The General had been aware of what was coming for over an hour, but only so much preparation would be possible. Everything was packed and waiting to be taken away. As far as anyone would know the aging General Bard would be going to a home due to declining health. Soon Mister Tals would be arriving in Wrexford to take possession of a lovely estate that he purchased with his inheritance from a dearly departed uncle. If anyone inquired General Bard will have passed away in his sleep, not that anyone would be looking for him now.
But that was not worried the General now. He could feel the approach of the Trickster. This worried him since he had made his position clear on their last encounter.
He made his way to the main entrance to greet his guest. He had already let go all of the staff and no one was left to disturb them.
“So two visits in the same decade,” Bard joked. “I am starting to think you do not know when to give up.”
“I am not here for frivolity, General.” Robin barked. “I hope to make one last plea to convince you that you need to intervene in order to preserve the stability of the world.”
“HA, why do you think I would believe that you would care one ounce for the stability of the world?” Bard responded. “You have done more to upset the stability of the world than both Bathory and the Thunderer combined.”
“I do not care for the stability of the world as it concerns your people, General.” Robin glazed at him. “But you do. I have in the past caused trouble for my brothers, and undermined their position with the Highfather, but I have not once in a century and a half broken my oath to the truce.”
“Yes, well of the three of you only your oldest brother was worth anything.” Bard mumbled. “Oh, don’t be so surprised. Your brother and I were friends. Even with what the Dark Lady did to me I have always judged your family by their own actions and not the actions of the others.”
“Gwion, please?” Robin said, knowing that using his birth name would shock the General. “How will your people feel if they are brought under the power of the Demon Son. Despite how you feel about us, we are one of the few things that have stood between him and the total subjugation of the planet.”
Bard could not respond for a moment. He understood that Robin spoke the truth, he had lived with the painful insight to understand that this truce was all that created the stability and progress that man had made in the last century, and he also understood that if the Demon Son could find a way around it he would trash the truce in a moment. Only the combined threat of Himself and the Highfather together would keep the hordes at bay.
“But until the terms are broken I will not be able to intervene,” Bard mumbled. “You of all people understand this. In all this time, neither the Demon Son nor Damien has failed to uphold the terms. Only once in all this time have a needed to intercede. You remember that day.
Robin mind played back the moments as Bard spoke.
The walls of the Ice Palace gleam brighter that the whitest star. Robin had been sitting waiting for his audience with the Highfather for over a week, the unsetting sun hovering over him in place. This time of year being slow for the Highfather he was known to take his time with minor issues, but Robin was nothing if not patient. He had concocted a new scheme that would sink his brother greatly in the Highfather’s opinion and was relishing the anticipation of springing it.
When the doors to the audience chamber burst open and his brother stormed out Robin was momentarily started and thought his plans had gone awry.
“How dare you speak to me in this place in that tone?” Thor bellowed
It took a moment for Robin to realize that Bard trailed on his heels.
“I am here as the arbiter of the truce, and as a member of the royal family you are bound by it just as the others.” Bard challenged him. “The Dark Lady has poisoned your mind with her psychotic dream of war and bloodshed leading to a single empire of peace.”
“Don’t you speak of my mother that way.” Thor responded, raising his hammer to strike Bard.
Robin intervened and restrained his brother from striking perhaps the only being on the planet powerful enough to withstand him.
“Bard, you have said your peace, The Royal family acknowledges your authority in this matter.” Robin said. “It is now time for you to take you leave.”
Bard turned and departed never once backing down from the hulking prince’s gaze. Once he had gone Thor finally relaxed in his attempts to strike out at the mortal.
“Bah,” Thor growled. He pulled away from his brother and struck the wall beside him with such force that tiny cracks sprang from the spot.
“What is this all about?” Robin asked.
“The ancient dust eater has come to chastise my in the presence of the Highfather.” Thor raged. “How dare he speak of mother that way?”
“Well,” Robin reminisced, “She did try to eat him once. I suppose he might hold a grudge for that. Technically she succeeded too, although that backfired on her completely. I do think he had a point of you inheriting her impulsiveness.”
Thor glared down at his brother. Robin enjoyed the aggravation that spread across his brother’s face and decided to push the issue farther.
“So what was he up in arms about to Father?” Robin asked.
“I was patrolling the border, and discovered some suspicious activity by what appeared to be those vermin.” Thor explained. “When I went to deal with the situation I was forced to defend myself from a throng of them.”
“Damien’s underlings had the audacity to cross the border?” Robin asked, knowing that a break in the truce could lead to all-out war.
“No, I had to pursue the interlopers back to their territory.” Thor explained.
“You attacked a brood in their own territory?” Robin exclaimed. “Were you trying to break the truce?”
“Those vermin have been biting away at our heels for fifty years, I am tired of it, we sit here and wait while they prepare. I will not be caught unready when the day comes. I will face them head on.”
“You thick skulls cretin, we would never be able to survive an assault from the blood sucker if the Bard is standing against us as well.” Robin insisted. “We must act with guile and wit in order to get the upper hand.”
“You and your constant scheming,” Thor growled. “Will I never know an end to your ceaseless plans? The backstabbing, the conniving, I am done with it.”
Thor slammed his hammer down to the polished floor and began to remove the scabbard holding his sword.
“What are you doing?” Robin asked.
“I am done with all of you, the politics and the intrigue.” Thor cursed. “Maybe I can find men of honor among the mortals. Men who are prepared to face an enemy on a field of battle.”
Thor stopped and thrust the bright blade into Robin’s hands.
“Father always wanted it to be Orpheus anyways.” Thor mumbled.
Robin remembered watching Thor leave that day.
“The minute the Highfather told you that the sword was truly to be yours it changed you.” Bard said bringing Robin out of his revelry. “No longer could you thumb your nose at the Highfather and his crown-prince, for you were responsible for the fate of your people.”
“And what of it?” Robin snapped.
“Your brother was right.” Bard retorted. “You have allowed the responsibilities of the crown dull your edge. You did not choose to come here. You were advised to come. By whom?”
“You well know the answer to that question.” Robin said.
“Then why have you not asked the obvious question.” Bard continued. “He should be able to tell you what to do, why have you not loosed the tongue that tells no lies? I will tell you why, for he is as afraid of what he was, as you are afraid of what you have become. When you both accept that fact then this might turn in your favor. Until then there is no hope for anyone.”
He turned and left leaving Robin to realize that he would hear no more from the Bard.