Monthly Archives: December 2018

A Foppish Coup, Part 30

At the sight of Viola and Nalus, the nobles started to scream and protest. They demanded to see their families, the guard. Nalus was supposed to be on their side, and release them. This was a great indignity, how dare they be subjected to such torment!

Only two remained silent. Illyana Petrovich leaned against the back of her cell, forgotten. She stared back at Viola with open hatred. If these bars were out of her way, she would try to kill the countess, powers be damned.

And Lord Canterwright relaxed in a corner. A discontented sigh on his face, a wistful smile at the day gone by. He sat in the filth of his cell, looked at the iron bars, and whistled a happy tune.

“Viola!” Yoric screamed. “Viola, you witch! Release us at once!”

Viola frowned. She tapped her lip a few times. She mulled it over, weighing the pros and cons. And then smiled, giggled, and shook her head. “Sorry, Yoric.”

“Viola!”

“Countess.” Viola’s face hardened, and nodded to Nalus. He unlocked Yoric’s cell, and dragged the noble forward. “Thanks to the events of this morning, I remain countess.”

Yoric spat, and glared at her. “Do your worst. I do not fear death.”

“Death?” Viola asked. “Death? You think I’m going to grant you death?”

Her hands glowed blue. She clapped them against his thigh. Yoric cried out, the cold searing into his flesh.

His screams silenced the rest of the nobles. They couldn’t protest, could barely look on. Viola released his face, only to grab his fingers. His screams intensified, scrabbling away. Nalus held the man fast. His own face looked on, impassive.

“God’s sake, stop this!” Someone shouted.

“Stop?” Viola asked. She released one hand, and snapped her fingers. Yoric’s hand froze solid.

“You don’t get it, do you?” Viola asked. “Did you think I was going to let you all go with a stern warning? Write your parents, make a request for punishments that would not come?”

Another snap, and Yoric stuck fast to the floor, his feet frozen to the stones. “You committed treason. Asked for my head. I do not forgive this lightly.”

Yoric whimpered. “Sienna! Save me, Sienna! It’s Yoric, your friend!”

Viola smiled. “Sienna isn’t here. As if I’d subject that poor girl’s ears to your simpering.”

“Our families will hear of this!” Someone shouted. “When they know what you’ve done, you will pay.”

Viola stopped, and looked back at the nobleman who dared speak. He looked back, sweating but defiant.

“Your families?” Viola asked. She turned to Yoric, frowning. “Yoric, will your family defend you?”

“Y-yes,” he stammered. “They shall.”

Viola snapped her fingers. A blast of cold shot out of her fingers. Smaller, but with far more fury than she had ever before unleashed. It tore into Yoric, striking his heart. The cold froze his heart, and he toppled over, dead.

“Apparently not.” Viola shook her head.

Someone screamed, and then another. When a third fainted, Viola sent a blast of cold over him to awake the fool.

The countess stepped over Yoric’s body, and looked at the nobles. They cowered, suddenly truly afraid.

“None of you get it. You are all just playing at revolutionaries, hoping to be victorious before life’s pains catch up to you. So let me be abundantly clear.”

Her eyes glinted. “Nalus, explain.”

“Your families are now being escorted out of their homes. On suspicion of conspiring in an attempt on the countess’ life. All estates, possessions, and anything of value is confiscated by the countess, and their lives now hang in the balance.” The counselor’s words echoed in their ears. If they could scream, they would have.

“Nobles…” Viola spat. “You’re not even that anymore.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

A Foppish Coup, Part 29

Viola loved the common folk, in her particular way.

She loved their straightforward nature. They wanted to kill her, and end a tyranny that they had been told was real. And when presented with the facts, or better yet her facts, they turned on the true villains. Bound those they once called master, led them through the forests, and dumped them upon Viola’s doorstep.

Viola ensured that each member of the force was duly paid for their troubles, and food was sent to their families. Other promises, such as looking at new tax policies, and perhaps a knighthood, were talked about. The countess might even grant them.

And when the new force was persuaded to leave, the real work began.

Nalus stood by Viola’s side in the court room. She addressed the kitchen staff, the gardeners. The maids, the soldiers. Thanked everyone for their service, especially in such a trying time. And promised that nothing like the abuse they had to endure would ever happen again. A new day was dawning, and they would be the true force behind the throne.

“Pretty words,” Nalus said as the staff left.

“I meant them,” Viola said. after a moment, she conceded “mostly.”

Nalus grunted. “How long did you know of the coup? Really?”

“Since the ball.” Viola said. “I had several long conversations with some soldiers, and found that they were getting several large payments. Bribes that seemed unnatural. Even the slightest investigation started turning over some truly disturbing plans. After that, my countermeasures started to fall into place.”

Nalus nodded. “The people.”

“The nerve of these nobles.” Viola said. “Or better yet, the stupidity. That pretty words alone could jumpstart a revolution. There was no force, no economy behind any of their platitudes.”

“While you had helped the real people, the salt of the earth.” Nalus marveled at her. “All while appearing the silly noblewoman in the wrong job.”

Viola giggled. “Oh, you know, Nalus.”

“The treemen, the guards. Was Sienna a part of the plan?”

Viola laughed. “Sienna can never be planned for, Nalus. She is so…innocent. So good, so willing to do anything for the grand plan. A true self-starter.”

“A dangerous thing.” Nalus warned.

Viola placed a hand on his cheek.

“I am the only dangerous thing. Now, let us see what the traps have caught.”

Nalus chilled. “Now, countess?”

“No time like the present.” Viola said. She got up, and led the way.

“Do you know why the people were willing to betray me?” Viola asked.

“Not at all.”

“It’s because they didn’t know me.” Viola said.

“That’s what all leaders say.”

“And for the most part they are right.” Viola turned at the edge of the throne room, and paused. They were going somewhere she had actually never been, no matter how much Vlad had threatened it.

“Nalus?”

“Close by,” The counselor said. “Behind the red tapestry.”

Viola frowned, and pulled back the tapestry. A wooden panel stared back at her. She rapped her hand against it, and smiled. “Ah, Konstantin manse.”

Nalus pushed the panel away, revealing the stairwell down.

“See, Nalus?” Viola said. “What we do not know, we view with suspicion. And to know something cannot just be told. We have to experience that something is not dangerous, powerful yet kind. Being told of one’s compassion is worthless. It has to be felt.”

“And you couldn’t simply bring this knowledge to the nobles?” Nalus asked.

“The nobles knew me.” Viola looked towards the cages, and the people within them. Her smile widened.

“Or at least, they thought they did.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder