Lord Wallis took his feet off the stool and sat up. “Let’s be perfectly frank, shall we? I’m the general here, which means that I, and I alone, bear the responsibility, nay the privilege, of commanding the army of Arnsfeld. Do I make myself clear?”
“As clear as ice,” said Charlaine.
“Good. Now, is there anything further you want to accuse me of, or are we done?”
“There is one more point I’d like clarified, if you don’t mind.”
“If something were to happen to you, who would assume command?”
“Is that a threat?”
“Temple Knights have no need of threats,” said Charlaine, “but people suffer from things from time to time. Take indigestion, for example.”
“I think it’s time you left.”
“Thank you for your time, my lord. You’ve been most helpful.”
“I rather doubt that.”
“Oh, on the contrary. It’s always easier to act when a person knows where they stand, and you’ve cleared up any misconceptions I might have had regarding your loyalties.”
“What are you implying? That I’m not loyal to Arnsfeld?”
“I find it interesting to note you used that particular turn of phrase. Most men in your position would claim loyalty to the king, or at the very least, the Crown.”
“Now you’re just twisting my words.”
“I shall not argue semantics,” said Charlaine. “Instead, let me tell you this. I will take to the battlefield, even give my life to protect this kingdom from the Halvarian Empire. I ask, nay, I urge the army of Arnsfeld to join me, but should you refuse, I will still sacrifice my knights to defeat the invader. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do! Now, as for yourself, you can hide here, in the capital, and hope to better your circumstances when the invaders arrive, or do your duty and risk your life to protect your home. The choice is yours, General. What will you do?”
Lord Wallis stared back, his mouth agape.
“It is as I thought,” said Charlaine. She turned and left.