About an hour before dinner, a servant came to to say that Fionn has asked that the family dress for dinner. I asked him if Fionn or Siobhan were in the castle, but he said no. Sighing, I dismissed him, and then sent Jackson to ask Masamba and Andrevo to join me before dinner in my sitting room. Masamba arrived first, with Andrevo arriving shortly afterwards. I looked up at Andrevo as he entered. "Andrevo, thank you for coming. For the most part, I wanted to see if Fionn had requested his family dress formally, or all of the family. My question seems to have been answered."
"Seems like a good as an excuse as any other."
"I still think that something may be up, but that should be the norm for now." Masamba smiled at my last statement. "Of course, to throw a wrench in things, as it were, perhaps you would be willing to escort me to dinner, Andrevo? Unless we all wish to arrive together?"
Samba's expression turned more serious. "I don't think we should all arrive together."
"I couldn't ask for a more fabulous arm to take to dinner, I presume." Just like Andrevo, it seemed.
"I think if we appear as if to form a faction or something, we'll place targets on our heads."
"We're just three, and passing groups of fancy are not uncommon for our generation."
"True. Times like these have left me a bit paranoid."
I interjected into their conversation. "Especially while we are in such close proximity, I do not think it telling. Should we start traveling together and such, that might prove more so."
Andrevo smiled. "It is acceptable to be casual and nonchalant about this affair. The persistence of Amber is not upon a dangerous thread. There is no sudden threat. Sovereignship shall be passed to another, and that is all well." Masamba smiled as well.
"Certain items are missing. I suspect it may be brought up in conversation."
"So? Let those whom are concerned worry about such things. Those that wish to be King or Queen care."
Masamba stated his preference. "I would prefer to enter myself. I hope I didn't offend."
"Please, feel free Masamba. But I do believe we should make our way there." Andrevo arched his eyebrow and frowned as I spoke.
Masamba smiled. "They two say three's a crowd after all."
Andrevo then began rifling through his trump deck as he spoke. "Masamba, please excuse us sooner. It'll make more sense... later."
"I will see you shortly then" Samba nodded and left the room. As I waited for Andrevo, I made some last minute checks on my appearance in the mirror.
"So... how is the Forest?" Andrevo asked as he furrowed his brow.
"It seems to be fine, although Paki is shoring his defenses. Let me check." I concentrated for a moment, connecting with the hawk I had there. He reported the men were tense, but there was no fighting. "Something is going on, but no fighting, yet." I called Jackson over. "Please send a messenger to the captain." Writing a brief note to him, asking him to check in, I handed it to Jackson, then looked over to Andrevo. "Are you ready?"
"How close are you to family?"
An odd question, but I decided to humor him. "Some more than others, why?"
He stood, offering his arm, but offering no explanation for his questions. "Yes. Let us hence."
I took his arm, and we left for the dining room. When we arrived, it had been laid out for a feast, with Eathon, Agnes, Paki, Joan and Viktor, and Masamba already in attendance. The Elders were also well dressed. Paki was seated to the right of the head of the table, the left being empty. I had been seated next to the Sprottles, with Eathon on one side, and Andrevo on the other, while Masamba was seated next to Paki. Empty seats were set for those who had not arrived yet, as well as those we had not yet seen. Andrevo escorted me around the room. I nodded to Paki as we passed him, with the rest of the room in quiet conversations. Eathon and Agnes were comforting each other over the death of the Queen, with Agnes inquiring about Rose's whereabouts. Paki joked with Masamba, who was standing with him. Andrevo left me to comfort his aunt, and I walked over to Masamba and Paki. "Good Evening, Cousins."
Paki nodded to me as Masamba answered, "Hello, Juliette." As we were talking, Ambrose entered the room purposefully, a pistol and blade in his belt. It made me glad I had concealed two lazpistols under my dress. Eathon rose as Ambrose entered, and walked over to meet him at the end of the table. After watching them, I returned to my conversation.
"How does the evening find the both of you?"
Paki answered this time. "Well enough."
"That's good to hear, I suppose." Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Eathon try to guide Ambrose to a quiet corner of the room.
Masamba answered as well then. "Good, and you?"
"I have been preparing, but it finds me well."
In the corner of the room, I could hear Ambrose and Eathon raise their voices.
"Don't presume to touch me, Eathon."
"Now is not the.."
"I'll not have you patronize me either." They continued to argue over Fionn's motivations and what he could do with them, Eathon continuing to attempt to calm Ambrose, without much success.
Masamba smiled at me. "I don't mean to be rude, but the floor show is more interesting."
I sighed. "I suppose so, although nothing too unexpected." Against Eathon's protesting, Ambrose sat at the tables with his weapons, and stared at the doorway. I leaned over to whisper to Paki. "Did you get my message?"
He replied to me, not taking his eyes off the others in the room. "We can discuss that later."
"As you wish." Just then, four trumpeters entered the room. I rolled my eyes as Masamba struggled to contain laughter. Typical of him.
