After addressing the army outside and explaining the precise situation to them, Valun returned to his newly emptied chamber and retrieved the heavy crates from beneath his bed. Ringing the bell, he recalled David to his side and ordered him to help him into his armor.
“In this weather?”
“Yes. That is what I was trained for, wasn’t it?”
“But we don’t leave until tomorrow!”
“So you heard?”
“I wasn’t far behind. Richard is rather upset over that punch you landed on him.”
“He called me a coward.”
“Really? That’s not what I heard.”
“That’s of no consequence now. Just do this.”
“You should make it up to him before we leave. You don’t want your commanding general upset with you.”
“I know, and I will offer my apologies before we leave the city.” Valun answered.
“Oh, everything will be all right then. Richard is a real friend, you know.” David replied as he strapped on one of the leg pieces.
When the job of putting on the armor was finished, David strapped on Valun’s sword and remarked “Well, now you look as if you had just walked out of a painting. If you went in front of the elders, I don’t doubt that they would claim that you are really the second coming of one of the earlier kings. You certainly look the part.”
“Historical comparisons are not what I have in mind, though. I must see Richard.” Valun announced, striding out the door.
Upon leaving David, Valun immediately proceeded toward Richard’s room to offer an apology for his action. However, before he reached his destination, he met the man himself in the passageway.
“I hope this is well met, Richard? I hope you realize that I am not angry anymore and I only want to offer an apology for my action in the previous hour. However upset you may be, though, I know you will not fail to accept it, for if you did not, you would be in still deeper trouble for scorning a king who has lowered himself. I may treat you as an equal, but it is only out of our strong friendship that I treat you that well.”
“I understand, my Lord, that no other man would get off as lightly as I have for my speech, and receive the high honor of even a slight recompense from my Lord for his action against myself.”
Their speech concluded, the two men continued down the passage together, back toward Valun’s chamber. Upon reaching this point, they were joined by David. At the sight of the other men’s’ faces, he resolved to remain silent. So they continued; Valun in front, followed by Richard, with David trailing behind. The three continued this way until they reached the front gate of the castle. There, Valun turned and addressed the two who had followed him up to that point.
“I take it that you are both resolved to follow me to the death, for we have reached the point of no return, from which I may not turn back without being disgraced forever. I have declared war. I have commanded the draft. Many thousand loyal and brave men have answered my call. I cannot send them back to their homes. I will not apologize. In short, passing through these gates with me proves that you are true friends who will obey all orders and follow me to the death. Are you willing?”
Aware of the true gravity of the situation, Richard and David answered together “Yes, my Lord, I am ready. I would follow you anywhere you wished to go.”
“Then we shall go.” Valun answered quietly, as he began pushing open the thick oaken doors.