July 2011 Archives


Chapter Seventy-Two

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Prince William sat there shackled to a chair. The citizens of the peninsula surrounded him. On the spot, he had to decide which course of action to take. He could discuss his actions with an attorney, or he could tell his story in open court. He desperately wanted to sleep on it, but that was not an option. Everyone in the room was waiting for his decision, so he had to make his choice.

"War," the Prince began "is a terrible thing. It forces people from their homes. Many of these people have no where to go. They become refugees. Of that group of refugees, some of us have no where to turn. For various reasons, we are not welcome anywhere. What are we to do?"

"I must assume that you have made your choice," interrupted the judge.

"I have your honor," replied the Prince. "You see, I could not stay in my country because of war. A civil war raged in my country of Lakeland, and it ended the lives of my family. I was seen as a threat to the new monarchy, which was victorious. Hence, I could not stay in Lakeland. Further, the three formerly neutral countries decided to attack Lakeland. I certainly could not go to any of those. Finally, I could have gone to Calmondak, but I would be a hostage to the king there. Thus, I had to come here."

"You had to attempt to claim the country for yourself?" asked the prosecutor.

"May I finish?" asked the Prince.

"By all means," replied the prosecutor.

"I came here and made my way to the capitol. I did this because I was familiar with the area. I had stayed there while my father was in prison."

"If it please the court," added the prosecutor. "The defendant's father was in prison for crimes against the state. He was fomenting unrest among the people."

"Can I object to that?" Prince William asked the judge.

"On what grounds?" asked the judge.

"My father's deeds were wrong. I fully admit that. However, that does not eliminate a son's duty towards his father. Thus, his actions are not relevant."

"Goes to motive your honor," added the prosecutor.

"Objection sustained."

"Thank you your honor -- I think." The Prince continued, "Since I had no where to go, I went to somewhere familiar -- the capitol. In fact, I stayed at the same hotel and hotel room I had previously used. I visited familiar places."

"If I may interrupt," interrupted the prosecutor. "We have subpoenaed a local server to testify if needed. She can illuminate the actions of Mr. Thorbjornson and associates while at the capitol."

"Noted," the judge responded.

"It was mere coincidence that I eventually ran into the deceased troublemakers," returned the Prince. "I was willing to live out my life in peace and obscurity. I frequented a local establishment, where I can assume the server in question works. Unfortunately, these men decided to also frequent this place."

"For the record, these deceased troublemakers were associates of Mr. Thorbjornson's father."

"Yes," the Prince injected. "I knew the men. However, they were accompanying my father for his misconceived mission. I did not wish to establish any report with them, but they would not let me go without conflict. It was a conflict that would not result well on my behalf."

"It is here that they formed their plot to overthrow the country," added the prosecutor.

"I object your honor! I had no knowledge of their plans."

"Objection sustained. Please continue."

"I was dragged unwillingly here. At every point, I looked for an out, but none came. They wanted me to be there because they had something planned for me."

"Objection your honor. Hearsay!"

"Objection sustained. Please Mr. Thorbjornson, stick to what you know."

"Sorry your honor," replied the Prince. "So, I could not get away, and we came to a parlay tent. I had no idea what we were doing there. None! That is when I found out that they proposed to make me king of this country. I swear it was the first I had heard of it."

"What did you do when you learned of their plans?" asked the prosecutor.

"I stood there with my mouth open. I was shocked."

"And, how did you act during the negotiation phase?" the prosecutor enquired.

"I...," stumbled the Prince. "Ever since I was young, I dreamed of being a king. However, in my own country I was well down on the hierarchy. Thus, my dreams of kingdom were just that -- dreams."

"I ask again," interrupted the prosecutor. "How did you act after learning of your men's plans?"

"I...," stumbled the Prince. "These men were not my men. They were my father's. He recruited them for nefarious deeds. These were bad."

"Fair enough," replied the prosecutor. "How did you act after you heard your father's men's plans?"

"I object," the Prince stated.

"On what grounds?" asked the judge.

"He is leading the witness."

"Yes Mr. Thorbjornson he is," responded the judge. "Please answer his question."

"I behaved abysmally. The power went to my head. I got carried away."

"The prosecution rests!" exclaimed the prosecutor.

"Wait!" yelled the Prince. "I was just a pawn in their game. It is evident in my being here and they being dead. I survived because they refused me the cover that they took. It turned out to be ineffective cover, but they left me out to die."

"Immaterial," responded the prosecutor.

"I admit I made some mistakes!" shouted the Prince. "I let the power corrupt me! I did things I would never have done in any other circumstances! I..."

