As Krowl's guardsmen ready their weapons to face the enraged Marshal, Sherman's pat is suddenly blocked by Alford's hand. Momentarily stunned, Sherman gives his king a confused look, as if demanding an explanation for an irrational act.
Alford: *calmly* Sheathe your sword, Sherman.
Sherman: *his anger returning* But milord, this insolent-
Alford: *looks at Sherman in the eye, stressing each syllabe of his sentence* Sheathe. Your. Sword.
Looking as if he had just been thrown into freezing water, Sherman quickly returned his sword back into its scabbard. While Krowl's guards relaxed at the sight, it was clear Sherman was still boiling to tear the rebel leader apart, his devotion to his king the only thing holding him back.
One of his problems solved for the moment, Alford turns to speak to Krowl.
Alford: The rebel leader. The man whose love and passion could overturn a nation. Certainly inspiring... *a proud smile grows in Krowl's face* Inspiring, but delusional. *... and is quickly substituted by a mix of shock, outrage and confusion* Did you think the tragic story of your infatuation with a noblewoman justified fueling a rebel movement? Fueling the deaths of your countrymen? I respect the guts you had in meeting with me this way and the good will you showed, but your motivations reek of nothing but childishness.
As Krowl struggles to digest what he just heard, a glimmer of a victorious look crosses Sherman's face before he realizes that Alford is now staring at him.
Alford: Do not think yourself so superior, Marshal, for your actions were reprehensible and child-like as well. I do not condone of you letting your petty squables influence the way you lead our armies and how you mistreat the families you have sworn to protect. The nobles and aristocrats are to serve the people and be guiding examples to the masses, not tyrants who crush the disfavoured under their heel. You better than anyone should understand that even the lowliest peasant has the right to change his stars. Do not forget that again, James Muhrixan.
Sherman breaks eye contact and looks to the side, humbled. The mention of the name he once carried stirred old memories inside him. The faceless images of his Muharist parents, whom he barely remembered; the raging flames that took his family away from him; the priests of the Church of the Holy Light who found him and took him under their wing; his first gaze at the radiant Lordaeron City, where he would grow to be a strong and pious youth; the day he was adopted by the Shermans, a noble family closely tied to the military who saw great potential in him and gifted him with nobility.
Krowl: *having regained his composure* So what does this mean, good king? My motives at first may have been selfish, but I assure you I am a patriot at heart. I truly wish to keep our kingdom safe from harm, but it is impossible in its current state. The corruption and self-righteousness of the higher circles of power has to go if Lordaeron is to keep true to the freedom it promises to its people. What is your choice? My allegiance and respite from the pagan rebellions, or Sherman's and a lifetime of bloodshed?!
Alford retreats into his thoughts. His hand smoothly scratching his chin, the king wonders how he should act. Much needed peace but betrayal of his right-hand man (and Lordaeron itself), or bloodshed but approval of the masses? As the moments fly by and Krowl seems more and more impatient, a door finally opens up in the king's mind. A third door.
Alford: *takes his sword and hands it to Sherman* Marshal, take my sword and wait for me outside. Krowl, have your man do the same. I hope you're not afraid of a private conversation with your king.
Krowl: *suspicious* ... Do as he says.
The guards leave the room without hesitation, while Sherman lingers on for another moment, giving both men a serious stare before leaving.
Alford: Now that we have finally been left alone, I have a proposal for you. If you accept it, I expect you to disband the People's Front as you promised, though I'll allow you to keep in contact with a select few of your lieutenants.
Krowl: *curiously raises as eyebrow* I'm all ears.
Alford: *exhales heavily and adopts a regal pose* My father once told me that the truest victory was not obtained in battle, but in stirring the hearts of the people. I recognize your skills as a leader, Krowl. You went from a disgraced army captain to being the leader of the most troubling rebel movement this countr has faced in decades. I've noticed how your men see you. Sheer admiration. Unquestioning loyalty. I cannot, however, have you take Marshal James Sherman's place. Sherman is an icon for the people: a pious and fearsome warrior and a brilliant tactician. I can't, I don't want to and I won't accept anyone else but Sherman as my right-hand man, nor would I betray everything I have stood for during my rule by forgiving a rebel who mingles with the pagans and giving him such a position. On the other hand, this land will soon be stricken by war. I know of the pagan movements rising all across the place. Even Kul Tiras' Grand Admiral is proudly declaring his worship of the Viridian God. The pagans and their infighting have only brought suffering to the world, which is why it needs something to unite it once more. Once this war has ended, there will be a power vacuum. Nations will crumble and thrones will be left empty. New kings will need to rise to lead those people. Kings who care about freedom and equality above the thrall of eldritch gods. A shining beacon of reassuring light - that's what a king should be! Do you understand what I offer you!?
Krowl: *mix of confusion and awe* No milord, I cannot.
Alford: I offer you not a life of service under me. I offer you a chance to be my peer. *spreads his arms wide open* I offer you a crown.