Under the cut: Roderick and Nashal get hot and sweaty!
... No, really.
Nashal was tired and dripping with sweat, but there weren't working baths, because half the city -- wasn't on fire, right, yes, the riot hadn't come off, he kept having to mentally readjust that. Still the city was closed for lack of business and because half of its inhabitants had been holding pitchforks three hours ago.
He ignored the gong and knocked.
Roderick opened the door with an odd smile, his shoulders held straighter than usual. His eyes were red and bloodshot, and he rubbed them feverishly as though he had just been crying. Licking his lips, he mumbled, "I am very sorry that I did not come to find you earlier, Nashal. The city..." the lord trailed off, apparently unsure of how to phrase his question.
Nashal shrugged. "Still alive. Mostly. Not too much damage. What happened?"
"Same here," Roderick laughed abruptly. "No deaths, hardly any damage. I was bit by a scorpion and my cousin is not quite in her right mind, but I am sure she will recover. What went on with the riot?"
"I need to sit down," Nashal told Eleirion, and leant on the doorframe. "D'you have coffee?"
"Yes, somewhere," Roderick waved his hand vaguely and headed into the kitchen. "I think it may be in the freezer for when my brother comes over."
"What's a freezer?" Nashal asked, and looked around for a chair. Possibly he was slightly more tired than he thought.
"It's a box, with ice. For keeping things fresh, or storing particular chemicals." Roderick pointed to a metal container in the corner, and opened the lid. A draft of cold air blew into the room as he pulled out a bag of coffee and shut the freezer quickly. "There's some sort of spell on the inside of the freezer. Now, what am I supposed to do with these grinds? I do apologise, but it has been a while since I've made this."
Nashal shook his head. "Never mind. Too much effort. Black tea?"
"Yes. Plenty of it." Roderick put the coffee back in the frozen container and took out a bag of tea leaves from the cupboard. "Please, take a seat at the counter. And, er, would you mind telling me what has happened since we've last met?"
Nashal rested his head on the table. "You tell me, Eleirion. Five hundred rebels and two hundred pitchforks, and we never even make it past the central square. The Lady Consort comes out, tells us there's been a deal made. No one believes her -- nearly gets skewered, the stupid bitch." He laughed. "Then someone says 'She's telling the truth,' and thirty seconds later we know for pretty sure because the earth shakes. Contract. Heavy magical discharge. Protection. Over the whole city..."
"By all the gods..." Roderick suddenly turned pale and leaned against the wall. After a moment, he burst into slightly hysterical laughter. "Protection over the whole city, you say! I made a deal with Lord Drenfeld, and the bastard broke my contract. In exchange... we now have a month to do whatever we like with Ilsarya. To prevent disaster, as it were. At the end of thirty days, the neighbouring Authorities will come in with their armies and destroy any government we have created, and the Lady Consort will probably be given charge of the province."
"That sounds roughly right," Nashal said. "Plans for the interim?"
"Er..." Clearly stalling, Roderick poured water into the kettle and lit the stove. "Well. Let's start with not letting the entire province go up in flames, yes?"
"That's a good start," Nashal sighed. "The riot's stalled. So. You have confused people milling around the central square and no kind of government at all, we know what that's a recipe for."
"Brilliant." Roderick rolled his eyes and placed the kettle down with a definitive clang. "Perhaps we can... er..." Again, the lord seemed entirely clueless about the direction of his sentence.
"Sleep," Nashal said, thudding his head into the desk. "First choice. Second choice, call a meeting. Mesmer, me, you, who else? Do we need the python there?"
"I'm afraid so. Seeing as she will be the only one left after we are all hanged for treason– sleep, though, might be a good idea. What shall we tell the crowds? If we spend the entire month building up a people's government, the entire mess will become even bloodier by the end!"
"Oh no no no," Nashal said, snapping his head up. Fucking little lords. "They're willing to kill themselves for the people's government. I think Ilsarya can handle a little delay on the execution."
"Yet then..." Shaking his head sadly, Roderick turned to get out some teacups. "Right. Well. I have read numerous books on the possibility of arranging a new form of government in which the people have the opportunity to dictate policies and to elect certain officials. It might work for, say, the next three weeks, if the entire province is involved. But there is no way that such an idea can end well."
"Who said anything about ending well?" Nashal shook his head. "We've had this conversation."
"Yes; I realise. Perhaps there is some way to end better, though? Or are we going for a sort of... supernova?"
"If I knew what that was, I'd be able to answer that question." Nashal paused. "Did you really say the province was under protection for a month?"
The kettle began whistlng. "Thirty days as of this morning." Roderick grinned at him, and poured the two cups of tea. "I don't quite know how I managed that, but somehow we ended up with a month of contractual protection. Would you fancy a spoon of sugar, or some milk?"
"This is going to be the worst and last month of my life," Nashal said, experimentally. "I don't believe it. No thanks." He fumbled for the tea. Too scalding to drink yet.
Roderick poured a dash of milk into his cup and stirred the tea with a silver spoon. "I presume this is a better option than igniting the town, though?"