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Author Topic: Other People (1951)  (Read 2353 times)

Offline Myroria

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Other People (1951)
« on: July 02, 2014, 01:17:56 PM »
It was almost surprisingly windy, considering how clear the sky was. There wasn't a storm cloud in sight, but the gusts of wind were almost enough to knock someone over if they were caught unawares. Waves, high and rather unruly by the combination of an incoming tide and gale-force winds, were crashing on the cliffs below a green field with a spattering of trees here and there - the whole scene was like something out of a dream really.

Fredrika sat in the shade of one of these trees as it felt like she had for hours. It had been months, maybe even years to recall it now, that she had had the opportunity to get away from the palace and sit near here ancestral proving grounds an hour and a half's drive outside Quarrovth. She remembered the day when, a girl of no more than six or seven, she picked this tree to be "hers". As an only child Fredrika had no problem declaring things hers - but this tree was probably her most prized possession. She would sit under it whenever she needed a moment to get away from her problems. As she grew older her problems seemed to just grow bigger.

Now Fredrika was a 25 year old woman and her father had been dead for one year, four months, fourteen days, and six hours. She had just stop counting the minutes a few days ago and she was hoping the hours would be next. A sudden shiver came over the young queen. She had not realized in the midst of all her thinking that the ocean wind had been blowing a steady layer of mist onto her dress, which was now less a garment and more a cold, wet blanket. She got up and was about to return to her car when she saw a person already standing by it.

Approaching the car, she looked around for her entourage and noticed they were all gone. A pit immediately formed in her stomach. Her nervousness, though palpable, wasn't noticeable on her voice. "When they kill me, " Fredrika thought, "at least they'll know I wasn't anxious."

"Can I help you stranger?" The words had just left her mouth when she realized who it was.

"I've only been gone a year, Fred, and suddenly I'm a stranger?" A smirk ran across her father's face as an enormous grin ran across hers.

"Daddy!" Fredrika ran into his arms as if she was six years old again. She could feel the tears running down her face before she even got to him. "It's been so long,"

"I know, love."

"I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you too." Fendryn Quarrovth, Empeurer of Myroria, went to his grave wearing a crisp military uniform, but now his tie was loosened and his collar undone. When Fredrika let go of him after ten or fifteen minutes she noticed she had not seen his favorite roadster there before, but it was there now. She smirked. It seemed as if the whole world calmed in her father's presence.

"Where is he?" Fendryn was always interested in where Peté was or what he was doing. He had begrudgingly accepted his marriage to his daughter, but never particularly liked the outlander.

"A yacht race or something." Fendryn nodded and there was silence for a minute.

"I want to be Empereur, Daddy."

"I know you do, sweetie."

"Do you think I'd be good at it?" Fendryn looked puzzled for a few moments.

"What do you care what other people think?" Again, there was silence for a minute. Fredrika never felt as happy as she did now.

"There's something I need you to do, Fred."

"What is it, Daddy?"

"I need you to wake up."

Fredrika awoke with a start, slumped in a chair in "The Empereur's Chambers", as she would say with a jeer. She had always preferred "my bedroom" but the nobles in the court would shoot her looks for saying that. There was a bottle of gin tipped over on the floor next to her, but she had remembered to put the cap on this time so it hadn't spilled at least.

She reached for the breast pocket of her pajamas for her wristwatch, but touched only bare skin.

"Dammit," she said, getting up and walking to her nightstand. It was 4:18 AM. Fredrika stood there for a minute before looking over and seeing a man sleeping in her bed. It was Gadayn, the aide from Hlaren Quarrovth's office. Fredrika let out a heavy sigh.

"Dammit." Fredrika stumbled to the closet and put on her pajama shirt before returning to the bed. She let out another, heavier sigh, and pushed on Gadayn's shoulder. He groaned and slowly opened his eyes.

"Uuuuh... good morning honey. What... time is it?"

"Don't call me that. It's time for you to leave."

"Wha? I thought we had someth - "

"We didn't. Get out of here." Gadayn groaned and got out of bed.

"Can you get me, uh, my pants?" he said, still half asleep. Fredrika sighed again. It was time to break out the big guns.

"We will not get you your pants." Gadayn, finally coming to his senses, apologized.

"I'm very sorry, Your Majesty."

"Good. Now please get out of my sight Gadayn." He rushed out the door and was about to close it when Fredrika sighed again.


"Yes, Your Majesty?" he said, a smile on his face.

"If you tell anyone about this I will bury you in the sand and wait for the tide to come in." Gadayn's smile faded.

"Yes, sera.." The door closed. Fredrika returned to her chair, and, with one more sigh, fell back asleep.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 01:24:20 PM by Myroria »
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2014, 02:21:26 PM »
"I heard one once," began Bervaso, a tall but gentle-looking man with dark hair and stubble. "I was out hunting partridge with my dad." From his throat came a strange gutteral clicking that sounded almost like the glug-glug-glug of water being poured out of a bottle with a long, thin neck.

"That's impossible," Fredrika replied. "It doesn't exist. It's been extinct for a hundred years."

"With all respect, Your Majesty, you're wrong." Fredrika laughed.

"I'm sure you were hearing something else. There are a thousand birds that sound like that." Bervaso smirked and briefly looked away, as if he could tell this argument would go nowhere. Alerted by their conversation, a small group of woodcocks in a distant field began to fly. Bervaso pointed his shotgun at the group and fired. A cry arose, and one of them tumbled to the ground. As Bervaso and the queen walked to the dying shorebird, they continued their conversation.

"They found a nest a few years ago, you know."

"Without eggs, Berv - a few sticks and wadding does not a miracle make." Bervaso chuckled and picked up the now-dead woodcock. Light rain was falling on his green and black flannel jacket, and the occasional breeze would kick up the cuffs of his khaki pants before letting them settle again. "Nice one," Fredrika said.

They were discussing the ultimate fate of the greater capercaillie, what was once the largest grouse in the world and lived in the upland forests of Myroria until they were cleared to make space for more farmland. Though some old-growth areas were set aside and other tracts replanted, it was too little too late. The last specimen was shot for a private collection in 1885.

A bodyguard of Fredrika's approached her and whispered in her ear. She frowned for a moment and turned to Bervaso.

"Well, old friend, it's been a pleasure."

"You haven't shot anything yet, Your Majesty, and you're already leaving?" Fredrika chuckled.

"What did I say about the 'Your Majesty' shit? Duty calls. You know I'll be at the estate for another week. We'll have another chance." Bervaso sighed and held out his hand.

"I'll find one for you, Freddie."

"If anyone can, it'd be you Berv." The queen adjusted her shotgun slung around her back and walked away with her bodyguard.

"You'd better have a good reason for pulling this shit."

"Your Majesty."

Upon returning to the clearing where the cars were parked, she saw what seemed to be the entire guard force standing there, as well as about six more cars than she brought here. The sounds from the engines were almost overwhelming.

"Please get in, Your Majesty," a wiry, young man wearing a suit a size too big for him said while holding open her car door.

"I hope Bervaso wasn't planning on doing anymore hunting because I think you've scared away every bird between here and Annuminas with this goddamn racket."

"Please get in, Your Majesty." Fredrika groaned. She sat in the back of the car and the thin man sat in the front passenger seat. A distinctly Ozian man was sitting behind the wheel.

"Do you know what's going on here, outlander? Where's Mehma?"

"She's back at the estate, Your Majesty. Someone set off a bomb in Pelagis and she ordered us to come get you."

"A bomb? What?"

"The country is under attack! Someone set a bomb off, Your Majesty!" The thin man excitedly replied. Fredrika turned her face to him, unimpressed.

"Thank you for reiterating, I wasn't sure what he meant by 'bomb', or 'went off', or 'Pelagis.' What do we know?" she asked, turning back towards the Ozian driver with a sigh.

"Not much at this time." he said with an accent. "We think it might have been Pelagians."

"Of course." The cars began to rumble and they headed down the long, dirt road back to the Quarrovth estate single-file.
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2014, 03:35:57 AM »
The light rain that was falling all morning had slowed to a drizzle by the time the motorcade approached the estate house; on the broad lawns surrounding the main building various members of His Majesty's Secret Service stood, watching for a Pelagian attack that would likely never come.

By the time the long column of cars had completed its journey from the brushland to the main house, it was one o'clock and Fredrika along with a doubly large compliment of guards hustled inside. Removing her tweed hat only to find the post gone, the queen dropped it onto the ground and walked into her office while her guards stayed behind by the door. Fredrika took slow, careful steps across the tile towards her office and paused outside the door. Hearing activity, she took a deep breath and swung the door open.

"It's been years since I've seen two men in a room eagerly awaiting my return," she remarked before heading to her desk. "What have you got for me, Vertroth?" she continued, looking at the man on the left.

Agent Fadren Vertroth, a totally nondescript man of completely average height and build and the court's man inside the Imperial Office of Investigation, stepped forward and opened a folder on the desk. 

"I wish I could say I knew more than we do, Your Majesty," he began. "We have the office's best on the case now but right now all we can say for certain is that elements inside the Pelagian rights movement are most likely responsible."

"Your office's best know as much as my chauffeur, Agent. Who's this?" Fredrika asked, pointing at a black-and-white mugshot paperclipped to the folder.

"That's Emanuel Politius. My sources in Pelagis say he hasn't been heard from since last Thursday and we're inclined to believe he's presently scattered around Moomintroth Square."

"Lovely. What are we looking at for a casualty count?"

"43 deaths so far, but 17 of the injured probably won't make it through the night." Fredrika sighed and stood up. Walking to the bar on the other side of her office, she glanced at Seldus Quarrovth, a short and squat minor noble who was never able to hold a House post for very long but this week served as the court's representative to the Imperial Intelligence Office.

