44th day of Harvest, Refugee Valley, Bechia

A fool? A madman? Some thanks I get for caring about them. The Brucian nobility doesn’t deserve a true king.

Well, at least I found them, and alive at that. The trip with the Bechian soldiers led us down a winding road that descended into a wide valley. Mountains ringed it like sentinels, or spears, or… walls. Even from the start of our descent I could see the refugees’ dwellings, a vast patchwork of tents and shelters of diverse colors, shapes, and sizes. As we neared them, I could make out some flags and banners flying above the camp. All of Silencia was amassing here, and every kingdom and nearly every house was represented.

The soldiers escorted us to the outskirts of the encampments, then turned and left. I was tempted to call for men to overwhelm them and take their weapons. If I had, though, I might have caused the deaths of many unarmed Silencians. Or I would have made a spectacle of myself when no-one rallied to my cry, and then I’d have made a target of myself. I wonder if the soldiers would have dared kill me. But I let them go, and said nothing.

It was easy enough to find the Brucian nobles. They had real tents, proper shelters, lavish and brightly dyed. Their tables held silver platters of sweet meats that dripped with honey and spices. I’d have been better off finding pigs or mules to talk to. They’d be less fat and less stubborn than these people. Calling them pig-headed would have been an insult to the poor animals. I tried to explain about the lurkers, and the danger we were all in, but they scoffed at me and clapped me on the back and said what a poor, foolish lad I was. They even tried to bribe me into silence with meat and wine. When I told them I was their king, though, they called me a madman. I persisted. They had me thrown out of their area of the camp. I’d forgotten that Meramon had taken the box… and the scroll… and burn it all if I hadn’t finally decided to make use of them.