Villains’ time. Naturally being ruthless, vicious folk there are going to be times when they will have frank & comradely discussions (Back in the time of the USSR & The Warsaw Pact that was acknowledged soviet-speak for two sides having a standing up shouting match…Oh yes the USSR’s ‘allies’ in eastern Europe were not always inclined to monolithic)
This is one whole Chapter; it seemed to want to be relatively short and sharp.
Merthyl maintained a quiet and restrained presence, standing at the Helmsman’s side. You could not really call it respect, more a sense of what suited survival best. This Merthyl reasoned was essential to anyone as bold and he was.
Bold, of course was his choice of word; others if they knew the course of previous events might have had a different interpretation…
Nearly a year ago. The first day Silc had been allowed access to the Council’s Manse; ‘allowed’ being also to flexible interpretations; some might have thought ‘friendly demand’ would have been a more accurate term.
Merthyl had spied the large, slow gaited fellow dressed in rather comically common dark browns and greens, thinning greasy hair and dull eyes moving with an animalistic wariness. The young noble had waited until the fellow was out of sight of guards, fussy servants, nervous acolytes and of course Council Members. Merthyl knew all the corners, alcoves, short passageways to small unpleasant rooms. He’d stepped smartly out of one such passageway, blocking Silc.
“Ah. You must be The New Money,” he had drawled a supercilious grin sliding across his face. “How fortunate for you,”
Silc had looked down at him. Apparently curious.
“I make my way,” came the laconic reply, which had at once bothered Merthyl who them pressed home, and resting on the hilt of his sword.
“I am Lord Merthyl,” Merthyl man had announced, intent upon imposing his air of menace “And I bring,” he had had to step up slightly to reach Merthyl’s face to breathe out the next word “Fear,”
He’d just let loose the end of the word, when a large left arm had shot out, striking against his throat, forcing him back against the wall, knocking out his breath with the pain of the impact, itself accompanied by a stab of agony as a large ugly ring upon the right fist punched into his right wrist, numbing the hand. The left arm had risen drawing his face level with Silc’s. The eyes now glinted with a knowing power, as Silc’s face drew close to his, with its own smile, one of threatening confidence.
“I daresay that little act impresses the weak, the helpless, and the stupid,” the voice was low, each phrase a stab of authority “Sunshine,” it had taken about a Five for Merthyl to realise that Silc was addressing him with that term “But if I was to drop you and that bunch of snivelling wobblers that follow you about in MY streets; by the end of the day you’ll all end up as gutter leavings, or on the Sanded Lands slave ships as sacrifice fodder or trainee jolly boys,” the smile had turned into a hard thin line “Now. You do what you do. I’ll do what I do. But don’t you get in my way,” the smile had returned “And everything will be roses,” and faded ” Understand?”
Merthyl still shocked and finding breath hard to come by had just nodded.
“Good,” Silc’d released his grip, stepping back “Oh an’ by the way. If you are thinking about trying to bring some revenge to soothe your hurt feelings, let me warn you this. If anything happens to me. Well, there’s this list of folk I’ve had uncomfortable dealings with. My people will hunt them all down. My people are quite a few. Very persistent, with long reaches. I would do the same for My People. It’s how we work. Loyalty and Respect. It might take a decan. It might take a year or ten. But they will be found and when they are finally delivered to The Fifth Hell, it will seem like a welcome relief. I put you on that list first news I heard of you,”
With that he had stepped forward, pushed past Merthyl and had not looked back, only to call out “See you at the Council meeting,”
Merthyl had been telling himself since, the meeting had been ‘interesting’. It had been a case of ‘Forewarned is Forearmed,’ He would of course, one day make Silc pay. He would weave his revenge into his plans. In the meantime, he would try and spend as much of The New Money as he could.
He was to find this was not as easy as he had hoped.
