98 Chapter 98 Flee
Today a messenger came from Joseph's father. The horse was so bad off, Stephan had to use magic to keep it alive. He opened the scroll with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Daniel gave him a nod of encouragement.
-Son, the king is going to be killed, if he hasn't been already. The nobles are revolting. Prepare everyone to flee north. We need to pass through the north around the mountains to the central kingdom. We are being pursued currently. When you read this, I should be only 2 days out at most.-
He handed the note to Stella.
"Everything was... I was supposed to be able to enjoy my family. We were supposed to have the day of beginnings together. I had houses and cities built for over the winter. We…SHAVIST!" he screamed. "Those shavist nobles! They have to choose to regicide now! They couldn't give me one year!"
With his teeth gritted and his fists clenched, he fought against the urge to cry. Taking several breathes he turned to everyone in the room. The meeting was over. They all knew that, but no one was willing to move. In all their time with him, they had never seen Joseph so upset.
"Daniel, round up everyone to have a meeting. This is a big one, that will be for everyone, including those who aren't my people. Eric and Lucas, come here."
He quickly wrote letters to Chug and Tekaun.
"Take this to Tekaun and Chug, in their villages. They have to gather everything they will need. We have to go to the central kingdom through the north. Bring every bit of food that they have.
"Justin, get to village 4. Load all the supplies they can and come back here. Go right now. Dad will be here in two days at most, and we will need to leave as soon as possible.
"Stella, send one of the guards to village 5. Grab everything they will need to survive the winter and burn the rest of the town to the ground."
Daniel and several of the others paused. "Um, Joseph? There is no village 5," Daniel said hesitantly.
Joseph glanced at him but turned back to the others while Stella relayed his orders to one of the few guards who knew how to get to village 5.
"Daniel, we don't have much time."
Daniel nodded, briefly, before running off. Stella looks at him.
"Do you think this is why Walter was delayed?"
Joseph nodded. "He was probably detained by his family, or killed for liking me too much, most likely."
The emergency bell started ringing in the town square. People were confused at first, and then there was almost a stampede to the town square.
"Everyone, calm down so I can speak." The noise was almost deafening, and no one heard him.
"QUIET!" Daniel yelled.
Joseph sighed in frustration as the crowd quieted down. It sure would be nice to be bigger.
"The nobles have killed the king."
Murmuring immediately broke out and Daniel had to shout to get them quiet again. The mages all looked pale.
"The nobles will likely install the nasty first prince as a puppet, and divide up the royal lands. They will probably also start a civil war against each other to grab more lands, while the central kingdom is busy fighting and can't deploy troops to attack here. I am leaving as soon as my father arrives. He is at most two days out. We are taking all of our people. If you wish to be one of our people, we will take you with us to avoid the war that is coming. If you stay, you will have one month of food left, so that you can make it back to your home towns. I can't free you. As soon as the king died, I lost all power. Even if I free you now, the nobles will likely just enslave you again."
"I am sorry I was not able to fulfill the king's promise to you."
Turning to the mages, he said, "You can come with me, or be used by the nobles to fight a war. It's up to you. Decide before father arrives."
"Can we come with you if we don't sign one of your slave contracts?"
"Not a chance. Many of you were sent here as spies. I won't risk it."
The mages nodded in understanding.
The rest of the day passed in a frenzied haze. No one had time to write down reports, so Joseph had a half dozen men at any one moment giving their reports before he could give more orders. Then they would run off. He didn't sleep that night, in order to keep working on preparations.
Chug arrived at dawn, leading the northerners. Joseph ran out to meet him.
"Chug, I'm so sorry. I couldn't keep up my side of the contract."
"No hunter finds food every hunt."
"It is my will, to release all of the northerners from the contract, as I have lost my power, as a delegate of the kingdom."
"Chug wish to end contract as well."
As they continued talking, once the contract was released on the northerners, Chug told Joseph of a valley in the mountains to the north, that they could over-winter in. The goblins and orcs lived in the mountains, but didn't normally raid the valley. The ice fog hadn't reached that far south, so there may even be some things for them to hunt and forage in that valley. The hope was that with all of us, the goblins and orcs wouldn't dare to bother them.
Tekaun, and her village, arrived at lunch, and village 4 and 5 arrived early in the afternoon. It was fortuitous that the barbarians were nomadic by nature. They were a huge help in helping to supervise and collect the supplies they would need.
Joseph hated this. He always tried to be prepared. Doing things in a rush like this, was bound to make mistakes, and mistakes may kill people.
Walter had gone to collect all of the harvest taxes, even though they had enough food for now. When he was late, Joseph had figured the nobles were just being disruptive again. Clearly, he had overestimated the intelligence of the nobles.