Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Siege of the White Mountain, Vol. 3: Due to the Dead--Part 10

Duke Naimon Nestor felt uneasy as he entered the Great Hall.  It occurred to him, vaguely, that there was something wrong about this--that he should not be made to feel so fearful in what was his own home, when you got down to it.  But in the end, he dismissed these thoughts.  Amfortas was his kinsman, the Prince of Leonais, and Lord Protector of the Free Cities, no matter what the rebels said, and that produced in a man a sort of awe that was only natural.  When he called you for a meeting, and made it clear in no uncertain terms that you were to attend... well, one couldn't help but be unnerved.

This uneasiness only grew when he saw Osric de Ross standing in a corner, looking bedraggled, miserable, and somewhat bruised.  And was joined by a sense of annoyance when he saw Duke Uton de Rabicano standing in a corner.  But all that ended when Prince Amfortas declared in a quiet voice, "Duke Nestor.  So good of you to join us."

Naimon turned to see the Prince by the fireplace, stiring the embers idly with a poker.  "Quite cold," stated Amfortas, smiling pleasantly.  "The weather is not acting as we want.  It is quite bothersome."  He gave a nod. "I will have to speak to people about that..."

"Indeed, sire?" said Naimon quietly, glancing at Lord Osric and Duke Uton.  "Sir, what was...?"

"Lord Osric has told me many fascinating things," muttered Amfortas softly.  "Just... fascinating."  He turned to regard Osric, and walked towards the man, still holding the poker.  "You would agree, Lord Osric that they were fascinating things, yes?"

Osric gulped and nodded fervently.  "Yes, sire.  Most fascinating."

Amfortas smiled gently, and patted the man lightly on the shoulder.  "Yes.  Yes. They were.  Yes."  He turned and walked towards the table that lay in the center of the Great Hall.  "This table looks tremendously old," he said.  "Is it, Duke Nestor?"

"I... yes, my liege, it is," stated Naimon, blinking.

Amfortas raised the poker, and tapped it lightly on the table.  "Well, Lord Osric.  Begin."

"I... Your son's forces, Duke Uton were beset by a great army..." began Osric.  Amfortas, smiling pleasantly, brought his poker down on the table with a smash.  "It... it was comprised of the Nightfolk and traitors from most of the Free Cities..."  Amfortas struck the table again, this time producing a great cracking sound that suggested to Naimon that he'd successfully splintered the wood.  Osric paused and turned to look at the Prince.

"Go on," said Amfortas cheerfully, slapping the poker against his hand.

Osric shuddered, and continued, shutting his eyes.  "...We... we were outnumbered, surprised, and swiftly overwhelmed."  There was a great crash, as the two halves of the now split table fell seperately to the floor. "Prince Astolfo has fled to Goldenrush with what strength remains to him..."

Amfortas struck one of the table sections so strongly it exploded into a shower of splinters.  He kicked what remained.  "Your son, Duke Uton, has proved a disappointment to me," said Amfortas, smiling sadly.

"I'm sure, Your Highness, that he attempted with his utmost--" began Duke Uton.

"Be quiet, please," said Amfortas, turning to Naimon.  "And so has your son."

Naimon blinked. "My... Your Highness, I... which of my..."

Amfortas glanced at Osric again.  "Tell him, Lord Osric."

"Duke Nestor... I..."  Osric took a deep breath. "Belengier rides with the rebels, sir."

Nestor felt as if he'd been struck.  "That... that ungrateful wretch..."  He turned to regard Amfortas.  "Rest assured, my prince, this does not effect the loyalty of the rest of the House of Nestor.  We are your men to the end..."

"I know.  I know." Amfortas nodded, as he dropped the poker.  He began to idly rub his hand.  "You are loyal.  As is Duke Uton. Which is why you will go out, with more men, and you will hunt down and destroy these rebels. And when this is done...when this is done, we will return to Joyeuse to kill the rebels there."  He smiled broadly.  "And understand, both of you... failure is not an option."

Naimon and Uton both nodded fervantly.  "Of course, sir," babbled Uton.  "Who would dream of failing you the--"

"Be quiet, please," muttered Amfortas, glancing at his hand.  "I seem to have gotten a splinter.  Most bothersome.  I must see Doctor Praetorius to have him remove it."  And with that, the Prince of Leonais quietly left the Great Hall.

No comments:

Post a Comment