Which was why he endeavoured to nurture an affable relationship with The Helmsman, let Belacheli fuss and get in the way with his hysterics and Karutorm could carry on as if the man was in the Grand Duke’s army. He simply turned up from time to time, asking intelligent questions in an interested and respectful tone. It did not do to make nervous a man charged with a delicate balancing act. And so naturally the man was immersed in his own work.
“Have you any new information Helmsman?” Merthyl asked, in his most conversational way. The man frowned, fingers moving careful over the display.
“Excuse me for a ten please Lord Merthyl. There is a slight change in the current, I need to address. Jurd! Address the engine by ten degrees of element!”
Merthyl had to admit the Helmsman conducted his staff with exceptional efficiency. His orders were plain and precise. The responses swift and respectful. Merthyl had overheard the man carefully explain the consequences of errors; all resulting in painful deaths because each would allow one or another creature to escape from the Fourth Realm through the Helmsman’s realm and vent its nature upon everyone therein.
“Sorry My Lord Merthyl, some matters take priority. Yes, there is still much turbulence on the far shore,” he gestured to the far off scenes of activity “Can you see the agitations from that angle?”
“Oh yes. Seems to be thrusting hosts illuminated by sullen flames. Are we witnessing some sort of battle?”
“There is little widespread knowledge of the motivations and associations within the Fourth Realm My Lord Merthyl. Whereas it can be acknowledged that there is communication; to know the true length and breadth of the dynamics within that place is something beyond my own scope of experience or discernment. My own assumption would be that we are witnessing some attempted rupture of the barriers withholding the Fourth Realm inhabitants. Mage Belacheli would be likely to caste you more clarity on this matter,”
Merthyl appreciated the adroitness of The Helmsman’s response. He was at one recommending and distancing himself from a council member. This would do for The Lord, he would now wait. There were credible indications in The Helmsman’s words. He doubted if Belacheli would be able to be so coherent lost as he was in his miasma of fear and belief. Ideal.
Silc had no doubts that after the last council meeting everyone, with the possible exception of that wobbler Uraxch would be busy with plans and ploys. Time to move quickly, keep ahead of the pack.
He snapped his fingers and one bodyguard pulled off his backpack and handed his boss an object of dark green metal, tubular length of his large hand and half its width. Silc turned it over to the area which had twelve small gems, three rows of four. He tapped out a pattern and placed the tube to his ear, tapping his foot and complaining about the hissing in his ear and then the rhythmic buzzing, until.
“Jerreli! Yer, it’s your Uncle Fairrel! Wot? Well get the girl out of the room now! We got business! Never mind that she’s a Sea Lord daughter!” Silc slapped his hand about the tube and looked exasperated at his guards “Give him a few ships to play with and he thinks he’s blimpin’ Sanded Lands Pirate General,” he asided “Jerreli? Look, never mind the skirt, she’ll stay warm! Now listen I got a job for you and your lot. It’s a sweet ‘un. You get to play at pirate raiders on a coastal town…Naw! It’s not defended. So you get your lot to stop at games of Captain and Cabin boy and have the ships ready…. I’ll tell you all in good time my son, all in good time,”
He brought one thumb down on the tube, shaking his head.
“Thank The Goodlordgawd, my poor sister’s not alive to see him,” he tapped out another pattern, this time not having to wait “Kregz. Yeh, I’m taking leave of our neighbours in Shorehang City. Naw they’re not willing to make a move yet so I’m taking a river rapid-boat, should be back in tomorrow. Look, find ‘Oily’ Tymus and have him get back to me on the whistler, I need him to make sure something is going to work properly,”
The discourse ended Silc passed the tube back to the one bodyguard.
“Going to be a very busy time lads. But old Lady Elinid’ll finally have her day in the sun. With the Silcs looking after her of course,”
It was going to be a not just busy but a bit of a risk too, meant he would have to stay in Elinid with good reason not to be involved in any council business, which suited him fine. Things were going to get quite meaty there in a while and he was quite happy to stand back and pick up whatever valuable pieces were left at the end of it.