43 Return of the King

Location: Fubar in the Orkney Region
Timeline: Sixth Age, Summer to Winter, 51

As the seasons changed from Spring to Summer, even Fubar was a pleasant locale to live. It’s citizens were a happy lot – not only because of the beautiful weather but also because rumors abounded that everyone’s lot in life was increasing. Oh to be sure, it was only a handful of the most elite families who benefited from the treasures of Akka, but even the commoners got a bit of the crumbs.

True to his word, The Royal Steward really did pay the miners’ families their promised wages at each year’s end, and although it wasn’t enough to establish a middle class in Orkney, even still, the extra money was more than these peasants had ever had before (1). A testament to the genius of Ramssee was the fact that the tasted of wealth he gave the serfs provided them the incentive to want to return to Akka – despite the dangers of the work – and this encouraged other men who were not miners to take up the profession as well. More workers at Akka meant more of Akka’s wealth could be extracted at a faster pace – which in turn filled Ramssee’s secret coffers with ever-increasing speed, soon making the viperz one of the richest men on TerrVerde.

Meanwhile The Royal Steward continued to win high praise among the citizens of Orkney – both rich and poor alike – for his unselfish nature. Besides ‘sharing the wealth,’ Ramssee was lauded for his efficient management of the kingdom during King Diked’s absence, and he won even more praise from the people when he immediately and publicly abdicating power back to Diked upon the latter’s return. In fact, during the celebration marking the Diked’s resumption of the throne, it was surmised by many that Ramssee received just as many cheers as Diked – a fact that was not lost on the viperz…or the King. (2)

While you might think Ramssee would have been frustrated with Diked’s return and his re-assumption of the throne, the reality is that it was all a part of Ramssee’s grand designs. Oh it’s true, when the young ruler had returned to Fubar (with Kaoz in secret tow), the viperz was initially unsure what he his plan should be – abdication or assassination? As he pondered the right move, he first had Kaoz secreted away to his villa, and then put on a public display to welcome the king – having the royal formally greeted by the newly-improved Fubar military at the newly built massive guard gates on the Southern Wall and then paraded through a city filled with cheering citizens. (3)

Meanwhile, Ramssee was eager to learn what Kaoz’ plans for Diked were – wondering if they matched his own.

A few days later, when the viperz and the myz were alone at Ramssee’s former villa, the Royal Steward was disappointed to learn that the myz’s mindset no longer matched his as far as Diked was concerned.

“Kaoz has other plans.” The myz replied smugly as his girth threatened to collapse one of the more expensive chairs in the conservatory of the Steward’s original residence. “Kaoz job not to make Ramssee ruler. Kaoz mission to find The Grim and return to Ramos.”

“But having me as Orkney’s ruler can help you accomplish this goal sooner.” The viperz explained. “Surely you can see that I have more incentive to help you than that snot-nosed little despot Diked?”

“If true, then why Ramssee not have dagger yet?”  Ramssee reddened at the remark and before he could reply, the myz added, “Kaoz don’t snakes. Kaoz at Akka yesterday, and Kaoz discover something.”

Ramssee smiled ruefully. “You’ve seen that the work to open the passageway to the Deepest Depths looks little different than it did when you left?” Meanwhile to himself the viperz realized he needed to modify his plans as he thought. If Kaoz won’t help me eliminate Diked, maybe I can convince him to take Diked back to Ramos with him?

“Kaoz is not happy with Ramssee.”

“Sorry to hear that, my friend, but you know as well as I what limitations we are saddled with here – we’re working with crude human miners and expecting them to unseal the work of the expert Drrukka stonecutters! For all I know, the task may be impossible. Think about it, if the cursed Drrukka wanted to protect a cave that housed their most prized possessions do you think a bunch of dim-witted men can get it open in a few years? Pah!”

The myz narrowed his eyes at that, “Is Ramssee saying the dagger is gone for good?”

”Don’t put words into my mouth. What I’m saying is that our great Shaitan seems to have sent us on an impossible mission – one that will lead to our deaths at his hands…unless we make other plans first.”

“Fool. Kaoz don’t care what happens to Ramsssee! If Ramssee fail Death, let Death take the snake. But Kaoz have Inanna. One day Inanna and Kaoz will rule the world.”

“Well that’s great, just great.” Ramssee patronized. “But if that true, then why did you come back?”

“Don’t play word games! Ramssee know Kaoz came back for Grim to give to Inanna.”

“Of course, how could I forget. Yet I have a question for you – what will your beloved Inanna do if you come back without her prize? Does the witch queen want you or does she really want the dagger?”

