Gerald was up before sunrise, watching as the troops began their march down the road to Ravensguard. Sir Heward soon joined him, riding his great Mercerian Charger over to the marshal as the soldiers marched by.
"They are impressive," noted the knight, "but they've got a long march ahead of them, even farther than the rest of us."
Gerald smiled. "Don't worry, they'll get there in plenty of time. These are Orcs. They don't believe in resting, they're like Dwarves that way."
Heward noted the approach of the queen. "Is she really going to command the reserves here in Hammersfield?"
"That's the plan. Someone has to do it."
"I suppose, but aren't there any junior officers who are more than capable?"
"Really?" said Gerald. "And how many of them speak Saurian?"
"I suppose you have a good point." He moved his horse aside, allowing Anna to pull up alongside her marshal.
"Your Majesty," Heward said with a bow. "I'm surprised to see you up so early this morning."
"I couldn't let Gerald leave without wishing him well," she said. "And what of you, Sir Knight? Is all ready for your own expedition?"
"It is, though I fear we cannot leave until the marshal's forces have cleared the area." There was only one road leading north, and it branched off the Ravensguard road some twenty miles to the east of the city.
"I thought you would have taken the opportunity to sleep in a little longer," said Gerald.
The knight was about to object but then noticed the look of amusement on the marshal's face. "Very funny."
"You need more of a sense of humour," said the queen. "Perhaps you should spend more time at court?"
"And be besieged by eligible women? I think not."
Anna turned to her oldest friend. "It appears our gallant knight thinks a lot of himself."
"He can't help it," said Gerald. "It comes from his training as a Knight of the Sword."
Sir Heward grinned. "Am I to be insulted all morning?"
"No, of course not," said Gerald, "I'm leaving shortly. Of course, if the queen desires it…"
Anna held up her hand. "Fear not, Sir Heward, your reputation remains intact. I shall not speak of such matters any more this day."
"Then, with your permission, Your Majesty," said the knight, "I shall be about my business."