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Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2203110
An undersized knight uses his wits against an ogre
1.
The court fell silent in anticipation of the herald's report.

"The account of the ogre Fenogrith, commonly called Ravage, for this fortnight," he began, loudly and distinctly.

"In this period, he did carry off three head of sheep, one dozen of chickens, and one steer.

He did tear down and destroy fencing on three pastures, driving off 16 horses, of which nine were later recaptured, but seven were lost.

He did kill or carry off three of the king's subjects [at this the old king groaned audibly], the two dead being Kenneroth, son of the yeoman Kerrimeth, and his servant, who died trying to save their sheep from the ogre. They were disemboweled and left in the pasture, Kenneroth without his right arm, and his servant without his left leg. They were given a Christian burial.

The third person was a maid, Lucinda [the king groaned even louder at this news], daughter of the yeoman Waffred, who was abducted from her cottage while the males of the household were away, her mother having been previously killed defending her infant son [the queen sobbed]."

"Have I no brave knights in my kingdom to face this Ravage?" said the king bitterly.

The herald paused for a moment. "Go on," the king said with a wave of his hand.

The herald continued. "Besides these subjects, two knights also ventured out to seek the ogre Fenogrith in his lair. Sir Perinor did enter his quest two nights after the death of the son of Kerrimeth and his servant, being a Thursday, and brought with him his squire. They have not returned. Sir Pelliphon followed after Sir Perinor on the sixth day following, being a Wednesday, travelling alone for reason that he wished not to endanger his squire on such a perilous quest. His head was discovered two days following, impaled on a post outside the parish church." Sighs of anguish echoed around the court, and the queen could be heard crying.

The king repeated his plea: "Have I no brave knights in my kingdom to face this Ravage?"

A young man spoke up tentatively. "Begging your pardon, Your Majesty, but it seems that you have at least two knights brave enough to face the ogre."

The small assembly turned to look at this small and somewhat unsightly knight. His nose was crooked and a large wart stuck out prominently on his right cheek.

"Not brave enough," said the king sadly.

It appeared that the young man was about to speak again, but he was pre-empted by a burly man with greying hair who stood near the king. "Sir Connor, there are many who are brave enough to fight Ravage, but only one who is truly brave may vanquish him."

Sir Connor wrinkled his brow and again appeared on the verge of speaking, but the man continued after a brief pause: "This is the account we have received. Ravage, that is, Fenogrith, can only be defeated by someone with a truly brave heart. So the knights who have died in the attempt, while daring and even valiant, could not have been truly brave."

The wrinkle on Sir Connor's brow deepened, but he did not answer immediately.

"If I were a young man, I myself would venture against this fiend," proclaimed the king. "I fought in the last Carindian War and was once cut off from my retinue when I advanced too recklessly into enemy lines. I was surrounded, but I did not lose heart! If I can stand up to twelve enemies around me and cut my way back to friendly lines, I'm sure I could face one ogre."

The court was quiet, partly because they had heard this story so many times that they dreaded it, and didn't want to give the king encouragement to elaborate. If he continued to recount the whole tale, it could take fully fifteen minutes and he would get quite worked up, and everyone's mind was on the ogre now.

To their relief, the king did not carry on with his story, instead saying with resignation, "But those days are long gone. I may be brave, but this old body no longer has enough strength for combat. Some days, I can barely walk."

Sir Connor spoke up. "Your Majesty has no need to do the work of your subjects. Why not call out the feudal levy and the local militia? The ogre may be strong, but he cannot defeat so many men at once."

"Yes, yes, that was my thought," agreed the king. "Let's do whatever we have to in order to rid ourselves of this blight! Call up the troops!" The thought inspired him to courage and he seemed to forget temporarily his sadness at having grown old.

"A good thought, Your Majesty, but we have already discussed this idea and why it is not practicable." It was the burly man again, the chancellor, appearing a little annoyed that someone should set the king on this train of thought after what had evidently been a difficult task to dissuade him from it the first time. "You see, Sir Connor, the ogre does not fall within the traditional reasons for calling together the feudal host. Knights would be reluctant to drop their affairs and come join an army to fight an ogre."

"I'd like to see them be reluctant!" said the king. "I'll show them who's king, indeed! When your sovereign calls, you do not quibble over legal niceties."

