Part 17: A Good King
Hey Konrad, Endymion. Killed anyone lately?
When I arrive at the table. I promptly sit down. I sure have a lot to tell these two. Especially with what just happened in the cellar.
I look at both of them as they sit across from me. An awkward silence ensues, and they display worry. Did I miss something on their end, as well?
It takes a moment before the silence in broken.
If Rabies McFutts had a twitter account, it would have the second-largest following on Terra behind the bot that just posts 'Phidget's mom is dead' every half hour.
I'm not sure how to take that.
That was uncalled for, Konrad. They can make as many friends as they want.
Besides, the more the merrier. We might be here longer than we thought.
Well -- Endymion went to check the mail. It might as well have been lined with dust. There was nothing in there. Nothing at all.
I just want to point out how there is so many other, cooler ways Endymion and Konrad could have gotten a message from Caylen. Secret assassin ciphers? A spy on the inside? Hell, carrier pigeon? Nope! Assassins just trust the goddamn postal service.
I'm afraid it's true.
That's just what Righty expected. I'm worried -- this isn't a good sign.
But Konrad here is jumping to conclusions. I prefer to think of things more logically. He seems to think Caylen is in danger.
What else could it mean...? He's failed to execute mission parameters!
'Mission parameters' is a phrase that's really out of place in this vaguely fantasy setting.
For all the intrigue these two actually accomplish, they might as well be maids.
You sure about that?
Exactly. Endymion has it all wrong. He thinks we should take you to Velasquez.
You mean the thing he directly ordered you to do?
Twisting my words, as usual. I only said it would be logical. We can't just go attacking Plair's home. Our cover would be blown. He'd know our true allegiance. The smear campaign would go on to fail.
Velasquez would lose the throne, Konrad. We'd fail everything he wants us to do. We can't break -our- mission parameters.
Any time a character says 'grr', I can't decide whether they're growling like a human or an animal.
I decide to cut them off right there. I could end their senseless bickering immediately.
I tell them what Righty said to me in the cellar. They don't need to worry about Caylen right now. Righty is mounting his own little rescue mission. They can take me straight to Velasquez.
Oh, you have -got- to be kidding me.
He must know some of what we plan. I didn't know he still used spies.
Don't really need to use spies when you talk about your plans at about the same volume as a supernova.
I let them know that Caylen was the spy, here. As well as what Righty wants to do with him. He had been spying on them and Velasquez all along.
YOU'RE TRAINED ASSASSINS
HOW DID YOU NOT RECOGNIZE A SPY
Maybe they aren't trained assassins. Maybe Velasquez just gave them some belts and dark clothes and told them they were.
Righty must know about the ritual then. And he must know all about you, too. How did I not recognize Caylen...?
If he truly did spy on Velasquez? Well -- he must've been in disguise. That boy is definitely a prodigy.
I tell them what Righty said. How Velasquez wanted Caylen to starve to death. That's why he used the rally to get him imprisoned. Caylen had dug up some "royal secrets" while undercover.
Propaganda. Velasquez would never do that.
And yet our mailbox remains empty.
Konrad -- you can't possibly believe this?
I'm sorry, am I the odd one out for not being surprised that the guy in prison is having trouble sending out mail?
Shouldn't you two be super pissed the Caylen betrayed you, or at the very least, trying to silence him because he has dirt on your boss?
If Caylen is fine, he'll look foolish. But -- if for some reason he's in danger. Well, I doubt that Velasquez is involved. Velasquez would never want a boy to die. Especially not such a young and skilled one.
Or would he?
You seem to forget about our history. Mainly -- the origins of our little guild.
And you also seem to forget our jobs. We kill those who oppose Velasquez. Or those who threaten his reign.
Holy hell! Konrad's talking about actually killing someone! IT'S THE END TIMES!
We might not be killing Lord Plair. But that doesn't completely absolve us. Especially not from our little "test".
If Crusader Kings II has taught me anything, it's that every monarch ever is a bloodthirsty psychopath.
He wouldn't do such a thing. Velasquez is an honorable man.
Honorable enough to hire assassins, yeah. And Caylen would die by starvatio nalone. So Velasquez's hands would remain clean.
I'm not about to turn against the King. But -- what if he had his own agenda? It's not such an outrageous thought, Endy.
He's capable of hiding things from us. Especially if Caylen knows secret stuff. Everybody has something they need to hide.
And what would that be?
