Hail and Farewell

A new and rocky path.

The king stood in the square before the tower as the last of the wagons passed through the gate. "Why so many wagons?"

"The palace had a large staff, your highness. Plus we had a short siege. We were not dumping them into the river because we didn't want some disaffected person in the lower town opening the gates"

The king turned around and saw the stripped bodies of the king and his family on the square. "Captain, have the late king and the Lord Chancellor buried in the potter's field. Have the rest buried in the cathedral cemetery with some manner of dignity. They can have a joint marker with all their names. Make sure all the soldiers' bodies are buried in the city cemetery with honors. Now, my lord treasurer, let us visit the mint."

The lord treasurer made his way into the tower. There were women from the town cleaning up the stains on the floor where the special guards had fallen. Rather than climbing the main stairs, they made their way to a smaller stairway down by the palace side of the tower. It went down one flight passed a badly battered door into a blood spattered room. The king pointed with a questioning face to the door. The lieutenant nodded and said "This is the special guard captain's quarters. We found the women and children in here with the captain of the guard. There is a passage into the Queens apartments from here."

The king looked into the room with its broken furniture and bloodstained walls and floor. "I want that passage filled with rubble and bricked up at both ends. Report to me when it is done."

A few feet past the guard captain's quarters they came to a great iron door. The door showed signs of battering, but was still in place. The Lord Treasurer came to a stop in front of it. The Lord Treasurer rapped a code pattern on the door. A moment later someone on the other side rapped out a response. The Lord Treasurer tapped out a new pattern and then moments later the sounds of iron bars being taken down could be heard. Finally, the door began to rise slowly from the floor. Beyond the door there were several burley men in leather aprons behind a long counter with iron bars reaching from the counter to the ceiling. The Lord Treasurer marched in and announced "The King is Dead. All Hail the new king Anaphylaxis!"

The men behind the counter gave a cheer that was composed more of caution than enthusiasm. Then they quietly waited for the Lord Treasurer to continue. The men looked very wary and defensive behind their counter

"The King has authorized me to instruct you that the new coinage will be melted down and re coined at the old standard. He realizes that coining to the new standard is contrary to usage, and has given his pardon for your actions under the orders of the former king." The king looked startled at this, but seeing the pleased and relieved response from the mint workers gave a rueful smile.

Just then a detail of soldiers arrived, carrying plate. The mint workers opened the windows in the iron bars and began receiving the plate. The Lord Treasurer was very attentive to the process and watched everything. The King watched the process as well. It moved slowly because each piece was weighed three times, labeled twice and entered into two different books. The king watched and noted that the Lord Treasurer was also keeping a record. In response to the Kings questioning look he explained "I am responsible for the treasure in the palace. I have a pair of assistants who are keeping a record of what is taken out of the palace and what is brought here. Since it is my skin, I keep excellent records. If anything goes missing, we always know who had it last." When the last silver toothpick was weighed, labeled and logged the Lord Treasurer rolled up his record and took his leave. "I usually meet with the king after his meeting with the Lord Chancellor after the third morning hour. If you wish, I can meet with you then in the throne room"

"I would prefer to meet in the first morning hour. I usually wake in either the 9th or 10th night hour. Your may take your leave. But one more word. You don't pass out pardons without consulting me first. We have lots of pikes without heads on them. You put me in a box like that again, your head will grace the city gate. I don't care how useful you are otherwise."

The King's lieutenant came into the mint office and saluted. "Your highness.. I must report that we have followed the tunnel into the lower town, but no one there will admit to seeing the three children. The guards at the gate to the lower town say no one has left except the night soil men. The children must have been captured and robbed and the bodies disposed of in one of the latrines in the lower town. Also I have the prison governor here to go over his records and the people in his charge."

