By NLRC Staff

Troubled by the bandit leader's messages, King NLB began to wonder whether there was any truth in what the bandit leader had said. He could not just ignore those messages. Until he could figure out what was going on, he could not trust his minister anymore. The only people he could trust now were his men that were with him.

Without letting his minister know, King NLB called all his men and asked them to come to the same hideout the bandits had used. With the bandits gone, the hideout was an empty place and he thought it would be an appropriate place to meet his men if he were to keep the minister out of the loop. When they arrived at the hideout, the king told his men that he had made a plan. "None of you are going to talk about this plan to anyone, do you understand?" King NLB cautioned his men before he shared his plan.

"At the palace, you all are going to scatter here and there and disappear in different areas of the palace. I will leave the palace and go somewhere no one knows about," he explained, "You all are to spy on everything that goes on in the palace and find out what has been happening and what happens in my absence. Collect all those information, and once every two weeks, we all meet at this hideout and exchange information."

The men nodded; they were eager to help their beloved king in any way they could. King NLB then asked his men to go back to the palace and carry out their orders diligently. Soon they prepared to leave and they all scattered in different directions so as not to let other people know about their meeting. The men returned back to the palace, and King NLB took a western route. Instead of going back to the palace, he started going towards Pabi's home. He wanted to tell her what was going on and also wanted to hide from the others according to his plan.

King NLB soon arrived at Pabi's home. Seeing him, Pabi came running out to greet him. It had been long since he had left and her hope of him returning back had started to fade by the day. She could not believe that it was actually him standing in front of her.

"Pabi, I have to say something to you," King NLB did not want to wait much longer to tell Pabi the truth. He told her the entire story about who he really was and also shared with her about the bandit leader's messages about the conspiracy. He then told her about his plan and what he intended to do next to foil the conspiracy.

Pabi, having a hard time believing his story, was dumbfounded, and could not think what to say. "At least, you came back," surprised Pabi tried to compose herself. "You are always welcome here," she told him and, referring to his plan, said, "and I will help you with this." She liked him and she did not want him to be a victim of whatever was going on in the palace.

It had already been late at night. "Now, let's eat and go to sleep," Pabi said after she prepared a special meal for him. King NLB had missed her cooking and was delighted to finally get to enjoy the meal she had prepared.

King NLB had been lying low in Pabi's home for two weeks now. The fact that it had been two weeks also meant that it was time for him, according to his plan, to meet with his men at the hideout and exchange the information they had collected. He went to the bandits' hideout, which was his own now as there were no bandits left. All his men had arrived there according to the plan and were waiting for him.

"Okay, what have you guys found out? Speak out," he said to his men.

"My lord, there has been a major decrease in wealth at the treasury. Also, the rations that should have been provided to the needy people also have dwindled," his men told him of the unnatural shortages of wealth and food in the country. They then also said of the suspicious activities in the palace, "There are a lot of unrecognized soldiers wearing our troops' uniforms and staying in the bunkers."

The men continued to portray a grim picture of the security situation of the kingdom, "Most of them have been identified as mercenaries waiting for an appropriate time to leap into action. We have also discovered that there is a messenger that always leaves from the minister's room every week."

Upon hearing his men's findings, King NLB said, "Okay then, the most important thing to do now is to find out where our resources have disappeared into, and also to locate and identify every soldier who is not ours and keep tabs on him."

"Also, the messenger the minister uses," he said of the messenger that used to leave from the minister's room carrying a letter, "intercept him after he leaves the minister's room and find out about the contents of the letter while you distract him." By distracting the messenger with other things, King NLB was hopeful that his men would be able to find a way to read the letter without the messenger's knowledge. "As soon as that is done, make sure you keep a good record of that information so that you can report that to me accurately the next time we meet. Now, everyone disperse, we will meet at the hideout in two weeks," King NLB told his men.

King NLB continued to stay at Pabi's home and work on his plan from her home. He was actually having fun while he planned his next moves. The plot against him was like a game to him and he was enjoying it a lot. A part of his plan was to spread rumors in the country against the minister. Pabi was helping him in that regard by spreading such rumors throughout the town, like one that the king had been missing and that the minister was trying to kill the king. Such rumors had played their part in vilifying the minister.

While he was orchestrating the plan, King NLB was also enjoying the time spent with Pabi. At Pabi's home, they were always together; this was bliss for King NLB. "I will take you to the castle after this thing is over and after it is safe again," he used to tell Pabi.

Another two weeks passed by; and then King NLB went back to the hideout where his men were waiting for him. "My lord, we were able to intercept the messenger and read the letter he was carrying," the men excitedly told him about their success, "The message in the letter was addressed to the king of Nalapur and the message instructed him to move his troops further into our country's territory; wait until you returned back to the palace and then launch an attack."

Hearing the details of the conspiracy against him, King NLB got deep into thought. Soon he came up his own plot.

"Now, I get this clearly. The minister is going to let Nalapur invade us and assassinate me with the help of the mercenaries," King NLB inferred from all the information, "and with the city ransacked and the king dead, who better than the minister to become the next king?"

King NLB laughed. "You all, I have a plan," he told his men, "do what I tell you to do, this is going to be great!"

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