“A man should beware of praying for justice when he truly wants vindication. He might just get what he asked for, and it is never a pretty thing when we all get exactly what we deserve.”
– King Pater of Callow, the Unheeding
There were too many parts in motion for me to keep track of them all, and I did not like the feeling in the slightest.
Late in the night Lord Yannu Marave arrived in the Arsenal, though given the hour I elected not to reach out to him until morning. Now that the representative for the Dominion was there, the right amount of high officer for the Grand Alliance had gathered and the trials could begin. A round of messengers sent to all involved saw me get answers as I broke my fast with Vivienne just before Morning Bell, the two of us catching up over warm pastries by Hakram’s bedside. The necessary official talk we’d gotten out of the way the day before, at least when it came to getting me up to speed about all she’d been up to, so we’d allowed ourselves the luxury of an hour or two for ourselves. It ended up being less than that, inevitably, as the last messages came while she was on the tail end of a rant about living so close to the seat of Proceran power.
“If I receive another subtle yet suggestive poem from a secret admirer, I’m going to start setting the Jacks after them,” Vivienne told me, at least halfway seriously. “I’m actually pretty sure two of them actually hired the same poet to write for them because the rhymes were suspiciously similar.”
I answered with an amused snort.
“Any fish work hooking in there?” I teased.
“Please,” she dismissed. “Like taking a Proceran to bed wouldn’t be horrible politics even if those trying their hands weren’t either ambitious fools or spies.”
“Terrible politics,” I agreed, without the faintest hint of irony.
I’d been taught by some very fine liars, after all. And it had truly been that to dally with Frederic, admittedly. Terrible, delightful politics that did that delicious thing with their hips. I seemed to have gotten away with it, though, so I’d not get greedy and ruin it by dallying again even if the thought was occasionally tempting. A knock at the door was followed by another messenger being allowed in, passing along a written response. Hanno had been the last to answer, not by lack of punctuality but by being the hardest to find. His agreement to the first trial – the Hunted Magician’s – being held half past Noon Bell was dropped by Cordelia’s impressively prompt one and the Lord of Malaga’s slightly slower answer.
“So?” Vivienne asked. “Are we starting today?”
“This afternoon,” I replied. “All agreed.”
In the wake of wrapping this up, I’d spring on them the Concocter’s own punishment. None of this was supporting Hasenbach outright, but prompt and severe consequences for my Named who’d stepped out of line ought to make it clear the reins were still being held. As long as the trials for Above’s didn’t end up spoiling the brew, anyway. The Mirror Knight had not tried to escape imprisonment and the Severance was back under seal, but my polite inquiries had made it clear that Hanno did not see a trial as something to discuss in advance. I’d expected as much, honestly, given that I was dealing with the Sword of Judgement. I still didn’t like that I’d be going in blind there, but there wasn’t really anything I could do there – under the Terms this was the White Knight’s show, and no trespass of mine there would go without swift and severe answer.
“Yannu Marave’s considered a pragmatist by his countrymen,” my dark-haired heiress said. “Not aggressive by nature, though he’ll be extremely thorough in answering slights. So long as you don’t end up touching the Dominion’s bottom line, though, I don’t see him being trouble.”
Hasenbach had intimated as much, but it was good to hear the same talk coming from a source I could trust wholeheartedly.
“The crowns do matter,” I admitted, “but it’s the White Knight that’ll be the keystone.”
The Terms were, ultimately, a treaty between Named. The nations that’d signed on did so mostly as guarantors of rights and privileges, not legal authorities – Procer, Callow and Levant all had a seat in the tribunals but in the end it was the White Knight and the Black Queen that passed sentences. It’d have a lot more of an impact if Hanno had issues with my rulings than if nation did.
“True as that is,” Vivienne calmly said, “what is left to do now, save pulling the trigger?”
I’d never won much arguing with the truth, so I let the conversation end on that.
Putting the staff together for this hadn’t been all that difficult, since the members of the Arsenal could serve as a ‘neutral’ entity to draw people from. Not the Named, of course, but the scholars and mages and priests. I’d decided to avoid any trouble by drawing on scholars for the scribing work, and from Vivienne’s own staff for the rest. The ever-useful Lady Henrietta Morley – these days no mere landless aristocrat but instead Viv’s own private secretary – was recommended to me as someone capable of handling details and timing, so I put her in charge of handling transcripts and evidence.
