Kingmaker

Off With Their Heads

Gaeren had found himself a quiet spot on Fort Drelev’s battlements. He had a good view of the town and his pipe was sending out tiny smoke signals as he looked down at the shops and homes, turned a blazing gold by the setting sun.
“There have been worse days.” Bennie said cheerfully as he strolled towards Gaeren, Click following behind obediently. “You don’t seem much interested in the talks, though. I thought you liked talking.”

“Depends on the subject,” Gaeren replied. “If Lem throws out the phrase, ‘War Criminal,’ one more time I shall likely say something regrettable,”

Bennie cocked his head to one side, “Well, they did invade Ursundova…”

Gaeren smiled around his pipe. “That they did. But that doesn’t make one a war criminal in the River Kingdoms, it only makes one a failure. River folk may have what they hold, but Courts are for Kings. If I send 100 men to invade Mivon, by the River Freedoms, Mivon can send men to try and kill me, but claiming I broke Mivonian law is a stretch too far. No, Ursundova is less interested in the River Freedoms than they are in notions of sovereignty and a very specific concept of Justice. Well, they’re welcome to it, but I’ll not participate. I did what I came to do.”

Bennie took a seat on Click, who buzzed once, then settled to the ground. “Your strategy seemed to pay off, though.”

Gaeren nodded. “Good to be right. Better to be lucky. We were lucky, insofar as it went. The Tiger Lords are still out there and they, for what it’s worth, are the ones who really engineered the invasion. Dragging Drelev’s wife and mistress before a court will make the forces of law and order feel righteous, but won’t do anything about the threat to the people. This Armag fellow is still out there, and will be coming for us eventually. Best to get ready.”

Bennie sighed, “Can we at least enjoy a victory for a day or two?”

Gaeren looked at Bennie and grinned. “Apologies, my friend. The chit-chat put me in a foul mood. You’re quite right. I do think a bit of celebrating is in order. Not every day you get to overthrow a mini-tyrant, eh?” Gaeren pulled out his flask and Bennie produced a small tin cup. The two of them toasted to freedom and watched the sun go down.

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kitsuki Bookkeeper

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