Glad you could join us for the next disciplinary episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
“…and I believe if we just position all our troops at the border, we will stop any hostile who dares to attempt to enter Fen on the ground or at the river as easily as we’ll stop them in the air, without mounting a full scale offensive,” Captain Avery concluded.
Smoothing the rough surface of her irritation with a smile, Queen Lilian waited to respond until the captain, blinking uncertainly, began shifting from foot to foot.
“Captain. I appreciate your optimism and your desire to conserve our resources. It’s obvious you’ve given this much thought. As your Queen, I am always happy to hear the opinions of those who serve the Kingdom of Fen, especially those who have served for as many years as you have.”
“Thank you, your Magnificence,” the owl replied, his shoulders arching back to accept the weight of expected praise.
“But as your Commander,” the Queen continued, “I wonder if I have failed to communicate the full extent and gravity of the threat General Hai presents to the Kingdom. Those on the ground, those who have been among the enemy, those who have died trying to gain as much help and information as they could to give Fen any advantage over a powerful and ruthless foe, all agree the General’s army must not be underestimated.”
The owl blinked repeatedly. “Yes… But when you consider—”
“Even your own people bring me the same report.” She tilted her head. “Do you doubt their wisdom?”
Captain Avery’s bluster blew away in a whispered, “No, your Magnificence.”
Queen Lilian expelled a quick breath. “I’m glad to hear it. If our situation is now clear, you have a choice to make. Either you commit fully to defending the Kingdom of Fen by leading an offensive into the enemy’s territory, or you take an honorable retirement and turn leadership of your Squadron over to someone who is willing to follow their Queen’s guidance.”
He came to attention, his eyes focused on a point just above her head. “I apologize, your Magnificence. I was wrong-headed. Of course I will continue to serve my Queen, my Kingdom, and the Alliance proudly and to the best of my ability with my whole heart. To my death if need be.”
She placed her hand on his wing. “Thank you, Avery. You have always led with honor and courage. It’s your way. I’m confident you will inspire your troops to great deeds, and the Alliance will be victorious.”
As the Captain left to oversee his Squadron’s preparations, Vernon flew in to wrap Lilian in an embrace of such warmth and empathy that she melted into him.
“Thank you my sweet,” she said. “How do you always know what I need?’
He lifted her chin to kiss her lips, and teased, “Because I listen outside the door.”
She giggled and lay her head on his chest. “Which Runner did you send to Bog?”
“Good choice. Arnie will be glad to see her.”
To be continued. . .