The Emperor left the chamber with Rupert Tillinghast in pursuit.
“Wait,” cried Tillinghast. “Durant, please don't leave.”
“I'm not leaving,” the Emperor replied, “I'm just going to get some company and then we'll be in a better position to negotiate.” And with that, he continued walking.
Rupert walked nervously back into his chamber, and turned to his other visitors.
“Is something wrong, sire?” asked Claude.
“Seems like it,” Tillinghast replied.
Djoland hopped off Raquel's shoulder, and moved towards the distressed king.
“I speak for all of my friends when I say I'm sorry. We had no idea.”
“Thank you,” said Tillinghast. “You do realize how awkward it is to hear that from someone like you?”
“I know,” Djoland replied. “Also, I must say you have quiet the lawman.”
“He can be rough,” quipped the king, “but I can't deny that he can get results.”
“I do what I can do,” Claude replied. “By the way, is Pixis with you, Raquel?”
“Just a minute,” Raquel answered. She picked the still sleeping elf out of her breasts, and placed him on the balcony. She nudged him a couple times before he awoke.
“Where am I?” he murmured.
Claude responded by extending his hand, and helped Pixis up.
“I take it you slept well,” he said with a smirk. Before Pixis could answer, he suddenly realized what his friend was saying was an innuendo, and he quickly became defensive.
“For your information,” he began sternly, “I merely tolerated what she did to me.”
“Did you now?” Claude asked. But before Pixis could respond, he spotted Djoland standing next to Tillinghast.
“Uh, sire,” Pixis said nervously. “What are you – ?”
Before he could finish though, Emperor Durant walked back into the chamber along with a couple of armed escorts. Durant eyed Djoland, and Pixis, then turned to Tillinghast.
“More 'friends,' Tillinghast?” he grunted. “This is perhaps the most transparent form of blackmail I've ever seen.”
“If this is blackmail then what do you call that?” Claude asked while pointing at Durant's escorts.
“I call it a precaution,” Durant snapped.
“Sir,” Raquel announced, “no one is trying to blackmail you.”
“Then what are you doing here?”
“I was just looking for a home for Djoland here,” Raquel replied as her eyes fell on the orc.
“And why would an orc want to live here?”
“I'm an exile,” Djoland answered.
“An exile?” Durant laughed. “That's rich!”
He then looked up at Raquel and asked, “And what are you, royalty, I suppose?”
“Close,” Raquel replied. “My father is a senator.”
Durant fell silent, and then began to laugh nervously.
“You're joking,” he replied. “Aren't you?”
“She isn't,” said Pixis.
“Was I asking you?” snapped Durant.
“But I'm right.”
“I don't care,” Durant shouted.
“He's right,” said Raquel, “I wasn't joking.”
Durant fell silent again. He turned to his escorts, and said, “Return to the Dauntless.”
The soldiers nodded, and departed. Durant turned his attention back to Raquel.
“Tell me more,” Durant requested.
“There isn't a lot more to say,” Raquel continued, “other than that we have a parliamentary government, that does have its faults, but it works well enough for us.”
“I see,” Durant replied. “How did your kind create this government?”
“It's a long story,” Raquel answered, “but we basically went through dozens of violent revolutions and regimes until we finally got to where we are today.”
“Fascinating,” Durant replied.
He then turned to Tillinghast, and said, “I think I'll reconsider your offer. The orc, however, still worries me.”
“The feeling is mutual,” said Djoland. “It's not every day you talk to the ruler of one of the most powerful, and feared empires in all of Hayone.”
Durant smiled, and said, “Thank you. It's good too see that you now know your place after that little stunt you pulled.”
“What?” Djoland asked.
“Don't play dumb with me, orc,” Durant grumbled. “You had a whole armada of airships that was blown out the sky by just one of our airships. Does the Dauntless ring any bells?”
“It doesn't,” replied Djoland. “You're thinking of the Fangtooth Tribe. I was part of the Daggerclaw Tribe. We're all about naval power.”
“Ah,”Durant exclaimed. “I apologize for my ignorance.”
“So you trust me now?” Djoland asked.
Pixis, after being patient for several minutes, gave into his prejudice and declared, “Don't listen to him! It's trick, I think, I mean, I know it is!”
“Okay, that's it,” said Raquel, and with that she stuffed the elf back in her cleavage.
Claude let loose a small, but audible laugh, and asked, “Why tolerate such a 'cruel and unusual' punishment' when you can be trying to escape?”
“I have my reasons,” Pixis answered.
“I think I'm gonna go for a little walk and talk things over with Pixis,” said Raquel.
“Hey Lee,” Kane cried out. “Check this out.”
He pointed down to a gully outside the city where a small army had gathered. Lee focused his telescope on the army, and was surprised to see that the army was composed entirely of orcs.
“What are they?” asked Kane.
“More competition,” Lee grumbled. “Pack your things, men, we've got company.”
With that, he collapsed his telescope, and began to mount his horse. Hayden peered through a pair of binoculars and said, “You're making a big mistake, my friend.”
“How?” Lee fired back, “They're obviously looking for the same thing as we are.”
“But they can be of some use to us,” Hayden protested.
“How?” Lee asked again. “They're just a bunch of brutes.”
“With all due respect, Lee,” Kane announced, “I think we should listen to him. If we go up against them, we'll lose a lot of manpower.”
“Not to mention our lives,” Hayden quipped.
Lee, reluctantly dismounted from his horse and said, “Okay, Hayden, what do you have in mind?”
When Raquel found herself at suitable distance from the castle, she pulled Pixis out of her breasts and held him up to her face.
“You have quite the attitude problem today,” she grumbled.
“But you don't understand!”
“No,” Raquel interrupted, “I understand perfectly, and you're way out of line, little man.”
“Out of line, me?!” Pixis shouted. “ You're the one who wants be friends with that green skinned brute!”
“You know,” said Raquel, “Ii I didn't know any better, I'd say you're sounding a lot like Klaus.”
“Take that back,” Pixis snarled.
“Not until you cut it out with the orc hate.”
“Never, don't you remember what I told you about what they did to Terranaculous?”
“Yes,” Raquel answered. “But Djoland said that was different tribe.”
“How do you he's not lying?”
“How do you know he is lying?”
Pixis paused for about four seconds, and then blurted, “I don't, I mean, I just know.”
“Well,” said Raquel, “do I sense a bit of doubt from you?”
“Yes, I mean no, I mean maybe, I mean I have no clue!”
“Ah,” Raquel cooed. “I see that spending some time around him might have softened you up a little bit. Tell you what, if you promise to behave yourself, you'll go back to the castle.”
“I promise,” Pixis answered meekly.
“All right,” said a smiling Raquel. “I take back that rather incendiary comment.”
She then began to make her way back to the castle.