Saturday, December 8, 2018

To Sit On a Throne of Ebony--Part 39

Tancred Pontieri glared at his nephew, standing amidst his guards while bonds were fitted to Tancred's wrists.  "So, this is the loyalty you show me?" he spat out.

"Well, uncle," replied Baudouin Pontieri, "I'm afraid Lord Bohemond pays better."

Tancred spat on the floor.  "A wretch.  The whole house of Goupil are a mass of wretches and traitors."

"They are our family," noted Baudouin.  "My mother is Goupil, you remember."

"And you certainly show it!" snapped Tancred.  "Well, all is now lost.  The hope of propriety winning the day against Lord Asterot's accursed sister is fled.  Kill me now, I've seen enough."

"Do not tempt me," muttered Baudouin as the guards took him away.  As the former contender for the Belfior Maganzas' claim was escorted, swearing, Baudouin took a seat and sighed.

"So what now?" asked his aide.

"Now we send Lord Bohemond a message telling him the camp is his, and we hope he sends a reasonable message to Lady Fiordespina," said Baudouin.  "Oh, and we hope the rebels don't kill us."

The younger Erl looked worried.  "Oh, I'd almost forgotten about all that in the fighting."  He bit his lip nervously. "We're in a bad way, aren't we?"

Baudouin shrugged.  "Well, it's not pleasant, but I've been in worse."

Thursday, December 6, 2018

To Sit On a Throne of Ebony--Part 38

The rain pattered at the airship's windows.  Lureth shuddered.  "I can see why they named this place the Bleak Isle."

Oram Fiveneedles nodded.  "It is one of the few places in the Lands of Night that has truly earned its name."  He shivered.  "Brrr.  Listen to that wind."

Lureth nodded.  "So do you think Lord Duon will be ammendable to our deal?" she asked.

"They all will," said Oram.  "These people have nothing left but pride and a few scraps of ground.  Most of them probably wouldn't know what to do with power if they had it."

"And you're not worried?" asked Lureth.

"Well, things might be a mess," noted the older Goblin, "but honestly, they pretty much always have in the Shadow Woods.  At least now, there's a chance of us not having to listen to a bunch of incompetent Erl aristocrats."

"I'll drink to that!" said Old Garin, gulping down his ale.

The two Goblins turned in shock.  "You... were here the whole time," said Lureth.  "Listening?"

"Yes I'm very good avoiding notice," said Old Garin.  "But don't worry I completely agree with you.  Trust me, no hates Maganzas like a Maganza.  We are the worst."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

To Sit On a Throne of Ebony--Part 37

Duon groaned weakly and wondered if his legs were broken or merely sprained.  It was arguably a technical distinction, as whichever it was, it hurt like all the Hells, and quite a few other less pleasant places on top of that.  He glanced up at the sky and wondered how much time had passed.  A few days, he was almost certain.

"Right," came the voice of Old Garin, "I'm fairly certain he was falling somewhere in this direction..."  The bushes rustled, and the older Erl came out of them, followed by a few Goblins and Ogres.  "Ahh, here he is.  Lord Duon.  Excellent.  You're not dead.  That was a concern."

"Old Garin?" he asked weakly. "Who are these people?"

"They work for the Emporium," answered Old Garin. "Excellent people.  Just excellent."  He looked Duon over.  "Well, you're much better than I imagined you'd be.  Do you need help getting up, or..."

"I need help walking," said Duon.  "My legs... my legs are shattered..."

"No, they ain't," muttered a Goblin 

Old Garin hushed him.  "Well, certainly, we can assist you."  He smiled at Duon. "Why that why brought them down.  They were thinking they might need to find your heirs, but I convinced them that would be too much bother, and got them to follow me here.  And here you are."

"Yes, after days of hardship," murmured Duon.

Old Garin looked at him nervously.  "It's... been a few hours," he muttered.  "I admit that is less than ideal, but... well, it's less than a few days."

Duon frowned.  "Do you want to help me, or do you want to complain?"

Old Garin sighed.  "Right.  Right..."

Saturday, December 1, 2018

To Sit On a Throne of Ebony--Part 36

Pinabel stared at the meal before him, a thin bowl of corn gruel.  He cursed Bilet Maganaza again--of course the man would have eaten up most of Belfior's quality food during the siege.  Not that Pinabel and his forces were under siege.  Oh no.  Just that the Emporium and its... allies?  Catspaws?  Dupes? 

Well, whatever they were, they controlled a great deal of territory around Belfior.  Not that they were hostile, exactly.  Oh, no.  The Emporium insisted they were dear and good friends to the Regent, who simply had to discuss certain matters.

Pinabel wondered if this was what Marduk Cthonique felt like, when after defeating Sutekh, the Holy Empire rolled in and conquered the Lands of Night.  That wasn't a comforting thought.

