“Stranger,” my uncle’s voice booms out. “What brings you to my hall?”
The man pulls off his gloves, stands, and bows. “My name is Eumer. I come with a message from Cwichelm, King of Wessex.”
My uncle rises. “Welcome, Eumer. Come forward and join my court. I will hear your message after the meal, for I see my men are ready to tear the venison off the haunch.”
“As you wish, Your Majesty.” Eumer strides to the front, finding a seat at the bottom of my uncle’s court. He has a grim expression as he fills his trencher and doesn’t converse with anyone. Eumer eats methodically, as if chewing is a chore he must complete. I notice he drinks very little.
The king tosses his last bone to the dogs, rubs his belly, and belches. “Eumer,” he shouts, “tell me King Cwichelm’s message.”
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