Part Five - Help! Someone's Trying to Murder the King!
"Superior firepower is an invaluable tool
when entering into negotiations."
Negotiations started the next day in the afternoon. I spent all morning locked in my room, claiming that I felt weak and sickly. I ordered an omelet for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch. They were both huge.
Adamantis decided to avoid everyone by visiting town. Before he left, he brought me a book he had stolen from the library. It was entitled "Amber's Mystic Past" and was boring as anything, but it helped past the time.
I don't know what Margo did. Probably sat cooped up in her room plotting what she would say later or something equally as stupid.
At two o'clock M'ky himself knocked at my door. I did my best to look bleary eyed and weak.
We stopped by Margo's room, then Adamantis' and picked them each up in turn.
Then went on to the negotiating room.
It was little. Like one of those "study rooms" at the library. It barely held the rectangular table and eight chairs.
Much to my horror, my father was there.
Random sat at the head of the table. To his right was Margo followed by M'ky. There was then an empty seat. Fiona sat across from Random. That made me uncomfortably, but not overly so. I'd never actually met her. Only Bleys. Just the same, I'm sure that she saw through our ploy and knew that we were all relatives.
To Random's left was my Father and next to him was - you guessed it - me. Adamantis was seated to my left.
Great. Next to my Father and across from M'ky.
A young blond girl served us all a glass of wine, then stood back holding the bottle and waiting to refill our glasses.
I picked mine up and drained it in one shot.
From under the table, Adamantis kicked me. M'ky gave me a weird look. Everyone else seemed to ignore it except for the blond girl who poured me another glass.
And so things began.........
Actually, things weren't going so bad. There was one bad incident where Adamantis made a joke about "Rosali's" hair being short. Margo took offense and clamed up, leaving the talking to me and "Josh."
We were very careful not to reveal anything of importance. No need to let know that we knew anything.
About half way through the conversation, Fiona trumped out. I was worried - a little.
Things drug on. We were learning only slightly more from them than they were learning from us. Most of it just confirmed our earlier suspicions.
Somehow, Brand had survived his fall into the Abyss. There had been no word about Corwin's sister. Somehow, Brand had attuned himself to the power of the Abyss(not that difficult - Andrew, Cyanne, and I are all attuned) and was now living there. He seemed to have a small army of nasty non-human critters under his control.
"What if we sent explorers along the rim of the Abyss to kill these 'soldiers' of Brand's. Just to show that they can be killed." Apparently, Brand had managed to convince the monarchs of Tyshen that his troops were immortal.
"I don't think that's such a good idea...." Adamantis began. He managed to get out "I don't think that" before I kicked him from beneath table and he choked on a mouthful of wine.
"Excuse me," he said, "must have taken too big of a drink."
Random nodded from the head of the table, hands folded atop a pile of plans. "You were saying?" he prompted.
Adamantis managed to look innocent for about three seconds, then he broke into a liars smile. "Oh," he said easily, "I was just saying that I don't think that this wine would taste too bad with a bit of lemon," he improvised lamely. I suppressed a groan. Random and my father gave him a funny look. Margo remained calm. I didn't dare look at M'ky.
"Please excuse him," Margo said in her soft voice. It was the first she'd said anything since the short hair crack. "He was out drinking earlier and I'm afraid that the alcohol he consumed before drinking the wine has made him a bit tipsy." I suppressed another groan. Where did my cousins learn to lie? Adamantis did his best to form his lips into a tipsy smile, but it's my personal opinion that he only made himself look like an idiot. I quickly picked up my own wine glass and downed half of it. Lemon indeed!
"So Bethany," Gerard asked, "what did you think of that?" It took me a moment before I realized he was talking to me. That's right. I'm Bethany. I told them I'm Bethany, therefore I must answer to Bethany.
"I think it sounds interesting," I said carefully, as if my silence had been for thought, "but I seriously doubt that it would work. Brand's no push over, and at the moment Tyshen sees that their future interests lie with him, whether his troops are immortal or not."