A silence fell over the courtroom as a shot rang out. The entire room was suddenly mayhem. People were running here and there. Officials were looking from where the shot came. There was a mad scramble everywhere. People pointing and saying it came from here or there. The judge attempted to regain order, but no one heard him pounding his gavel.

The Prince sat slumped down in his chair with a pool of blood growing around him. No one paid any attention to him.

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Chapter Seventy-Three

By Douglas E. Gogerty

King Jonathan traveled west with the former king of the Maritime Kingdom. The wars were over. Lakeland was triumphant over the three rebel kingdoms. The King's daughter was responsible for the conquering of all of Morica. Further, she did it with little help from her father. He was proud of his little girl. He had visions of many years of peace.

The news spread fast. While the King still had his scouts in front of his march, they did not report any trouble. There were no ambushes waiting. There were no bandits along the path. The march was not going to be difficult.

In fact, as his army made its way towards home, they were greeted with cheers in the towns in which they passed. Even Lakeland towns cheered for the Calmondak army. This would not have happened in the rule of King Thorbjorn. King Jonathan believed that a new era had come to pass. This filled him with great joy.

If his daughter could unite the people under her rule, Morica could return to prominence on the world stage. Perhaps trade could be reestablished with the other nations. The King could only imagine the great technologies available from other countries. Perhaps his aircars would be a welcome addition to that technology. Thus, the King's thoughts went to wealth. There was money to be made in overseas trade.

The more the Calmondak army marched; the more the army relaxed. Many of the protocols broke down with the precession west. The march home became a great triumph like the very ancient Romans. The group travel became almost a westward moving party. Citizens would join the march for a few days to revel in the victory. The King ignored the breaks in protocol. It would help usher in the new age of cooperation between kingdoms.

At first, the former king and his small entourage were kept from the festivities. After all, he was a hostage of the Calmondak Kingdom. Some in King Jonathan's company did not trust the former king. These voices won out early. There were the only ones not participating in the celebration. However, as the rules relaxed, so did the restrictions on the Maritime Kingdom group.

It started with giving them a few extra rations. Food was being showered on the army, so extra was no hardship. Thus, it was a small favor.

Eventually, the hostages shared in the gifts of the local population. Thus, they would get a small ration of local alcohol to join in the celebration. It was a small gesture to include them. This group felt a little less hostile towards the victors.

As the march progressed, a few were free leave the guarded area with an escort. It was not long before the entire hostage group was escorted out to join in the vast celebrations. King Jonathan thought this would endear the group to his hospitality. Hence, they would be less trouble in the future.

When the army entered Calmondak, the entire entourage including the hostages were fully participating in the festivities. It was difficult to tell who was in fact a hostage. The entirety of the group was celebrating the peace.

No one even thought that anyone could be hostile. It appeared that everyone was enjoying him or herself. After all, it was an unprecedented celebration of peace. An act of violence would upset everything.

Thus, when a subject of the former king of the Maritime Kingdom asked to see King Jonathan, the audience was quickly granted. In fact, he entered the King's tent without being searched. The King greeted the man warmly, and was surprised when he drew a gun. Before King Jonathan could sound an alarm, the gun sounded it for him. The King had four gunshot wounds to his midsection before his assassin was apprehended.

The King was in a large pool of his own blood, and no one could do anything to save him. The field doctors treated him, but the weapon had done too much damage. The King held on for a short time, but his assassin did his job well. King Jonathan died.

In short order, the hostages from the Maritime Kingdom were collected. The king seemed quite surprised at the action of one of his men. He proclaimed his innocence from the plot. However, that was not enough to spare his life or any of the other members of his royal party.

The once reveling party quickly turned somber. A rollicking party turned into a funeral march. The King was placed in a wagon, and he could be viewed in the towns they passed. Just as the news of joy travelled fast, so did the news of sorrow. The parties of peace turned to somber wakes. Everyone mourned the passing of King Jonathan.

Scouts and officials were sent ahead to prepare the funeral. The news arrived at the capitol well before they did. The top officials of King Jonathan's assured Prince James that they would aid in the transition. They had experience running the kingdom, and they would be of great assistance in getting the new king prepared.

Prince James took the news hard. He had a difficult time dealing with the fact that his father was now dead. For many years, he informed his father that he did not wish to be king. He felt the stress acutely, and he felt the pressures of ruling personally. All of this was magnified with the nature of his ascension to the throne.

