Elaine sipped her tea, and glanced at Marfisa Mongrane. “I… have to admit--this is a… surprise…”
“What?” declared the Marshal of Tremisona grandly. “That my family has decided to put aside petty outdated feuds and serve the all the folk of Night in the upcoming struggle?”
“Uhhh, well, not that part,” said Elaine, shifting nervously. “It’s the… ‘supplying an additional army’ part.” She coughed. “Really didn’t see that coming.” Elaine bit her lip. “In fact--isn’t that sort of… illegal?”
Marfisa smiled. “It’s feudal law, Elaine. The whole thing is so tangled and complicated that we have plenty of wiggle room.” She gestured towards herself. “I mean--I am legally a man in certain capabilities while I’m wearing this. That’s how complicated it is!”
Rodomonte entered the chamber. “Three more applicants, meerkat. They wish to see you--their… loudest member says you will remember them.”
Marfisa turned to the hulking Ogre. “Do they seem dangerous?”
Rodomonte thought it over. “More… irritating,” he said. “But--I could be wrong.”
Marfisa leaned back in her chair, thinking it over. “Well, send them in,” she declared after a moment. “I’ll take my chances.” Rodomonte gave a sweeping bow, and exited the room.
Elaine glanced at her friend. “Are you sure about this?”
“Well, I figure between you, me and Roddy, we have enough toughness to take care of just about anyone,” said Marfisa.
“Hmm. You have a point,” agreed Elaine, glancing back at the door as it opened.
“--and after last night, I get to choose the name!” declared a somewhat familiar, rather short Erl woman as she marched in with a tall Erl man and a Goblin following her. “Marshal of Tremisona, we, the Tre--”
“You three guys!” said Marfisa, leaping gleefully to her feet. She turned to Elaine and pointed. “Look! Look! It’s these three guys! From the wedding in White Pine! Remember?”
Elaine gave a weary nod. “Yep. Okay, let me see… Gwydd… Meliadus… and Faileuba… right?” she stated, pointing to each in turn. “Sorry if I can’t think of your last names right now…”
Faileuba appeared slightly uneasy. “Umm… that’s… fine. You’re… the Black Dragon’s stepdaughter, right? Melanie?”
“Elaine,” said the young woman with the slightest roll of her eyes. “You might be thinking of my stepsister. Malina. The Dev.”
Meliadus scratched his head. “Huh. That might be why I was wondering where your horns went.”
Elaine stared at the pair, then glanced at Gwydd. “Do they take a lot of blows to the head?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe,” muttered the Goblin.
“Hey,” declared Faileuba huffily, “lots of them are self-inflicted.” She and Meliadus shared a significant nod. “So… what have you been up to since White Pine?” she asked Elaine.
Elaine raised an eyebrow. “Oh… not much. Just helped kick off the Great War. Got a nifty magical sword.” She raised the Blade of Light, and gave it a slight shake. “Among other things. You?”
Faileuba gulped. “Yeah. We’ve… really been out of the loop lately. Operating out in the hinterlands.”
“Our last job was basically us stopping a couple of murderous lunatics who were working for some old bastard following his own crazy feud,” said Meliadus.
“You know--we do that a lot actually,” said Faileuba.
Meliadus thought it over. “Hmmm… you’re right. I wonder if it’s an ‘us’ thing or an ‘old bastard’ thing…”
“Can’t it be both?” muttered Gwydd. He turned to Marfisa. “So are we hired?”
“Oh, yes!” said Marfisa with a laugh. “Yes! You three are great chivalrous warriors, just like me, and Elaine, and Rodomonte and Lord Mansemat, so--this must be the Lady’s will! All of us, working together--in the Great War!”
“You sure this is it?” asked Meliadus.
“Hey--it better be!” said Faileuba. “I can actually afford a good outfit for it right now!” She turned to the Marshal. “Do you need us around immediately, or… do we have some wiggle room here? Because we have a bit of unfinished business…”
“Oh, don’t worry!” said Marfisa. “We won’t be moving for a couple weeks.” She glanced at Elaine. “Won’t this be neat?”
“It’ll definitely be interesting,” muttered Elaine.