Castle Roland


The Art of War

by Ricky

In Progress
Chapters:

Chapter 3

Published: 8 May 17

The Art of War

Copyright 2016, 2017 by Ricky and the
Revolutions Universe Partnership
All Rights Reserved


Art of War LogoArthur sat quietly in his room. Max asked him if there was anything he needed. "Yes, please, Can you turn on the BBC please? They are airing an interview that Euan and I did just before departing to come here. I'd like to watch it and make sure they have not doctored it up. They asked if we wanted to go over the edits and they were instructed to air it unedited. I want to make sure those instructions were followed."

"Very well," Max replied. "Should I leave you alone to view it then?"

"No, please, sit with me. As my aide, I am sure you will be questioned and I think you should see the full interview." He paused before adding, "Unless you have other things that you need or want to do?"

Max sat on the love seat next to Arthur, "No, I am at your disposal twenty-four hours a day."

"I just didn't want you to feel that you had to leave. Besides, I welcome your company; which brings me to a question. That Mr. Bradford, that owns the largest of the hotels. I saw that he gave you an awful scowl today when we negotiated the price per room. Do you have a history?"

Max smiled, "You could say that. He's my uncle on my mother's side. He was not pleased with me I am sure for pointing out a discount website. I'm also sure he was hoping to make a fine profit from this event."

"Well yes, I want to thank you for doing that as well. And knowing that it was taking food from your own family makes what you did rather noble."

Max laughed, "Thank you Arthur. But I'll tell you a little secret, he doesn't like me very much and never has. He has always been focused on the dollar and on showing how macho he is. Just seeing him bested by a fourteen-year-old boy was more refreshing than you can imagine."

Arthur grinned as he blurted out, "I'm almost fifteen!" Then blushed realizing his blunder.

Max smiled, "Yes fifteen and going on twenty-one. Your negotiating skills are evidence of that. Did they teach you how to negotiate in school?"

Arthur grinned again, "Uhm, no. But have you met my mother?"

Max laughed out loud. "Not yet, but I understand completely." Just then the opening music for the newshour began and it drew the attention of both.

Mr. Simson to the cameras, "Welcome to this special edition of the Newshour, I am John Simson your host. We are honored to have two very special guests with us today. His Majesty Arthur Windsor and Euan MacDougall, to talk about their recent experiences." The camera shot pulls back to show Arthur sitting in a comfortable chair, smiling and Euan to his right in a matching high-back chair.

"Welcome your Majesty."

"Thank you for having us."

"And Euan be welcome." Euan gave a nod, Mr. Simson smiled as he sat across from them, his posture reflecting his professionalism. "Now, you've had a bit of an adventure haven't you?"

"Yes and it's beginning to run amuck in the tabloids so I thought I would share the truth about what happened and the things I've learned, because there are some very important things to share about the most harrowing conditions in the U.S. right now. I guess it's best to start at the beginning." Mr. Simson sat back, elbows on the armrests and his fingers steepled. His sign that he was there to listen.

"What began as a lark with a couple of mates took a turn for the worse very unexpectedly. Euan and I slipped away for an evening with some friends. We ended up on a yacht and before we knew it we were at sea. To make a long story shorter, we docked in Chicago. We left the boat intending to contact our families and explain that setting sail was not what we had intended and things turned bad very quickly."

"Almost as soon as we left the marina, both Euan and I were assaulted and beaten up rather soundly. A very kind gentleman pulled us out of that situation and delivered us to a church into the hands of a wonderful and noble priest. He saw to our needs, fed us and gave us clothes as ours were quite torn and bloodied."

Mr. Simson interjected as Arthur was collecting his thoughts to go on, "Bloodied? Were you injured badly?"

"They were mostly abrasions and bruises. My knees and elbows; the same with Euan. Of course his knuckles were pretty cut up too from fighting back. Neither one of us were just going to let them go on without a fight. But for the most part we were just badly bruised."

"Did you tell them who you were?"

"No, and honestly I don't think they would have cared. We were clearly not dressed for the area we found ourselves in and I think they were just interested in what we might have in our pockets. They were ruffians."

"I see," Mr. Simson said as he sat back prepared to let Arthur go on, which he did.

