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By Sarah Hapgood

Joby had gone out into the streets in the small hours to look for Trixie. After a while Hillyard had joined him.

"Look, he's probably tucked up in bed at the Palace by now", said Hillyard, walking along behind Joby with his hands in his pockets "I don't know what you're so worried about. He's been giving you a hard time".

"I know", said Joby "But he's very young, and I think Vanod is a bastard to him".

"If you feel that badly about him take him up on his offer, become his consort".

"Don't be fucking stupid. I could never leave Kieran, and anyway I wouldn't give you the satisfaction of getting rid of me".

"I don't want to get rid of you!" Hillyard exclaimed "It'd make Kieran unhappy for one thing, and I'd miss having you around".

"I spect you think I'm a wimp", Joby stopped and paused by a drinking-fountain. It was so late by now that the streets were unnervingly quiet. Even the Pepuaahan bars had shut, for a couple of hours until breakfast-time at least.

"I think I'm a wimp anyway", Joby went on "For getting meself into these situations. I expect Adam would've given him a slap round the chops and sent him on his way".

"Moody here isn't it?" said Hillyard, shivering in the night chill "He's buggered off Joby, and I expect he's fine. Come on, let's get home".

"What are you so nervous about?"

"Don't know. Just had a feeling. The sort of ones Kieran gets when he knows something's not quite right. I'm scared".

"What of?"

"I don't know. Something that's going to happen next I suppose".

A feral cat suddenly streaked past them into the gutter, causing them both to jump in surprise. The glimmer of washing on a line strung across the street directly ahead added to the general unnerving situation.

"You're making me jumpy", Joby laughed, nervously "You're right, let's get back now. I don't know why you came out with me anyway".

"I suppose it was some way of proving to you that you had nothing to fear from me, that I care about you too much to take Kieran from you".

"It doesn't matter, I know you wouldn't", said Joby, his voice sounded smoky in the night air "Anyway I don't blame you, neither does Adam. We know him too well".

They passed under an open window, which bathed them in a pool of candlelight. Someone was tapping frantically on a manual typewriter.

"If there was somewhere still open I'd buy you a drink", said Hillyard "But we really are in limbo time at the moment".

"Yea, it can't be long before it gets light".

"You don't fancy that podgy lord do you?"

"Come off it! He's a bit of drip isn't he!" said Joby "But he seemed upset, and I was a bit worried that's all. It doesn't seem natural the way they're making him live at his age".

"I suppose in your time it wouldn't have been allowed?"

"Yea it was known", said Joby "But getting rarer. Everyone could see the psychological problems of shoving someone into a lifetime of responsibility at birth, but when anyone tried to change it they'd start saying 'oh but it's tradition'".

"Some things never change then", said Hillyard, and took Joby's elbow as they wound homewards.

"Do you know something Hillyard, I've never had much luck when it comes to sex", said Joby "Back in my own time I was always getting mixed up with nutters like Trixie, 'cept they were women of course. The thing is I suppose I've always been afraid of sex and yet gagging for it at the same time. That combination tends to make you a bit of a sexual nerd".

"Why have you always been afraid of it?"

"Because of what happened the first time. It was with a cousin of mine at a family party. We'd had a few to drink and gone into my bedroom. She was more experienced than me. She knew I was a virgin but said I had to start somewhere, and she'd show me how. It was all over in about thirty seconds. And I might as well have been fucking a plastic doll for all the emotional contact I had with her. I couldn't even see her face while we were doing it, because she kept her skirt over her head. Afterwards she ignored me, as though I didn't exist. I thought I'd disappointed her and pleaded that if she'd give me another chance I'd make it up to her. She screamed at me and said if I tried touching her again she'd set her brother on me. I felt like a rapist! I suppose it knocked my confidence for six, and I never recovered from it".

"I've never heard Kieran complaining. In fact, you two can hardly keep your hands off each other most of the time".

"He's kind to me, although I know damn well I'm not as exciting as Adam. Those two go at it like rattlesnakes. Sometimes I think they just tolerate me. Oh here's old Joby, they say, poor little git, we'd better give him some fun too".

"You really have a rotten opinion of yourself don't you?"

"The first time I slept with Adam, I asked him how I compared with Kieran, which I know was a rotten thing to do. He said I was different. Different! You know what that's a polite word for".

