For Country and Princess
D'artagnan walked out from the tunnel and across the arch bridge to the massive castle ahead of him. It was late evening, with sunrise closer than sunset, and the moon and its reflection seemed to light up the lake. The city surrounding the lake seemed to sleep with most of the hills and cliffs quiet and dim with only every other street torch lit. Only the sound of the waterfalls could be heard, but though they raged even they felt muted. He made his way to the guarded gateway and was stopped by a heavily armored guard. Their exchange was short with the guard mentioned that he was expected and he should make his way to the throne room. The guard also made a quip about how D'artagnan should remember how to make it there. Without retort the mage made his way into the castle grounds.
It had been almost a year and a half since he had been to the center of the kingdom. The last visit had been one of a contemptuous dismissal from the Magical Military Intelligence where he had been placed after his graduation from the Military Magic Academy. His time with the MMI was volatile to put it mildly. A disregard for tradition put him immediately at odds with many of his superiors and a stubborn personality he inherited from his mother never helped. D’artagnan was dismissed from the ranks after barging into an intelligence meeting with what his mentor called a doom and gloom theory or as his late father would describe as "cockamamie".
Since his dismissal, D'artagnan had worked as an independent contractor of sorts for the rich. The military had given him a set of skills and he knew how to play the cards he had been dealt. At times, even now, he could be seen working with the military in an unofficial capacity but a vast majority of his day was spent helping solve the rich and powerful of the city's problems.
Some anti thief work for a local dukes art was D'artagnan's in with the wealthy clientele and since then they had paid enough for him to live a mediocre lifestyle and keep his bed warm and glass full. Before he had gotten the summons from the King he had been doing some readings and research on a rather troublesome haunting of a house that he suspected was more of a cloak and dagger situation than a full on haunting. The distraction of the summons was wanted, but the degree of the disruption was not.
In his lifetime the only time D’artagnan had ever ‘met’ the King was at his inaugural show of arms where the military paraded around for a visiting dignitary. Really it was just him and others helping the King puff his chest out. Outside of that, the man might as well be an unknown.
Thankfully it seemed D'artagnan would not be facing off against his Royal Highness alone. Waiting for him at the top of the stairs, but before the doorway of the throne room was his old mentor Oliver Stone. "Stone." He said with a half smile. Since his excommunication his old mentor had done his best to stay in touch, but a mage of his magnitude was busy often and it had been some months since their last meeting over ale.
"It is good to see you D'artagnan. I wish it was under better circumstances" The older man said with a faint smile. His body language showed clear as day that it was a forced smile. This was the first of several hints that this call was not made with pleasantries in mind. Skipping the small talk the two walked into the massive throne room which was eerily quiet. Normally followed by two scores of royal guards and even more assistants and councils the King was standing by his throne with two other people making the room, which had enough space for 200 was very quiet and very deep.
"Your highness I present to you D'artagnan Bardot, former Intelligence Agent of the MMI." Stone said quickly once they reached the three. D'artagnan recognized the King; however, the two with him were not known to him. Familiar with protocol he went down on one knee and thanked the King for his summons. He waited until he was given permission to stand and quickly looked to Oliver to hopefully begin whatever explanation was needed to make sense of this situation.