Book 2 Archive


2010-03-04

Book 2 - Text 16


The court of Transylvito wasn't much of a court, since there were no courtiers.

Don had never trusted them. When he took the throne, he had inherited a few advisers and officiants, of course. But after his son's mistake, he'd ordered them off on various diplomatic outings until they'd all been croaked or turned. Slimy bunch.

He had never popped any replacements. It was a risky extravagance to use only warlords for city management, but it was part of his system. You pop a lot of warlords and you encourage them to demonstrate their Duty. You offer them advancement based on merit. Eventually, if they live long enough and get lucky enough, they might find themselves in a semi-permanent retirement, managing a nice Level 2 on the coast. The prospect made everybody try a little harder, think a little more.

That would have been his plan for Caesar, when the heir eventually popped. But Caesar had made it clear he would not exactly view such an assignation as a just reward. Caesar had made a lot of things clear, including why a Royal heir was necessary. Caesar had Duty and Loyalty in abundance, but he lacked the subtlety and finesse that sitting upon the throne called for. Shame, but what could you do? At least having a blind spot for subtlety made him easy to deal with most of the time.

Unfortunately at this moment in his reign, having only casters and warlords for advisers was a problem. For one thing, most of Transylvito's cities were going unmanaged, because the warlords were now in shorter supply. That was not such a big deal, but it did waste Shmuckers. Benjamin was on his case about it.

The bigger deal was Caesar. He was more popular among Transylvito's commanders than Don himself was. Moving him aside once the heir popped would not be easy. A Ruler does not simply disband his top warlord in a time of crisis, or ever. And if a Ruler did disband a popular warlord, it could affect the Duty and Loyalty of all other units on the side. So he would have to work with Caesar, even once the new Prince or Princess was here.

But Caesar had just made that even more difficult.

Don King looked at his Chief Warlord across the map table and shook his head.

When Bunny had delivered the news that the Chief Warlord of Jetstone was captured and converted, Caesar had opened his yap and said more than he probably ought to have about his differences with Don on grand strategy. A large number of the other warlords nodded along.

At that point, Don had sent the nodders out of the room. He'd have a word with each of them individually in due time. For now, it would be best to keep the number of warlords in the room manageable, and deprive Caesar of an audience.

For his part, Caesar shut up fast. The remaining staff speculated about the parley, which Don looked in on via Bat 3. But Caesar stayed sour and silent.

Caesar hated Jillian, of course. He argued all the time that Transylvito should break alliance, croak the Queen, and absorb Faq's cities. He expected Jillian to fail here, and all of Transylvito's investment in the little Queendom to go to waste. He wanted it, Don knew.

But Don could feel, watching her there through bat's eyes, that the investment in Faq was about to pay its first real dividend. She had returned to the tower now, he could see. There was some kind of spell being cast, what was all that...?

With his own eyes, the King glanced at Caesar, who was sullenly gazing at the miniatures on the battle map. He was shaking his head at the hopelessness of the numbers there.

Then he straightened.

He looked up, eyes wide.

"It's our turn," he said. "Ain't it. They ended turn!"

It was as much a surprise to the King as to the Chief Warlord. But Kings don't admit things like that if they don't have to. So he smiled, and nodded with serene confidence, as if he had known this would happen all along.

"Perhaps now, Caesar," said Don, "you will allow my party to continue without further outbursts. Get everyone back in here."

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