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Plans on silver Country #4

Henry grabbed his scabbard in time to block Bruce’s assault. Drawing his sword, Aaron lunged at Bruce, but Bruce quickly parried the attack. That bought Henry enough time to draw his sword. 

“Bruce,” Aaron screamed, “why are you doing this?” Bruce didn’t respond and swung both of his short swords at Henry’s head before whipping around to attack Aaron at knee-level. Henry managed to parry the blows, then hopped on the Pearl Bridge’s short walls, trying to flank Bruce, when he turned to Aaron. The hooded man spun around again, swiping at Henry’s ankles, causing Henry to lose his balance and fall into the river. Aaron thrusted, which Bruce blocked, then struck Aaron’s skull with the hilt of his blade. Aaron crumpled, stunned to the ground. Bruce watched Henry being dragged down stream in the swift current. He smirked, tied Aaron’s hands, then picked up his prize and headed to the village.

Henry struggled against the torrents, as he flowed downstream. He saw Bruce pick up Aaron and walk away. Try as he might, he could not work his way to the riverbank. The waves kept pulling him back into the center.  He noticed a white blob out of the corner of his eye. The waves kept pounding him, pulling him underwater. Suddenly, his momentum came to a dead stop, as his left arm and leg became entangled in a strong, fishing net. Henry managed to work his way down the net toward shore, and the tending line holding the net.  Then, he pulled himself hand over hand up the rope, which gradually lifted him out of the water. Once on land, he coughed hard. Panting to catch his breath, he caught sight of two white horses. One of the riders dismounted and knelt by Henry. Instantly, Henry recognized the man.

“Lee, I’m so glad to see you,” said Henry, joyfully. Lee grinned, while helping him to his feet. A sharp pain caused Henry to clutch his shoulder and gasp.

“My, what a wet fox you are! Wait… where is Aaron?” Lee asked with a serious expression on his face. Henry explained what had happened as he stroked his wound. Lee inhaled sharply and turned to face the other rider, who wore full iron armor and a white cape hanging off his shoulders. 

“Young man, why are you and your brother in Pear Kingdom territory,” the mysterious knight on the horse asked. Henry gathered his strength to stand before the knight on the horse.

“I am Prince Henry of the Silver Country. My Kingdom is under attack by the Scarlet Empire. Prince Aaron and I were sent by King Daris II to ask your king for aid in our defense,” Henry announced, trying to hold back the worry in his tone.

“Very well, I’ll take you into the Pearl Palace, where we can discuss this further.”  The knight offered his gaunted hand and the stirrup closest to the prince, and Henry expertly mounted the horse, despite his wounded shoulder.

Henry couldn't help but look back at the Pearl bridge, the last place he saw his brother, as they galloped away.  He wanted to search for and rescue his younger brother, but the mission had first priority. They entered the Twin Tower gates and continued to trot to the Pearl Palace, where they dismounted. Henry followed the knight and Lee to a war room that prominently displayed a cloth map the size of a large feasting table in the center of the chamber.

“Prince Henry of the Silver Country, is that correct?” the knight asked while removing his helmet. 

“Yes, sire,”

“Your father, King Daris II and I have been allies and close friends for many years. His letters often mention his two sons, Aaron and Henry. You have grown quite tall and brave, since we were last introduced,” the king said while stroking his chin.

Henry bowed, and presented himself. “As King, my father has few, equals, fewer still ‘close friends.’  You must be King Richard of the Pearl Kingdom. I humbly apologize for the absence of my brother and my appearance, dripping on your floor.” The man looked at Henry and grinned.

“Clever boy, and you are correct. I am King Richard,” he reassured with a smile.

“My father said he was trying to get word out but the Scarlet Empire had blocked all of our communications. Before my brother and I left, my father mentioned you were expecting our arrival,” King Richard looked at Henry with a curious gaze.

“Well I knew something was afoot when King Daris’ correspondence ceased, we have heard nothing since. Of course I will do what I can to help your father,” King Richard assured the young prince, as he began reading his table map.

“Your highness, I am worried about my brother, Prince Aaron,” Henry said while clutching his leather sack. The King stopped reading and sighed.

“Prince Henry, you have had a long, tiresome journey. I’ll have my servants escort you to the guest chambers, so you can rest and have my healer tend to your wounds. My Captain of the King’s Guard has been made aware of the situation and is making inquiries.  Once you have restored your strength, we can discuss locating your brother and bringing him home. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it is what must be done. Now, I am going to ready my troops so, we can help the Silver Country.” Henry knew that meant he was dismissed.  He found untapped patience, bowed graciously and asked if he could withdraw to the comforts of the king’s hospitality. King Richard was impressed with Henry’s obedience, restraint and courtly manners.  

 Henry was shown to the guest chambers, where he bathed and had something to eat as he thought about all that transpired. All Henry could do was pray and hope that Aaron was alive. He began unpacking the soaked items from his leather bag. He spotted the crumpled up wanted poster, though it was soaked, he could still make out some lettering. Aaron was wanted by the Scarlet Empire.  If Aaron was lucky, they would recognize him as royalty and likely be transported to a Scarlet Empire keep and held for ransom.  Otherwise, his fate would not be so comfortable.  Aaron might be simply executed or sold to pirates. 

 Their mission was a complete success.  The princes reached and successfully petitioned King Richard to aid the Silver Country and Pearl Kingdom was poised to help.  Henry sighed. He felt like a complete failure. He would spend the night in a feather bed, with his belly full, while his brother, if he was “lucky,” would suffer as a slave at the hands of pirates. “Enough pity. I will rest, build my strength and plot. It matters not if they hide Aaron away deep in a Scarlet Empire dungeon or on a tossing pirate ship.  The Silver Fox will find and steal Aaron away from any coup. This, I pledge to you, brother, Prince of the Silver Country.  

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