“Your Majesty, an old man seeks an audience with you. He says he has come a long way.” said a guard.
“Who is he?” Valenzuela asked. “He will not say, only that it is important that he sees the granddaughter of Queen Lysana.” Val and Nikko exchanged glances, then seated themselves in the throne room. Jarl joined them.
The old man approached and knelt before the queen.
Nikko and Jarl were a little apprehensive but there was an air about him. They could already tell he was knowledgeable and wise, using the correct courtesies.
“Your Majesty. I am honoured and humbled to be before you at last.”
“Who are you, old man?”
The man chuckled “I am younger than you, Majesty,” He heard a gasp “but I accept I have become old. It has been a long time. Our journey has been long from Matrya.”
Val stood up in shock. “Rise, old man, and approach.”
He ascended the stairs and bowed before her. “Who are you?” she asked again.
“Forgive me, Majesty. My name is Haldus Alathfar and I come from a long line of counselors to the queens of Matrya. My grandfather served your great-grandmother, and would have served your grandmother had she not left. Alas, Matrya…”
There was an excited commotion as everyone started talking and asking questions.
Val beckoned them to stop and leave them in peace. She had so much she wanted to ask this man about her grandmother’s country of birth and what had happened, but first things first.
“Where are the others you speak of? How did you find me?”
“It is but me, your Majesty. My grandfather started the long journey to search for the princess Lysana after his father was murdered in the Event. As you see, it has taken some time – three generations. My father died some 20 years ago. It is through trial and error that I found you at last and heard rumour of a queendom.”
“Do you have your grandfather’s knowledge of Matrya and what happened?”
“I have much knowledge, Majesty. It has been passed down, of course.”
Valenzuela was excited to know much more. What glorious good fortune had brought this man to him at this time. He would add so much to the council.
“I have much to ask you, Haldus. But first, you must be weary and in need of refreshment at the very least.”
“I am indeed, Majesty. If I could beg but a small meal. I have not yet found accommodation.”
“You shall have much more than that and you shall stay here.”
The next day they met in the council chamber, Haldus regaling them with tales of the journey.
They asked many questions about the laws they already had in place, clarifying some issues. Then Jarl mentioned the situation regarding Winter and his family.
It was a difficult situation, thought Haldus, especially not knowing all the facts. He was about to speak.. “Is it best to imprison Hivera?” asked Jarl. “Jarl, let him speak.”
“I’m not sure imprisonment would help – quite the opposite. What evidence do you have?”
They then told him every detail of what had happened including their suspicions and rumours heard. Haldus just nodded. “I will think on it. But now I beg your Majesty for some leave to accommodate myself in a cottage nearby.”
“Of course, Haldus, please. When you are well rested and recovered, we would be glad of your counsel.” Val was pleased to finally have someone who knew so much more than they did.
She discussed Haldus with Nikko later.
“He has come at a good time. My time is near and Jarl will be in sore need of some good counsel.”
“I hope you have many years yet, Val.” Val felt a tear as she hoped the same of Nikko but he had lately been ill. She could not bear the thought of losing him.