Exercise of Power

Remnant: Book of Tulefore Chapter 4

A rabble had formed at the entrance of the castle late that morning, following the distribution of military orders to the families of those who had been selected by Silvus himself. The captain of the guard was already present inside the great hall, aware of the fallout of his actions. He paced about the stairs before the throne while the crowd outside hummed with frustration. The castle guards stood under the arched entranceway, aided by Kiaren, keeping the doors from opening out to the courtyard.

The Viceroy was at the rear of the hall, looking out the window over the sea. “If these folk were in the place of those at the Villa in Slana, they would have vastly different opinions. Do not despair upon your decision, good Silvus.”

Danus stood by Emperor Manek, hungrily sitting upon his throne. The fat man grumbled. “Ask them if they would not want any more of the dishes served by the Slanian cooks, the next time they come about to one of our banquets.”

“Now brother,” Danus hummed, “We are not here to entertain the foolish desires that these folk would wish to impart on us. Commander Silvus- you were fully in your right to draft any of one of those men who were pledged to serve the Kingdom.”

“Of course, your highness,” Silvus replied, hands still wavering at his sides.

Terren arrived upon the unexpected crowd of finely dressed folk and their stewards, gathering rowdily at the door. He glanced back at the young mage, who was close at his rear. A few of the castle guards were held in a tight formation before the set doors, with long pikes- ones outfitted with dulled tips- in their grasp. Another guard came about to meet Terren, presenting himself stiffly. “Sir Terren, it is not safe to proceed. Allow me to lead you through the lower entrance to the great hall.”

Terren licked his lips and shook his head. “I suppose Silvus and my father are inside?”

“Awaiting your arrival, yes.”

“I shall manage in finding my own path.” He declared, reaching behind him for the shoulder of the young mage. “Elwar, your first task shall be to urge this rabble out of the way. Master Lahldonicus said you were sound in your restraint?”

Elwar blinked at the crowd. “I shall do as you ask.” He stepped forward upon the cobbled rocks of the Castle’s courtyard, his eyes following the cracks among the individual stones. A few lengths away from the castle’s doorway, he knelt to the ground and touched his fingers lightly to the material beneath him.

The earthy hum began low but arose to a grinding call. The nobles began to peer at their feet, then jump back, scampering into one another, as the pavement dislodged them away from the entranceway. The front of the castle trembled, and the heavy wooden doors shifted uneasily. At the other side, Kiaren and the other guards held tightly against the wooden planks, fearing the worst.

“That shall be enough,” Terren directed down to the mage as he walked swiftly forward. The rabble, parted through down the middle, looked about for the cause of the trembling when Terren stepped forward between them. The attending guard and the mage followed in obedient procession. The men assigned to the entranceway bowed their heads in thanks and turned back to rap upon the door with the agreed-upon signal.

“Let them through, Kiaren.” Silvus directed, pulling himself closer to the doorway. The guards at the base of the throne platform straightened their stances. The doors were forced outward, revealing Terren and the accompanying others at his sides.

“Good day, sister,” Terren said, announcing his arrival. “I did not expect such a welcoming party.”

Silvus eyed the man and the young mage at his side. “Interesting you would choose this way to come in.”

The rabble of nobles took the opening of the doors to force another push forward against the helpless guards. More of the castle’s defenders came forward to block them from encroaching upon the throne and its occupants.

Danus shook his head. “It would have been a wiser decision to take the secured entrance. Your recklessness is going to be the cause of someone’s grief one day.”

Silvus offered a brief examination of the mage as he presented himself. “I am at your service, Commander Silvus.”

“The shaking was your doing, was it?” The Commander replied, glancing to the outsiders, who despite their growing tension, were very much intact.

“At Sir Terren’s order, sir.”

“Exemplary.” Silvus nodded before stepping up finally.

The rabble was held at bay by Kiaren and her guards, shouting out names and calling for bargaining. “Lord Danus, spare my son,” said one. “I shall trade five bushels of grain in exchange for dropping the service order!” Another cried hopefully. “He’s too young to go.”

“Fine people of Tulefore!” Silvus’ cry traveled across the hall, cutting through the cacophony of voices. He marched down before the line of guards blocking off the group. “How dare you… all of you… cheapen the service of our young men and women who lend their strength to this empire. In a situation such as this one, we can only rely so much on those who volunteer to voyage to our holdings across the seas and secure the peace there. There shall be no buying your way out of the service your sons and daughters have been pledged to at this time. Know that I shall be leading these forces myself, and I will see to it that none of them come to harm. If you wish to discuss the events currently unfolding in Slana, myself or Viceroy Medan will be present for a short time longer to answer your concerns.”

The crowd began to shuffle back in a more orderly state. Kiaren watched on as Silvus delivered his address. In the returning calm, she returned back up to the throne, glancing at the mage her brother had brought with him.

Medan joined with Silvus and began speaking to the group of people. Terren smirked and watched the confident commander’s back. “I see why you’re so fond of him, sister.”

Kiaren ignored her brother and paced about to the window, looking to the ocean waves below. Danus crept behind her as she slapped her fist to her leg. “I’d have never been able to deliver such words,” the young woman confided to her father standing in the corner of her eye.

“After you see Silvus off, I beg you to take time away from the remainder of the trainees and spend some time here at the castle, my dear,” Danus directed hopefully. “I’m sure we can accompany someone else to keep them active with drills during the winter.”

“What would you desire from my presence here, Father?”

“It would not be for myself, but for your own well-being.”

“When have you ever cared about my well-being?” Kiaren huffed, jerking away and turning to the spiral staircase to the upper levels. The echo of Silvus’ voice trailed off in the distance as she mounted the steps.

Kiaren’s old room of her childhood was among the other lavish chambers above the great hall. Though it had not been inhabited for some time, it remained organized and cleaned of dust and cobwebs. The window at the far end looked over the courtyard and the city much lower. Some of the nobles who had come to protest the drafting of their kin were already beginning to part dejectedly. Kiaren sat down on the firm mattress of her bed and took in the soft, unnatural-feeling fibers of the coverings. “A room for a princess…” she mumbled, looking to a long-neglected stuffed doll on a corner shelf.

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