"I digress a moment. On our way from the altercation, our host tells us that things are not right. The streets are very quiet when usually they are busy. There was no traffic at all. And in fact it was a bit eerie, the silence. There were a few times when our guide stopped us and he peeked around a corner then redirected us to another path because there seemed to be a buildup of police. When he delivered us to the church he told the priest that something was very wrong though he couldn't say what. We soon found out that it was about to be very unsafe there. The church hierarchy called and told the priest that he had to close the doors of the church which also acted as a mission for the homeless, many of which were women and children. They were told to turn everyone out onto the streets as anyone who was not an employee of the church would be arrested for trespassing. This great priest told them that he would not do so and took it to the point of quitting the church. Phone calls were made and he found a bus we could use and hastily loaded us all on board with provisions and we departed the city. The tension was such that one small spark could have turned it into a war zone. You could feel it. We gained a few allies on the way out of town that cleared the way for us and even defended us when things started to get out of hand. One young man, who was shot before joining us at the mission, was in obvious pain but we had no time to stop and tend to him. Yet while the bus was racing to get out of town the good father was patching the young man up as best he could to stop the bleeding. Somehow we made it out of town and through the police blockades to the open road. But we dared not stop. One of the young ladies we acquired was very streetwise and since we were no longer fighting to get out of Chicago she inquired about the injured young man. Before we knew it, we were holding him still so she could remove the bullet lodged in his shoulder. It was frightening but you do what needs to be done at a time like that."

He could see Mr. Simson watching the pictures he created with his story. Being a war correspondent in his younger years he could see clearly the events as they unfolded. Arthur took a sip of water then continued.

"We wanted to find out what had happened so one of the gentlemen onboard brought out a radio and we started looking for a news broadcast. There was nothing. It appeared that all the stations were silent until he finally came across one. They announced that they were operating in defiance of orders and would continue as long as they could to pass along information as they got it. That's when we found out about the massacres. U.S. Federal troops fired upon a high school killing anyone and everyone they could. On President Ashwood's orders presumably. He blacked out power and communications on most everything east of the Mississippi River. It was the beginning of a horrific few days. We made ourselves useful where we could. Especially now knowing that we were all in grave danger. We had a ways to go before we would be across the Mississippi River. But even then, we were unsure where we could go; where we could be confident that we were safe. We had a destination but not a sure safe route."

Mr. Simson unsteepled his fingers, an indication that he wanted to ask a question or to comment. "Had you identified yourselves to anyone at his time? Did they KNOW you were the King of the Commonwealth?"

"No. At first there was no time. Things just happened so fast and now it was clear that they were in fact existing in a world of total chaos. Something completely foreign to a place where this was unthinkable. And at that point I felt it was unsafe for anyone to know. Not just for Euan and myself, but for the rest of the people in the bus. As we really didn't know what was going on we thought it best just to remain silent and blend in as best we were able. We came across a petrol station where we could fill our tank. We had picked up quite a few more vehicles and we all just sort of became a convoy headed for safety. We used their citizen band radios to contact truckers to see if we could glean an idea of what was ahead of us. A duty which Euan assumed and handled masterfully." He glanced at Euan who only smirked before adding, "I may have started out in that position but you were Monarch Command."

Mr. Simson unsteepled, "Monarch command?" Arthur blushed a little, "Well you see the citizen's band radios are such that nicknames are used to identify each other. And since we didn't want to use our real names Euan came up with the name Monarch for me. He thought he was being clever and I suppose he was because it stuck. I would just step in when he needed a break or was helping to do something else on the bus. We all worked together towards the common goal of reaching safety, though, as of yet, we did not know where that was to be, just that we had to get across the Mississippi and keep going west.

"A contact on the radio told us of a campground where we could stop and rest. I think we had well over a hundred vehicles in our queue at that point. When we stopped, Father Doherty asked if we would help by checking to make sure everyone had food and clothing as we had a surplus from the mission. We agreed as stretching our legs and finding facilities was foremost on our minds.

