Only Fools Complain: Cp28B

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Only Fools Complain
Chapter Twenty-Eight – Part Two

And More Family

It was Aden that asked, “Lord Harbest, who did Prince Aneron take as his second wife?”

“Oh, he did not claim a simple thing like my daughter. Prince Aneron had plans for his life. He claimed Princess Northevy.”

“What? But she was married to –“

“Don’t think that you are the only lady to have a husband that frequented the bars, Princess – Hell, you’re family – Aden.”

It actually pleased me to hear Mersidda pipe up to defend her fellow wife, “Aden is a princess, Father.”

“She is my daughter, I guess that is what she is to me, so I can just call her by her name if I please.”

Aden said, “You certainly may, assuming that I can call you, ‘father.’”

“Considering what my wife was trying to say about you, I see no reason why not. It might cause you trouble with your actual father being here, but I allowed him in as being family.”

Baron Behammir said, “And I assure you that I will give you a similar honor should you visit my home.”

Considering what had been said, I did not press for more information. I instead felt it best if all assured a pleasant association before more troubling words were related. I did think over what had been said, but stayed quiet while meeting more of my new family.

It was good seeing Emoya again. She warmly received my wives, and showed them to a room that she said should accommodate us. After handling certain basics, Mersidda and Aden followed as Emoya took me about and introduced me to those I had yet to meet.

Learning that I was from Thiminy, a number wanted to hear about my king. I could verify that he rode a centaur, wiped out armies without the help of his own army, and some other things, but also had to admit that some claims were also simply legends among us of the land. Learning that I recently killed a dragon, and that my king had a dragon in his service made those creatures a common topic.

Baron Behammir’s men did come through by supplying a couple of deer and some ducks. The birds were hung to be used in a later meal, but the venison prepared for the evening meal. My wives were given duties, and I allowed myself to be given assignments in helping those of the holding. After a day of work, the food seemed to taste just that much better. While the conversations during the meal was pleasant, Lord Harbest supplying some strong drink afterward let us know that it was time to speak on other topics.

Since people had focused on a certain subject, I decided to set that as my first question. “Whose dragon did I kill?”

Lord Harbest answered, “Prince Aneron’s. Securing the monster had won him some honor among the local heroes. The fact that you killed it did not hurt him, as you did not then speak in favor of the king. The word is that everyone is recognizing you as a major player in the events, but that with you going off with your wives everyone is able to focus on their own squabbles. Prince Aneron is claiming that his ability to claim one dragon still has merit, and there is no word of his supporters losing faith in him.”

Baron Behammir asked, “So, Prince Aneron is attempting to usurp the throne?”

“Yes, under the claim that the king is not able to properly protect his kingdom.”

“He has been doing a good job of keep us of Mernill from invading.”

“Prince Aneron’s propaganda mostly speaks of internal problems. I believe that the situation with Nemurk was to emphasize that.”

The voice of General Chalarsh sounded confused as he stated, “But that was his own home.”

“It didn’t suffer –“

“Bull, Father,” Mersidda said. “There were monsters. Berair fought a whole nest of flayers.”

I put my hand on my youngest wife even as I supplied the answer to her question. “Prince Aneron knew about them, but I doubt considered them a problem. In fact, he considered them to be an asset as he used them to work to secure Aden for whoever that mage is.” I then directed my words to those around me as I said, “That might work against Prince Aneron.”

Lord Harbest said, “No, as long as Aden is not in the family, he does not care where she was at.”

It was my mature wife that spoke in response to those words. “If Aneron was going to claim the king’s throne, why couldn’t he leave Therlik to rule over Nemurk?”

It was Mersidda’s oldest brother, Denidden, that answered that question. “Honestly, he probably did not trust Prince Therlik. The guy was rather deceitful.” I saw Aden nod. “While most of his stunts were fun-loving, some were close to cruel. Prince Aneron thus probably could not trust what Therlik might do.”

Lord Harbest picked up the conversation. “And Prince Aneron definitely could not trust Therlik’s boys. Without a male heir, Prince Aneron did not have a secure future for the home. Aden had however secured the future for her husband, but those were seen as just future rivals.”

Attempting to make sense of what I was hearing, I said, “So, when I brought down the shell around Nemurk one of the armies I saw was that of Prince Aneron, who has plans of becoming King of Peranty. The other would be that of Peranty. They were around Nemurk, because that was a sign of Prince Aneron’s influence.”

“Yes. If he could win there, he would be able to claim the power to march on Peranty unopposed.”

“Why? The high nobles agree with him?”

“Well, I believe that they were annoyed with the king, yes. I just went through years of flooding. I turned, as I was supposed to, to my noble for aid. The whole damn river flooded though, so I was not the only one petitioning Baron Norvaum. I am sure that he in turn sought aid from his superior, Duke Menishall. In turn, because of other situations, he turned to King Chellor. I did not get much help, so I have to believe that my duke and baron did not get much help. That does make me think that the king is presently not seen that favorably.”

Baron Behammir said, “Well, the weather has been a little unusual lately, but the nobles of my land prepare for things as best we can. I have worked with my gentry, and found my superiors to do what they could to work with me.”

I felt that I had heard enough, so put my hands on my wives as I mentioned, “Well, I don’t want to get involved in a matter of internal politics. That is something that does not actually gain anyone any glory. It can prove beneficial to one’s status, but that won’t help me back home.”

