“Where is he, Leonais?” called out Mansemat Cthonique in his deepest, most earth-rumbling voice, a voice that made a man’s knees shake slightly when he heard. “Where is the Prince of Piss and Shit? Where is the Lord of Refuse, the Master of Scum? Where is Amfortas? I look for him here, and yet I never see him!”
Justinian smiled to himself slightly. As pleasant as he could be most of the time, there were times when Mansemat reminded you that, yes, he was a Dark Lord. Which was oddly comforting when you were on his side, in a situation like this.
“I did not know the Black Dragon traded in petty insults,” came a voice from below. Justinian glanced down and saw a pale Eremite with a salt-and-pepper beard walking forward, a younger Eremite at his side.
“I would not call these ‘insults’, sir,” answered Mansemat. “Merely an accurate statement as to the Prince’s character. Now who would you be? You are not the Archon Septimus, I know this.”
“I am Sir Georges Kerabim,” said the Eremite, “and for the moment, I speak for the Archon and the Prince, Nightscum. Will you still take liberties with the man’s name now that he has a champion?”
Mansemat crossed his arms. “That sounds close to a challenge, Sir Georges?”
The Eremite gave a defiant. “I fear no thing spawned in night, Dark Lord.” The young man next to Sir Georges glanced at him in worry. Justinian realized he recognized the man--his old friend Sylvester Khi. Perhaps it was simply the distance, distorting the sight, making him look small, but Sylvester looked miserable--hungry, cold, and wet. A part of Justinian wanted to wave to him, but then he realized that he and Sylvester were enemies now.
That saddened him, he realized.
“Very well,” said Mansemat. “I accept your challenge. Do you wish to cross swords with me, Eremite?”
Sir Georges drew his blade and gave a nod. “If you promise to abide by the laws of honor, Nightthing, then yes, I do wish to.”
“Then let us meet tomorrow at dawn,” said Mansemat grandly. “I shall fight you before the gates of the White Walls, Sir Georges Kerabim.”
“May the Seven choose the victor,” muttered Sir Georges, turning away.
“If you wish,” answered Mansemat with a smile.