By popular demand there is an audio edition of this story. You can listen to it by clicking the triangle on the left to begin streaming audio, or clicking this text to download the MP3.
This is all your fault.
This is all your fault.
So Nothning was running away. You know his name, right? That's the little guy whose soul you hid your doomsday weapon in, or whatever the hell is actually going on there. That's one of the two loose ends I don't understand yet. But you scared the crap out of Nothning, and he ran away, and to the best of my knowledge, you have shadowy goons chasing him.
Nothning has two very dear friends. I'm one of them, and I certainly wouldn't have the brass to talk to you if I wasn't. There's me and Furnhang. The three of us have always been very loyal, so when he ran with assassins at his back, we tailed to protect him. In that horse chase, it was Furnhang that brained your guys with a yoke. In case that story's reached here, that was him. Not me. Yes.
Your eyes tell me the stories haven't reached here. Okay. We're little people, except Furnhang. He's the big guy, flowing golden hair. Obscenely attractive. He's in one of your cells. Was captured protecting Nothning.
You don't care. Why would you? You're evil. You’re powerful. You do things.
You should care because of these two ladies. When a guy is that charismatic, love interests follow. The first was this shopkeeper girl. Don't know her name. She never talks to me. Honestly, she's kind of a bitch. She was bent on following the golden-haired guy on his big adventure, which chaffed Pandling. Commander Pandling.
See, the shopkeeping bitch is in a rivalry with Pandling over who's going to bang/marry/live-happily-ever-after with Furnhang. So when Pandling hears that shopkeeper girl is following him to certain death, she's all, "Let me die for him too, and more tragically! Then he'll love me."
A commander doesn't follow somebody into contested territories alone. She is followed by her command, in this case some five hundred highly trained foot soldiers who unquestioningly followed her highly questionable lead. They crossed over and even your army shrank back. Which we appreciated, because you totally would have had us that night if you kept going.
It was pretty startling on our side, too. So startling that Pandling's fellow commanders thought she was making a power play and moved their forces in to steal the glory. That's why you had three hulking commands bouncing into the contested territories instead of one. None of these people were coming to help Nothning. They didn't even know he existed.
Too late. They do now. I told them.
The next part is entirely your fault. I assume it's you, or some paranoid admiral. Because no sooner are Nothning and I kicking back and relaxing, no longer fearing death amongst the thousand-plus heroes around us, then your freaking Serpent Fleet comes sailing up the coast. So now three commands are looking at dozens of corsairs and cannons. Were those warning shots? Because I thought so, but the commanders did not agree. You fired in the vicinity of three overachieving commanders and immediately they called in the aquatic cavalry. That is seriously the only reason you've got an oceanic stalemate right now.
I don't know what brought on the sky-whales. Didn't think those were real until they swooped through the clouds and started eating people. From the number of ogre skeletons in their droppings, I'm presuming your side doesn't have a much better handle on them. We have no idea what they're after. Commander Pandling thinks your cannonfire woke them up. Nothning thinks they're after your weapon.
Good damned luck finding my buddy, by the way. Thanks to everyone overreacting he's got the biggest, bloodiest crowd in creation in which to hide. And if the commands retreat, he’s going with them and letting them have your stupid weapon, even though as I’ve just described, these people are nuts.
But Nothning extends you this offer: if Furnhang and I go back to him alive before sunset, we’re going underground. Permanent style. Your enemy does not get the big doomsday weapon. You don’t, they don’t, and everybody deals with the sky-whales in their own way.
Up to you how this goes. That’s only how it’s unfolded so far. How it’s actually unfolded. Maybe you can team up with the commands and we’ll all survive this mess. I doubt it - I mean, I'll survive. Providing you don't kill me, I'm digging the deepest hole possible and staying down there until the smell of whale droppings fades. I just presume you're going to charge and get everyone killed, because that's the kind of stupid drama this situation seems intent on heading toward.