|Seal of the Mind|
|Series||Beyond the Veil by Enodoc|
|← None||Chapter Chronology||Dwelling Prospects →|
Seal of the MindEdit
The King sighed. The past few weeks had been quite eventful, but now he and Hobson were taking the long journey back to Bowerstone from Ravenscar Keep.
"Don't worry, Your Majesty," said Hobson, "I'm sure Commander Hadley will make a very good warden."
The King had no concern over the appointment of Hadley as a replacement for the late Commander Milton, however he had no wish to involve Hobson in his actual thoughts, so simply said, "Yes, I'm sure you're right."
"I for one will not be sad to be departing that place," continued Hobson, "I have been quartered in the barracks with the common guardsmen, and while I was not being kidnapped I was constantly reminded of why the Keep is the most secret and secure prison in Albion. The rabble that are incarcerated there... definitely not the place for the faint of heart. I applaud your decision to remove the political prisoners from there, but releasing them entirely?" he paused, thinking, "Yes, you have shown you are nothing like your brother. They should have nothing to complain about. Let's just hope they don't think of another reason to oppose the monarch's rule."
* * *
The prison ship pulled into Bowerstone Harbour. The captain saluted as the King and Hobson descended the gangway. "Please excuse me, Your Majesty," began Hobson, "I have a month's worth of schedules and appointments to rearrange," and he shuffled off towards the castle.
The King looked around for his trusted companion. "Sam! Where are you?" he shouted.
"My apologies, Sir," said a voice. The King jumped a foot in the air; he still had not got used to Jasper speaking to him through the Guild Seal. "Sam has been resting in the Sanctuary since your departure from Ravenscar."
"Just how much of what I say and do are you aware of, Jasper?" asked the King.
"Not all of it, Sir. The Guild Seal only lets me hear what I apparently need to hear."
"Thank Avo for that. Right. I'll come and collect him."
The King unstrapped the Guild Seal from his belt and, as he had done many times before, held it up in the air. However, instead of experiencing the obscure sensation of being transported to the Sanctuary, the King felt a surge of energy, not unlike the one he received when he first held the object in the tomb of his father. The Seal emitted a bright blue-white light, and shook violently. Passers-by watched in amazement as the light engulfed their sovereign and the surrounding few metres. Many of them had heard rumours about how the King had seemed more holy of late, particularly since the battle against the darkness. Some had even gone as far as to say that, in addition to the ethereal glow he frequently emitted, he also occasionally sprouted wings. They now realised these were not just exaggerated praises of his character. Silhouetted within the ball of light, they watched as the King was lifted into the air and a pair of large, feathered wings unfurled from behind him.
The people were well aware of the King's command over the powers of Will, and of his status as a Hero, so they assumed they were witnessing the pomp and circumstance associated with the triumphant return of their monarch after some great victory. The King, meanwhile, was trying to work out what on earth was happening. In short order, the light dissipated and the King floated back down onto the pier. The crowd applauded, but the King didn't notice. He was staring at the Guild Seal in his hand. It was no longer a perfect circle with a simple design, and instead was adorned with decorative swirls and a wing motif. Finally noticing the crowd, the King waved to the people, executed a quick flourish with his sword, and held up the Guild Seal again.
"Welcome to the Sanc--" began Jasper. The King flopped down into a conveniently placed chair. "My word, Sir, is everything alright?" asked Jasper, as he hurried over to the King's side.
"That was unexpected," answered the King, as he showed the Guild Seal to Jasper, "Take a look at this."
"Is that the Guild Seal? I haven't read anything about that in the Book of Heroes," admitted the valet, "But yet I seem to recall... Yes. You have no doubt seen pictures of your father with the Guild Seal, such as the photograph of him with his business partner Barnum after he provided the capital for the renovation of Westcliff, or the painting that was commissioned by the people when he was named Hero of the Spire."
"Yes. The Guild Seal in those looks remarkably different."
"Not long after your father became king, I was appointed as the castle butler. My predecessor kept going on about bandits in the basement, but I paid him no mind. When your father returned from dealings with Knothole Island, I noticed he looked more weary than before. He gathered the castle staff and said that he would probably not be going on another grand adventure. The next morning, we noticed that his Guild Seal had changed, into the form it was when you found it. Of course he did still go adventuring, but the Seal was never the same again."