For all that this was a formal trial under the Terms, it appeared somewhat haphazard at first glance. At the high table the tribunal sat, with Vivienne representing Callow and the rest as expected: Cordelia Hasenbach for Procer, Yannu Marave for Levant and Hanno for the heroes. They’d all been provided with a list of the accusations laid at the Hunted Magician’s feet earlier today, which weren’t actually all that numerous. ‘Aid to an enemy of the Grand Alliance’ on one count, for having cooperated with the Bard against the Arsenal, then one count of ‘unprovoked assault on allies’ for the gas canisters he’d opened in the Stacks and one count of ‘accessory to attempted murder’ for the illusions he’d woven when attempting to help the Red Axe get Frederic killed.
I’d spoken with the Concocter, who would have had a right to lodge a complain considering the gas in those canisters had been her work in the first place, but she’d declined to pursue the matter. Through me, anyway. No doubt she’d be making a deal of her own with the Magician without my being involved. Of those charges the ‘aid to an enemy’ was the most severe, the deceptively mild wording mostly a result of it not being possible to call it treason when there were so many different crowns and jurisdictions involved. It was still considered just as severe, though, and it’d be the driving force behind the harshest part of his sentence.
The Hunted Magician had come dressed soberly but smartly, having put on an embroidered pale green vest over a white long-sleeved shirt and loose dark trousers. Like most the times I’d seen him, he looked more like a wealthy nobleman in casual clothes than any sort of mage. It was all well-cut without being ostentatious, which was halfway clever of him: it was a shallow thing, but people tended to favour those who looked well. Look too rich, though, and pretty or not that appreciation tended to turn to antipathy with some. He’d straddled the line well, which only had me further convinced that he was highborn and not from a lesser line. In Procer in particular, the difference between those who dressed well but subtly and those who were garish with their wealth was one of the ways to tell apart those whose ‘nobility’ was an old thing, often preceding the Principate itself, from those who’d risen to higher station more recently by sword or coin.
I’d already been on my feet when the Hunted Magician had been escorted in, made to stand on bare stone as behind a set of wards and guards the assembled high officers of the Grand Alliance sat and watched him approach, so I only needed to limp a bit before I stood by his side. The man turned dark eyes on me, face blank, and I leaned in a little closer.
“Keep your head,” I murmured. “They’re not out to get you but no one here wants you to wiggle out either, least of all me, so take your lumps and walk away.”
“I helped your man,” the Magician murmured back. “Do not forget it.”
“I forget little, Hunted Magician,” I coldly replied. “And never aid given to my enemies. Best you don’t forget that either, yes?”
He’d been well-taught enough not to grimace at the reminder that even the help he’d given Masego when it came to Quartered Seasons hardly made up for the hand he’d had in the storm that’d swept over the Arsenal. A great deal could have been mitigated, if he’d not decided it would be the height of cleverness to make a deal with the Wandering Bard. Mind you, if Tariq hadn’t insisted we hedge our bets when it came to her such a deal might have smelled of the noose enough the Magician wouldn’t have dared. Past a certain point, fault became such a many-faceted thing there was little practical point in pondering it. I turned away from my charged and faced the tribunal. Cordelia was unreadable, Hanno lightly frowning and Yannu Marave looked already bored. Vivienne, clever thing that she was, was spending more time looking at the other members of the tribunal than anything else.
“I’ll not trouble you with an excess off ceremony,” I said. “You’ve all already been made aware of the breaches of the Terms the Hunted Magician has been accused of. For the sake of formality, I will list them once more: aid to an enemy of the Grand Alliance, unprovoked assault on allies and accessory to attempted murder. As representative for the villains under the Terms, these are the charges I will lay against him. Do any of you intend to present further charges, or contest those I have laid down?”
“I do not,” the First Prince calmly said.
“No,” the Lord of Alava bluntly said.
Vivienne silently shook her head, but like me her eyes were on the White Knight.
“Yes,” the White Knight said.
My fingers clenched around the length of dead yew in my hand.
“Elaborate, White Knight,” I said.
“Your charge of ‘accessory to attempted murder’ would attaint the Red Axe of said attempted murder before she’s stood trial of her own,” Hanno said.
