“He really said all that?” asked Eustace de Calx, as he reclined on a set of luxurious velvet cushions while a pair of servants massaged his feet.
Jeronim nodded. “Every word.” He was, he felt, becoming used to dealing with the Duke of Tranchera, as strange as that seemed to him. It was a process based, he found, on learning to ignore all the lurid things that Eustace de Calx surrounded himself with, and focusing on the man himself. Admittedly, this could prove difficult--for example, this present room they were in was filled to the brim with one of the most startling collections of erotic art that the Count of Joyeuse had ever seen--but one ultimately learned to screen things out.
Eustace sipped a small cup of what Jeronim assumed was liqueur, of some sort, his eyes narrowed. “Troublesome,” he declared at last. The man and woman massaging his feet, glanced at each other worriedly, and then redoubled their efforts. “It sounds like Amfortas is… losing track of things. And that makes dangerous.” He sighed and set the cup down on a small statue in the shape of a nude nymph doing something improper. “Well, more dangerous than usual. In the manner of, say, a rabid mastiff.”
“I… suppose, you’re right,” said Jeronim, turning his eyes to the one picture in the room that wasn’t obscene. Though strangely enough, staring at the picture of a little girl petting the dog surrounded by so much depravity made him oddly uncomfortable. “So… I suppose this means we will delay the plan?”
“Oh, no,” said the Duke. “We will speed it up. Time and quick action have become very important--we have no idea now when the Prince and his allies might make our goals impossible. So we act now.”
Jeronim started. “But… we need… can we at least get some more support… Blamor de Ganis, say…”
“The Duke of Almace has been bought and paid for by Amfortas,” said Eustace. “I must say, Count Jeronim, your naiveté is a source of never-ending surprise to me. To think you have spent so many years walking the corridors of power, and learnt so little of it…” A scantily clad man entered the room holding a silver tray. “Ahh! Emile! Is it ready?”
Emile uncovered the tray, revealing a single turnip. “Your turnip has been prepared, Monsieur, exactly as you have asked.”
Eustace began to rub his hands in glee. “Oh, you darling! You precious pet! Preparing my turnip just as I asked! Come--come, let me give you a kiss.” Emile stepped forward and kissed the Duke on the lips, then set the tray before him. Eustace turned to Jeronim. “You may wish to leave. Many people seem to be discomfited by afternoon turnip.” He began to expertly cut the root before him. “Why I have no idea…”
Jeronim took him up on his offer, and darted from the room.