"What do your sources say, Seldus?"

"A friend in the R.C. says that the yachts are at least a day and a half out. I don't think anyone's been able to get in touch with His Majesty yet." Fredrika grunted in affirmation before pouring gin and tonic water into a glass. There was silence in the room for a second as she sipped her drink and glanced into the corner to see her hat rack with radio wires draped over it and a console sitting on an end table. "Folvys is probably going to handle things from here on out until His Majesty returns."

"No! Goddammit Seldus, this is too important to leave to those squabbling nobles. I want you to make sure Folvys fucking Quarrovth is in this room by ten a.m. sharp tomorrow or it'll be his head." Fredrika paused to take a drink from her gin and tonic. "Folvys Quarrovth, running this country for a day and a half. Traval City would be falling into the sea. I won't allow it." Seldus paused a moment.

"The Prime Minister of Prydainia sends his condolences. I think the Presiding Steward did as well." Again the room was silent for a minute or two.

"Get the hell out of my sight, the both of you. I need to think." Fredrika took a cigarette out of the mouth of a dispenser shaped like a duck as the two men hustled out. She rummaged through her desk for a few moments looking for a holder before giving up, tucking the cigarette between her lips, and lighting it. She slumped back into her chair without bothering to remove her hunting jacket and nervously tapped the desk.

« Last Edit: July 08, 2014, 03:37:54 AM by Myroria »
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2014, 04:05:27 AM »
By four o'clock, the sun had come out and it warmed considerably. It was an unseasonably warm day for early fall in the Quarrovth woodlands, feeling almost like a June afternoon. The contingent of guards had yet to vacate their posts on the fields surrounding the estate, even though as the day wore on a Pelagian attack directly on the queen became less and less likely.

Fredrika was sitting on the floor in an upstairs hallway, back on the wall with legs splayed out in both directions. A bowl of ice was sitting in front of a fan by an open window, but the heat remained oppressive. Being forbidden by the secret service from swimming in the outside pool, she instead occupied herself by tossing a small rubber ball onto the floor in front of her, where it bounced onto the opposite wall, then back into her hands. She was currently on her third gin and tonic of the day, but being spread over as many hours it had little effect beyond flushing her face.

The patience of the bodyguard standing guard in the corner watching the stairs must be commended, as he was  going into his second hour having not moved at all or shown any irritation in at the constant thump-thump of the ball's bouncing. The only thing he seemed concerned with in the slightest were those thirteen steps that in two hours no one had yet ascended. Fredrika caught the ball and held it in her hands while turning to look at him. There was no reaction at all. She quietly wound up and tossed the ball at the wall parallel to his face, and again elicited no reaction.

"If you're dead, I must compliment your posture; if you're alive, I must compliment your professionalism."

"Thank you, Your Majesty."

"Ah! It's the latter." Fredrika put her hand on the wall and rose to her feet, pausing to grab her drink. She stood five foot seven in socks and her white starched hunting shirt was untucked, disheveled, and foundation and sweat stained the collar. She walked towards the staircase to retrieve the ball she threw. "You're a good man, uh,"

"Nethyn, ma'am."

"Nethyn! You're a good man. I'd offer to make you a drink but, ah, I've heard that's verboten since my birthday bash." Nethyn chuckled. "There's a smile! Where's your family from, Nethyn?" At this point it would be clear to an observer that maybe three gin and tonics in as many hours was having an effect on the pencil-thin woman. Nethyn cleared his throat.

"Uh, Novrith, ma'am."

"How long have they lived there?"

"Since the Exodus, ma'am." Fredrika smiled. To be more precise, this would be the moment the king's wife's drunkenness level would move up a notch from "friendly" to "sloppy":

"A like a good Myrorian man. Too many Pelagians nowadays. If there's one thing my father taught me when we were living in Resdaynia, it's that the natives there at least had the courtesy to admit when they were defeated... these people... it's been 300 years and they're still fighting the damn same war. It's a pity. A damn pity."

Nethyn cleared his throat and, for the first time in two hours, fidgeted. Everyone expects that when they go to, say, a family reunion they'll always have the one aunt who gets just a little racist with a few drinks in her - in fact, in Myroria, "Surprise Racist Aunt Day" may very well be an unofficial national holiday. What's a lot rarer - and a lot more embarrassing - is to have a "Surprise Racist Empeuress Day". As if to save him from another minute of rambling, Seldus Quarrovth hustled up the stairs.

"Your Majesty," he said. Seldus began to bow but the tight quarters by the stairs made him lose his balance. He
settled on having his face in Nethyn and Fredrika's chests for a moment before awkwardly straightening out. "Uh," he began, motioning for Fredrika to walk in front of him. She led him into an upstairs office where a blues record that ended an hour ago was repeatedly clicking on the turntable. She picked up the needle and turned to Seldus as he closed the door.

"Did you get ahold of Folvys?"

"I did, sera. He said he's willing to meet with you here at your specified time tomorrow. But..." Seldus paused, considering whether or not to continue.


"But I feel I must remind you, Your Majesty, that constitutionally the head of the majority House is to act on the Empeurer's behalf if he is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of carrying out his duties." The red flush of liquor on Fredrika's face now widened into a red flush of anger.

"Constitutionally, Seldus," she began, placing her drink on the desk with force, "I would be Empeurer, as every majority House's heir has been for millennia. However, a year and a half ago, our illustrious Council saw fit to appoint an out..." Fredrika paused. "saw fit to appoint my husband to the throne instead. So I think Folvys would understand if, just one more time, we could bypass that document." Fredrika picked up a cigarette off the desk. "Have you seen my cigarette holder? Ah, to hell with it." She lit it and placed it between her lips. "What have you heard regarding the Pelagians?"

"Well, ma'am, that's more Agent Vertroth's world than mine, but as I understand the Pelagians have yet to release an official statement."

"You'd think if you blew up a whole plaza you'd want to make sure everyone knew it."

"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2014, 04:11:23 AM »
"I'm very pleased you could make it all the way out here on such short notice, Mr. Quarrith." exuberated a man in a suit with particularly dark five o'clock shadow and beads of sweat dripping down his face. At six o'clock, the sun was beginning to go down but the humidity on the estate was sweltering. A black Studebaker came to a stop beside him, its whitewall tires darkened with dirt from the long drive through the backwoods.

"Of course, Agent - I live to serve." said a man in a cream-colored blazer through the open window by the driver's seat, not entirely unsarcastically. He turned off the car and opened the door.

"Your reputation precedes you, sera. Once we heard from His Majesty we knew there was no one else to call." The agent, still over-enthusiastic, stepped out of the way of the car door and extended his hand. "Agent Serys Hlaroth."

"Gothren Quarrith," replied the chamberlain. He winced when their hands touched. How could one man produce this much sweat? Reaching inside his coat pocket for a handkerchief, he chose not to ask and instead continued with the niceties. "What time did you hear from His Majesty?"

"About 4:30." Hlaroth snapped his fingers at a page, instructing him to grab the Imperial Chamberlain's luggage. "He's about two days out - worse than we thought. Then it would be another six hour flight back to Pelagis. Honestly, it's a miracle we heard from him at all. Radio can be so fickle out there."

"Does Her Majesty know this?" Gothren shut his car door and took his cigarette case out of his pocket.

"Well I don't think she's been in many yacht races but I assume she'd know the radio is fickle, yes."

"Not the radio, f'lah, does she know that you've heard from His Majesty?"

"We've been keeping her informed out of courtesy of course. We expect Serjo Quarrovth to take control of the situation soon, but we have yet to hear anything yet. His Majesty instructed us to keep the queen here until he returns." Gothren, lighting his cigarette, looked incredulous.

"I don't think that will do, Agent. I've been serving the Imperial Family since Fendryn took the throne and I find it hard to believe that Her Majesty would allow that. Regardless," he continued, fetching a datebook from a third pocket, "She's due back in the capital at five o'clock tomorrow."

"Mr. Quarrith, I'm afraid our orders come straight from His Majesty himself - and Serjo also gave us the same instructions." Gothren, shaking his head, stood back up after leaning against his car.

"I'm sure we'll get something worked out, Agent. But I had a long drive and I would like to be seen to my room."

Agent Hlaroth, slightly perturbed, nodded and allowed Gothren and the page carrying his luggage to pass.

"It's gonna be warm tomorrow," the page noted, trying to make conversation. It would be hard for Gothren to look less interested.

"Mmhmm." His eyes were instead fixed on an upstairs window that he saw the queen looking out of. He took a drag from his cigarette and watched her turn away.

Gothren's room was on the second floor of the estate house, where it was just hot enough to be miserable. Placing his suitcase on the floor, he sat on the bed and put his head in his hands, rubbing the palms of his hands into his eyes. He sighed and slowly dragged his hands down his face and by the time he was done Fredrika was standing in his doorway.

"Your Majesty," he said, standing and picking his suitcase up off the floor.

"Thank you for making the drive," the queen replied, closing the door. "I know it was a long one."

"Three hours, on the highway, ma'am." Gothren said simply. He placed his suitcase on the bed and unhooked the latches.

"You're the only one I can trust, Gothren." she said. She had stopped drinking but one could smell the cigarette smoke from across the room. The queen walked across the room to the window.

"I understand you heard from His Majesty?"

"Yes, though I didn't speak to him myself. As soon as they told me they had heard from him there were three new guards on the floor. I think they're trying to keep me here."

"That's correct." Fredrika turned to Gothren suddenly.

"Is it?! Did he tell them to keep me here?"

