King’s Ransom

You kidnap the King of a large country and hold him for ransom. You are shocked when you receive twice what you asked for from them with a single note reading: ‘Twice the amount to make sure he never comes back’

Shaya kicked back from the kitchen table and sauntered over to the front door, opening it just as the nervous man-at-arms outside was about to knock. He took a step back and gulped.

“Delivery for your master, um mistress?”

Shaya smirked. “Came through with the ransom did they. She’ll be pleased. Just put it in the hall here and I’ll go get your beloved King.”

The man coughed. “There’s a note.”

Shaya raised a brow. Then the other one. The porters were bringing in considerably more than the amount demanded in the ransom. She held a hand out.

“My mistress is not to be disturbed, I’ll read the note.”

It was handed over, short and sweet. Twice the amount to make sure he never comes back.

Shaya threw back her head and laughed. Then grinned at the worried guard. “Things going better without him are they?”

The man looked around, then nodded. “They’re using the taxes to fix the roads miss, and last week they set up a school for kids that couldn’t pay in the refugee quarter and they say there are plans for more in other places too.”

He shrugged. “Word is the council’s not approving as much for the army these days but since even the High General is agreeing with the new ways things are being spent, I’m guessing I don’t have to worry too much.”

Shaya was curious. “So who is in charge? At least nominally?”

“The princess, miss. His Majesty’s sister. Except in this, she don’t know we got the ransom demand and, well the money here was all donated by any that could spare it so it didn’t come from Royal Treasury. She’s a good leader miss, listens and cares and doesn’t care for banquets unless they’re in the city square and open to all.”

“I like the sound of her. Is she still searching for her brother?”

“Yes, more through duty than anything you understand.”

Shaya hummed thoughtfully, then grinned. “In return for your generous funding of my mistress’s home and people, I believe I may be able to help.”

The soldier gulped. “You ain’t going to kill him are you?”

“No. But no monarch will part with their signet ring unless they’re either abdicating or dead.”

She dug into an inner pocket and flicked a heavy gold ring to the guard. He fumbled, but caught it, then stared at her, open-mouthed.

“I snitched it off him one night. Thought it might come in useful.”

He folded his fist around it, then bowed, deeply. “Our deepest thanks, from all in the kingdom. I swear to see this delivered to Her Highness.”

With that he returned to his horse and the cavalcade turned and left the house.

Shaya watched them to the end of the drive, set a couple of ravens to follow them, then closed the front door and ambled upstairs.

King Gerard was standing in the middle of his room, looking expectant. “I heard a coach and horses, am I finally to be returned to my throne.”

Shaya sniggered. “Not at all. You see, your adoring subjects have just paid me double the ransom I asked on the condition I made sure you never came back.”

He paled. “What? But I’m their king.”

“And from the sound of it quite a bad one. Reports are that your sister is doing a sterling job, everyone adores her and no one wants to go back to the bad old days. Welcome to unemployment. Any idea what you want to retrain as?”

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