"Have you thought that they might like you 'cos you're different?" said Hillyard "After all, nobody wants excitement every minute of the day. Sometimes you just want someone you can make love to and fall asleep with".

"I don't mind that. I just wish I could be the exciting one for a change, that's all".

When they got back to the wagon they found Adam sitting on one of the wheels, smoking a cigar.

"Can't sleep?" said Hillyard.

"Worried what might have happened to you two", said Adam "Where have you been?"

"Joby'll explain", Hillyard yawned "I'm going to bed".

"Are you having another emotional crisis Joby?" said Adam, once they were alone.

"Sort of", said Joby, and went on to explain what had happened with Trixie.

"Sounds to me like you should give him a wide berth", said Adam "I always thought he looked trouble".

"Why is it always me that gets the idiots?" Joby wailed.

"Well that's a nice way to talk about me and Patsy!"

"Am I repulsive when it comes to sex? Am I rough around the edges, clammy, do I slobber? Oh what are you laughing at?"

"You worry too much, that's the only problem you have".

"I wish I was all cool and sophisticated, like Julian perhaps".

"Cool, sophisticated, and completely incapable of getting it up", Adam laughed "You're being daft Joby. Anyway, there's nothing particularly cool about Julian. He's usually losing his rag about something, and most of the time he's about as sophisticated as a knitted tea-cosy".

"Why do you go with him then? What does he offer you?"

"I don't know. Except perhaps when you're my age going back a long way with something starts to count for something. He's the only one in the world now who knew me when I was very young".

"And that means a lot to you does it?"

"I suppose it must. You see, the downside to being with young people all the time is that you get fed up with always being the grown-up, the one who sorts everyone else out. Just occasionally it's nice to feel like an irresponsible brat again".

"Are you saying that you have to pretend when you're with us? Because I can think of plenty of occasions when you've been worse than us!" said Joby "I wish I was more like you though. I wish I was more like anyone other than meself".

"You do feel sorry for yourself!" Adam exclaimed "I wish when I'd been your age that I'd had two men pandering to my finer feelings the way Patsy and I do yours. That's what I wish".

"Only because you feel sorry for me".

Adam ground out the butt of his cigar and then carefully picked it up.

"Did you know", he said, holding it up "Gimmit's been collecting these. He keeps them in a little pot. Either he's a hopeless eccentric, or this is all part of yet another plot on behalf of Gabriel. In either case he's been following me around collecting my cigar-butts. It's like having a mobile ash-tray. And in answer to that ludicrous comment you just made, no, I don't feel sorry for you. Not in the slightest".

"I'm sorry", Joby sobbed "I just get confused about meself".

"Join the club. It's called belonging to the human race", Adam squeezed his arm.

"Just answer me one thing. Am I good in bed?"

"You're very exciting".

"Oh come off it Adam, don't wind me up".

"I'm not. You always have this aura of forbidden fruit about you Joby, it can be quite thrilling. It's this way you have of making out that you want it, and yet are terrified at the same time. It blows my mind".

"What do you want the money for?" said Julian "I don't have a lot of cash on me Adam, and the rest of my money is tied up in the banks in Husgalonghi and the City. Neither of which I can get at whilst Gabriel is still in charge".

"Oh stop fussing like an old woman Jules", Adam snapped "Knowing you I expect you keep it all stuffed in old socks under your mattress. I just want a very small amount to buy Lonts some clothes. He tore his old ones, and I can't have him roaming about in the nude. Are you going to deny an outfit of clothes for a poor boy that hasn't got a single possession in the world?"

"You sound like a charity collector. You'll be shaking a tin at me next", said Julian, sourly.

"Look, I know you're as tight as a duck's arse Julian, and you'll make me pay over the odds for whatever miserly amount you give me. I'll be your sex slave for an entire night if that's what you wish, but let me get Lonts some new clothes first".

"There seems precious little point if he's just going to tear them again".

"Julian!" said Adam, in a warning voice.

"Oh alright".

"Do you want me to wait outside whilst you fiddle with the combination lock on your money-belt?" said Adam "Otherwise I might catch a glimpse of your loot and that would never do".

"I don't wear a money-belt".

"You do surprise me".

"I expect before long I'll be keeping the whole bloody lot of you", said Julian, extracting a couple of notes from an overstuffed wallet "And before you run off, you can at least have a cup of coffee with me. Be civilised. It is Sunday morning after all".

"So it is".

