While good times continued for many on the manor, tragedy struck Lord Snookington. He grew ill and was bed-ridden. With a hacking cough, his lungs grew worse until he took his last breath. A grand funeral was held in the local church. The wealthy and titled crammed into the pews to hear the service. Lord Snookington had always been loyal to the King and a contingent from the royal family attended. Villagers swarmed around the church grounds. As day drew into night and the morning beyond, young Harry became Lord Snookington. Notwithstanding his lack of worldly experience, he was determined to serve the King with honour and govern his manor in an equitable way.
Amongst the peasantry, Gobba Gronk was well known for his temper. Like his father, he had aspirations to climb the social ladder. He wanted to be so more than just a country bumpkin. Gobba believed destiny had something special in store for him. He looked upon most of the other villagers as just simpletons, whereas he felt personal greatness was on the horizon. If only he could break out of the shackles of serfdom. What he needed was a chance to prove himself. But with peace on the manor, life was so ordinary in the Snook. He hoped for more uncertain times, like when he was a boy. Then he could stand tall and show why he should be rubbing shoulders with the likes of the new Lord Snookington and other wealthy gentlemen of the Snook.
One peasant’s boredom was broken one sunny morning by a messenger on horseback galloping to the manor house. Gobba saw the horse-rider, who wore expensive clothes and a fine hat with a large peacock feather. He sighed at his own tatty clothing. Things had to change and, as if his hopes were answered, the very next day heralded big news. Lord Snookington gathered the whole village together to make an announcement. Gobba waited in the bustling crowd. Lord Snookington raised his hands as the noise died down.
“I have received a call to arms from the King. The Malaxian legions have moved to a war footing. They want the wealth and fertile lands of the manors in the Kingdom. Attacks by the Malaxian army have become more frequent and the King is not standing for it any longer. I am to form and equip a new local battalion! Are you with me?!”