"That's correct." Gothren hung up a shirt in his wardrobe.

"I bet he's in with Folvys. This is exactly the situation he's been dreading - thousands of miles away from the country in a crisis. He knew it'd be either me or that old son of a bitch running the show and I'm sure he didn't want it to be me."

"I don't think we need to jump to conclusions, now. His Majesty's intentions weren't necessarily malicious,"

"Just probably malicious." Fredrika interrupted. Gothren laughed and took off his blazer. "I'm meeting with Folvys tomorrow at ten o'clock, but it might be too late by then. He's already consolidating."

"Meeting Folvys? We weren't scheduled to leave for Pelagis until one."

"He's coming up here."

"Folvys is driving here? How much did you have to pay him to do that?" Fredrika chuckled but then paused.

"I want you to set up a dining table in the Green Room tomorrow by nine. And who was that man you were talking to outside?"

"That was Agent Hlaroth. You know him, he's head of security."

"No, no, not him. The other one. Squirrely kid, carrying your suitcase."

"Him? I don't know, some attendant. I didn't get his name."

"Well I need him in that room at ten." Fredrika walked towards the door with speed. "I'm going to type something up for you Gothren. I'll send it your way."
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2014, 06:15:57 AM »
Folvys Quarrovth sat at a small table in the opulent Green Room, wondering how two lunches were going to fit on its tiny surface. It was the only thing in the room presently except for a baby grand piano in one corner; the room's emptiness as well as its pastel walls only served to shrink the table's apparent size even more. The time was now 9:53 and the queen was nowhere to be seen. Folvys picked up his newspaper for the third time this hour; he was beginning to think he might have been stood up at the Empeuress' own house.

Of course the bombings in Pelagis were splattered all over the front page - everyone seemed to take it for granted that it was Pelagian liberation activists that were behind them despite no public statement almost 24 hours later. Folvys read the first two paragraphs of the main story before looking at his watch again. 9:55. Putting his newspaper back on the floor, he stood up and paced the room pretending to look at the portraits as he made his way to the door. It was 9:58 by the time he got there and stuck his head out. He looked to the left down the hallway and saw no one and looked to the right and saw no one. Opening the door fully, he stood in the center of the corridor with his hands on his hips.

"Serjo Quarrovth!" Folvys turned to the right to see a squirrely figure in a suit that a appeared to be a size or two too big hustling towards him.

"Can I help you, son?" he replied, adjusting his glasses. The boy, still at least ten yards away, stuck his hand out and replied in an almost-shout:

"Veryn Bniroth, sir." Folvys waited a few seconds for Bniroth to reach him before gingerly shaking his hands.

"Have we met?"

"Uh, no sir. I'm the head of the Fellowmoor Meetinghouse."

"I thought that was M. Quarrovth's job?"

"No sir, he was appointed to the Council just last year sir."

"Is that so? Yes, I suppose you're right." Folvys tucked his hands into his pocket. "Well, what can I do for you, son?"

"Well, serjo, I was wondering about the Council actually. You see, I've been head of the Fellowmoor Meetinghouse since January of last year and a loyal member of House Quarrovth for at least seven years and I was... I was just wondering about when it might please the Council to gain a new member."

"Now let me get this straight, son. We just promoted someone for Fellowmoor less than two years ago and now you want his spot? I don't think Serjo Marcica would be very pleased to lose his seat to an upstart - that is, even more of an upstart than him."

"Well I don't necessarily need to represent Fellowmoor on the Council, serjo." Folvys looked puzzled.

"You do reside in that city, correct son?"

"Yes sir."

"Well you see, we generally don't appoint people to represent a district across the country from where they reside."

"Well exceptions can always be made," Bniroth said, reaching in his jacket for a cigarette while simultaneously showing off a wad of guildens in his pocket. Folvys' eyes lit up enough to guide a ship to safe harbor.

"I suppose they can, son." At this, Bniroth put his cigarette case back into his jacket and surreptitiously handed Folvys the wad of money.

"Serjo Quarrovth!" came a cracking voice from down the hall. Folvys turned around to see the queen heading his way at... 10:09 AM. The two men stood in silence for a few seconds as the woman made her way to them down the long corridor. "Hello, Folvys. Hello, uh - "

"Veryn Bniroth, Your Majesty. But I was just on my way out."

"Ah. Well it was nice to meet you, sera."

"And you," Bniroth said, turning away.

"Well," Folvys began, opening the door to the Green Room. "Shall we eat?"

"Oh of course," Fredrika replied, walking through the doorway. "I'm sorry to keep you waiting, serjo, I know you must have had a long drive."

"Oh, it's no trouble, Your Majesty."

"I just had a few issues to attend to before coming down here," Fredrika continued, voice cracking.

"Are you coming down with something, ma'am? I couldn't help but notice you sound a little... hoarse."

"Oh, don't mind me, Folvys." Folvys and the queen sat at the tiny table in the large room - someone had apparently come in while Folvys was outside and placed their lunches on the table - two bloody steaks, with a glass of water on Folvys' side and a gin and tonic on Fredrika's. "I was just screaming all night. About those terrible bombings, of course. Tragic. Simply tragic. Oh, I hope you like your steak rare. You seem like a rare man." Fredrika laughed. "Rare man! Get it? There's simply no one else in the world like you."

Folvys shuffled in his seat. He was more of a medium-well man - inoffensive and conciliatory. "While I of course would never turn down an opportunity to dine with my queen, I must ask - is there a reason in particular you called this meeting?"

"Always one to get down to brass tacks, eh Folvys? I like that." Fredrika stood up to get the door and Folvys quickly stood as well.

"I can get the door, ma'am."

"Oh, nonsense Folvys. You sit right there." Fredrika shuffled to the door as quickly as her pencil skirt would allow before returning to the table. "Please, eat. As admirable as it is that you would like to get right to the business at hand, I simply will not allow it until you've had this steak. Our chef, this Ozian man from... La Sava, I think - he makes the best steaks in the world."

Folvys gingerly cut a piece of steak and put it in his mouth. The spices were simply divine, but the cool, dead, cow was a little much for him. "It's very good, ma'am." he said, gulping it down. He continued picking at his steak, and by 10:30 he was about halfway done while the queen had finished hers. The strangest part of the whole lunch was the utter silence - Fredrika said nothing besides "mmhmm"s at his repeated attempt at conversation and now that she was done, she sat and watched him choke down his underdone piece of meat. Finally, at 10:47, he put the last piece of rare steak in his mouth - now the outside was cold as well as the inside. He chewed it carefully despite how quickly he wanted to be done with the whole affair, and was about to swallow it when -

"I know you're taking money, Folvys." As a matter of course, he choked. Fredrika smirked.

"I don't know what you're talking about, ma'am. Taking money from whom?"

"From whoever offers it to you."

"With all due respect..." Folvys began. He was sweating, either from the spices in the steak or nervousness. Probably both. "That's very serious accusation." Fredrika's smirk disappeared.

"Don't patronize me, you ass."

"Your Majesty! Please watch your language - that's not very, uh," Folvys looked into her eyes. They consisted of pure rage. "becoming."

"Do you not think I know that you were taking bribes right outside this room? You've always had a gall in you, Folvys." He wiped his brow with his napkin.

"Regardless of what you may think I've done, ma'am, you have no evidence to support your assertion."

"Test me, serjo." There was silence for a moment.

"What are you trying to get, Your Majesty?"

"No matter what my husband may have told you to do, you will allow me to administer this country's affairs - as is my birthright until he returns." Folvys stayed quiet as a dormouse. "Otherwise," Fredrika continued, "You will rot in prison for the corruption you've sown in our Council. Do I make myself clear?" Folvys remained quiet for a moment.

"Yes, ma'am."

"This was easier than I thought," she said, finishing her gin and tonic. "You are dismissed."

By 1:00 PM, the queen's entourage was late for their departure and Gothren leaned against his car smoking a cigarette. He was about halfway through it when he finally saw Fredrika's party leave the mansion carrying a multitude of suitcases. Despite being chamberlain for almost twenty years now, he never ceased to be shocked at the sheer number of items she brought with her everywhere.

"Are we ready, Gothren?" she asked when they finally reached the waiting motorcade. He looked across the field and saw a bespectacled man being handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car.

"Yes, ma'am."

"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2014, 02:31:27 AM »
By five o'clock in the afternoon, the hustle and bustle in the Council House in central Pelagis was still going strong - an unusual occurrence, as normally the 347 hard-working members of the Council of Great Houses Under the Empeurer would have rushed back to their homes at three o'clock. However, today a special session was called by the Empeuress Consort to address the recent bombings that were hot on everyone's mind, as well as the rumors that the head of House Quarrovth was put in chains.

The latter, if it truly happened as the rumors described, would be an unprecedented turn of events. Though most everyone on the Council knew that Serjo Folvys Quarrovth would take money for positions, it was relatively common for Myrorian men of noble birth to do so - the fickle nature of Myrorian politics meant that any noble should get his political favors in as soon as he could, as within a few years it's possible he'd have no more clout to spare. It was even more common for nobles with a seat on the Council to lend favors as their political lifetimes tended to be shorter still; a mere councillor being arrested for corruption was unheard of, let alone a head of a Great House like Serjo Quarrovth.

Presently, the Empeuress and Imperial Chamberlain were sitting in the back of a limousine parked in front of the entrance to the Council House. Its domed rotunda was the only example of authentic Classical Pelagian architecture in the entire neighborhood - every other example having been torn down by Myrorian armies not long after the invasion 300 years ago.

"I've always found this building so inhuman," Fredrika said, adjusting her makeup. "We put the Council of Great Houses, a noble Myrorian establishment dating back thousands of years... in this cold, drafty stone building."

