Garion was having the most wonderful dream. He was back at Faldor's Farm living in a small room with his wife and children. Instead of sitting on the throne half the day signing petty documents, he was out in the open fields planting and harvesting, and doing everything that a farmhand was expected of. Ce'Nedra had become the head of the household, making sure that everything was set and ready for any occasion, whether it be with gifts, money, horses or food. Geran and Beldaran were playing with friends in the barn, scolded by their mother or Aunt Pol whenever they misbehaved, but never too harshly. Durnik was back at the smithy, and Aunt Pol was busy in the kitchen, putting the final touches to the day's evening meal. Life was simple and sweet, with time to enjoy the plain happiness of life and one's family.
However, that uncomplicated life was broken when there was a sudden loud rapping at the door. Garion slowly awoke, opening one eye to look around the room. Ce'Nedra was still sleeping, and it still seemed to be not too early in the morning. Perhaps the servant had been mistaken when he knocked, accidentally banging into the door while on his way to somewhere else. Garion settled back down to get some more sleep.
There was another knock at the door. Obviously, the person at the door wanted something. Garion heard the bedsheets ruffle in slight movement, and looked over to his wife. Ce'Nedra was barely awake, and through squinting eyes she looked to Garion and then to the door. After the briefest of glances, she settled herself back down and snuggled into a comfortable position.
"Can you see what he wants Garion?" she asked. So ended Garion's sleep for the night.
"Yes dear." Garion replied to his wife. There was no sense in arguing on the fact that he always seemed to be the one that had to get up early to answer the door, his attempts would probably have no impact. Anyway, it was probably better this way, since Ce'Nedra usually wore a very short nightgown to bed and Garion's Sendarian ethics dictated to him that she was not dressed suitably for visitors.
Making his way up, he tied the sash about his robe more tightly and climbed down the three stairs that led up to the bed. Wearily, he made his way to the door and opened it slowly. To his surprise, he found that Silk was standing infront of him with a slightly upset look in his eyes.
"Good morning, Garion. How did you sleep?" The short man asked.
"Pretty well up until now. Was there any reason that you had to wake me up at the crack of dawn, Silk?" Garion answered testily. Even though he could tell something was wrong, he was always a little bit edgy in the morning.
"Well now!" Silk exclaimed in feigned shock. "There's no need to be grumpy about it! Can't a man ask how another man is doing without a sword looming in his face?"
"The reason you came Silk. Now." Garion said shortly. He really wasn't in the mood for Silk's games.
"Temper, temper." Silk chided lightly. The next moment, though, he once again took on the grave expression that Garion had seen when he answered the door. "There is going to be a meeting of the monarchs this morning, in about an hour or two. Belgarath sent me over here to tell you."
"You know, Silk, you could have said that in the first place." Garion sighed wearily.
"Yes, but then you would have still been too asleep to really understand." Silk replied, once again taking on his normal good-humored and mocking idiom. "The joking lasted long enough to become awake, you see? Had I not done it, you would have gone back to that comfortable looking bed of yours and drifted back to slumber."
"You're enjoying this." Garion stated, not even asking for an answer.
"Actually, I would have prefered not to even have to come here in the first place."
"Why did you come then? What happened?" Garion asked, suddenly intent.
"I imagine that you'll find out at the meeting. However, I need to go take a look around. I'll see you in about an hour." With that, Silk left.
If Silk had to go look for information, the situation was definitely more serious than Garion had throught. He wondered what could have occurred in one night.
Remembering that his wife and children were still sound asleep, Garion walked to the closet as softly as he could, and proceeded to pick out what clothes he would wear to that council.
"I'll rip apart the Stronghold and find out who was responsible!" Garion could easily hear Anheg's loud roar from even two halls down. Taking a brisker pace, he rounded the corner and entered a half filled throne room. Belgarath was there, Anheg and Barak, Cho-Hag and Zakath . It seemed that Silk was still rounding all the other dignitaries, rousing them from slumber.
"You won't do anything of the sort, Anheg." Belgarath corrected the fuming monarch sternly. "First of all, this is not your country, nor is this your building to demolish. Secondly, I am not willing to start a war on an issue that, as far as we know, can be resolved diplomatically and Thirdly, and most importantly, you are letting your excitement of a possible battle severly cloud your judgment. Either control yourself or I will have Barak and Hettar, when he gets here, pull you back to your bed chamber and lock the door from the outside."
Garion was confused. He still had no idea what was going on, but whatever it was caused Anheg to be filled with rage and forced his Grandfather to take on a tone that, while he knew the sorceror easily possessed and used, he did not particular enjoy demonstrating. "Sorry for just butting in, and forgive my impatience, but what exactly is going on?"
"There was a fire in the Stronghold. A rather large one until it was taken care of." Belgarath provided the simple answer.
"A fire?" Anheg raged. "That was no fire, Belgarath. That was arson. The group for the liberation of whatever deliberately set fire to the Stronghold! I thought we were done with these wars, but I guess the resolution of the Prophecy doesn't mean peace for those who followed it, does it?!"
Zakath sat quitely, one of his hands covering his left eye in what appeared to be exhaustion, though Garion perceived it to be with a misunderstand rather than with any lack of sleep. He had known Zakath to function quite capably on almost no sleep at all, though he did not function happily at those times. "I think you misunderstood the note, Anheg. It said to break the alliance, so I don't think this was directed at you Alorns in the slightest. In fact, I think that this was an threat against Urgit, myself, Nathel and Drosta. They want Angaraks to separate themselves from the rest of the Western World and wall ourselves in again."
Cho-Hag nodded. "I'd have to agree with Zakath . The unforunate price of the fire was placed upon Algaria and my children as a result of the council meeting. Had it not occurred, I believe they may have attacked some other Angarak interest."
"I think they are right, cousin. As much as I would love to join you and dismember those responsible, we should probably wait until everyone gets here before doing anything particularly rash." Barak had one of his hands on his cousin's shoulders the entire time, holding him down from flying apart. Anheg was still red in the face, but this time it was a mixture of his fury, for Chereks did not let go of their anger so quickly unless they were able to physically entertain their frustration on a usually very unfortunate opponent, and embarassment.
It did not take so much longer for the rest of the room to be filled with the visiting dignitaries. Silk, it appeared, had chosen an order where the late risers were woken earlier and forced to wait for those who normally waited for them. "That's the last of them." The small man announced as he walked in alone.