Chapter 12: Lord Nubet of Memph

Chapter 12: Lord Nubet of Memph

A Chapter by Cedric D. Jr.
"

Alexander tries to coax Nubet into assimilating Memph into the Macedonian monarchy as Kōryō's life hangs in the balance yet again.

"

         Shugoryū led the king of Memph and his half-Fairy-half-human advisor into the throne room of Aztlan’s luxurious palace. Ahead of them were Theodore and King Alexander III, the latter of whom sat on his resplendent throne. “King Alexander,” Shugoryū said upon approaching the throne with a bow and his usual, booming voice, “Lord Nubet of Memph.”

         “Much obliged, Shugoryū,” Alexander answered with a smile. Shugoryū straightened himself and returned toward the throne room’s exit, walking the very path he had taken in entry. Nubet smirked and turned to watch Shugoryū exit. He realigned his eyes with Alexander and asked, “Shugoryū? Isn’t that a Dragonoid name?”

         “My Minister of Defense is, indeed, a Dragonoid, yes.”

         “The Aztlatin Minister of Defense is Dragonoid. I had heard that you might be a liberal, but it was always in reference to legislation, never with regard to race.”

         “Most people do not consider race an issue.”

         “Do you really believe that?”

         “Do I believe that people don’t consider race an issue? Yes.”

         “How do you explain the unanimous, indiscriminate loathing for Halflings?”

         “I don’t have to explain it; you did.”

         “With the word ‘unanimous,’ I take it?”

         “A unanimous consensus is a non-issue. Everyone agrees.”

         “It’s wrong.”

         “I didn’t argue that it was right.”

         “You did. Just not explicitly.”

         “By way of the argument of consensus?”

         “That’s right. To say that consensus renders issues moot regardless of ethicality…”

         “…Is unethical. Do you realize we’re not actually arguing?”

         “We’re merely moving arguments around like pawns on a board game. Your next move has to be offensive because, for some reason, you allowed me to corner you on ethics, so you say, ‘Every Halfling is borderline insane’ because, even though it’s cliché, it’s the only offense you’ve got left.”

         “You’re not seeing the whole board. You think I’d leap to attack Halflings and start proving them as less-than rather than reverting to the default argument?”

         “What’s the default argument?”

         “History, of course. ‘Halflings ruined paradise’ and all that goes with that. History is always the best argument because other things have to be substantiated while history is, in and of itself, substance.”

         “You’ll only be using it to build up to the ‘less-than’ attack, though, so why shouldn’t I preempt?”

         “Preemption is generally stronger than rebuttal, but in this case your rebuttal’s stronger. You have the opportunity to let me gather all my substance so that you can burn it all in one fell swoop.”

         “Noted. I rescind my preemption. You default to history: ‘Halflings ruined paradise.’ You’re sure to work in some Pilotus sociology: Subsequent Halfling kingdoms have all failed on account of some inherent, subconscious indisposition to good things, making them an impassive obstacle to utopia.”

         “Then, you attack Avian sociologists. I lose a pawn, but so far, I still deem it a worthwhile sacrifice because I haven’t realized I’m going to lose yet. Now, you can use your sanity argument.”

         “With which I win. I attack Werewolves first obviously.”

         “Interesting. Before humans?”

         “Werewolves abandon rational thought during transformation. Then come humans; you thrive on the alleged ‘evidence of things unseen,’ view the females of your race as inferior, and obsess over god concepts.”

         “Monotheism, polytheism, pantheism…”

         “I make a sarcastic remark about the rain guy.”

         “Noah.”

         “Which would be funny by the way, I have fresh material on him since he recently visited my province and preached in front of my palace about the rain and God and repentance… Then, I go to Dragonoids because all I need do is point people in the direction of the nearest Rain Dragon and I’ll have an example of both insanity and infanticide.”

         “That deadlocks my most important pawn: history.”

         “I highlight the weaknesses of character in the humans, Dragonoids, and Avians that the Halflings exploited to rip Britannia apart in the first place, and that’s game.”

         “I don’t believe this,” Theodore said.