The King looked again at his Seal. "So it changes form based on the mindset of its wielder?"
"That appears to be the way of it."
"So what is different with my own?"
"Well Sir, I wouldn't like to say. Perhaps you see yourself more as a king than an adventurer these days?"
"Yes, that may be the case..."
"But enough of philosophy, Sir. Weren't you here to collect someone?"
"Sam!" exclaimed the King.
Ruff! came a voice from the opposite side of the room. Sam bounded over. Once again, he had taken the guise of a red setter. "He seems particularly cheerful today, I think," said Jasper.
"Hello boy!" said the King. "See you later, Jasper."
The King raised the Guild Seal again, and reappeared in Bowerstone Industrial.
* * *
The King liked to show an interest in current affairs around the kingdom, and so stopped off to talk with some of the citizens on his way through Bowerstone Industrial. The prison ship had pulled up against the main pier of the Docks and Warehouses area at the western end of the district, so their route took the King and Sam past some of the newer buildings constructed during the first year of his reign.
"Sire," piped up a dock worker, as they passed the sewage plant, "Please take this gift as a token of our appreciation for your clearing up of Industrial's sewage problem."
"Oh, thank you," said the King. "Jasper! Delivery!"
"Right you are, Sir." came Jasper's voice. The King held out the Guild Seal and placed the gift on it. There was a flash of light and the present disappeared.
The King and Sam left the Docks and Warehouses and followed the main road alongside the River Bower.
"Ah, Your Majesty!" came a voice from overhead. The King recognised the posh drawl immediately. "It seems you have returned from your little sojourn, as have I."
"Why Master Reaver," said the King, trying to keep his tone casual, "How good to see you again. You look younger than when we last met."
"Well, when one has been blessed with youth, one must do one's best to retain it. Perhaps I will tell you the secret some day. Anyway, I wanted you to see the improvements I have made to the school." He looked as though he was straining himself to keep a concerned face as he continued his explanation, "I thought it such a waste of resources to keep all that unused machinery in the back of the building, not to mention in such a location where one of the little dears may injure themselves. So I came up with a highly cost-effective solution." He gestured towards the building. The King couldn't help but smirk at what he saw. Reaver had constructed a wall between the school desks and the machinery, and opened up one of the side doors of the building. By ensuring there was nothing unsafe in the school, he had come up with a way to reopen his main factory, thereby almost doubling the income received from the one building. "What's more, the laudable Page could not come up with a viable objection. A win for all sides there!" he continued. "Now then, I shan't keep you. No doubt you have regal business to attend to, and I'm sure we will meet again soon in an exciting court discussion."
The King bade farewell to Reaver and crossed the swing-bridge to the Market road.
* * *
Hobson was waiting for the King in the War Room of Bowerstone Castle. Beside him stood a tall, clean-shaven man of around 30 years. He was outfitted in the garb of a castle official. "Your Majesty," said Hobson, "Allow me to introduce Harold."
"Sire, it is a pleasure to serve as your new court herald," said the man, with a low bow. It had been two months since the battle, but due to refurbishments of the throne room and the events at Ravenscar, no major court business had occurred since the ruling on Mistpeak over six months before.
"Harold will present and mediate future hearings in the throne room. He also has a good record of maintaining order and civility, should the need arise," continued Hobson.
"Nice to meet you," said the King. "I'm sure Hobson will be able to assist with any queries you may have."
Hobson's face contorted slightly. He turned to Harold, trying to force a smile. "Of course. The first scheduled session is tomorrow, the details for which you should find in your office." He showed Harold out, then said to the King, "With all due respect, Your Majesty, I know little of the duties of a herald. My experience, as you are aware, lies in time management and toadying."
"Nonsense," smirked the King, "This gives you another opportunity to widen your area of expertise if the need arises." The King enjoyed winding Hobson up, as it gave him an opportunity to knock his attitude down a peg or two.
"Yes, well, ... I will go and prepare the agenda for tomorrow. Good evening, Your Majesty." Hobson shuffled off towards the hallway.