Lord Rouen waited in the war room of the King of Rhoemurg, admiring the strategic maps carefully laid out on the various tables positioned within. He was, perhaps, the only person outside of the King's family and military advisers who could gain access to the room, particularly when the King was not present.
He regarded the weapons on display, noting that all of the weapons held a real edge and none were ceremonial. The room stood in stark contrast in its simplicity with the regal decorations of the castles in Trechele and Naporia. Lord Rouen had walked the halls of nearly all the royalty, chieftains, and rulers of the lands from Kordova to Avanlei.
The door to the chamber opened, and for a moment he could hear the sounds of the King's military advisers and senechals receiving orders and asking the King last minute questions before they were dispatched to their duties. The sounds stopped abruptly as the King entered the chamber and closed the door behind him.
The King nodded at Lord Rouen as he removed his heavy cloak and hung it off to the side of the chamber. Now that they were unattended, Lord Rouen knew that there was little reason for the King to bother to follow strict royal or political etiquette. In the long years and many discussions between the two dislike and discomfort had long ago been replaced with, if not genuine affection, then at least a mutual respect.
The King spoke, "I hope you did not wait too long, Lord Rouen."
"You know full well that I have only recently arrived, your Majesty. None the less, I am grateful that you are concerned for my comfort."
The King laughed. "Now that our formalities are out of the way, Lord Rouen, you can tell me why you have requested this audience. I could not help but notice that your request came on the heels of the Kher'wyn Queen's invitation to her lands. I trust I am not the only royal house to receive such an invitation?"
"The young Queen sent invitations to all the royal houses, your Majesty. She also sent invitations to the council on the highlands, and more." Lord Rouen swept his hand across the map of Aerune for effect. "Word has also been sent to Shadowfane, as many consider those heroes the most knowledgeable in these matters."
"Bold." the King replied as he considered the Queen's actions. "I wouldn't imagine that many rulers would take her up on such an offer, especially in these troubling times."
"Does that mean that Rhoemurg has respectfully declined?" Lord Rouen raised an eyebrow as he spoke to the King.
"You know full well I will attend the Queen's court and council, Calandor. I have received word from the heroes in Shadowfane that these creatures, these Abhorrent, have moved against me. I will not hide behind my throne in the face of such a threat."
"You would throw yourself at an enemy you know so little about, your Majesty?" In truth Lord Rouen knew the King's mind on the matter, but he felt it was his duty to draw out the King's opinion. The words would strengthen both the King's resolve and reason, and in truth who else could he speak to on the matter?
"The strength of the Blood Tribes has increased. Their numbers are bolstered by creatures of the Foul, and they call upon blood magic with greater frequency and potency. Hiding in my royal chambers would only serve to unnerve those who serve me and guard our borders. Even with my knights among them an uncertainty rises among those who serve Rhoemurg." The King looked up at Lord Rouen.
"My children are well positioned to take both my throne and my command should something happen to me, Calandor. If these creatures came forth and made the mistake of killing me during this diplomatic mission it would serve to ignite my kingdom and fuel their anger and resolve. I can only hope these Abhorrent would be that stupid. Your council would not sway me from this action, Lord Rouen"
"It is fortunate, your Majesty, that my council on the matter would match your own," Lord Rouen replied.
The King of Rhoemurg was not relieved that Lord Rouen was of the same mind.
Lord Rouen continued. "When I advised the Queen of Trechele against the meeting and told her it was an unnecessary risk it was only a short time before she gathered her council to make arrangements to travel. I fulfilled my duty by advising her the wisest course of action to ensure her safety, and the Queen of Trechele defied me to attend the young Kher'wyn Queen. As you already suspect, this pleases me.
"The King of Avanlei will attend the Queen because the Kher'wyn lands are close to his own and he wishes to establish himself as a diplomat. Naporea will not stand aside if Rhoemurg, Trechele and Avanlei attend. Their pride will not allow it. They will send, at the very least, a royal representative even though darkness has fallen over their royal house."
"As news spreads of this historic meeting I am confident that Locksmoor will attend, and I suspect you will see other leaders as well. Even the court of Khelaine will likely turn its eyes towards the Kher'wyn lands, though how they might involve themselves I cannot say."
The King of Rhoemurg looked at the map of Aerune and pondered Lord Rouen's words.
"The Black Court has the ear of this young Queen," Lord Rouen continued. "Although it is inappropriate for our royal cousins to question her court or advisors, I suspect that the heroes of Shadowfane might be bold enough to try to influence her. Members of her own land are included among their number. I suspect that if the heroes stumble across evidence of intrigue within her court that they will involve themselves rather than letting her remain in danger."
"I fear if she does not turn from the Black Court that the Queen of the Kher'wyn and her land will be consumed in the coming conflict. Considering what that land holds that would hold ill fortune for all of us."
The King of Rhoemurg looked down at the map of Aerune. "That is not the only ill fortune that threatens us. I am eager to hear what our allies from Shadowfane have to say about the coming conflict. It will be good, I think, for those of royal blood to hear their reports. Those heroes have the most experience with these dark enemies; more so even than your son."
Lord Rouen responded, "As you say, your Majesty."