Leviticus had a sharp mind, though it was a mind guided by a cruel temperament dating back to his school days when he’d been studying to be a cleric with the Church of the Builder. But that had been another time and another life, a life he had lived before the great fire, before Father’s gift. He turned to his friend, the former urchin-bully, Mortimer McNettle, and said with a wicked grin, “The usurper-brat relents, soon the entire city-state will cower and kneel before the Brothers of Dunsany.”
“Silence, Brother Levi!” Thomas replied. “You will from henceforth be expected to show reverence when you are referring to the consul of the Western Principality; co-regent of the Caverns, Malus, prince of the caverns beneath Clockhaven.” Thomas paused and looked about, the smirks of cruelty, worn so brazenly by the brethren only moments earlier, suddenly turned serious as they came to realize Thomas was not joking. “Prince Malus answers to none but me—Thomas, prince of the caverns beneath the Old Quarter. These two kingdoms will remain united but separate. Together we rule as the Consuls of the Dunsany.”
“Prince Thomas?” Leviticus questioned, his anger stalled in a muddle of confusion.
Thomas looked at Leviticus and Mortimer long and hard before explaining, “The armies are evenly matched. While victory for either side is very much in doubt, an unrecoverable loss of resources is guaranteed. Father’s dream will wither and die without realization and that is an unacceptable outcome—especially when Fortune has delivered unto us a boon, a doubling of our resources and strength.”
Leviticus and Mortimer exchanged looks of incredulity but held their tongues. Thomas did not miss the exchange but rather than address it he continued. “Prince Malus has a task to complete before taking up the mantle of co-leadership. He will return to the streets above until such time as that task is completed. In his stead a regent shall be appointed to govern in his absence. Tobias shall accompany Prince Malus, his friends and the Sisters of Dunsany when they return to the western Caverns. We, brothers…” Thomas paused to look at each of the brethren in turn, finishing with a long, cold appraisal of Leviticus. “We, brothers, shall take up position here, with our army, in our new palace.” Thomas concluded his address with a sweeping gesture indicating the Martian warship in the cavern behind them. “Long live the Kingdom of Dunsany.”
“Consuls of the Dunsany?” Emerson caught Petra’s eye and shook his head as they made their way through the tunnels and back to the caverns beneath Clockhaven. “Prince Malus? Are they serious?” His face twisted into an exaggerated look of pain. “He’s going to want a raise now, isn’t he?”
“Most definitely,” Petra replied. She chewed her lip a moment, then added; “So does this mean Prince Pinhead outranks you, Sir Sir?”
“Nope” Emerson shook his head. “I’m a double knight—”
“SIR SIR!” Petra snapped her fingers. “A pair of SIRS.”
“Exactly,” Emerson nodded. “Even a pair of deuces beats a king. The Squire outranks you and, technically the Count; but not me as I have a pair of sirs. My pair of sirs beats the Squire’s single prince—or consul—or whatever you want to call it. In fact, the only person in town who might have me beat is Edward Pearse. I have a feeling he collects titles like kids collect rounders cards; he probably has a whole string of them up his sleeve; esquire right on up to duke. That’s a straight.”
“So… then… if the two of them, Squire Pinhead and the jeepers-creepers Dunsany guy, decide to get together that’ll make them a pair of princes,” Petra reasoned, her brow furrowed as though she were concentrating deeply. “Their pair of princes beats your pair of sirs.”
Emerson uncrossed his arms, scratched his head, then recrossed his arms as he mulled over what Petra had said. There had to be a fault in her logic, if he could just parse it properly. Finally he shrugged his shoulders and said, “You’re too young to fuss over such matters. Besides, there are more important things to worry about than the existence of two fiendish armies existing beneath our streets. Come on, we have a bar to rebuild.”
Yay! *prances and dances*
A treat! Thank you!
*starts calculating how much it’s going to be to rebuild the bar and block*
Psst, I still have Victor’s credit card so we’re flush.
And you have a small clockwork squirrel to help as well! *nods*
O.o that might possibly work… but think I found something below the bar that will greatly help with the build.