Perfect Strangers Chapter 1
Gorudo belched loudly. The highlanders were not amused. Culgan glanced sideways at Seed and rolled his eyes. Their rotund guest was the living embodiment of bad manners and rudeness. Krugan was surprised that Ruka hadn't had Gorudo flogged and beheaded yet.
Gorudo spoke up, "A toast, if I may, to my new allies!" The white knights to either side of him clapped their hands and cheered nervously, while Lord Luca stared at them across the table with a mix of curiosity and disdain. Gorudo followed, "It was wise of Highland to agree to my proposal for a neutrality pact with Matilda. I guarantee it will be worth every penny you've paid me--I mean, us." He jokingly elbowed his two bodyguards, "After all, imagine the trouncing that Jowston would have given Highland if aided by Matilda's mighty knights! Har har har!"
Seed clenched his glass with white knuckles, trembling. He imagined that any moment Luca would leap up and seize the fat braggart from the scruff of his neck and fling him out a window to the courtyard below, shattering his bones. Seed was no coward, but he was squeamish when blood was spilled. Fortunately, the unpredictable Ruka showed restraint... for now.
Luca grinned widely and strode over to Gorudo, who was now blanching a pale shade of white and trying to mask the trembling that started at his hands and moved up to his jiggling chins. Luca clapped Gorudo on the back vigorously and patted him on the head. "Yes yes, dear Gorudo. I too am pleased you've agreed to remove yourselves from this private conflict with Jowston. And I do hope that you live long enough to spend the money we've packed for you. After the war is over and Jowston's ragtag army of peasants lies crushed and bloody in their own wheat fields, please do come and have a drink with us again."
Culgan laid a sure hand gently on the hilt of his sword, but it didn't appear things were going to escalate. Gorudo seemed oblivious to the sarcasm that was dripping from Ruka's voice. Gorudo's small entourage of white knights however, looked as if they were all about to be sick or flee. One whispered to a comrade, "if Miklotov knew of this meeting, there'd be mutiny for sure. I'd hate to go up against the reds or blues."
His comrade nodded in agreement, but did not say a word, for he feared that Luca might overhear them whispering amongst themselves. However, Luca had other things on his mind as his back was turned towards the ever so attentive Highland and Matildian soldiers. He stared out the window and glanced at the long and twisting brick wall that separated the Highland and Muse territories. His eyes narrowed. Rowd banging on the table got Luca's attention as he quickly turned his head to see what the ruckus was all about.
Gorudo was being unusually disruptive this time around. First his lack of good manners, then he starts to bang his wine glass against the blue marble table, singing the Highland national anthem. His subordinates glanced at each other anxiously as he was making a complete fool of himself. Obviously he had a little too much to drink. Culgan sighed and wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his gloved hand. He took a deep breath and calmly said, "Sir Luca. It appears that Gorudo no longer has the mentality to speak or think coherently. May I suggest we send him home and we shall resume talks later?"
Gorudo's white knights now had their attention focused on the tall, grey haired man dressed in black and white. He spoke with calm and well-composed words as the large armored man stared at him attentively. Culgan quickly glanced at the knights in acknowledgment as he waited for Luca's response. Luca slowly paced back and forth several times and waved his large gloved hand towards his audience. "Very well. Gorudo, you must be tired and it's late. We shall resume this tomorrow." He strolled up towards the marble table and slammed his huge fist on the hard surface. "But next time, we will not be serving drinks." Culgan reeled back slightly, startled from Luca's sudden actions. He quickly regained his composure and promptly saluted the grey armored man.
"Show the white knights to the door, Seed. I have things that I must attend to here." Luca's eyes narrowed again as he gave the Highland general a cold, hard stare. Seed's heart began to beat wildly as Luca's deep crimson eyes flared at him with rage, but he remained calm as he nodded towards the crazed Highlander. Seed got up from his chair and motioned the White Knights to follow him. "Oh, and don't forget to pick up Gorudo from off the floor."
As Seed and the Matildian knights left the meeting room, Luca once again had his attention focused on the large brick wall that separated his land from the capital of Jowston. He gazed upon the well-crafted building that sat on top of Jowston Hill and smiled. Tomorrow, you shall be mine... He leaned his head back and cackled loudly, not realizing that his fellow comrade was still present in the room. Culgan peered over his shoulder and stared down upon the floor, trying his best to tune out Luca's maniacal behavior.
"Sir...." Culgan stammered.
Luca's cackling abruptly ceased as he turned his head and glared at the tall, grey-haired man dressed in black. He almost snarled at the Highland General but refrained from doing so. He took out a small scroll from his bag and held it towards Culgan. "Could you do me a big favor, Culgan and deliver this to the Mayor of Muse? I believe her name is...Annabelle." The silver haired man extended his right arm and took the small scroll from Luca's large, gloved hand. He nodded towards Luca and bowed. He then quickly turned his back towards Luca and headed towards the door that lead to the main hallway when the large gloved hand grabbed his shoulder.
"Oh. Culgan, I forgot to tell you. If the guards at Muse give you a hard time when you arrive, don't be afraid to let loose a little...bloodshed."
"Y...Yes, sir." Culgan replied as he nudged his shoulder slightly in an attempt to shake off Luca's gloved hand. When Luca removed his hand off the Highlander's shoulder, Culgan made a bee line towards the door and disappeared down the hallway.
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