"It was the only building left standing after the firebombings during the Great War."

"30 years ago, Gothren! You'd think they could have built something a little more... befitting of our culture between now and then." Gothren chuckled.

"Are you ready?" In response, the queen sighed and closed her hand mirror.

"As ready as I'll ever be." Gothren tapped the seat behind him and the chauffeur got out and opened the curbside door. Fredrika stepped out and was immediately blinded by the flash of camera bulbs. The number of reporters on the scene, normally limited to one or two from local papers, was instead a mob of at least fifteen, all trying to get the perfect picture. The chauffeur closed the car door behind the queen as she ignored the various questions hurled at her and carefully - and blindly - walked up the stairs into the House lobby.

The inside of the Council House was as cold, imposing, and lifeless as the exterior; the only people present in the lobby were Fredrika, two guards waiting for her, and the Council Sergeant-at-arms, waiting by the double doors that opened into the Council Hall. The sergeant had hardly given her time to ready herself for her speech before asking if she was ready; slightly taken aback, the queen paused as if to recite a part of her speech in her head before brushing off the front of her evening gown. She had hardly finished nodding before the sergeant-at-arms flung open the double doors and the audible chatter of the various bodies inside the rotunda died down.

“Esteemed Councillors, Her Majesty Fredrika Vadeni Quarrovth Tar-Ilium!”

The Council Hall erupted in applause that sounded ever-so-slightly rehearsed as Serjo Marcica Quarrovth leaned forward to get a good look at the entering monarch. She was wearing a silk evening gown and a string of pearls around her neck, though it was obvious to Marcica she would rather be wearing the gold-trimmed robe and ermine cape of a ruling Empeurer and be flanked not by two paltry bodyguards but by network of courtiers and retainers.

She slowly made her way towards the elevated stage in the center of the rotunda - in concentric circles around this stage were rows and rows of desks, behind each a Councillor who represented a district within the nation. Aisles divided the group of desks roughly into thirds, though some clusters, like that of House Quarrovth, were substantially bigger than others.

“I heard,” whispered Voryn Draryroth, Q - Pelagis, “That Folvys was dragged away in chains from Quarrovth Estate. Bribery, they say. Selling seats.”

“Who did you hear that from?” Marcica replied, keeping one eye on the queen.

“Council page told me. Said he saw a few police cars heading into town from out that way.” One side of Marcica’s mouth upturned as he shook his head.

“I think we better wait for the real story.” Voryn bumped his elbow into him.

“You better watch your back, M. There is no real story anymore. Don’t you see? She wanted to get Folvys out of the way. You’ve seen how itchy he is for the throne - I’ll bet she set the whole thing up.”

“Now that’s absurd, Voryn.” Voryn grinned.

“Keep saying that, M. Next thing you know she’ll be putting you in handcuffs herself.”

“Honorable Councillors,” the Empeuress Consort began. Marcica, having took his eyes off her for a second, hadn’t noticed that she had finished her slow march through the rotunda and was now standing in the center of the stage. The acoustics of the room, though, ensured that the speaker wouldn’t have to raise her voice to get anyone’s attention.

“I come before you today in the absence of the Empeurer to discuss a matter that hasn’t been able to leave anyone’s mind for almost two days now. I speak, of course, of the tragic bombing that occured in Moomintroth Square yesterday morning. Between then and this evening, a total of fifty-six innocent Myrorians were murdered by an insidious enemy. The Pelagian ‘liberation’ movement, so called, are currently believed to be the perpetrators behind this disgusting slaughter. While I of course applaud any effort for legal, sensible reform, these various groups, any of which could be behind the Moomintroth bombing, would rather frighten our great nation into submission through violent rather than political means.

I can assure you, esteemed Councillors, that this will not happen. Rather than be timid and subdued, Myroria is filled with an undying rage and a solemn promise that we will not rest until these criminals are found and brought to justice. While no public statement has yet been made, I have no doubt it will be soon. Once it is, it will only be a matter of time before their hiding spots are sniffed out and their leaders brought to face legal civilian Myrorian courts. My Government will ensure it.” Fredrika paused for the quiet gasps that inevitably came from the gathered councillors.

“I say, ‘My Government’, honored Councillors, because I have another grave matter I’m afraid I must bring to your attention. Today one of your own was detained by the Quarrovth Prefecture on suspicion of bribery, and from what I’ve heard, it seems that soon they will decide to press charges. I refer to Folvys Quarrovth, Great Minister of House Quarrovth on the Council.” Fredrika paused, waiting for more gasps but none arrived.

“I think I should like to relate a story to you, Councillors. As some of you may know, I spent the formative years of my existence living in Myroria’s colony of Nouvé Resdaynia. I lived, along with my father, in a house on the outskirts of Nelvil's Landing, a small village about 50 miles from New Novrith. My father was close with the mayor of this town, a fellow by the name of Rarayn. Now Rarayn had been mayor of this town for probably close to ten years by the time I was born, and when I was seven, he was challenged in an election for the first time.

His challenger was a fur trader who had been living in the town for two years and amassed quite a bit of wealth in that time - his name, if I recall, was Drathas. For the whole week leading up to election day, they painstakingly took the town records out of Rarayn’s house and put them in a barn on the edge of town. Though everyone knew Rarayn was an honest man, this was the way it had always been done so that if the incumbent lost there wouldn’t be any conflicts when the new one came to collect the records.

When it finally came to election day, Rarayn beat Drathas handily. The next morning, Rarayn and a few other men went to collect the town records from this barn only to see it - “ Fredrika held her arms up to gesture enormity. “Completely engulfed in flames. Of course everyone suspected Drathas of setting the building on fire, but no one could prove it. Four years later, it was time for another election. Drathas, who by this time was quite a bit richer and the town a little bit larger, had managed to just edge Rarayn out election day and take the mayorship.

Drathas was a capable leader, but everyone knew he was corrupt. He would sell public land to the highest bidder, often ones from Drakland or Nova Neustria. At one point Drathas saw fit to take the money he had amassed from his fur trading and mayorship and build a new house for himself on some wetlands near the edge of town. The ombudsman told Drathas that the nearby property owners didn’t want his house there, but he ignored him. The Corps of Engineers, who my father was familiar with, told Drathas that the land was unstable and his house would sink right into the mud, but Drathas ignored them. He had men from Nova Neustria bring in tons of sand on trucks, filled in the wetland, and built his house on that.

Now, five years after that, I was 17 and spending a summer off from school - well, it’s winter down there but you know what I mean - at my home in Nelvil's Landing.. Drathas by this point had retired a very wealthy man from his furs and business deals and was living in his house built on those wetlands. When I arrived back in Nelvil's Landing, I noticed the house was looking particularly crooked in the distance and my father told me that Drathas had to move back to his fur trader’s cottage because his grand house was sinking in the mud. I’ll always remember what he said to me. He said, ‘Freddie, in the CSSD, they call that “chickens coming home to roost”.’

Now what am I trying to say by telling you this story? I’m trying to say that Folvys’ chickens came home to roost. He sewed the seed of corruption in this Council and now he has to watch us salt the fields. The Pelagian liberation movement sewed the seeds of terror in Moomintroth Square, and now they have to watch us dig up the earth. It was not my choice to take the helm of this nation in my husband’s absence, but while I’m doing it I resolve to cut the head off corruption in this body and bring these terrorists to justice.

Honored Councillors, I hope I can count on you to stand with your queen.”
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 10:42:55 PM by Myroria »
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 12:24:50 AM »
For three centuries, the stoic Pelagian people have suffered under the yoke of outlander Myrorian oppression. Over these three centuries, how many Pelagian people have been robbed, dishonored, dismissed, even murdered by the Myrorian people simply for being? The Myrorian government ostensibly pretends to take its authority to govern from 'the people' - the Myrorian people who invaded our land, toppled our buildings and institutions, and have subjugated us to a life on the outside - a life on the periphery. This will no longer be acceptable. Soon will we will be reaching the tricentennial of the Fall of Pelagis to an army of foreigners - Myrorians, Eluvatarans, Prydainians.

The Myrorians refer to their flight from the northernmost regions of Ozia as their 'Exodus'. They prefer not to refer to it as what it was in reality - an invasion. Three centuries later the Pelagian people still suffer from the effects of this invasion while decadent Myrorian society fills its bellies on our toils and labors. As we near 300 years since the tragedy that displaced so many Pelagians, the Pelagian Nationalist Army has seen fit to declare war on its oppressors.

Some may say that our most recent attack on the Plaza Anatole - "Moomintroth Square" in the Myrorian tongue - was an attack on civilians. There are no civilians in this war. If the Myrorian government truly claims to get its authority to govern from the consent of the people, then it is the Myrorian people who are our oppressors. Myrorian men spit on Pelagian laborers building the roads that will carry them to their banquets, and Myrorian women have Pelagian men hanged for making eye contact with them. There are no 'innocent souls' in this war.
These attacks will keep coming until our demands are met. Then, and only then, will we cease our fire and consider a plan for peace. The Pelagian Nationalist Army wants what the Pelagian people want. We want freedom. We want to be able to choose our own destiny - and if this means the forging of a new Pelagian nation then this must be done.

We want decent housing. The Pelagian people are consistently pushed into the slums and ghettoes of every Myrorian city - places where the Myrorian people can forget they exist. Fires devastate our homes and the fire departments do not come. Murders run rampant in our communities and the police department does not come. Sickness tears through tenements and the doctors do not come. This cannot stand.

We want the true history of the Pelagian people to be taught - the history of a proud people and an enormous empire destroyed by insidious foreign forces allied against it.

