“Oh vile day!” the tired monarch, looking older than ever, exclaimed. “How could it ever have come to this?”
“Is it true, then?” asked Miranda, working mother and Prime Minister of Britannia. “Can there be any doubt?”
Nystul, longtime court magician to Lord British shook his head. “None at all. The divination was quite clear.”
No doubt, indeed. No question, at all. Their greatest hero, the realm’s greatest hope, had perished. Not even the puissant arts of Lord British, enhanced as they were when seated on his throne and wielding his artifacts of office could retrieve Britannia’s most famous paragon.
Miranda looked to the faces of all assembled in the council. British looked positively poleaxed; it was indeed a wonder how he had managed to keep his throne for centuries while being so utterly useless in times of crisis. Nystul was not much better, falling into his usual worried, fussy expression. Sir Geoffrey, Captain of the Guard, was trying to make a brave show of it with a somber mask, but Miranda doubted seriously if he would be of any use for a while. His long retirement from adventuring had certainly dulled his edge. The choked sobbing from Julia the tinker demonstrated what use -she- would be.
It seemed the only two others on the council who had not succumbed to despair were the warrior woman Syria and the Gargoyle envoy Wislem. It was not much to work with.
“So...” breaking the silence was awkward, but necessary. “May the Avatar know peace. But ourselves, we do hath little time for mourning. The realm is in open revolt, and we are all but besieged in this castle. How shalt this be righted?”
“Righted?” Julia hissed. “How canst thou speak so? Our last, best hope hath fallen to a watery doom.”
“Julia’s right,” said Geoffrey. “With the Avatar gone, we may as well surrender. What else can be done?”
“We may still rely on other resources,” Miranda replied calmly.
“Name three,” Geoffrey challenged.
Miranda counted off on her fingers; Geoffrey and others at the table were a bit slow.
“One, your own guard.”
“Two, the magic abilities of His Majesty and Nystul.”
“Three, the Paladins of Trinsic.”
“Four, the Order of the Silver Serpent.”
“Five, the Mages of Moonglow.”
“Six, the Gargoyles loyal to Lord Draxinusom.”
Lord British interrupted, “Enough. Thou hast made thy point. But... this is most irregular. Britannia hast never been saved from danger by its own government.”
“It did seem blindingly obvious to me.”
“It will never work,” Nystul argued.
“To inquire why not?” Wislem asked.
“Well,” said Nystul. “Uh, well. Uh. It just won’t. Look here, guards, paladins, kings, and mages cannot be expected to save the world for us. That’s what heroes are for.”
“In case thou hast forgotten,” Miranda pointed out, “thine ’hero’ just slipped off an absurd trap and is now feeding the fishes of Pagan. ’Tis the purpose of this Council to decide on a new course of action. There is only one thing we can do.”
“Yes,” said Nystul. “We must summon another hero. ’Tis a slim hope, but the only plausible way.”
“Well advised, old friend,” British agreed. “Much better than the absurd notion that we try to solve our own troubles. To the throne room!”
Nystul, British, Geoffrey, and Julia marched out.
Miranda shook her head in disgust, and with a howl of frustration, began to bang her head against the council table.
“To not understand the purpose of your action,” said Wislem.
Miranda sighed. “I hath misplaced mine gavel. I was adjourning the council.”
“To understand now.” Wislem left the chamber.
Syria stretched in her chair. “This ’civilization’ hath not just made us soft, it hath made us stupid as well. How many of those blathering idiots would I need to kill for us to seize the throne ourselves?”
Miranda smiled sadly. “All of them, I’m afraid. And hundreds more like them.”
“Name a better use for our time,” Syria muttered darkly.
Miranda thought. “Luckily, British never did hath much of an idea of what went on outside these castle walls. When will Sentri return?”
“Some time after nightfall, at the very least.”
“Bring him here when he does.”