The Kingdom of Æthelmearc is reeling from a discovery made by Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin, King’s Equestrian Champion, when she opened the stall of the Mighty Freya this morning. At first she thought that thieves had been at work for there was no tossing of blonde mane, or pawing of hooves in anticipation of the morning’s hay. There appeared to be no horse at all in the stall!

Then a small movement was seen in the back corner, accompanied by a pitiful whinny. What was this thing and where was the Pride of Æthelmearc? The coloring was the same, the blaze correct…but this tiny creature was no more than waist high! After looking the animal in the eye, though, there could be no doubt. Freya had been shrunk by some magical means.

This, of course, would spell absolute disaster for the upcoming tournament season. A quick try of barding and saddle revealed the hopelessness of the situation. Tiercelin vowed revenge, and sent messengers to the King, who in turn sent for one who might be able to solve this awful mystery.

Brother Cadfael, upon arriving at the stables, made careful inspection of the grounds, the other stalls (curiously, only the King’s Champion’s horse was affected), and the surrounding countryside. It was almost evening before he returned, carrying a crumpled purple banner.

“Your Majesty,” he said, “I found this dropped in haste by riders heading eastward. I am not familiar with the heraldry.”

King Gareth took one look, and exclaimed, “I know this well! Purpure, within a laurel wreath vert fimbriated Or, an eastern crown of three grand points tipped with pearls and two lesser points, all Or.”

“What does that mean?” asked Cadfael.

“This,” said King Gareth, “means war!”

Happy April Fool’s Day from the Gazette Staff!