Thursday, September 1, 2016

Meetings and Conferences--Part 20

Justinian watched the flaming pot rushing through the air, streaks of fire trailing in its wake.  It landed in a small shop with a thatched roof.   As the familiar crackle reached his ears, he turned to the short man by his side.  "Call the buckets!  A fire on the Golden Street!"

The man scowled at him, as he loosened his horn from his belt.  "I can see that!"  He sounded a quick series of notes, which was apparently a sort of code.  Sigma could scarcely credit it, but sure enough the men were appearing in the streets, buckets in hand.

"The Guilds know their business!" said the man with a grim smile.  "If you'd only let us run more than a few streets prior to this, the damned Prince would never have done what he did."

Justinian gave a dull nod.  "Now is not the time to discuss the problems of Joyeuse's government, Valdemar."

"It's always the time," said the Guildmaster.  "There's going to be changes in this city, you can trust me on this."

Justinian considered a reply to this, but decided to focus on the Easterner assault on the walls.  The janissaries were trying another battering ram assault on the gates.  It occurred dimly to him that it was somewhat distressing the differences in Amfortas' army's shamble of a siege compared with Ilarion's disciplined one--but then Joyeuse was not Montalban.  The city was difficult to defend in the best of time--months of strife and jangled nerves had not helped.  And then there were all the nobles who had headed to their home estates once Amfortas' government had toppled.  Not that he could completely blame them--the north was also ablaze, as the Prince's loyalsts raided and looted in his name. 

It doesn't help that we're all fighting for a thousand different causes, in the end.  Amfortas had promised a new age of glory for Leonais--now it looked as if the kingdom might cease to exist after his rule. 

It seemed a fitting epitaph.

"So when are your Nightfolk friends coming again?" asked Valdemar with a scowl, as he watched the battering ram burst into flame.

"They should be here soon," replied Justinian, hoping he was right.

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