Amante and Richardet were seated for breakfast when Mansemat entered. “Well, excellent news!” stated the Dark Lord.
“Yes,” said Richardet. “It’s banana bread day!”
Amante nodded in agreement. “We’ve been waiting for this since the LAST banana bread day!”
“We’re actually surprised you don’t serve it more often,” added Richardet.
Mansemat shut his eyes. “We… can’t always get enough bananas for it.” He coughed. “However, that is beside the point. I have good news for you in addition to it being banana bread day--House Cthonique is prepared to support Montalban.”
The twins stared at him for a moment. “Well, that is good news,” said Amante quietly.
“Yes,” said Richardet. “I… actually feel like a jerk for being so happy about banana bread day.” He shook his head. “My people are suffering, and I enjoy strange and exotic Nightland food. I am a disgrace to my house.”
Amante looked at her brother. “Well, then… can I get your banana bread?”
“No!” stated Richardet. “My remorse does not outweigh my desire for it.”
Mansemat coughed. “Yes… well… now that you are officially allied with House Cthonique, you may eat your breakfast in the main hall with the rest of us, where there is much banana bread. And… visit Marsilion’s Folly, if you desire! A city full of marvels and wonders! Like its famous trained seals!” The twins stared at him. Mansemat shifted awkwardly. “They do tricks. And let you feed them by hand.” The silence in the room stretched from the merely uncomfortable into the exceptionally awkward. “Well… that’s… one of the many things you could see in Marsilion’s Folly. It has other things. Which are also quite… keen.”
Amante coughed. “Well… we’ll keep that in mind. Now… about this assistance to Montalban…”
Mansemat seemed to recover his poise at that. “Ahh. Well, I have to admit you’re probably going to be somewhat disappointed. Cthonique interests cover a wide area of the Lands of Night--we can’t simply pull up everything and come to your aid at the drop of a hat. For now--we’re looking at a preliminary force of sixty thousand or so, with perhaps a smaller force coming to aid your brother as quickly as possible.”
Richardet nodded. “Sixty… thousand…”
“I know,” said Mansemat with a sigh. “I wish I could do more, but that’s how it stands.”
“Well,” said Amante quietly. “We are… thankful that you’ve done what you could…”
The Dark Lord bowed. “Don’t bother. It was… what had to be done.” He turned to leave. “Now--do come down to the main hall for breakfast.”
The twins watched him leave, and sat there in silence for a while. “So…” said Amante quietly. “The Dark Lord considers… more troops than the entire allied Free Cities can muster simultaneously… a preliminary force.” She nodded. “Well… that’s interesting.”
“Let’s be glad they’re on OUR side now,” said Richardet. “Now come on… if we wait too long, they’ll probably eat all the banana bread.”
Amante’s eyes spread in quiet anger. “Oh, no they WON’T!” she declared, darting from the room.