"Finia was telling me earlier", said Julian, as he began the intricate process of coffee-making "That he saw you outside your quaint little house in the small hours, having some kind of confrontation with the goofy one".

"That venomous baggage should learn to mind his own business. And Joby isn't goofy".

"What was it all about?" said Julian.

"Nothing that need concern you. He just had a few problems he wanted to discuss".

"Ah! Adam the counsellor. I don't know why you bother. Why don't you move in with me instead?"

"Because I can't think of a single good reason why I should".

"Comfortable living, someone to look after you. And when Gabriel's out of the way I'll be sexually active again, and very rich. What more could you want?"

"I really can't imagine", said Adam, sarcastically.

"You won't move in because you're convinced your pride won't let you. And yet I don't see how you can possibly want to continue living in that cess-pit with six others. You must all be crammed in like sardines as it is. I think I know what you're worried about. That when Gabriel's gone and I'm cured, that I'll start messing you around again. But I won't expect complete fidelity from you either Adam, and I promise you that you will always come first".

"I couldn't give a hoot whether I do or not".

"Oh Adam!" Julian cried "Sometimes you are so childishly stubborn, I could give you a sound thrashing".

"In your dreams, as Joby would say", said Adam "Are you coming on to Quipignon with us this week?"

"Yes, Finia's act is becoming more and more popular, according to Gabriel".

"At least we can still live in hope that the snake might get him one day then", said Adam.

"Are you pleased I'm coming along too?"

"What do you think old love?" said Adam, suggestively.

It was very peaceful in the cathedral. Ransey mooched around the edges of the main part, admiring the colourful frescoes on the plasterwork. Most religious buildings had been torn down in the aftermath of the Massacre of the Women, but, as Trixie had so rightly said, Pepuaah was a law unto itself. No religious rites had been practised in it for over a hundred years, and yet somebody was keeping it well-preserved. Ransey glanced over occasionally at Joby, who had followed him into the building and who was now sitting morosely by himself in the front pew.

"Anything I can do for you?" said Ransey, anxiously.

"What was that gallery up there used for?" said Joby, looking up.

"I expect that's where the lepers sat. So that they could take part in the service and yet not contaminate anyone".

"Oh", said Joby, and sank once more into apathy.

Ransey gave up trying to rouse him any further, and decided to go and explore the crypt instead. Once alone, Joby wallowed in his misery. Trixie had done more than unnerve him, he had raked up old wounds that Joby wished had remained buried. He now couldn't shake off the ghost of his cousin Kimberley. Joby had carried this early sexual humiliation around with him for years, and it had been exacerbated lately not just by Trixie, but finding Kieran with Hillard in the hay-wagon. He remembered the way Kieran had been laughing, and he wanted to be the only one Kieran laughed like that with.

"Hello Joby".

He looked up to find Lonts standing in front of him wearing new shorts and a shirt.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Joby barked.

"Are you crying?"

"Mind your own frigging business".

"You shouldn't swear. We're in a holy place", Lonts sat down next to him.

"You're supposed to be with Adam", said Joby.

"He got summoned to see Cootie. He told me to stay in the wagon, but I wanted to see where the rest of you were".

"Adam'll tan your backside when he catches up with you".

"If I say I've been with you all the time he won't mind", said Lonts "It's what they used to call Easter Day isn't it?"

"How do you know that?"

"Kieran told me earlier. All to do with Christ is risen. What happened to him after he rose?"

"Just shut up Lonts".

The boy obediently sat back in the pew and put his thumb in his mouth. He swung his legs aimlessly, and seemed happy to sit there for as long as Joby did.

Cootie wasn't in the mood for arguing. He was apprehensive about the journey ahead, terrified in fact of following Manada's deal through. There had also been a spate of injuries during the Gala, ranging from the mundane - an acrobat had landed hard on the sawdust and rammed his chin on the ground - to the bizarre - a clown had opened his mouth at the wrong moment in his act and nearly suffocated on a custard pie. Added to that one of his best dancers had stormed out never to return, after overhearing Starlight describe him as "only beautiful the first time you met him".

"It's exploitation", Adam protested "He's a sick boy Cootie".

"He always looks perfectly healthy to me".

"You know what I mean. He hates it when people stare at him, and if he's in the ring hundreds of people will be doing just that".