"Yes, we could force the matter," agreed the chancellor with a sad smile, "but there are other things to consider." He paused, hoping not to have to elaborate on these other considerations, but the king stared at him in determination to find out why this would not work. "For example," he continued reluctantly, "there is the matter of feeding the army. The royal treasury is short on silver at the moment. We don't want to call together hundreds of troops and then have them live off of the king's own subjects. That would almost certainly be worse than what the ogre is doing."

"No, we don't want that," the king admitted quietly.

"Besides, it is not commensurate with the dignity of a sovereign king to have to appeal to his subjects to fight an ogre. It would be a great embarrassment, and might tempt some nobles to waver in their loyalty."

"There was a time," the king sad sadly, "when every knight in the kingdom would have volunteered rather than let his sovereign stand by helplessly against the depradations of an ogre or some other monster." His eyes, wandering among the crowd, lighted again on Sir Connor. "You, Sir Connor!" he said. "Your father was one of them. I remember when he defeated that mountain troll when I had just recently been crowned. That was a glorious thing, indeed! I was very grateful to him for it, and I rewarded him handsomely."

"Yes, Your Majesty," said Sir Connor humbly, "that was a noble act that my father made. Alas, I cannot fill his armor! My father was a tall man, and broad-shouldered, and he could cut off a man's head at a single stroke of his sword. God has made me very differently."

Everyone was silent as they contemplated the contrast of this small and ugly knight with the man that his father had been. Many of those standing in the court at that moment remembered Sir Connor's father and could scarcely believe that such a man could have parented a youth so different. Sir Connor was highly conscious of what they were thinking, and he did not allow their thoughts to continue uninterrupted for more than a moment when he spoke again:

"Your Majesty, I am not the knight to slay this Ravage. I think we're all aware of that. Were I blessed with the most perfect bravery, it would still not compensate for my lack of size and strength. But I can still make myself useful to you in your time of need."

"How, then?" asked the king.

"I propose to reconnoiter the ogre's situation and habits. I will go find where he lives, and where he keeps the maiden. I will learn his habits: when he goes out at night, and when he goes to sleep in the morning, where he treads, whatever I can learn about him."

"Reconnoiter!" scoffed the king. "We want to kill the ogre, not write a book about him."

"Surely, Your Majesty, it cannot hurt the brave knights who try to kill him to know something about him. Even a strong man can be brought low if caught in an ambush, and who knows whether they even get a chance to face the ogre in a fair fight." Sir Connor began boldly, then realized that he should not speak to the king in such a tone, so he ended on a milder note.

"Posh!" said the king.

"Your Majesty, if I may," interjected the chancellor. "The young man's enterprise might serve a purpose. In any case, it seems that it could hardly hurt."

The king looked sceptical. "A knight going to spy on a monster rather than to fight it. What is the world coming to! But, you're right, if he can't kill Ravage at least he can perform some useful purpose."

"Your Majesty, I thank you."

"What do you require for this reconnaisance mission?"

Sir Connor was caught by surprise. He thought for a moment, and then said, "I require nothing but the opportunity to do your Your Majesty a service. Let my usefulness be my reward."

"Very well." The king was genuinely softened, as he was not used to volunteers who did not demand additional resources.

"I shall depart on the second day following."

"Fare well, Sir Connor. May you learn something that helps us put an end to this scourge on our land."


2
Sir Connor stood at the bar, waiting for his mug to be filled with ale. "What is a stranger doing in our parish?" asked the innkeeper as the ale foamed up into a head.

"Just passing through," answered Sir Connor.

"A fine time to be passing through, with Ravage killing everything in sight. You do know about Ravage, don't you?"

"I have heard of him."

"Well, you'd best find a different route, then. Only fools come voluntarily where Ravage abides."

Sir Connor pursed his lips for a moment, apparently considering this warning. "Yes, you have a point. Since I'm here already, how do you suggest I protect myself?"

"Get out," said the innkeeper. "Get out before darkness falls. That's when Ravage comes out and does his evil work."

"I see. And where would be a safe place, out of the range of this Ravage? Would the parish of Fetherton, for instance, be far enough away?"

"Oh no, that will never do. You must go at least 10 miles to the east, to Wathershire at least. If I were travelling, I would not stop until I reached Ackerton."

"Hmm, I'd never make it there today," said Sir Connor. "What about to the west? If I get to Peren Wood before dark, would I be safe?"

