Those assembled stood at attention in the grand hall, awaiting the arrival of Duke Usifan, who had called his loyal subjects to him before he traveled to advise King Dragor on matter of national interest.
A sudden rustle at the side of the room attracted the attention of all within. Duke Usifan, accompanied by his personal guard, appeared, clad in his official armor and on his shoulder was fastened the pin of his CoA.
y dearest people, loyal subjects and friends,
We, Al-Qaum, value our land, the fertility of the soil and the bounty of the seas and river. We are blessed by the Light and are loyal to Daemon and have been blessed accordingly.
I am summoned to the capital of our liege lord, King Dragor of Nirath, whose bounty has been shared by all Dilmunia. We have benefitted from his gifts of bread and water when we swore allegiance, and by the peace and prosperity that followed. Who amongst us here has not seen his or her fortune increase these past years?”
A shout of ‘hurrah’ went up from the crowd, sparking a boyish smile on Usifan’s face. He chuckled a little and then continued,
“We, Al-Qaum, are valued subjects to the King, who has seen our nature, our wisdom and our valour. He knows that, should we ride to war, my banners and those of my vassals will be by his side—first on the battlefield and last off. But now we are faced with a threat more insidious than a declaration of war, yet just as destructive to our people. As you know, bandits have taken to attacking caravans travelling to and from Dilmunia, robbing merchants of their wares and killing or wounding the guards. This cannot be allowed to continue.”
Another shout—this one louder, rose from those assembled.
“Should the bandits not be caught; we will find Dilmunia no longer the haven of prosperity that it is today. Trade will cease to flow and we will find ourselves cut off from the rest of Nirath. How can that be when we are the Al Quam, the favoured ones? We must not let these reprobates deprive us of what is ours by right. We must defend our people, our trade and our land from this scourge of mercenaries and thieves.”
The sound of applause momentarily deafened him, and so he waited for it to die down.
“Now. I like hanging men as little as anyone else, but I want Dilmunia to continue to live in peace and prosperity and that our people continue to thrive. Nothing makes me happier than looking upon fat babies held in the arms of loving mothers or ripened fields of wheat. If it can be proven that those engaging in acts of banditry are displaced refugees and forced to feed their families, then let us, in the name of the Black Tulip, urge them to repent and welcome them as brothers, for we always have need of those who can wield a sword or a bow. But, if they are engaging in acts of violence for purely mercenary purposes, then so help them, for a day of reckoning is upon them at the hands of Al-Qaum.
And now, I go to advise our king and urge him to consider this a matter of national interest and respond accordingly. I beg you: keep the faith, protect my family who I leave in your keeping, and ready your men. For if I should send word that we ride to intercept and capture the bandits, then do not tarry, but ride with all haste. Remember that though we are the loyal subjects of the King of Nirath, our duty is also to Dilmunia. Keep our motto alive: ‘Utmost Good Faith’.”
All those in the hall repeated the motto with gusto and excitement. Faces shone with expectation and love for their glorious Duke who would avoid conflict if possible, but would surely vanquish all criminals to protect his nation and his people.