3.37 The Groomer

Location: Fubar, Orkney
Time: Sixth Age, Spring to Winter, 48

With the coming of the Thaws, in the Spring of ’48, King Karl returned to Fubar and relieved Ramssee and Alec of their stewardships in overseeing Prince Brinn – rewarding them both for a job well done with formal public recognition and generous gifts. Although Ramssee was disappointed to lose power, the King’s Aide espite didn’t let his disappointment show – choosing instead to bide his time in Karl’s shadow…for now.

With the king’s return and the winter season gone, the viperz once again tried to convince the king about the financial benefits of mining the “artifacts” of Akka – unfortunately Ramssee’s persuasive powers had little impact on the good-natured ruler of Orkney.

“I appreciate your desire to help me increase the fortunes of Orkney, my good sir,” King Karl replied on one such occasion, lounging in an easy chair as he and his Advisor sipped heated wine in the king’s study. “The problem with your plan is that it’s a suicide mission for those minors and I can’t in good conscience send my people there.”

“I don’t understand, Sire.” Ramssee played dumb. “Please explain to your loyal Aide the error of my ways.”

“It’s not your fault.” Karl chuckled. “You’re still new to this region, friend. I don’t doubt that there’s a wealth of treasure in Akka – but there is also something else, something sinister! I know not what it was, but this I do know – when I was still but a boy myself, in Winter of 02, then it was that everyone in Akka perished!”

“What happened to them.” The viperz pretended not to know the tale.  Taking a puff on his pipe, he relaxed back into his chair, sinking deeper into the velvety folds, and barely listening to Karl’s story.

“Fubar legend has it that our former allies dug so deeply into the Akka Mountains that they eventually reached Baal Himself!” 

“You don’t say?” Ramssee’s encouraged.

“Yes, yes. The Myths say that Baal tempted the dwarves to dig for more and more treasure, always enticing them to dig deeper, until eventually they opened a tunnel to the underworld! I believe it was Baal who killed those dwarves and took their souls with him down to Hel!”

“Well, if they’re all gone, then obviously they won’t mind if we go in and take their jewels. It’s not like they will be needing it, right?” The Advisor laughed.

“Aren’t you listening to me?” King Karl wasn’t amused – in fact he was afraid to even be talking about the subject. “Look here, besides the fact that stealing the dwarves’ treasure is a crime, Akka is the essence of evil. Myy father said that those dwarves who didn’t get taken by Baal were left to suffer the effects of a terrible flesh-eating disease – a Plague that awaits any who enter till this day!” And with a wave of his hand, he let it be known that the conversation was over. “My friend, ou are a persuasive fellow and I value your advice on many things, but on this, you are in error. Trust me, there will be no ventures into Akka while I am the King of Orkney.”

As the Spring wore on, Kaoz grew frustrated, “Ramssee talks a lot, but takes no action! Kaoz will get the Grim!”

Not fearing any plague, the myz made the brief journey to Akka to explore for himself. With the help of The Shaitan’s map of Akka, Kaoz was able to locate the tunnel that supposedly led to The Deepest Depths Cavern wherein awaited The Grim; yet the myz was unable to venture very far down the passageway, for, as feared, the entrance had been blocked by an apparent avalanche – a pile of rubble so large that not even the gray giant could move it alone.

Forced to return to Ramssee’s villa, Kaoz had no choice but to wait until the viperz could secure the King’s miners to do the work for them – yet he continued to rage long and loud at his partner at every opportunity.

Meanwhile, as the spring season came to a close, Prince Diked returned from Monthaven. His arrival was a bit of surprise to King Karl – for the prince was not scheduled back till the end of Summer – therefore the king worried that perhaps the engagement (and the large Finch dowry) might be in jeopardy. Yet Diked (with the help of Ramssee) assured his father that all was sell and that he was merely homesick – having never stayed away from Orkney so long before.

In reality, as Diked explained to Ramssee privately, the teenager had raped his fiance Lynsy, had then gotten into a fight with his friend Dugan, and not having anywhere to turn, the prince has high-tailed it back to Fubar with his entourage.

“You did well to come home.” Ramssee soothed the prince who was expectedly upset – after all, this was Diked’s first criminal act that he’d committed on his own. “Remember, a royal takes was he wants – it’s your right. Worry not about your betrothed – she will learn her place and come to love you for any attention you show her.”

After a few talks of this nature, the viperz help Prince Diked overcome his worries about what happened in Monthaven and instead focused him on other things. A few nights later, Ramssee procured a whore for the Prince and he and Kaoz even let the young man take first dibs with her.

