Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Siege of the White Mountain; Vol. 2: Fields Running Red--Part 12

“It is so good to know you are with us again, Your Highness,” said Sir Alexandros Chashmallim to the Prince.

Amfortas nodded serenely from his chair. “And it is good to be back home again,” he said, smiling. “The world holds many fascinations, but in the end, Leonais is where I begin, and where I end. Indeed, even when I leave it, I am still here. Sometimes, I even go to sleep somewhere else, and wake up here, with no idea how I arrived.”

Sir Jerome watched his commander nod to the Prince-Regent’s comment, while doing his best not to seem puzzled by it. “Ahh… yes. Yes, I know what you mean,” proclaimed Sir Alexandros, his face doing its best not to display its owner discomfort. “I myself often find myself missing the Concordat here. We are all of us bound to the lands of our birth, Your Highness.”

It was, Sir Jerome felt, a sterling effort. Sadly, the Prince’s only response to it was to stare intently at the aging Eremite, with a strangely bland expression. The young Eremite glanced at his partner, Sir Ambrose, who was shifting uncomfortably where he stood. To be fair, Jerome felt about as uneasy. It wasn’t simply the Prince--standing in the old chambers of the Sacristans was proving steadily nerve-wracking, Jerome found. It had been months, and to his mind not a single Eremite had quite adjusted to the change. They may have been proven to be traitors--but the Sacristans had still been brothers of the Faith. Their suppression was… discomfiting, and somehow, getting their former possessions didn’t make it any better.

The Prince had finally broken his silence--not by saying anything, but by rising from his chair. He strode over to Sir Alexandros. “So, Sir Alexandros, how stands my city? How has Joyeuse been since I have left it?”

“Excellent, Your Highness,” said Sir Alexandros. “We Eremites have kept your peace, with skill and dedication.”

Amfortas nodded, and turned from the Eremite. “Ahh. Yes. I see. Security is important to me, Sir Alexandros. Very important, since the death of my wife. You see?”

“Why, yes, yes, I do,” said Alexandros cheerily, “and rest assured--” And then the Eremite stopped speaking, producing an awful squawk as Amfortas rammed his hand through the man’s exposed throat. As Jerome and Ambrose watched, Amfortas pulled his bloodied hand away, while Sir Alexandros sputtered and contorted where he sat. The Prince watched the man fall from his seat and convulse on the ground as he died, then turned to the two young Eremites.

“Do you know why I just killed your commander?” said Amfortas calmly.

Jerome tried to say something but found his mouth wouldn’t work. Sir Ambrose it seemed was able to get something out. “No--no, sir,” he stated. “I… I am--certain you have a good reason, of course. You--you are the Prince. And--and we are not…”

Amfortas seemed to consider that, then nodded. “I killed him because he was a liar,” he explained serenely. “I know about the riots. About the murders. About the smugglers. You can not hide this from me. The Eremites have not been keeping the peace of my city with skill and dedication. And they should not pretend that they have.”

“We haven’t had the numbers since you sent the Archon…” began Sir Jerome.

He stopped when Amfortas turned to him, and fixed him with an icy blue eye. The Prince shook his head. “I do not like to be lied to, Eremite. I am a servant of the Light--lies create Darkness. Do you see?”

Ambrose and Jerome both nodded. Amfortas smiled at them. “Good. Good. Remember what you have been told. And live by it.” The Prince turned to leave, then pausing, as if he remembered something, turned to regard Sir Ambrose. “You.” He gestured for Ambrose to speak.

“I am… Sir Ambrose Erelim, Your Highness,” stated his partner uneasily.

“No. Now you are Sir Ambrose Chasmallim,” said Amfortas. “By my authority as Defender of the Faith, you are now the commander of the Eremites in this city.” He brightly clapped his hands together. “Now--go muse on your promotion.”

The pair swiftly left the chamber. “So… what do we tell the others?” muttered Sir Ambrose to Jerome.

“That you’re the commander now,” said Jerome. “Really--what else can we tell them?”

No comments:

Post a Comment