned to Sir Robert and said “I went looking for you last night, but I got lost. I did find a band of men who were easily convinced to join you, though.”
“Oh, those men.” Sir Robert answered “They must have been the ones. They woke me up this morning to tell me they wanted to join. So of course I registered them immediately, and then came to you.”
Valun nodded. “That was good. And how many Guardsmen do you have now?” Sir Robert immediately reached into his sleeve and pulled out a large roll of parchment that nearly reached the floor, saying “Nearly two thousand.” Valun began reading it.
“That is only the first roll of names.” Sir Robert remarked. “There are ten more lists like that at my house.”
“I see.” Valun replied. “David, find my council members and tell them to come here.”
As David was preparing to rush off, Sir Robert stopped him, saying “My Lord, why not just pull that bell rope hanging by your chair?”
Valun turned and looked. “This? I had not noticed it before.” He promptly reached up and yanked hard on the rope. Immediately, a loud clanging began which commenced reverberating around the room.
Sir Robert and the valet covered their ears as Valun, removing a hand from his own ears, quickly pulled the rope again. This time the summons was answered, the council members quickly dashing in from all sides to find out what the matter was.
Valun promptly opened the meeting. “Now, my Treasurer, I trust that you have a report to make?’
The Treasurer rose and said “There are two million and fifty thousand valandries in your treasury, Sire. Your general can answer for the fact that I did not bring any with me.” Retrieving a parchment from his sleeve, he handed it to Valun. “That is the list of merchants that you requested.”
Valun, paying more attention to this list, as it was far shorter, sat silent as his courtiers watched his face. After a few moments, Valun announced “I see three men here who trade with Brandia, and two who deal with the land of Naibern to the south.”
“Is that bad, my Lord?” asked the Treasurer.
“No. Not at all, yet. But it may be of some consequence later. I expect a letter from the king of Brandia to come soon.” Rolling up this scroll, he continued “I must keep this list. David, take this to my chamber.” David took the scroll and ran with it to the king’s chamber, hurrying back immediately.
When he returned, the king was saying “Now, raise my banner. I feel that I have neglected my people.” Everyone immediately adjourned to the audience hall. The king seated himself on the elaborate throne mentioned before, while David took up a position directly behind the king. The courtiers ranged themselves around the throne in order of their rank.
The doors were opened to reveal a crowd of people who had assembled after the banner was raised, remembering the promise their king had made on the day of his ascension.
The first case was a very strange one. The crime of forgery had been committed, but by which man could not be proved. Both men had large families who insisted that they were one and the same man. As they were both wearing hoods, the king commanded them to uncover. The situation got worse when it was shown that they looked exactly the same. On command, the first man produced a document as evidence of his handwriting. The second man did not give the officers anything. Noticing this, the king then made this announcement.
“You are condemned. You have proved yourself guilty by not handing over evidence of your handwriting. By that you have shown that you knew you would condemned in court by what you brought. I have never seen such an obvious show of guilt. You shall be imprisoned for the full length of your life.”
The king said all this in a low tone that only those inside the hall could hear. The guards took the man away as the next case approached. There was no case that day worthy of such great notice as the case of the identical men. When three hours were up, the servants closed the doors as the banner was lowered.
Soon after his time of judgment, Valun exited the castle through a small door to reach the training ranges. There he met two of the men who had helped him home. They proudly showed off their new broadswords to Valun as he asked “What do you really do, my men?” The men then showed their badges to the king. One was a tailor, the other a carpenter.
Drawing his own sword, the king remarked “So, you are doing well? Very well, let me test your skills. The pair said they would not dream of it for fear of harming his Majesty. But Valun rebuked them, saying “This is an offer. Take it or I will be upset.”
At the order from the king, the two men prepared. As they swung, Valun caught both blades on the flat of his own. Bringing his own sword into play quickly, he feinted one way, shifting one man, and locked with the other. He went back and forth with the carpenter, executing a tight spin or low duck every few seconds to avoid the tailor’s blade. Once, the tailor managed to tear the cloak Valun was wearing, but the king was not injured. “I charge you to repair that when we are done.” Valun said quickly, and continued dueling. A few seconds later, he disarmed the carpenter and focused on the tailor. It was less than a minute before he disarmed the man.
