I had decided to return to the shadow I grew up in, to mold it to my liking. A larger army could prove useful in the near future, and it was somewhere that I could "hide." It was, however, a long ride from Amber, so I decided to try a small shortcut. I had wanted to get a trump of Nax from Masamba, but couldn't seem to find him...as usual. Instead, I hell-rode there, and spoke with Nax myself. I asked him for a trump to contact him more often. He was willing to give me one in exchange for some...advice, and he insisted on throwing a feast in my honor. I consented, thinking it might also prove useful for making an alliance with him. As we were eating, who should sidle on in but Samba. He was dressed oddly, in colorful, flowing robes, with bare feet. "Your Juliette-ness."
I smiled. Always a joker. "Samba...a pleasant surprise."
"I can say the same, Juliette."
"I admit, I got tired of waiting."
"Oh. Sorry. I had, things. Speaking of which...should I ask how your urine tastes?"
Sometimes Samba asked the weirdest questions. "Excuse me?"
"The... suit. That recycles..." That joker. "So how's Amber doing?"
The one thing I was trying to avoid thinking about at the moment. "Oh. I was stopping here on my way elsewhere. It is...the same for now."
"How's the...el fa--Andrevo?"
Another bad subject. Was Samba psychic today? "Frustrating."
"Understandable. Has the coin toss of our previous difficulties landed?"
I guess there was no avoiding this one. "I had dinner with him last night to discuss it. Other than shoot down my idea, he had nothing much to add."
"I'm guessing he helped make it."
"I don't know." Ever the consummate joker, but I wasn't in the mood for it now.
"What was your..." Samba looked around before continuing. "It's easy for the wolf to hide in sheep's clothing here."
"I would imagine. But, try as he might to find the perfect choice, the decision must be made soon."
Samba whispered. "There are many sheep."
"If I can not bring him 'around' I may be forced to make it anyway."
"Of the two we discussed, is he partial toward the one I'm not? Or is that too long ago?"
The situation has changed much since then. "That was too long ago."
"Ah. Has the plot thinned?"
"The one he favored has refused anyway."
"She was a walking, albeit horrendously mystical cliche anyway. And..."
I interrupted him. "He feels the one I favor now 'does not have enough going for him.'"
"...if we're two thirds...him..." I slowly tapped my fingers on the butt of the gun at my waist. "Are we saying I would be closer to the throne?"
I smiled. It was nice to speak with someone who understood me. "Yes."
Samba laughed. "I would be in favor, on one condition."
I miss Samba sometimes. "I tried to have the conversation like this with Andrevo, and he...didn't understand me."
"When/if we tell him..."
"I had conditions as well."
"I would be the one to come up to him and ask for help, then we jump him with magic, THEN tell him." I laughed again. Dear Samba. "Do you meant his conversation in a certain way? Or just in general? As in, guarded."
"We just don't...read each other as well as the two of us do."
"Ah. Or...He doesn't want to without you saying it. After all, Our guy means our firebrand, who opposes our...uh...seaman...who is...well...family." He shouted off. "NO OFFENSE, GRAMPA!"
"My plan was to have him in charge, with myself in my old position, The seaman and the...robot as admirals, and Hyde as captain of the guard.
"Robo--aha!. I like the plan, except for the admiral part. And, as much as i love chao- er.. catastrophe...we'd basically have one big civil war."
"Between the two admirals?"
"And the latter of your plan can be convinced otherwise, I assume. Yeah, cuz, you've seen the two of them try to talk civilly in a room..."
"I think they would...counter one another..."
"With their superiors nearby to contain them."
"They managed not to kill each other before now"
"Are you sure? Er...but, only one had a fleet to command."
"And the one won't be trying to take over."
"Well, I should admit," He looked around, "Style-wise, I like our seaman. notthatthere'sanythingwrongwiththat. But I'm not against mister roboto."
"By 'our' seaman, you mean Hyde?"
"Just to let you know I'm not partial. No. Our as in-law..."
"The current admiral then?" Perhaps we weren't quite as in sync as I thought.
"Your question belies the fact that I should have paid more attention. He's the better looking of the two.
"So, you think the plan is acceptable as long as the two don't fight."
"Your 'old position.'"
Would he feel the same about it that Andrevo did? "That which is rightfully mine."
"All of it, robin hood?"