Ramssee’s barbs sent the myz into a rampage – the beast bashed an expensive table in half, knocked over some chairs, and then ran towards the viperz screaming for blood. Yet, Ramssee had expected as much and as such he’d already shape shifted into his other form – a deadly asp. The oversized gray giant tried in vain to catch the adder, but to no avail.

After nearly all of the furnishings of the room were destroyed, and Kaoz was winded, then it was that Ramssee hissed, “Ssss, Arrrrre you ready to lissssten to me?”

The myz made no reply as he stood there about ten feet away, hands on knees, still trying catching his breath.

The viperz once more shifted back into a man. 

“Sorry to disillusion you, but I need an ally who knows the real score.” Ramssee explained. “Look, I don’t want you here any more than you want to be here. But I also don’t want Diked here either. So, if you won’t kill him for me, then I’d like you to take him with you when you go back to Ramos. However, when you leave this time, I don’t want either of you to ever return. NO SURPRISES. If, for instance we are unable to secure The Grim and you do go off to Ramos, I don’t want you to get there and then be sent home by Inanna because you don’t have the dagger. I want you to know before you go there that she really wants YOU, with or without The Grim.” Although why that would be, I don’t know – he added silently to himself. 

Still Kaoz said nothing, but Ramssee could tell his words were sinking in.

“I will give you the solution.” The viperz tried to seem like he was helping. “The next time you talk with the goddess in your dreams, explain the situation and see what she says – at least you will know what you’re really dealing with and who knows, maybe she can offer us a solution?”

“Kaoz don’t like Ramssee.” The myz finally spoke. “Snake is stupid. If Kaoz leave with Diked, Ramssee still needs to find Grim for Death, else Death will destroy the snake so why Ramssee want to stay so badly?”

Well, at least he is paying attention. The viperz surmised, before replying, “Kaoz, you need not worry about me. Have you not noticed the great defenses I have shown you? And that’s just the start. By the time that The Shaitan ever gets around to coming for me, I will have made myself a powerful Emperor. I’ll have an army capable of resisting anything he could throw at me. All I need is for you to just leave with Diked and the people will practically force me into the Royal Throne!” Catching his breath after the excitement of his last words, he added, “SO, what do you say, Kaoz, do we have a deal?”

Before the myz could reply, there came an urgent rap at the door. 

“My lord, my lord,” a muffled voice came through the portal. “I have news of great importance!”

Kaoz moved to hide – a fairly easy task given all the rubble in the room, whilst Ramssee walked to the door. “This better be important or I’ll have your head for interrupting me while I’m discussing a matter of state.”

The viperz opened the door a crack and peeked his head out to see a courier down on one knee before him.

“My lord, grand news indeed!” The messenger bowed. “The foreman of Akka has sent me with the following message for you. I am to tell you ‘The Deepest Depths have been pierced and you are invited to witness it for yourself.”

The Steward was stunned. “Thank you, boy, thank you!” and he tossed a handful of gold at the messenger – enough money to cover the man’s wages for an entire year. “Leave me as I make my preparations. No, strike that, go tell the foreman I will be there tomorrow. And, tell him to keep his men working through the night!”

When Ramssee closed the door and looked back into the conservatory, he found Kaoz standing right behind him – the myz was salivating, black blood dripping down his cheeks in hunger. With eyes ablaze he grabbed the viperz by the throat and slammed him back against the wall.

“Don’t Ramssee trick Kaoz again!” The beast roared. “Ramssee plans matter little to Kaoz. Kaoz will have Grim soon and be gone for Ramos. Whether or not Kaoz take Diked back depends on how Kaoz feel!” And he threw the snake man to the floor and stormed off.

For his part, Ramssee didn’t say a word. Instead he shifted back into a snake and after a brief hiss, slithered out the door to safety.

The winter of 51 took a strangle hold upon Fubar – blizzards followed snow-storms and vice versa, each full of bone-chilling winds and deadly sleet storms that tore across the landscape – sending the populace into hibernation mode and meaning little of significance would happen until the Spring Thaws.

For his part, Ramssee took it all in stride and relaxed again in the soothing comforts of a steaming bath. Sitting in an oversized tub, female attendants came to call upon him every candlemark to ensure his spa remained heated to his desired temperature and to infuse a variety of essential oils into the water to increase his enjoyment. In addition to the aromatherapy treatment, the servants scrubbed The Steward’s body with exfoliating loofahs, massaged the muscles of his shoulders, neck, and arms, and even manicured his hands and feet while he continued to enjoy his soak. 

Ah, this is the life. Ramssee oozed contentedly. 

The viperz had recently taken up this nightly ritual shortly after Diked’s and Kaoz’ return in order to escape the daily frustrations associated in dealing with them.

