Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Siege of the White Mountain, Vol. 3: Due to the Dead--Part 17

"I say," declared Osric brightly, to Duke Naimon as they rode together at the head of the army, "It is sure nice to leave that dreary atmosphere at the Chateau behind us isn't it?"

The Duke glanced at him, muttered something, and rode on.  Osric nodded to himself, and followed.  "I say--the Prince--he is surely dedicated to the cause of light, is he not?"  The Duke remained silent.  "I mean--such dedication.  Such... fury."  Osric bit his lip.  "It is almost terrifying, is it not?"

The Duke continued to ride on in silence.

Osric spurred his horse on.  "Obviously," he noted, in a low voice,"when I say it is almost terrifying, I do not mean it is actually terrifying.  Heavens no!"  He gave a laugh, then winced as his bruised face felt the strain.  The Duke continued to say nothing.  "It is merely--a feeling very much like terror.  For his... awesome purity.  And ability.  And... his puissance.  Do you understand me, sir?"

The Duke remained silent.  Osric fidgeted slightly, and felt his horse buck beneath him.  He tried to steady it for a moment, and then saw that the Duke was riding quite far ahead of him.  He rushed after him.  "It is just... it is just..." he continued, panting frantically, "a man... a man starts getting the idea he might not survive this..."

"You might not," said the Duke quietly.

Osric blinked.  "What...?"

"We are going to war, you imbecile," said Duke Naimon.  "There is an excellent chance you will die.  Which is probably why the Prince sent you.  You've given him bad news, and the Prince finds such individuals more and more vexing these days."

"Are... are you saying that the Prince is actively hoping that I get ki...?" began Osric.

Naimon rolled his eyes. "Yes, Lord de Ross, that is what I am saying.  He is hoping you die--he may be hoping that I die as well. He is hoping that everyone who displeases him dies.  That is something of a habit of princes and kings.  Hoping that people they do not like die."  He glared at the younger man.  "It is one I frequently understand."

Osric nodded. "Ah... Indeed.  So...?"

The Duke took a deep breath.  "Lord de Ross, if you do not keep silent, I fear your death will change from merely being likely to being inevitable."

Osric gulped, and shut his mouth.

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