Which was, I grimly though, actually a good point. Sure any idiot could tell I was right to call it that – there wasn’t a lot of room for interpretation in the act of hacking a sword at Frederic’s neck – but the Terms functioned because I passed judgement for villains and Hanno for the heroes. Neither of us could or should trespass beyond that boundary.
“I’ll not withdraw the charge,” I said, “but I would offer assurances that I would not consider the Red Axe in away attainted by it.”
“Callow agrees with such a compromise,” Vivienne calmly said.
It was a cheap trick, agreeing with me quickly to put the pressure on others, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t be effective.
“Levant agrees as well,” Lord Yannu dismissed.
Cordelia’s cool blue eyes were slightest bit narrowed in thought, but she did not hesitate as soon as she was satisfied she’d parsed out the implications.
“The Principate is in agreement,” she flatly stated.
Eyes went to Hanno, whose frown has deepened ever so slightly.
“I am wary of influencing opinion in another trial even with such a compromise,” the White Knight said. “Yet I can recognize that opinion is not bound to be settled by law, and so it should not be objected to on such grounds. Under such an assurance, I withdraw my objection.”
Well, first hurdle passed. From there, it was mostly a matter of presenting to the tribunal what I was making my own judgement on. By Henrietta Morley’s practiced hand my witnesses were brought in one after the other, those made to present in person at least. Unprovoked assault was the easiest to prove, so I started with that: two scholars who’d been made unconscious by the gas, a healer to certify none of those affected had any lasting consequences – which would have made it more than mere unprovoked assault – and the Magician confessed to the theft of the canisters and their use when pressed.
“If the canisters were stolen, why is theft not being laid as a charge?” the First Prince asked. “I believe those were property of the Principate, as well.”
The Concocter had made those as a possible tool for Cordelia to quell riots bloodlessly, apparently, and created them using Proceran coin. But I’d known about this in advance and prepared for it.
“The canisters remained the Concocter’s property so long as they were in the Arsenal, and she’s declined to lodge any grievances,” I said. “Lady Morley?”
The noblewoman had a signed statement by said Concocter backing up my words brought forward, and after it was made clear that the loss of the canisters and their content would be folded into the repair budget for the Arsenal after the raid instead of forcing Procer to pay for the same goods twice she had no further objection. We moved on to the slightly trickier one, accessory to attempted murder. Two officers – one Levantine and one Callowan – were brought to describe the illusion woven, which had been of the Prince of Brus acting and speaking aggressively. Marave spoke up for the first time, just to make sure his countrymen would face no retribution for baring steel on a prince of the blood, and lost interest as soon as he was reassured this was the case.
My case for this was weaker, and in truth some would have folded it into ‘aid to an enemy of the Grand Alliance’, but I was actually doing the Magician a favour here. By making him part of someone else’s attempted murder, in this case the Red Axe’s, I was preventing him from being accused of having tried the same thing only on the Bard’s behalf. Trying to get a prince of the blood – and hero – killed for the Intercessor would warrant steep consequences, while helping a heroine in her own fumbled attempt was not quite so grave. He wasn’t a fool, and he obviously knew the Terms in and out, it was almost eagerly that the Hunted Magician confessed to an act I had only moderate proof of him having carried out. After Yannu Marave watching out for his fellow Levantines I got no interruption, and we swiftly went on to the last of the charges.
“First, I want to remind you that even at this very moment the Wandering Bard has yet to be designated an enemy of the Grand Alliance,” I said. “It was not a breach of the Terms to have dealings with her when the Hunted Magician did. What was a breach, however, was how information like the location and inner dealings of the Arsenal – a secret location – were revealed to an outsider. It was when the Bard then masterminded an assault here that the Magician’s actions became ‘aid to an enemy’. In this light, it seems appropriate to water my wine.”
“Traitors should only know one kind of mercy,” Yannu Marave replied.
Most people in the room knew enough about the Dominion that he didn’t have to slide a finger across his throat to actually spell out what he meant. That he didn’t bother to do it anyway made him a fairly subtle man, by Levantine standards.
“It is not appropriate to speak of the sentencing before the trial is finished,” the White Knight cut in, tone even. “Is there a reason for it, Black Queen?”
“Informing deliberation is part of her responsibilities as representative for Below’s champions,” Vivienne coolly replied. “Failing in that duty would truly be inappropriate, unlike what you’re currently fretting about.”
