The somber expressionless manservant passed the guards and entered the Great Hall. His liege and king paced in front of his throne, his brow deeply furrowed. A number of advisors milled around in front of him, some sitting, some not. No-one spoke. The servant quickly covered the distance between him and his king and presented him with the scroll they had been waiting for. Everyone watched as the old king slowly accepted the parchment. The servant bowed and left. If the news was as bad as the rumors had said then he did not want to be close by when tempers flared.
King Baylin breathed deeply. His sixty years of age weighed heavily on him. After thirty years of administration he was no where near the scourge of the plains he used to be. He had maintained his feared reputation through his troops and his iron rule, but today he felt tired. Slowly he broke the royal seal and unrolled the scroll. He squinted his eyes to make out the script inked on it. His advisors, all standing, watched pensively as the old king took in what the message conveyed.
"Well", he began slowly, "It is as we have feared. The ore is no more." The advisors all gasped. Some put their hands to their mouths, some their foreheads, some sat down and some paced away a bit. All were mortified. What the news referred to was the discovery that the ore mines of the Northern Province had run dry. The Kingdom of Westphalen's whole economy was based on its ability to produce iron ore. They were the premier weapon smiths on the continent and the only kingdom with iron ore. Until now. Westphalen was facing an economic disaster. Without ore the kingdom would collapse in on itself.
"Your Highness", screamed one of the advisors, "This cant be. We're finished!" The group muttered among themselves. The King raised a hand.
"No!" he stated, "We simply have to chose a new direction. Westphalen is a kingdom of warriors and we will fight to maintain our position."
"But how?" asked a desperate looking advisor.
"We knew that this was a possibility. I knew that this could happen. Its time to action The Plan." The king glanced over to the uniformed advisor to his left. "General?" The man about fifty years of age, standing over six feet, with a short cropped beard stepped forward.
"Everything is as you ordered my Liege," he stated confidently, "We can move within two days."
"What is this all about?" quizzed a bald fat clerical looking advisor.
"My dear shepherd of the faith" began the King addressing the cleric directly, "When a powerful kingdom like ours needs something we take it. Right now we need resources, so we will take a kingdom that has some." The old monarch smiled. "Everything is set."
Lieutenant Gedden leaned over the railings as the mighty tri-masted frigate lolled in the gentle swells. He closed his eyes and rocked with the sway of the ship. He smiled. For the first time in a very long time he was content. Well more or less. He had been away from home for just over two years and was now looking forward to seeing old Port Bailey again.
Yes two years ago the fresh faced seventeen year old had signed up with the Kings First Expeditionary Lancers, bound for the far away kingdom of Lukia.