King Jonathan's men wanted to do the right thing. However, what could they do? What would happen if the Prince stepped down. Who would rule? Would Calmondak could devolve into chaos. Without a willing heir, Calmondak could be heading for civil war. Once the people had hoped for a long peace, but now that peace was threatened. This put even more stress on Prince James.

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Chapter Seventy-Four

By Douglas E. Gogerty

The Princess arrived at the Pirate Peninsula with her group of five advisers. It was dawn, and they had little rest. Although she had heard that their war was over, there was no evidence of that when she arrived. For some reason, the country was as chaotic as a country at war.

With the chaos, the Princess considered waiting for her troops. Her five advisers suggested just that. After all, they were all tired. However, with the situation, the Princess knew Prince William was likely in trouble. Thus, she decided not to wait. It is why she took the boat in the first place. She would go searching for the Prince.

She asked about the Prince to anyone who would give her the time. Most people she encountered did not know anything about what had happened to him. The news outlets had been blacked out for weeks. Nonetheless, many of them volunteered to join her. They wished to help in the search, and they feared for her safety in the troubling times.

By the time the Princess reached the Capitol city, her entourage was 10,000 strong. They were not an organized fighting group, but they provided plenty of security for the Princess. Further, the group was large enough for people to take notice.

Some at the Capitol knew that Prince William headed to a parlay location to the south. Thus, the massive group would head in that direction. However, it was late in the day and the Princess and her group needed to rest. They would spend the night.

By morning, the group was 25,000 strong. The five advisers with the Princess began drilling the people who had joined up. They would need provisions to survive with this large group. Thus, the people were divided up into groups with specific duties. Most of the joiners were not suited to fighting, but they could gather supplies. Food and water was a priority.

On their scouting missions, some of the groups would return with supplies and more people. As the Princess traveled, her group continued to grow. Forces in their path south either ran or joined. Thus, with 25,000 support personnel, they began to gather actual fighting people. Soon, they were a formidable fighting force.

The group encountered their first opposition force when they reached the parlay grounds. The Princess's army was too powerful to the fight weary forces they faced. Therefore, the Princess had her first victory in the peninsula. With that victory, emissaries from some of the factions asked for an audience. She granted the request.

The Princess sat at a table surrounded by her five advisers when the emissaries from the peninsula arrived. It was a diverse group. Many age groups were represented as well as racial groups. The Princess did not expect to see any women, but there were females representing some factions. This would not have ever happened in the kingdoms. It made her smile.

That smile soon faded with the groups demanding that she leave. Naturally, she refuse. She explained that she came looking for Prince William Thorbjornson. She further explained that she had not anticipated getting involved in the local situation. The emissaries turned when with the mention of Prince William's name.

"Take me to him!" she demanded.

They led her to a nearby tent. Prince William was still shackled to the chair where he was shot. The pool of blood had begun to congeal and flies were everywhere. The smell brought tears to the Princess's eyes.

"There will be proper death ceremony tonight," she explained.

The emissaries did not know how to respond to her demands other than nodding.

"Once the arrangements have been made," the Princess continued. "Someone will explain to me why the Prince was treated in such a manner."

The group continued to nod.

"Move!" the Princess shouted.

The emissaries from the peninsula scattered. Many were not sure what they were to do, but they scrambled.

The Princess directed members of her entourage to coordinate with the various factions. She picked a spot to build a funerary pyre. She knew that it would be difficult to remove him from his death chair, so she instructed them to bring him as he was. The Prince was seated upon a large stack of wood.

As dusk approached, the Princess gave a speech to the gathered crowd. Few in the gathered people knew the Prince in any significant way. However, her eulogy moved many of the gathered. She managed to get through her statement with only shedding a few tears. She surprised herself that she did not break down completely. At dusk, the fire was lit.

With the passion of her words, more citizens of the peninsula joined her group. In the few days she had spent in the area, she had amassed a huge following. The people were tired of the infighting. They thought the civil war had ended with the death of Prince William. However, the conflict rose again out of the assassination.

With each passing day, the Princess's power grew. The emissaries from the fighting factions did not know what to do. They seemed to only be able to agree when there was a common enemy. In fact, they thought of the Princess's group as a force against their state. However, they could not agree with how to handle it. After all, her followers were their own constituents.

A couple of the factions joined together to ambush her. They were quickly and easily dispatched. It was so weak that the Princess did not even know about the attack. Thus, the factions agreed to surrender to her. In this way, the Princess became the sovereign of yet another part of Morica.

She was too busy grieving for Prince William to mark the surrender. She just sat in a dark tent crying. It was then when a messenger arrived to give her news of her father. She curled into a ball on the floor and wept. There was no joy in this victory.

