November 3, 012
It's a lovely halle. In the center of the room a large oak table, twenty feet wide by one hundred feet long lies. Chairs ring it majestically and the plants in the corners waft off a pleasant aroma. The couches beckon the tired man at one end of the table to take a short rest, just put your troubles away for a little while, but there are decisions to be made.
In Forestia, things get worse yet. A large encampment of bandits have formed outside of the country's only major community, a small simple village called Shirfor. Food shortages are beginning since secession from the Five Shires has cut their main source from the Clear Shire and the Hills. The harshest point of winter looms only weeks away. The garrison stands at just over three hundred heads - a mere flyspeck in this age of Albinor. Warden Plains of the Five Shires has amassed an army of a thousand heads to march against him, an entire legion! How does one fend off a bandit encampment threatening your only village and a legion of well armed knights whilst finding a new source of food to replenish the stores within the span of a couple weeks?
The decisions to be made are being thought of now in this halle on the topmost floor of Castle Teleman. King Treebeard, no matter how many schemes, plans and plots he draws on this parchment before him, always comes to the same one. It's not an easy decision, no not at all. But it's one he's made. He calls in the captain of the guard and tells him they are to go after the bandits. The captain already knows why. He, also, has been drawing out plots in his head and he comes to the same result. He will die uplifting the name of his king - now that he knows he will follow a course of action that may martyr him, but save countless others in the forest.
After the captain leaves, Treebeard drinks as much of his wine cellar stores as he can before passing out on the couch in his chambers. After all, it's his last chance to sample his liquor, and the last night in his own castle.
The ride was quite easy. The wind bit his nose as he rode the trail to Shireville. He made it in only three days time. While he was surrendering, unconditionally, to Fangorn Plains, his army carried his banner for the last time and ended Plains' career as a king with a final victory Treebeard's men have never lost a battle in the nearly ten years that Forestia has been seceded from the Five Shires. Treebeard is imprisoned in Shireville for treason.
But by sacrificing himself as a martyr, the three goals are achieved. The surrender has freed his men from continuing a war while the bandits in their own country feast from within. The army, therefore, destroyed the encampment. And thirdly, by Forestia being reclaimed into the Five Shires the trade routes have been restored and his people will be fed this winter. Treebeard might have continued in his fight for independence. But while he is willing, there are thousands of families that may suffer for his selfishness.
The Five Shires swallows Forestia once again, and Warden Plains does the same with Teleman. He lives here now. Plains smiles as he leans back at the same end of the table where the decision was made that put him here, and reflects while he sips fine wine from a cellar that is now his own. And maybe it's not quite the way some people would have liked it to turn out, but at least it's still a lovely halle.