The King's face turned red and he swelled with anger. "I don't want guesses that they are dead, I want to see their corpses. I can't have some weird pretender trying to put that infant in his father's place"

The Lieutenant saluted again. "Sire, they have not been seen in ten hours. Their only way out was through the lower town. If they went into there, they are dead. Also they were last seen wearing court clothes, which have valuable stones and jewelry sewn in. Trying to wear that through the lower town ... there is no way they could survive.

"Even so.. Put up wanted posters and dispatch riders to post them in taverns here in the city and in the neighboring counties. Wanted, dead or alive, for Treason, three children, one aged 14, female, 12 hands tall, copper red hair, thin, but large bosom. One aged three, male, dark hair, one female infant. Your survival, my survival depend on it. If nothing else, I want to find where the bodies were cast."

"Yes sire, I will have the notices made. Here is the governor"

The king examined the governor with distaste. He was a small, weedy man who was carrying a large volume and standing very ill at ease. He tried to salute with his free hand, but the book nearly fell from his hand. He finally brought the book under control and said "Your captain said you wanted a report on the State Prisoners being held here. If you want, I can give you a list of prisoners and charges"

"I'll have a tour. I want to see what is going on here"

"How much do you know of our operations here? How much do you need to know?"

"I've just come from Ugrantitszev county. I need to know everything"

The governor reached down into his tunic and found a pair of glasses. "If you will follow me then. This is the main Citadel tower. There are three more towers along the opposite wall of the citadel. They are the Green, Blue and Frank tower. There are two gates. The Gate to the Lower town is called the Bailey Gate The Royal Mews, where the horses for the royal family are kept and where the dyers, blacksmiths, armorers and coopers shops are leads off the Bailey Gate. Across the Royal Square is the Merchant's gate. I understand that is the way you came into the citadel this afternoon. The kings special Guard had troops stationed in the palace and here in the main tower. The Special guard occupied the middle four floors of the main tower, the mint has the bottom floor, and the state prison occupies the top three floors. The City prison is located in the Bailey Gate. Usually, the City Watch is in charge of the Bailey Gate, but the king had the Special guard in there for the past month. I understand the captain of the City Watch, who reports to the Lord Mayor, has taken back control of the Bailey Tower since the Special Guard seems to have all been killed in the fighting. The City watch also has resumed control of the Merchant's gate. That was under the control of the army for the past month. The army seems to have dissolved. The army is usually in charge of the Green, Blue and Frank towers. I understand from your lieutenant that your soldiers have taken possession.

"Here we are at the lowest level of the State Prison. In this first room we have the wives and children of the special guard. I promised the late commander that I would try and protect them from your soldiers."

"Have they been fed?"

"Ah, such things are the responsibility of their relatives."

"GET THEM A HOT MEAL. Leave them in here overnight. I will deal with them in the morning. Also make sure they get breakfast."

"But the state does not pay for their meals. All the state pays for is wages of the staff."

The king spoke to the lieutenant. " Arrange for the kitchen staff to make meals for the state prisoners. Nourishing, but not fancy, but not contemptible either." He turned to the governor "How many meals should they prepare?"

The governor cleared his throat nervously. "27 wives and 54 children."

The king looked to the lieutenant who nodded and said "hot dinners for 27 women and 54 children for tonight, hot porridge for 81 people tomorrow morning. The lieutenant sent off a further detail to take care of the food.

The governor moved down the hallway. "At one time, this top part of the tower was the royal residence. The first cell was the reception hall, so it was unusually large. These next sets of cells were clerks offices. And of course, the number of State Prisoners is small. We only have 40 at the moment. This one here is typical. She is Analata Bogischicka. She is here because she called the bishop a lecherous bastard. She was upset that he got her sister pregnant and had her consigned to the house of refuge. "

The king gave a sour look. "Turn her loose tomorrow morning. Put the bishop in this cell."

The governor looked shocked. "You can't do that, he is a lord of the Church. And she is just the wife of a tailor."

"I have decided he is inciting sedition. I can't have that. She goes, he stays. Who is next?"

The governor shook his head in dismay as they walked past two empty cells "This next one is here because Countess Neftchika requested it. She seems to be a royal sewing assistant and the countess was annoyed at her because she measured the former king for the inseam on his new trousers."

"There are several cases like this?"

The governor checked his book "I don't know what you mean exactly what you mean by 'cases like this', but there instances like Countess Lyobovnochka has two men in here who refused to sell her some parcels of land. There is a jeweler here who claims that Countess Neftchika didn't pay for some work she had done. Then there are the two women here who..."

The king put up his hands. "Enough.... Give me the book. Also.. you have a pencil?" He took the book and the pencil from the governor and reviewed it quickly, marking next to several names as he went along. He stopped next to one name and drew a cross next to it. Then he continued through the list, marking almost half of them. "The ones I marked, make sure they get fed a meal and turn them loose in the first morning hour. The one I put cross next to... bring him here."

The governor looked at the list quickly. "For all these checked.. it will be done. As for the last... He is now dead. Your and the late king's brother was very unpopular in the lower town, which is why he was sealed in the tower in the first place. He had the whole top floor with nice couches and tapestries and food from the palace and a special silver dinner service. Which, alas, is missing. The king left the charge blank. He did not like to discuss his brother's propensities. He liked to to go into the lower town with some guards and kidnap young girls, use them overnight, and then turn them loose the next morning. It caused constant problems with the lower town. Some of the former army which changed sides when you came into the town attacked the tower and killed him in his cell."

The king said. "Take me to see that" The king and the governor went up two more flights. There was a landing in front of a large oak door that had been broken apart and knocked off its hinges. Beyond the door was a large room with several doorways opening off of it. In the center of the room was an oaken table which had been up ended and in the center was a the naked body of a man with a partisan struck through his breast and his hands chopped off. The rest of the room had been covered with expensive furnishings, but they had all been slashed and destroyed. The king stood in the doorway regarding the mutilated corpse with disfavor. "I am done here." the king said. "Take the body and hang it by a gibbet over the Bailey gate."

The king walked down the stairs of the tower to the next level. He walked over to one of the cells and looked in the spy hole in the door. Then he went to another. Then he walked down the passageway to another cell further down and looked through the spy hole there. He turned around and walked back to the stairs and walked all the way to the bottom and out the main gate, which closed with a bang behind him. He surveyed the quiet square in front of the palace and the tower briefly and noted his captains in conference by the palace door. He marched over to them and greeted each of them by name. They each replied deferentially. He turned to the most senior "Waldron.. Have the troops been properly billeted?"

"Yes, Sire. I have put your personal guard on duty in the royal apartments. The mess in the throne room has been cleaned up We did brief checks on the old kings soldiers and we have decided to keep most of them, but a few of them we have paid and told them that they might find employment elsewhere"

The king nodded his approval and turned to one of the more junior captains. "Captain Shram... have you found the three remaining children yet?"

Captain Shram shook his head. "As yet, no. We are searching the lower town, as we are assuming they went through that passage we found that leads out there. They are not in the palace. And if they went through the lower town they are probably dead and their corpses are in a latrine somewhere. Their is no love for the old king or his favorites there, despite the fact that Lyubovnochka engaged in charitable works."

"I can't have those children, especially the boy, known to have escaped. Remember what I told you earlier. Keep your men searching for proof." The king gave him a harsh glare and continued.

"Well, Gentlemen, I must congratulate you all on a job well done in taking the city. The battles are over and we are victorious. I will have lots of rewards to give out, I am sure, and we still have lots to do. To all of you, good night."

The king went into the palace and inspected the arrangements as he walked to the royal bedchamber. As he took off his crown he noted that he no longer noticed its weight until he took it off. He felt the nice smooth sheets and admired the tapestries and hangings all around the room and reflected this morning he had camped under the stars in a muddy field and today he would sleep on silk, and that the person who had woken up on silk this morning would be sleeping under the earth forever. "I must keep my head level and strait. Or else some one will come along and remove it" he thought.

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