First there had been the unfortunate news from Foreman Sully that The Deepest Depths had been finally penetrated back in the beginning of summer. Kaoz, Diked, and even Ramssee himself took that to mean that a way inside the Akka Treasure Trove was quickly forthcoming, yet their excitement quickly faded when it became clear that Sully’s miners couldn’t make their original hole any bigger than the fist-size opening they’d managed so far.

The emotional slingshot of the experience took the tension between Ramssee and Kaoz to new heights and the only thing that saved them from destroying one another was Ramssee’s <persuasive> idea take out their frustrations on the foreman himself. As a result, Kaoz kidnapped Sully, brought him to Ramssee’s country villa, and then the evil conspirators perpetrated unspeakable tortures upon the man, before finally burying his mutilated remains in an undisclosed location on the property.

Unfortunately for my foolish pawns, their misguided vengeance only served to delay their mining operations at The Depths – for a new foreman had to be chosen to lead the mission – finding a willing man to take the job was no easy task and finding a qualified one was even harder.

Why must I suffer these fools? Ramssee lamented as one of the bath attendants kneaded his neck muscles. “Ah, a little higher, luv.”

As the Summer turned into Fall, the Royal Steward had to continually tip toe in his management of Kaoz. Ramssee was confident that he could eventually persuade Kaoz into giving up on The Grim and returning back to Ramos to start his desired life with Inanna, but the viperz had to walk a fine line because he didn’t want to goad Kaoz into leaving without taking Diked with him. Unfortunately Kaoz’ rage having to hide in the shadows again was worse than ever and it took many a sacrificial prostitute to satisfy the gray beast as the women of the night of Fubar suffered dearly during this period.

Meanwhile Ramssee tried to plant seeds within Diked’s mind that might trigger a desire for the king to return to Ramos. Although the young man was at first glad to be King again the viperz worked hard to shift Diked’s focus away from the pleasures of power – continually encouraging him to talk about his wonderful experiences in Ramos and pressing him almost every night to relive the pleasures he saw at Inanna’s courts in order to build-up the King’s memories into larger-than-life realities. As Diked related his memories, The Persuader subtly maneuvered the King’s mind to believe that the grand events he enjoyed in Ramos were things he could never experience in forsaken Fubar, but which he could partake of again if he returned to Ramos. Thus it was that King Diked soon longed to once more eat the tantalizing fruits of the rain forest, to be again at the court of Karkamesh looking out from the throne room of the Double Pyramids over the twin waterfalls that fell away to the Ocean Oesur, to take part in the Passion Parties at The Palace of Delights, and of course, above all else, to look again upon the beauty that was the goddess Inanna herself.

Meanwhile, Ramssee learned a great deal about Ramos from the king’s ravings – and the viperz realized that an alliance with Inanna might provide many opportunities to an enterprising mind that could take advantage of the situation. From Diked’s recollections, the viperz also heard about the sub-kingdom of Thulsa – legendary for its mysterious labyrinth and ruled over by the demonic Chinchorizon cult leader Ssu-ra-Valdivar, second in power only to Inanna herself. Thulsa was apparently a place that Diked feared but it was never clear why and even Kaoz refused to elaborate on the matter. Meanwhile Ramssee also heard about Lake Oro in the middle of the Ramos jungle – a location reputed to be filled with limitless gold. Additionally he gained snippets about two other powerful cults that operated in that land but the details were sparse. Yet perhaps the most useful piece of news he picked up from Diked’s ramblings was the fact that Ramos was a major smuggler’s port of call – an item of import that The Steward filed away for future use. 

By the Fall, Ramssee had the young King so “homesick” for Ramos that Diked constantly badgered Kaoz to take him back. The myz, in turn,  repeatedly reminded the man that Inanna had requested that they not return until they had The Grim in their possession. As a result, the King anxiously tried to to speed up the efforts of the miners at Akka, deploying more resources into opening the Deepest Depths. 

The king’s anxiety played into Ramssee’s plans perfectly. By now the dukes, barons, and other lords of Orkney were obsessed for more of Akka’s riches and they craved more. Meanwhile Ramssee himself had more than treasure socked away than he could spend in ten lifetimes (and he knew he could get more from the vast horde that still remained at Akka), however the snake man also knew that he couldn’t hold Kaoz in Fubar forever, just as he knew that if ever they were to break into the Deepest Depths, it had to happen soon. At the same time, Ramssee – the beloved Steward of the People – did not want to be the one who would cut off the supply of riches that were going into the hands of the important families of Orkney. He wanted Diked do make that unpopular move – for Ramssee knew this would only serve to turn the tides of devotion more in Ramssee’s favor and solidifying his power behind the scenes.

This is exactly what happened.