"He won't be on alone, he'll have the Vanquisher with him. For goodness sake Adam", Cootie's refined tones were almost at breaking-point "Anyone would think I was proposing to have him shot out of a cannon. All he has to do is ride around on the back of a horse, sitting behind Kieran. It couldn't be simpler. It's either that or you lose him altogether".


"When the Grand Lord of Pepuaah shows an interest in someone, traditionally it is bad form, shall we say, to turn him down".

"Cootie, I don't understand what you're saying".

"A formal message arrived from the Palace this morning. His Grand Lordship wishes to make Lonts his second consort".

"Lonts? Are you sure?" said Adam "But only last night he was targeting Joby!"

"Perhaps he's seen reason", Cootie shrugged "He knows he can't take Joby away from the Vanquisher. Whatever. He's asked for Lonts anyway".

"He can't have him", said Adam "Oh I know what all this is about. It's the best way he can think of to get back at Vanod. Well I won't have Lonts used like that! We've all been tormented and used in the stupid games between the royal couple since we first set foot in Pepuaah. I'm sick of it".

"It will be difficult for you to refuse".

"It's very easy actually".

"He could argue you were committing treason by doing so".

"That's absurd", Adam protested.

"With the boy only doing casual work here backstage the Pepuaahan authorities could have him picked up as a vagrant. By being in the show itself he will be a top member of the cast, and then will not be able to be classed as a vagrant. His Grand Lordship won't have any jurisdiction over him then".

"You're taking advantage of this situation".

"That is my job".

"We would never let him go whatever happens".

"Adam, you don't seem to grasp the situation at all", said Cootie "Without my protection, His Grand Lordship can walk in and claim Lonts at any time he chooses. And that will apply equally well in Quipignon as here, as it comes under Pepuaahan territory. If he isn't a member of my cast, I have no reason to keep him under my jurisdiction".

"You're blackmailing me".

"Simply making a business deal Adam, that's all".

"I wish you'd stop getting all het-up", said Kieran, who was lying on his bunk and noisily squelching on a mango "Pacing up and down isn't going to change anything. You're making the wagon shake, and the structure's not that brilliant at the moment".

"I have a right to get het-up", said Adam, pausing in the middle of thundering up and down the inside of the wagon.

"No you haven't", said Kieran "So Lonts has to go in the show, so what? He'll probably have the time of his life, particularly if we give him a nice spangly pair of drawers to wear like mine".

"I'm angry that we find ourselves at the mercy of the likes of Cootie and Trixie".

"They're our best hope for defeating Gabriel. In return for me being in the show we get to travel up country with a substantial escort, and Cootie's been dropping hints to me this morning that he's found some sort of secret weapon for me that he says will be invaluable in defeating the old snake".

"He's stringing you along, and Cootie and his circus weren't much protection to you when you were bleeding to death last week".

"I am not going over all this with you now", Kieran swung down to the floor "I'm going to pop over to the Palace and ask Trixie what he's playing at".

"Just like that?" said Adam "You make it sound as though you're nipping round for a cup of sugar!"

"I don't regard Trixie as anyone particularly scary", said Kieran, clamping his straw hat on his head "And before you say anything you're not coming. You'll only get all excited, and probably strain diplomatic relations even more".

"You're not President yet you know".

"No, but I'm getting into practice. Go and play with Julian for the afternoon if you think you're going to get bored".


"I'll see you later".

Adam continued his pacing outside, stamping around the wagon and drawing on his cigar. At one point he found himself being watched by the Siamese Twins. One nodded at him sympathetically, as though fully understanding his predicament. The other was swaying drunkenly, only stopped from falling to the ground by the thick band of flesh joining him to his brother.

Suddenly Joby and Lonts came running towards him, looking not unlike Siamese Twins themselves, particularly as Joby had a firm grip on the boy's wrist. Both looked in distress, and when they got nearer Adam could see that their skin was splattered with red blotches, like heat stroke.

"What the hell's happened?" Adam cried, feeling that he had been saying this rather a lot lately.

"Fucking flies", said Joby "We were sitting in the cathedral when Lonts noticed that a lot of flies had gathered on one of the windows. Like a complete wanker I told him to shut up, and then suddenly we were attacked by a whole swarm of them. I've never seen anything like it Adam".

"Millions of them", Lonts sobbed.

"Alright", said Adam, soothingly "We don't need to ask who's behind all this".

"I didn't think flies stung", said Joby "But these just kept coming at us".

"Go into the wagon Joby. I'll get some cream out of the first aid tin and rub it into you".

