Ull Regni shook Mansemat’s hand. “Well, Your Magnificence, I have to say, of all the times people have tried to kill me, this was the time I enjoyed the most.”
Mansemat nodded as he drew his hand back, flexing it slightly. “Very well put, Your Prominence. Very--well put.”
“Don’t forget to write!” came the voice of Mansemat’s stepdaughter, Elaine. She rushed by with Marfisa Mongrane.
“I will!” said Marfisa. “That is--I’ll write. Not--I won’t forget. I’d never do that, it’d…” Suddenly, the young Marshal turned and looked at Mansemat for a moment. “Ummm--Elaine--could you--give me a--it’ll just take a second.” She bounded over to Mansemat. “I--I’d like to say--you--it--I…” She gulped and gave the Dark Lord a hug. “Thank you for not killing Roddy,” she whispered, then gulped again, and rushed off.
Ull gave Mansemat a teasing glance. “Well, well. Quite the ladykiller, aren’t we, Lord Cthonique?” Mansemat sighed. “Only joking!” said the Muspeilun. He looked away. “Tell me--what you said--when you let off that Troll--did you mean it?”
“I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t,” replied Mansemat quietly.
“And they say your siblings are the odd ones in the family,” said Ull. “Still--wish there were more of your sort about, Manny. Be a better world.” The mighty Ogre glanced up at the sky and gave a pleasant sigh. “I have enjoyed it here. Very much.”
“Your Prominence!” came a familiar voice. Agri Khan approached, his Kizaks behind him, carrying a package draped in silk. “I hoped you hadn’t left yet.”
“No, no,” said Ull absently. “Still here for a little while. You?”
Agri Khan bowed. “I’ll be staying for Her Precious Grace’s birthday. She is my godchild, after all.”
“Ahh! Young Malina. Very charming child. Very charming.” He nodded. “Wish I could stay here, but--you know. Kingdom to run.” He coughed. “Not that--I’m not saying you don’t have a kingdom to run.”
“I don’t,” said Agri Khan. “I’m hetman for the Crimson Horde. It’s--well, generally the Elders can manage without me. For a while, at least.” He coughed. “But--well, I really shouldn’t waste your time. I have a gift.” He clapped his hands together. The Kizaks removed the silk, revealing a massive bow of the Kizak design, the ends curved, with a quiver of arrows. Ull stared at the bow in surprise. “For an Ogre of the Folk of Fire, who has the soul of a child of the Scarlet Wolf,” declared Agri Khan, handing the bow to Ull.
The Muspeilun took the bow, a look of rapture on his face. “I… thank you.” He coughed. “This is lovely.”
The Kizaks bowed to him. “Consider it a sign of our respect,” said Agri Khan, turning to the silk. Ull nodded, and then bowed in return.
As he straightened, Idun Bragi approached. “Well--I really must be off.” Ull smiled nervously and then joined his cousin.
“Dragging out your farewells?” said the skald.
“Well, come on, Idun,” said Ull. “Even you have to admit this went well. And that Armida woman was damned charming.”
Idun nodded. “I have to admit, I liked her,” she acknowledged as they headed towards the Regni airship. “Still--you’ll understand that I may not have found it quite as--enjoyable as you did.”
“Right, right,” said Ull stepping on board. The crew of Goblins were busily preparing themselves as the Muspeilun, Ettin, and Erls that made up his retinue headed towards their chambers. Glancing across the way, he saw Skadi Utgardi standing on the bow of her own airship. Ull turned and raised his bow. “Oy, Skadi! Look at this! From Agrican!”
The Jotun turned and cupped a hand to her mouth. “It’s still a peasant weapon, Ull!”
As Idun watched, Ull seemed to consider a reply--then paused, strung his bow and sent an arrow flying through the air, which buried itself inches away from the Dark Lord of Stonefangs’ head in the mast of the airship. Idun stared in shock as Skadi turned, pulled the arrow out, and regarded it for a moment.
“You--you…” sputtered the skald at her cousin. “You just endangered EVERYTHING the Council…”
“Oh, it’s just a lark!” said Ull dismissively. “You know that, and more importantly, Skadi knows that. She may have a temper like a mad aurochs, but the Queen of Jotuns has a good head on her shoulders under it all.”
At that moment there was a piercing war cry and a battleaxe buried itself in the mast behind Ull. Idun crossed an arm. “She knows it’s a joke, eh?”
Ull turned and pulled the axe out, then glanced at Skadi who was grinning defiantly at him. “Of course she does,” said Ull. “If she didn’t, I’d be dead.” He handed the axe to Idun and then gave her the piece of silk. “Now, wrap that up. It’ll make an interesting memento.” He glanced at the gash in the mast. “Also, tell the captain I’ll pay for the repairs.”