When the stream of letters started arriving from Dugan, Diked never even bothered to read them, and instead continued to enjoy his “fun” with his new best friends.

The Summer of 48 bloomed even in the desolate wasteland that was northern Orkney, bringing with it the sun’s warm glows. It was perfect weather for pursuing outdoor endeavors of all types – like say, mining for treasures in the mountains of Akka.

Unfortunately, despite his continued efforts, and even with his magically enhanced persuasive powers, The King’s Aide was never able to convince King Karl to undertake such a venture. With time ticking away, Kaoz and Ramssee knew they had to move forward by another route – as a result, they advanced their plans involving Prince Diked.

During the rest of that season, my minions spent much time with Diked, continuing to brainwash him – but rather than just scaring him, they also started to tell him about The Secret of Akka. They enticed the prince with stories about the great wealth that was there – treasures that could not only make his kingdom a rival to Daytaxia, but more importantly could make Prince Diked himself famous if he could be the one to unearth them.

Diked easily took the bait, “What are we waiting for?”

“Your father.” Ramssee replied. The viperz then went on to detail a plan that involved the prince trying to convince his father to explore Akka. Ramssee didn’t put much hope in the plan but he knew that if Diked could somehow convince Karl it would still save them time in the long run. 

Unfortunately, it was not to be. 

“He won’t do it!” Diked whined as he reported back to his friends a few weeks later, while the trio sat in the library at The Advisor’s villa. “My dad won’t mine in Akka. And, that’s not all – he’s really upset with you, Ramssee, because he thinks you are put me up to it.”

“How clever of him to figure out the obvious.” replied the King’s Aide in a matter-of-fact tone. Dressed in an uber expensive silk robe, purple in color and trimmed in gold, Ramssee had a glass of the King’s best wine in one hand, and a smoke stick in the other. Relaxing in one of the many pazziera-filled chairsof his library, the snake man sighed – lamenting the cares of the world and the fact that all those he had to deal with in life lacked the vision that he possessed. In reality, he wasn’t surprised at the prince’s revelation – for the viperz had been getting increasingly bad vibes from the King throughout the Summer. “It seems that I, loyal Ramssee, have fallen out of favor with King Karl. Well, wh—“

“And that’s not all,” broke in Diked, “I heard my dad telling General Alec that he was thinking of ‘disavowing himself’ of your services. He said it was probably time that you should be going to your next kingdom. And, worst of all, he says I shouldn’t be spending so much time with you. In fact, he wants to send me back to visit my stupid friend Dugan in Monthaven and so I can see Lynsy again. Pah!”

“Are you finished?!” Ramssee threw his glass to the floor, smashing it into a thousand pieces. Yet just as quickly he calmed himself, and then rising from his chair, he casually strolled around the library, letting his fingers run along a row of books, checking for dust. After a few puffs on his smoke stick, he added, “First off, Diked, do not interrupt me ever again. Secondly, it seems we have no choice but to conclude that King Karl has worn out his usefulness to us.”

Kaoz smiled a sinister grin at the viperz words, while the prince turned white at the implications.

That King Karl was to be assassinated was now a fact – Ramssee thus spent the rest of the evening use his Powers of Persuasion to give Prince Diked the hard sell into believing that even though his father was the current ruler and his brother Brinn was the heir to the throne, in reality, he, Diked, was the one who deserved to be in power, because he, Diked, was the man who was destined to be the most famous King Orkney had ever known.

In the end, it didn’t take much effort from Ramssee into getting the jaded prince into believing these lies; in fact, the only item that required some coaxing was the part of the plan that called for Diked to be the one to kill his father – but that minor stumbling block was overcome relatively easily, for they’d been grooming Diked for this very thing for months.

The Dark Side was beckoning to Prince Diked – and he was eager to eat of its fruit.

Nonetheless, the plan didn’t come to fruition overnight. Certainly, if they only wanted to murder Karl, they could have done that immediately and run off to other lands, but, since they still needed the people and the resources of Orkney on their side to eventually do the mining operation, Ramssee knew that he had to make the king’s death look like an accident.

Unfortunately their was no sure-fire way to do this. 

And so it was that Autumn came and went – the weather turned colder again and it seemed as if another Winter was about to put Orkney on lockdown again – much to Ramssee’s dismay.

Knowing he was not wanted at the palace, the (former) King’s Aide made excuses to avoid seeing King Karl. He also did just enough good works among the people of Orkney to indirectly convince the Orkney Lord into letting him remain – so long as he didn’t bother Karl with talk of Akka.

With my minions floundering, I had no choice but to step in and provide the final solution to the problem.

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