Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Fanaxia: Tuldra and the Harem, part two

"I really don't know Bald Johnny," Tuldralin told the paladin. "I saw him a couple of times when m'Lord was having a spat with his wife and elected to take me to some event or function instead. He seemed... very practical? Maybe a little bit dull, but that's just an impression. You're thinking of putting him in charge?" 

"We need somebody," said the woman -- she'd introduced herself as Martini. "And it needs to be somebody who know the political landscape and the local lords, somebody who makes a logical successor on a practical basis since Lord Crowe's children are either disinterested or unfit."

"He is," added the paladin, sounding half-apologetic, "the best candidate we've found so far." 

"Ah," said Tuldralin, and swallowed. "But you think I should be part of the Council? My apologies, but... that doesn't speak well for your judgement. The old lords and the rest of the council will likely have me stuffed right back into place in a week." 

"Well, about that," said the gnome. "The army of Kuldas Keep was kind of... annihilated... when we took the keep. Bald Johnny has almost nothing in the way of trained troops right now."

Tuldra paused, took a deep breath, and then looked at each of them in turn. "He won't last a week," she said flatly. "The old lords will tear him apart." 

Geddy the gnome shook his head. "What will keep him in office is his alliance with the Bakunawa and the centaurs. That gives him a force that's not beholden to any of the other lords, and is very difficult for them to subvert. In turn, it gives them leverage to force Kuldas to make the sort of reparations that they need. Each of them will have a place on the Council, and part of their job there will be to make sure that you have a place on the council and that you're heard when you speak." 

"And my job on the council?" asked Tuldra, who had the dizzying feeling that all this was spinning out of control. "What will that be?" 

"To speak for those who cannot speak for themselves," said the half-dragon. 

Martini nodded. "Lord Crowe kept you isolated. That means you'll need to learn a lot of things, about a lot of different kinds of things, very quickly. Your ladies-in-waiting can help you with that: they can talk to people, find things out, maybe even organize support where the old lords won't expect it."

Tuldralin blinked at that. She thought the other girls could do that; she just hadn't expected to meet anyone else who thought the same. "That... might be possible."

"More importantly," said Martini, "does it sound like something you'd want to do? Are you willing to try?"

Tavros nodded. "We won't demand anything. We can't. You could take your people to Northgrove, live out your lives in quiet isolation, and let the realm take its own course, and we couldn't stop you. But... I hope you'll decide to do more."

Ilvara stood and approached, placed a hand on Tuldra's shoulder. "Put me down for quiet isolation," she said. She looked the paladin in the eye and said, "I've had enough of courtly attentions."

But Wendra came and stood behind Tuldra's other shoulder and said, "If you won't do it, I'll take the seat on the council. I want to make myself something so different from what I've been that even Lord Crowe couldn't ignore it." She locked eyes with Martini. "And if he ever tries to come back here, I want to be in a position to put a knife in his back." Her smile, when it came, was predatory. "You can show me that, can't you?"

Martini's answering smile was all hungry anticipation as she said, "Yes, I can."

Tuldralin held herself still for a long moment, considering. She was well aware of the others watching them, of the way Durk hovered hesitantly nearby. Finally she said, "Yes. I will try this role you want me to try. But..." She turned to Ilvara. "Ilvara, will you ask among the others, and find the ones who aren't ready or need time to adjust or just want to find their own way, and take them to the estate? Make sure it's ready to serve us as a place to recover, and adjust, and make ready for our new lives."

Ilvara nodded firmly. 

Tuldralin turned her head the other way to look at Wendra. "I will take the seat, but... will you learn whatever Martini can teach you anyway? Learn it, and teach it to the others? I fear we will need it, all of us. Even the ones who go onto something else."

Wendra smiled fiercely, but Tuldra thought she might be hiding a bit of relief. "I will."

Tuldralin turned back to their... rescuers? ...and nodded. "Then it's settled."

OOC: I'm actually picturing this as the potential birth of a matriarchal Assassin's Guild. It'll be slow to get going, but once they find their feet it could become a force to be reckoned with: the Lady of Northgrove speaks softly on the Council, but bad things happen to anyone who steps too far out of line.

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