In his deepest vaults, Velasquez has hidden away thousands upon thousands of years worth of Scooby-Doo fanfiction, each story worse than the last.
Endymion slams his fist on the table.
As I've said before -- think logically! These accusations are extremely outlandish.
Did I not say that Righty would do this? Subterfuge -- exactly as I thought. He wants us to be having this conversation!
I guess you're right. Sorry for that line of thought.
You should be. Insubordination is a vile thing, Konrad. I didn't think you were capable of it.
Endymion takes two keys out of his pocket. He places them on the table. One in front of me, and one in front of Konrad. The one he places in front of me says "23" on it.
WEREN'T YOUR EXACT ORDERS TO TAKE RABIES STRAIGHT TO VELASQUEZ?!
But trust me -- it'll be pocket change. Especially after we deliver The Savior.
I don't think that will go over well.
Sorry Velasquez, we got sidetracked by the guy who's sworn an eternal blood feud on you.
I'll be at your door as the sun rises.
He gets up and leaves without another word.
I'm sorry for the way he talks sometimes. I don't think he knows what "logic" means. It doesn't mean sucking up to our King.
That's a good point, actually. Why does Endymion want to suck up to the guy who doesn't even pay them very much?
Where I come from -- you doubt everybody. And you don't draw the line at your boss.
Especially if they rely on your skill. More reason for them to butter you up.
Let me give you one piece of advice. And this is my creed -- so don't judge me.
'Never buy Major\Minor' ?
You aren't endearing yourself to anybody by pulling a Rook on us.
I don't believe in "friendship". A friend will -always- become an enemy. You just haven't set them off yet.
It's not like I want this to be true. But I've seen it happen so many times. Especially in our line of work.
A friend is such a fleeting thing. But an enemy -- you remember forever. Stunning how fast that transition can be.
That's why I try not to make friends. They're really all just potential foes. Except for you -- you seem different.
I'll handle to Klace; it's not easy making a Mary Sue protagonist who does absolutely nothing.
He rubs his arm nervously.
I didn't mean to lecture you. I apologize, Rabies.
I tell him there's no need to apologize. And in fact -- I ask him to continue. I was interested in learning about their pasts. Especially more about their relation to Righty.
Rabies, please stop enabling these people.
Really? Thought you'd want me to shut up. You really are something else -- you know?
He lets out a soft smile.
How the hell do you 'let out' a smile?
Me and Endymion go way back. We knew each other before we teamed up. I kinda hate that story, though.
It's a little to late for that, popsicle.
But, if you want to know about Righty? Well, I can tell you a lot about that guy.
About ten years ago, there was an incident. Velasquez helmed some sort of big project. Instead of helping -- it was a huge failure.
If I didn't know better, I'd think 'huge failure' is the currency on this damn planet.
He ended up getting a lot of hate for this. There were people who wanted him out. From the throne -- or even from living.
He must be talking about The Exodus Project.
Velasquez needed a more militant approach. He was usually passive, but not anymore.
He -did- have Righty as his hired guard. But protection just wasn't enough anymore.
What's really screwed up is not only did Velasquez build a single shitty bar as an apology for killing thousands of people, but that it apparently worked.
That's why he formed The Assassin's Guild. Originally -- Righty was supposed to lead. And he was supposed to recruit two others.
That's when he found me and Endymion. We got an audience with Velasquez.
We were meant to be a Triumvirate. We were supposed to ensure his reign. And we were all placed above the law.
Welp, guess we know where Klace lifted the Triumvirate for his next game!
Velasquez knows what's best for Terra. A new ruler would just screw things up.
We weren't put into action for a while. During that time, this Tavern was built.
Righty built it, actually. Velasquez wanted to win over the people. Then he'd be able to plan things freely.
I can see why the Exodus Project set Terra back so far. It killed everyone with even an atom of basic critical thinking.
But before he'd put us in the field. We had to complete an "entrance exam". Something we did to show our fealty.
This is what Righty told me about earlier. He said he couldn't do it -- and had to back out.
You need to realize before I tell you this. I was young -- and stupid.
You're still one of those things!
They were fully grown men at this point. I was just a clueless teenager. I only knew it was right to follow my peers.
So, let me put it this way. We had to prove we were worthy assassins. And what else would we do -- but kill?
Velasquez wasn't satisfied with just anyone. We had to show that we held no remorse. That we killed with no hesitation at all.