"When we started around we came upon a mother weeping dreadfully, her head down on her folded arms on the top of the car. The good Father stepped up and placed his hand on her shoulder, she turned and saw his collar and grasped hold of him like he was a lifeboat and she was drowning. She wept and he just held her until she was cried out before he spoke. She told us how her son had run away a few weeks before this all happened and she had to leave with the two remaining children to get them to safety. She didn't know how she would ever be reunited with him or if she would ever see him again. She said she pictured him returning to their home and finding them gone. She worried he might even be lost to the fighting in the streets.

"I confess her story touched me deeply and I realized that I had a chance to contact my own family and at least let them know we were alive and enroute to safety. I used a satellite phone that was given to the good Father and called and left word that we were safe.

"I felt better but I also realized that these people were fleeing for their lives. They were thrust into a world that lacked any civility, order or justice. I was determined to help in any way I was able and we redoubled our efforts to make sure everyone had food and if they didn't we gave them food boxes that the Fathers brought with us from the mission. We also had coats and blankets. Since we departed our number had grown significantly. I think we numbered around 250 vehicles; many of which had citizens band radios. So Monarch Command was in business again.

"If there was someone who had auto troubles one of the radios would notify us and we helped to coordinate aid from someone with knowledge of things mechanical. We merely relayed the messages and added a little organization. Looking back I think that just that little bit helped them feel that there was some organization coming back to their world. And they found some comfort and strength in that.

"We continued on and stopped at another petrol station that had power. We had passed through town after town where none existed save those small spots where a generator was running. The seats on the bus reclined somewhat and we were able to sleep now and then.

"When we got near the Mississippi River, a lorry driver called us and said the bridge was blocked but that we should follow them and they would get us through. We didn't realize until it happened that they now led us with three large commercial trucks and that their intentions were to crash through them without stopping. And that was what they did and we followed with our convoy right through two police cars and then they crashed through two military transports. I didn't know I could hold my breath that long. It was surreal. Like I was watching a movie or something, but we made it. Every car, motorcoach and vehicle. And we just kept going.

"We kept listening to the citizen's band and we picked up the broadcasts out of Chicago who still managed to be on the air. It was what they call a superstation that had a high transmission power output. They must have relayed it because we were still able to pick them up. And then we heard the worst news yet.

"Reports came in of bombs being dropped on their own people. Two major cities were bombed and they were using chemical weapons. I was stunned. It confirmed that it was indeed the sitting government that was launching these attacks and on their own people. I was without words at the news. It wasn't until later that we found out that the bombs were chemical agents. Sarin Gas, blister agents and in one instance a radioactive substance. I can't imagine ordering such a thing on an enemy, let alone my own people. I just can't imagine any sane person committing such acts. It was all quite unsettling and it showed just how much danger we were really in."

"Indeed your Majesty. As a war correspondent on the front lines, that is a scenario that was a constant in the back of our minds. War is seldom engaged against men in their right minds. And there is always that constant thought, what if they decided to use a chemical agent. It was always a possibility and you always stayed close to your gas mask."

"Well that's the point here isn't it sir? You were equipped and still afraid. For most of these people they were going about their daily lives waiting for politics to play itself out, completely unaware that things were so far amiss. And then to hear about these major cities being bombed by their own forces! It had to be terrifying. And what could make a man do something like this? I mean if you destroy the very people you were elected by then what's the endgame? Who would you rule if they are all dead? These are not the actions of a person in full control of their faculties. And how on earth could military commanders fire such weapons on their own people even under orders?

"Forgive me, I've stepped away from telling you the events of our ordeal. Let me continue.

"We continued our trip and the lorry drivers were of immense help. We would not have made our escape without their assistance. We were forewarned of another checkpoint up ahead. As our last one was quite an event we started looking at options and one of the drivers told us of some back roads that we could take to avoid it. At one point we were driving through pastures on a farmer's land. I can't imagine what they must have thought with so many vehicles cutting across their land. It was nothing more than packed dirt between farm fields used to move equipment from one field to the next but we traversed it and were pleased to see asphalt once again and to know we bypassed the danger. The stress level was certainly elevated.