The Lord of Alava let out a chuckle, looking more interested than he’d been in the better part of an hour.
“Fighting words,” he approvingly said.
I cleared my throat.
“I spoke to this to make clear that I believe the Hunted Magician’s breach of the Terms was done not out of malice but out of ignorance and incompetence,” I said.
The man stiffened behind me but had enough sense not to argue my words.
“Indeed?” the First Prince of Procer said, eyebrow quirking.
I suspected that, after the last few weeks, Cordelia was rather enjoying watching one of we troublesome Named squirm in discomfort.
“Absolutely,” I told her. “The Magician’s fault came as a result of wildly overestimating himself, when in fact his arrogance and simplicity allowed a genuinely malicious entity to make use of him as a tool.”
The Magician twitched at my words but kept his mouth shut. Maybe he wasn’t entirely beyond salvaging, then. Evidence over his conspiracy with the Bard was sparse as wheat fields in the Hungering Sands, but that was seen to by the simple magic of having told him in advance that if he took his fucking lumps and confessed I wouldn’t need to treat him as a liability. Through gritted teeth, the Proceran confessed to having had dealings with the Bard. He left out as much as he could, as I’d expected, but even the bare bones were damning enough. His saving grace here would be that he hadn’t actually killed anyone here directly, which hadn’t actually been all that difficult to prove: all our dead and wounded were accounted for, the reasons for their state more or less clear. His responsibility there was indirect, which left me some wiggling room even with the gravity of the aid charge.
I‘d finished making my case, so without further ado I asked the tribunal if they wanted to deliberate before recommendations were made to me. Hanno did, but no one else was in favour so he conceded and we went on straight to the tribunal offering its recommendations.
“I trust in the judgement of the Black Queen,” Cordelia said, opening the game with a measured smile, “and I expect that her sentencing will be fitting.”
Easier to say, I supposed, when you already knew what that sentence was. Still, she’d left herself some room to manoeuvre just in case what I’d told her I’d pass as a sentence wasn’t what I’d actually say now.
“We should be fitting his head for a pike,” Lord Yannu said. “But if he’s just an idiot, as you say, it’d be a waste. Levant will settle for flesh instead of a skull, Black Queen.”
I nodded. Not exactly a push for moderation, that, but it was signaling that the Dominion would be satisfied so long as the punishment stung. The details of that punishment, though, they hardly cared about. Vivienne did not speak, since it would have been quite the empty game if she’d pretended she had the right to speak with Callow over me, so it was Hanno that spoke next – but only after a long silence spent carefully choosing his words.
“There must be visible consequence to aiding a common enemy,” the White Knight eventually said. “And given that the breaches seems to have been committed on personal grounds, the consequences should be personal as well.”
Mhm. He’d been careful not to actually suggest a sentence – knowing that whether I then followed his suggestion or ignored it there’d still be trouble from some quarters – but it was clear he wanted a few metaphorical fingers broken. Nothing permanent, I meant, but at the very least lasting pain. The tribunal would have the right to comment once more once I’d offered the ‘draft’ of my sentence, and I suspected he was keeping his comments limited until we got there. Nothing I’d heard now went against what I’d planned, so it was a simple thing from there: I simply shared the sentence I’d already told Hasenbach I planned to hand down. Loss of the right to refuse assignments, then a fine equivalent to the sum of the damages done to the Arsenal repeated for every signatory member. Pensions for the families of the dead got a grunt of approval from Lord Marave, but otherwise he seemed skeptical of the punishment until I specified the fine could be repaid in work.
The prospect of Levant having access to a highly-skilled Named enchanter brightened his eyes, especially considering that with the established debt there wouldn’t be a need to pay that enchanter.
The Hunted Magician himself looked appalled, at first, but as the initial surprise passed he looked thoughtful. He’d figured out the advantages for him, then – ties to three crowns, and good reason for each to ensure he stayed alive after the Truce and Terms ended and the Accords replaced them. Satisfied he wouldn’t be a stick in my wheel going forward, I returned my attention to the tribunal. The First Prince, content I had kept to my word, gave her seal of approval promptly. The Lord of Alava was not far behind, and mostly symbolically Vivienne agreed for Callow. The last to speak was once more Hanno, and he was studying the Hunted Magician closely.
“It is a measured punishment,” the White Knight said, “but it lacks consequence.”