During the fall, the more miners that Diked gave to the new foreman to deploy on the Depth’s Project, the less treasure that was brought to Fubar. The less treasure that was distributed out to the fiefdoms, the more complaints came from the lords and the people of Fubar. The more pressure that Diked felt from everybody, the more the young wanted to leave town.

Through it all Ramssee’s star shined brighter and brighter. He continued his backroom dealings – promising much for any who supported him when he eventually made his move for power. During his charitable events with the common citizens, he ever reminisced about the recent years of plenty they had all experienced when he ruled the lands – delicately planting seeds in their minds that he should be their leader again. And with Diked, the viperz continued to provide his trusted council – ever assuring the young king he was making the right political decisions but at the same time continually advising him that taking another business trip to Ramos would be a savvy personal maneuver if the young king wanted to be an international player.

All of this caused Diked to return again and again to Kaoz. On more than a few occasions, the myz was so upset with Diked’s pestering that he was ready to murder the misguided youth – in fact, the only thing that stopped the myz in these instances was realizing that he would be doing exactly what his nemesis Ramssee wanted him to do.

And yet, despite all his scheming, by the time the Winter of 51 rolled around – and the Akka miners had to shut down their operations again until the following Spring — Ramssee realized he was no closer to achieving his goals than he was since his last conversation with Shedu Mezai. This fact did not make him very happy, for Ramssee knew that I could be coming for him at any time and he was not yet in a position of power to resist me. Fool that he was, the viperz plan was to install himself as Emperor of Orkney – and soon – in the hopes that such a position would enable him to escape my clutches (4).

Kra! I even tried to get rid of Diked by convincing that little pest to go visit his forsaken fiancé again! The viperz recalled – still languishing in the steamy confines of his bath. Yet the stubborn twit wanted nothing to do with the girl. Always speaking of Inanna – ha, as if that goddess really cares anything about him!

Even still, I am not ready to let go of that option. His mind countered. I still believe that letter of postponement I wrote to Merrill Finch was a wise move. For why should I throw away that merchant’s generous dowry? That’s easy money. If nothing else, Diked should at least marry the bitch, bring her here, and then find a way a dispose of her! Oh what simple minds I have to deal with – how much longer must I be saddled with you? 

The door clicked open behind him, interrupting his thoughts as a Monnick entered the room.

“Ah, its about time,” Ramssee said, without looking back, “this water’s been getting cold. Where have you been?”

The naked woman didn’t say a word, instead she picked up the big jug of warm water from a nearby table began to pour it into the Steward’s tub – however rather than empty her ewer into an open area, she instead dumped it square onto Ramssee’s head!

“Sppra, splu, what in tarnation are you do—“ The viperz began angrily.

Monnik’s laughter filled the room as entered the tub herself and then reached over to muss up Ramssee’s hair before sensually rubbing her wet body up against his. Although Ramssee was initially miffed, his ire quickly dissipated by the woman’s caresses.

“I have good news.” Monnik whispered in a husky voice, as she playfully bit on Ramssee’s right ear. “The boy idiot likes me.”

“Excellent.” The viperz smiled. “Together we can surely find a way to influence the gnit. One way or another, we’ll get rid of him.”

“And then you will be King again!” Monnik rejoiced, before adding, “And…”

Ramssee smiled. “Yes, dear — and then YOU will be my Queen.” He lied.

The pair spent the rest of the evening making love in the bath and then contriving another nest of plans to use against Diked and Kaoz.

Nektar’s Notes

  1. Naturally the peasants squandered their money as fast as they received it – wasting most of it on booze or frivolous trinkets or gambling it away at the numerous Lucky Shops that sprang up throughout Fubar. The Lucky Shops promised the gamblers the chance for untold riches and stories abounded about ‘the man who became an overnight Lord from his winnings’ – naturally it was all a farce since nobody ever really won. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that the secret backer of the Lucky Shops was Ramssee – who used the shops as another means to transfer wealth back to his own private coffers.
  2. In truth, many of the Orkney lords were sorry to see Ramssee step down from power — more than a few of them had come to him in secret during the first month of Diked’s return and pledged themselves to Ramssee’s cause should he chose to make a move to regain the Royal Throne – for the High Society of Orkney had never had it better than they had under the viperz’s reign and they feared that the inexperience Diked would jeopardize their pipeline of good fortunes. Ramssee thanked them for their support but counseled “Patience” – promising he would steer Diked in the ‘right’ direction and assuring them that the boy’s reign would be short and sweet. Satisfied with the plan, Ramssee’s conspirators remained ready for action eager for the Steward call upon them.
  3. The escort for Diked was a gesture that was overtly a measure of formal respect for the king, however it also served as a subtle way for Ramssee to show Diked (and Kaoz) the true power the viperz now held.
  4. Obviously he didn’t know my power that well.
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