Addressing the tailor, Valun remarked “Sir, I suggest that you give that sword to another man, and get a spear or a bow for yourself. There must be something you have a talent with, but I am sure it is not a sword. Trust me.”
“I shall do as you say.” said the tailor, looking downcast. He left, feeling disappointed that he had rushed to his choice. He perked up slightly when the king yelled after him “Can you ride?” At his positive answer, the king suggested that he get himself a horse too, and find others who could ride.
After sheathing his sword, Valun strolled away to review the other men who were there to train that day. After watching and congratulating two men who were sparring with a pair of double- pointed spears that they seemed to have had custom-made, and suggesting that they have more made, and train more men.
Valun eventually made his way to the archery range, where it seemed that a competition was in progress. Two men who seemed to have proved themselves the best of the trainees were holding a three round match, watched by all the others. As both were hitting the bulls-eye with every shot, the contest was declared a tie. Valun took another look at the target before stepping forward. Both had hit dead center. Stepping forward to congratulate the pair, Valun exclaimed “You, men, could be related to the mythical archer Robin Hood!”
“Almost, Your Majesty!” the two archers responded. “We are simple hunters, but we are related to each other! We are brothers.”
“I would be proud to have such fine archers in my army.”
“We would be proud to follow you. Our father was Chief Forester to yours. Regretfully, the post is not hereditary.”
“It is now. That is an official proclamation. Now please teach these men to shoot.”
Valun left the training grounds with the cheers of the archers still loud in his ears. As soon as he had entered the castle, he was met by David, who asked for orders, but received none. Following his silent lord, David marched up to the king’s chamber, pausing at the door. The king ignored him and closed the door. David sat down on the floor, resigned to wait until he was called.
It was a few more hours (David had dozed off himself) before king Valun put his head out of his door and called David inside. The first thing David saw when he stepped inside the king’s room was an enormous old volume that Valun had sent up while David slept. The king had decided not to send David for it because of its size. “Are you aware of what this is, man?”
David admitted that unfortunately, he had not been aware that a book of that size had ever existed.
“This” the king announced, throwing open the gigantic volume “is the Book of Kings, which only the kings of Corridane and their most trusted and loyal servants may read.” Then, relaxing, the king continued in a lighter voice. “But, it is simply a history of the lives of the prior kings of our land. As this is the only copy, that restriction is placed upon it, for fear it be mislaid. This is where I will look for the answers that I cannot get in my own time. You see here? It says here that my father was the cause of an international peace that lasted as long as his reign. He began his diplomatic work as soon as he had come to power.”
“Your father was not already a king by right?”
“If we looked, you would see that a different dynasty ruled Corridane before my house. It seems that the king Valun the Great succeeded the last king of the previous dynasty as a favor, as that king died without an heir.”
Suddenly, Valun flipped through the pages to the back of the book. Finding the page that began Damrod Whipknot’s history as king, he suddenly began frantically tearing the pages out without an explanation, though David understood perfectly. When he was done, there was a litter of old parchment all over the floor of the king’s room. “Burn these pages in the fire. I never want to set eyes on a word of them again.” Valun ordered. David speedily picked up every page and ran down to the kitchen with them, dumping them into the main fire, to the surprise of the cooks. David was back at the king’s side before five minutes had passed.
When he arrived, Valun was ringing another loud bell which he had found by his desk. Almost instantly, Sir Richard was in the room. “Find the scribes and send them to me here.” The king requested. Sir Richard disappeared. Several minutes later, all the scribes in the castle were assembled in the king’s room.
“Master Scribes,” the king began “I called you to request that you begin a new volume of king’s histories. Get someone to paint my arms on the first page, like the others. I will dictate my true history. You will write it as you have the others.”