Lady Merces proved a font of information. Things that Faroush would have just accepted as the way things were prior to the merger, he could ask and get concise answers. In the case of the Feitas, there was apparently an irrigation/drainage system left over from a previous and advanced civilization. One that had been wiped out in a single day by the Sun Rune's power wielded by madness. The only thing to prove control on that power was the combination of Dawn Rune and Twilight Rune.
Which kind of underscored how incredibly BAD it would be to have Godwin controlling it.
The problem was the nobles, which sounded a little like the Imperial Court of Lord Ranma's world without the strong presence of the Emperor riding herd on them and without the cultural stake in personal combat ability. The result was that they sated their pleasures long and fully, became jaded with these, and were constantly looking for new pleasures to sate their indulgences.
Faroush thought about submarines, underwater mines, and other war-technologies that Ranma of Nerima had heard of. How might such be adopted to war in Falenas? Or, for that matter, watermill technology. Faroush thought he'd seen all manner of ships using the slowly flowing Feitas for travel, but no watermills. The only windmills he'd seen was when he'd taken that wrong turn and ended up in Estrice.
"There's another problem," Faroush confessed to Lady Merces. "The Godwins are using unwilling conscripts as their frontline troops. They've got mercenaries and loyalists behind them, ready to cut them down if they bolt."
"We can't simply accept their surrender though," said Lyon. "We've already seen where they're willing to put assassins to work for them. It would be a simple thing for Nether Gate to put assassins in the surrendering troops."
Lady Merces looked at Lyon, then studied Faroush. She spent most of the trip through Raftfleet apparently preoccupied.
Ukyo looked over her recruits and thought about things.
Cornelio had some talents, but was a nut job.
Josephine had some skills in combat, but she was uncomfortably close to Kodachi Kuno in some respects.
Kasumi had some combat skills, but just wasn't that outdoorsy or experienced.
Akane had some combat skills, up until someone threw Rune skills at her.
As for the DoReMi Elves, Ukyo wondered if even calling those things elves insulted real elves. She thought it likely. If you put both of these things together, they wouldn't even have half a brain between them.
The Kraken was exactly how it had been. There was nothing in Raftfleet to indicate that they knew that there was a fleet heading their way.
Up until they reached the top that is. Raja and Kisara was meeting with Georg and Sialeeds.
"Your Highness?" asked Kisara.
"Hey!" said Sialeeds. "Where have you been? ?! Lucretia?"
"Did you say 'Lucretia'?" asked Raja.
Lady Merces came to the front of the crowd. "Lady Sialeeds, Admiral Raja, it's been a long time. Ah, and that man must be 'Deathblow Georg' while the lady must be Logg's wife Kisara, correct? How do you do? My name is Lucretia Merces. I've just become His Royal Highness' personal tactician. I'm looking forward to working with all of you."
Kisara looked a little lost and overwhelmed, for the first time since the Prince had met her. "How do you... do?"
Raja snorted. "Never in a million years did I..."
Georg merely laughed. "Well, what do you know? I'd been looking into busting Lady Merces myself, but I kept running into dead ends! And here you come, casually strolling in with her like it's no big deal!"
"This isn't the time to be joking," said Sialeeds.
"So what's the situation?" asked Lady Merces.
Admiral Raja shook her head. K1ds. "Oh, yes. That's right. General Bahram Luger's fleet delivered an ultimatum. They ordered us to surrender our autonomy and swear allegiance to the 'future Queen, Princess Lymsleia.' If we don't they'll subjugate us by force."
"When I heard that, I rushed over here," said Sialeeds. "It's one thing to go after us, but to go after Raftfleet as well?"
"You're with them, or against them, it's that simple," said Georg. "They hate us, of course, but they hate self-governing regions like Raftfleet almost as much."
"If they plan war with Armes or another kingdom," speculated Faroush, "they'll want to solidify their control of the country and any elements within - simply to avoid any potential problems arising when they are otherwise occupied."
"They're doing all this in the name of poor Princess Lymsleia?" asked Lyon. "How dare they!"
"They already dared a coup where they killed off members of the royal family, gathered assassins from a disbanded group of such, and have taken to hauling people out of their homes in order to force them to become soldiers in their Army," pointed out Faroush. "They don't have any shortage of 'dare' in their arsenal."
"So what do you plan to do, Admiral?" asked Lucretia.
Raja sighed. "I used to head up that fleet, you know. Bahram was my trusted assistant. I trusted him with my life, my command, my crew - not light things any of them. I know better than anybody how formidable he can be. We can't take his forces on head-on, especially with Bahram at the helm. I'm not a quitter, though, and there's not a quitter here in Raftfleet. I just don't see what to do in this instance."
"All you have to do is drive them away, Admiral," said Lucretia.
"You make it sound so simple," said Kisara.
"You have a plan then, Lucretia?" asked Raja.
"Yes, that's right," said Lucretia.
"Your His Highness' tactician, aren't you?" asked Raja, seeing why the plan wasn't on the table.
"Good point," said Lucretia. "Prince, what would you like to do? Will you aid Raftfleet?"
"Yes, of course," said Faroush.
"Are you sure, Your Highness?" asked Raja. "We refused your request, remember?"
"My friendship is not dependent on such things," said Faroush.
"Thank you, Your Highness," said Raja. "I can't begin to express Raftfleet's gratitude."
"All right, let's get started then," said Lucretia. "I want you to close all the sluice gates upriver from here. Can you do that?"
"I think if we ask Luserina, she'll do it for us," said Sialeeds.
"Ah, now I see," said Raja.
"I forgot about that too," said Kisara.
Thu Sep 07 00:21:04 2006