Still, it wasn't like the Belfior Maganzas were completely defeated, even if the rumors about Malagriff and Malachel were true.  True, the actual Belfior Maganzas were more or less defunct, but a good portion of their forces remained at large, with two of Malagriff's brother-in-laws squabbling over who was now in charge. 

But no, the Emporium was clearly the true winner of all this instability.  After years of getting rich, they'd realized they had an opportunity here and taken it.  

Aru poked his head in.  "Sir, the Emporium representatives have arrived."

Pinabel forced on a smile as he rose to his feet.  "Well, show them in."  He hadn't survived the fight against Shaddad Cthonique by blinding himself to where things stood, after all.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

To Sit On a Throne of Ebony--Part 35

The Emporium representatives stared at the shouting throng of Maganzas before them.  "For the last time," said Lureth Stoneshoe, raising her voice to make herself heard above the din, "we simply wish to know who is in charge here.  Surely you can answer that!"

The din only grew worse. Lureth considered having her men fire a few bolts into the crowd, but decided that she wouldn't be able to justify the expense in crossbow bolts to the Emporium.  They could be terrors about

A person crawled out of the squabbling crowd--a rather old Erl in slightly rumpled clothing.  "Right, right, wrong question to ask," he said.

Lureth blinked.  "What?"

"Who's in charge," he said, standing upright.  "Bad question.  They don't know, and if they did, they'd dispute it. And if the man who was supposed to be in charge were here... Well, I doubt Duon would be much help?"

"We found very helpful, previously," she stated.  "Though admittedly, that probably wasn't intentional on his part."

The older man nodded.  "Well, that definitely sounds like Duon."  He coughed.  "You wouldn't happen to have a spot of ale?  Or perhaps two spots?"

Lureth stared at him for a moment.  "Garin Maganza the Elder of the Twisted Tower? Commonly called..."

"Old Garin," he said.  "That's me.  Now, could you answer my query?"

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

To Sit On a Throne of Ebony--Part 34

Wenilo sipped the wine and gave a satisfied sigh.  "Now this is living," he declared cheerily, as he set his goblet down.

Glim chuckled.  "Surely you're used to all this?" the Goblin asked.

"Not really," answered Wenilo with a shrug.  "I mean, I may technically be a Maganza, but... well, Iron Fist isn't even a castle, it's a fort.  And by a 'fort', I mean a few huts surrounded by a big wooden fence on top of a hill."

"Really?" said Glim.  "So how did you even wind up Seneschel?"

"As I said, the Belfior Maganzas wanted someone to hold the bag, and I was close enough related so as to count as kin, but far enough not to be a threat," answered Wenilo.  "So... are we marching after this?"

"How should I know?" said Glim.  "I thought you were in charge."

"Me? I just know where things are," said Wenilo.  "I thought we all wanted to avoid having the Maganzas in charge of things!  I thought it was the entire point of this!"

Glim stroked his chin.  "So... this entire army doesn't actually have a commanding officer."

"Apparently," said Wenilo.  He considered things.  "My goodness.  Things really have gotten odd in the Shadow Woods, haven't they?  Well, we should probably try to make it seem like have some plan for what to do next."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

To Sit On a Throne of Ebony--Part 33

The Maganzas assembled on the Bleak Isle had gathered in the hall to discuss who was in charge now that Lord Duon seemed to have fallen down a pit. These discussions were proving most profitless. 

"No, the Maganza of the Five Trees naturally outranks the Maganza of the Four Branches!" snapped Girart.  "Five is more than four!"

"It doesn't work like that!" shouted Lady Iphis.  "And why do you care?  You're the Maganza of the Black Hall!  This doesn't concern you!"

"Of course it does!" snapped Girart.  "Proper etiquette concerns all Maganzas!  All of us!  Man and woman, adult and child, living and dead..."

Lady Iphis crossed her arms.  "Lord Velric bribed you, didn't he?"

Girart's eyes bulged.  "That is a disgusting insinuation, and I am completely unsurprised that a woman as low as you would think it, Lady Iphis.  The depth of your depravity have yet to be sounded."

Iphis nodded. "So he did then?"

Girart gave a growl.  Old Garin coughed.  "I hate to break up all this vital discussion," he noted, "but perhaps we should try to get Duon out of the pit he's in right now?"

Girart turned. "First, it's a ravine.  Second, he might be dead, which would make it wasted effort."

Iphis grabbed Girart by the shoulder. "Hold on!  Hold on!  Aren't a pit and a ravine the same thing, more or less?"

Girart sneered at her.  "You would think that."

Garin sighed and wished he had a drink.  Or more precisely another drink, as opposed to the one in his left hand.  It was that sort of day.