â€œItâ€™s going to be a bit trickier, but I think weâ€™re in place to leverage the Roseblackâ€™s recent victory with House Sesus.â€ Sesus Nagazzer leaned back on his couch, taking a deep pull from his hookah, and looked across the table at Regent Fokuf, who took a polite sip of tea in response. The two had met in Nagazzerâ€™s quarters after the report of the Roseblackâ€™s victory the night before came in, and were now discussing strategies. Damian was occupied with Calibration affairs, leaving the two to work things out together for the moment. â€œMnemonâ€™s support could actually work out for us, if we could corner her. Sheâ€™ll never really settle for anything less than being the Empress, but if we portray her as a wise old councilor, ready to support Empress Ejavaâ€¦â€ He trailed off as Fokuf coughed on tea. â€œItâ€™s not that funny.â€
â€œI think it is.â€ Fokuf grinned lopsidedly. â€œWould that fool anyone? Anyone at all?â€
â€œWellâ€¦ no. Not unless we found some fairly serious way to force Mnemon into backing down.â€ Nagazzer sighed, holding his hands, and blew out thoughtfully. â€œIt all comes back to her, in the end. With the support of Sesus, weâ€™ll have five houses behind us â€“ enough to sway Cathak. And having Sesus and Cathak will sway Cynis, and having that majority will swing Peleps, and then Ragara and Iselsi will join in. Mnemon would be completely isolated â€“ she couldnâ€™t oppose us anymore.â€ His expression turned sour. â€œAt which point, she would become desperate, and she has too many dangerous weapons at her disposal. We need a way to isolate her.â€
â€œAnd to know why she helped her rival get that kind of power.â€ Fokuf stood, pacing back and forth. As he passed the desk, he paused, noticing a shadow pass into view just outside the door. Instantly, his demeanor changed, and he gestured subtly as he continued speaking. â€œBut I donâ€™t know, Master Nagazzer. This is very flattering, but I think you should bring requests like this before the Council first.â€
Nagazzer nodded very faintly, his own expression sharp. He began to reach slowly for his sanxian, which was leaning against the wall, as Fokuf, appearing nervous, picked up the heavy copy of the Immaculate Texts that were sitting on the desk. â€œOh, of course, Regent. I simply wanted to bring this to your atten-â€
A moment before he grasped the instrument, his arms went rigid, and he gasped in surprise. Water Essence flowed around him, having snaked subtly under the doorjamb, and held his limbs immobile. Quickly, the door opened and closed as the man who had been standing outside slid through, his anima glowing blue around him. Fokuf took a step backwards in shock, falling into the chair behind the desk as he backed into it with an ungainly thud.
â€œHmph.â€ The unknown man shook his head, tendrils of watery Essence flowing from him to Nagazzer. â€œYou are strong, Lord Nagazzer. But you are already caught, and your guards are disposed of. No one will save you.â€
â€œWhoâ€¦?â€ Fokufâ€™s voice was faint, but the man turned towards him with a malicious smile.
â€œAnd the Regent? Lovely, I had hoped it was you I heard. You might be interested to know that you are my third target â€“ but since youâ€™re already here, the order is not truly important.â€ Letting his Essence continue to choke Nagazzer, who was clearly putting up a difficult fight to hold it off, the Dragon-Blood stalked forwards towards the desk. â€œDo you know, you are the ninth-most important person in House Tepet? Ridiculous, isnâ€™t it? We almost didnâ€™t bother going that far down, but thereâ€™s a certain symbolism to it. Now, donâ€™t bother begging.â€ He started to reach forwards, Essence gathering around his hands. â€œItâ€™s nothing personal.â€
Fokuf yelped, and his hands moved spasmodically. A moment later, a fifteen-pound book bounced off the assassinâ€™s face.
The assassin let out a cry of pain and rage, one hand flying up to clutch at his face. â€œBy dose! You broke it! Dow itâ€™s persodal!â€ He let out a roar, blood dripping to the floor from his injured face, and started to leap forwards to clear the desk cleanly and drive his fists through this annoying insectâ€™s face.
And Fokuf, with another cry of surprise, fell backwards. The chair followed him towards the floor, and his feet kicked out. There was a flare of golden light, as one foot connected with the desk, and suddenly the desk was flipping end over end, bathed in golden light, and the assassinâ€™s eyes were widening, but there was no time to change his movement, no time to block, only to spend a shocked moment wondering where the power had come fromâ€¦
And Fokuf landed on the floor, rolling to his feet, and settled into a combat pose. But there was no need. Impossibly quick and powerful, the desk had caught the assassin cleanly, landing on top of him. A smear of blood and a limp arm stuck out from the heavy oak, and the trails of Essence connecting him to Nagazzer died without ceremony.
Fokuf hurried to his friendâ€™s side. â€œAre you alright?â€
â€œI will live.â€ Nagazzer heaved himself to his feet. â€œWho would dare? An assassin in the heart of the Imperial City?â€
And a moment after that, the small wind elemental burst into the room, a three-foot bird with clouds for wings that whirled itself into existence, its voice rising to scream out a warning. It paused, seeing the desk and the crushed man beneath it, and it turned its attention to Nagazzer and Fokuf, who were watching it suspiciously.
â€œUhâ€¦â€ Its beaked curved into an approximation of an embarrassed smile. â€œI bear a warning?â€
"Some people walk in the rain. Others merely get wet."Patchwork Champions
- You say "to-ma-toe", I say "world-ravaging-laser-beam".