GCX - An End to the Madness
The adjourning of the Great Congress of Lenfald brought with it almost as many questions as it did answers. For Abner, it also brought new orders.
Gottfried, Abner's commander, strode over as the delegates began to rise and file out of the chamber.
"Abner," he said, looking directly into his subordinate's face. "Do you know why I chose you to accompany me to such an important occurrence?"
Abner stood and addressed his captain. "I know not, sir."
"It is because I feel you are trustworthy and that you possess great patience," continued Captain Gottfried. "Am I incorrect in my judgments?"
"Nay, sir, I am worthy of your trust and I am a patient man," replied Abner, somewhat confused.
Captain Gottfried's mouth turned up in a rare mischievous smile. "Good, because we have been given the task of escorting his lordship the Grand Duke Meyrick back to Ainesford!"
Abner shook his head in disbelief. "That is just not fair, sir," he replied.
The small company departed Stonewald the following morning on horseback; Grand Duke Meyrick and his aide, Captain Gottfried, Abner, and a small detachment of rangers from the capital.
The journey was uneventful, and the riders came in view of the Ainesford gates in a few days' time. The city itself, however, was another matter.
Smoke billowed from an old warehouse just inside the perimeter wall and the shouts of men working frantically to douse the flames could be heard even outside the city. Rioters charged through the streets, hurling torches and brandishing various farm implements menacingly. Soldiers stood guard in front of key buildings, clashing occasionally with particularly bold citizens.
Grand Duke Meyrick motioned for the rangers to follow and trotted his horse ahead, leading the party towards the city center. A cry came up from a woman in the street, "Aye, look 'ere! Tis the duke, returnin' to take 'way all our 'ard-earn'd money!"
People began to shout and run after the horsemen, who now galloped towards a large building only a few hundred yards ahead. Abner recognized it as the city hall of Ainesford - an old, worn, but still beautiful building originally constructed as a symbol of the city's economic prosperity. It was surrounded by soldiers, a handful of whom rushed forward to greet their lord and take away the horses.
The group dismounted hastily and the captain of the guard ushered them inside, shutting the heavy oaken doors firmly behind them.
"This is madness," said Gottfried, pointing back towards the chaos. "Utter madness."
The din of the mob could still be heard clearly outside.
"It will subside," replied Sorley Meyrick cooly, taking a seat at the long table in the center of the hall.
"That's your answer?!" cried Gottfried, seating himself across from the duke and his aide, "Ignore the problem and wait for it to solve itself?"
The grand duke glared at the ranger captain. "Don't question me, Captain. Remember that you are a guest in my city and that I was a ranger once as well. I know how hot-headed you types are."
Gottfried rose angrily, knocking over his chair and slamming his sword on the table. "YOU have no power but that which the people grant to you!" he yelled. "And by the sound of it," he said, cupping his hand to his ear dramatically (the rioters could be heard just outside the hall), "they don't seem very supportive right now."
Now the duke rose, and his aide with him. "How DARE you!" screamed Meyrick, "How dare you question a Grand Duke- a lord- a, a, a NOBLEMAN! I will not have this kind of disrespect. I will have your head! You will pay for this- hang for this! You lily-livered, toad-licking-"
The room fell utterly silent and everyone turned in shock to the man who had just shouted. Abner stepped forward from the shadows into the light of the chandelier.
"What did you just say to me, boy?" growled the duke.
"I said 'enough'," replied Abner calmly. "Now I believe my commander was about to propose a resolution to this issue that you seem incapable of handling on your own." He inclined his head to Gottfried. "Pardon the interruption, sir. Please continue."
Captain Gottfried shook his head, placed his hands on his hips, and let out a hearty laugh. He looked back up at the duke and said, "Now when is the last time you met someone who could make me chuckle?"
Grand Duke Meyrick took a moment to recover, then a thin smile spread across his face as well. "Your man doesn't disappoint in the least, Gottfried. Bring him to the table, let's see what kind of ideas this young man has for solving our rioting problem."
Abner, utterly confused, walked slowly up to the table and took his chair as the other men sat.
"Our apologies for the deception, friend, but we had to know you were willing to risk your own self in these difficult times before we trusted your counsel," said the duke. "Gottfried here has spoken most highly of you- he says you are very wise."
Abner, still completely lost, stammered, "You gentlemen... know each other?"
Grand Duke Meyrick and Captain Gottfried looked at each other for a moment, then broke out into another fit of laughter.
"I'm telling you!" said Gottfried between laughs, "This fellow is hilarious!"
Seeing the bewildered expression still plastered across Abner's face, Grand Duke Meyrick said, "Abner, this is my brother-Gottfried Meyrick."
Unrestricted entry to the LoR GCX - Unrest.