"Welcome, Prince Fargand of Houndcroff, to the mighty city of Telithon." The King motioned off to the side to where a large group of healers stood. "Allow me to offer your wounded men the services of our best healers. My aide here," he gestured to the man standing next to him, "will take you and your unwounded men to where they shall sleep for the duration of your stay in our mighty city. I would request, Prince Fargand, that you come and speak with me at your earliest possible convenience."
"Of course, King Nambis." Prince Fargand gave a little bow as he spoke. Nambis acknowledged it with a nod and rode up the streets to his palace. His aide hurried forward.
"Lord Fargand, please follow me to your quarters if you are ready."
"My men and I would much appreciate it." As the army marched up the long, steep road, through the lines of Telith Pikemen, Fargand looked around in awe. The buildings were all made of polished white marble and stone. All had beautiful yet intimidating sculptures, often of the Telith Lion, the symbol of Telithon. The roads were paved with the finest stone, probably having come straight from the mountain. The city itself stretched hundreds of feet up the side of the mountain, with archers' towers poking up amongst the other buildings in such a way that they blended in almost perfectly with the other buildings.
Looking away from the buildings and towards the people, Fargand noticed that they all were richly clad and elegant in their manner. They all walked straight and talked properly; the signs of having received an excellent education and a good childhood. Even in Houndcroff there had been a large number of poor people. Maybe the poor were kept in the outer towns rather then in the city itself. All the Pikemen wore expensive, but practical, armor. There pikes had decorative, gilded handles and the blade itself was shining spectacularly in the afternoon sun.
The palace up ahead dwarfed all the other wonders of Telithon. Rising hundreds of feet into the air, it was a city unto itself. At each of its four corners rose magnificent towers made not of mere white or black marble, but of the finest green marble. The way the sun reflected off of it made the royal palace a beacon that could be seen for miles. On the approach to the city, all the Houndcroffians had been awed by the sight but what they had seen from afar was nothing in comparison to a look at it from within the city itself. It was a mute testimony to the power which the Telith kings had at their disposal.
The aide turned down a smaller, less lavishly adorned road. This road wasn't lined with Telith Pikemen either. Whether this was because they ran out or they no longer felt they needed to display their power, Fargand didn't know. Less then five hundred feet along the new road, the aide turned again and when Fargand turned after him, he saw another massive and beautiful building. The aide had stopped just after turning the corner and was facing Fargand and his army.
"Lord Fargand, this is the building which has been made ready for your stay in Telithon. Many of your wounded who have minor damage will be transported here by the healers after they have been tended to. If you or your army should desire anything else, you need only to ask." The aide bowed his head and hurried off.
* * *
"Kundor, how much farther 'til we reach Telithon. Every minute we are out alone in Glocave territory makes me that much more anxious." The rider on the left of Kundor echoed the feelings that Kundor himself had.
"I don't know exactly, but at this point we should be nearly there."
They rode on in silence for another quarter of an hour before they rounded a bend in the forest path they had been following. Off in the distance, barely visible through the thick tree cover, was the great palace of Telithon, shining in all its emerald beauty. Kundor's companions gasped at the wondrous site.
"There, my friends, is the symbol of Telith power and prestige. By now the Telith King has received word from his vast intelligence network of what has happened at Houndcroff. But still, we must be wary for I am not sure how he will react to the news of Glocave's victory. Now let us ride and find out." Kundor spurred his horse into a gallop from the trot they had been moving at throughout the long journey. His two companions followed suit and they were outside of the massive Telith gate within ten minutes. A sentry on top called down to them.
"Horsemen, what is it that brings you to Telithon and what might your intentions be?" His voice was fairly faint due to the distance he was at.
Kundor tilted his head back to look at the sentry. The dusk sky allowed him to do so without covering his eyes from the sun. "We are riders of Houndcroff, come to seek an audience with your mighty King Nambis. We come in peace and mean you no harm."