We want an end to the brutality and murder of Pelagian men by the prefectures across Myroria. Pelagian men are routinely held without trial and thrown into jail without meeting a jury of their peers - Pelagian peers, not Myrorian oppressors. Pelagian men must be freed from prisons.

Above all else, the Pelagian people want peace. But this pseudo-peace - a peace in which we are oppressed at every turn and pushed into the periphery of society - will not stand. And if it takes violence to achieve a real, meaningful peace, the Pelagian Nationalist Army will fight.

Salute les populus Pelagens!

Gieux benne Emanuel Politus!

Mondrar Quarrovth, one of the rare Quarrovth nobles without a seat on the council, put the SPECIAL EDITION of the Pelagis Press Journal on the seat next to him. He leaned forward to his driver.

"What time is it?"

"Five to seven, sir."

"How far are we from the courthouse?"

"Not five minutes, sir."

Mondrar sat back in his seat and adjusted his glasses. He opened his briefcase and placed the newspaper inside, but not before checking to ensure everything he would need was there. He had served on the Council for several years, but retired to return to his practice as attorney. Many of his clients were powerful nobles from various Great and Lesser Houses, though without a doubt the most powerful - and the richest - was his second cousin Folvys Quarrovth.

Needless to say, when Folvys telephoned him at 5:30 PM and told him he was in dire trouble, Mondrar took it upon himself to make the hour-long car trip to the city of Quarrovth himself. Despite, being a noble of House Quarrovth, spending much time in their capital, he never really took a liking to it. Personally he preferred his planter's estate in Green Hills, near the Imperial Lycée where he spent the little free time he had teaching classes on Myrorian law.

The car was pulling up to the courthouse steps now, and Mondrar closed and latched his briefcase before tapping his driver on the shoulder and telling him to park in the garage out back. Both Mondrar and his chauffeur had been to the courthouse enough times that it seemed merely a formality, as both men knew their respective places to be. Stepping onto the sidewalk, Mondrar could smell the industrial bakery a few blocks away, run by Myrorians and staffed by Pelagians of course. Adjusting his tie, he stepped up the courthouse stairs and entered.

Approaching the guard at the main desk, he began:

"I'm here to see my client, Serjo - "

"He's in 105A. Right over there." The guard pointed down a corridor to Mondrar's left. "It's on the left."

Slowly turning around, the lawyer made his way across the room and to the corridor. It was only a short walk to the interrogation room. There was no one standing outside but he could hear muffled voices from inside the room. Again adjusting his tie, he approached the door and knocked. A man in a prefecture uniform, collar undone, opened the door. Turning to the other officer in the room, he said "come on," and they both left.

"What did you tell them?" Mondrar began, closing the door behind him.

"Nothing. I'm not an idiot. Did you bring cigarettes?" Mondrar, sitting across from his client, opened his briefcase and pulled out a pack of Bowser & Ferns. Leaning forward, he pressed the "stop" button on the tape recorder sitting between them. "I think she set me up," Folvys continued.

"Who set you up?"

"The queen."

"You think the Empeuress set you up?"

"I was - " Folvys paused, leaning forward to make sure the stop button the recorder was depressed. "Some kid - I don't even remember his name - offered me a wad of cash for a seat on the Council. I took it and told him I'd see what I could do." Folvys paused again, lighting a cigarette. "Then I had lunch with her, and she said she knew I was taking money and that if I'd keep out of the way - out of the way of her running the country -  she'd make sure I wasn't arrested. I agreed and she had me arrested."

"I'm your lawyer, Folvys, you don't have to lie to me."

"I'm not lying to you!" Folvys slammed his fist on the table.

"Maybe there was already an investigation pending and she knew about it. Though I still don't see what she would want with the throne, even temporarily."

"She's always wanted the throne. I've known her since she was fifteen and she's always wanted nothing but power."

"Folvys... " Mondrar began, "let me tell you something. When I was on the Council I was chairman of the Imperial Oversight Committee. This was 1947, while Fendryn was on the throne. On more than one occasion I was tasked with reviewing the grocery order for the Residence in Pelagis. You know, they order groceries and it was our job to make sure they weren't ordering 500 pounds of Kobe beef or 57 boxes of Al'Khemian cigars every week."

"Where are you going with this, Mondrar?"

"Well, every week while the Crown Princess was in residence the order included two quarts of Prydainian gin and 25 grams of zuavka. And you're telling me that now, four years later, she's setting you up on a bribery charge so she can take the throne for a week, at most, while His Majesty is away? You'll understand why I find this so hard to believe."

"It happened Mondrar, I swear." The lawyer paused and sighed deeply.

"Let's assume this did happen exactly as you described. Your intention is to go before a court of law and tell the jury and judge that the queen of Myroria set you up on bribery charges in order to get you out of the way so she could have a shred of power for a few days. Is that correct?" Folvys sighed.

"It's the truth."

"Listen, Folvys. They're going to offer you a plea deal, I know it. You plead guilty, you serve maybe ten years and then they let you go."

"Ten years?"

"I imagine, yes."

Folvys sighed and ran his hands through his hair.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 01:18:13 PM by Myroria »
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2014, 02:46:07 AM »
"Yes." Agent Vertroth looked at his watch. 6:13 PM. "Yes." he enunciated again. Holding a phone handset, he held eye contact with a man in a oxford shirt and cardigan sitting by a radio. "Mm. Yes." The two of them were the only ones sitting in the normally bustling press room of the Imperial Residence, having commandeered it following the appearance of the Pelagian Nationalist Army's manifesto in just about every paper in the country. "No." The man in the cardigan shrugged his shoulders and held his hands out, mouthing a silent "What are they saying?" Holding up a finger, Agent Vertroth continued with his conversation. "Yes." The radio operator adjusted his cardigan and tapped his fingers on the desk impatiently. "Yes. Goodbye."

"What did they say?"

"Oh, the usual stuff. 'We found it tucked in the door. We printed the whole thing as soon as we could type it up. We never saw the guy who put it there. Leave us alone, we have tomorrow's paper to work on.'" The radio operator sighed. "Anything interesting on the radio?"

"Richardson hit a double."

"I mean pertaining to the PNA."

"Nothing." Vertroth sighed. "What are you going to tell Her Majesty?" the radio operator continued. The agent-in-charge pinched the bridge of his nose.

"I don't know. Maybe I'll wait until tomorrow."

"Watch yourself," the radio operator said, taking his headset off. "Obstruction of justice. That's five years." Vertroth snickered.

"What do you think will happen to him? To Quarrovth?" Vertroth asked. One could almost hear the old nosy woman inside of him trying to get out.

"Folvys Quarrovth?"


"Why would I know? If it doesn't come through this radio I don't know anything about it." Vertroth paced away.

"You're no fun."

"Serjo Quarrovth, come in, come in!" Fredrika said warmly. She sat on a couch in a second-floor drawing room of the Imperial Residence, beckoning Marcica over with her hand. "You may leave us," she said to a guard standing by the door. The new councilor held the door open for the guard as he left.

"Your Majesty," he said, closing the door behind him.

"So?" the queen began.

"So so," Marcica replied nervously, sitting on a couch across from Fredrika. She pursed her lips.

"They didn't take the speech well."

"The people loved it - at least the press did. Ma'am."

"But the Council..."

"They found the whole situation very, er..."

"Very...?" The queen said, annoyed.

"Coup-like? I suppose that would be a phrase I heard,"

"Coup-like?" Fredrika paused, fingering the pearls on her neck. She stood up. "Are they going to do anything about it."

"Ah, I couldn't really say..."

"Couldn't really say?"

"No, ma'am." She sighed.

"What, does no one tell you anything?"

"It's just hard to get anything out of people."

"That's your job, 'cica. To get things out of people. What do you think, your dick got you on the Council?" Fredrika turned around to see Marcica looking like a freshly-kicked puppy. She sighed with annoyance and took her gloves off. "I'm just saying," she began through gritted teeth. "You are good at getting things out of people. That's why I tried my hardest to get you that seat."

"Thank you, ma'am." Marcica said, averting his eyes. Fredrika sighed again.

"So goddamn neurotic," she said under her breath. "If we're going to discuss our options we cannot do it without drinks," she said aloud, trying her best to act upbeat. "Martini, right?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2014, 10:02:52 PM »
Fredrika slowly and absent-mindedly ran her thumb up and down the pearls hanging from her neck, as she had been doing for some time now. The conversation with Marcica had moved from a drawing room to the queen’s antechamber, and Gothren had been called in a few minutes ago but had yet to arrive. At this moment, though, the conversation had stopped and the councillor and queen were both silently sipping their drinks. Quietly, a muffled siren could be heard outside, the car it was attached to speeding down the avenue in front of the Residence.

“Oran Quarrith - you know him, right? He represents the south side of Pelagis?” For several moments, Fredrika didn’t say anything and instead continued to run her thumb across her necklace. Raising her eyebrows suddenly, she turned to the serjo and affirmed that she did in fact know that man. “Well, he told me that Pelagians are walking around the streets down there with guns. Said that after what happened they can’t trust the prefecture to defend them.”

“Well,” the queen replied, taking another sip from her gin and tonic, “They should have thought of that before they blew up a public square. If they weren’t diverting our resources elsewhere we could staff those areas appropriately.” Marcica chuckled and heard the door behind him open a crack.

“Please, Gothren, come in,” Fredrika said. She stood up and walked to a small bar cart that a maid had brought in. Picking up the gin, she instinctively reached for a bottle of tonic before putting it back and grabbing vermouth. “I think the three of us should celebrate. It’s not every day yours truly is in charge of the entire country. And I won’t take any poo-pooing from you, ‘cica, about what the ‘Council threatens to do’. They’d never lay a finger on me.” Fredrika paused and reached for the shaker. “No matter how much those men might like to.” She laughed and stuck what appeared to be her entire arm in the icebox.

