a/n: I know I haven't updated in a very long time. Please don't be angry. Just read.

The third day of their journey dawned over a dark and dreary camp. Provided that 'dawned' meant nothing more than that somewhere there might have been a sunrise at approximately the same time of morning. The torrential rain had stopped, but it was still cold with heavy cloud cover. The makeshift legion woke to find that Adrian was already awake- in fact, he had not slept at all. He had spent the night scouring the letter for any hidden clues he might have missed the other fifty times he had read it. His officers whispered among each other their worries about his health, both physical and mental.

"I think he's just gone crazy. Readin' that letter day and night, like it's tellin' him what to do next. Used to be sharp as his sword was, now he just sits and talks to himself all day." Adrian smiled as he recognized the voice. Phillip was one of the few friends who had accompanied him on his original journey away from home and had chosen to stay. He was also the kind of friend who would force you to go and be with a group of people when all you wanted was to go live in a hole.

"Perhaps 'tis a good thing that I talk only to myself. Then when I gossip about people they can't hear me." Adrian laughed at Phillip's bright red cheeks. It wasn't often that anyone could get him to blush. "Just for that, I'll let you get everyone moving. Have to spare my voice so I can talk to myself, you know." As Phillip wandered off to do as he was bid, Adrian's mood sobered. Today they would ride into the city, and possibly into danger. He wasn't sure of what danger, but he had a good guess about who it could be.

Traveling down the road, the company's mood was lighter than it had been for several days. Despite the heavy clouds, the men sang traveling ditties, laughing and joking with one another. The morning passed quickly, and as they topped a hill, the walls of Adrian's home city of Arna showed before them. Suddenly, those in the middle of songs ceased their singing, and talkers hushed. Excepting Phillip, who had to be elbowed in the ribs before he got the hint that singing his drinking songs was no longer appropriate. Suddenly whatever danger that may have been lurking seemed closer, more real. The column moved on in silence, apprehensive of what was ahead- the unknown dangers and faceless foes they would meet when they arrived in the city that night.


As the sun approached the horizon, the city walls began to loom overhead. The road followed their curve up to the gate- the only gate into the city from outside of the harbor. Adrian held up his hand silently to slow the column and approached the gates slowly on his own. At the late hour there were few people coming into the city, and the gates would soon close normally. When he rode just inside, a guard left his guardhouse to speak with Adrian. The man, who Adrian recognized as his friend Damien, looked up, and smiled.

"Why, Adrian! You're the last person I would have expected to come riding through the gates, and with a full complement! Great to see you! Come on in."

"Good to see you too, Damien." He did not voice the question that lay on the tip of his tongue- why was he not expected? Perhaps Demetrius and Helena have not yet made the threat public. He rode on through, waving for the troops to follow. Down the darkening streets toward the palace they rode, each remaining quiet. There had not been trouble at the gates, but that meant nothing until he had spoken with the King and Queen.

When they arrived at the palace, stable boys rushed out to take the horses. Adrian handed the reins of his roan gelding to a young boy with a tight smile and strode ahead inside. He could handle the troops later, but now there was a more pressing need. Heading for the royal study, he broke into a run. He dodged pages and courtiers with a hasty apology for near-collisions, never losing speed until he halted in front of the study door. The King could often be found there in the evenings before dinner, and Adrian knocked, hoping the old habit had not changed in his months of absence.

"Come in," said a voice from inside the room. Adrian shoved the door open quickly to see Demetrius and Helena sitting behind a desk, looking over a map. He entered swiftly and shut the door behind him. the royal pair looked surprised but pleased that he had arrived. Demetruis gave a crooked smile and asked, "You made excellent speed across the country. We had not expected you for a few more days."

"Your message seemed urgent, so I made all speed."

"It was not terribly pressing. Great news, but you did not have to push so quickly." He smiled at his queen and squeezed her hand.

"What is the news then?" Adrian felt somewhat upset that he had made such haste over news that was not pressing.

"We are soon going to have a new member in our royal family." The King rose with his wife, and for a moment they were simply a couple, overjoyed that they were going to have a child. It was only after Helena rose from behind the desk that Adrian noticed that, indeed, the Queen was most definitively pregnant. At once he felt ashamed, angered, and thrilled. The message they sent had said no such thing.

"But the message you sent... it said nothing of the sort! I have troops waiting on the grounds!"

The Queen laughed. "Read it to us! I do not remember it saying anything about troops either!"

Adrian pulled the message from his pocket. "Dearest Adrian, we have had something of a surprise. Please come to Arna, and bring support if you think you will need it." His face burned red at the realization that he had been completely wrong. "Now that you have thoroughly embarrassed me, I am going to take leave of you and take care of my troops. Unless, of course, you have any other embarrassing mistakes to point out."

"Actually, it is not embarrassing, but we did want t ask you one more question. Would you be the child's godfather?"

Adrian was shocked. He had never thought that the monarchs trusted him so much. He had known they were good friends, but had no idea they thought so highly of him. "Certainly. I would be honored."

a/n: Please review, and I'm sorry I haven't written in a very long time. I'm a bad authoress, I know. Shame on me. I promise I will do better if you review! *hint hint*