“I see,” acknowledged Axel. “But it’s not really your hunting trophy anyway, is it? I mean one that you collected yourself... Unless it died of old age, that is, right at your feet.”
“Jeffers stretched up on his toes to see the back of the mob, “But James, we’re doing all this for you... We need this gold to build a united Alba. We need it to fund an army and to forge decisive leadership.” His voice was almost plaintive. “We want to hand your generation a real empire rather than just a loose collection of competing Families. We want to give you the foundations to achieve glory! What could possibly be wrong with that?”
“Rubbish!” cried Tristan, not about to let honey-coated nonsense dissolve the glue that bound his army. “Absolute codswallop!” he let his calm facade slip for the first time that day. “What you’re actually trying to do is to build a legacy that you don’t deserve! You want to swan around as an armchair General for the next twenty years while your precious army strives and dies for hollow victories that do nothing more than feed your ego! And do you know who strives and dies in this picture?” He waved one arm at the figures behind him. “We do! We here in this alley, along with other young men and women just like us!”
Tristan watched Jeffers from the corner of his eye, as he shook his fist towards deGroot, “Well we’re not having it! If you want us to fight and die, then we’re going to fight now, and we’re going to fight you! So come on down deGroot and take a swing!”
“It'll end in tears and they won't be mine.”
“Mick reached backwards without breaking eye contact and ran his hand across the door behind him, “See this?” he said. “This is my door. And no-one is touching my door today.” He shook his head slowly as if the issue wasn’t even up for debate.
Surle said nothing, just stared.
Mick swung his sword lazily, pointing towards the floor between himself and the infamous Marshal, “See this floor here? This floor is my porch,” he said. “And no-one is welcome on my porch today, especially you.”
Still nothing from Surle, just silence.
“So why don’t you just sod off like a good little lackey?”
“The sun was late, stuck in heavy mist. When it finally broke free there was no one to see, no one to applaud its sterling effort, because everyone in Freemantle was heading west. The burnt orange blaze of dawn made it look like they were fleeing a fire, but all knew that the real conflagration lay ahead.”
“A real Deadly Dolly,” sniggered Mick. And then, “Ouch!” when she whacked him.”
“The thing I can’t figure out,” Axel turned to gaze directly at the gorgeous Elf. “Is how we got drawn into this mess? A week ago we were just boys, bumbling about in our last year of study, and now we’re in the midst of events that will change the course of Alba’s future! How did that happen?” He tossed his hands in the air and shook his head. “These are our parents’ battles. This is our parents’ world. They’re supposed to hand over something valuable and precious, not suck us into a scarred and shattered wreck!”
Carolyn struggled to maintain her composure. She bit her bottom lip until it quivered in pain. “I don’t know how it happened,” she whispered, shaking her head, feeling guilty and tortured and evil and awful. “It’s not fair though.”
“Well, we’re in the game now,” said Axel, as he stared down at the deadly black blade. “And heaven help all those who stand in our way.”
“It wasn’t like that at all!” argued the Sleuth, looking around for support. “It was a heroic, selfless act of spectacular bravery! I should be worshipped like a god! Immortalised in song!” He struck a dramatic pose, “One man, alone and outnumbered, sacrificed himself for the greater good…”
“Immortalised in song, eh?” chuckled Mick. “How about ‘ridiculed in nursery rhymes’?”
“Tristan turned to face the Talon crowd and placed one hand on his own chest, “Our parents think that ‘compromise’ is a dirty word, a sign of weakness and neglect. They choose combat over concession every time. They fight for the sake of fighting because in their world,” and now he pointed out of the room into the distance, “every disagreement has to have a winner and a loser; life can never be a draw.”
“In an ideal world, he’d simply scrape the surface of his bottomless courage, carelessly slip off his horse, scratch his massive balls, and then stroll over to the Lair in his own good time. But this wasn’t an ideal world, Rawley’s courage reservoir was barely a puddle, and at that particular moment he had precious little below the belt worth scratching!”
“Rotten, dirty, back-slapping, wine-quaffing, haemorrhoid-hosting, goat-shagging, fart-sniffing, Crispin-loving, gold-snatching bastards!!!”
“But with trust we can strive to accept even what we cannot understand.”
“Narkotikas ir pestīšana cilvēka garam, patvērums tiem izmisušajiem, kam liktenis lēmis nabadzību vai garīgas slimības.! Tas ir remdinājums tiem, kas alkst pēc mīlestības, zudušajām dvēselēm mūsu garīgi pagrimušajā pasaulē. Galu galā- ja cilvēks vairs netic Dievam, sabiedrībai, pats savai vērtībai, kas tad viņam vēl atliek.? Nonāvēties.? Narkotikas ļauj cilvēkam dzīvot sapņu un cerību valstībā. Viss, kas nepieciešams, ir zināma mērenība. Galu galā- vai tad narkotikas nogalina tikpat daudz cilvēku kā alkohols un cigaretes, kā nabadzība un izmisums.? Nē.!”
“Robin Hood just called, he wants Sherwood Forest back.”
“My lust was fierce, you know that. I won’t say it was love, but it was deeper than flesh. My desire for you gave me hope that I could find joy in sex again, that I could approach the act with something beyond detachment and a need for base physical release. I had to have you, Jess, whatever the cost or effort.”
“The old orchid hunter lay back on his pillow, his body limp... 'You'll curse the insects,' he said at least, 'and you'll curse the natives... The sun will burn you by day and the cold will shrivel you by night. You'll be racked by fever and tormented by a hundred discomforts, but you'll go on. For when a man falls in love with orchids, he'll do anything to possess the one he wants. It's like chasing a green-eyed woman or taking cocaine... it's a sort of madness...”
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