"I'll do that", said Joby "You sort the baby out. I think he's peed himself. I can't say I blame him this time!"

"I'm sorry Adam", Lonts blubbed.

"I'm not cross with you", said Adam, gently "Take your shorts off, I'd better boil them up".

All the while that he busied himself setting the billy-can containing Lonts's new shorts over the fire, and then sponging the boy down he felt close to screaming. It seemed that the ordeals would never end. It was only Lonts's obvious distress that kept him calm. If he went to pieces too, Lonts might well lose what grip on reality that he had.

"Now dry yourself off", said Adam, passing the boy a towel "And don't play with yourself like you normally do. The last thing I want at the moment is your sperm everywhere".

He noticed that Julian had appeared on the other side of the fire, carrying a black umbrella as though he was a Maharajah mingling with his people.

"You have an uncanny knack of appearing just when you're not wanted", Adam snapped.

"I thought as it's Easter I'd be sociable and call on you for a change", said Julian "I didn't realise it was bath-time at the zoo".

"We're having a crisis".

"Seems to me that life with you lot is one permanent crisis. Why is the boy half-naked? I thought you'd brought him new clothes".

"He had an accident", said Adam "I expect you've really come to get your change, well you'll have to wait a minute".

"Adam!" Joby ran back out of the wagon "I've just remembered ... Ransey! He was in the cathedral too. He went down into the crypt and never came back up. Oh God, I hope he's alright".

"I'd better go and check on him", said Adam.

"I'll come with you", said Joby, who had half-smeared cream on his face "Don't argue Ad, I'd be worried sick if I let you go off alone".

"Who's going to mind Lonts?"

"Can't your boyfriend do it?" said Joby "After all, we know Lonts is going to be safe with him don't we?"

"I'm not doing your babysitting for you now as well Adam", said Julian, sounding quite horrified at the prospect.

"Don't be so mean-spirited Julian. Lonts won't give you any trouble, not unless you upset him anyway, and I expect Hillyard will be home soon. A man's life could be at risk!"

As it turned out though they found Ransey sitting outside a cafe near the cathedral without a care in the world. He knew nothing about any swarm of flies, and hadn't noticed anything amiss at all.

"You look all in Ad", he said "Sit down and have a cup of coffee".

Joby too looked close to a nervous breakdown.

"It's no good going to pot now, either of you", Ransey continued "It's going to get a damn sight worse before it gets better".

"Sometimes Ransey", Adam sighed "I don't know whether it's the hit-man or the accountant I'm talking to".

"Not much to choose between 'em I would've said", Joby muttered.

Lonts and Julian sat on either wagon-shaft. Julian peered out sourly from under his umbrella like a disgruntled gnome. Lonts sucked his thumb and occasionally cast furtive glimpses at him. No one had ever explained to him who Julian was, or why Adam seemed to want to spend so much time with him.

"Aren't you a bit old to be sucking your thumb?" Julian snapped.

Lonts took his thumb out reluctantly, and then sat staring at it.

"You do realise that if it wasn't for you Adam could move in with me?" Julian went on "I'm sure it's only some misguided sense of paternal duty to you that stops him".

"Adam won't move in with you because he wants to be with me?" said Lonts delightedly, which wasn't quite the reaction Julian had expected.

"Stop scratching yourself", said Julian, irritably.

"My bites are sore".

"Adam must have far more patience than I ever credited him for if he puts up with you all the time".

"He's the kindest man I know, apart from Kieran".

"A perfect saint obviously".

"Oh no, he gets angry sometimes, and then he threatens to kill me. But nowadays I realise he doesn't mean it".

"Lonts!" Gimmit appeared, looking ashen-faced "Where are the others?"

"Gone to see if Ransey's alright", said Lonts "Joby and me were attacked by a swarm of flies. It was horrible".

"I'm sorry", Gimmit suddenly broke down in tears and literally clasped Lonts to his bosom "I can't do it anymore. I just can't".

Lonts squirmed free.

"I don't understand what you're on about Gimmit", he said "Did you cause the flies to appear?"

"It won't happen again! I don't care what he does to me. I only did it because I was frightened. I kept dreaming about ... oh it doesn't matter now. I was so scared, but it won't happen again. I promise. I promise. Don't throw me out, I've got nowhere else to go".

"What are you pleading with him for?" Julian exclaimed "He's completely crazy".

