Stephen sat back as the carriage bounced along the long drive to the plantation house. Damien love for this antiquated mode of transportation infuriated Stephen, how could Damien expect to lead their people into the future and overcome the dirty emeralds if he was so attached to things from the past.
Slowly they approached the house; Stephen watched the tree on either side of the drive as they arch in over the dirt drive, as if you were passing through a dark tunnel into the past. The pillars of the plantation home were perfectly centered in the middle of the drive and dominated the view of anyone who approached.
The carriage slowed to a stop in front of the entrance to the home, one of Damien’s underlings approached and opened the carriage door for Stephen.
“Good evening, I am Louis.” He explained. “I will be here to assist you while you are here.”
Stephen looked him over, he was tall with an aristocratic bearing, his midnight black hair was slicked back and the paleness of his complexion highlighted his green-eyes. Stephen could see the weakness hiding behind the eyes, as if he had been tired of living and Damien or one of his underlings had used that against him in order to convert him, but they had not counted on his lack of enthusiasm for the opportunities that this existence provided, the powers that could be claimed in this form.
Once again Stephen was struck by the poor choices that were made by Damien on a regular basis. In Stephen’s cold eyes all of the setbacks that they had suffered over the millennia were due to Damien’s incompetence.
“Please announce me to the master of the house.” Stephen ordered. “I wish to meet with him at once.”
“We have already dispatched a messenger out onto the estate to locate the master and inform him of your arrival.” Louis explained. “I was instructed to wait with you and make sure that you are made comfortable. Would you like to be shown to the rooms that we have prepared for you?”
“No, that will not be necessary.” Stephen said. He wanted to send this lackey away and not have to deal with him slavish demeanor, but he knew that the rules of civility that Damien adhered to were strict, and sending this envoy away would be seen as a slap in the face by the Crown Prince. “Please just slow me to whatever room that I might meet with the Master.”
“Of course,” Louis responded. “Please follow me this way.”
Louis led Stephen through the house and unfortunately mistook a turn of the head by Stephen as interest in the architectures.
“This was originally an indigo plantation when it was built, we had an issue with a fire that destroyed most of the original structure a little over a century ago, but we have been able to rebuild and the master has been very pleased with the comfort of the home.”
Stephen withheld the scoff that tried to rise from with-in him. Damien had spent far too must time over the last several centuries ensuring his own comfort at the expense of his people. This damnable truce that he had spent the last century and a half working his way around would never have happened if Damien could have withstood some hardship to earn what should have rightly been theirs. Stephen remembered back to the days when he had ridden alongside the Demon Son into battle. The depravation and filth that they had fought through, the suffering that they had endured in order to defeat the ottomans and drive them back from the homeland.
Suddenly Stephen realized that the simpering fool Louis was still in the room with him prattling on at length about the building and its history. Stephen was interested in building empires not estates, those underlings of Damien’s were surer sign of his unfitness to hold the reigns over the empire that was to come. Finally after an interminable time Damien arrived to meet with Stephen.
“My brother, please accept my welcome to Thorn House.” Damien exclaimed on entering. “I hope that my pack have been caring for you well?”
“You man here has been regaling me with the history of this magnificent structure while we have waited.” Stephen responded. He could not believe that Damien would dare to call this collection of misfits that he had a pack. Stephen saw that they we worth nothing more than to be thrown on the swords of his enemies, a fate that he planned to soon present to them.
“Good. Louis, leave us.” Damien commanded. “Lord Bathory and I have much to discuss in private.”
Louis rose and exited the room, drawing the sliding door shut on his way out.
“How goes your plans?” Damien demanded.
“Well, my Lord.” Stephen responded. “I have reports that all of the players have fell exactly onto the board as they must. I believe if we simply wait a little longer and then make a final move to confront the Trickster, then he will be driven into making an open assault on us here. This will force the Bard into admitting that they have broken the truce and to take action against them. We will then be free to go in and pick off the pieces at our leisure. By the time that bloated old fool the Highfather comes to their aid, it will be all over but the bloodletting.”
“What do you have planned for your final stroke against the Trickster?” Damien asked.
“I am leery to divulge the full details at this time, but I have found a weakness in his most trusted advisor.” Stephen declared. “One which will allow us to both remove that piece from the board, as well as push the Trickster the little bit more that is necessary into making his biggest mistake.”
“What if the others interfere?” Damien asked.
“The Dark Lady has them firmly under her control; she will not allow them to step into our business.” Stephen assured him.
“Good, Good.” Damien chanted. “You have my undying trust, Lord Bathory. It is through your hands that my new Empire will rise.”
Stephen smiled knowing that the trust this soft fool had for him would be his end, and the rise of Stephen as the true and only heir to the Empire to come.
Stephen was drawn once again out of his revelry by the voice of Damien.
“I have just come from inspecting the camp we had set up for the Morlock’s at the edge of the plantation.” Damien stated. “Everything is in readiness there.”
“Thank you my Lord.” Stephen said. “I will be having Lady Kali and some of my lieutenants arriving shortly, to aid in the preparations. Once Maddox has arrived I will have him take command of his salvages.”
“Splendid, I will now leave you to your work, Lord Bathory.” Damien said.
As Damien exited the room Stephen knew that soon he would be out from under those ridiculous coattails.