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Chapter Seventy-Five

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Prince James once again awoke. The sun was just peaking over the horizon. He had tossed and turned all night. It was not a fitful rest at all. Things swirled around in his brain, and he just could not stay asleep.

In fact, he had not had a full night of sleep for days. He had only been king of Calmondak for a week, and it was already tearing him apart. He presided over his father's funeral, and that seemed to be the easiest part of his week. He wished they could have waited for Princess Angelina, but they did not know when she would be back. Thus, they proceeded without her. Prince James hated doing that.

The Prince got out of bed and walked to his window. He stared at the rising sun. He briefly admired its beauty, but was soon returned to reality when he heard a light rapping on his door.

"Sire," whispered a voice.

Prince James was not sure he wanted to answer. After a long pause, he replied, "What is it?"

"Did I wake you?" the voice asked.

"I asked what do you want," snapped the Prince. "It does not matter if you awoke me or not."

"Sorry sire," replied the servant with a bow. "There is a breakfast gathering that requires your attendance."

"What is it?"

"Your advisers have been in the process of selecting a -- well -- a -- suitable queen."

The Prince sighed. "And...?"

"They would like you to meet some contenders at breakfast."


"Sire," the servant bowed. "I am just the messenger. I am not savvy to all that goes on at the castle."

"Are you telling me that you do not know why?"

"No! Well -- yes."

"Why did not not just say that?"

"I -- uh -- I -- um -- I -- do not know sire."

"Okay Mr. Messenger. Let us get a few things straight. If you are going to last at your job, you answer my questions directly and honestly. If I ask you what is it? That is to be quickly followed by an answer to that question. Do you understand?"


"Do you understand?"

"Yes sire," replied the messenger.

"Secondly, if you do not know the answer to something, you are to reply, I do not know. Do you understand that?"

"Yes sire."

"Only I do not know."

"Yes sire."

"How long do I have to get ready?"

"An hour sire."

"Very good. Now go away and allow me to get ready."

"Yes sire."

The Prince let out another sigh. He looked out the window for a little bit, but had to get ready. His life was filled with had to's. He did not feel he had enough time for all of the want to's. His life had become one obligation after another.

He drug himself away from the window and began the task of getting ready for breakfast. He had to prepare himself for the presentation of the women. It was one of the most tiresome tasks.

When his father was alive, he dated a great deal. It was fun. There were no obligations that went along with the outing. All he had to do was have fun. If he had fun with the person who accompanied him, he would would ask her for another date. Nonetheless, none of the dating led to anything long term. That was fine with the Prince. His father was in good health; therefore, there was no pressure. In this way, the Prince enjoyed the process. Now each meeting with a woman or group of women was loaded with obligation.

Further, each person he met now had royalty on the brain. They all wanted to be queen. Most of the time, it put the women in a bad light. This fact also made the Prince suspicious. In any event, he had to choose someone suitable to rule. He could not just pick someone fun. He could not just pick someone he liked. It was an impossible task.

All of this was compounded by the vetting process. The advisers of the former King put it upon themselves to pick the suitors. These men considered the woman's status, family, and other factors that were important for such a position. Not once did they consider the desires of the Prince. Thus, there was a string of nobles whose only qualifications were the circumstances of their birth.

The Prince dreaded the breakfast, so he took his time getting ready. However, the team of advisers entered his room 15 minutes before the scheduled time. One of them had a clipboard. On it was a list of all the meetings he had. This attendant informed the Prince that the breakfast was possibly the only meal he would have on that day. His schedule was that packed.

The Prince gave a heavy sigh. He wanted to lie on the floor and curl up into a ball. He almost did just that, but the advisers grabbed him by the arm to push him along. However, before he reached the banquet hall, the Prince made a break for it. He broke free from the group and ran. He just ran. At first he did not know where he was going to go. He just ran. The entire complex was connected by a series of tunnels. Thus, he just ran in them.

A few advisers attempted to run after him, but they were in no shape to catch him. They communicated the information to the other staff, and they kept an eye out for the Prince. However, since he was just running, no one knew where he was or where he was going. Hence, they congregated around the common exits. When the Prince finally decided to exit, he left from one of the lesser used doors. It was just close by. Thus, he got away clean.

He remembered his sister running away to the forbidden zone. Thus, he grabbed one of the suncars, and headed there. If his sister could make it, so could he. He had to get away. He had no interest in having every hour of every day planned for him. He decided that he was not ready to be king. Thus, he ran away.

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