“What have you got for us, Gothren?” she said, up to her elbow in ice. The chamberlain, carrying a thin manila folder, pulled a chair up next to the queen and Marcica’s and opened the file on his lap.

“It’s funny you should mention the council, ma’am,” he said, slipping his jacket off without bothering to stand up. “My man on the council says they discussed, er, ‘options’ regarding your recent actions but you can’t impeach an ‘Acting Empeurer’. Regardless the law is so vague there’d be nothing to charge you with. Legally, you’re not out of the woods but I think we can breathe easy.”

“Even more reason to celebrate! What time is it, Gothren?”

“Five to seven.”

“Ah! The night’s just beginning.”

“Maybe you should turn in soon - everyone expects some progress to be made on identifying where the leadership of the PNA is.”

“Gothren, you’ve known me for years. You should know I work better drunk.” Gothren, pretending he didn’t hear that, looked back down into his folder.

“Vertroth was supposed to report back at 6:30. Have you heard anything I haven’t, Your Majesty?”

“No one tells me anything,” she responded, at this point shaking a cocktail rather violently. “I think he’s in the press room.”

“I heard,” Marcica interjected, “that there are armed Pelagians running around the south side.”

’Running around’ isn’t exactly what you told me, ‘cica. But I think he’s right, Gothren. Knowing how cowardly those people are - “ Fredrika paused to put the shaker back down and flailed her hands about. “Very cold. Knowing how cowardly those people are I’d bet those armed thugs aren’t protecting anything but their leaders homes. I want a unit - no a whole precinct down there first thing tomorrow morning. And get me Vertroth at 6:00 AM sharp. I’ll give him a night to sleep off his incompetence. Right now,” she said with a manic laugh, pouring martinis so strong you could smell them across the room, “It’s time to celebrate!”
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2014, 08:41:09 PM »
“You know,” the queen of Myroria said with a slur, five drinks in by 9:00 PM and in a rambling mood, “Folvys Quarrovth is the most dishonest man I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting.” She smacked her lips and took another sip. “He’s so crooked that he has a team of valets to help him screw his pants on in the morning.” The esteemed councillor M. Quarrovth, who at this point was six drinks in - a rare feat to come out ahead of the queen - laughed.

“You don’t need to tell me that,” he said. Disregarding his advice, the queen continued anyway.

“I once had the… distinct pleasure of meeting them for dinner at this restaurant in Pelagis. The Golden Goose or something, I don’t remember. He looked at his wife, eyes full of longing and lust,” she said with a sneer, “and gave her this beautiful sapphire necklace.” Pausing to finish her drink, she stood up to get another and continued: “The thing is, though, he never bought it for her. I saw… what’s his name, the fellow from Prorithis?”

“Uh, Vrotrith. Marani Vrotrith. House Vrotrith, of course.”

“I saw Marani Vrotrith walking around the council chambers with the very same necklace, planning to give it to his wife. Then that night I saw Folvys with the necklace and the next day Marani was appointed to the Housing Committee. Can you believe that?”

“I can,” Marcica said. It was rather obvious the alcohol was getting to all 110 pounds of her. “He’ll get what’s coming to him now, though.”

“Oh, he will. I won’t let him weasel his way out of this one. I’d sooner see that man dead then back in the Council. He’s nothing but trouble.” Fredrika stared at the glass in her hands for a few moments. “Nothing but trouble.”

Folvys Quarrovth sat in the holding cell at the courthouse in Quarrovth, tapping his foot wildly. It had been two hours since his last cigarette, and his lawyer had just left, trying to secure bail from the serjo’s property an hour out of the city. He knew he should get some sleep before he’d probably be let go at 1:00 in the morning but the hard steel benches, a head both full of anxiety and empty of nicotine, and a long, hard court case ahead of him made it hard to get any.

By 11:00 in the evening he had finally been able to coax himself to rest but he was awakened minutes later by loud bangs outside. Standing up and walking to the opposite end of the cell, he clasped his hands onto the bars and listened. There was shouting, and he knew immediately the loud bangs were gunshots.

Muttering ”oh shit, oh shit” under his breath, Folvys slowly backed away from the bars, and soon found himself tripping over a steel bench in the middle of the room. Picking himself up as fast as he could, he placed his hand on the bench to push himself back to his feet. He had just enough time to scream as the door to the room opened and he felt two sudden, sharp pains in his chest. He fell back down on the floor face-down as everything went black.

Fredrika, crouched in the knee-high grass in the woodlands outside Quarrovth Estate, adjusted her grip on her shotgun and glanced behind her shoulder. Her bodyguards, already instructed to keep a fair distance, had disappeared into the mist and Bervaso likewise had been separated, his footsteps fading in the distance. Laying the gun on the ground momentarily, she tightened her gloves, tied her bootlaces, and squinted in the direction of some distant movement. Picking her gun back up, she eased herself to her feet to have a better look.

Out of the mist, between two trees, came a short but very stout creature, black, brown, and drab in color with a small head atop a bulky neck and fat body. She watched as its back tail expanded upward into a fan of black feathers and it lifted its head straight up and began to make a peculiar, guttural sound like water being poured from a bottle with a thin neck. Fredrika let out a quiet gasp and watched the creature as it slowly moved towards her displaying. She put the shotgun to her shoulder, aimed, and fired, waking up with a percussive shot ringing through her head.
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2014, 11:55:39 PM »
Fredrika awoke with a deep gasp of air and a pounding headache, the loud rings of the phone on her bedside table drilling into her brain. Propping herself up on her pillow with an nnnnnnnnnngggg, she rubbed her eyes with her palms and reached for the handset.

"Good morning, Your Majesty." The operator said, involuntarily pausing to let the queen let out a long, drawn-out breath directly into the receiver. "The Imperial Chamberlain is on the phone for Your Majesty."

"What time is it?"

"6:15 AM, Your Majesty."

"Alright," Fredrika said with a sigh. She waited a few seconds. "Gothren, why the hell are you waking me up at 6:15 AM?"

"Beg your pardon, Your Majesty," the operator said. "The Imperial Chamberlain is not yet on the line." The queen sighed again, more loudly this time, and waited again. She looked behind her shoulder to see a man's greasy duck's ass haircut. She grimaced before hearing a click on the line.

"You'd better have a good reason for this, Gothren."

"Agent Vertroth is here for your appointment, Your Majesty."


"Agent Vertroth, ma'am, of the IOI." Fredrika's head pounded with pain three or four times before she remembered.

"Oh yes, him. Well, why is he here at 6:00 AM?"

"You had me pencil in an appointment last night."

"I what? Christ, well... give me five or ten minutes."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Also, ma'am, Folvys Quarrovth is dead." Fredrika, more annoyed than shocked, threw the covers off herself and sat up.

"Goddammit," she began. "How did he go?"

"Pelagians. Well, shot through the chest, specifically."

"When did this happen?" she asked, wiggling her feet into slippers.

"About one in the morning."

"What does the press know?"

"Well, ma'am, it wasn't just him they shot. It was a veritable blood bath in there."

"So what do they know?"

"That there was a veritable blood bath."

"You can be very unhelpful, Gothren. Where is our guest?"

"The first-floor drawing room."

"Give me ten minutes."

"Yes, Your Majesty. Goodbye." Fredrika hung up the phone and rubbed her eyes again. Looking at her palms, she saw smudged black eyeshadow and mascara all over them - and, by association - the phone handset. Sighing for the third or fourth time in two minutes, she stood up and heard Marcica stir.

"You need to change your haircut;" she said. "you look like a goddamn teenager. What, did you use the whole tin of pomade?"

"No," Marcica responded. "I didn't use the whole tin." he continued. He growled like a cat and turned over.

"God dammit!" Fredrika yelled, grabbing a shoe off the floor and throwing it at him.

"Jesus Christ!"

"Folvys Quarrovth is dead," she simmered, exasperated. Picking a bra up off a chair, she continued as one might dictate a task to a typist: "I need you to write a speech. A eulogy, even. I would do it myself, but I don't have anything good to say about him. I'm going to have to read it off on the radio or whatever it is people do with eulogies."

"What happened to him?"

"Shot. In the courthouse. I heard it was a veritable blood bath," she said, rummaging through her closet for a blouse. "Now I'm meeting with Agent Vertroth. Apparently I made an appointment with him last night."

"I think I remember that," Marcica said, sitting up and cradling his bruised head as well as ego.

"Well at least one of us does." she replied, stepping into a skirt and walking to her vanity. "There's my cigarette holder," she said, sounding pleased for the first time this morning. "I'm looking for my makeup kit though."

Marcica got out of bed and walked to the window. "When do you need this eulogy?" he asked, opening the shades.

"There we are!" she exclaimed, pulling out what appeared to be either her makeup kit or a tackle box. "Jesus, put some clothes on, would you? I can hardly stand seeing that thing before 10:00 PM; I can't imagine how the rest of Pelagis feels." Marcica looked back at her and frowned. "I don't know when I need it," Fredrika said, ignoring his puppy dog eyes. "As soon as possible. What are you doing today, anyway?"

"Well, the Council is meeting at noon."

"Oh, noon! Getting their work in early, I see." Fredrika put her lipstick back in its compartment and looked at her watch. "I have three minutes to spare! I was worried I was getting rusty."

"Congratulations," Marcica said, annoyed.