As they began to play, Ambrose stood. "Don't you dare, I'll have each of your heads." The musics croaked and then quieted down.
Fionn walked in angrily, wearing the Pattern blade at his side. "We will do this less elegantly then. I am taking the throne. You can swear your loyalty now."
Andrevo watched Fionn silently as Ambrose spoke. "Pompous weasel, how dare you presume. The Queen's not been dead a day, and half the family hasn't arrived yet."
"I've heard enough from you."
"You haven't heard..."
Eathon raised his voice in protest. "Gentlemen. Please, this isn't the time."
From across the room, Agnes protested as well. "Stop this!"
I started to protest as well, then stopped as Paki stood and stepped next to Fionn as he spoke again. "I control Amber and those in it, my army is greater and I'm already here. I have enough support, and you wouldn't dare to bring war to Amber before the coronation."
Ambrose, of course, protested. "I dare to do as I like, you have no claim to the throne, you're not even of the blood."
Paki glanced at Masamba, who stood up, and without looking at any others, walked over next to Paki. The lines started to draw themselves, but for the moment, at least, I remained outside. Agnes moved to in front of Ambrose "Please, enough." Joan smirked evilly as Viktor stood and moved behind Ambrose. I sat, reaching down to the hem of my dress, trying to disguise my check on my weapons.
Eathon, the peacemaker it seemed, spoke up again. "We should discuss this at a later time."
Fionn would have nothing of it. "We'll discuss it when I say, and I say now."
And then Ambrose. "You'll have the throne over my dead body!"
"Then I'll arrange that!
Ambrose jumped onto the table. "Stand and deliver!"
I stood then as well. "Fionn, cousin, surely you have other means at your disposal."
He steamed as he spoke, and I could see Masamba preparing himself out of the corner of my eye. "I have...Guards! Arrest the traitor!" A commotion sounded from outside the room as Fionn tilted the huge table over with a swatting backhand. I jumped out of the way before it landed on top of me, and Ambrose nimbly tumbled to the floor, seizing his red cloak and whipping it around him, drawing sword and pistol in the same motion.
Andrevo spoke up from the corner. "I don't think is what she meant by `best` " which brought a snort from Masamba.
Eathon, making a valiant effort, yelled "Stop this," as Agnes cried out.
"What are you both doing?!"
Joan stood then and yelled "The Castle is not as much yours as you may think!" as guards started rushing in. I drew my two pistols as Paki drew his, watching Fionn throw the throne-like seat towards Ambrose at the head of the table. It looked about to clip him, but passed right through, almost as if he weren't there. Ambrose shoot the first guard that laid a hand on him, while Viktor hurled insults, Joan standing strong next to him. Eathon tried to restrain Fionn, unsuccessfully, while Ambrose deftly kept the guards away, who were wielding something akin to a cattle prod. More poured in the room as Andrevo walked out.
Above the din, Fionn shouted. "Stand with us or stand aside!" then hurdled Eathon at Ambrose, who deftly dodged him. Eathon landed with a crunch against the wall, and Agnes went over to him. Masamba grew claws, but stood still.
"Arrest all the Sprottles, and any who stand with them." Fionn then pointed to me and Eathon. "Make your choices." I watched Eathon as he lurched to his feat but turned his back to the Sprottles. Agnes ran for the door, while Joan almost started to bristle with power. Ambrose was having no trouble holding his own.
Paki leveled his pistol at Agnes as he spoke, "Ambrose, Joan enough." I could see he was going to shoot Agnes in the stomach, a painful and incapacitating wound at best, and possibly a deadly one. Not a pretty death either. Making my choice, I pulled my guns up and shot Agnes, hitting her in the leg and then walking towards her. Agnes went down hard, stifling a scream.
Fionn nodded, Paki growling next to him. At my actions, Joan screamed in rage, while Ambrose catapulted himself across the room at Fionn. "Call off your hounds!" Eathon still had his back turned. Viktor vanished, while Joan's hair fought off the guards.
I restrained Agnes while whispering to her, "Please, this is the only way." Fionn attempted to grab at Ambrose several times, but his hand passed through him. Paki then backed up and opened fired on Ambrose, but his results were the same. My hawk then swooped into the room and landed near me, bleeding. I turned to Paki. "Call your men off!"
"I gave them no orders to attack."
"They are!" My men were most likely dieing to try and protect me. I looked over to Masamba for a moment, then to the hawk, then saw Paki move away from the duel towards me, talking on a walkie-talkie.
Samba slunk over to the hawk, "If you can understand me, get on my shoulder." The hawk sat there for a moment, then I placed my hand on it, letting it know Samba was to be trusted, and it went to him.
Paki turned to me. "Your men have orders from the king to stand down and hand over their weapons. They chose to fight."
"Damn it. Are your men there now? Give me the walkie talkie and I can end it. Tell them the watchword, moonlight, and I order them to stand down. And let me talk to the ranking officer. As long as you men leave my armor alone, there will be no trouble. I will remove it when I get the chance."
At that moment, I felt a trump contact...and then the world exploded.