The Keeper enters his study, on a large table a map lay of his lands and surrounding it his commanders, free from the pious vows of his city champion. In a few moments Aimes and Harper enter, heads hanging low in mock prayer hoping to keep their lives, “Gentlemen, these Brothers here were captured by Throne the other day, and taken to feast where they found within his ranks the Foretold. The poor girl knows not that she is in danger with the rogue and so we must go forth and bring my justice to her aid.”
“How shall we go about that, Your Grace? Throne is always a step ahead of us, surely he is ready for us to appear.”
“I’m counting on it, he will exhaust his men in the heat waiting on us to ride in, and so at midnight tonight when they are all asleep we will ride in, arrest everyone, harm no one, and bring them here.” The commanders share uneasy glances, “What is it? Do you dare disagree with me?”
“Shouldn’t the Good Sir Knight be here, Your Grace?” One finally asks.
“Of course he should be, but he needs his rest for when the Foretold is brought here he will serve her every need.”
“And how will we identify the Foretold, Your Grace? Surely by now she is in different clothing.”
“Alex will find her for us, after all when everyone is brought here all we must do is have him identify her, surely the Good Sir Knight can do that?” He poses the question to Aimes and Harper.
“Oh yes Your Grace, yes. The city knight should be more then able to find his holy mistress.” Aimes quickly responds, the Keeper nods, happy with their answer.
“Good, now leave. I leave this matter in your capable hands, Commander Locke.”
“Thank you Your Grace, I shall not disappoint you.” Commander Locke grabs his files and walk out of the room, barely able to keep the joy out of his step at being the chosen commander to bring down Throne and his band of rogues. The other commanders, the two Brothers, and finally the Keeper walk out, talking amongst themselves or pointedly ignoring the others; the Keeper walks the halls of his palace, all around him are reminders of the royal family, taken by the Gods nearly fifteen years ago. Rumors of the prince stopped surfacing after a time but still the council refuses to make him king, his features distort with anger and he stops to look out a window at the garden below and breath.
When he regains his composure he steps away from the window, heading in a round about way to the chapel where he assumes his knight will be. When he finally reaches the gilded doors and pushes them open he is rewarded with Alex lighting the the last of the candles representing the lost royal family, though the Keeper notes that he always leaves one unlit. “Alexander,” The knight jumps and whips around. “Forgive me, I did not intend to startle you.”
“All is forgiven, Your Grace.” Alex gives him a half bow and shakes the flame out on his piece of incense.
“May I ask why you always leave one unlit?”
“I’m afraid I still hold hope for the prince, Your Grace.” Alex looks away “The people have stopped sighting him but I do not wish for him to be gone.”
“He meant much to you, Good Sir Knight. I cannot fault you for your hope.”
“Thank you Your Grace.”
“I have a request of you, my knight.” Alex looks back at the Keeper. “I need you in the throne room at dawn.”
“Why, if I may ask.”
“To identify the Foretold. Locke will lead his men to Throne at midnight.” Alexander nods but knows he will be unable to warn his friend of what is coming, leaving him to pray for Throne’s safety. “Alexander?”
“Huh, Oh. Yes I will be there, Your Grace.”
“Thank you, I will leave you to your prayers and rest now. Good day.”
“Good day, gods bless you, Your Grace.” The Keeper gives Alex a tight smile and walks away, closing the doors behind him, Alex looks back at the candle and sighs. After a moment he slides the incense into its holder and walks out, heading to his room at a slow pace.
The time passes slowly for Commander Locke, but finally he and his men are ready and begin their ride, it is sunset by the time they reach the forest and nearly midnight by the time they reach the deer path leading to the Recluse, they wait a beat then head in. Walking quickly and quietly reaching the encampment with ease, everything is dark and quiet, just as the Keeper had assumed Throne exhausted his men in the heat of day saving none for night. With great ease the soldiers go from house to house, pulling occupants out of bed and forcing them to the road where wagons wait, men are bound while women carry children or help the elderly.
Maggie is among them but follows the lead of Madam Margery and keeps quiet while doing as the soldiers order. Throne is not as lucky as his men, soldier burst through his door and pull him from bed, slamming him against the hard ground before kneeling on his back and binding his hands and ankles and gagging him with cloth. He is dragged through the forest, the whole time doing his best to struggle, only giving up the fight when he is thrown into a wagon and the wheels creak and groan. Locke lets out a relieved sigh as he climbs on his horse, not a man lost, no one harmed, everything went perfectly. For once the bandit was not a step ahead of them, he directs his men home but the slow ride back is long and the night has some worn out.