I don't have much to say . . . only let the story continue!!!! PS. I really like this chapter title.

The Tear of a King

Neal and Kel raced along the hallway to the banquet hall. They barely halted at the door, just slowing down enough to push it open and continue inside. Inside, the hall was filled with people. There was barely enough room for the two knights to stand, and the sound was deafening as hundreds of men β€”and one woman β€” talked apprehensively among themselves, creating a roaring din.

The two knights clambered up onto a rock statue so they could see the royal table. No one was seated. As they watched, a small door off to the left side of the royal table opened, and King Jonathan entered, followed half a step behind by his wife and consort, Queen Thayet.

Kel had seen the ruling couple many times, and she was still overwhelmed by the imposing figures they made. After eight years at the palace, Queen Thayet was still the most beautiful woman Kel had ever seen. With her strong boned face and long black hair, she was unmistakable. King Jonathan's royal heritage was evident to anyone with working eyes, and his own piercing blue eyes gazed around the hall. They were dressed simply, but everyone in the room immediately fell quiet when they entered.

Jonathan paced to the table, then looked around helplessly before rolling his eyes and climbing on top of it. He held a rolled up scroll in his left palm, and he restlessly tapped it against his thigh as he surveyed his audience. Jonathan began to speak, and his magically amplified deep voice resounded against the walls. He spoke quickly without being rushed.

"As many of you already know, Tortall is under mass attack by forces of Carthak, Scanra, Tusaine, and the Copper Isles. So far, the only reason I have for this unprovoked attack is a message from the Scanran leader." He unrolled the scroll and read it before the assembly. "'We want the Dominion Jewel." Jonathan let go of the bottom part of the scroll and it snapped together. He then continued.

"I don't think anyone here believes that to be the real reason. For now, we have literally nothing to go on. However, one thing is for sure: this is no child's play. This is war.

"Three days ago, our allie, Emperor Kaddar of Carthak, was overthrown by Carthaki rogues. Since Carthak is only loyal to the current commanding body, they are now completely against our country. The Copper Isles have not been trustworthy since their Princess Josiane was killed on Tortallan soil. Tusaine, although only recently recovered from civil war, is also plotting against us, and Scanran raiders have been sighted all along the Northern Border.

"They have already begun their siege. Pirate's Swoop was hit, as well as Barony Olau, Port Legann, and Fiefs Trebond, Meron and Naxen, along with all four forts along the Southern Border, and two forts in the Drell River Valley. All those under attack are standing, but Legann is dangerously unprepared. Reinforcements are on their way as I speak. The relief forces should reach Port Legann by tomorrow, in the early afternoon. Hopefully, Lord Imrah can hold Legann until then.

"Now, I ask you, my loyal knights, to uphold your country and fight. My scribes are setting up to assign each and every one of you a region to fight for. When you get your assignment, I ask that you leave as soon as possible. We need all the help we can get on the battlefields."

A young messenger entered the room from the door to the left and approached the king. Jonathan broke off his speech, reaching down to grasp the parchment handed him. He took a few seconds to read it, and his shoulders sagged. King Jonathan looked up grimly and continued.

" Port Legann has been taken. Lord Imrah is dead." A single tear slowly fell down his cheek, a rare show of emotion in someone so controlled. "I beg you to help. We need you."

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