Around late noon, an injured soldier painted in blood could be seen riding a horse in a hurry towards the Royal Palace of Abetha, followed by several city patrols acting as escorts. The knights looking after the palace entrance recognized who the soldier was and allowed him to enter without hindrance.
The soldier soon reached the main palace, where King Armen was in the throne room presiding over a council meeting, one of the agenda being the Third Princess's tower incident.
The King was busy listening to the complaints of the royal court about the witch and what chaos she would bring to the kingdom after practicing black magic. All the ministers and nobles looked worried, thinking of the disaster awaiting them.
One of the royal guards silently entered the meeting and reported something to Lord Eudes, the King's trusted advisor. After listening to the guard, the scholarly older man approached King Armen with a worried look.
"Your Majesty, one of Crown Prince Cian's soldiers is here, and he seeks an audience,"? the advisor informed the King as he added, "He carries urgent news."
King Armen was surprised why a soldier from the northern border's army would come in person instead of a messenger. "Let him in."
The injured soldier entered the royal court and kneeled in front of the king as his greeting. Everyone in the royal court was shocked to see the soldier's condition and fell silent.
"Your Majesty, Hatha soldiers, attacked us in the middle of the night and captured Crown Prince Cian!" the soldier shouted, no longer bothering with the royal etiquette, his expression pained as he delivered the shocking news.
Even the normally calm King lost his cool as he stood up from the throne, anger filling his voice, "Hatha?"
"Yes, Your Majesty. Their army attacked the fortress at the northern border in the middle of the night. They have occupied the fortress and have blocked any form of communication with the capital."
"Didn't they sign the peace treaty with us?" the King asked, his voice cold as he interrogated the hurt soldier. "How could the northern fortress fall overnight?"
"Your Majesty, everything was a trap. They had spies inside that targeted the officers before their army marched in. Thevailes soldiers were with them too," the soldier informed angrily.
"Thevailes? They dared attack after their last defeat?" the King exclaimed as he slammed his fist on the throne.
"Your Majesty, calm down," Lord Eudes said beside him.
King Armen was already troubled with how all the ministers and nobles gathered to ask him to throw the witch out of the kingdom, and now this happened. It was one problem after another.
While the King's loyal subjects felt worried about the incoming war, those noble houses and officials under the Queen's faction found the news to be a golden opportunity for them to back up their demand.
"Your Majesty, it is as we feared! This must be the start of the misfortunes befalling our kingdom!" Lord Darus cried out, his statement motivating his allies to speak.
"Your Majesty, it's definitely due to the black magic performed by that witch! She must have planned to bring disaster to this kingdom," another minister added.
King Armen, who was already angry with the sudden betrayal of both the Kingdoms of Hatha and Thevailes, glared at everyone in the royal court.
"Imbeciles! This has nothing to do with her! Instead of blaming an innocent girl, why don't you focus on the kingdoms that actually sent armies into our land?!" the King declared, his irritation stunning the royal court into dead silence.
King Armen returned his attention to the travel-worn soldier who looked on the verge of collapsing, his hands resting on the floor and head lowered.
Sir Berolt went to the soldier and asked, "Where have they taken the Prince?"
"Commander Fletcher, from what I overheard, they took him to Hatha and will be taking him later to Thevailes. That was two days ago. The Crown Prince might have reached Thevailes by now," the soldier sobbed as he recounted what else he knew, gathering every bit of energy left in him before collapsing the next moment.
"Berolt, gather your knights and meet me in my chamber," the King ordered before he turned to General Cavrois Losio, the middle-aged man representing the military in the council meeting. "Cavrois, bring your officers and come as well."
King Armen stormed away without dismissing the court. Lord Eudes, Sir Berolt, and General Cavrois and his men immediately followed after their King, leaving the ministers and nobles whispering with one another.
Gossips of the injured soldier's arrival had already spread far and wide as he entered the capital in an unrestrained manner. Soon, the capital heard the news of the Crown Prince's abduction, and as if people were fanning the news in the dark, in the end, the blame was put on the witch.