Elmpam stirred in the Emboramiis’ room, rolling over to her side to see that her husband was absent. She woke up fully and sat up. “Orbak?” she called.
“In the bathroom, sweetie,” called Orbak’s voice. Elmpam then sighed in relief and got out of bed, joining him in their bathroom. Orbak was looking himself in the mirror. “Elmpam, we need to discuss my mustache.”
“I’ll say,” muttered Elmpam. “I’m supposed to be the one with furry lips here.”
“No kidding.” Orbak scratched his lip. “This thing’s itchy and I swear I saw yesterday’s food in it!”
“So, shave it off!”
“…I’m gonna give it ‘til tonight. After that, if I still feel the same as now, it’s gone.”
“…All right then. I can go with that. Now, we better get ready. Much as I like seeing your bare chest, we DO have something on the agenda involving other people.”
“Yep, better get started.” The two then got themselves dressed. They were halfway done when they heard a knock on the door. “Hello?” called Orbak.
“Breakfast is being served in the Main Dining Hall,” answered the maid outside.
“We’ll be out shortly,” replied Elmpam. After they put their clothes on, Elmpam fastened her hairpiece next to her ear and Orbak set his crown around his head. They then left the room and were escorted to the Main Dining Hall. The other Royals and the Borkshorms soon filed in and sat around the table with the Royanas and Arsha’s lovers at the head. Bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, and breakfast rolls were all laid out on the table.
“Mhm! Elgrad,” declared Bermak, “your staff are superb when it comes to…!”
“Master, don’t talk with your mouth full!” admonished Jamula. Bermak blushed a bit.
“It’s all right,” chuckled Elgrad. “I’ll make sure my kitchen staff hear of your appreciation, Mr. Borkshorm.”
“So, forgive me if I’m prying,” began Foresna, “but when are you guys going to meet again?”
“Same time as yesterday,” answered Elgrad.
“All right, just wanted to know. My sister’s been asking me to walk her down the aisle.”
“She’s getting married?” asked Arsha.
“In two days,” answered Foresna.
“Congratulations to the Bride, then!” wished Hanako. “Who’s her lucky partner?”
“Partners, Your Majesty,” replied Foresna. “An Orc man named Torsharko, a Sea Dragon woman named Ramsural, a Zephyr lady named Sumfem, and a Human woman named…well…Ars.”
“Oh, poor girl,” sighed Arsha. “Her name’s so short.”
“Arsha, there’s nothing wrong with being called Ars.”
“Maybe for you, but for me, it sounds so…soft, you know?”
“Yeah, well, that’s not HER view, is it?”
“…No, no, it’s not.”
“Well, good luck,” bid Elgrad. “Make sure to give them my best.”
“Will do, Your Majesty!” replied Foresna.
“Come on, it ain’t that bad!” protested Endram as he and Orbak held a less-important discussion.
“He’s right,” agreed Elgrad. “The mustache is a proud tradition, just like a beard!” He stroked his own for emphasis.
“How you put up with a perpetually scratchy chin is beyond me!” scoffed Orbak. “It looks like a caterpillar’s trying to weave its cocoon on me!”
“No, it doesn’t!” countered Elgrad.
“Orbak, you look great with a mustache!” urged Endram.
“I really don’t!” argued Orbak. “This thing catches more food than I thought possible! I swear, I could just run my tongue through it and have a ready snack! It’s gross!”
“Just be a little more thorough with cleaning your face!” answered Elgrad.
“It’s too much effort for me!”
“It ain’t THAT much effort!” remarked Endram.
“Wait, Elmpam didn’t protest, did she?” asked Elgrad.
“Not as hard as you think,” answered Orbak. “I was the one who voiced my own complaints about it to her this morning, so she felt no need to complain about it. I made a deal that if I still feel bad about this thing, then it’s shaved off tonight.”
“Oh, give it another day!” protested Endram.
“No, my mind is made up!” declared Orbak.
“…Fine, fine,” sighed Elgrad.
Everyone went about their day, then had lunch before the Royals and Rokalla went into the Conference Hall. “Over-Queen Feymay Felompha in attendance.”
“Over-Queen Emfam Felompha in attendance.”
“Crown Over-Prince Lardeth Felompha in attendance.”
“Over-Queen Roomef Felompha in attendance.”
“Over-Queen Jeefef Felompha in attendance.”
“Over-Queen Olmarfa Felompha in attendance.”
“Over-Queen Ufnamfa Felompha in attendance.”
“Over-Queen Teefmanam Felompha in attendance.”
“Over-Queen Pofomofo Felompha in attendance.”
“Over-King Endram Felompha in attendance.”
“Mid-King Elgrad Royana in attendance.”
“Crown Mid-Princess Arsha Royana in attendance.”
“Mid-Queen Hanako Royana in attendance.”
“Under-King Orbak Emboramii in attendance.”
“Crown Under-Princess Malnar Emboramii in attendance.”
“Under-Queen Elmpam Emboramii in attendance.”
“Third-Level Admiral Rokalla Borkshorm in attendance as witness.” Rokalla recorded the meeting again.
“Day two, everyone, let’s get talking,” declared Elgrad. “When we ended the last meeting, the question was how patient do we need to be before we call one of Dr. Borg’s moves the first strike?”
“Jeefef, you’re still an active military member,” called Elmpam. “What would you recommend?”
“There are three scenarios that would suit as a good first strike,” answered Jeefef. “Burning a farmer’s field, killing a top citizen, and stealing money from every citizen in a civilized area, even a village, they would be avenues to pursue.”