"The maid comes by at 6:30. You'd better get dressed. You have eight minutes. Well," she hesitated, looking at her watch again. "Seven, now."

"Agent!" Fredrika said brightly, closing the drawing room door behind her. "You must excuse my tardiness; I was a little caught up in my morning coffee. We got it from this Ozian vendor - he says this jungle... cat, I guess, it eats the coffee beans and then - well, I won't spoil your appetite."

"It's quite alright, Your Majesty." He seemed annoyed, but he hid it well.

"I heard about what happened to Serjo Quarrovth. Quite, quite tragic."

"Yes, Your Majesty. I assure you we have our best agents on the case."

"I'm glad." Fredrika said. "It's about a similar matter that I asked for this appointment, actually." She put a scone on her plate and passed Vertroth one as well. She paused and glanced at her hands, laid in her lap. "Precinct to south side" said a note written in Gothren's handwriting.

"How easily," she began, "could the IOI arrange to have a precinct of the Pelagis prefecture sent to inspect Pelagian neighborhoods on the South Side?"

"Oh my," Agent Vertroth said, slightly taken aback. "An entire precinct?"

"It might seem like a lot, but yes."

"Well, I suppose we could pull a few strings. But the IOI has heard no word of any activity in that part of the city. At least not of the type we're investigating presently."

"I have sources as well, Agent," Fredrika said, "And we have reason to believe that there might be people being hidden there. I'd like to have some prefects there to investigate and... restore order, if needed."

"It would be possible for us to allocate resources to fill in gaps..." Vertroth responded, still unsure.

"I think if that's possible then we should follow this course, Agent." Vertroth looked at his scone.

"Well, I'll see what I can do, Your Majesty."
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2014, 11:31:08 PM »
January 23, 1926
Nelvil’s Landing, Nouvé Resdaynia

Louic Durant, a tall, dark-skinned man of mixed Myrorian and Pelagian descent, was a man of contradictions. He was a Pelagian, but also a Myrorian. He was a Pelagian, but also a Christian. He considered himself a man of peace, who would ready for war but would never hurt innocents - women, children, the elderly - but here he was asking a boy who must have been no older than 15 to deliver a bomb.

“Our men have got you a pass that will get you inside the compound;” he began. Louic would do the job himself, but his Pelagian skin would never let him get anywhere in Resdaynia without being watched. On the mainland, where Pelagians are a dime a dozen, it’d be easier to slip undetected through military checkpoints; here, though, the second a Pelagian goes in public he’s being watched. By contrast, the boy holding the bomb could easily get inside the base, as his Pelagian blood was diluted enough to allow him to pass for a Myrorian, albeit a particularly well-tanned one.

“All you need to do is drive the truck into the compound, park it by the barracks, arm the bomb, and walk away. You can slip out through a hole in the fence behind the barracks our men will have cut the day of the operation. Just act like you know what you’re doing and no one will stop you. Am I being clear?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. You should go home and get some rest. We’ll come get you at 10:00 in the morning tomorrow.”

“Yes sir.” The boy turned and walked out of the room. It wasn’t entirely clear if he understood the gravity of what he was about to take part in.

“Do you ever think that maybe we’re not doing the right thing, Louic?” Louic turned to look at Martin, the second-in-command of the Pelagian operation in Resdaynia and a short, thin man of maybe 22.

“I used to think that, when I was your age. But the more I saw and experienced how these myror treat us the less I respect them.” Louic used the pejorative myror, a Pelagian word meaning “sickly” or “ill-favored by fate” to describe his enemy. The arrogant Myrorians co-opted the word, in his mind, as some show of their perverted masochism.

“You’re only 28, Louic,” countered Martin. “And most of these men have never fired a shot in anger in their lives.”

“They work for the Myrorian government. They’re willing accomplices. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never thought a bad thing about us in their lives; their job is to prop up the government that oppresses us.”

“Then why not go to Quarrovth’s house and set the bomb off there? He’s far more involved with the government here than these grunts are.” Louic paused.

“He has a daughter. I don’t harm children.”

These men have children.” Again Louic remained silent, for several moments this time.

“Their children aren’t coming to harm. Not physical harm. And I just set the bomb off. Any soldier that dies- well, that’s between him and the Lord.” Martin laughed.

“You’re crazy, Louic.”

“Louic Durant! Come here, you old man.” It was Fall 1951, and Louic was meeting his old friend Martin again, this time in Pelagis. He slowly walked over to Martin and embraced him.

“How did they treat you?” Martin asked, aware of some of the horror stories surrounding Myrorian prisons.

“Ah, it’s not so bad.” Louic replied. “At least not as bad as they say.” Martin laughed.

“Did you hear about our handiwork?” Martin asked excitedly.

“I did,” Louic said. The mood became heavy. “I wasn’t impressed,” Louic said, slightly angered.

“What?” Martin asked, taken aback. “What do you mean?”

“I told you, we don’t harm kids.”

Harming kids wasn’t our intention. We didn’t set the bomb off by a hospital. Or an orphanage. Or a nursery. In this war, collateral damage is unavoidable.” Martin said, defending himself.

“It doesn’t matter what your intention was, you should have known there’d be kids in that square.” Louic paused for a second and noticed the other armed men in the room standing unimpressed. Undeterred, he continued. “The second you saw a child standing there, you should have called it off.”

“I think prison made you soft, Louic.” Martin said.

“What the hell do you mean?” Louic replied, raising his voice.

“The Louic I worked with in Resdaynia would never have said that shit. He knew that we do what we have to to throw off the myror yoke.”

“Killing children isn’t what we have to do. Attack the soldiers, not the innocents.”

“There are no soldiers and innocents anymore, Louic. You said yourself, even if they never thought a bad thought about us in their lives they’re still accomplices.” The room was silent for a moment besides the sounds of a radio scanner in the corner.

“Prefecture’s coming, boss. We gotta move.” Martin, not breaking eye contact with Louic, picked his backpack up off a table.

“I don’t think I can come back to this, Martin.” Louic said.

“I don’t think you can, either, Louic. I wish you the best of luck, but we’ve got to go. We’re moving to a compound outside Novrith. Come by if you really want to see what this movement’s become.” Louic frowned and looked at his feet.

“Goddammit Martin, you always were a stubborn one.”

“You taught me, Louic.”
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

Offline Myroria

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2014, 02:42:50 PM »
Agent Vertroth carefully picked up a red and green colored can out of the food-o-mat, a strange invention that consisted of a wood-paneled contraption set into the wall, from which a customer would pluck a canned good and a column of identical canned goods would roll down a slanted platform to fill in the empty space. The food-o-mat, though a big hit upon its introduction to Myroria, was such a geniusly useless invention that it couldn’t have come from anywhere but Novmir.

The can said ALL-GREEN FANCY PEAS in loud letters below a large logo that said NOVRITH CHIEF and was emblazoned with a picture of some peas that seemed more chartreuse than ALL-GREEN. Pausing to ponder for a moment, Agent Vertroth put the can in his shopping basket before turning around to head for the bread aisle.

Upon approaching the aisle, trying to decide whether to buy Rarena’s Kitchen or Myroria’s Bakery white bread, Vertroth instead saw a man who he thought to be the intern in his office standing in the middle of the aisle looking around.

“Hello Lleram,” Agent Vertroth said, puzzled, as he approached him.

“Agent Vertroth! The office sent me over to the Residence to look for you but someone told me you had come over here!”

“Oh, yeah, I’m just buying supper for tonight.”

“Oh, well, some prefects from the South Side came to the office looking for you but no one could reach you!” the intern said with a tone that seemed slightly manic. Vertroth sighed briefly, the sort of sigh that said “you don’t need to yell”, but the Lleram apparently missed the message. “So they sent me to the Imperial Residence and while I was there looking for you this other man said Her Majesty wants to see you too!” Lleram stopped for a minute to catch his breath. “So then I went back to the office to see what Director Hlertroth wanted me to do and the prefects were gone! So then I asked, you know, I asked the Director what he wanted me to do and he said he sent the prefects to the Residence to wait for you. So then I went over there and this white-haired man sent me over here to look for you!”

“Wait, so - “ Vertroth paused, looking mindlessly at the bread. “So they need me at the palace.”

“Yes, Agent Vertroth! Right away!” Lleram said. His tone had gone from “slightly manic”, past “manic”, to “nearly psychotic”. He wiped a bead of sweat off his brow.

“Well, let me just finish my shopping. My wife is sick and I told her I would pick up supper for tonight.”

“But, but Agent! Members of the prefecture and the Imperial Chamberlain and Her Majesty are all waiting for you!”

“Well, they can wait a little longer.”

“Captain Andraseth from the prefecture said ‘please come with haste’ and Her Majesty said ‘if he’s not here within the hour it’s his balls’!” The adjacent two aisles, filled with polite chatter, fell silent and a woman at the opposite end of the bread-aisle in a green quilted muumuu coughed and glanced at the two. Vertroth put his shopping basket down and his hand to his face.

“Thank you Lleram. Please go to the Residence and tell them I’m on my way.”

“Apologies for the delay, Captain. Your Majesty. Sera,” Vertroth said upon entering the room, nodding to Captain Andraseth, the queen, and Gothren respectively. The four were gathered in the Empeuress’ office on the second floor, a nearly square, medium-sized room directly above the considerably larger Empeurer’s office on the first floor. It was unclear if the walls, painted a subdued pink, were colored so on Fredrika’s orders or if they came that way.

“It’s quite alright,” the captain said as Gothren nodded. Fredrika, sprawled in her office chair behind her white-wood desk, was striking the tip of what appeared to be either a curtain rod or a broom handle repeatedly on the floor.