He nodded and looked toward Random. Random nodded slowly, then Margo broke in with some convoluted line of logic involving Brand's control over Tyshen and how it was primarily influenced by Kashfa and how if Tyshen joined with Brand Serlyn was sure to follow, etc, etc, etc.....
I chose to ignore her and looked across from me at M'ky.
It was the third time this meeting I had looked up to see him studying me. He smiled politely, as he had both other times, and turned to listen to Margo.
I frowned. Either my brother had decided I was hot stuff, or was on the verge of recognizing me. I considered things then.
I hadn't cut my hair short and dyed it 'till I was eighteen. I only looked about twenty, twenty-one(is there really a difference?) now. Before my change of appearance I had worn my hair long like this.
I swallowed another sip of wine. M'ky could have recognized me.
Impossible, I quickly told myself, M'ky hasn't seen me in over a century. On top of that, as far as he knows I never walked the Pattern and I'm long since dead. Besides, he think Bethany is this weak, wimpy person. If anything, he's suspecting that I'm a shadow of myself. Yes, that's it. M'ky isn't smart enough to figure things out really.
He glanced at me as he picked up his wine glass.
At least I hope he isn't that smart.
"I think that sounds agreeable, Father," he said suddenly, interrupting my thoughts. "Rosali?"
Margo nodded slowly. "I do believe that that just may work."
Adamantis softly began to hum the Highlander theme, presumably to appear drunk. Due to this no one asked "Josh" his opinion on things, they skipped to poor ignorant me.
"What do you think Bethany?" Gerard asked. I stared at my father dumbfounded.
"Wellll....." I hedged, "it's certainly a possibility." I twirled what was left of my wine with my finger. "I mean, they would probably consider it and all." I gave him my best smile, the one that was usually reserved for times when I wanted something.
M'ky, who was studying me again, choked on his wine upon my smile.
Now how, I asked my self, could someone remember a smile from two centuries ago?
"Does your wine need some lemon too?" I asked sweetly, flashing him the smile. Adamantis continued his humming, but kicked me sharply from under the table.
"Ahem." That was from Margo. Who else?
"No," he said, "it doesn't. Some lime maybe, but no lemon." Bad joke!
I merely nodded and studied my fathers reaction to my smile which I flashed for, yes!, the third time. He looked slightly uncomfortable, but lost the look as Random quelled the sudden silence by asking M'ky if he thought the wine was all that bad.
M'ky didn't have the chance to respond, for the door banged open(a little rude if you ask me. After all, this is the audience of the King) and a soldier walked in.
He bowed. "Your Majesty."
"John." Random nodded.
"Your Majesty," the guard whose name I took to be John(ah, my amazing powers of perception!) said. "Lord Drew wishes to join the proceedings."
Adamantis gave me a sharp kick in the ankle. I nodded slowly.
Drew, great. There goes our cover.
Random smiled heartily. I guess he doesn't mind that Drew's Eric's son. "Show him in," he said.
Margo shot me a look from across the table, her blue eyes searching the room, as if looking for escape. I wondered if I could survive jumping from the open window to my left. Could an Amberite survive a five story fall?
Drew bounded in, his hair neatly cut, dressed in a red T-shirt and faded blue jeans. His smile grew even bigger as he saw Adamantis sitting next to me.
I measured the distance between me and the window.
"Adamantis," he cried, and rushed forward, literally hefting Adamantis from his seat and giving him a hug. "It's so good to see you bro! You didn't tell me you were in town!"
I glanced toward Random whose eyes were narrowed. He obviously hadn't missed the fact that Drew had called him "Adamantis" rather than "Josh" and had addressed him as brother. How long would it be before "Bethany" was revealed as "Krisilyn"?
As my cursed luck would have it, not long.
"Kris!" He cried jubilantly. "Margo! You brought the whole crowd didn't you bro?" Adamantis replied with something I couldn't catch and disentangled himself from Drew's brotherly embrace.
