Viola stepped forward, and bowed her head.

“May I apologize?” She asked.

“On behalf of my family, and this situation…life. It has not always been kind, and you are my subjects. It is my duty to ensure your peace and tranquility. If any of you has suffered, then that is my failure as ruler.

“I shall listen. I shall hear. And your voices will help change the destiny of the Valley.”

“Get rid of the tree things!” Someone shouted from the back.

Viola raised her eyebrow. “The treemen? Why would I get rid of them? They’re growing more trees. Good, strong, hearty trees. Trees that we will cut down, and use for construction, and sale. Trees that will make us rich.”

“We can’t cut any of them down,” someone muttered.

“Some,” Viola agreed. “About twenty. Twenty trees in the whole forest are now off-limits. Clearly marked. And in return the treemen give you trees for generations. They aren’t your enemies. They are your servants.”

She smiled. “Besides, which, ask yourself this. Did they cut your wages? Enslave your children? Play out their perversions amongst you?”

Viola smiled to the nobles. “There’s only one group that seems to hold that distinction that I know of.

“Now…there is a choice that each of you must make.”

The crowd looked at each other. Canterwright was amazed. That she could make the crowd think, and consider. As she spoke, they listened, and reacted in her manner.

“I am coming to bring change to the Valley. Things will not be the same. Those who simply were born to their titles, who are content to spend their days living off the backs of their ancestors, will find this new Valley not to their liking. Their cushy lives, their golden thrones, will be put to far better use.”

She smiled to the townsfolk. “Given to those who toil, and know an honest day’s work. That is what I promise. But it is going to require the people with the will to take it.

“So what shall it be? Trade the old slavemaster for a new one? Or take charge, take your destiny within your own hands, and bring about the lives you have always known were just out of reach?”

The choice was easy.

She pointed to the nobles. “Take them alive.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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