“Ponder that, my dear Lord Survill,” he crowed.
“My word, Your Majesty, you’ve got me on the run,” Survill exclaimed.
Various young pages stood on the checkered lawn, in chess piece costumes. Although a shady canopy had been set up for the king and his opponent so they could play their game in comfort, the pages waited in the fierce sunlight. As sweat dripped from underneath their hot and heavy paper-maché headdresses, the boys struggled to stand at attention.
Minister Uspy hastened from the castle toward the chessboard.
“Please forgive the interruption, Your Majesty, but I have news.”
King Chance’s brow creased in annoyance. “Has Jovander or that wretched girl been located? Hester, wasn’t it?”
“Heather is the name. They both have vanished, Your Majesty. And I’m afraid that Lord Embrue has not returned from Jagged Peaks, nor the soldiers that accompanied him,” Uspy said.
King Chance waved his fingers, dismissively. “No doubt they have fallen into a game of cards or a bit of debauchery somewhere. Embrue’s success at Merrymouth may have gone to his head.”
“That’s entirely possible, Your Majesty; however Embrue’s steed was found wandering the countryside yesterday. Several mounts from the king’s army have turned up as well,” Uspy said.
“Send Lord Tether with the cavalry to question the villagers about Embrue. If you get no answers, burn Jagged Peaks down.”
“And if the villagers cooperate?”
“Burn it anyway. The commoners must understand I am in charge.”
Uspy left. King Chance returned his attention toward the chessboard, where his bishop had just keeled over from sunstroke. “I’m going to need a new bishop. Drag that boy to the dungeon and beat him for having spoiled the game.”
In the Kingdom of Destiny, King Chance decreed any female be she high or low born may earn a place at court by winning an archery competition known as the Tournament of Chance. Although no commoner has ever won before, this is Heather’s year. To prevent her from winning the tournament, however, King Chance will stop at nothing. The king does not yet realize Heather of the Jagged Peaks will be the spark that ignites a revolution — in time.
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