"I can't say for sure, but I would not go that way. No one lives there to report it, but Ravage probably travels through forests. You might be going right into his path."

"Well, that puts me in a bit of a quandry. Whichever way I go, it seems, I can't get out of his way."

"You can go back where you came from, that's that I would do."

Sir Connor sighed. "I'm afraid I can't do that. The errand I'm on is most urgent. There must be something I can do to avoid Ravage until I pass out of this territory."

The innkeeper stared. He had a large, bulbous nose and bushy black mustache, and his unsmiling face said that this was no matter for half measures. "You're a fool to take such a chance," he said.

"Perhaps I am, but I am not so foolish as to proceed without finding out what I can. Is there anyone who might have information about Ravage that he would be willing to share with me?"

"If you want to hear about Ravage, buy a drink for old Marphin there," he said, nodding in the direction of the fireplace. "His wife and son were the first to disappear, and he has been mad with anguish since. He spends most nights out in the wilderness, looking for Ravage. Fool! He will find him one day soon, and he will be sorry for it. He'll talk you ear off if you let him."

Sir Connor perked up considerably at this information. "Thank you, master, for that. Draw me another mug, then, if you will." Reaching into his leather pouch, he pulled out money for the drinks and a sizeable tip. This, in turn, elicited a smile that the innkeeper could not entirely repress, and the two parted on good terms.

Sir Connor brought the two mugs over to the fire and held one out tentatively to Marphin. "Excuse me, are you Master Marphin? I would like to offer you a drink."

Marphin looked up sceptically, but took the drink. "You want to hear my sad tale, I suppose."

"Truthfully, what I'm most interested in is what you can tell me about Ravage," said Sir Connor. "I am forced to pass through this way on an urgent mission, and I would be obliged if you could suggest the best way not to get eaten."

Marphin seemed to appreciate this request. He had told his story too many times to curious passers-by and had no desire to relive his anguish yet again. Ravage, though: that was what he was concerned about now. He inclined his head to indicate that Sir Connor should be seated.

"I suppose Snatterly has told you the only safe course is to leave," he began.

"Yes, he seems very frightened of the ogre."

"He is frightened, and it's also bad for business. You did right to come to me for information; you'll get nothing useful out of him." Sir Connor smiled and nodded in appreciation. "As he probably told you, I'm the crazy man who goes outside at night to seek Ravage. I'm not so crazy that I'm trying to challenge him to a fight, however. What I want is to know where he stays during the day. If I can ever locate it and get there while he is away, I may discover my wife or son still alive."

Sir Connor shifted awkwardly in his chair. "I know, I'll probably find nothing but their bones there. But nothing can be worse than not knowing. If they're dead, they're dead and I've already lost everything. If they're alive, I must do everything I can to find them." This line of thought appealed to Sir Connor, and his facial expression showed it.

"So," Marphin continued, "you want to know how to avoid Ravage, and I want to know how to find him." At this, Sir Connor nearly blurted out that he also wanted to know where Ravage was, but he kept his peace and allowed Marphin to continue. "Well, I've seen and heard precious little of him since I began looking several weeks ago. I've been all up and down Sprook Swamp, and most nights I go the whole time without hearing any more than a muskrat in the brush."

He paused for a long time. Sir Connor noticed that Marphin was not as old as the innkeeper had suggested. He looked to be in his thirties, as a matter of fact, but was definitely wrinkled beyond his years.

The man continued. "I had my best luck one night when I was deep in the swamp. To be honest, I was really lost, but I have a general idea that it was in the northern half of the swamp about halfway between either end. It was overcast that night and almost pitch black. I didn't know where I was and I was scared to proceed because I might stumble into Ravage without knowing it. As I sat at the base of a huge maple, trying to gather my wits, I heard movement in the brush not more than twenty feet to my left. It wasn't the scurrying of a muskrat, so I turned and peered into the darkness. The noise continued at a deliberate pace, approaching where I sat. I thought I could make out a dim figure over seven feet tall even though it seemed stooped over as it walked. Let me tell you, I was trembling something fierce. It sounded like he was coming right for me, and I had no cover nor could I have stood up on my shaking legs, much less run away. I thought for sure if he didn't see me he would at least smell me. At one point the figure stood no more than ten paces away and actually turned in my direction. If I could see him, I figured he could see me, but I couldn't move. Maybe I was not visible because the tree behind me blocked all light, whereas I could see the faintest silhouette of his figure. After about half a minute, the figure turned back in the direction it was going and continued along the path. I remained as still as I could and listened as it walked away. I thought I heard the noise stop before it faded out, suggesting that he reached his camp or whatever it is near that spot."

