The Prince pulled the gag off the soldier's face.
"You're the guard captain, am I correct?"
"What's going on?" the man wet his mouth and croaked.
"A coup, I should think," he untied the man from the tree. In this small grove, almost every tree had a soldier decorating it. "I'm the rightful lieutenant of the new Baron, if you'll trouble yourself to read this abdication notice."
He handed the parchment to the captain, who snatched it and read it over. "That's the Baron's seal, for sure."
"Ex-Baron. Falang's going on a sabbatical... into the dungeons of the new ruler here. For awhile, at least."
"Who is the new Baron? Arbiddance?"
"He's the fellow who changed your war horse into a rat terrier... and he'll do the same for you if you don't play nice," the Prince answered. "Untie your men and report to Breakharrow Hill. You'll guard the exterior with your very lives and wait for hid Lordship to arrive and brief you."
The captain looked hesitant, but swallowed. "Yes, Sir."
"Is this all of you?" Arbiddance intoned from the top of the house on Breakharrow Hill.
"There's another squad hunting for bandits in the Wrike Woods, My Lord. They shoud return within two days," the Captain answered.
"Well, you'll fill them in when they do return," Arbiddance was the figure of the aloof and terrifying wizard looking down on his subjects. "You'll take these notices and nail them to the door of every public house in the Barony. All taxes are forgiven until winter. All levies are canceled until otherwise noted. Barracks will be built on this property, but for now you'll post guard here. This is the new baronial seat. In one month time, I'll be traveling to Talus to swear fealty to the Duke. I will take a handpicked escort at that time. Do you understand these things, Captain?"
"I do, Lord."
"Know that I am a fair man, but I will brook absolutely no resistance or trouble. Make that known, Captain." As if on cue, he pulled the bottle from under his robe and held it aloft in the air. The ef'fretah soared in from the northwest and settled next to the wizard.
"Know, great wizard, that the task is done," the formless smoke boomed.
"It is well. Return now to your abode and wait until I summon you yet again. you have served me well," Arbiddance replied, and the spirit returned to its bottle. Arbiddance capped it and returned it under his robes.
Every guard on the ground below stood absolutely still.
"My lieutanant speaks for me," Arbiddance gestured toward the Prince, "as does the Priestess Qovakrisstia. Their word is law. That is all for now."
Arbiddance descended the stairs with his comrades. As they reached the top floor, he turned to them. "Tomorrow morning, we go hunting for snakes."