“Your Highness, I must go,” Linvin said as he stood before the king.
“No. No, you swore an oath, you did. You swore to serve me unto your last breath. I need you, Linvin. The people need you. Even those fools who just left need you. You are commander of the combined armies of Valia. You cannot up and leave.”
Linvin sighed. “I do not take my oath lightly. That is why I am here, to most humbly request that you release me from your service. I must go.”
“No,” replied the King indignantly. “I refuse to release you! The country cannot do without you. In the field, you are worth 10,000 men at arms. Morale would plummet without you. Among the people you give them peace of mind that they are secure; with me, you are like a son. In fact, I was going to use the celebration of your victory to announce my adoption of you as my son and heir. So you see, Linvin, you cannot go. Your home is here.”
Linvin was both flattered and stunned at the same time. “Your words are kind, my King, but the army survived before me and will do so after me. The people will find a new hero. Such titles are, after all, fleeting. You, sire, you have offered me the world, and I…I must turn you down.”
“Stay,” pleaded the king as he clasped Linvin’s hand. “Wear my ring, have my love, and be my son.”
“I have a father,” Linvin said sadly as he withdrew his hand. “He is missing and presumed dead. I am needed at home. Please, my King, if you love me as a son, you will release me to my mother.”
King Hardurian fell back into his throne and nearly wept. For what seemed to be an eternity, he looked into the determined eyes of Linvin. At last, he signaled for a scribe.
“Linvin Grithinshield,” he dictated, “by Royal Proclamation and with the gratitude of a nation, I release you from your service to Valia, her people and to me. Know that if the trade winds of the world should ever bring you to our shores again, that you shall be made welcome and greeted as a friend.”
The scribe was ordered to post copies of the decree and dismissed. King Hardurian stood slowly and embraced Linvin. “Someday, I hope you have a son, so that you can see how hard it is to let him go.”
Linvin fought tears while hugging the man who had been his teacher for so many years. “You are an understanding man, my King. You must surely know how hard it was for my own father to send me here.”
After a few moments, they parted and Linvin wished the king well. As he headed for the door, the king called after him, “and what of the statue?”
Linvin turned in the doorway and said, “Carve it of Sculla. He ought to get a chuckle from that.” Then he turned and headed to his quarters to pack.