"And then, one of the priests called Euan and me back to the kitchen area. With all this going on, Father Kinsey I believe it was, was making hot cocoa and asked us to help pass it around to the other occupants. I think he saw that I was dwelling on the events; and knew that a distraction, however brief, would help. He was very right in that assumption. I think the sweetness helped avoid the shock of what was happening. And the timing couldn't have been better, because it was shortly thereafter that we were told of the devastation of the earthquake to the West Coast of the United States. At the time we didn't know if it was another bomb or a natural event. Or a possible combination of the two. Something that I am sure is still being investigated. It's possible that a device was delivered to a central fault line that caused the quake. But that is speculation at this point but needless to say millions of lives have been lost or affected.

"I realized that as a visitor here, if I was affected so greatly, then the rest of our caravan had to be as well, so I suggested to Father Dougherty that perhaps he could speak to those with Citizens Band Radios some words of comfort. And he did. I think it also helped calm some of the anxieties that were overwhelming us.

"We found our way westward and Big Noise, one of the lorry drivers told us of a petrol station up ahead. It was a major refueling place for both automobiles and lorry drivers, and it was a welcome stop.

"We decided to spend the night there and to rest up. Many were in favor of continuing on but the professional drivers advised us to take a break and that it would be unsafe to continue as we had been on the road with minimal breaks for so long. We did indeed need the break. At this point we decided to finalize a route to our destination and I'll just say at the moment that it was along the northern border of the state of Washington. A very small town that is now much larger than it was. I don't want to use the name because it's still acting as a place to go if you are trying to find someplace safe and I don't want to tip the location to anyone that might bring harm their way.

"At the petrol station we almost doubled our number as many were there looking for a place to go. The bus we were using was from a band and they set up and provided entertainment, kids played footie and drivers rested and everyone ate. It was a time to blow off steam and for the kids to be kids for a bit.

"Father Dougherty asked Euan and I to get with the truckers and discuss the safest route to our destination. Again, Big Noise, who I was now face to face with showed why he had the name. He was a very large man, a very gentle giant with a heart as big as he was.

"Since so many lorries were stuck there and many of their destinations no longer existed they opened the doors to their loads and distributed their wares to those in need. Even a few vehicle transports gave away their new vehicles to those in need. We had more than a few that did not look like they would make the rest of our trip."

"You mean they just gave the cars away? For free?"

"Not just cars. We had one truck that had Citizens Band Radios and he made sure every car traveling had one. People who had skills to help did, as they installed the radios and distributed the food and clothing. This was an occasion where money was disregarded and needs prevailed. Even the restaurant there served food to the hungry. At that time we all became brothers and sisters with a common goal of reaching safety. Everyone helped.

"We had one little girl of just nine years old that needed insulin. There were no stores open because of the Martial Law that had been imposed. A couple of our street-wise people heard and took off to get her some. They returned with a supply and nobody asked how or where they got it. Desperate times call for desperate measures I suppose. But it shows that you can't always judge a book by it's cover either. Just because they lived on the street in harsh conditions and possibly even in unlawful situations they still had compassion for those with even less and greater needs.

"It was the next day when we got word that missiles had been launched and were headed our way. We were sure that the petrol stop was the target. Everyone scrambled to vehicles and drove as quickly as we could to get away from the spot and to make room for everyone exiting as best we could. Of course the missiles raced overhead and we were not the target but we couldn't help but be afraid. We didn't know where they were heading but we knew they were carrying death and destruction. And knowing that chemical agents had been used in the past we were not sure if they wouldn't affect us from wherever they hit.

"So we drove on wishing to put an end to this. We reached our destination and were welcomed and processed in more effectively than any system I have ever seen; a credit to the young people who set it all up.

"I was shocked to find out that it was all set up by a young man in a wheelchair a couple years younger than I am. I will not tell you his name out of concern for his safety but he and several of his friends teamed up and arranged it all; with the help of his parents of course, but it is still an amazing feat. We had nearly 500 vehicles when we arrived and it was handled smoothly and flawlessly. I was able to contact the Canadian authorities and they in turn got Euan and myself back home.

"I should say here also that the Canadians have opened their doors to the refugees and it is to their credit that they were able to accommodate so many so quickly. A testament to how closely related the two countries are and have always been. Anytime there have been disasters they have both offered and delivered help. I would like to thank the authorities for their compassion and their overlooking many of the procedures they would normally have had to resolve before allowing entry. Although the procedures will still be followed, they created a holding place of safety inside Canada's borders to allow them safety, while they did their diligence in protecting the borders. It is a credit to the Commonwealth's humanity."

"Thank you Your Majesty, that certainly was a harrowing story. I know well the feelings of missiles flying overhead and for someone of your young age it must have been even more terrifying. The fact that you kept it all together shows a marked measure of your maturity as do the decisions you made along the way regarding your identity. Had it gotten out that you were a person of such importance traveling in the convoy, it may have indeed put everyone else in danger and with the lack of reason that the Ashwood administration has shown, it is conceivable that those missiles would have targeted you all as we have noted that he has attempted to blame President Bryce for these events as acts of terrorism. Having had dealings with him in his last term in office I am surprised that he thought that anyone would believe him." Turning to Euan, "Mr. MacDougall, do you have anything that you would like to add?"

"Yes, indeed I would. At the risk of His Majesty's modesty I would like to point out that when we were attacked after leaving the marina that His Majesty fought like a lion. We were severely outnumbered and if it were not for him fighting as fiercely as he did I am not sure we would have gotten out with our skins. The bruising on his face alone showed that he can take a beating and still dish out what is needed for the situation. He carried those marks for the better part of a week and still managed to lead the people to safety. He will tell you that the Fathers were the heroes and I will concur that they were indeed heroic, but His Majesty showed the best of what makes a man a leader in everything he did. He was unselfish and saw to other's needs before his own. He was strong when strength was needed and gentle when he held Colton."

"Colton?" Mr. Simson asked.

"Oh yes, Colton was just eight weeks old and was separated from his mother when we scrambled from the petrol stop because of the missile notification. He was on the bus with a young man we called Emo. We knew that Colton's mother was in the convoy but we had to depart quickly and told her on the CB that he was safe. Emo was one of the young men onboard our Lesbian Gravy bus and he had offered to watch little Colton while the mother went in to freshen up. Then all hell broke loose and the rest is history. Colton did meet up with his mother at our destination. But His Majesty was tender and caring when it was his turn to hold the little guy. I think he will make a great father someday and an even greater King for the experience."

John Simson's eyes got large, "Excuse me, did you say 'Lesbian Gravy bus'?"

Arthur looked at Euan with a look of, 'Well you stepped in it now, didn't you'. Euan blushing spoke. "Yes, it's the name of a very fine band that was our entertainment and it was their bus we traveled from Chicago on." He looked at the camera, "So Lesbian Gravy, we thank you so very much. We may not have been here to tell the story if you had not come through for the good Fathers and the rest."

John Simson smiled, "So let me get this correctly. You had three priests, a shot man, a young teen named Emo, an eight-week-old baby, a young lady who did the surgery and another young man from the streets, the King of the Commonwealth and his friend, leading a convoy of over 500 vehicles in a motorcoach that said Lesbian Gravy on it, fleeing Chicago." John couldn't help but smile.

Arthur spoke up then, "Some might see it that way. But I prefer to see that we had 500 vehicles of people trying desperately to get to safety while helping us all to achieve that same goal."

Arthur blushed but remained stoic. "Euan is of course right about one thing and that is that the Fathers were the true heroes. They were absolutely unselfish and trusting in God to see them through. And were it not for them, I do not know if any of us would have survived. For my part, I don't think I did any more than anyone else. We just helped where we could and did what we must."

"Begging your pardon, Your Majesty, what you are saying is true. But your ability to think and analyze a situation and to make good decisions in an instant greatly added to all of our survival. YOU chose the route we would take on more than one occasion and your very countenance portrayed the leadership and confidence these refugees needed to go on. It instilled trust and confidence in everyone who followed you. And I can't help but think that you are going to be one of the best Kings the Commonwealth has ever had when it is your time to rule."

Arthur turned to Euan and spoke, "Thank you for that Euan, but I'll still not let you win at footie." And they all laughed.

"Thank you both. Your Majesty, what happens now?"

"Well having seen firsthand the actions of the former President Ashwood, I can't see any alternative but to help President Bryce to reestablish his elected position and to help relieve the suffering of the people affected. We have already opened refugee centers in Canada and we have some rescued on the East Coast that we have taken in on the island of Bermuda. So we will continue to assist wherever we are able. The Americans are our brothers and sisters, and we will not sit idly by while this danger to the world exists."