To that end, he researched our pasts. He came up with very specific targets. Somehow -- he thought this was a good idea.
Let's review the facts. Velasquez:
* Maintains a fully open borders policy when his planet is suffering from famine
* Consorts with vaguely ominous powers
* Powered ahead with a science project he probably knew was dangerous, and in the end killed thousands of people including all the actually smart people on Terra
* Thought building one bar with a good enough apology for said tragedy
* Has absolutely no qualms about his own henchmen murdering those close to them to prove their loyalty
Maybe the Exodus Project was actually a scheme to get rid of anyone who was actually intelligent enough to question his rule. That's about the only explanation I can think of.
But I don't make friends, remember? In this situation -- I got off easy.
But Endymion -had- those connections. I watched him kill the people he loved. All in an effort to win over our King.
But this is where Righty ran away. He was close to PB and Phidget by now. Choosing his targets was easy for Velasquez.
But he couldn't do it. Not at all. He broke down and ran away in an instant. I never thought he'd be the type to run.
Why the hell didn't Velasquez order Endymion and Konrad to kill him to keep their "test" a secret?
And he barely leaves the rabbits alone. He thinks they might be targeted again. That someone will do what he couldn't.
I have no idea how to respond to this story. It was definitely the last thing I expected to hear.
We all swore to uphold our honor. We said we'd never tell anyone about this. But I guess -- I might lack honor.
I know that you won't repeat this. I trust you with this information. I don't think you're the type to talk.
HEY EVERYBODY, GUESS WHAT KONRAD AND ENDYMION DID!
But you know about our past with Righty. And why I don't fully trust Velasquez. It's possible that he wants Caylen dead.
Anyway, I'll let you get your rest. Please don't hold my actions against me. I was young back then -- and stupid.
You already said that.
And the writer seriously just recycled the line about Endymion getting up and walking away without saying anything.
It's hard to get a read on anybody in Terra. Just when I think I know them -- this happens. I almost can't believe what I just heard. Was siding against Righty the right thing to do?
I keep this conflict in my head. Best to not show doubt to those around me.
I notice a bunch of doors on the second floor. They must all be rooms for rent. I look from room 23 -- where I'll be staying.
When I eventually find it, there's a drawing on it. It's a stick figure and a rabbit figure, holding hands. Both of the figures are smiling. That's really cute. I look a little close -- it's signed by Phidget.
Wow, this is a really good drawing. It's a shame somebody's-HEY PHIDGET ARE YOU LISTENING DOWN THERE?-somebody's REALLY DEAD MOM can't look at it!
I unlock the door, and take a deep breath as I enter. Finally, I'll have some time to relax! I feel like this is a major victory.
But all it really is -- is the calm before the storm.
The 'calm before the storm' was two chapters ago. For Christ's sake, it was the name of the chapter.
This game just cannot stick to a scene, can it?
Or at least it'll make Righty do the same. Plair's days are now numbered either way. Thank you very much for your help.
But about this "savior" in your midst? That was kept a secret, even from me. It could be a great contingency plan.
I didn't think you'd sell them out, though. How do you think they'd feel about that?
Hasn't it been implied that PB and Phidget are basically teenagers?
Very well. You'll get your money soon. I'll have it delivered in a day or two. Perhaps you can buy Phidget a present.
Something expensive. Something that would remind him of his mom.
Money? We didn't do this for money, Riley. You said you had information about Mother!
I did? You must be mistaken, PB. Get things written down in the future. It ensures you won't get cheated.
Now, I didn't say you wouldn't get it. So you want information on your Mom, huh? Then I have another task you can do for me.
If Plair's anything like the real-life Trump, his staff are probably the people that hate him the most.
Of course he's not my friend. You're right about being my boss, though. But I hate that man. He's a stepping stone.
He's snagging up all the votes for me. When he's gone -- I'll take his campaign. And then the King's throne will be mine.
So Plair is running for King? What?
And if he's killed by Righty? Or even if the assassins get him? More reason to have them all executed.
What is the next task? In order to learn about my Mother.
I'll tell you soon enough, PB. As I mentioned, I have a contingency plan. So if you'll excuse me -- I'll be in touch.
Never trust a bellhop.
Yeah, he did.
He probably doesn't know anything about Mom. I bet he was just using us for his benefit.
Yeah -- he was. Don't worry, Phidget. He'll get what's coming to him.
Really? You think so?
I dunno, Velasquez seems to be doing pretty well for himself!