Brandon walked uneasily down the corridor, peering around corners as if he may happen upon a ghost. It must have been a trick of the light. It took some time, but by the time he was at the courtyard, he was convinced that he wis jitters were the result of all that was happenning.
The day was sunny, and the red flags topping the castle's parapets danced in a conga line with the wind against a brilliant, clear blue sky. Brandon noticed that the people he figured would be peasants in the books that he had read all seemed well dressed and without hunger. The kingdom, his kingdom seemed to be faring well. Despite the fact that he was King, the people of his kingdom seemed unphased even casual about it. A few, if they cared to bother, would mutter a friendly hello or tip their hat, but no one bothered to drop to their knees or treat him "liege-like" in any way.
Of course, this didn't bother Brandon. He'd feel embarassed to be greeted in such a manner, and Brandon, being Brandon, would likely just blush and try his best to look "liege-like" without having any real idea how to do it.
Even the lawmen, men-at-arms only occasionally marched any type of patrol. There didn't seem to be any trouble at all to police. Sure, they would salute, halh-heartedly, not in a disrespectful, lazy way, but in such a manner as to indicate that everything was "A-OK". . Brandon didn't mind the carefree attitude. He loved it. But something else was stirring in his mind.
That night at Dinner, Brandon, feeling obliged, and a little out of place being so served upon, helped his scullery staff prepare the mountains of stuffed pheasant and venison for the nobility. They moved about their business as usual, with the occasional giggling at their King's culinary awkwardness. Yet, as Brandon prepared something, there would immediately be someone, happily, correcting his mistakes. The truth of the matter was that Brandon was anxious about something he couldn't put his mind upon and was really keeping his hands busy just to ease his tension.
Everyone was at dinner except Senny Grandon. Roary chomped noisily on a hambone, occasionally stopping to slurp up juices off the floor and muttering, "Mmmm Hmmm, good ham, this is the best ham I've had all week, good job, Brandon, Mmmm Hmmm."
Alistair, Tiffy and Jaina talked merrily about some upcoming tournament of games and seemed quite content at dinner doing so. There was merriment and laughter and , thought Brandon, things seemed so completely at ease, he should not have a care in the world. Even the torchlight shadows upon the stone walls seemed to be moving to an unheard tune.
That was it . That was why.
"Alistair!", shouted Brandon, disrupting the conversation and causing the room to fall deathly quiet. Even Roary yelped with surprise and backed away at the table.
"Yes, King Brandon, what upon mercy is worthy of such a frightful outburst?", responded the gentle monk.
"Why is everyone so happy?", demanded Brandon of the table, "the townsfolk don't seem to have a care in the world, I've never been to a happier place. Even the lot of you don't seem concerned that we're on the brink of a war we cannot avoid. Isn't anyone concerned?"
"Of course not", laughed Jaina, looking headlong at Alistair as if to ask if she'd heard correctly such a ridiculous question. She took another bite of sage spiced wild rice and stopped herself short of speaking with her mouth full, choosing instead to motion her fork towards Alistair.
Brandon looked at Alistair with a blank stare. He just didn't get it. He thought himself a little bit crazier.
"Brandon,", said Alistair, "No one's concerned in the least."
Brandon felt himself at a loss for words. He had a lot of words he could use but couldn't arrange them in a proper sequence. He was confused, angry, anxious and speechless all at once.
Roary looked over at Brandon, winked at Alistair and then snatched a game hen with his teeth from Tiffy's hand who laughed and tried to pull it away in a game of seamstress/canine tig of war with Tiff laughing and Roary playfully growling and shaking hsi head to and fro.
Alistair turned to face Brandon, beside him, and put his hand upon his shoulder.
Brandon looked at him pleadingly, aching for any kind of answer.
"Brandon,", said Alistair, "No one's concerned. You're here. And becasue you're here, everyone knows you'll take care of Kewn and his army and what ever else tries to harass Igladia"
Everyone toasted. Brandon felt dizzy. And this late in the evening, this never happenned this late in the evening, trumpets erupted. It was a steady, urgent mix of military chords, with a rapid tempo piercing the air and shaking the palace . Roary looked up and about. Jaida pushed her plate forward and Alistair stood. Brandon crouched down in his chair and reached for his water.
Senny Grandon marched into the room, the clanking feet of twelve armoured men sounding in his shadow.
"Kewn has broken through the pass!", exclaimed Senny grimly. "Hartlend Falls is expected to fall tomorrow. Sweat poured from his brow,
"Alistair", asked Brandon, in a snide tone he'd just rediscovered, "Can you please tell me then why my chief military man is in such a state of panic?"
"Things are moving quicker than anyone could ever imagine, my liege", declared Senny as he dropped to his knees followed in sharp formation by his company of knights.
Brandon looked back toward the table for suggestions. Alistair, Jaina, Tiffy and Roary were all on their knees in front of him, heads bowed in prepared sublimation..
King Brandon felt a heavy weight upon him. And it felt nauseous.