‘Good people! I bring ill tidings of a tyrannical overlord who has wrested control from our most gracious of kings!’ The page’s neck strained as his voice carried over the crowd gathered. His legs shuddered with nerves as he stood atop the small wooden plinth that had been hastily erected for him, and the hands by his sides were clenched in tight, anxious balls.
The crowd murmured in worry. ‘Who could do such a thing?’ a concerned mother whispered to her husband. ‘D’you think they’ll burn down the village?’ pondered an elderly shoemaker.
‘With absolute control of the nobility,’ the page continued, ‘there may be no way of which to stop him! Fair people, I bid you steel yourselves, prepare for the horror that is most sure to come from the ruler we now know as… Jarreth.’
The murmuring stopped.
‘Wait, you mean Jarreth, as in Jarreth Pegg?’ a woman shouted from the rear of the crowd.
‘Pegg? I thought that young fella died!’
‘No, no. You have it all wrong. He went to live with his old gams in Highbrook.’
‘I heard he went to study.’
‘Study? The poor lad had barely half a brain to him.’
The crowd bickered amongst itself and the page watched with a furrowed expression.
‘My fair people, this tyrant, Jarreth, is not to be underestimated! Terrible havoc will he bring to the lands of our kin, and the High Lords-’
‘Havoc?’ a wiry, grey haired man piped up. ‘I don’t think he could cause any even if he wanted to!’
The page could do nothing but watch as, one by one, the crowd disperse with little more than murmurs of agreement. Casual mutters of ‘I wonder how he ended up there,’ or ‘what was he even doing’? The page heard more than once, ‘well, you know how often he’d get lost. Probably wandered right into the royal court by accident’.