Sir Connor had been listening raptly. "That sounds utterly terrifying."

Marphin smiled. "Oh, it was, I can assure you. I felt something like death came over me when he stopped and turned in my direction."

"So you think you know where he stays, actually?"

"I'm virtually certain of it. Mind you, I haven't been back that deep in the swamp since. I haven't got the nerve up. But I've tried to approach it from different directions. It's very hard because, where it is not surrounded by water, the undergrowth is too thick to move through. And I hardly want to make a lot of noise getting there."

"It certainly sounds like you have found something."

"If only I could make use of it! I need to get near there while it's light, see or at least hear the beast leave, and then approach it myself in the darkness."

"You said he travelled along a path."

"Yes, I never heard water splashing the whole time. I don't know if he is afraid of water, but he certainly doesn't go in it if he can avoid it."

"And his sense of smell? He didn't smell you, obviously?"

"No, that was another thing that surprised me. He could hardly have avoided catching my scent if he had a keen sense of smell, although I guess he might not have wanted to cross the water to get to me. But it seems like he would have done that before allowing a human so close to his lair. Besides, he didn't seem to be sniffing. When animals sniff, they move their noses around and exhale audibly. I didn't hear anything, and his figure seemed motionless, like he was trying to see something."

"You are a very brave man, Master Marphin, and I am sorry for your loss." Marphin looked startled, slightly pleased, but more confused by this sudden sentiment. "When Ravage is slain, I shall petition the king to reward you for this valuable information." At this, Marphin's eyes widened with evident pleasure. "Meanwhile, I humbly offer you these few copper pieces to keep your belly full. It's no good to go tracking ogres on an empty stomach." With that, Sir Connor again pulled out his leather pouch, grabbed a handful of coins, and reached them over to his interlocutor. Marphin appeared sceptical, but Sir Connor nodded his head and said, "Yes, yes," until the man opened his hand and accepted the gift. With that, Sir Connor stood up promptly and exited the inn.


3
Sir Connor tried to remain alert, but it was difficult in the dark when we was so tired. The last four days he had scouted the swamp constantly during the day and waited silently but attentively at night. He had slept some, but only fitfully, in part because he was terrified of being surprised by the ogre that he was pursuing. He had learned eventually where Ravage had his camp and he knew the paths that the ogre travelled when he left the swamp. All of them converged at a point some eighty yards from the camp, and it was there that Sir Connor had set a bear trap. He knew it would not be enough to hold the ogre, but he hoped it would at least hurt him and slow him down.

He waited anxiously. He wanted to know if the trap worked, and he wanted to get the waiting over with before he fell asleep. But there was nothing he could do to make Ravage return any faster, so he contented himself with playing over scenarios in his mind, imagining what would happen if he finally got a chance to speak with the ogre.

He must have drifted off, because the shout he heard startled him more than he expected. It was like a human shout, but deeper and louder than anything Sir Connor had ever experienced. He was perhaps fifty yards from where he had set the trap, but the yell sounded much closer. Subsequent yells followed at brief intervals, then there was a silence for a while, and then another, more plaintive cry of agony that continued for what seemed an impossibly long time. After another silence, Sir Connor heard the "whoosh" of a thrown object and a splash.

Now he was wide awake, although again impatient for something else to happen. Minutes passed. He began to fear that Ravage, having been caught in the trap, suspected his presence and was searching for him. Not long after, however, he had the snapping of undergrowth beneath the ogre's feet, with a cadence suggesting a distinct limp: crunch, drag, crunch, drag. This was not Sir Connor's first sight of Ravage, but it was the closest he had come, and he could not help feeling awed by the silhouette of the great creature towering so high not thirty yards from where he sat.

Sir Connor waited. He was not sure of his exact plan, but thought it would be as well to let Ravage settle down before beginning a parlay with him. The ogre seemed quite busy for a while, shuffling around his camp, moving things to and fro. At length he started a fire, which grew to quite a substantial size, a veritable bonfire for normal humans. It took Sir Connor a longish time to adjust to the light, and often Ravage was positioned either directly behind it or in front of it so that he was hidden or simply an outline. Finally Sir Connor got a good view of Ravage as he stood near the fire, apparently roasting something.

