True to his word, Tayli’s messenger returns in two days. This time there is an answer. The leaders gather in the Great Hall, eager to hear the message, but wait for Ime to arrive before having the messenger read it aloud.
To the one who calls himself Ime,
It’s intriguing to receive such a threatening message from one so young and naïve in the true ways of war. You are inexperienced in dealing with those who are superior to you and have earned their titles and lands.
What do you have, Ime?
I have heard the stories recently spreading through the lands about your powerful magic and I do not doubt you may stand a somewhat little chance against the self-proclaimed Blood King, another young soul who doesn’t truly understand the limits of his reach. However, forcing others to fight in a war against an enemy with far more men and resources is ill advised.
Those who have pledged their loyalty to you do so only in one final attempt at keeping control. What do you think will happen should you by some miracle win? They will turn on each other and you the instant the Blood King’s head hits the earth.
I advise you to cease your attempts at dooming my lands with this disgrace and leave me at peace. I stand by my words. My realm will remain neutral and should you threaten it, we will defend ourselves. Though to lose any men for your war over such a trivial thing would truly be a stupid venture on your part.
Ime takes the message from the messenger, crushes it in his hand and fire engulfs it. His eyes move from each leader and an amused smile spreads across his lips. “Send word through your armies that I am seeking volunteers to follow me to Gaeren’s lands.”
“Why? He clearly wants no part in this war,” Marin says.
“And he sounds as though he had no intention of siding with Klaeon, either,” Herbart adds.
Ime’s steely gray eyes dance between the two. “Ask for volunteers, I don’t care how many. I’ll be waiting at the Western cliff. This is a challenge and I’m going to answer it.”