         “What?” Alexander asked.

         “It would appear you’ve found your doppelganger personality.”

         “So,” Nubet asked, “how liberal are you on race, which we’ve just established is an issue.”

         “I can point you to the nearest Rain Dragon fairly easily,” Alexander said.

         “What do you mean?”

         “I had one spared in Tatsu.”

         “You’re… not being serious with me.”

         “No, that was a literal statement. There is a fifteen-year-old Rain Dragon among Tatsu’s military ranks as we speak.”

         “… Why would you allow that?”

         “For the same reason I’ve summoned you here. Can you guess why that is?”

         “My guess was that you had summoned me here to either talk about Nybre for some reason or to try to convince me to turn Memph into a mercenary state so that you could purchase my soldiers at a cheap rate.”

         “Is that still what you think?”

         “I don’t know what to think.”

         “You do know what to think, but you can’t imagine it would be true.”

         “And for good reason,” Theodore said under his breath.

         “Did you…” Nubet’s eyes shifted from left to right for a moment before returning to Alexander. “Did you bring me here because you want to… knight me?”

         “I’m determined to knight you today.”

         “I had… no idea… you were this desperate.”

         “Desperate?”

         “This war with Gargon isn’t going as well as you had hoped, but I didn’t think you’d worry about it quite this much.”

         “I’m not worried about it. Make no mistake; this isn’t a desperation move. I just want to add another powerful province to the fold.”

         “Is that so?”

         “Tell me why Memph revolted.”

         “Nybre’s economy is failing. People show their true colors when the going gets tough. They decided--unanimously," he paused for emphasis as Alexander chuckled at the fact that unanimity had become a sort of conversational theme indicative of ignorance, "that Memph would basically serve as a resource bank for lack of a better phrase.”

         “It’s called a Tiller Economy: gradually liquidate and disperse the assets of one province to get the rest of the kingdom back on its feet. Let me guess. Food and runes?”

         “And money and soldiers.”

         “I see. Well, there’s no risk of that in Macedon, so you should have no inhibitions.”

         “How would it work?”

         “You buy in.”

         “Forget I asked.”

         Meanwhile, Nobiriryū’s orb of flame glided swiftly toward Kōryō who hung in the air as his four wings flapped widely in sequence to keep him afloat. He unexpectedly mimicked Nobiriryū and spat forth an ember equivalent in size. Hiryū was aghast, as this was a fireball far larger than that which Kōryō had expelled back at the school during the intrusion. The two emblazoned meteors collided vehemently with one another. Gradually, the resultant cloud of smoke dispersed, no longer blocking either Kōryō’s or Nobiriryū’s view of each other. “You can fight!” Nobiriryū shouted in outrage. “You feign weakness to remain unassuming, and you wouldn’t hide your ability unless it benefitted you in some way.”

         “NO!” Kōryō exclaimed.

         “I’ll ask again. Who are you working for?!”

         “I’m not!”

         “Is it Dartmouth?!”

         “Nobiriryū!” Ryūjin shouted from the ground. “Mind your surroundings, you fool!”

         Nobiriryū looked down at Lord Ryūjin with an expression of diminishing shock. He was reminded that he had just implied ought between Lords Ryūjin and Dartmouth, which was meant to be a secret. Fortunately, the palace’s courtyard was private property, so there were no extra people in earshot; however, there was Ryūjin’s chief advisor as well as Hiryū, of course. Suddenly, Nobiriryū’s ears and peripheral vision drew his attention back to the enigmatic Rain Dragon whose wings stretched wide and thrust with all their might in an effort to launch Kōryō directly under Nobiriryū. Passing under him, Kōryō flew with incredible speed into the city, and the dispatch with which he departed was such that Nobiriryū was immediately discouraged from even trying to pursue on account of it appearing futile.

