Belengier slammed his mug onto the table. “And for our next toast--a great victory against that little shit Astolfo on the morrow.”
“Hear, hear!” declared Bramimonde, raising her glass. “May he perish, screaming and whining like a little baby!”
Elaine glanced at Blancardin. “They were betrothed once. Briefly.”
“Very briefly,” said Bramimonde, with a shudder. “Astolfo Rabicano is not a man who improves much on further acquaintance.”
Belengier gave a harsh laugh. “Oh, I don’t know. Something tells my fist would very much like to get to know him better.”
“On a battlefield, I fear that may never happen,” noted Blancardin quietly. “So I fear your fist is going to be quite disappointed on this matter.”
“Besides, wasn’t there another incident, years ago?” noted Bramimonde.
“Supposedly, but I was exceedingly drunk at the time, and thus, can swear to nothing,” noted Belengier.
“If half the details I hear are true, I can understand wanting to stick by that story,” muttered Gurnemanz. “Especially the bits about the donkey.” He glanced at Elaine and coughed. “My apologies, miss, if I…”
Elaine chuckled quietly. “I’ve probably read worse,” she noted gently.
“That does not comfort me,” muttered Gurnemanz. “I try very hard to be a godly man.” He gave a shake of his head. “Even if I fail more often than I should.”
An uncomfortable silence spread over the table. “Where do you put working with us?” said Elaine. “If I may ask.”
The Duke of Montfort was silent for a long while. “I do not know, my lady,” he said at last. “All I know is that Amfortas and his troops, who I have regarded as friends and allies, have acted to burn the world. And that you and yours have not, as yet.” He shut his eyes. “Also, that looking on you, you seem at heart, people like any other. And so I will take this chance, and hope that I am doing my duty to my land, and to my Gods.”
“I’m a little more optimistic than you on this, Graharz,” said Belengier. “I see it like this--Amfortas asked us to turn on our kin when they tried to do their duty, and then used the most treacherous means he could come up with to hurt that kin.” The young nobleman shook his head. “Well--I don’t care for that. And I’m not going to do it.”
“Your father does not agree with you,” noted Gurnemanz. “Neither do your brothers. What say you to that?”
Belengier took a long swallow of his drink. “Well, I’ll just hope that they come to their senses before it gets to unpleasant. Because I will burn in hell before I serve Amfortas.”
There was silence for a moment, then Blancardin raised his glass. “Here, here,” he declared quietly. The other Peers nodded, and then raised their own, and clinked together in a toast.