Chapter 17 -- The Monarch
When Donohue and Bollman got to the inn, they found it in a mild state of chaos. The elf had finally woken up and he wasnít too happy with the changes to his body, but that wasnít the big problem. The big problem was that Mark Hunt had taken charge as the king of the local region.
"You there, dwarf, by what right do you presume to order my people to certain death at the hands of some foul monster?"
"Settle down Mark, itís going to be okay. Iím not planning on getting anyone killed, but I do think we owe it to Moros to try and rescue him." There were a few nods and grunts of approval from the assembled crowd.
"Maybe, but Iím not throwing away lives on it. Westvale is just the other side of those hills out there and these people here are the best qualified to save the village. If I let you throw them away trying to rescue one man, the whole village could be destroyed."
"I know that Mark," Steve said exasperatedly, "but you..."
"Mark?! How dare you address me thus, you insolent dog. I should have my Captain teach you some manners you cur".
As he spoke, Woods drew his long sword from the scabbard at his side and assumed a good fighting stance. Steve responded by hefting his axe menacingly.
"Any time your ready, human."
"Please your highness, have them fight outside" shouted Wilson, "I am but a simple innkeeper and can not afford to replace what they might damage."
"Very well then," said the King, "you shall fight outside."
"Excuse me your majesty," spoke Joe Hall,, "but shouldnít we be concerned about protecting your royal subjects? Iím sure the dwarf meant no harm. It was, after all, merely a breach of etiquette."
"Very well, we shall delay this until later, but hear me Dwarf, there will be a reckoning for your crimes."
Steve started to respond but was interrupted by Mark Bollman. "Your majesty, how shall we divide our forces to achieve our goals?"
Hunt appeared lost in thought for a moment and then spoke. "I do not yet believe We have enough information to make a sound decision. Therefore, I would like the dwarf to take three others to investigate the mine discovered by young Nick here, and to see if they can rescue Goodman Moros. Until they return, the rest of us shall stay here."
Everyone nodded. Steve and Mark were both relieved to see that Hunt was expressing improved judgment as part of his change. His normal attitude would have been a "damn the torpedoes!" charge that might have resulted in a lot of casualties. They discussed it briefly and then Mark proposed the scouting party.
"Your majesty, if it pleases you, I should like to join the party and to take the elf and young Nick with me. He has seen the place where Moros may be held, and the three of us should be able to investigate without too much trouble."
"Agreed" said King Mark, "except that you shall take that one as well". He pointed at Brian Mann who smiled eagerly.
Mark eyed him up, unsure about this latest addition. Mann hadnít really been following the Tolkien theme very well, so he didnít seem to have expressed any changes so far. He was still a large young man, probably the strongest of the gray area goons. He just hoped that he and the Beast wouldnít get into any disagreements. Both fancied themselves the strongest person at Winter Camp, although it was generally believed by everyone else that the Beast was on top. In his current state, the Beast might decide to make Brianís a fatal error. Still he really had no choice if he wanted to mollify his "majesty".
"Yes your majesty, we will be glad for his strong arm Iím sure," said Mark, figuring to get on Mannís good side early.
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