         The afternoon sun shone brightly upon Tatsu, yet daytime was considered the perfect time for training thieves. “Actions learned in daylight,” they would often say, “are a thief’s instincts in moonlight.” Several cloaked Dragonoids dashed through the shade of a narrow alley. A scarecrow swung down ahead of them from a rooftop, swinging on a thick rope. “Rear,” the lead thief said just before darting past the dummy; the thieves behind him bounded past it on either side just as he had, each evading the scarecrow’s pendulous path. The last thief extended claws via transmutation and cut the rope as he passed, causing the dummy to fall to the ground before completing its swing. “Good,” said a loud yet untraceable voice that echoed throughout the alley. The street was alive with peasants because it was a market street, and in lieu of the hustle and bustle of it all, each thief crossed the street one at a time, bolting from shadow to shadow unseen so as not to alarm the townspeople.

         “Gotta hurtle these streets faster,” said the reverberating voice of no particular source. The thieves tunneled into and through another alley wherein another scarecrow was propped up on an apartment’s fire escape while bull’s-eye targets were posted on the walls in high places. “Seiaryū and Sunaryū,” the lead thief called this time. Seiaryū leapt into action, aided by the zip-line she shot at the fire escape. She reached it in no time and decapitated the scarecrow while her compatriot threw slender knives at each of the targets, hitting all but one with a single throw. “That’s minus one,” echoed the ominous voice of no origin.

         At the end of the alley, the source was found. The instructor stopped them all, still well within the confines of the alley’s shade, and he adjusted his vocal modulation collar to remove the customized ventriloquy function and speak with his normal voice. “Three missed targets,” he said. “That’s the max. You all barely pass. Your time was better, but it won’t be enough on a live op. Take five, and then, we take it from the top. Remember: if you venture to where people can see you, remove your cloaks.” Seiaryū disrobed from the thief attire and walked back to the market street they had passed earlier. She sought only water and, perhaps, a piece of fruit, but when she stepped into the sunlight, it was as though the shadows did not wish to let go of her. A shadow remained over her for a split second. She looked up just in time to see a four-winged creature passing overhead seconds before buildings blocked it from her view. Instinctively, she chased after it, sprinting into the first alley and donning her cloak.

         Moments later, Kōryō reached the edge of the city and perched on a shed in an open field of farmland. He breathed heavily as fatigue began to set in almost instantaneously; it was faster than usual. With it came an immense pain in his back. The wings that protruded from his armor had burst through his own skin, which yielded blood loss. Tears ran down his cheeks as the pain rapidly became great. “Wh-what’s wrong with me?” he asked himself aloud. “I CAN’T FIX ANYTHING!!!” Kōryō shouted to the world. Recent events had come all too fast, and he was finally breaking down.

         “You flew,” said a soft voice from behind him. Kōryō jerked around to look for the voice. He looked down on the ground from atop the shed and saw the girl from his class, the one who had tried to defend him by mentioning that he could breathe fire--the one whom he hung out to dry so as to end his own inconvenient moment. “Seiaryū,” he said.

         “You’ve got four wings, and you’re crying. You breathe fire, and you hide it. What the hell is wrong with you?”

         “Do you think I know the answer to that?! You don’t figure I’d fix it if I knew?! I can’t fix anything!”

         “I heard. The whole city heard. The Jakobe Desert heard. Why are you crying?”

         “The Minister of Defense,” he sniveled. “… I don’t know.”

         “You must be in a lot of pain.”

         “I am.”

         “Tell me about it.”

         “It’s my shoulder blades and lower back.”

         “I meant emotional pain.”

         “Hell, it’s my shoulder blades and lower back! It has gotten emotional at this point!”

         Seiaryū chuckled. “I’ve never heard you crack a joke before.”

         “Yeah…” he sniveled again. “Me neither.”

         “Do you have to be in deep pain to have a sense of humor or something?”

         “… What are you doing out here? Shouldn’t you be learning how to wield your sword or something?”

         “No swords, I’m a thief-in-training.”

         “Oh yeah, I remember.”

         “Do you have any idea how angry you made me?”

         “Me? How?”

         “I stick my neck out for you and you just lie?”

         “Oh…”

         “Can you imagine how much angrier I am now to see that, not only can you breathe fire, but you can also fly? Why the hell didn’t you show them something?”

