Fantasy. Duke Charles Marshland encounters and debates with Alain Harper, then grants him and Princess Adams sanctuary on his fiefdom’s frontier. With fellow Triond author Jack Shepard.

THRONE WARS 06

Fantasy. Duke Charles Marshland encounters and debates with Alain Harper, then grants him and Princess Adams sanctuary on his fiefdom’s frontier. With fellow Triond author Jack Shepard.

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Charles Marshland sat on his black horse watching his soldiers on parade: a few hundred of his finest, marching through the valley over which he was looking. His great-grandson sat in the saddle in front of him, facing the marching platoon. Even given the slight drizzle of rain, Duke Marshland was unmoved and resolute, and he was pleased to see that his troops carried themselves likewise.

“Look there! Daddy and Granddad,” exclaimed the young heir as he pointed.

Sure enough, there was his son Dominic, riding his own black horse at the head of the column, belting out marching directions. Well behind, riding at a canter making sure the platoon followed their orders, was Eric Marshland his grandson, a man in his late twenties.

Charles smiled and leaned close to Fredric his great-grandson. “I have a riddle for you.”

“Not another one?” the boy complained.

Charles decided to give it anyway. “A man was called to a meeting by three men, a king, a cleric and a wealthy man, who asked that the man bring a sword with him. The man did as he was commanded and arrived with a sword. The king said, ‘If you kill these two men, you’ll show loyalty to the throne and I’ll be in your debt for life.’ The cleric said, ‘I know you’re a holy man. Kill these two men for me and you’ll be rewarded now and forever.’ The wealthy man said, ‘If you kill these two men, I’ll pay you handsomely and you’ll live well for life.’ So the question is, who does he kill? And who truly wields power in that situation?”

“Aren’t those two questions?” the boy asked peevishly.

Charles only laughed. “Well, I must say you have me there. All right, two questions – but the answer to the first and the answer to the second are joined together.”

Fredric stopped to think but came up blank. The boy was only seven and the riddle was rather deep. Charles had a habit of trying to push the boy.

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