Stefan nodded, “That’s right, I do have other things to say… though catching up with my brother is a pretty good reason. Our winning over of the common people is going fairly well.”
“That’s not the kind of thing that requires you to come all the way here,” William commented.
“That’s right. Actually, I’m thinking of heading north.
“Absolutely not. That’s the most dangerous area, and we already have spies there. What’s more, I’m sure many of the lords would love to take the chance to capture you and use you against me.”
“They would… if they even glanced down at a one armed peasant. There are plenty of us around, you know? They won’t recognize me.”
“The lords might not look, but if they truly cared to capture you they would have others do it. You can’t avoid the scrutiny of every town guard.”
Stefan nodded, “If they even know what I look like… and if I even look like that.”
“A magical disguise will be even more obvious.”
“Of course it would… but a bit of mud and some rags would work just as well. I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t think it was important. It would make your job much easier if you only had to fight the lords and some guards… and not armies. At least, there could be smaller armies, and in the best case you could have revolutionaries on your side.”
“Others could do the same…” William shook his head, “But I don’t think you plan to listen to me. What about Gisila?”
“We agreed that we would rather not have children grow up in a world governed as it is in many places now. Of course, we are also not content to live in such a world ourselves. We could die just as easily for crossing a lord on accident as we could for spying on them and doing something.”
William thought back to the experience with his father. Lorcan Harridan had merely been traveling through the area, and one of his guards had nearly killed him when he stood in front of Gisela. At the time, Gisela had merely been a little girl, pushed out into the road by the jostling crowd, and she hadn’t even truly hindered Lord Harridan’s progress. While lords weren’t particularly keen on traveling in recent days, similar incidents would still happen if the status quo remained the same- and those were only casual acts of cruelty.
“Fine. I won’t stop you… but you must avoid capture at all costs. I can’t afford whatever price would be required to save you, and I don’t want to have to make the choice not to.”
“Understood. I don’t think I would enjoy being captured anyway.”
Several more years passed, and William was just waiting. Somehow, it was worse when he had an actual timeframe he was waiting for… but the fortunate thing about such anxiousness was that it was short term.
William was not at all surprised when he was woken at night by a knock on his door. “Lord Rutten! Wake up! It’s urgent!”
“Ah, just a moment!” It didn’t take long for William to throw on his robes over his nightclothes, then he opened the door. “What is it?”
“Captain Joel says there is a group approaching the manor, Lord.”
William yawned, “Alright. Tell him to prepare everyone, though I’m sure he’s started. I’ll be out to see him in a moment.”
William walked over to beside his bed and opened up a box. “Lorelei! Wake up!”
After a few moments, he heard a creaking sound, “William? Have they arrived?”
“That’s right.” William sat on the bed, pulling boots onto his feet. “Honestly, they chose the worst time. I was having a nice dream.”
“Oh? Was it about me?”
“Hah! It wasn’t that nice. It was just about a day where I didn’t have anything I had to do.”
“Mmm. Sounds nice.”
“Indeed. Well, I should get going. Tell the others, would you?”
William sat, waiting and listening. The only problem with being able to see people coming from a long distance was waiting for them to arrive. Of course, it was very useful for giving the guards who hadn’t been on duty time to wake up and get ready. William supposed that was more important, but he almost wished he could have just kept sleeping. He wasn’t even sitting somewhere comfortable, just in the entryway in the dark.
His ears perked up when he heard sounds outside… the clops of horses hooves, and then a rattling sound. “Open up! We have an immediate summons for Lord Rutten!
William heard his captain of the guard responding. “Oh? From who?”
“From the Grand Council! Now open the gates!”
“Come back later!” Joel answered.
“You-!” there was a loud harrumph and then the voice shouted, “Men!”
After that, there was a scream, and William finally stood up. He threw open the doors, “What’s going on here?”
“Sir!” Joel turned to salute him, “These bandits are trying to force their way onto your property!” He gestured toward the gate, where there was a smouldering body. Beyond the body was a large group of gevai soldiers, more than a gross, arrayed information.
“I am no bandit!” The most well dressed and armored man shouted, “I am Lord Ingvar Heinrich! I come bearing orders from the grand council!”
“Really?” William walked toward the gate, “You’re acting like bandits. How do I know you’re not a bandit?”
“I have the official summons!” Lord Heinrich unfurled a scroll and read from it, “By the decree of the Grand Council of the gevai, Lord Josef Rutten is to be brought in for questioning under the watch of Lord Ingvar Heinrich, and to stand trial for war crimes, including disobeying the orders of a superior.” Lord Heinrich turned up his nose, then continued, “You will come with me.”
William waved his hand, “Give me that so i can read it.”
“You have no right to lay hands on the orders of the Grand Council!”
In a flash of movement, William pushed open the gate and leaped the handful of meters toward Lord Heinrich, striking him in the chest. Lord Heinrich barely moved, but then collapsed off of his horse. William held out a hand to catch the falling scroll, then looked over it. “Oh, it really does say that. Unfortunately, Lord Heinrich is dead.” William tapped the body in front of him with his toe. “Since he was supposed to be my escort, I suppose they’ll have to send one that’s not as stupid.” William looked at the surprised soldiers in front of him, “Well, go on! Shoo!” He waved his hand dismissively. The soldiers all drew their weapons, and William grinned, “Not leaving? Well, I’m sure we can show you the error of your ways.”