         Kōryō sobbed quietly for a second before saying, “Listen, I’m in a lot of pain right now.”

         “A little fireball or something to prove yourself.”

         “WHY DO YOU CARE SO MUCH?!”

         “Because it’s an insult to people like me! I could lecture you on how you owe it to yourself to be the best that you can be; blah blah blah… But honestly, it’s not about that. Screw you! It’s about us. It’s about me. You owe it to me to be the hero I’d be if I had what you’ve got!”

         “…”

         “I used to pray that one day I’d wake up with wings or the ability to breathe fire. When I was little, I thought if I just believed hard enough and dreamt big enough, it could all happen. Dreamers end up on the basic track; dreamers are lucky to be thieves. You were born with the answer to my prayers, Kōryō! I don’t even know who I was praying to, but I know he mixed us up, and you know what? That’s fine. I’m sixteen now. I’m mature enough to handle reality, but since you got my dream, I will kill us both before I let you waste it! I spent my whole childhood dreaming of what to do with it, and you’re just… walkin’ around just… Gah, Kōryō! Who the hell do you think you are?! Where in the hell do you get off treating other people’s dreams like… like…”

         “… Hi-hi think I’m… dying.” Kōryō’s wings retracted into his body, and his eyes rolled back into his head. He fell over and slid down the slope of the tin roof on the shed, leaving a trail of blood the whole way down. Nimbly, Seiaryū leapt through the air, clearing twelve yards in a single bound, and caught Kōryō’s body before it hit the ground. “Damn,” she said as she flipped the body over her shoulder and turned back toward the city. She dashed back into the city as quickly as she could. What happened to you? She thought.

         Nubet still stood before King Alexander. “Because you need Memph for war,” Nubet said. “It’s a battle till, a mercenary till.”

         “No,” said Alexander, “it’s not.”

         “The hypocrisy in this room is almost... tangible!”

         “No!” Theodore shouted. “Do not insult this throne room. Do not insult this crown. I will remind you that you’re in Macedon right now. Not only is this not Memph, this is not Nybre. This is a bigger stage every minute of every day. I don’t care if you have no desire to ‘go pro,’ but when you’re around the pros, you’ll act like it.”

         “…”

         “… You think that little of us?” Nubet’s advisor asked.

         “Your name?” Theodore asked.

         “Sekhput. No one is disrespecting Macedon, but the truth is, Memph has been in your league since before you knew it existed.”

         “Excuse me?”

         “Did you think Nybre gave us what we have? If they did, we wouldn’t have been outraged when they asked for it all back. No, Memph is economically the same today as it was when Nybre condescendingly took us in like orphans in the desert.”

         “That’s not…”

         “65gc million (gold coins), eight hundred thousand runes, farmers looking at a surplus come harvest… We just fought a war. No, I’m sorry. We just fought our way through violent secession, and that’s how we’re doing. We repelled Keina, we repelled Umala, and we leveled Java. Half your province is desolate after one attack.”

         “You have a point. Then again, your net worth per acre is at least thirty percent lower than ours, and your aid ratio is laughably one-sided. I’ll give you the honest truth about Macedon’s economy; half of Macedon has pulled itself up by its bootstraps on Aztlan’s dole. The rumors you heard were true, yet suddenly, Macedon is war ready.”

         “What’s your point?”

         “Aztlan doesn’t need your halfbreed, halfwit aid!”

         “…” Alexander scratched his neck and stretched his jaw as he broke the awkward silence. “Mine is not a common stance on race outside Halfling provinces.”

         “I see that,” Nubet said indignantly. “Out of curiosity--and this is merely a question aimed at assessing what truth, if any, can be ascribed to your advisor’s words--what target would you have given us if we had accepted?”

         “Elza.”

         “That’s… a Faery province.”

         “Correct.”

         “… You wouldn’t want us on Elegy Gulch?”

         “Why would we put you on the Gulch?”

         “… They’re strong. Very strong.”

