Okay, so in my rush to get this chapter to you, it only got a cursory inspection. It'll probably get truly edited and re-uploaded eventually. This is a boring chapter, I admit it. I'm sorry! If it sucks, just tell me and I'll work on it.

Disclaimer: I'm not Tamora Pierce.

Dom sat at the mahogany desk in the master bedroom, thinking. He'd planned to write a long letter, lamenting the lack of his wife's company and swearing fervently to set things right with her before explaining that he would need to stay in Masbolle just a little while longer. But now that the blasted piece of parchment sat before him, it seemed to taunt him with it's blankness. His quill had long since dried.

He finally settled on: Kel, I must stay in Masbolle. I'm sorry. Love, Dom. He called a servant boy to get the piece of parchment to a messenger.

Kel raced to the walls of New Hope, helm and sword in hand. She cursed the fact that her glaive was in Corus, with the palace blacksmiths. She was met on the wall by Corporal Gerard, one of the newest members of New Hope's guard. He handed her a telescope and made way for her to see for herself the situation.

There was no attack. About a hundred yards out, a line of soldiers stood at attention. She looked around, the line circled New Hope entirely. There didn't seem to be an end to the enemy, either. She looked again. These were Scanrans, that was for sure, but it was an army.

They wore a red tunic with tan leggings, and an armor of strips of metal bound together. They held a huge rectangular shield to their side that curved inward. Their metal helms were open had no visor, but only cheek guards, and neck guard jutting out of the back. Their swords were not drawn, though their hands rested on them as they stood at attention. It was interesting that their swords were slung from the baldric on the right side. they wore a belt that had strips of leather in front which were decorated with brass plates. About one for every eighty wore a transverse crest, and stood a step out of the formation, though still one with it. These were obviously the officers.

Before the North Gate, in the harvested fields, sat a lone rider. He truly was a magnificent sight. He wore an armor iron with the chest and abdominal muscles molded into it. He wore a cloak pinned to one shoulder of scarlet and it billowed out behind in him in a grand fashion. He held his helm under his arm, but sport a crest of scarlet also, this time the crest attached from front to back. His tunic was the same as that of his soldiers, as was everything else about him, except for perhaps his was a bit newer.

His mount wore no armor, and did not have the bulk of a warhorse, but it was closer to slender, light footed horses of the Bazhir. His hand rested on a pole which held two flags, the topmost one a red flag with a coat of arms on it that was achingly familiar to Kel. Underneath it, was a white flag.

The rider stuck the pole in the ground and put his left fist in the air, arm at a ninety degree angle, and brought it down so his forearm was parallel to the ground. The officers in the formation sporting crests turned and yelled a command. The soldiers all, as one, parted their feet, brought their shields around to be in front of them, and put their free arm behind their back, still facing forward. First one block of soldiers would do it in perfect unison, then the next officer would give the command and his block would do it in perfect unison. Their discipline was eerie.

"Milady, I believe he wishes to see you." the Corporal whispered in her ear. That brought her out of her daze.

"Yes, but I believe I'll be riding out in dress armor, don't you." Kel said, thoughtfully. The chamber had warned her of a new danger, and she believed it had just arrived on her very doorstep.

He chuckled. "Yes, I dare say you will, Milady."

Jonathan of Conte had just received some alarming news. New Hope, the capitol of all the military doings on the Scanran border, was under siege by an army. A true army, a huge army, and a perfectly disciplined army that at least rivaled that of the Tortallans if it weren't easily much better.

And to make it all the worse, his son and daughter in law were traveling right into the heart of this army, as were two of his best friends, the realm's head healer and his wife, and his best friend and her husband were already in New Hope and stuck there. Not to mention that his wife was out in the field with a Rider group somewhere in that area.

Life was so simple when he was just a prince.

If you didn't get the description of the soldiers, just look up roman legionary. I personally think of the Roman Legions as the ultimate army, and that's what I wanted to make this new Scanran Army. It struck me as kinda odd in the books how Maggur was suppose to get a real army together and he just seemed to put a whole bunch of bandits in a line and called it an army. Maybe a new king would be able to do better... Oops