The Cerberus Rebellion [Chapter 1 - Eadric]

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Chapter 1 - Eadric

A fist banged on the door.

“Enter,” Eadric Garrard, the King of Ansgar and Duke of Elsdon, called, his voice thick with irritation.

The door swung open and his captain of guards stepped through it.

Eadric could see the handle and pommel of Kendall Shield's greatsword Guardian over his shoulder. The guard was the perfect fit for the gargantuan weapon: he stood more than seven feet tall with massive shoulders. The blade was hereditary, as was the title of Lord of Shields and Protector of the King.

The Shield clan had once been called something else, but whatever that name had been, it had been lost to history twelve hundred years earlier when they had sworn themselves and their descendants to the protection of the King of Ansgar. From the twelve men that had sworn their service, a clan had emerged that now included more than twelve hundred men-at-arms. And chief among them was Kendall Shield. He was called Lord, but he held no lands. Only the right to be the personal guard to the king.

A much smaller man stepped through the door behind Kendall. He was olive skinned and of average height, his brown hair damp with sweat from climbing the winding tower steps. He wore a blue sack suit with the symbol of the nation of Welos sewn over his heart. He kept his green eyes focused at Eadric's feet. A mere messenger.

Eadric stood to greet his visitor.

“Your Highness.” Kendall went to one knee and bowed his head; the man behind him followed.

“Rise,” Eadric instructed.

“Your Majesty, I bring a request from Lord Wyne,” the messenger announced.

“Considering your attire, I wouldn't have expected it to be from anyone else,” Eadric said and snorted.

The messenger frowned. “Your Majesty?”

“Never mind.” The King shook his head. Messengers, after all, were not the smartest. “Well, out with it.”

“Yes, Your Highness.” The messenger's eyes returned to the floor. “Lord Wyne and Lord Biton Savakis wish to have a private audience with you.”

Eadric's eyes narrowed. While it was not uncommon for the ambassadors from other lands to request audiences with him, they usually did so while he held court, or through one of his council members.

“It’s still early,” Eadric pointed out with a glance at his pocket watch. “I will see them after I break my fast. I will send someone to get them.”

“Your Majesty, his Lordship—”

“His Lordship,” Eadric interrupted, “is an ambassador. A visitor in my land. I will see them when it is convenient to me. You are dismissed.”

“Yes, Your Highness.” The messenger bowed and backed out of the study; Kendall stayed.

“Have my steward prepare my parlor for visitors,” Eadric said.

Kendall nodded and withdrew.

The door groaned open once more. Eadric looked up, and his green eyes narrowed. It was his steward, the only person allowed to enter without permission. The man's leather shoes scuffed at the stone floor as he shuffled across the room toward the King's table. The servant was short, stout, and bald. He carried a silver carafe, a cup, a dome covered plate, and a folded newspaper on a tray. He set the tray on the desk and lifted the dome.

Eadric brushed a strand of chestnut hair out of his face. He saw the chunk of steak that had been cut at one end of the thick strip, and a piece of bacon half as long as the others. “It has been tasted?” he asked.

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