Meanwhile, in the Castle


#1

When the colonies on Avalon were first settled, Grand Casar was meant to be the provincial capital of a new branch of the Carrionese empire. The castle on the town’s outskirts was meant to be the region’s seat of power, and its inhabitants were those who spoke with the voice of King Crimson on all of Avalon.

The thirty years since the first settlement had not been kind to the castle. The great statues of the founders – Alexander, Cyan, Phiott, Margayya, Kaiten and Crimson – still graced the Valley of Heroes, but they were old, weather-stained and chipped. Likewise, the interior of the castle was mostly deserted. Only a handful of guards stayed on, while most others went off to join the Far Patrol. And no great Princes or Nobles graced these halls anymore…

All that was left was a doddering, foolish (and, sometimes, apparently senile) old man named Darbur, the castle Chamberlain.

He wore the robes of someone who might be in an official capacity, and unlike the vine-covered walls of his estate, they still looked to be in somewhat regal condition. But any power the Chamberlain had disappeared, along with all outside contact with the Web of Worlds some thirty years ago.

When one of his guards brought him word that fire was falling from the sky, Darbur paid it little mind. When the impact shook his table and interrupted his early supper, he inquired as to what had happened and, on being told that an object from the heavens had struck down in the forest, he told his guards to issue a proclamation in town: All will be well, the Office of the Chamberlain of the Castle of Grand Casar of the Royal Carrionese Province of Avalon will protect you, et cetera et cetera.

But when the guards brought him word that several townsfolk had identified the falling object as having been a starship, Chamberlain Darbur’s eyes went wide. The doddering old fool, maintaining the pretense of nobility in a world that had forgotten the word’s meaning, disappeared in an instant. He stroked his long white beard, pulled his nearest guard closer to him, and gave him very specific instructions:

“Tell the old gunsmith I must see him. As soon as possible.”

The guard, a little perplexed by the Chamberlain’s sudden severity, rushed off and headed for the town. Darbur sat up straight in his seat, cleared his throat, and began to eat his meal.