Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Siege of the White Mountain, (Volume 1: Raise the Black Banner)--Part 18

“…wind up freezing to death miles from home, bitten by snakes, and about to be devoured by bears,” finished up Palamedes. He glanced up at Sacripant. “But I mean other than that--no worries.”

Sacripant stared at his friend. “I just asked what you thought about heading across the river,” he said softly.

“Yes, and I told you,” said Palamedes with an exasperated shake of his head.

Sacripant nodded. “Well, I suppose you did. So… you’ll be staying here, then?”

“And disobey an order?” said Palamedes. “No, I’m a Cthonique Guard. I shall bravely follow my orders to my snake-bitten, torn apart by wild beast ends.” He paused. “With a smile. A SMILE!”

Sacripant watched as the chubby Guardsman forced an unnatural rictus onto his face. “Well, that’s… a spirit for it, I guess.”

“Yeah, and hey, you’ll be with me,” noted Palamedes. “So it won’t be so bad.”

“Sure. Sure,” noted Sacripant with a nod. “Why I bet it’ll be fun.”

“Wouldn’t go that far, but it will still be…” Palamedes blinked. “You’re going in with His Magnificence, aren’t you?”

Sacripant fidgeted. “What makes you say…?” he began.

There was a loud clap. “Remember, the Dark Lord wants us ready in three hours,” declared Quiet, appearing at Sacripant’s side. “And wear your good cloak! I want you looking dashing!” She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek.

As Quiet moved away, the Marsh Erl turned to regard Palamedes, who was tapping his toe ruefully. “How do you guess these things?”

“I operate on the assumption that the universe doesn’t like me,” answered Palamedes. “So… it’ll be just me. By myself.”

“Hey, the Serjeant will be there as well!” pointed out Sacripant.

“Yep, just me by myself,” noted Palamedes emphatically. “Hope you and Quiet remember me when you’re out there gallivanting with the Dark Lords.”

“Technically, we’ll more be aiding the Dark Lords in helping maintain a siege,” muttered Sacripant.

“Oh, please, you’ll be sitting in one of the damned Free Cities while I’ll be trudging the Great Stone Way.” Palamedes glanced up. “In late fall, mind you! The cold, wet part of the year.”

“Yeah, yeah, well--gryphon flight,” said Sacripant.

Palamedes considered it. “How long a gryphon flight?”

Sacripant winced. “His Magnificence is talking… multiple hours.”

“Okay,” agreed Palamedes. “That might be about as miserable as the long march to the river. Unless you’re a freak who likes gryphon rides.”

“Like His Magnificence?” suggested Sacripant.

Palamedes gave the Marsh Erl a confidential look. “I didn’t say it.”

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