"Your Majesty, this appears to be a civil matter within the confines of the United States, do you really feel that former President Ashwood is a threat to other parts of the world?"

"Yes, I do. To begin with we have come to learn that he has targeted the LGBTQ community. He has a lengthy list of names as enemies of the state. I believe he has intentions of exterminating those who oppose him. There are reports that he has imported mercenaries from South America and he has already fired shots into Canada killing one Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I do not think he will stop there. No, this is definitely already an international incident and we'll be calling on many resources to help President Bryce resolve this matter as quickly as possible."

"Thank you again, Your Majesty and thank you Mr. MacDougall." Turning to the camera, "Thank you for joining us in this special edition of News Hour. I am your host, John Simson. Good night."

Arthur hit the power button and turned off the television. He looked over at Max and could see tears streaming down his face. He moved at once to console him. It was automatic. He pulled him to his feet and hugged him as he sobbed. He just held him until he was cried out and it was like a light switch, he regained his composure and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and dried his eyes and gently blew his nose. He didn't look up at Arthur, "Your Majesty, I am so sorry."

Arthur placed his hand on Max's shoulder, "You have nothing to apologize for. And in fact I thank you. I wasn't sure that the interview got the emotions across properly. And it's Arthur here, not Your Majesty."

Max grinned realizing he had done that too. "It's just that . . . well, I can't imagine how anyone could just keep going. I would have just shut down I think."

"There were times when it was terrifying, that is for sure. But you do what you have to do. And that's what we did. And that's why we are here. Some of these people have been through a much greater hell and we need to try and make them feel safe. They need order and stability before they can start to heal. I've been out of danger for nearly eight days and I'm just now finding that I can sanction those emotions. It's rather like going into shock and you build a safe place to keep those emotions from being hurt or afraid anymore. I don't really know how to explain it. But I'm sure one day soon you will walk in and find me in tears for no reason. They are there. I can feel them sometimes. Especially when I think about the kids slaughtered at their school or taken from their parents. And there are more out there going through hell right now. So it's not my time to let it out. But listen, in here, in this room, it's ok to let it out. We are going to see and hear horrible things over the next weeks as this madman's plans unfold. So I want to thank you in advance for your understanding and your help. I'm sure I will need it just like you did tonight." And with that he pulled him into another hug.

As Max stepped back from him, he smiled, "Speaking of Lesbian Gravy, can I bring you a snack?"

"For three please," Euan added from the doorway. "You'll be joining us won't you?"

Max smiled, "Yes, thank you. I'll be right back."

Arthur looked at Euan, "Remind me to never take you with me to an interview would you please?"

"What? It was the best part of the interview. And I'll bet their record sales shoot through the roof now. What a better way to say thank you!"

Arthur laughed, "Leave it to you to find the silver lining in this storm of insanity."

"Well somebody has to keep you real." He paused and his face became serious. What a wonderful trait Arthur thought, to be able to shift gears on your emotions so quickly. "Arthur, are you alright? The interview went really well. And well, I noticed Max took it pretty hard."

"Like I told Max, I can't let it all out yet, there is still work to be done. But I'm sure it's coming. I'll just need to make sure I am someplace out of the limelight when I choose to dump. It won't do for the King to be bawling his eyes out during a crisis."

Euan went to him, "Hey, you're a King, not Superman. You just give me or Max the nod and we'll get you away from wherever you are to let loose." He looked Arthur in the eyes again and grinned, "Max?"

Arthur blushed and smiled, "He's amazing and a natural at being an aide. He is sharp, clever and misses nothing. He's also a gentle soul. He's already become indispensable to me here."

Euan grinned, "And he's eye candy." It wasn't a question.

Arthur blushed again, "Well there is that too!"

"Good, you owe me one. Just remember that."

Just then Max came back in, "They are sending something up shortly. They wouldn't let me carry it, they said, and I quote, 'The King needs you for other things. That poor boy has been through it'."

Arthur rolled his eyes, "I guess we can assume they all saw the interview."

"Yes," Max replied. "And I should mention here that little Timothy was in tears when I went into the kitchen." Arthur stood and made for the door but stopped as the door burst open and a little bullet of a boy wrapped his arms around Arthur's waist sobbing. Arthur pulled him away long enough to lift him into his arms and to back up and sit down on the bed.