“It’s almost one o’clock!” Pushing the rod out of her hands, it fell on the ground with a clatter.

“Again, my apologies. My wife has the flu and I was just getting supper for tonight.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” the captain said, face dripping with empathy. Fredrika scowled.

“Well, we’re all here. What have you got for us, Captain?” she asked, rooting through the drawers of her desk.

“We picked up a person of interest during our sweep of the Pelagian neighborhoods,” he said, leaning forward in his chair and opening a manila folder on the desk. On top of a short stack of paperwork was a mug shot of a dark-skinned man with white hair and a short beard

“This is Louic Durant. He just got out of Grossmoor, off a 25 year stint for enabling terrorism. He was behind that bombing in - “

“Nelvil’s Landing, 1926.”

“That’s right, ma’am.”
“I was four, I think. They said my father was the target but they changed it at the last minute.”

“I can assure you that’s just a rumor. We picked Mr. Durant up for driving while intoxicated. He was riding this little electric scooter, drunk out of his mind, swerving in and out of vehicle traffic.” The captain laughed under his breath. “That was at 9:00 this morning. He insisted that he speak to you specifically and that he knew where the PNA was hiding. We let him sober up in the drunk tank for a few hours and he’s still a little tipsy but he insists it’s true. He still insists he talk to you, ma’am. You specifically. I told him it wasn’t going to happen, but I wanted to let you know.”

“Why did you tell him that?” Fredrika asked, puzzled. “He might be our best chance at finding the PNA.”

“He’s probably lying,” Gothren interjected. “He’s just some drunk maniac.”

“But those credentials,” Fredrika said. “He’s been in the PNA for almost 30 years at least. He must know something. And even if he is lying, so what? I’ve wasted some of my time. Captain, I want you to bring him here under guard. I’ll meet with him.” Andraseth was visibly shocked.

“I - I suppose we can do something like that but it’s very irregular.”

“I don’t care about regular, I care about bringing these people to justice. I promised my - “ Fredrika paused and cleared her throat. “The Myrorian people that I would do that. And we don’t have long until the Empeurer comes back and -” “and fucks it all up” was what the queen was thinking, but she didn’t let it slip out. “and I’d prefer this to be settled before he returns.”

"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."

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Re: Other People (1951)
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2014, 04:29:11 AM »
“He’s here,” a stiff guard in a stiffer shirt spoke into the radio mounted near his soldier.

“Open the gate,” crackled the reply as the guard promptly reached for a lever that slowly pulled two wrought-iron gates apart. Louic, sitting in the back of a prefecture cruiser that brought him here, craned his head to look out the window. He had seen the exterior of the Grand Imperial Residence before; a cramped, squeezed building, the palace - which in any other nation would probably be considered “small” - seemed to almost strain against the Imperial offices pressing against its walls, the building’s bay windows and parapets extending awkwardly over the sidewalk.

The gates opened to reveal a small courtyard that appeared to have been cut into the stone walls of the Residence almost as an afterthought; leaned against one wall were several motorcycles, and on the opposite wall one of the Empeurer’s limousines was parked, leaving just enough room in front and behind it for two guard posts. The cruiser rolled to a stop in the center of the courtyard and one of the officers in the front got out and walked around, opening Louic’s door. Being careful to avoid hitting his head as he stepped out, Louic straightened out in the open air and looked up at the clear sky. The officer quickly unlocked Louic’s handcuffs and grabbed his left arm, his partner clutching the right. The pair led him towards a small wood door that seemed hardly fitting for the entrance to the Empeurer’s palace.

Nodding to two IOI agents standing by the door, the two prefects handed the prisoner off to the suited men, who proceeded to grab Louic’s arms just as tightly and lead him through the door. As opposed to the cold stone Pelagian-styled exterior, the inside of the Residence was done up in the traditional Myrorian style, with dark wooden furniture and pastel walls. Louic paused to look at a small naked putto mounted at the end of the stairway banister before the two agents hustled him up to the second floor.

Walking down a short corridor towards what felt like the middle of the palace, the agents and Louic soon reached a small white door set deep into the wall. The agent holding Louic’s left arm shortly and loudly rapped on the wood. Seconds after it swung open and Gothren stood in the doorway. Looking the Pelagian over with a straight face but with eyes that seemed to sneer, Gothren stepped out of the way to allow the trio inside the Empeuress’ office.

The office remained silent as the men shuffled in. Louic, back straight, looked like he was about to say something but was interrupted.

“You may let him go, agents. But please remain by the door.” Fredrika said sternly. The agents promptly released their grip on Louic’s arms, and he reached over to rub his left. The left arm hurt more from the agent’s excessively tight grip, but both would probably bruise later. He closed his mouth, forgetting the words, and stood in silence for a minute. Gothren motioned his head, trying to indicate to Louic that protocol demanded he bow. The message was either lost on him or deliberately ignored; in any case he instead met the queen’s eyes - mistake number two. Dark brown, they appeared soft yet inquisitive - though the queen’s strabismus, a childhood defect that had never been cured, soon meant that Louic was making eye contact with her right eye, specifically, rather than both. She turned her head away to ash her cigarette, closing her eyes for a moment before turning back towards Louic, her sight properly adjusted. The whole exchange must have been no more than four seconds, but the awkwardness - and tension - felt like an eternity.

“Please bow before the imperial presence,” Fredrika said. She was never known in the palace for pressing protocol, but it was obvious to everyone in the room that to a Pelagian it was necessary to point out which tree the dog had pissed on, so to speak. Louic, anger in his eyes but not yet his tongue, looked behind his shoulder at one of the IOI agents. He scowled for a second at the Pelagian and Louic turned away, slowly - carefully - bending at the waist. He grimaced as he straightened out, his arthritis or sciatica - he didn’t know which - shooting pain up his spine.

“My aides,” Fredrika began, not breaking eye contact, “told me you spent 25 years in Grossmoor for the Nelvil’s Landing bombing.”

Louic cleared his throat. It felt like everyone in the room was staring at him. Not wanting to be the first to break eye contact, he continued to meet the queen’s gaze and spoke, softly, but firmly, and in Inglish - though with a thick Pelagian accent -

“That’s correct, Your Majesty. I was serving with the PNA at that time, though we were not known by that name in ‘26.”

Fredrika ashed her cigarette again. There was a hint of - not anger, but resentment, perhaps - in her eyes.

“Growing up, I was always told my father was the intended target of that bomb but that it was moved to the barracks at the last moment. Is that true, Pelag?” Pelag, though not linguistically a pejorative, was widely used among Myrorians and widely despised among Pelagians.

“I don’t know how that rumor started. An associate briefly mentioned the Quarrovth house as a target but I, uh,” Louic looked for the word and failed to find it. “I told him no. I don’t kill children.”

“Well, looks like your associates stopped listening to you, Pelag.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Fredrika smirked and put the butt of her cigarette in the ashtray next to her. She looked at Gothren briefly before turning back to Louic.

“I spoke to Captain Andraseth of the Pelagis Prefecture this afternoon, and he told me you insisted you knew the whereabouts of the PNA leadership.”

“I do, Your Majesty.” Louic paused in a way that seemed to illustrate how heavy the following words were on his lips and his heart: “I don’t want them killing children anymore. But if I tell you I know that they’ll find and kill me. I need protection.” Fredrika leaned back in her chair.

Les Pelagens ne mensig nevell - les Myror inventei il - ‘The Pelagians never lie - the Myrorians invented it’ - someone once told me that’s a Pelagian saying. Is that correct?”

“I’ve heard it, ma’am.”

“Well, we can offer you protection in exchange for what you know. But if we find out you’ve been lying, we’re going to come to you and take back more than what we gave. Is that understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.”


Louic spoke quickly, to get the words out of his mouth as quickly as possible.

“They’re at a compound outside Novrith. That’s all they told me but I know which one it is. It’s in the hills to the southeast. It’s an old Indiotrovth manor that the PNA bought.” Louic took a deep breath. “raçe traitre” he said to himself quietly. Fredrika smiled.

“Take him to a safehouse, agents.” Quickly the agents grabbed Louic by the arms again and led him out of the room.

“She didn’t even thank me,” Louic said quietly as the door closed behind him.

“That’s what the safehouse is for,” the agent holding his left arm replied, annoyed.

“I want you to send scouts out there today,” Fredrika said to Gothren excitedly. “And if we see activity, we send a force immediately. If this checks out I want this resolved by the morning. The Empeurer will be back soon.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Gothren said. “Do you have a speech prepared for tonight? About the late Serjo Quarrovth?”

“‘Cica is writing it as we speak - or at least he better be. It’ll be his ass.”

“And what about the Pelag? Where are we hiding him - long term, I mean.” Fredrika scoffed.

“Turn him loose in the street. He’s a criminal and a terrorist. We have no use for him.”

“Your Majesty,” Gothren said with a mixture of surprise and annoyance. “I believe that’s a little rash. If we keep breaking these promises no one will work with us in the future.”

“Did you hear the way that Pelag said ‘I don’t kill children’? He was holding it in my face. ‘I could have had you killed but I didn’t’. Who does he think he is?”

“I didn’t get that tone, ma’am.”

“Well I did. ‘Saved my life’. Ha! I couldn’t piss in the toilet yet, and he thinks he’s an honorable man for saving my life. No one gets the drop on me. I hope the PNA kills him. One more leader they’ll be missing.”

“Ma’am,” Gothren said, less surprised and more frustrated, “Please rethink this position. It’s a dangerous precedent to set.” Fredrika slumped yet lower in her chair.

“No one gets the drop on me.”
"I assure you -- I will be quite content to be a mere mortal again, dedicated to my own amusements."