Monday, December 31, 2012
< Chapter 93 Chapter 95 >
Princess Callan announces her plan to rob her own treasury!
"We're going to what?" Martin and I asked.
"Don't worry, I'll pardon us once I've secured the throne," Callan grinned before turning serious again. "Tarteg has waged covert war against Mordan, has scattered our navy and, under benign pretenses, replaced it with their own. My parents have vanished and a pretender is Regent. I don't know who I can trust in the palace.
"I must have my own forces or the war is lost!" Callan said. "Martin, what will happen to your fleet if they don't get paid?"
"Your Highness," Martin replied, "My ship, my men, and my sword are yours to command. The prospect of raiding your treasury will keep the others around for a while. But if you fail..."
"They'll leave and the war will be lost," Callan said.
"We will not fail, Callan," I said, summoning every bit of confidence I could muster.
Martin barked a laugh, "The Tartegians won't know what hit them!"
I cast a quizzical glance at Martin.
"Two weeks ago, I was kidnapping Her Highness. Two minutes ago, I all but swore fealty to her!" Martin said. "I blame you for that, David."
I smiled, "Or maybe it's just your academy training coming back to you."
Milo ran up, breathing hard. "Your ship will be ready within the hour, Highness!"
"Milo, how would you like to be a page in the palace?" Callan asked. "It will be dangerous!"
Milo asked, "Are there girls in the palace?"
"Many," Callan smiled. "I'm sure they'll find a veteran of the trog war quite fascinating."
Milo grinned, "I'm in! But why is being a page so dangerous?"
Callan's smile vanished, "Because you'll be my eyes and ears inside the enemy camp!"
Outside of their small circle of friends, is there anyone our heroes can trust? The search for the answer to that question begins in Chapter 95, coming Wednesday!
Friday, December 28, 2012
< Chapter 92 Chapter 94 >
Callan begins plotting to take back her country!
With a wave of her hand, Callan summoned the Tartegian captain.
"Your airship may escort me back to the palace," she told him.
"We're honored, Your Highness," the captain said, saluting. "As to the arrest of Martin Bane-"
"That subject is closed, captain," Callan said, again managing to look down upon a man several -- I queried my implant for the local units of measure -- inches taller than her.
"Forgive me, Highness, but I will open the subject with the Regent!" the captain said.
"Of course," Callan waved his statement off. "Once my airship is repaired-"
"I must insist you travel aboard my ship, Highness!" the captain protested.
Callan folded her arms and glared at the captain. He had no idea why Callan appeared displeased. I took pity on the guy.
"Pardon the captain's interruption, Highness," I said. "I'm sure his desire to protect his future queen overrode proper etiquette."
"Y-yes!" the captain bowed. "I humbly beg your pardon, Your Highness!"
"Your dedication to duty is commendable, captain," Callan relented. "Have your ship ready leave once repairs to my ship are complete."
Martin returned as the captain retreated to the safety of his ship.
"You've got him so tied up in knots he'll do anything you ask him," Martin said.
"That's the idea," Callan replied. "Martin, do you think you'll be able to enter the capital undetected?"
Martin laughed, "Highness, I've snuck inside your palace dozens of times over the years! I'll bet I could even sneak into your bedroom!"
"Oh," Callan said, taken aback. "Good. That's integral to my plan to keep your fleet under contract."
"That will be expensive, Highness," Martin said.
"I know," Callan said. "That's why we're going to rob the Mordanian treasury!"
Callan has an audacious plan to fund the war against Tarteg. But will the outlaw, Martin Bane, go along with the plan? Find out in Chapter 94, coming Monday!
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
< Chapter 91 Chapter 93 >
Was the betrothal between Princess Callan and Prince Rupor a ruse?
"The Tartegians waited until they had everything in place, then began negotiating the betrothal," Callan said. "I thought it would mean an end to all the wars between our countries. Instead..."
I dared not draw Callan close, to offer comfort. Not with a Tartegian airship above us.
"Martin, send some men to repair Tristan's airship?" I asked. "Milo can lead them to it."
"Consider it done," Martin said.
"Also, except for the trog escort, have your ships prepare for departure," I added.
Martin nodded and left with Milo.
"What are you planning?" Callan asked.
"We're going to get you out of here," I said to Callan.
"No, David," Callan said, "I cannot -- I will not -- hide in my own country! I must discover why Lord Elias is regent instead of my uncle. And I must watch Prince Rupor's eyes when he tells me about finding my parents' airship."
"You're planning on sailing right into their hands?" I asked. "Are you crazy?"
"No," Callan flashed a devious smile, "I'm distraught. Just a worried, silly young woman looking to her man for care and comfort in a crisis."
"I hate to tell you, Callan, but no one who knows you is going to believe that for a minute!"
"That's sweet of you to say, David, but you're wrong," Callan said. "Lord Elias, the pretend Regent, is a weak, malleable man who hardly ever spoke to me. And the only Tartegian who knows me at all is Raoul, and we have him. King Damon and Prince Rupor will believe my act. That will give us a chance to get some answers."
"And then?" I asked.
"And then, we make them pay!"
How can Callan make good on her threat? Find out in Chapter 93, coming Friday!
Monday, December 24, 2012
< Chapter 90 Chapter 92 >
The trog translator appears to be a man known to both Callan and Martin Bane and also thought to be long dead.
"Who is Ardan Windslow?" I asked.
Bane bowed to Callan, gesturing for her to speak first.
"Remember the kidnapping attempt I told you about?" she asked. "When Rob earned his sword?"
"Of course," I said.
"Windslow was captain of the palace guard at that time. The plotting lords bribed him to oversee the kidnapping," Callan said. "The lords attempted to lay most of the blame on Windslow. All were executed except Windslow, who managed to escape with some petty criminal."
"Martin, are you the 'petty criminal' in Callan's tale?" I asked.
Callan whipped around in surprise, catching Bane's slow nod.
"We were in the same cell," he said. "He had an escape plan, but it took two men. I was awaiting execution, of course I agreed to help! Once we were free, Windslow entered an inn to arrange passage out of the country. I kept watch from an alley. Eventually, I went looking for him and found his headless body in a back room."
"Are you sure it was him?" I asked.
"I didn't take time to investigate," Bane said. "Right clothes, right build, I assume it was Windslow. Now, I'm not so sure."
Callan said, "The lords always claimed Windslow recruited them, though none believed it."
"Is it possible Windslow was working with Tarteg at the time?" I asked.
"There were rumors," Callan said. "But that was sixteen years ago!"
"Grudges can last a lifetime," I said. "And everything that's happened lately has distracted the king and queen, dispersing the Mordanian navy, and given Tartegian airships a valid reason to patrol Mordanian skies."
Callan's face hardened, "And it's only been possible because of my betrothal to Rupor!"
Could everything from the betrothal to the kidnapping to the trog invasion to the disappearance of the king and queen be part of a complex Tartegian plot? Find out more in chapter 92, coming Wednesday!