Mansemat idly poked the fire. “Well, really,” he said at length, “if we do march into the Free Cities, what could anyone do?”
Nisiroch blinked. “Manny, who should I begin with? Asterot? Belberith? The Mongranes?”
“Don’t forget the mother of your child, Nissy!” stated Morgaine suddenly, setting down the cup of cocoa before her.
Nisrioch sighed and nodded. “Albracca’s reaction is another thing to consider…”
“Well, let’s consider it,” said Mansemat, “What can they do to us? Immediately, I mean. The Cthonique holdings are one of the largest in the Lands of Night--and now we are officially tied and allied with the Marsh. That is a power bloc not even the Shadow Woods can equal.”
“By itself, no,” said Nisrioch. “But the Ebony Throne and Mount Qaf together…”
“Still wouldn’t be enough,” answered Mansemat, stepping towards his brother. “And that’s ignoring the fact that the Shadow Woods is barely staying together as things stand, and the Ashuranas have always had the problem of too few Devs ruling too much territory. They couldn’t afford to move against us. Not immediately.”
Nisrioch sighed. “Not immediately, no,” he agreed. “But eventually, and when they were ready we would be at war with Leonais.”
“And also chilly, because, winter!” added Morgaine. She shivered slightly. “Which reminds me, I’ve got to get my furs out of storage.”
Mansemat glanced at his sister. “You are acting unusually… odd today. Even by your standards.”
“Ehh, I have to pick up slack for this guy,” she stated, gesturing towards her elder brother. “Part of the agreement--when Nissy gets all serious, unless it’s absolutely necessary for both of us to be all gloomy, I lighten up things. And vice versa.”
“Uh… huh.” Mansemat turned to Nisrioch. “So you two actually went and made a genuine arrangement of this nature?”
“And put it in writing,” said Nisrioch.
“It made things easier,” piped in Morgaine. “We even put a clause about the proper distribution of scones at breakfast.” She glared at her brother. “Which he has flagrantly abused!”
Nisrioch turned to her, clearly offended. “Morgaine, I keep telling you, if you’re going to keep interpreting ‘half a scone’ as ‘most of a scone with a little chunk cut off to give to my brother’, I’m just going to get an extra one. It’s simpler for both of us.”
“Oh, sure, pretend you aren’t violating are sworn agreement!” declared Morgaine, waving her hand in apparent fury.
“Remind me why I go to you two for advice?” muttered Mansemat.
“We’re odd, but we’re clever,” replied Nisrioch.
“And we wouldn’t leave you alone if you didn’t,” added Morgaine. Nisrioch nodded in agreement.