"He can talk to Adam for me. Explain for me".

"He won't be happy", said Lonts, which was a considerable understatement "We all trusted you after Xuste".

"Adam tells me you might be a time-crosser too", said Julian "When-abouts are you from Gimmit?"

"Leave me alone!" Gimmit cried "Leave me alone!"

He then crawled under the wagon and lay there sobbing until he was completely exhausted.

Kieran was shown into Trixie's private rooms with a great deal of ceremony. He couldn't help but feel that the grand declaration of "The Vanquisher of Evil to see His Magnificent Highness" was a trifle absurd, considering the Vanquisher was wearing a grubby string-vest and a battered straw-hat, and His Magnificent Highness was curled up on a window-seat, sobbing his heart out. It took Kieran some while to fully engage his attention, and then Trixie rounded on him with a vicious "Go away!"

"One thing you must learn about public life", said Kieran, sitting down at the end of the window-seat "Is that every single thing you say and do can have a consequence at a later date. If you order me away now, and if I become President, well let's say our future diplomatic friendship looks in jeopardy".

"I haven't hurt you", said Trixie, tearfully.

"You hurt a close friend of mine and that counts", said Kieran "Joby was very upset after last night's little scene, and I'm also not too happy about your plans for Lonts".

"He would be better off here than with you lot", said Trixie, narrowing his eyes viciously "At least here he wouldn't have to live like an animal".

"You have no idea how to cope with Lonts on a daily basis", said Kieran "He can be a lot of work at times, and you need a barrel-load of patience and understanding. And to be honest I don't think you have either, not at the moment".

"At least I wouldn't sexually abuse him!" Trixie cried.

"No one has ever done that to Lonts. He's still a virgin", Kieran protested "And none of us would dream of changing that situation".

"Joby told me he kisses him sometimes".

"You're entirely misunderstanding things".

"And Adam is brutal to him".

"No, I won't have you saying that! Adam's very good with him".

"Then I don't understand", Trixie ran out of the room through an orange brocade curtain at the end. Kieran followed him and found himself in Trixie's bedchamber. The most striking aspect of the room was a large clay model on a table. It showed two naked men gouging each other's eyes out.

"It's so horrible it's fascinating", said Kieran, stooping down to examine it.

"Vanod gave it to me as a New Year's gift", Trixie sniffed "I suppose he thinks it's symbolic of us".

"We're leaving Pepuaah the day after tomorrow and slowly heading north to the City", said Kieran "And I fully intend to take all my party with me. Joby, Lonts, the lot. Lonts will be appearing in the show with me. I'll take care of him".

"It's not fair", Trixie wailed, crouching in the centre of his bed "It's not fair at all. What is the point of me being Grand Lord if I can't have my own way occasionally?"

"You can, but Lonts would be disastrous as your consort. Think about it! I can understand you wanting to get rid of Vanod, but that isn't the way to go about it. Lonts would never be able to cope with that way of life".

"WE could unite", said Trixie, brushing away his tears ferociously "You and me. The Vanquisher and the Grand Lord of Pepuaah".

"Why not? You've targeted everyone else after all".

"But I could help you", said Trixie "It's alright for you. You instantly get people's respect, but they just tolerate me. And I'm afraid Kieran. The people seem to like Vanod, for all his faults. He's strong and ruthless you see, and that's what they want in a leader. Not a boy like me. I live in fear that one day Vanod will find some way of disposing of me, and no one will raise a murmur in protest, as it'll be what they want. If I could join forces with you, and defeat Gabriel, I would be in an unassailable position here".

"You can do that without becoming my consort", said Kieran "Come away with us when we leave. Be at my side when we reach Gabriel and the City. As you say, no one'll be able to gainsay you when you come back".

"But leave Vanod to run things in my absence?" said Trixie, dubiously.

"Certainly not, that would be asking for trouble. Bring him along too. You can appoint a trustworthy deputy in your absence".

"But a Grand Lord can't leave his people".

"Yes he can. Think of yourself as going off on a crusade like the old Medieval nobility did".

"We could fail though, and then what would my people think of me?"

"To be brutally frank, if we fail", said Kieran "It won't matter to us what anyone thinks. We'd be beyond all that".

"I'll come", said Trixie, decisively "Something has to make up for the fact that I'll be spending the rest of my life carrying out official duties. I'll come, and I'll be at your side Kieran. At your side when you finally defeat Gabriel".

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