My brow rose. I’d been pretty severe already, so I wasn’t exactly inclined to bite there.
“Coin is coin,” Hanno said. “But such a failing should not be kept under wraps. Let his breaches be made known to all Named. Let sunlight burn out the rot, so that something wiser might replace it.”
Mhm. Well, it’d be a humiliation for the Magician but it wasn’t like the specifics of the assault on the Arsenal were going to stay secret forever. He couldn’t lose respect the heroes already didn’t give him, and my own lot would be more inclined to mock a failed plot that condemn it on moral grounds. I could actually kind of see what Hanno was going for, there: if the Named under the Terms became a community, then reputation would start being worth a lot more more. It’d become something worth taking small losses to preserve, if it was actually useful, and serve as an incentive to keep one’s word. It was worth encouraging, and not unreasonable to ask.
“Agreed,” I said. “The breaches and sentence will be made known to all Named under the Terms, if not the details of the trial.”
He nodded in thanks, and another round of consultations got me the unanimous seal of approval from the tribunal that I did not need but had definitely wanted. This had, to my surprise, actually gone pretty well. The Concocter’s own punishment wouldn’t require a trial like this, but I’d wait until later to make it known to the high officers seated in the room – there was no need to muddle the waters by doing too much at once. A semi-formal occasion sometime this week would do just as well, with an opportunity to voice issues should there be any. This wasn’t like hitting a tavern with friends, so when the business was done we all parted ways after the proper courtesies were offered. I’d intended on thanking the staff I’d borrowed personally, including Vivienne’s own, but the White Knight lingered long enough to catch my eye so I passed that duty along to Vivs and accepted the implied invitation to go on a walk.
Considering Hanno had made it clear he wasn’t going to be discussing the trials in advance, I was pretty curious about what it was he actually wanted. I was doing a lot of limping in hallways with important people these days, I mused, to discuss all sorts of concerns. I was going to have to see about getting some of this done seated, or else I’d need to arrange for more of the brew that made my leg sufferable without drawing on Night.
“Your leg is paining you,” Hanno said, eyes narrowing as he studied me.
Not the start I’d expected, but true enough.
“That’s what legs do,” I dismissed.
“I will refrain from small talk,” the White Knight told me. “We can slow, if you prefer.”
“Thought you said we wouldn’t be doing small talk,” I grunted back.
I’d never learned to take pity all that well, even when it was kindly meant, and I was starting to feel to old to try. The dark-skinned hero didn’t even blink at my bite. I supposed he was used to it, by now.
“The First Prince has approached me several times now,” Hanno said. “She has several intentions, but foremost among them is securing agreement for the Red Axe being tried under Proceran law instead of the Terms.”
I didn’t bother to fake surprise. Even odds he’d be able to tell even if I did, and we were largely on the same side besides.
“I’ve heard the speech as well,” I said, then after mulling it over threw him a bone, “from both her and the Kingfisher Prince.”
The White Knight did not look all that surprised, but he nodded in thanks anyway. Yeah, I wasn’t surprised that the First Prince hadn’t tried to win him over through Frederic. The Kingfisher Prince was his subordinate, in a sense, and it would have tripped a lot of those Proceran unspoken law to bring attention so clumsily to the divided loyalties of Prince Frederic of Brus.
“I would not impugn your character,” Hanno delicately said, “yet I imagine a diplomat of Cordelia Hasenbach’s skill would have not prepared an offer easy to refuse.”
I decided to be amused instead of insulted, after a beat. He was asking whether or not I’d been bought by whatever it was Hasenbach had offered me for my agreement, in this case Procer’s seal of approval on the Liesse Accords as they currently stood. Hanno had been right in both suspecting an offer would be made to me and that it’d be a very tempting one, so I’d forgive him on account of that and the delicacy of inquiry.
“I didn’t bite,” I bluntly told him. “My priorities haven’t shifted, White Knight. First is winning this war, second is establishing the Liesse Accords. Most everything else is noise.”
Not entirely true, since my neck would bend some when it came to the preservation of Callow, but in essence I stood by my words. I’d rather fight this war in Procer now, even if it got ruinous to my kingdom’s treasury, than on Callowan borders in a decade with fewer allies and resources to call on. It wasn’t going to make me popular, but I could live with that: there was a reason my abdication was set in stone.
