Pelleas Pescheour stared at the Great Gates of Orgagna, still high and gleaming bronze as they had been the last time he'd seen them, even though his hair had been brown then, not its present grey. He gave a whistful sigh. "So many years..." he muttered softly.
Maximilian Rho rode up beside the King of Leonais. "Memories, sire?"
Pelleas gave a nod. "The last time you and I stood here, we had just defeated Lord Shaddad, and had come to speak to the Diet for the funds and men to take the war to the Lands of Night. We were two men, in our prime, who had achieved greatness and were convinced further greatness lay before them. And now..."
"Now, it does," said Maximilian with a smile. "We've failed, yes, but... we've succeeded as well, and... there's still life in these old bones yet, Your Highness. And by Uriel's bright glow, that means there's hope."
"Always been more a Sofiel man myself," said Pelleas. "There's something... solid about the Lady of Earth... I always found that worthy of respect..."
"I think we know who the Seven stand behind in this," said the Preceptor. "And don't forget we apparently have the Black Bitch on our side, for once. That's... oddly comforting, somehow."
Pelleas chuckled. "Your heretic ex-member mention his vision to you too, eh?"
The old Sacristan nodded. "I like to think there's something to it, Pelleas. Because whatever evil your son serves is.. something beyond death and darkness." The King of Leonais said nothing, but merely nodded quietly.
The old friends' reverie was broken by a peal of trumpets. They turned to see a rather daunted looking Mansemat Cthonique approaching through the gates. "Your Highness," said the Dark Lord with a bow. "Preceptor Rho.
"Your Magnificence," said Pelleas, as he and Maximilian returned the bow. "You've some need of us?"
"Well, part of it is to show that you are not dead," stated Mansemat. "And part of it is help with this..." He paused as if searching for the right word.
"The Diet," stated the King. "Think of it as rather like your Council of Shadows, only for the Free Cities. Except that it seldom meets, and when it does it is because something is happening to make the Free Cities give up their pointless internal wars for the nonce." He sighed. "Or one of those pointless internal wars has gotten bad enough that they want some way to end it quickly. Though that one seldom works."
"Tell me," said Mansemat, "why is it we've been convinced for so long our worst enemies were across the river?"
"Force of habit, I think," answered Pelleas. "Also, it would thinking about things that most of us would rather not."