Mirrored from Sythyry.
“I should like to have someone sneak into Noshi’s mansion and look around for Prince Rastomil,” said Jagraton. “I’m not much of a sneakiste myself, though. Is there anyone on the Strayway roster who is?”
“On the roster, yes, we have a Sleeth named Rheng, who styles himself the ‘Thief Supreme’,” said Jyondre, managing to keep a straight face. “He would be far and away the best person on the roster for the task.”
“I don’t think I’ve met him,” said Jagraton. “Could you run off and talk him into helping?”
“No … he is far and away, period. We don’t update the ship’s roster very often. I don’t think there’s anyone really capable of it on board,” admitted Jyondre.
“Except hCevian!” said Invincible Fire Demon.
“I don’t think we should ask a Locador demon for help unless we’re quite sure we need it,” said Jagraton, who is actually more sensible than we gave him credit for.
“I recommend a frontal assault!” boomed Yerenthax.
Jagraton muttered something prejudiced and/or true about Gormoror.
“Let us go to the front door of this mansion and — knock upon it! Thereafter we may inquire about the presence and condition of Prince Rastomil. Bared blade and bloody brand — we shall seek him out of hand!” proclaimed Yerenthax.
“Bloody brand? Do brands even get bloody? And wouldn’t ‘burning brand’ be just as alliterative?” asked Jyondre.
“Much better!” said Yerenthax, and scooped Jyondre up in a tight embrace.
“Is this a planning session or a poetry critique session?” asked Jagraton, flicking his tail angrily.
“Or a make-out session?” asked Invincible Fire Demon, who has not quite gotten used to such public deeds by the transaffectionate.
“Why must it be only one? Why can it not be all three?” asked Yerenthax, who is also more sensible than we generally give her credit for.
# # #
The plan was, that Jyondre and Invincible Fire Demon would knock on the door, while Yerenthax and Jagraton lurked behind bushes as backup. Yerenthax, the Gormoror, looks too ominous for social calls. Jagraton, of course, can look socially acceptable, but he was perhaps too well-known as the prince’s bodyguard.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
“Excuse us,” said Jyondre. “We are companions of Prince Rastomil.”
“There. Is. No. Excuse!” proclaimed Kebu, the withered butler.
“May we see him?” asked Jyondre.
“Tell Jagraton-his-bodyguard hiding there in the bushes that he is still Not Invited,” said Kebu.
“There’s nobody hiding in the bushes,” said Invincible Fire Demon, who had not learned when to abandon a pretense.
“There is nobody invited hiding in the bushes,” corrected Kebu. “The person hiding in the bushes is blorascic and plumrulent!”
“I don’t understand that…” said Jyondre, interruptedly.
“It is not meant for your ears, but for the ears of the ghost Zujazisa, who follows me about for a purpose both diacrestic and scorminary!”
“… but may we speak to Prince Rastomil, please?”
“Once yon prudescent and dulfinated Rassimel bodyguard comes up to the door like an honest man!”
Jagraton blinked at Yerenthax, who was hiding next to him, effectively, despite being twice his size. “I suppose we might as well.”
# # #
Kebu conducted the four adventurers into a parlor — a much smaller and more defensible one than the dinner had taken place in. Prince Rastomil was already seated on a chair, wearing a dressing-gown, and lapping occasionally from a steaming chalice full of some hideous-smelling herbal mess. Even he didn’t like it; he made a moue at the taste. “Ah, good day, the elegant and amiable Jagraton, and three assorted shipmates! You have come to visit me? What a wholly unexpected surprise — an unpredicted encounter — an unexpected way to start the middle of the day!”
“I was worried that you were being kidnapped, last night,” said Jagraton.
“Well, you aren’t so far off,” said the prince. “Lady Noshi has quite firmly captured my heart. As well as some other useful body parts, which, for the sake of decorum, I will not enumerate.”
“I … suppose I noticed something of the sort last night,” said Jagraton.
“I’m surprised you could notice anything. You were quite drunk. Rather maddened on a few cups of our wine, I believe,” said the prince.
“Very well, sir,” said Jagraton, his ears flat. “May I inquire as to when you will be returning to Strayway?”
“You are ridiculous!” said Rastomil, snorting. He took another sip of his herbal concoction. “Vile stuff… Anyhow, Jagraton, I shan’t be coming back at all. Later today I shall be announcing my engagement to the Lady Noshi. Who is presently indisposed, so don’t try to speak with her.”
“I wasn’t going to,” said Jagraton.
“What about her other husband? Lord Kethji, wasn’t it?” asked Invincible Fire Demon, with a bit of an edge to his voice.
Prince Rastomil gave Invincible Fire Demon a somewhat perplexed look. “Ah, dear Lord Kethji! He shall be out of the picture soon enough. He nearly is already.”
“As you are not returning to Strayway, I trust that your new fiancee has a chamber for me, close enough to your own so that I can continue to guard you?” said Jagraton.
“Your services are no longer required, Jagraton,” said Prince Rastomil evenly. “I shall no longer be paying your wages. Lady Noshi’s household warriors will more than suffice to defend me.”
“You never were paying my wages. Your royal parents do that. You cannot dismiss me; you have not the authority,” said Jagraton.
“Ah! But I do have Lady Noshi’s household warriors! And plenty of magic of my own, if it comes to that. And, of course, the law of Hanija will be on my side in any dispute,” said Prince Rastomil, with an elegant swish of his tail.
Invincible Fire Demon threw himself at Rastomil’s feet. “But what of me? Do you cast me off — your own true and sweet Invulnerable Flame Devil?”
Everyone looked down at Invincible Fire Demon perplexedly. Invincible Fire Demon whined, and kissed Rastomil’s ankle. Rastomil gently disengaged his foot. “I am sorry, Invulnerable Flame Devil. What was once between us was sweet, very sweet, but it is now past. I shall be faithful to Lady Noshi. Never fear, I shall pay the rest of your tofitude in full.”
Invincible Fire Demon wailed.
Rastomil clapped his hands. A half-dozen fierce-looking Rassimel warriors appeared. “Please conduct Jagraton, Invulnerable Flame Devil, and these others to the front door. They may leave in peace; but see to it that they do not return.”
Yerenthax grunted, “We will leave in peace, never fear. Don’t forget our wedding invitations though. That wouldn’t be polite, considering how many times we saved your life.”
“Of course not. Considering how many times you saved my life on the way to Hanija,” said Prince Rastomil.
# # #
Back in Strayway, Jagraton asked his companions what had happened. “What happened back there? The three of you are nodding grimly but with some amusement, as if you understand it. I find it mysterious and incomprehensible!” he added, for he found it incomprehensible and mysterious. He had a very hard day.
“Well, Rastomil knows my name. I’m Invincible Fire Demon, not Invulnerable Flame Devil. What happened between me and Prince Rastomil was very sweet — it was a bottle of hot honeyed hippocras and three experimental kisses after the bottle was over, in the name of studying for class — but it hardly amounts to me being his boyfriend or tofyof.” Invincible Fire Demon was blushing a great deal at that admission, though the wrongfolk were grinning immensely. “Or one-time fling, even. And he didn’t even seem to recognize Yerenthax and Jyondre, much less know what they hadn’t saved his life even once.” He glanced at the happy couple. “Not that they wouldn’t — I’ll bet they’re going to today or so — but they hadn’t. Maybe the Prince’s head is fuddled — but I’ve seen him quite drunk, and he’s not that clear when he is.”
“So?” demanded Jagraton.
“So I don’t think that’s really Prince Rastomil.”