Chapter 27: A Conundrum

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"With knowledge of the Utterance not yet universal,

The newly minted Wielder of the Star Sword had a problem:

How to reveal the fact a human had defied the odds

By finding the Star Sword and fulfilling his destiny

Without alienating the race that raised him from a child.

It seemed an impossible task."

- from King Ciradaan's personal memoirs

Ciradaan, king of Aquila, frowned as he caught sight of something while quickly striding through the K'ai district of Aerlorn's old city surrounded by grim members of his personal guard. 'What the frosty hell is that? Is that an army camped on the banks of the Geleron??' The sight was enough to make him temporarily forget KeLarion's terse note he still had clutched in a hand.

<<Captain,>> he turned his head enough to say, <<send a runner to the north barracks. I want a full regiment of Home Guard here  immediately!>>

<<Sire.>> Then the officer was off at a dead run, heading back the way they had come. Returning to his path, Ciradaan had once last glimpse of the cluster of dark blue tents spotted through the trees before they were hidden once more and he was turning down the road leading to his friend KeLarion's home on the banks of the Gelaron.

There he paused, just enough to glance down at the folded piece of parchment in his hand. Then he was turning once more to speak to the guard beside him.

<<Hold here, lieutenant,>> he directed. <<I'm going on alone.>>

<<As you wish, sire,>> the frowning officer replied, wanting to question his liege lord's command. With danger still lurking in Aerlorn's streets, the queen herself had made the guard swear they wouldn't let the king out of their sight. But they had also sworn an oath when they were inducted into the guard to obey every command the king gave without question. So unquestioning he remained even as he motioned for the rest of the escort to take up watch positions at the head of the road.

Satisfied that his guards would indeed stay put, Ciradaan went on, striding quickly down the road leading to his good friend's long time dwelling. And yet he wasn't without protection; the weight of the Sword of Aesthegon strapped hunter style across his back assured him of that.

As the white haired monarch approached, he saw that standing in the front door of his spacious home was the veteran warrior himself, a thoughtful expression on his weathered face as he gazed in the direction of the camp clustered along the river.

<<KeLarion,>> Ciradaan said as he approached, his terse greeting pulling the wiry elf's attention back around to face him.

<<Your Majesty,>> KeLarion replied, reaching out to take Ciradaan's forearm in a more formal greeting, a small smile touching his lips. <<My thanks for attending me so quickly here, at my home.>> He paused just long enough to look up the road to see Ciradaan's escort standing watch. <<And by yourself.>>

<<Of course, my friend,>> Ciradaan said, stepping past KeLarion and into the house at the elf's welcoming gesture to enter. <<It's not often my most trusted warrior and minister asks such a thing of me. I'd be a fool to ignore it.>>

Together the two elves made their way through the house.

<<It's good to see you returned from your search hale and whole, my friend,>> the white haired monarch added, turning his head to look over at the thoughtful KeLarion. <<Though, I must admit, I was surprised when I heard you had returned without any sort of advanced notice, catching our perimeter guard unawares. Not only that, but you've returned empty handed and with a good number of your company injured.>>

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