Carpathia III: Episode 82 - Eavesdropping
The Palace, Zhail City
Artemis stood where he was, stuttering incomprehensibly, trying to come up with a course of action, not sure if he should try to disavow knowledge of Phobos or try to explain to Riven and Shai what he was. In the end, however, Phobos's persistence made Artemis's decision for him.
Prince Riven: Did you not state previously that this was a mechanical toy of some sort? He looks very much alive to me.
Phobos paid no attention to anyone else in the room and continued tugging on Artemis's pant leg.
Phobos: Dad, your computer.
Artemis, still too panicked to follow Phobos's order, hastily tried to explain.
Artemis: Ha ha. Well, you see, he is mechanical, but... um... he's much more than that. You see...
Phobos, having finally had enough of Artemis's stalling, kicked his feet out from under him.
Artemis flopped to the ground like a sack of onions. Before Artemis knew what was doing on, Phobos was already standing on his chest. Phobos grabbed Artemis's shirt collar and yanked his head off the ground while everyone else watched in amazement.
Phobos: Get. Your. Computer. Now.
Adell: Better do what he says, Artemis.
Artemis curtly nodded while still staring wide-eyed at Phobos.
Artemis: Yes sir.
Right away, Phobos jumped from Artemis's chest, leaving him free to reach into his bag and pull out his computer, yet another thing he would have to explain to Riven and Shai eventually. However, in order to avoid provoking Phobos further, explanations would have to wait. As he turned on his computer, he awaited instructions from Phobos, who was sitting next to him.
Phobos: Hook me up and please show everyone in the room.
Artemis understood the implication right away. Deimos was watching something and wanted everyone to see it. Artemis grabbed his adaptor cable and plugged one end into the computer and the other end into the back of Phobos's neck.
Artemis: Okay, everyone. Gather around.
Adell joined Artemis right away. Riven and Shai both exchanged confused looks. After they each shrugged their shoulders, they too sat on the floor to look at the computer screen.
Phobos: Now connecting to Deimos.
Prince Riven: What's a "Deimos?"
Artemis: That's his counterpart. This is Phobos. He's going to show us what Deimos is seeing right now.
Prince Riven: Intriguing.
The computer screen began to flicker and everyone turned their attention to it. In no time, the screen became clear and everyone could see three figures. There was the King, Erosia, and the mysterious stranger they encountered in the palace lobby some time ago.
Prince Riven: This is occurring at this very moment? Like I have sometimes seen on the phone that Adell showed me?
Artemis tapped a button on his computer several times.
Artemis: That's right. Let me raise the volume so that we can hear.
The King and Erosia both lounged in their chairs while the stranger continuously paced back and forth between them. He was the one speaking.
Thirteen: I've been waiting far too long! I have to get back to Nekramentia.
King Elmlund: Please have some patience. Sometimes, these things take time.
Erosia: I'm sure they'll be here soon enough. You requested targets which are more isolated and that takes time. Nevertheless, we have sent out a search party in case they're in trouble.
The stranger stopped pacing and leaned against of the columns protruding from the wall.
Thirteen: This is more than a delay. They're two days overdue. Perhaps you never planned to fulfill your promise to begin with.
King Elmlund stood, holding his cane in front of him as though he intended to use it as a weapon. The stranger continued to lean against the column, unimpressed.
King Elmlund: How dare you suggest that I neglect my obligations!
Thirteen: I can't believe it until I see it for myself.
King Elmlund: You will have an elf boy and a nekohuman boy as promised. My sources are of the utmost reliability.
The stranger pushed himself away from the column and took a seat in a nearby chair, crossing his legs. He spoke his next works softly and menacingly.
Thirteen: I will remind you that if you fail to deliver, Maelstrom will make sure it is you who suffers, not me. Don't think you don't have any skin in this game.
For awhile, there was silence as an uncomfortable lull in the conversation permeated the room. Back in Riven's room, Adell and Artemis watched as Riven, mouth agape, nearly toppled over onto the floor.
Prince Riven: Everything is a lie. Our culture. Our society. I was told that all measures that we have taken were in defense against the beast of Nekramentia. To think that Father has been in league with Maelstrom all the while.
Riven narrowed his eyes and sat up as straight as he could.
Prince Riven: Shai, fetch Azrael immediately.
Shai: Yes, my Prince.
Right away, Shai stood and marched quickly out of Riven's room.
Adell: What are you planning?
Prince Riven: As of now, I do not know. To do this properly will take time. Acting hastily could plunge the entire kingdom into chaos. However, I must deal with Azrael, as I told you before, I believe his loyalties are confused.
Suddenly, Artemis twisted around and held up his finger.
Artemis: They're talking again.
Back in the King's room, Emlund had also sat down with his legs crossed. He leaned forward with one elbow on his knees and rested his chin in his hand. With his other hand, he stroked his beard absentmindedly.
King Elmlund: I am well aware of the consequences of noncompliance with Maelstrom's wishes. Aside from that, you would do well to check your smugness. I seem to recall that I lent you three sandboats and you have managed to lose one of them.
Thirteen: Hmmph. Perhaps if your people didn't make such shoddy ropes, it wouldn't have drifted away.
King Elmlund: Nevertheless, I am currently down one sandboat and those are not easy to make. Also, do not delude yourself into believing that I am not aware that I have "skin in this game" as you so charmingly stated. I sent my best soldiers to apprehend your elf boy and nekohuman boy, for they are also procuring for me a fertile elf girl for use in procreation.
The stranger leaned back in his chair and rolled his eyes.
Thirteen: I have no interest in your sordid sex life.
King Elmlund: You should. I know that you have relayed Maelstrom's concern about the suitability of my heir. I would like for you to report to Maelstrom that I intend to replace him. As soon as a new, viable heir is born, I will arrange for an accident to befall Riven.
Back in the bedroom, Riven could not contain his shock.
Prince Riven: WHAT?
Riven quickly regained as much composure as he could muster as the stranger spoke again.
Thirteen: Interesting. I will indeed tell him. Unfortunately, that does not solve the matter at hand. I have to leave now. Nekramentia can take care of itself for a little time, but not forever. I am the one who keeps the place running smoothly. Don't think for a minute that I'm enjoying this. While you get to live in your cushy palace, I have to cater to the whims of a very powerful nutcase. The demands placed on you are nothing compared to what I go through every damn day.
King Elmlund took a deep breath and exhaled with a grumble. Finally, he turned to Erosia.
King Elmlund: Erosia, what of the scientist that Riven hired several cycles ago? Does he show any potential?
Erosia: He lacks focus, but I believe, with proper motivation, he could become very productive.
King Elmlund: In such case, it seems it would be for the best if we keep him for now. However, Riven has a "boy toy" as I've heard it called. I'm sure he must be growing weary of this one by now and would only mourn his disappearance for a short while. Would he be of any use to you?
Thirteen: That would depend on his age.
King Elmlund: I surmise that he is roughly Riven's age.
The stranger stood and folded his arms across his chest.
Thirteen: That's too old for our purposes. Still, such an offering may placate Maelstrom temporarily. We can use him for target practice or something. This doesn't complete your promise, however. He still expects the two young boys that you promised.
King Elmlund: I shall deliver them as soon as I am able.
Thirteen: Good. When can I have the other?
Elmlund stood and began to make his way toward the door of his study.
King Elmlund: I shall have him apprehended the moment he is alone.
Thirteen: Just one more thing before we finish. I need a large quantity of cheese...
Back in Riven's room, the three of them had heard enough. Riven, with a determined look in his eye, stood up and glanced at the door.
Prince Riven: We need to get you both out of here, now.
All city pictures from SimCity 4