Kilgren looked out over the valley, noting every nook and cranny that could be used as a hiding spot for his enemy. How many years has he been a Warrior? How many wars has he fought in? He was weary of battle and longed for the peace and quiet of civilian life. Kilgren glanced over his back at his army, who was preparing for conflict. They looked as tired as he felt, the allure of fighting replaced with fatigue and disillusionment. This had to stop.
A piebald gelding approached Kilgren from his right, its rider covered completely in armor and unrecognizable. Kilgren nodded to the Warrior. “What do you have to report, Cupric?” he asked as the gelding stopped next to his bay stallion.
“There are no signs of them, Kilgren,” the man replied. “It is as if they have vanished.”
A feeling of alarm crept over Kilgren. “Are they using magic?” he inquired, not sure if his scout could answer the question.
Cupric shook his head. “I do not know. They were seen in the Sunken Valley two days ago and now they are missing. Perhaps they are using magic, or perhaps they retreated to their lairs.”
Kilgren sighed deeply. “Who was keeping an eye on them? Someone was assigned the task of remaining with the horde and reporting all movement. Who did you tell to do this?”
Again, Cupric shook his head. “You delegated that to Cuprous, remember? He was supposed to appoint the man to scout them.”
Kilgren spun Shield, his mount, to face Cupric. “Then have your twin come to me at once so we can sort this out. Meanwhile, do you still have a man or two on the left flank standing watch?”
“I most certainly do,” Cupric said, his voice irritated with his leader. Kilgren nodded with a grim smile on his face. “Excellent. Please send Cuprous here. I need to talk to him.”
Cupric nodded. “Yes, sir,” he said, bowing. He then turned his gelding and galloped back to the men. Kilgren looked out over the valley again. The absence of the horde had him concerned. Shield pawed at the ground impatiently, anxious to either graze or get on with the task of the day. Kilgren patted the horse's neck absently.
A second piebald gelding cantered up to Kilgren and Cupric's twin bowed to Kilgren. “You sent for me?” Cuprous inquired.
“Yes, I did. Who did you dispatch to shadow the horde?”
“That would be Cronon. A very reliable man,” replied the bulky warrior.
“Have you heard from Cronon recently?”
“Not since yesterday when he sent word the horde was headed this way.”
“Then if they are headed this way, why aren't they here? Even at a slow pace, they should have been seen by our scouts. Can you send word to him?”
“Yes, I can send a bird to him. What message would you like me to transmit?”
Kilgren scratched his bearded chin. “How about 'where the blazes are you?' Do you think such a question is appropriate?”
Cuprous nodded. “Indeed it is. I will get right on that.” Cuprous turned his horse to leave.
“Cuprous,” Kilgren added. “Send someone out towards the Sunken Valley and see what turns up.”
Cuprous nodded and hurried away.
Kilgren looked out at the sky as the sun began its descent into night. His stomach growled its hunger and Kilgren turned Shield back towards camp. As he passed a soldier he ordered the man to take the post he had just vacated. The man hurried away.
Food was relatively boring this evening and Kilgren picked at his stew and bread, his mind on the lack of information regarding his enemy. This was unexpected and Kilgren did not like things unexpected. He summoned the Wizard Spidal for a consultation.
“Are you able to detect any kind of magic regarding the horde? They seemed to have disappeared.”
Spidal shook his head. “There are no signs of magic anywhere. I can cast out a spell to reveal concealment spells if you like, but I think that is useless.”
“Please do. It will ease my mind.”
Spidal nodded, then closed his eyes and mumbled some words Kilgren did not understand. Soon the sky was bright purple. Kilgren looked around, but everything appeared as it should. Spidal opened his bright blue eyes and looked at his general. “There are no signs of magic anywhere. The horde is not in hiding ready to pounce.”
“Then where the blazes are they?” Kilgren demanded.
“Sir,” a young scout said as he ran towards Kilgren, “there is a contingent of Knights coming from the West. They have the colors of Rockpence on their armor and bear that kingdom's flag.”
Kilgren swore under his breath. “What are they doing here?” he asked no one in particular. “Get Shield ready, I will meet them on the ridge.” Kilgren went to his tent and grabbed his sword and shield and then ran to where the horses were picketed. A soldier had his bay stallion saddled and bridled. Kilgren checked the girth strap before swinging up into the saddle. Shield tossed his head and burst into a full gallop towards the western ridge.
The Knights of Rockpence reached the ridge just as Kilgren did. Kilgren recognized Mentar at the head of them. Mentar dismounted and walked towards Kilgren.
“What business brings the Knights of Rockpence to this region?” Kilgren inquired.
“My Lord, the Queen has died and your Father dispatched us to fetch you.”
“What, my Father expects me to leave in the middle of a War to comfort him? I think not.” Kilgren stared down at his old friend.
Sir Mentar bowed. “My Lord, the war is over. His Majesty negotiated a peace accord with both parties. You should have received word to withdraw your troops 3 days ago.”
“We have received no such news.”
“Have you not wondered where the Horde you have prepared to fight has gone? They all went to their homes. The War is over.”
Kilgren looked down at his boot. “You may have explained away my recent concern. I must await official news from my employer before I can send everyone on their way.”
“And Mentar,” Kilgren added.
“Yes My Lord?”
“No one here knows my true rank. Please keep it that way.”
Mentar nodded. “Is that why you refused to become a Knight?”
Kilgren smiled. “Yes. Knights are the sons of Noblemen. Warriors are just good fighters. I trust their lot much more than I trust a Knight's. Some knights are honest, trustworthy men like yourself, but the majority have their own agendas and won't hesitate to do things for their own gain. Warriors have a different code.”
“My Lord, what shall I tell your Father?”
“Tell him I will return to Rockpence as soon as things here are resolved. I expect to be there within two weeks at the most.”
Mentar nodded. “We shall leave right away to inform him.”
“No, it is almost nightfall. You should stay the night and have some rations and leave in the morning.”
“Follow me back to our camp. I will get you and your knights taken care of.”
“Again, thank you, My Lord,” Mentar said as he bowed. He returned to his mount and the Knights followed Kilgren to his army's camp.