It’s Tuesday again! 🙂
I did post yesterday afternoon, in case anyone missed it.
Part Third: The King of the Valley
The news threw the City into havoc. The Shepherds trickled in by one’s and two’s or tens, and then the City Gates were shut and barred. The sheep-dogs sniffed their ways along their masters’ trails and were admitted to the City when one of the Shepherds claimed them, but few of the sheep and goats ever came back from the Hills.
King Cedric and his counselors discussed what should be done, but came to no decision in time to keep the dragon from making the first move:
The Royal Family was sitting in the Throne Room less than a week later, debating over what should be done when a messenger came running in. He tapped one knee on the floor in a hasty excuse for a bow before saying, “The dragon approaches, my lord.”
Both the King and Prince leapt to their feet and grasped their swords, but moments later a second messenger ran in. “It is not attacking,” he said. “It spoke to us, and it is very calm, if not polite. It asked us—or commanded us, rather—to ‘bring out our King’ to speak to him—as if you, my lord, were some trinket we kept in a box to bring out when we wished!” he finished with unrestrained scorn.
King Cedric nodded gravely. “Have our horses saddled.” He beckoned for his son to follow, then turned to the Queen. “Do you desire to accompany us, Eleanor?” She paused for a thoughtful moment before replying, “Yes, I will come. I cannot wait for a messenger to bring me tidings of your conversation.”
The three of them started out of the room. “Father!” Penelope called suddenly, running down the steps of the low platform on which the thrones sat. “I cannot stay here alone to wait for the messenger!” she pleaded. “I know the danger, but please, may I come?”
King Cedric looked thoughtfully back at his daughter. “Yes,” he said at last. “If you desire to come you may. You are old enough to understand what it means.”
The Princess joined the group, and they walked to the stables, and then rode to the Gate. They climbed up the steps to the top of the Wall, to the left of the Gate. Townspeople crowded onto the stair behind them. The guards parted to make room for the Royal Family to come to the edge. It was a splendid sight, high on the Wall in the Spring sunshine: the guards standing along the Wall with their armor glittering in the sun; as many of the people of the City crowding onto that section of the Wall as could fit, arrayed in brown, teal, and sage green; the Royal Family standing in the center of it all, looking over the Wall in their bright silk. The King and Queen were in scarlet with crowns of shining gold. The King had a long sword at his side. Henry was in gold and green with a silver circlet on his head. He too wore a sword; and at barely over twenty he already had a kingly air. Penelope, even in her fear, noticed how majestic her brother looked, as he climbed the steps to the City Wall that dreadful day, with his light hair blowing in the wind. She herself looked more like a princess now, than when we last saw her, in a rose-pink dress that fell to her ankles, with a leather belt embroidered with daisies in white and yellow thread, and sandals adorned with tiny gold flowers.
But had you been there you would not have looked at the people, but at the dragon:
The huge creature stood, crouching on all four talon-ed paws, less than a fifty feet from the Wall, its green scales glittering in the sun. At the sight of the King, it began to slink closer. “So, King of the Valley,” it snarled, red eyes flashing. “You have come out to speak to me.”