King Hardurian put his quaking hand gently under Linvin’s chin and raised it so that the two could look one another in the eye. “This is one day that I should be bowing to you, my young friend.
Arise, Linvin, defender of Valia, and be recognized.”
Deep in his soul, Linvin relished in the praise, but his heart was heavy and he could not enjoy the fruits of his labors.
“We had not expected you so soon,” King Hardurian said. “Word only just reached us of your victory.”
“There will be a celebration in your honor this evening,” an adviser said, while slapping Linvin on the shoulder.
“We are commissioning a statue of you to be chiseled of marble and set in the town square,” another said with a laugh.
“An etching in the Triumphal Arch will be carved.”
“Of course, there will be a victory parade once your men arrive, to celebrate your amazing wins.”
Such adoration would make many men feel pride and happiness, but for Linvin, each statement made him feel worse and worse. He had resigned to hold his tongue until he was alone with the king. However, at the utterance of the last sentence, rage welled within him and he could be quiet no longer.
“My men?” he asked. “Three days ago, I commanded the combined armies of Valia. Nearly 9000 soldiers marched into that swamp under my orders. I marched out with little more than a tenth of that number. Of those who live, perhaps as little as half will ever fight again, and for all that, you want to make a statue of me? You want a parade? You speak of glorifying me but in fact you are celebrating not having to be held accountable for your wrongdoings.”
The room was silent. Laughter had been replaced by shock. “How dare you come in here and say such things to those who would pay you homage,” snorted one of the noblemen. “The people in this room are the most powerful men in this country and yet you speak to us like children!”
“I did not seek to treat you as children,” Linvin said firmly. “For even children have more sense than you have shown over these years.”
The men were most indignant, though the king simply sat on his throne and tapped his finger on his lips. He looked like one who was watching a play to its conclusion.