“Then the question becomes,” remarked Lardeth, “how do we keep the people from panicking until then?”
“Maybe we actively help them in their day-to-day lives?” suggested Malnar.
“I’m not so sure that’s a good idea,” winced Pofomofo. “That would make us easy targets.
“Not if we use cloaking spells and disguises,” replied Malnar.
“She’s right,” mused Olmarfa. “If Dr. Borg is saying that we’re ineffective in keeping them safe, we need to see to it that we can keep them brave. What better way than to be more active in helping them? Besides, Dr. Borg may be smart, but she can’t anticipate everything.”
“She IS capable of being surprised,” remarked Arsha. “This would go against her simulations of us.”
“I say we put it to a vote,” called Ufnamfa.
“Agreed,” answered Elgrad. “All those who wish to go along with Malnar’s idea until a disaster that Jeefef gave examples of, say Aye.”
“Aye!” called Feymay, Emfam, Roomef, Olmarfa, Ufnamfa, Teefmanam, Elgrad, Arsha, Orbak, and Malnar.
“And against?” asked Elgrad.
“Nay!” replied Lardeth, Jeefef, Pofomofo, Endram, Hanako, and Elmpam. Arsha and Malnar stared wide-eyed at Lardeth.
“Rokalla, what’s the total?” inquired Elgrad.
“That’s ten votes for Aye and six votes for Nay,” reported Rokalla. “The Ayes have it.”
“Then we need to draft a plan to be more active in helping people,” declared Elgrad.
Speaking of drafting plans, Yamta was pouring over the plans for Castle Narven. She seemed a little distracted by something. As she worked, the door behind her opened. “Thought you could use some food,” called Remsu’s voice as she entered the room with a tray of food.
“Not hungry,” replied Yamta. Remsu set the food down on a table.
“Even assassins need to grow big and strong.”
“Don’t need food right now.”
“Yamta, you DO need food! You know I’m half Succubus, right? Lust Demons can smell when a person’s hungry about a por away.”
“Of course not! The mere fact you believed such a lie tells me you’re not thinking straight and need to eat!”
“I need to come up with a plan to…!”
“You’re waiting on Castle Security reports, remember?!” The silence hung in the air for a few moments. “Look, this is the perfect time for you to take care of yourself. Don’t let the future spin you up so bad.” Yamta stared in silence, then headed to the food tray. She then picked up the fork and started eating. “There we go. Isn’t that better?”
“Yeah, I guess,” muttered Yamta as she ate.
“Look, what’s wrong?”
“…I never really gained any admiration from my old classmates. All my life, I wanted to show everyone that there IS no reason to refuse contracts. Money is money. We’re not mercenaries! …But the Crimson Diamonds want to water assassination down. I ask you, is it really assassination if we can’t collect big scores?”
“No, just hired help.”
“It’s just…no Crimson Diamond’s killed a Royal since the First Age.”
“…Yeah, I am.”
“Well, starving yourself won’t do you any good.” Yamta nodded slightly and continued eating.
The meeting finished and everyone headed off to do their thing. “Lardeth, a word,” growled Arsha. Lardeth followed Arsha to somewhere private.
“We can’t afford to paint targets on our backs like that!” he hissed once they stopped and Arsha took out her hairpiece.
“You know Malnar wouldn’t suggest that,” replied Arsha, “unless she has several precautions laid out!”
“Precautions that any sap could undo if they had at least a shred of intelligence! Dr. Borg’s got that in spades!”
“She’s also very rigid in her thinking! We continue to help people despite disaster, she’ll slip up!”
“You sure of that?”
“I’ve fought her longer than anyone else in that room! Trust me, Malnar’s idea is the best we’ve got! What would you have done?”
“Tamper with her machines, for starters!”
“She’d figure that out a lot quicker than helping people through disasters!”
“That’s why we strike at random intervals!”
“Lardeth, she’d probably anticipate that!”
“Kids!” called another voice. It was Jeefef. “I trust you’re not debating on what was already decided?”
“Mama, you don’t like the idea any more than I do!” protested Lardeth.
“No, I don’t,” replied Jeefef, “but the decision’s been made and, like it or not, you are duty-bound to honor it. There will be NO further discussion on this, is that clear?”
“…Yeah, it’s clear,” grumbled Lardeth.
“Good,” declared Jeefef. “Now, I’m going to bed. You kids should do the same.” She then walked off.
“…I still say you’re supporting an unnecessary risk,” grunted Lardeth as he left.
“I DO know where he’s coming from,” remarked another voice. Arsha turned to see Elgrad. “I wouldn’t want your mother to paint a target on her back.”
“If I can play Destroyer’s Advocate for a minute, why did you agree with me? By that logic, you wouldn’t want Malnar hurt either.”
“Because I know Malnar, she’s a good planner and wouldn’t suggest something so risky unless she had back-up plans, much like you and your mother.”
“If only Lardeth would see it that way!”
“I think Jeefef’s given him reason to think and remember how she works.” Arsha thought for a minute, then smiled.
“She tends to do that. Though, I think Lardeth’s gonna take a little more time to accept it.”
“True, but that’s how he is.”
“Yep. Honestly, I wouldn’t have him any other way.”
“That’s my girl!” Elgrad then yawned. “I think we better go to bed.”
“No argument there. Good night, Daddy.”
“Good night, sweetie.” Arsha and Elgrad then went to their respective rooms.