Considering the number present, we were eating outside. Lord Harbest did have a wonderful estate, but with the quality of his visitors and the knowledge of what would be discussed a number of surrounding families had also arrived. We however turned out heads as another magically appeared. The mage that I had once met while eating now moved to the table near me while waving to the others present.

“Aden is not the first lady I desired that chose another. You could have told me at the time, Berair.”

“I knew nothing about you.”

“I obviously did not know enough about you.” He put out a hand to me as he introduced himself. “Lord Thorevin.”

I shook it while saying, “Sounds like a real name. I expected you to still claim to be called Benign.”

“Oh, I can tell that this is a family gathering. It is also true that there are people who know my real name. Isn’t that right, Aden?”

My mature wife replied, “I did not know you were interested in me, Thorevin.”

“Let me turn the conversation.” A hand of the mage shot out to point as he commanded, “Stay quiet, Behammir. As a mage I maintain a wider circle of contacts than just local dignitaries. I told you, Berair, when you came into my chamber that I knew Thiminy had been contacted. Well, I also knew that Aden had been made a widow when Aneron came to me to put the shell around Nemurk. Since she was originally of my same realm, I felt that she would appreciate gaining a husband that would return her to a place she knew well.”

Aden interrupted to say, “I don’t know your family, Thorevin. If there is one thing that has pleased me about Berair is his words about his family.”

“I will keep that in mind as I approach other ladies, Aden. Thank you, still let me stay on topic. I thus knew about Aneron’s attempt to become king. I gained other reports from other powerful figures, not exactly those of us that use magic. That means that I learned of the importance of Aden. You were contacted, Berair, or at least your king was, because it was the only way to prevent Aden from becoming a political pawn.”

My mature wife again broke into the mage’s speech. “And if I have any reason to give respect to Baron Norvaum, it is for that.”

“Think about that, Aden. Why would Baron Norvaum, your previous father-in-law, do that? He had his young son, and grandsons, killed due to the influence of his oldest child. He could have gained you a husband that would secure his own control over his land – his land, Aden – and broken any manipulation by Aneron.”

I now broke into the flow of words. “Baron Norvaum seemed to come around. My contact with him was most positive.”

“And when was that, Berair?”

Suddenly, I felt that Thorevin was not just continuing to talk due to being egotistic, but because he really had a complicated point he wanted to present. “I did not meet the man until after I cleared out the flayers, then started to work on the shell.”

“Okay, now let me supply another piece of information. The reason I knew Thiminy had been contacted was from Berallid contacting me. He wanted to make certain that I would not get mad if he disrupted my shell. Honestly, he did not think you would bring it down. The trick was to give Baron Norvaum an argument that he was not supporting his murderous child.”

Thorevin actually went quiet. He was looking at me, so I suspected that he could see the expressions crossing my face. I did not look to him, but as my eyes moved about I saw Tamesa move to refill Mersidda’s glass. In looking at her, I thought of what liberty I had been offered with her. Suddenly, a possible conclusion to Thorevin’s points came to my mind. I thus spoke to see if he had actually been making sense.

“Baron Norvaum has other sons.”

He smiled as he said, “Yes. Not by an actual wife, but he won’t be the first man to recognize a bastard child.”

“So, Aneron should be without any real support.”

Baron Behammir now spoke. “Well, not from his home domain. Aneron however has the support of those he pulled to stand with him.”

Aden asked, “Are you here to prepare for war, Father?”

“No. If I was, Thorevin would not be attempting to get your husband to understand the situation. However, we of Mernill are worried that if Aneron wins then we will have a border with a monarch that will kill his own brother and nephews, and subjugate one wife by taking another wife. Berair gained you and Mersidda at the same time by no collusion of his own, and both of you are speaking well of him. I suspect that Aneron will however kill his present wife, who has only given him girls, should she not act right.”

“By the gods, and I thought that I had an unhappy marriage.”

I however had to say, “All this is leading to something directed at me, but I don’t get it. I have no loyalty to Prince Aneron. That should be well understood. However, I have no loyalty to King Chellor either.”

Thorevin said, “The reason I am here, the reason Baron Behammir is here, is the same thing. In his case, he was concerned. In my case, I learned that his concern was unnecessary. You see, Berair, you might have become his son-in-law, but you also removed the reason he was worried about Aden.”

“You are talking about the flayers.”

Baron Behammir said, “Yes. Aden, I am not here to prepare for war. However, I am here to alert our king should the kingdom of Peranty become unsettled from an eruption of monsters. I have schemed with my viscount. Due to the placement of his land, he can expand his realm to incorporate properties from Peranty. I can raise my status to that of viscount while my viscount restructures his realm to include Aperkin, which includes a county, so he will become a duke.” He then turned to the mage to ask, “However, are you here to prevent that?”

Thorevin replied, “Uh, maybe. Berair, just how bad do you think the flayers could be?”

I answered, “They were a serious threat, but I had learned how to fight them.”

“Right. Behammir, your son-in-law killed those flayers. He then killed a dragon. What Aneron is doing is presenting the case of having humans acting as bad as any monster. Our king is worried about having a serious monster infestation on one of his borders. What I am here to do is see if Berair would be willing to help us assure the containment of any threats of corruption. Yes, armies against armies might keep our part of the world rather disrupted. However, as leaders of the people our job is to assure the welfare of the common people. Monsters will not only disrupt our battles between each other, but they will disrupt the lives of the common citizens. I am thus here to see if Berair would help us curtail any eruption of monsters.”

One would think a man would take his wives and go home, but Berair does not want to leave problems behind when there is family involved.