He could have been human at that distance. Kind of an ugly and misshapen human, but with a distinctly anthropomorphic form. His hair hung down in long locks around his neck; his nose seemed to protrude to an enormous distance from his face; his lower jaw jutted out as well, creating a very angular profile. To Sir Connor's surprise, Ravage did not seem at all rotund, but projected a rather gaunt figure when he stood up. It was impossible to discern more details at his distance, but Sir Connor saw enough to know that the ogre was far larger than any man he had ever seen and possessed a large, powerful mouth that ripped up food and broke bones with ease.

These details brought the reality of his situation home to Sir Connor even more than the shadowy figure he had seen approaching down the path, and it took him some time to gather his courage enough to proceed. Pulling his short sword from its sheath and gripping it tightly – for reassurance rather than in the expectation of having to use it – he stood as firmly as he could manage and yelled in the direction of the fire: "Ravage!"

The ogre seemed not to hear him. Sir Connor sheathed his sword and held his hands up to his mouth, repeating, "Ravage!" as loudly as he could. When he considered how easily he could hear the ogre, even from a much greater distance, he felt even more how small he was in comparison.

Ravage turned his head and looked in Sir Connor's direction. "Ravage!" said the knight again.

"What? Who is it?" demanded the ogre.

"I would like to have a word with you."

"If you're the one who set this trap for me, I'd like to have your head for dessert!" yelled the ogre back.

Sir Connor couldn't help shivering a bit at the thought, but he responded, "I'd rather just talk, if it's all the same to you."

"Who are you?" said Ravage, taking a few steps toward the knight. They were still separated by a distance of at least 20 yards, and Sir Connor felt certain that the ogre could not see him as he peered into the darkness; a large tree behind the knight was probably all the ogre could make out. Nevertheless, Sir Connor was very conscious of the danger that he could be in, and stood with one foot behind the other, ready to run any instant.

"I am the king's servant," he said. "You are attacking the king's subjects and their property."

"Am I indeed?" Ravage appeared to be amused by this thought, letting out a brief but hearty laugh. "What if I am? What if I don't recognize the king's authority?"

"It's obvious that you don't, but I think you should be aware that you are in danger."

"I'm in danger?" asked Ravage. "I should think you are in much greater danger."

"Perhaps at the moment," agreed Sir Connor, "but I don't think you will be very fast on that injured leg of yours."

Ravage reacted with a snarl that made Sir Connor's knees shake, but he watched the ogre carefully and did not see that he was approaching any closer through the water. "You will pay for doing this to me," said Ravage fiercely.

"How do you know I did it?"

"Hmm, no one else has come out in this swamp but you. Well, except for those knights who thought they could kill me in single combat, but they certainly did not lay the trap."

"You're wrong there. Others have also been here to learn your secrets. It's not safe for you in the swamp any longer."

"Hmph. I can take care of myself against any man who should dare approach me."

"What about a truly brave man?"

There was a pause. "Oh, that rot?"

"What?"

"It's just a story, but a very good one. I can kill any man in single combat. The bravest opponents approach me individually in the hope of proving that they are truly brave, and I dispatch them easily."

Sir Connor processed this information for a moment. "Why are you telling me this?"

"No one hears it and lives!"

"I don't think you will catch me, and I'm not about to approach you."

"Perhaps not. You may be surprised, though. In any case, no one will believe you."

"Why not?"

"If you were brave, you would fight me! Your story is just a coward's tale to make himself seem more important than he is."

Sir Connor again pondered. It was not what he was expecting to hear. Still, he needed to focus on his original plan. "You may be able to defeat every knight individually, but soon you will have much bigger problems. The king is gathering an army. If you are flesh and blood, you cannot stand against so many."

"Perhaps. Why do you come to tell me this? You are tricking me."

"No, Fenogrith, I hold no enmity toward you." Sir Connor switched to the ogre's formal name in an attempt to change the tone from taunting to ingratiating.

"You set this trap, yet you have no enmity?" the ogre said angrily. Then, in a lower tone that was just audible to Sir Connor, he added, "But maybe it wasn't you that set the trap."

