Booker came to shake both of their hands to solidify the deal. “Very good. Indeed, it is great to have the two of you. Now that we are all making our way together to Ionmur for the benefit of the Broken Spirits, I think it’s best that you two know some exposition behind our group’s motivations.”
“Booker, I think it’s best not to tell them too much,” Frayne said.
“I’m only going to tell them the obvious and things most people already know. In fact, I think everyone in the country needs to know what I’m about to tell them. Oakley, please refrain from interrupting if you can, I know you’re going to want to.”
Oakley seemed to have ignored this comment and continued eating.
“Right, our resistance movement, which is put together by our team known as the Broken Spirits, has a goal of changing this country. We plan on establishing a new and better government and to end the unnecessary war with the Reach. In order for us to do that, our resistance needs to overthrow the reigning king and his supporters.”
Talon seemed very intrigued. “So this king person, whoever he is–”
“Hold–I’m referring to King Breagan, the last of Anlaith’s Lineage.” Booker interjected, baffled.
Talon eyes narrowed. “Yeah, sure, so this Brigan person–”
“Do you not know who the king of this country is?” Oakley said. “The lord of the Eleven Great Rivers who reigns from The Bitter Forks to Henrik’s Mire?”
“I’m sorry,” Talon said annoyed. “Am I supposed to know this person I’ve never met?”
“It is curious how you don’t know who the reigning king is,” Booker said in a clear attempt to cool the tension. “Where are you from, exactly?”
“I’ve been prisoner among the Stahlgs for two years after they ransacked Hardknock,” Talon said defensively.
Arthen came to back him up. “It’s really not uncommon for citizens in villages near the Starting Ring to not know who the king is, or if there even is a king. My village had people who didn’t even know who their Marshall of Oakhurst was.”
“Huh. That could explain a lot,” Frayne said in an undertone.
“Could explain why we’re not–” Oakley started
“Well, that is enlightening. Good to know,” Booker said. “Well Talon, let us start there. Now, it was nine years when King Hagan–” Booker and Oakley then made a salute that Arthen had seen many do before when mentioning the late king, “–made a diplomatic journey south to the kingdom in the Infertile Reach and Hinterlands. He was meant to make talks with their king, Alaric Bas, about the number of attacks our Sásta traders were enduring on the mountainside. But he never made it to those talks. On the Crystal Lake just before they made port of the southern edge, his vessel along with his all of his kingsmen were burned and killed.
“So thus, Hagan’s firstborn, Breagan, was crowned king. But Breagan and the Council of Elders said they found evidence that the death of the Hagan was an assassination orchestrated by the King of the Reach, Alaric Bas.”
Arthen felt a growing guilt and embarrassment for he knew what Booker was going to tell next. Booker continued, “They also told all of us citizens of Ialnem that they discovered the three southern Marshalls of Ialnem–Alpius Roscrow of Elkhorn, Alder Cartovius of Clearmont, and Gol Morvan of the Grand Fields–conspired with the Bas to kill Hagan.”
“Why would the King of the Reach and those Marshalls want Hagan dead?” Talon said. “Doesn’t seem like they would get anything out of it.”
“You’re right, Talon. Hagan was well received by most Marshalls, including those three conspirators. During his tenure he abolished strict archaic laws on the Marshalls’ loyalty to the Anlaith’s Reign, giving them freedoms in their own lands. No one knows why they would conspire with a favored king like that. Things don’t line up. What Breagan and our Council told the citizens of this country was very vague and short. For their treason, the safeholds of Elkhorn, Clearmont, and the Grand Fields were burned, the families utterly eradicated, and their lands claimed by the king. War was declared on the Reach for the killing of our late Hagan. A war started because of the reason they told us: they believed that the Reach killed our king. Our resistance and those of us of the Broken Spirits were formed based on our belief that what they told us was a lie.”
Arthen’s spirit perked up. “What’s the lie?” he said.
The shimmering fire between the group illuminated everyone’s faces and eyes with an ethereal orange glow and seemed to draw all energy from its surroundings to its center. For a moment its crackling was the only sound that followed Arthen’s question. Booker’s eyes were reflective with the waving light.
“We believe that the assassination was not orchestrated by Alaric Bas or the southern Marshalls, but by the council and Breagan themselves.”