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In the days after his ascension to the throne of his father, Valun met with his council often. One morning, Valun opened the council with “As you know, ten years away in foreign lands can do a lot to a man’s memory. Begin by explaining anything there is to explain. Such as, what is the situation in the kingdom’s treasury? What does my country import or export? I demand a report! Officer of the Treasury, I command you, stand and speak!”
The Officer of the Treasury got up and, faltering a bit, said “Sire, I do not yet have a complete report. I refused to keep records for the usurper.”
With a laugh, Valun replied “So he got someone else to do your duties? But they are yours again now. Perform them.” turning, he said “Richard, take this man down to the treasury the chamberlain showed us on the first day. Stay down there with him to be sure he counts fairly and does not slip out with any in his pockets. Man, after you count the money, you shall go out into the city, find all of the most prosperous merchants, and find out what and who they do business with. I order you not to appear before me at this table without that report.”
As the treasury officer and the general disappeared, Valun turned to his secondary diplomat, a veteran of his father’s court, and said “Tell me, sir, have we any standing treaties with our neighbors?”
“Not that I know of, Sire.” The old man answered “That was exactly why your father left. He was going to renew his treaty with Brandia.”
“Ah, possibility…What he told me could not have been his primary reason.” Valun whispered as the man finished “Servants! Bring in the next course!”
Half an hour later, the meal completed and all business sorted out, king Valun retired to his private chamber, ordered a servant to stand guard and notify everyone that the king was not to be disturbed, and sat down at his desk, producing a piece of parchment and ink, besides some fine quills. He then commenced to write.
To my lord the King of Brandia-
We do not yet have the honor of knowing you, or having ever visited your domains, but we trust that any little troubles between our lands on that account will soon be cleared up. Not having introduced ourself, we will proceed to that effect. We are, we are pleased to announce, the newly and rightfully crowned king over the land of Corridane, Valun, fourth of our house and third of our name to ascend the throne of our fathers; who were Valun the second, the Peacemaker, preceded by his father, Regidare the Bold, who was preceded by his father, Valun the first, the Great.
The incident we wish to inquire into, with your much appreciated assistance, is that of the disappearance of our father, Valun the second, after he left on his last adventure. We have been told by an official in our court that his last known destination was your own kingdom, to renew a peace treaty he had made with your land before. He took our younger brother with him.
It has been ten years and more since our father left on his way to your land. We implore you, if you mean to stay in good relations with our kingdom, to send them both home to us with all the style that befits a royal house. We regret to inform you that in the event that this request is refused, this letter goes unanswered, or if they are out of your hands, an honest attempt to find them is not made, any of these shall amount to a declaration of hostility and war between our two kingdoms.
-P.S. We admire our fine Brandian-carved desk as we write this.
Valun the third, son of the second, King of Corridane
When he was done, Valun carefully folded up the letter, stamped it with his royal seal, and called the valet. He told him “I charge you to find a trustworthy man to carry this letter north to Brandia. It must arrive at the royal palace as fast as possible. That done, return here and guard my door. No one but my General may be allowed in.”
The valet answered “I answer for my cousin.” and left to execute the order.
Scarcely had the valet left with his first letter, then Valun began writing another.
To my lord the ruler of the Empire of Naibern-
You may very well soon have a despotic, cruel, and unjust man on your hands who goes by the name of Damrod Whipknot. Do not be surprised if he, on meeting you, should style himself King Damrod the first, and claim full privileges as a fellow sovereign. This is because he has only recently been removed from the kingship of, and banished from, our domain of Corridane. Be informed that this man withheld our throne from us, and actually went so far as to banish our royal person from our own kingdom, until we raised an army and regained our throne by surprise and force. We recommend that you in your turn do what we forgot to think of, and exile him to the small island in the Deerunthin Lake, which is slightly nearer your border than ours. It will be for the good of everyone involved if you accept our advice as soon as possible.
Hoping to remain your faithful friend and ally- Valun the third, King of Corridane.
Valun immediately treated this letter as he had the other, folding and stamping it. This time, though, as there was no valet in front of the door yet, he dropped his letter into a drawer of his desk, planning to find it again later. Valun then removed his crown and cloak and lay down upon his bed, overcome by the volume of his duties.