"No, I come to warn you that it is time to leave for another land."

"Why? Are you a traitor?"

"Indeed not! I just want to end the bloodshed, and it is as well for the king's subjects if you move elsewhere as if you are drawn and quartered and your head stuck on a pike."

"I don't know that the king would think so."

"Perhaps not, but I think he will reward me nonetheless if you go away and leave the maiden behind."

"Leave the maiden! You are talking nonsense. Why should I leave her?"

"Surely you know that the king cannot in honour allow one of his subjects to be carried off by an ogre. So long as you have the lady, there shall be eternal war between yourself and this kingdom of Athabasia."

"What are you, then? You are too brave for a yeoman, but too cowardly for a knight."

"I am a knight, but I am no fool. I saw that the others could not defeat you, and I choose not to throw my life away uselessly."

"A knight, eh? And you, sir knight, would scare me away with idle threats?"

"No idle threats, Fenogrith. You cannot remain here now that your location is known. I will gladly carry this information to the king, and you will be surrounded and killed before the next moon is full."

"So do it."

"So I shall, but I would prefer if you left voluntarily and I brought the maiden back to the king. Then my reward would be so much the greater, and you would be spared your life. Surely you have family somewhere that you could return to? People who will be glad to see you?"

"You are a fool! Do you know nothing of ogres?"

"Very little."

"I see as much. Ogres are born as bastard offspring of other creatures. We come into the world fully formed and are never know the comfort of family. Nor would our parents wish to know us. Every ogre is a solitary creature."

"I see. That is lamentable."

"Lamentable, posh! I need no family, I need no affection. And I need no warning from you."

"Well, in that case I suppose we have nothing more to discuss."

Ravage evidently took a few steps into the water, for Sir Connor heard splashing. He was briefly frozen in indecision between drawing his sword to defend himself and running away. But the splashing stopped almost as soon as it began, and Ravage eventually turned and walked slowly back to his fire.

Sir Connor berated himself. "Why would I draw the sword? I intended to flee all along, I can't imagine how I thought that I didn't have time to escape."


4
"You say the ogre has fled my kingdom?" asked the king incredulously.

"By my honour, Your Majesty, I chased him all the way to Bektostan but dared not pursue him further," answered Sir Connor.

"Well, I suppose the Bey of Bektostan can deal with him for a while. Still, I would rather you had brought me his head."

"I am humbly sorry, Your Majesty."

"Do you have anything to prove that Ravage has really gone?" asked the chancellor.

"My lord, I have returned the maiden to her father, and I have recovered the bones of several others that they may be given a proper burial."

"Hmm, still, even if he is gone he may return."

"My lord, I do not think so as long as I am here."

"Yes!" exclaimed the king. "He is a truly brave man. That is why Ravage fled from him."

Sir Connor smiled and nodded his head in appreciation, but said nothing.

"You have done well, Sir Connor. I underestimated you. I should have known that any son of your father's would prove better than an ogre."

Sir Connor continued to smile, somewhat sheepishly, and answered simply, "Your Majesty."

"What reward do you ask? Come, I gave you nothing at the start of your quest, you must be rewarded for ridding the kingdom of this Ravage."

"Your Majesty, I would ask that you grant a pension to one of your poor subjects of the parish of Periwether."

"Why do you ask this?"

"Because, Your Majesty, he has suffered greatly because of Ravage, having lost his wife and son to the beast. And also because he is a brave man and he furnished me with important information that I needed to find Ravage in his lair."

"See to it, Chancellor," said the king. "But come, name something for yourself, Sir Connor. Surely you have also done something to earn a reward."

"Your Majesty, if I were to ask anything for myself..." began Sir Connor hesitantly. His eyes darted around the room, stopping for a moment on Maid Gwenoleth. He had met her as a child when her parents visited his father's estate, and was struck with a sort of awe at her milky complexion, dark brown hair, and flawless posture. He had not seen her for years, but he found the same emotions stirring in him now. Gwenoleth averted her eyes from the ugly little man in the king's favour.

"...if I must ask something for myself," continued Sir Connor, "it would be that I may be allowed to remain at court, to offer counsel to Your Majesty on such occasions as you should request it."

"Of course you are welcome at my court. We always need another wise counsellor, especially one prone to action." The chancellor frowned, but said nothing. Sir Connor bowed and smiled at his sovereign.

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