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Captain of the Guard: A Simple Request

August 23, 2019

Whisper was a good sergeant, of the clever and shifty variety that got things done without fuss or notice from his superiors. He was not the loud-mouthed eating nails kind that inspired and terrorized his men. He was not particularly good at getting a bunch of men to charge a hill against impossible odds and get them all killed. He was the kind that would circle around the back, make sure there was plenty of liquor found unexpectedly among the enemies’ rations and then wait for the enemy to be sleeping off their good fortune before having his men take the hill that some young nobleman, that had just been given his officer spurs, decided must be taken at all costs.

Whisper was an even better tracker than he was a sergeant. A detail that was not missed by anyone that believed he was part elf, because everyone knows that elves are exceptionally tuned to nature. Everyone that is, except anyone that has ever spent any time with the Alfar. Those individuals find that the Alfar spend most of their time playing cruel jests upon each other, and some abhor the wild.

The other nine men bear mentioning at this point as having been chosen almost at random by Cedric. They were overall fairly decent men which means that they tried to do the right thing most of the time and had their little vices, for example one had a penchant for buggery, another for small cons. They also shared one thing in common: none of them had long to live, although they did not know that. Some of them would die heroically, some in a rather embarrassing fashion and others would simply die, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

One could go through the tedious process of introducing each and every one of them, but this isn’t their tale. The important thing was that there were nine of them accompanying Cedric and Whisper.

The afternoon that Ro failed to show for his picnic with Princess Hilenia, Cedric was in the ward training with a number of the guard. Training was generally something that soldiers despised, until the point where they faced off against a foe at which point they often fervently wished that they had paid more attention and spent more time training.

So his men were quite happy to take a break when the princess rode up on her black stallion. She would tell anyone that asked that her horse was a very spirited male and that he would not accept just anyone. Despite what the princess believed, the truth was that he was very carefully breed to be anything but spirited and his gait was gentle. King Argov the Wise, was not ironically so called and not a fool and did all that he could to protect a very valuable asset that could be used to cement an alliance.

“Captain.” Princess Hilenia pulled up before him.

Cedric bowed, “Your highness.” It was a good idea to be polite to your employer, or any member of the nobility because of the difficulties they could cause you. For the few nobles that were self-aware, this caused a considerable amount of angst for them. They could never be sure if someone was being polite, respectful or flattering because they meant it, or because of their station. Most nobles were blissfully not self-aware and saw this only as their due.

“Ro is missing. He was supposed to meet me for a lunch on the banks of the singing river and he didn’t show.” The princess was wearing a shimmering blue gown, that had tiny little pearls sewn along the hem in silver thread. It was not a particularly becoming garment for the princess, but she liked it because it was fashionable, which is a polite way of saying more expensive than it was worth.

“Perhaps he is still in the castle, your highness.”

“No, he’s not, he left this morning on some errand. He wouldn’t tell me what, probably to get me some token of his affection.” Cedric doubted that, but said nothing. “I checked with the guards and he has not returned. I want you to go find him.” She bit her lower lip for a moment before continuing. “I know something bad has happened. Please Captain, hurry.”

Although later Hilenia would believe that she was so connected to Ro that she had a premonition, the reality was she tended to think something terrible had happened whenever something, or someone, deviated from her expectations. Eventually with that kind of thinking, you’re going to be right. It would be further proof in her mind of the mystical bond she had with her hero, and it would invariable end up in the tales and songs, embellished and embroidered, until she verily felt the arrow that pierced his heart and cried out in anguish at the moment of his death.

“Very well, princess, I shall find Ro.”

Later he would be glad that he had not promised to bring him back.

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