“You want to do what, again?” Godfrey glared at him through ice-cube thick spectacles. The implications of what he had just heard were indeed heavy. It was fitting for them to be in the war room.
“You heard me, Godfrey.”
“You want to wall off our entire nation? Close our borders and end trade with the rest of the Alliance? I… it is a rather large decision, would you not say?”
“I listened to you and Crowley before, and look where it has gotten us! Dead Gilneans, torn apart by those green scoundrels, and now the Alliance, oh, this ‘Alliance’ you were so certain would be a boon to our people… they want more and more every day. They take and take, but what do we receive in return? Where is the great reciprocity you both were so certain of?! Now they want us to send them gold for that keep… Nethergarde…. What does that outpost have to do with Gilneas…with my people?” Genn wasn’t in the mood to be challenged.
Godfrey looked at the scuffed map of the nation lying out across the ancient oak table. He lifted his goblet of wine and knew better than to press the matter further. Genn was a decisive king, like his father.
Godfrey took a large gulp of his wine. It was Kul Tiras red. He realized, swishing the spirits over his tongue, that these may be the last sips of wine from that island nation he’d ever have. Finally he spoke.
“I am not suggesting it is a bad course. I do believe, however, that?”
“We took the hand of the Alliance. We gave it our support, and look what it gave us. As a nation we are poorer, while it reaps the benefits of our contributions…. There were orcs… bloody, savage beasts. You saw them, what they are capable of…. Now Terenas wants more of our gold. Perhaps more of our blood. Nay, I say!” Genn’s words were spoken with the clarity of a man who had been given a vision.
“The wall will have to cut through a noble’s land. You must see that. None of our natural borders will do. They are all rather pliable.”
“Of course I do, man! Whoever it is will be compensated, and so will the farmers and citizens of his domain.”
Godfrey took another sip of his wine, mind racing, calculating his options, and studying the map. He leaned back in his chair.
“On this map it seems you are suggesting the possibility of Lord Marley’s realm…. But look at the terrain, my liege…. We have this mountainous region right here. What a grand hold that would make, with mountains on either side that would create a secure natural barrier.”
“What you say is true.”
“Of course, to attain it, we’d have to cut off some of Lord Crowley’s lands. Cut off Pyrewood and Ambermill.”
“I had thought of this before as well. It is a fair direction. But… Crowley is powerful. He has much influence, as much as even you, Godfrey. He may not take this lightly.”
“No… that is true. However, he’d have to see reason in this choice. It is what is best for Gilneas. Anyone can see that it would make an impenetrable barrier,” Godfrey pressed, gulping his wine while he waited for Genn’s reaction.
“Indeed it would, Godfrey. And, of course, it would make your realm the most strategically valuable, as it would become our buffer to the outside. You would have the realm nearest to the wall.”
“My lord, it has everything to do with the location, with Gilneas. I would hope you are not inferring?”
“Stop it, Godfrey. You are right in this matter. I see that… whatever your motives may be, old friend.”
“Building the wall through those mountains, with the Northgate lands as our buffer, does insure our safety. I concede to your logic. Lord Crowley… Darius will have to understand.”
Godfrey finished his goblet and quickly poured himself another. He’d need his share of wines and ales in the years to come, and he knew it. But today, as they said in the tropical climes near Booty Bay, he had turned “lemons into lemonade.” He fought the urge to smile.
“We must call a council of the nobles immediately, then.” Godfrey stood up. “This is the right path, my lord, though mayhap a precarious one.”
“That, I know….” Genn seemed entranced by the flickering candlelight. He stared longingly as if dreaming of a future that was somehow in those flames. “But imagine… just imagine how bright our future will be without any interference. Just imagine.”