Noting my father next to him, Drew turned and said, "Uncle Gerard! You didn't tell me Kris had stopped by for a visit!" He turned to M'ky. "Neither did you!"
Had M'ky been a shapeshifter, his eyes would now be saucers.
"And Margo!" he cried, releasing Adamantis and practically leaping around the table. "Have you made up with your dad yet? Uncle Julians downstairs you know......" Margo's blue eyes narrowed and for the first time in a long time her chalk white skin flushed red.
"No," she said flatly, "I have not spoken to my father and I do not plan to start now." The color left her cheeks and she turned to me. "Since you are in charge of this little operation why don't you get us out of here?"
M'ky, Gerard and Random rose simultaneously. I had the gut wrenching feeling that M'ky would dive across the table to stop me from going anywhere, Dad....well.....Dad was unpredictable. I couldn't see him punching me hard enough to knock me out, but I could see him doing it if it was that or having me disappear for another two-hundred years.
Then my temper got the better of me and, in my moment of rage, I forgot that I had given my trump deck to Cyanne.
I pointed at her. "You," I said, "can get yourself out of here. I didn't ask you along, in fact I don't even know why....." I suddenly broke off my sentence and felt my rage becoming even hotter. Had she been next to me I would have strangled her.
"You," I said softly, "were sent along to baby-sit weren't you? Ever since Andrew joined with Brand he's been watching me. He sent you to make sure I didn't screw-up."
(He being Dellen - he tends to think of himself as God or something)
Margo lost her cool composer and, had this been under different circumstances, I would have loved watching Julian's daughter loose all of her fathers self control.
"Well it's not such a bad guess is it?" she asked, or should I say snarled. "You and Andrew always have some undercurrent going; Some plan atop a plan. It wouldn't surprise me if you were working with Brand to destroy Amber!" My left hand moved to the spot my sword should have been.
Adamantis lost all his feigned drunkenness and came to my side. "She would never do that!" I owe you big time cuz, I thought.
Drew moved around the table, away from Margo and placed himself safely next to Random. Only now was all the trouble he had started beginning to dawn on him.
"First of all," I shouted, "if I was working with Brand why did he put a knife through my lung?! Hmmm!? Is that something you do to a valuable informant?" Margo said nothing, but her gaze shifted nervously.
"And second....." I continued, then stopped. I brilliant, yet stupid, plan for our escape had come to mind.
First things first. I summoned Nightstar(it's my pretty sword forged in Chaos by a great metal smith - I had a Chaosian lover once and he gave Nightstar to me for my birthday) from the Abyss and held my blade before me.
"We," I said softly, "should continue this elsewhere."
Margo nodded stoutly and withdrew her trump deck. No one moved, but I could see that both my father and brother were watching me, Drew and Random watching Margo.
Trumps...., I thought idly, I don't have any trumps and neither does Adamantis.
Margo vanished in a rainbow shimmer. Uh, oh. My plan wouldn't work. It was too simple to work. We simply trump out. Hah!
I looked at the remainder of the party nervously.
"Krisilyn," my Father began softly. That was enough for me. Gerard may be considered the "nicest" family member, but I was terrified to talk to my father again. I didn't want to hear about what a disappointment I was, had been, whatever.
"Run," I muttered to Adamantis.
I rushed forward and grabbed Drew, picking him up and tossing him on top of Random I rushed out the door, a confused Adamantis in wake.
"Help!" I cried. "Someone's trying to murder the King!" I quickly tossed Nightstar back in to the Abyss. "Help!" I cried again.
The guards rushed past and I pointed and shouted, running the opposite direction as I did so.
"Ow! Wait a minute!" I heard from the room we had recently vacated. "No one's trying to kill me! Stop them! Them!"
"Some plan oh, fearless one!" Adamantis yelled as we ran.
I shrugged. "Spur of the moment."
We rounded the corner and crashed into about twenty armed guards.
I summoned Nightstar from the Abyss, and grabbed a random sword for Adamantis.
Weapons in hand, we rushed the guards.
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