“Bring me that one!” He pointed toward the red head and pulled his fur farther up around his shoulders. Sometimes he cared if it hid his stomach, and other times he did not. It wasn’t as if anyone was going to say the first word to him about it.
The servant looked at him with a mixture of fear and concern. “Which… which one would that be?” His circumspectness was disgusting.
Munsolrysche told him, “The redhead, you farking fool! Are you deaf?”
The servant looked out upon the floor of the Great Hall where numerous women covered the floor of the Great Hall, most of them wearing only fur coats, all dancing to minstrel music.
Plainly frightened, the servant left. Good, Munsolrysche rolled his eyes. Maybe he’d find a set of balls out there….
Just then, another servant showed at his shoulder. “If it please you, there are several redheads on the floor. Which one would you like, Your Majesty?”
Munsolrysche glared at this new interruption at first but then backed down. He did like redheads. The more of them, the better. But where was the one he’d had his eye on? He stood up and concentrated, searching the floor for the redhead he wanted. Be damned, he thought, there were at least four reddies out there. There!
Munsolrysche grabbed the servant’s elbow and he pointed. “That one, there! With her titties hanging out! I fucked her once before,” he announced as he sat back down on his throne. “She had a cunt like fire, ha ha!” he directed this last comment to the lord sitting nearest him.
Could be he was drunk but it didn’t matter a fucking bit. He rose a toast to Lord WhatsHisName. “To Reddies!”
The lord returned his toast with a rousing tribute, and they both drank down the rest of their goblets.
“Ah. Much better.” Munsolrysche signaled for more wine and saw his reddie being escorted up the hall to him. The night was about to get much, much better. “And there she is.” He turned to Lord WhatsHisName in a fit of good will and asked, “You want one? There’s two or three more out there, you can have one.”
The lord leaned over and said loudly enough to be heard over the minstrel music, “I’m married!”
Munsolrysche stared at him for a moment. What had marriage to do with fucking? “I didn’t ask if you were married, I asked if you wanted a reddie for the night. Oh, bloody hell, ya fuckin bastard, I’ll keep them for myself!”
Just as his reddie was stepping foot toward the front of the Great Hall, Nabol appeared at his side. Nabol – that was never a good sign. Munsolrysche would dismiss him right away.
“Your Majesty,” whispered Nabol in Munsolrysche’s ear.
“Yes, Your Majesty?”
“Look around you, what do you see.”
Nabol did not look around but responded, “Dancing, Sire.”
“Aye, that’s right. And Nabol, there’s a reddie walking up right now as we speak who’s going to –”
“Your Majesty, I apologize, but this is something I believed you should hear. Right away.”
Munsolrysche’s eyes narrowed. “Nabol –”
Nabol whispered in his ear. “Ambsellon has been moving against Romeny. We just got word from Romeny.”
Munsolrysche’s celebratory mood deflated immediately. He stared up at Nabol.
“Do you trust it? Who’s the source?”
“It came direct from the Palace, with the Castle seal.” Nabol stared at him, oblivious of the joyous atmosphere. “Come see the message for yourself, Your Majesty.”
“Damn.” Munsolrysche stood up from the table. At that very second, his reddie appeared before him. Ah, fuck. One half of him was ready to stay, of that there was no doubt. Of all the fucking times….
“You, stay and wait for me, I have a quick meeting and then I’ll be back.” He tore his eyes away from her. “Don’t let her leave. If the meeting lasts longer than the dancing, send her to my rooms.” His servants bowed and murmured various forms of acquiescence.
“All right,” King Munsolrysche snarled when he entered his study. “Let’s see what that bastard Hewart has been sneaking around doing! Fucking Ambsellon!”
And Nabol handed him the unrolled pigeon parchments.
“’Bared the bear, look for cub in the cave beside the spring?’ What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“I would guess, Majesty, that it is encoded,” offered Nabol.
“Of course it’s fucking encoded, Nabol! People don’t go around talking like that normally, do they! They don’t say, ‘dicked the dick’ or –”
King Munsolrysche slid into a chair and held his head in his hands. “Bloody hell,” he mumbled as he screwed his eyes shut. Opening them, he said, “Never thought the day would come when our closest ally would stab us in the back.
