A short time later, Valun again heard loud knocking on the door of his chamber. This time he told the herald on the outside of the door to open it for himself, which the man presently did, opening the door widely to admit the visitors.
To say that Valun lost his composure upon the entrance of the Princess would be an understatement. In fact, he could not find his voice for several seconds after her appearance, so there was complete silence in the room until the princess spoke.
“I was under the impression that you had requested that I come to your country. It would not be good if you embarrassed yourself now by not speaking.”
This statement caused Valun to recover everything which he had lost. “I fully understand what you mean, but-“
“What? That this is a mistake? That I have come all the way over on the request of an emissary who was acting for his own gain?”
Valun, who had been returned to a state of shock by this statement, abruptly replied “That is exactly how it was, my Lady.”
The Princess, who had suddenly begun to laugh for no discernible reason, waved Valun off, answering “I expected as much by the time I reached Miran. Similar incidents have occurred in my homeland. My father.” She concluded, by way of explanation. “But now I am here, so I will stay here.”
“But you must still understand that you have arrived at a very bad time for me. I have pledged myself to hunt for my father in a neighboring country, fighting a war if need be, and that I was going to leave as soon as the force which you arrived with had shown itself.”
“Well! This isn’t much in the way of a welcome! Here I was believing that after my long adventure, I would be allowed to settle down, and as soon as I arrive, I find that the prospective husband was surprised by my appearance and is about to go wage war against his neighbor just to retrieve his old father, who probably shouldn’t have gone there in the first place! Couldn’t you get him back through diplomatic channels?”
“That was the first thing I tried. The response was an insult.”
“I see. So that’s how it became an affair of honor besides the integrity?”
“Then don’t let me keep you! Go do it! Your father could be dying at this moment, - but no, that wouldn’t help you, would it?”
Suddenly Valun was finding himself pushed out of his own chamber and out into the passage. When he had recovered from his shock, he realized where the sense in this action lay, and proceeded to go down through the castle until he reached the front gate.
In front of the gate, he met Richard, who, having been informed by a different messenger, had come for the same purpose.
“What can we say to these men? They are not aware of the true reason for their summons, are they?”
“And why would they not be? A good commander does not send half the population of his country to declare war on his neighbor without giving a valid reason at the drafting.”
“Yes, but what is my reason?”
“Do you mean to tell me that you have forgotten why you ordered me to send the draft order, by way of which several thousand men have just marched for a week across the country out of loyalty, and are now sitting outside your gate waiting for you to issue forth from it?” At this point, Richard began yelling so loudly that the front ranks of the soldiers in the courtyard could hear him without any effort on their part. “You mean to tell me that you’ve forgotten that your purpose is to save your father? It’s your duty to go through with this! As you’ve told me several times already! Especially now that the men that you ordered to leave their own lives and families for your sake have finally arrived! It’s too late for any second thoughts now! Or are you a coward?”
When Richard had finally stopped shouting, Valun wound up, punched him, and shouted in his turn “That is exactly what I needed! You have insulted me, and so I’ll prove to you and the entire world that I’m not!” Pushing open the doors, he shouted to the crowd “We march tomorrow!”