Author Topic: Galiard Scarlett: The End  (Read 566 times)

Scarlett

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Galiard Scarlett: The End
« Topic Start: July 24, 2013, 07:01:43 PM »
With the economy of the realm bent toward the war in every measure, there was little circumstance or fanfare to mark the small retinue that arrived at the docks in Anacan. A handful of the Royal Guard that had been on the verge of retirement when the new Queen took the throne carried torches that lit the road as the Sun was still only on the verge of rising.

In port was a single vessel: lean, well-made, expensive, just as the old King had once been. It bore the Scarlett banner of the King's family.

Galiard insisted upon walking, though the cane was a compromise with Ser Dodd; even with hardly anyone in attendance, it would not do to mark the occasion by falling out of the realm.

The road from the front had been long and uncomfortable, given the relative value of even an ex-King to the Imperial propaganda machine. Goodbyes had already been said - some emotional, but mostly not; Galiard's friends had with only a few exceptions died decades ago. The Royal party had rested only for a few hours in the palace before setting out.

The guardsmen loaded the caravel with many trunks: belongings, heirlooms, relics, and gold to cover necessities for the voyage. There was not the usual shipborne compliment of swarth. This was a journey of and for Old Men.

"Well," said Galiard.

"M'lud," said Ulwitt Dodd.

"This is where we part ways," said the King.

Dodd's brow furrowed, but he made no reply, nor gave indication as to whether he had expected to go along.

"See to the Princess, when she arrives," Galiard admonished, rather as one would dictate a shopping list.

Dodd nodded curtly; he had not needed to be told. He could not remember a time when he had not rose in the morning to look after a Scarlett.

"But not for too long," Galiard added. "You have spent your life in service; now you are released."

Doodd arched an eyebrow; something about that statement had piqued his interest. "M'lud?"

Galiard grunted. "Bondage is not the natural state of man, or else we should not be at war at all."

"But the debt--" Dodd objected.

"I know the debt," Galiard cut him off. "And I know your sons and nephews would pay it with as much distinction as you have. But they are released. You and your House are pardoned and restored to your ancestry."

Several of the Royal Guard exchanged brief, questioning glances: what debt? What crime to be pardoned? But there was no explanation; Galiard had already turned and crossed the gangplank.

Ulwitt Dodd had been raised to the rank of Duke in the most meaningless way imaginable, for the Duchy in question lay in ashes and was halfway around the world besides; but his expression was not meaningless but content.

Galiard glanced over his shoulder one last time. "I shall be laid to rest with my shield, and you with yours. Percy has it."

Dodd briefly looked irritated. "You entrusted it to Percy--"

"A locked iron chest that not even Percy could destroy," replied Galiard with a short smile. "Ser TNaismith has the key. He was the only person I could think of who has never had an agenda. Possibly it's a disease." He shrugged.

The Royal Guard stood at attention as the ship's lines were cast off. The tide and wind cooperated with the oarsmen in pushing her out to sea rapidly. Duke Ulwitt's voice rang out in the morning light.

"King Galiard!"

And then the old man was gone.

The sun rose anyway.