"Hey Timothy, it's alright." He rocked him, "Now what's this all about?" He knew, but he also knew that Timothy had to talk it out to work through it.

"They won't come for you again will they; the missiles?"

Arthur shushed him, "No, and they weren't coming for me, it just made me feel that way. Shush now, we're all safe here. And we're going to help get that bad man out of there." He thought for a moment, "I'm going to need your help." Timothy sobered up quickly, "Me? I'm only six."

"Yes, but you look eight! And there are some kids here who are really scared too. Do you think if I find some that you might be able to cheer them up and help them to not be afraid?"

"I can do that. Like I can teach them to play football. I mean real football, not that American crap. I can teach them really good."

"Well excellent then. Tomorrow I am visiting the refugees and as soon as I find some kids that need your specialty I will call and have you brought down, is that ok?"

Timothy nodded and Arthur looked up at Mrs. Giddings. She smiled and held out a hand calling to Timothy. She smiled, "Thank you Your Highness. There was just no consoling him. Had I known the story I wouldn't have let him see it. But I guess it's best in the end."

"It was my pleasure. And please, Mrs. Giddings, when there are no cameras around, just call me Arthur. Times are too stressful to worry about titles."

"Thank you Arthur and please call me. . ." but he cut her off, "I'll call you Mrs. Giddings or face my mother's wrath!"

She laughed that 'Mrs. Giddings' laugh, and motioned for the servants to put the trolley to the side. "Thank you." Arthur said, "We'll serve ourselves. It was very kind of you to fix this for us."

Mrs. Giddings gave a wan smile and nodded as she, the servants and Timothy left them.

Euan and Max just looked at Arthur, "What?" He asked.

Euan looked at Max, "You explain it to him."

Max smiled, "It's just that you handled that so masterfully. You ARE a king. And a good one at that."

"Because I can soothe a six year old? I think being a king takes just a bit more than that."

"Begging your pardon Arthur, but when someone in your position sets aside his own discomfort to soothe a six year old it shows you will care about each and every one of your subjects. It speaks volumes about Arthur the King and Arthur the person. Who was it that said you should judge a King by how he treats the least of his subjects?"

Arthur smiled, "I don't know but I'm sure he was burnt at the stake."

Euan burst out laughing. "Arthur you are going to have to learn to take a compliment."

"That's rubbish Euan. I'm a fourteen-year-old kid with a title. I didn't earn it, I was born with it. I'll do what I must because that's what's expected of me. And I'll screw it up I am sure. I'm in way over my head and everyone knows it. They're all waiting for me to stuff it up."

"Arthur, you can't think like that or you're right, they will eat you alive. You need to be confident. And if you stuff it up then it was part of the plan. Or make it look that way. This is a living event. Things will change day to day and you'll need to change with it. Your plans and decisions will need to be fluid. So you didn't make a mistake, the circumstances just changed from when you made the decision and they need to be adjusted. You are the King, you can't just take off the crown when it suits you. You've figuratively put it on and on it must stay." Euan just kept his eyes on him.

Arthur started to speak in protest but Max spoke first. "Your Highness," Arthur gave him a look and he corrected himself, "Arthur. Euan is correct. If you take off the crown so to speak, they will see it as a weakness. And you know that. That's why you tell people to be relaxed when you are not in front of the cameras. Inside, you already know you will be judged on everything you do from this day forward. And judged harshly if they can. Take the praise when it's offered with the grace of a young King. It will help your frustration when the press is unkind. And I don't think you will have to wait too long for that. After that interview the press will have tons to talk about and if they don't, they will make it up. Anything to sell another copy."

Euan looked at Arthur, "A bright aide you've chosen." Arthur smiled, "Yes, I know, I owe you one." Max just raised an eyebrow. Euan had a deer in the headlights look as he glanced at his watch, "Oh look at the time, yes, well, I'll be shoving off then. Oh and security wanted me to ask you for the itinerary for tomorrow. Cheers then!" And he vanished out the door.

Arthur stood awkwardly staring at the door.

"Should we talk about the itinerary for tomorrow then?"


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