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Gambits - The Iron Rook I

The Iron Rook I

"You want to assassinate the royal family?" Duncan repeated the elder Sage's words slowly; doubting every word.

"I prefer to call it a silent coup, but yes." Sage Ordon replied with a calm smile. As if they were talking about taking a nice sail down the Riverlands, rather than a plot of high treason.

The Sage had appeared at his castle, deep in the woods, entirely out of nowhere. Though Duncan was not a man of gods, not anymore since they saw fit to take his son and wife from him, he felt obliged to allow the Sage to stay in his home. And he knew that he came here for something specific, no one, just passed through here, there was nothing along the way.

Ordon said he had come to speak with him though that was rather obvious, but he held his tongue until they could speak in private. Duncan had an odd feeling about all of this, so he waited a couple hours before allowing the Sage to see him privately. He told Ordon to rest, his journey was long and tiring, and when the old Sage didn't protest, Duncan set his servants to tend to him while he sat alone and contemplated his choices.

When he concluded his thoughts, and believed that he made the Sage wait long enough, he sent for Ordon. As Duncan's private office was at the top of the castle's high tower, it was a long wait. But when Ordon entered the rounded room he did not complain about the many stairs, almost seemed to enjoy the trip up them. Before saying anything, though, Ordon checked around the room to make sure it was empty.

Save for the two pairs of full bodied plate armor by the back wall, the place was practically empty, they being the only bodies in the room. There was a single arched window with no glass nor shutters by the back wall, but the tower was so high up that only shouting could be heard from down below.

Through the window a cold breeze rolled in, carrying the sweet scent of pine, that made Ordon shiver. He had forgotten that the people of the Northern lands had never truly felt the cold, not even in winter. They probably never even heard of snow, let alone seen it. He started a fire for the Sage, even though to him it was warm enough.

While he did, Ordon walked over to the window to look out it. The window had a clear view of the forest surrounding the castle. The clearing stretched out a quarter of a mile, while the rest was towering pine trees. And further out in the distance, where the slopes started to rise, were the edges of the mountain where snows would fall on the pine tree's glazing them over in white color, making them sparkle in the sun. Though it was summer now, some trees at the mountain's edge had that cover of snow and frost.

"This is a beautiful view you have up here, my lord." He said.

Duncan finished making the fire, it wasn't too big but should keep the Sage warm if he sat by it, and said, "That's why I come up here. But you didn't come all the way here to enjoy the view, you wanted me specifically."

Ordon turned to grin at him, and said, "Very perceptive indeed."

They then switched places, Duncan moved his chair, the only chair in that room, to the fire for Ordon to sit in, and Duncan stood by the window to stare out it; as he had done so many times before. Ordon then, after taking one more cautious glance around the room, told him of why he came here for Duncan, and of his plan to overthrow the royal Kirch family.

"What you're proposing is high treason."

"What I am proposing is a revolution, a change to the system of hierarchy."

Duncan stared at him intently, judging him, and thinking on his next decision. Soon enough he made his choice, and walked around his desk to the door, leading out of the tower. Next to the door was a small rope, Duncan tugged on it a few times and then waited in patient silence. After several minutes a young serving boy, with his shirt half tucked in, his face flushed, and his blonde hair a mess, came into the room. "Yes M'Lord?" he inquired.

Duncan glared at him in annoyance, and Ordon's face went white with fear. As if his plans had suddenly backfired on him.

"Go fetch me a padded chair, one from my bed chambers. Then you may go back to stuffing the chef's daughter, got it?"

The serving boy swallowed the lump in his throat, his face grew redder, and said, "Y-yes M'Lord, right away!" He then scurried out of the tower, and Duncan shut the thick wooden door, turning back to Ordon.

"An end to the hierarchy? No more Kings, or Queens? A completely new system?"

"Correct," Ordon said, calming down now that he saw Duncan wasn't going to betray his confidence.

"Honestly, I cannot fathom it, who would rule?"

"Naturally we still need leaders, but we would have a system for choosing the best possible leaders from around all the lands. It would be a group united in ruling Argolas, over just one man. We take a leader, a good leader, from all three lands, and a high Sage to make up the leaders of Argolas."

He knew what this really was now, taking power from the king, pretending to give it to the people equally. But all the while the Sage's would hold the greatest power in the world. I've heard worse ideas, after all, how bad could the men and woman of the gods really be in comparison to the rest of us?



"And what exactly do you need of me?" He asked showing just enough interest. "You do, after all, seem to have it all figured out. So what could you possibly need of a humble lord such as myself?"

"I need others to help me rule when the king has fallen and the new one to come is too young to lead. And should things go bad, well..."

"Then it's better to have a lord who doesn't have anyone to raise banners and go to war to avenge their death. You don't seem very confident in your own plans, Sage. It's rather, an unsightly deal breaker."

"I have every bit of confidence in my plan, I assure you," Ordon said agitatedly. "It will not fail, but sometimes there are things just out of our hands. So I must prepare for the worst, should the Judge deem my actions truly unjust."

Duncan scoffed, mumbling quietly to himself, "There's no justice in this world." If Ordon heard him, he said nothing to indicate so.

He then got out of his chair and went over to the window to stare outside. He was silent for a time, a long time. Meanwhile, Ordon waited patiently for his response. Eventually, he said, "This is, of course, a lot to think about. I'll have your answer on the morrow. I'll let you, and your guards, stay in my castle and offer you whatever accommodations I can while I make my decision."

"You've already made your decision my lord. But only time will tell you if it was the right one. All the same, by your request I'll leave you be until you summon me again." Ordon bowed his head politely and left the tower room, making a slow descent down the spiraling stairs.

Sleep came hard for him that night. His decision on the morrow could very well change the entire world. Or it could get him his head cut off, this all sounded like a scheme, something to root out the enemies of the crown. No, he quickly decided, no this was sincere, despite how hard it was to believe it was real.

Ordon had come with only a handful of loyal guards, to protect him on his travels. And Duncan's men scoured the entire woods to make sure there were no others hidden, in case this was all a trap, but they found nothing and no one.

He thought about the offer all through the night, and all that would come with it, should they succeed. He was but a humble lord, no one of great importance or influence, and his son, who was so young and outshining him in every way, had died in a skirmish years past. Now the very world was in his grasp, and when the sun rose, he met the Sage, to take it.

The next morning, Ordon seemed more relieved than pleased to hear Duncan was joining him. Before leaving, Sage Ordon handed him a chess piece made from Iron and said, "You, my lord, you shall be my Rook."

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