Rainald de Lasliez leaned out the window, and regarded the gardens below. A few children played idly running around the paths--the twins stood before a fountain, clearly in the middle of another of their silly little arguments. He smiled to himself. The gardens of Sans Souci, the work of generations of the Lasliez family, truly were a marvel.
“Are you all right, Rainald?” asked Allard.
Rainald turned to his brother. “How can I be, Allard? With things as they are… how can I be?”
Allard frowned, then slapped his brother lightly on the shoulder. “Hardship has afflicted this family before, brother. We have withstood a hundred invasions from the Folk of Night, and a score of tyrants plucked from this side of the river. This present evil will pass. The Lords of the White Mountain will remain. As we always have.”
Rainald sighed at that. “So doubtless said the Bayards.” He scowled and shook his head. “And before them, the Alcides, if one wants to be particularly grand. That things have always been so does not mean that they will always remain so. Something our present circumstances have proven.” He shut his eyes. “Did I do well, Allard?”
Allard considered for a moment. “In the end, I do not think you could do other than what you have and remain a man,” he said.
Rainald nodded sadly as he walked away from the window. “I hear rumors out of Tintagel. Rumors of blood in the streets, and the Holly Throne burnt to ash…”
“Who could imagine it would come to this?” muttered Allard, as they headed down the hall.
“Father did,” said Rainald. “He warned everyone what Amfortas was. What all these moves to ‘protect’ us meant. And look what happened to him.”
“Astonishing, is it not?” said Allard. “The Nightfolk, who haven’t crossed the Murkenmere in strength since Lord Shaddad’s invasion, suddenly murder the man most opposed to the Prince’s designs.”
“Indeed,” said Rainald with a dark chuckle. “The tendency for the Lands of Night to attack not the Prince’s allies but his enemies is most astonishingly poor tactics on their side.” The pair were silent for awhile. “Guiscard remains secure?”
“I have his latest message,” said Allard. “All remains under control--indeed, he doesn’t think word of the action has spread beyond Montalban.”
“That will change soon,” said Rainald. “We have thrown the dice, Allard. Let us hope they land in our favor.”
“They didn’t come up ‘Black Bitch’s eyes’,” replied Allard. “At least, not yet.” He smiled at his brother. “So, let us prepare for your party eh?”