Wednesday, July 13, 2005

00005

Across the man’s chest black cloth was used to display his standard, a red circle with a red diagonal line cutting through it. The lines on the standard were not smooth; instead their edges were rough as though they had been painted with a brush to achieve the desired look. Something about the standard seemed familiar toe Tharetes but he was unable to locate its meaning in his memory.

“The ultimatum I bring is from my liege and his approaching army.” The man’s eyes scanned the crown from left to right, taking in the reaction of the people. “He demands that you swear allegiance to him or your village will be destroyed and all those that live within these walls…” His arms circled in front of his chest gesturing at the walls surrounding Cragton. “…will be killed.”

Gasps of surprise rose from the crowd, variations of “When will they arrive?”, “Kill him now!”, and “What should we do?” were being voiced by all types of people. ‘The next five minutes may decide the fate of all these people.’ Tharetes thought. ‘Someone strong must step forward to lead this crowd before someone excitable, or worse yet a coward, grabs a hold of this mob.’

“The army will arrive in two years time, I must have your answer before I depart in three days. If I do not return to my liege then your village will be destroyed.”

The crowd was again taken aback, but this time instead of shouts, the nervous glances at neighbors were all that could be seen. “Two years? Is he serious? Does he really expect to surrender to an army that won’t be her for two years?” The old man said as he turned to look at the young man with the bloodshot eyes. “What the…” the man exclaimed as he realized that he wasn’t talking to anybody anymore, the young man was gone. Turning around to look down the street he saw the young man walking the other way out of down, his head turned down towards the road as though he was deep in thought.

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