         “That’s what Tatsu is for. I told you already; you’re not being mined for resources or services. This isn’t a battle till. You’re about to watch us win this war without you. I was going to take things slow and ease you and your province into position, giving you a target that wouldn’t cost Memph too much. Memph would benefit from the way Macedon operates. No province is ever thrown under the bus, and I’m a strong advocate of balanced and equal trade. Example: you’re right; we just took a beating from Rivulet, but guess what. I know just as well as you do that nothing would make King Rio happier than to see our beating affect the rest of Macedon. I refuse to allow it to affect my kingdom. He attacked Aztlan, and that’s all I’m giving him. I’m not going to give him Tatsu, too, by requesting they sell us soldiers; I’m not going to give him Cuzco by asking for aid to fund reconstruction. We’re going to handle it all in-house if it kills me because that’s my war strategy. Don’t get so full of yourself because you seceded from an open-world kingdom.”

         The derogatory term ‘open-world kingdom’ was typically used to reference a kingdom widely perceived as weak. It was antonymous with the term ‘fixed kingdom,’ and the former carried a negative connotation implicative of condescension when spoken by the aristocrats of fixed kingdoms; nevertheless, Nybre was undoubtedly an open-world kingdom, and Lord Nubet knew that. He asked, “Are you calling Memph a big fish in a little pond?”

         “I’m saying you were a big fish in a little pond. Now, you’re a fish out of water. Nubet, I can tell you’re the type of leader who thrives on seeing his province thrive. I congratulate you on your successful secession, revolt, whichever we’re calling it.”

         “Secession.”

         “But you and I both know that you’re not truly happy about it. It’s a hollow victory for a king like you.”

         “You acknowledging me as a king?”

         “Kings like you consider independence a step back, a step down. Memph never needed Nybre in the first place. You joined because you were elated by the very idea of having the opportunity to help build a fixed kingdom from the ground up. Nybre had a couple promising prospects when you joined, but my father always said their failure was inevitable. He didn’t even have to be here to see it to know it was coming. Studying under him, I always said that, when I assumed the crown, I’d see if there were a way to make Macedon the first superpower to accept a Halfling province, and I decided way back then that Memph was going to be that province. War couldn’t be more irrelevant.”

         “I’m… honored, King Alexander.”

         “Open-world kingdoms have a reputation for micro-governance, each province left to its own devices. Macedon is the quintessential fixed kingdom; macro-governance means that this is a team, and we operate as one province. Join the big pond, Nubet. I know you’re itching to see how you measure up.”

         “That’s your analysis of me?”

         “Seventy percent of kings are councilmen prior to attaining the crown, twenty-five percent are military generals first, and the other five percent are random. You’re in the twenty-five percent. Like Lord Ryūjin of Tatsu and I, you’re a hands-on leader; it’s not all statistics to you. Every fiber of your being is invested into this thing. The best of that twenty-fifth percentile aren’t just generals either; they’re extraordinary warriors. Hell, I heard you’ve got a JG of 540GJ. If it’s half that, it’s staggering. All I needed was this conversation to fill in the blanks and know that you’re exactly… exactly what I need, and we’re exactly what you need.”

         “How are you so confident in your assessment of me?”

         “Because we’re the same.”



© 2013 Cedric D. Jr.


Author's Note

Cedric D. Jr.
I want the action to be intense, regardless of how short its duration may be. This is another dialogue-intensive chapter, so the dialogue needs to be airtight. I also want readers to be impressed with Nubet's intellect as he goes toe to toe with Alexander, and I want you to be relatively impressed with his advisor, Sekhput, for the brief duration in which he speaks; likewise, I want Theodore to come off as equally knowledgeable yet prejudiced.

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

215 Views
Added on August 14, 2013
Last Updated on August 21, 2013
Tags: Jewel, Age, Fantasy, love, fiction, life, history, dark, Joule, dragon, rain, war, Macedon, sword, dungeon, death


Author

Cedric D. Jr.
Cedric D. Jr.

Scribe's Mountain, TN



About
I'm an African-American, twenty-two-year-old junior in college. I'm currently writing a novel to publish as an e-book in the near future. I love words so much that my dictionary is always laying open .. more..

Writing