“I believed this would be the case,” Hanno admitted, “but I had to ask. The intensity of Procer’s overtures over this worries me. It smells of desperation, and despair makes for a poor councillor.”
“She has reason to be worried,” I admitted. “We both had traitors, White. If it’d been only my lot she might have been able to write it off as Below’s usual perfidy, but yours have arguably been making more trouble with her. Add to that the three fingers calling the Mirror Knight to heel cost you, and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. We’re not looking all that reliable.”
And, in an ironic twist, for once it was the heroes who were looking like the problem child. Between killing villains, bleeding princes and dabbling in coups, it had to be said that Above’s champions had not come out of the last month looking pristine. My lot looked better in comparison, amusingly enough, but much as it pained me to admit it that might not necessarily be a good thing. Villains weren’t the ones bringing the trust to the table, when it came to nations backing the Terms. A risk had been taking on Below’s folk in large part because I was riding herd of them and I’d shown a lot of goodwill to the leaders of Levant and Procer. That and I’d established early on that I was perfectly willing to kill villains if they stepped out of line. In the end, though, it was the heroes that brought trustworthiness to the Truce and Terms. It was their reputations, their record, that justified all the twists and turns and compromises that were being had to keep Named mustered and pointed at Keter.
If they were no longer trusted, we had a problem.
“I have worries myself,” Hanno frankly replied. “Most urgent among them the First Prince keeping the remains of one of the Seraphim. Even were she not attempting to make some sort of sordid weapon out of it, I would be troubled: such a thing is not to be trifled with.”
I grimaced. Glad as I was that the White Knight shared my misgivings there, there were risks to making common front. We were already refusing Hasenbach over the Red Axe, and then we’d be trying to pry what she probably saw as her weapon of last resort from her hands. I was pretty sure Levant could be convinced to back us over this, through Tariq if nothing else, but I was wary of going through with this. Like Hanno had said, Procer was starting to smell of desperation. I’d heard in Frederic’s voice and seen it on Hasenbach’s face, so I was wary of pushing the Principate when it already felt cornered.
People did stupid things, when they felt cornered.
The hardest lesson I’d learned since putting on the fancy hat and eating a season had been that just because you could win a fight didn’t mean you should be fighting it. There was already too much fighting going on among people who should all be on the same side, and it was like the assault on the Arsenal had shone down a light on every fracture that lay at the heart if the Grand Alliance. They were growing bigger, I could feel it, and yet caution was stilling my hand: a hasty move, now, could do untold damage. And yet waiting too long will do just the same, I thought. We needed to finish those trial as soon as possible, then tie up Mercantis and the Gigantes. Gods, all this trouble and we’d yet to even begin the godsdamned war council for the actual fucking war we were fighting.
“Give her time,” I said. “She’s a pragmatic creature, there’s only so many bridges she’ll be willing to burn over this.”
“It will have to be addressed before our time at the Arsenal ends,” Hanno said.
“Agreed,” I reluctantly said, then cast him a dark look. “And you need to get your house in order, quick, before we lost more trust. I doubt Procer will try to outright axe the Terms, but there’s lesser measures it can take. They could restrict access to cities, assign escorts – Hells they could just begin funding Named on their good side and only them. This isn’t a flip of the coin, White Knight, they have more than two options.”
Poor choice of words there, I realized a heartbeat later with a wince, but he did not comment on it.
“Then the Mirror Knight can stand trial tomorrow,” Hanno offered instead.
“Good,” I nodded. “Once that’s out of the way, we can sit down with the First Prince and find a way to settle the trouble over the Red Axe.”
“I will not discuss sentencing, Black Queen,” the dark-eyed man flatly said. “I have already told you this.”
Gods save me from heroes, all prickly as cats and half as sensible.
“Then don’t,” I sharply said. “Talk about how we arrange this so she doesn’t have to deal with a revolt in the Highest Assembly, something that we cannot afford. I’m not great admirer of her princes, White, but your girl cut a prince of the blood that was trying to protect her from harm. They’re right to be on pins and needles about it: nobody wants a young Regicide walking around, only this one protected by treaty. I won’t argue to throw her to the wolves, we have to clean our own houses, but we have to give them something.”
The White Knight considered me for a long moment.
“I do not see what we can, Black,” he finally said.
“Then pray, hero,” I said, baring my teeth. “And I’ll see what I can get done down in the mud.”