Tall Bear said: “You give generously for a man with empty hands.”

Alberich had borne his scabbarded sword into the gathering place, easy in the crook of his arm; he had passed it to the Wolf Boy before entering the council circle. His hands were currently beneath his cloak, as if he sheltered from the cold. He said: “I am a man, Tall Bear, and I speak to you as a man. My vassals, I order. A free man, I do not coerce or command. A free man chooses what he will do, and where he will go, if will profit him–or because he is asked, and it pleases him to answer.” And with this, withdrawing his hands, he revealed a sealed letter. “Tall Bear, I ask you now to be my messenger. Take my word to that whelp, the younger Jalra, that he may know to whom he will bend the knee.”