“And it doesn’t do that I’m drunk on top of it.” He stood up on drunken, unsteady feet and stared at Nabol. “Who else knows of these?” King Munsolrysche held the pigeon parchments up.
Nabol stared at him directly. “No one but you and I, Your Majesty.”
“Not my wife?”
Nabol kept the same implacable expression in place as he replied, “No, Your Majesty, Her Majesty the Queen knows nothing of these.”
King Munsolrysche was drunk but he still heard an unspoken “yet” following Nabol’s words.
He rubbed absently at his chin. “Keep it that way. I’ll tell her myself.” He blew out a breath of pure loathing. The woman was the worst bitch he’d ever known – the Ice Islands were warmer than her cunt.
King Munsolrysche had his own network of spies and informants, and she had hers, of that he had no doubt. What concerned him, drunk or sober, was not knowing, especially on nights such as this, which of those spies worked for both King and Queen.
“Send a servant in. I need refreshment.”
Nabol bowed his head and approached the door.
A servant immediately scuttled in. “Your Majesty?
“Get me….” What would help him think clearly? “Tea. Bring me tea. And honey it up well,” Munsolrysche called as the servant turned to leave. Munsolrysche could never bear tea – tasteless crap with leaves left over at the bottom of a dainty china cup. Tea was a woman’s drink, for women who sat up in boweries.
Ambassadors from his Coastal Alliance visited and they all drank tea – he never did understand it, but it was said to sober you, and to heal you, he mused, and so he could think of nothing better. For this, Munsolrysche could not be drunk. But he knew he would have one shitty headache come morning….
“This seal,” and a loud belch interrupted him. Ah – that would be that stuffed goose coming up – or the stewed cabbage…. Well, coulda’ been a fart. Munsolrysche smacked his chest with a clenched fist and then continued. “Are you sure of its authenticity?”
Nabol smiled slightly and returned, “I compared it to the other Royal seals we have received, Your Majesty. It is genuine.”
A knock sounded upon the door of Munsolrysche’s study then.
“That would likely be your tea, Your Majesty. I’ll let him in, shall I?” suggested Nabol.
“Yes, yes,” Munsolrysche waved his approval at Nabol and then stared down at the unrolled messages.
“Get me maps of Romeny and Ambsellon.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Nabol replied. First, he set out a cup of tea for Munsolrysche. Cheese, berries, grapes, and a slab of bread with a cup of honey butter had also accompanied the tea.
Ah, this fucking tea. What did they say in the kitchens when the found out their king was asking for tea, Munsolrysche wondered idly as Nabol unrolled the Ambsellon map before him. They were all pinned to the wall, but these maps offered more thorough details, featuring the smaller towns, villages, parishes, smaller rivers, and other designations of possible interest. And, yes, mused Munsolrysche, perhaps even springs.
He swallowed his tea as a child swallows his medicine. It was honeyed well enough, but still bitter to his palate. He threw the rest back and picked up a slice of bread. Munsolrysche was not hungry, but the bread would help sop up he didn’t know how much red wine he’d consumed tonight, and this move of Ormon’s would require his full attention. That bastard. He lathered honey butter over the bread and then wandered around to lean upon the map.
“So this – this cub. He’s returning to a cave beside a spring. How fucking many springs can there be? And caves? Pisspoor message if you ask me. Hewart’s people drink bearpiss for beer.”
Munsolrysche stared all over the damned map.
“We’re assuming that he’s even going back to Hewart.” He buttered another slice of bread. “He might be staying in Romeny. If he sent those with a Royal Seal, he was well-placed.”
Damn Ambsellon. Munsolrysche had silently been redoubling its strength – and that was a juicy little tidbit he’d shared with no one, not even this – fop standing before him who only Majestied him as it suited him. Munsolrysche was certain Nabol bounced his ball on both sides of the court, which was why he kept back the choicest information. He harrumphed to himself and hoped that she knew Nabol bounced his ball on both sides of more than just one court, or probably only one. Munsolrysche snickered to himself. Balls, that was. He crammed his bread inside his mouth.
“Well, then. Let us send a message to Hewart, that fucking bear.” Munsolrysche crammed the rest of his bread into his mouth.
Nabol’s eyebrows shot up.