The sun was shining through his western window when he woke again, and so he immediately rose, replacing his crown, and strode out the door of his room. He inquired of the valet whether anyone had asked to see him, and the valet responded “No one but your general, Sire, who came to ask if you would ride to the hounds. When he found that you were asleep, he said he would speak with you at dinner.”
“What!” Valun exclaimed “You allowed him into my private chamber?! When I was asleep?!”
“Well… yes, my Lord. You said he was to be allowed in.” the valet whispered, beginning to worry that he was doomed to some terrible punishment “I was not aware that you were asleep. Evidently, you sleep very deeply.”
Valun finally recalled what he had said earlier. “Oh yes, that is true. I did say he was to be allowed in… You did well man, you are dismissed. But remember to be prepared to guard my chamber at any time I may want to retire. What is your name?”
The valet hesitated, still slightly overawed at being addressed directly by the king. “David, my Lord.”
“Very well, David, you are my personal servant. You will follow me everywhere, transport my correspondence to respectable couriers, personally serve my food, and guard my door when I say unless I personally tell you not to. That starts tomorrow. You may go now.”
On hearing this, David the valet was so relieved he left, bowing until he reached the stairway, as fast as he could go. After giving him time to descend, Valun followed at a majestic pace that fit his rank.
Upon entering the great hall, Valun noticed immediately that it was empty. Wondering what everyone could be doing, Valun eventually wandered out through the front door of his castle, to see the sights in his capital. As he had forgotten to take his crown off before entering the town, he found it easier that he had hoped to move through the streets, as everyone in sight was always racing their neighbor to be the first one to the edge of the road, and so look more respectful.
Valun walked through the streets until he came upon a small group of men examining one of the notices Sir Robert had put up. The king approached his subjects quietly, and then asked loudly “So how many of you have decided to join? The pay will be good; I can assure you of that. There’s a fine uniform in the bargain too.” The men finally turned and looked at the speaker.
“The King himself!” they all exclaimed simultaneously. The men promptly fell on their knees.
“You may rise” Valun said immediately “I should have said that there will be fine uniforms; and I have not decided on the pay yet, but I can say that being a Guardsman will be a very prestigious position. It will be the work of the Guardsmen to keep order and protect justice in times of peace, but it is also the special responsibility of the Guardsmen to defend the city in the event of an invasion by enemies. I have three more little things to say. My training grounds will always be open for training in the use of any weapon you may feel especially adept at, it is the duty of each Guardsman to buy his own armor and weapon, and the most notably courageous Guardsmen will have the honor of being my personal bodyguards when I leave to wage war. My bodyguards would be charged with keeping me alive at all times, even at the cost of their own lives. Any who survived would be knighted on the field of battle. You all know how great an honor that is. Go; tell all the men you know what I have said. But first, guide me back to the castle. I have lost myself in this city already, and it is nearly dark.”
After the men had led the king home and made sure he would know how to find his way back the next time, they stopped at the bottom of the steps, not daring to venture farther. Valun began climbing the steps, ignoring his guides, but then, finally realizing why they were still waiting, and knowing they fully deserved it, he turned, reached into his purse and threw them a handful of coins, turned again and strode into his castle once more.
When the king entered his dining hall this time, he noticed that the table, excepting his royal seat, of course, was full this time. And the meal had begun. When someone finally noticed that the king had entered, he stood and announced the fact, prompting all the others to get up from their seats simultaneously, and remain standing until Valun had seated himself.
“My Lord” Richard the Lion began, standing again. “These men are all knights who came hoping to renew their pledges of fealty to your house, and then have the honor of dining with you. Unfortunately, as you were not prepared to hear such things, it was left to me to entertain them all, and we leapt to the hunt, bringing back what you see on the table.”
“You say” Valun retorted. “That I was not prepared to hear such things. Why, may I ask?”
“Of course you may ask, and I must give you an answer. Did not your guard tell you that he had allowed me into your chamber? Well, you happened to be asleep at the time that I had the misfortune to enter, and I say it was a misfortune because you were making an awful noise.”
“Yes. Unfortunately, you snore.”
The assembled knights all roared with laughter at this remark, while Valun sat indignantly, not quite getting the point. But after a few moments, he understood, and was laughing louder than the rest.