Before The Fall – Part 4

Saturday 16 – Sunday 17 March 2013

Tucked away in his bedchamber, King Osgood paced back and forth across the room, the words of the Oracle playing on his mind. And if Dagmar was right, despite his good intentions, opening the castle to the people of his land as a safe place to shelter was a very bad idea for Osgood and his knights. The combination of the two – the Oracle’s prophecy and Dagmar’s concern – would keep him awake more than the pelting rain, booming thunder and striking lightning. The weather-storm was the smaller of his two storm worries.

So focussed on finding a solution to his woes, Osgood did not hear the gentle rapping on his chamber door, and Dagmar’s entrance startled him. Had it been an assassin, Osgood would not have stood a chance to draw his own sword against his attacker. He caught his breath and welcomed Dagmar in.

‘How are they out there? Have they settled in for the night? Is there enough food and drink to go around?’ Osgood enquired.

‘There is food enough for everyone, my liege. For the most part, people have retired for the night, and they are indeed settled.’

‘And their animals?’

Dagmar laughed.

‘You are concerned for the welfare of their animals too?’ he asked.

‘Dagmar, for some of those people, the animals that they have brought with them are the mainstay of their livelihood. Of course, I concern myself with the welfare of the beasts. If my people are unable to make a living and earn money, then they are unhappy, and unhappy subjects are likely to turn on their sovereign.’

The knight nodded once, understanding the point his king was about to make.

‘You were there when the Oracle spoke. You heard the prophecy. My downfall will be at the hands of my own people.’

Osgood stood directly in front of Dagmar and grasped the knight by his shoulders.

‘You heard the prophecy. I intend on keeping as many of them as happy as possible whilst they are under my roof.’

‘And when they are no longer under your roof?’ Dagmar asked.

‘You know the answer to that. Now tell me, what brings you here?’

‘Just making sure that you are safe,’ replied the knight.

Before Osgood could answer, forceful banging on the bedchamber door interrupted the two men. Dagmar drew his sword and raced to the door, swinging it open and levelling the sword at the throat of the young knight in front of him.

‘Why do you disturb the king in this manner?’

* * * * *

It had begun in a small room off of the throne room; bodies crammed in to a small space, tension running high, people displaced from their comfortable environment all pointed to one outcome. The fight had started between two young men, both farmers, who had initially been discussing the care of their beasts. One thing led to another, and the light-hearted and friendly conversation turned into a competitive debate about personal strength. This, in turn, became a physical confrontation involving a number of off-colour jibes about the quality of one of their mothers.

When Dagmar arrived with the young knight and King Osgood some steps behind, the brawl had provided a nice opportunity to make a wager in the hope of earning a few coins. Inserting himself between the two fighting farmers, Dagmar held both off with a minimum of effort. The more aggressive of the two swung wildly at the knight. Dagmar lifted the man off of the ground and threw him into the crowd.

‘You are in the home of the king. Show some respect or I will teach you the meaning of the word.’

The farmer still in Dagmar’s grip relaxed his posture and gave up struggling against the knight. When he relaxed, Dagmar released him but watched the man closely.

‘You,’ he said to the young man, ‘gather your things. You’ll be moved to another place. Have you family here?’

‘No, sir,’ he replied.

‘Get your things. Quickly. And you,’ Dagmar turned his attention to the man trying to pull himself up and out of the crowd, ‘be grateful that I am not your king because you would find yourself at home in the dungeons. Stay away from him.’ He pointed to the other young man.

Leaving the room alongside Dagmar, the young farmer locked eyes on Osgood and dropped to one knee.

‘Your majesty,’ he said, ‘forgive me for the trouble I have caused.’

‘Stand up,’ Osgood replied and waited for his instruction to be followed. The young farmer stood, head hanging down in shame.

‘I have opened my home to you because I wanted my people to be safe from this weather. Our common enemy at this moment is the storm. We should not be fighting amongst ourselves.’

* * * * *

Utilising the commotion that had occurred near the throne room as a cover, Hakon Kristofsen and his younger brother, Lars, stealthily made their way into King Osgood’s bedchamber. There they would lay in wait for his return.

. . . To be continued . . .

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About Danielle

I like to write. What more is there to know?
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