Samba smiled again. "Ah, okay. I just didn't know it was...uh...your old...but yes, I do agree."
"Part of it was, at least...and all of it should have been."
"Though I am concerned of the hole we mentioned."
"Refresh my memory?"
"I believe if personal familial positions were shifted, that one would not be upse...the hole being the ocean, which you mentioned, but it's a big...uh...but...and...wait..."
"I think as long as they both have a leader, it will not devolve into war and the rivalry will mean that they won't unite."
"Ah...there you go. I might be able to make amends of this situation. Wait," I raised an eyebrow as he paused, "I just answered one of my own questions that you never asked. Is your guardian a political maneuver. Well, the captain of such."
"I'm afraid I don't understand."
"Is hyde there to appease...uh...jeckyll? I'm more thinking..."
"To appease his sister."
"...of freeing up...uh...If one of our conflicting two pretty boys (or borgs, as it were) were to have the captain position, would that make things...smoother...in your opinion?"
"I considered that, but I think the rivalry will be healthy."
"Well...the rivalry might be diminished, but a rivalry in longer distances might be more beneficial as a whole." He called off to the side. "Felix!"
"Felix?" Who was Felix?
"You've met him. A little imp friend."
Ah! "Oh, him."
"He's a note-taker." He thought for a moment as Felix failed to appear. "Oh...that's right. He's dead. Well."
It would do more good to remind him of the method. "'You killed him, remember?"
He frowned, then started to smile. "...yes, I remember. He's surv--he's--yes, I remembered." He turned away for a moment, then turned back, smiling. "You would be happy with keeping the guardian cap as the guardian cap. And yes, I slang for no reason."
"And you completely lost me."
"The hidden one." He spelled it out for me on his forehead.
"Ah. I suppose I would be happy with him staying where he is, but I think my idea is superior."
"I meant, in your position, he is not someone you feel obligated to?"
"The guardian, no. I wish to retain my position if at all possible."
"Ah. One minor concern..."
"It is mine by right of inheritance."
"...that i may be able to rectify. Have we learned if one of the other still has eyes toward amber? Fish?" He grabbed a plate of green fish, handing it to me.
I tried some. "They all have eyes towards Amber."
"I mean...Good is it? I hear they're in season in the.. uh.. seas of fire." He tried some as well. "There is another who I fear might be very unpleased with the situation."
I smiled. "The one who is already King..."
Masamba smiled as well. "This fish seems to have more feet than it should. But, my theory is..."
"He is the one I have not been able to take into account."
"He may be appeased easily. But I want to tell you something," He scooted closer. "We are friends, at least I think we are. Until then, I've never given a shit about 'home.'"
"I would like to consider us such." What was he getting at?
"...but I may do something that would be entirely in service of home, at the sacrifice of me, well, sacrifice of my dignity."
"What? Please speak freely with me." I wish he would tell me more. I worry for him.
"Certain angels...Hidden..." he picked up the fish, "...angels, might be appeased. And, No where is safe, dear Julie."
'"I suppose then I will have to leave you to your own devices then."
"Anyway. Not just yet. Well, this dinner is so good, and, as we both ran away from home, to chaos, we should probably enjoy it...again." He wiped his eyes.
"I was on my way to my home away from home when I stopped over here. It was a quick shortcut."
"Did you get your card?"
"Yes, I did."
"And what would we do about...uh..." He tapped at his ring finger.
"My Dear Andrevo?"
Samba smiled yet again, and nodded. "Has he been in direct opposition...or...uh..."
Why did he have to bring him up, anyway? "He knows how to contact me when he wants to talk again. He is opposed, but has offered no other solution."
"I thought it best to stop the conversation before it became too...heated."
"What would the tabloids say? Have you seen tabloids?"
I didn't remember "tabloids," but I could have forgotten. "I don't think so."
"You're better for it. Think corrupt town crier. Was he...perchance...slaying creatures to get their stuff? And, don't make me NOT be the one who's least concerned for Amber. I got an image to maintain."
"Are you concerned what others might think of us while I am afianced? And I am utmost concerned for Amber...I believe his is too, in his own way." His own, frustrating, slow, infuriating way.
"The latter, no. I serious, whole-heatedly tried..."
Our conversation soon devolved into chit-chat as the feast ended, and we went our separate ways.