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A Turn in the Game

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Cabanela stood behind and to the side of General Beauty and focused on Emperor Sith while forcing back the building rage and fear.

“And what of Queen Alma?” Sith asked. “Has there been any sign?”

“No, Your Majesty.” Beauty replied. “There’s been no word yet. It’s a long way down the Baren Falls. She may not have survived the fall.”

“Yes… But say she does. Well, my good man?” Sith directed at Cabanela. “You’ve been in Figaro for quite some time now. Rumours have reached my ears you even had a certain closeness to the King and Queen.”

“Rumours are only that, Your Majesty. I will say I’ve never been one to turn down an advantage in the gaaame.”

“Hmm, well said. What do you think Figaro will do? What will Queen Alma do if she survives?”

“Figaro has always opted for peace. Now they’ve lost an ally in Doma while we grow in power. They would be fools to declare war on us and Queen Alma is no fool.”

“Yes, yes. They will be vulnerable. Now may be our chance.”

“If I maaay, Your Majesty, the destruction of Doma was also foolish.”

“Watch your tongue,” Beauty snapped.

“His Majesty has made his feelings on the matter clear,” Cabanela cut in calmly.

“We were lucky to turn it to our advantage this time,” Sith said. “Go on.”

“Once word of Doma’s fate has spread it will garner outrage and sympathy for the lone Queen of Figaro. It’s true we may be able to handle Figaro, but Figaro and every ally they can muster?”

“You said it yourself, we grow in power,” Beauty said.

“Growing yes, yet teeell me, how many of our own did we lose in Doma? Poison’s such a tricky thing to control, isn’t it?”

“That wasn’t—.” Beauty started coldly.

“That’s enough, General,” Sith cut her off. “We’ve discussed the matter already. What is it you’re suggesting, man?”

“Simply that we hold all the cards. Why not play the game?”

“What, cut a deal?” Beauty sneered.

“And why not? We could attack Figaro. We may even win in the end and sew the righteous seeds of anger and rebellion. Ooor, Figaro can be given a chance. Queen Alma can’t afford certain risks, can she?” Cabanela asked pointedly and was satisfied to see the small nod from Sith. “Think of it, if Figaro, despite everything renews our alliance what hope does any nation have against our might combined? If Figaro can set aside our terrible deeds, for the greater goood of course…” he trailed off.

“Egads, that’s a nasty turn of mind you have my good man.” Sith shook his head. “Such a waste your choices made my decision necessary. I do hope you’ll prove yourself once more.”

Cabanela swept a low bow. “My loyalties remain true, Your Majesty.”

“Hmph, I look forward to seeing so.”

“You wiiill.”

“Enough. I will take everything under consideration. You’re dismissed. General, I want a word with you.”

“As you wish,” Cabanela said and straightened. He bowed his head to Beauty and took a certain satisfaction in the cold stare she returned before leaving.

A pity he hadn’t found any cracks in the throne room yet. He’d love to know just what they were discussing. Still his leash was too short these days, and he had to take every advantage of these times it was lengthened that he could.

He passed through the palace halls and sent a silent apology to Alma. She was alive. Any other possibility was inconceivable. That much he clung to but things were going to get trickier from here.

Sorry baby, but if anyone can run circles around them it’s you. I just need time.

He would take the Empire’s trump card and together with Jowd they would return to Figaro. He would bring all his knowledge of the Empire to the table. Together they could face this and they would.