The work on Pirate's Swoop was going well, despite the weather's attempts to hinder them. Charlie had left the underground construction in Dal's capable hands for the time being. King Jonathan had requested his presence in the capital, and when a king told you come, you got riding as soon as possible.
As it turned out, there was no emergency of any kind, simply Jon wanting his newest noble to make an appearance at court, something Charlie had managed to mostly avoid until now. The excuses had run dry and so he found himself spending a lot of time talking with some people who thought he was nothing but a filthy foreigner who had wormed his way into the King's good graces. They didn't think he belonged there and thought very little of his accent, posture, sense of humor and views on the world. All in all, it was a lot like being back in the Air Force and having meetings with politicians.
It wasn't all bad though. He was happy to see Jon and Thayet, get to check in on baby Roald who was getting pretty damned big now, and spend some time with Raoul hiding from society. He was itching to go out again with the King's Own, but it wasn't practical now that he had responsibilities. It did set him onto the idea of establishing the Swoop's guard though, and he took some pointers from Raoul on where to recruit.
Four days in, George arrived. There was little luck in escaping to their old haunts in the Lower City. It was even less of a safe place for the former King of Thieves than it used to be now that he was all respectable. His mother's old house, though, allowed them time to escape the hustle and bustle of court life long enough to have a drink or three and make a plan to escape the country with the reigning monarch.
Not that they could just take him without his permission exactly. For one, Alanna would kill them both before they had a chance to get through the portal. Or Thayet if Alanna was too far away. Or Buri for that matter. Raoul and Gary would probably get in on the evisceration action as well. No, they weren't about to march out of there with a bound and gagged Jon, but his two newest Barons were persuasive when they wanted to be. It took a few days, but they convinced him to take a short sabbatical - only a night long, a break to somewhere there were no kings or knights or people wanting something of him.
They would have to wait until next week, when most of the nobles in Corus were headed home to prepare for Spring celebrations in their own fiefs. Until then, Charlie got through the days listening to the rulers of Stone Mountain and its neighboring fiefs drone on and on about how important they were by reminding himself that Spring Break, of a sort, was only days away.