— Omaya and Mesago help plan the battle and Omaya show’s his friend a book —
Omaya and Mesago walked into the main banqueting hall, filled now with waiting officers. At their head, stood a large map table, and behind it sat Lord Tarian and his brother, Barian. Trays of food and beverages had been placed at one end of the huge, oak table and a chandelier with over a hundred candles swung ever so slightly above it, disturbed by the draft when the two new arrivals had entered.
“Take a cup of tea!” Tarian added, gesturing to a tray.
“Tea?” Omaya and Mesago said together, astonished.
“We’ve just managed to import the first crate,” Barian said. “Zeeland is going up in the world!”
“I tasted it once!” Mesago said, sipping from a white, china cup. “Mm.”
“Mm,” Omaya repeated. “It’s good. I heard of it. I tasted chocolate once.”
“Ah! Chocolate. I haven’t tasted it since I was a kid,” Tarian said. “Where?”
“Currency Palace. The Princess gave it to me.”
“So you did know her well,” Barian declared.
“I was her slave,” Omaya replied.
“Pleasure slave!” Mesago murmured, just loud enough for Tarian to hear.
Tarian nodded, with set lips but a slight smirk around the corners of his eyes.
“And now he’s buying books!” Barian added.
“Are you thinking of taking those with you?” Tarian asked.
“Yes. To read on lonely evenings.”
“Soldiers should never read books!” Barian said.
“They say books quicken the mind but slow the hand,” Tarian added.
“Though women do the opposite!” Barian said.
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— Omaya and Mesago meet Lord Tarian Bow to discuss how to defeat the Currencians. Omaya notices a strange man, who turns out to be from his own City, Currency. —
A man in a top hat with a wooden leg that ended in a fixed wheel raised his hand and turned to leave the room. Omaya hadn’t noticed him before but now that he had seen the strange appendage, he couldn’t take his eyes away. The strange man, also wearing a coat with tails, which looked like it had been mauled by dogs, didn’t hobble but walked quite adeptly on the wooden leg.
“I keep him as a butler!” Lord Tarian said. “Not much use for anything else except good stories – mostly porkies. He has an accomplice somewhere. Can’t see him now. Strange fellow but good as a pickpocket and spy.”
“White wine for me!” Omaya replied.
“Don’t be stupid! Soldiers drink red! Bring the good stuff Smithy!”
“Yessir! Coming right up! Screwthumb!”
“I like your idea!” Tarian told Omaya. “Are you an engineer? I mean; could you build this thing? And how long would it take?”
Omaya hesitated. In truth, he didn’t want to see the end of the Currencians. He had a grudging respect for The Dragon, particularly his love of books and dreams of building a new power station. Most of all, Omaya could not get the sight of a working light bulb out of his head. He cleared his throat to reply but the butler cut him off, handing each man a glass of red wine from a tray.
“Here you are gentlemen. The very best red wine!”
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