The sentry disappeared for a few moments as he went to confer with his superiors. When he came back he cried out, "Hold there, Horsemen. The gates shall be opened for you." The gates creaked open just enough to allow the three riders to enter in single file. Within the gate was a group of pikemen, several dozen strong. None of them had their pikes out at the ready but all appeared ready to bring them to bear on a moments notice. A heavily armored man stood in the middle of this group.
"Horsemen, you will be accompanied by my men to the palace, where you may be granted an audience depending on what one of the other guests of the King says. Your fate rests in him. Dismount you horses and go." The armored man walked away without a backwards glance and even without a vocalized command, all the pikemen turned up towards the palace in unison. Kundor and his companions dismounted and marched in between the two lines they had formed.
Fifteen minutes later, their escort came to a halt in front of a small, wooden door on the side wall of the palace. An aide stood in the doorway, both eyes on Kundor.
"Come in. Both Lord and King are waiting for you." The aide turned into the palace and Kundor and his two men followed, betraying no signs of confusion about who this all powerful visitor of the king was, despite them being thoroughly perplexed. The aide turned off the side hallway the small doorway had led to and into a magnificent hall. At the far end of the hall sat two people, one on the throne and another on a chair nearby.
One of them cried out, his voice echoing through the halls. "Hold. What proof can you offer his royal majesty the king that you are indeed riders of Houndcroff?"
Kundor took another step forward so as the men at the other end of the hall would know who it was who was speaking. "I am Kundor, loyal son of Houndcroff. As proof of this, I bring with me two rings, one taken from the body of our Prince Fogand that we managed to save from being burned and the other from a good friend of mine, who received it from the late King Fiergand himself for his service to Houndcroff. While I know you might be able to say that a Glocavian could easily have gotten their hands on such things rummaging through the dead, it is all I have to offer."
The man at the other end of the room, the one sitting next to the King, was silent for a moment. Then he managed to speak, though his voice was filled with sadness. "King Fiergand and Prince dead?" Kundor could see the man hang his head in grief but had no idea why. The King spoke up.
"My esteemed guest here thanks you for your news but would ask that you come back at a later time." He turned to his aide. "Take them to some chambers in the palace where they shall stay for now." The aide bowed his head and bade Kundor and his companions to follow. They did so but with obvious reluctance, wanting to know who the mysterious visitor to King Nambis was.
* * *
King Nambis turned to his visitor, Prince Fargand. "I am sure that they had no idea who you were and would have delivered the news in more private a fashion had they known."
Prince Fargand nodded weakly. "I know, but that doesn't make them any ."
"Fargand, they wouldn't have wanted you to shed tears for them. If they had been able to give you one last message before they died about your future actions, knowing that they would die, I am confident that they would have asked you not to mourn but to avenge. They died for Houndcroff. They would have wanted you to make sure Houndcroff would survive, even though they did not." He paused a moment before continuing on. "I speak for all of Telithon when I say that we are prepared as of now to lend you some support in the way of supplies. Soon, if Glocave shows us hostile intent, then we shall lend you full military support."
Prince Fargand nodded, still in shock from the news. "At this time, it is all I could ask for. I would take my leave now if you say I can." King Nambis nodded his head and Fargand departed to his personal chambers.
* * *
"What do you think, Commander Pleb? Can they be trusted?" King Nambis turned to one of the corners in the vast hall. A man stepped out from the shadows. It was the same fully armored man that had greeted Kundor and his companions at the gate.
"I believe that they are telling the truth and that they can be trusted. However, I still think it foolish to lend them any support. They are a shadow of what they once were. Their fight is doomed to failure. They cannot hope to succeed in assailing Glocave's mighty walls. He had trouble taking it with five thousand men when it was defended with but a skeleton garrison, if our reports are accurate. What can he hope to do now, with fewer men?"
"Commander Pleb, you were called here to tell me if they were lying or not. As king, it is my decision as to what this city supports and what it doesn't support and we will support the Houndcroffians." Nambis was silent for a moment. Then he continued speaking. "I would like you to come here later tonight when I call the other group of Houndcroffians back. I need to know if they can be trusted."
Commander Pleb nodded and left. King Nambis was once again left alone in the Great Hall.