“And is your father well?” asked Amfortas, serenely slicing a small portion of the suckling pig off for himself.
Astolfo de Rabicano nodded, as he slathered his own serving in fried apples. “Indeed. He sends his regards, Your Highness.”
Naimon Nestor smiled. “Well it is good to hear my cousin the Duke of Monteriano is all right. Especially in these perilous times.” He turned to the Prince. “May I state that you are like a pillar to us here in the loyal lands. A pillar when so much has turned to treacherous swamp.”
“Has there been a flood, which turned ground swampy? I should have been notified. I do not wish to drown, after all,” murmured Amfortas. The response to this was a baffled silence. “I am joking,” he explained. “I understand that Duke Naimon is speaking metaphorically.”
“I may have been, but there is much sense in what you said,” noted Naimon. “A flood--a metaphorical flood--has turned the ground of these lands swampy. A flood of treason and treachery! And the swamp--it is a swamp that threatens to swallow up the loyal and true! But, Seven willing, sir, you, as our Lord Protector, as our great sword and shield, will help us set things aright.”
“Oh, they will be willing,” answered Amfortas.
“Here, here!” proclaimed Astolfo, striking his fist against the tabletop.
Naimon and his sons dutifully replicated the gesture.
“You have a very handsome family, Duke Naimon,” said Amfortas.
“I thank you, my Prince,” said Naimon.
“Yes,” noted Amfortas, glancing around the room, “you have done the line of Nestor proud.” He paused, frowning slightly. “Is that tapestry new?”
Naimon followed the Prince’s gaze. “Yes, I believe it is.”
“Remove it immediately,” Amfortas stated. “It does not suit the hall.”
“Of course, my Prince,” said Naimon, signaling a servant to fulfill Amfortas’ request.
“And have it burned,” continued Amfortas, his voice flat.
“It will be done,” answered Naimon promptly.
Amfortas smiled slightly and looked around the room again. “A very handsome family,” he noted. “Astolfo I will need you to lead the force to cut off the Monleonese heading out to relieve Montalban.”
The young nobleman gave a slight bow. “Sir, it is an honor and a privilege to so be of use to you.”
“I know,” answered Amfortas. He raised a hand in blessing. “Victory go with you, young Astolfo. May you rout the treacherous scum, and kill Duke Agrivain.”
“I will bring you his head, sir,” declared Astolfo warmly.
Amfortas chuckled. “That would be a worthy gift.” He turned to Naimon. “Perhaps I could give to you to hang in your hall to take the place of that awful tapestry.”
Naimon blinked, then smiled broadly. “That would be… most thoughtful, your Highness.”
“Of course, you would need to figure out a way to hang it, but I could help with that,” said Amfortas. “I’m very good at that sort of thing.”