Fucking fop. If only the little shit didn’t know so much, wasn’t as smart as he was, Munsolrysche would replace him for an advisor with a real pair of balls, and a brain. Who was loyal only to him. “Yes, Nabol, that’s what I said. I’ve warmongering to do.” He kept the disgust he felt out of his voice.
“Now we’re going to need some pigeon parchment, some ink –” and then the fart came. Loud one, too – about time, it’d been building up. Ah, definitely the stuffed cabbage.
Nabol coughed politely and cleared his throat.
“And then,” Munsolrysche continued, “we’ll send him a reply. You can duplicate the Romeny seal –”
Here, Nabol’s eyes widened. “Duplicate it, Sire?”
Little fucker. He hated when people repeated everything he said. “Yes, Nabol,” Munsolrysche sighed. “I know you can do it. You have all the tools you need, just make it as believable as possible.” More was the pity, thought Munsolrysche. Someone with that particular skill set disturbed him, for who had or could he send birds to in Munsolrysche’s own name? “I’ll send two birds from here.”
Nabol was careful not to register surprise. For if he had, Munsolrysche would have genuine confirmation of Nabol’s double-siding it. Smart little shit.
“As you wish, Your Majesty.” Nabol brought new pigeon parchment over to the desk. “What would you have the messages say?”
Munsolrysche rubbed at his chin for a minute. There was no decoding a message such as that. So he’d send an equally bizarre message back, and see what it brought in return.
He’d send two messages, of course, but he would select the birds himself. Long ago, Munsolrysche had bought the silence of his birdman, and as such, the birdman appeared to act on the behalf of any who stood before him. But the birdman had switched out two of the pigeon’s cages. Two cages bound for Hewart himself had been redirected by his wife, may the gods torture her soul. The birdman purchased two new birds from the village and these two he would send to Hewart tonight.
“Your Majesty?” prompted Nabol.
“Write this: ‘Borne cub awaiting near the spring.’”
Except for the scribbling upon the desk by Nabol as he wrote the messages out, the study was silent. Munsolrysche could not help but wonder what Hewart would think when he read these messages. Munsolrysche wanted to be there himself, to watch the bastard’s face.
He heard the quill fall upon the desk and Nabol blew upon the parchments.
“I’ve finished, Your Majesty.”
“Good. Give them to me, get your sealing wax, and let’s go.”
Nabol looked surprised. “Go, Your Majesty?”
“Yes, I said, let’s go. To the pigeon loft. After you, Nabol.” And Munsolrysche pointed at the Study door. That way, he could keep an eye on the little fucker.
Finally, up in the Pigeon Loft, they threw up open the door. Cold air blasted in.
“Nabol, you get your sealing wax ready, now, and I’ll get our Ambsellon birds out.”
Munsolrysche had brief Squire duties – oh, so many years ago now – helping a birdman in Norgroth Castle, and while that position lasted little more than a month, he remembered enough to know how to pick up a bird.
Nabol had his back turned to him, warming up the wax. Munsolrysche smiled. Little shit.
Munsolrysche took out the pigeons who actually flew to Hewart at Wellacobre Castle, one by one. They were sleepy and pliable, and he held them gently.
“Now roll those messages up tightly, there’s a lad, right – and stamp it quick.” Munsolrysche waited while Nabol repeated the process again.
Munsolrysche checked both birds to see that the messages were tightly rolled and the seals affixed to them had dried.
“Now then. Nabol?”
“Open the window.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Cold air blustered in, but it only invigorated Munsolrysche. For now, there was a plan afoot, and even better, his wife had been powerless to stop it.
He threw the pigeons into the air and watched them as fly into the darkness. He wanted to grin, but that would only alert the little spy. For a moment, he was tempted to toss him out the window as well. Damn this Kinging. One would think it gave you all the freedom in the land, yet times it backed you into a corner and scolded you like a drunken god.
Like as not, this little ball-bouncer would head straight to the Ice Cunt and tell her every word. Unfortunately, their brother ally was stabbing them in the back – that was a matter of state important enough for her to at least know about, though as previously agreed, the bitch need not show her face unless it was a ceremony or function of supreme importance.
“Very well. Ambsellon stabs us in the back? Let us see how he likes his knife.”