Tables Turned

Welsley Koarl stood her ground even as the surprise on the elder lady’s face relaxed into amusement. The result was confusing, particularly because the younger Falson seemed to be struggling to keep the fear from her face. The Falson soldiers, in Welsley’s field of vision, had their hands on the hilts of their swords. The weapons were still sheathed but they were ready to spring into action.

She had heard weapons being drawn behind her. She hadn’t looked to confirm numbers but she assumed her supporters were at least equal in number to the Falson guards: about a dozen. Welsley kept her eyes on the two Falson women, to do otherwise would have been a mistake in Welsley’s mind. She resisted the urge to divide her attention, the real battle was with the woman on the throne; the soldiers only evened out the battlefield.

The two women eyed each other as the chamber around them descended into silence broken only by the sound of breathing.

“You are more of a problem than I could have ever predicted,” Edith Falson broke the silence from her place on the throne. The icy tone in her voice was a contrast to the amused look on her face. There was anger in the matriarch’s eyes.

“Let this be a lesson for you, Molly,” the matriarch tilted her head to the younger woman, her eyes never left Welsley. “You can never tell how someone will react when pushed into a corner.”

“This doesn’t have to end badly,” Welsley offered, “I just want my tower back.”

“Your tower?” Edith questioned. “This is hardly your tower. Your family paid for your position. At best the tower is on loan to you. After this another Koarl will never find herself chosen.”

“You can either relinquish the tower voluntarily,” Welsley threatened, “or I can take it by force. The choice is yours.”

“There has always been a Falson in a tower,” the Falson matriarch continued, the threat ignored. “Since before the Goddess. Since before history was ever recorded there has been a Falson in the tower. As long as there has been a tower there has been a Falson ruling from it. That is why there is a tower named after us. We existed long before the Goddess began.”

“The Koarl family has always been parasites,” the older woman continued. “They made their fortune through theft, smuggling, murder. They broke every law they could, they made money off the corrupt, desperate and immoral. They might try to hide it behind respectable businesses but their gold is made through parasitical practices. No amount of money spent can erase that taint.”

“And yet, that did not stop the ancient and pious Falsons from accepting money from the parasites to secure my appointment,” countered Welsley.

“Yes,” the older woman replied, “an unfortunate mistake.”

“Don’t make another mistake,” Welsley prompted. “Avoid bloodshed. Surrender.”

The older woman was quiet as she considered her options. After the quiet had stretched out a few moments the older Light sighed.

“You are right,” Edith nodded. “We must maintain an outer appearance of solidarity. I will surrender the throne to you, willingly. I will gather my entourage and return to Falson Peak in the morning.”

“No,” Welsley shook her head, “you will be my guest for a while. Forced, if necessary.”

The soldiers in front of her tensed. For a brief moment Welsley worried they would bare their steel, Edith’s left hand rose up in a halt gesture which stopped the escalation.

“Why?”

“For the sake of unity,” Welsley answered. “For the illusion of unity. We are both Her chosen. We need to part as friends, from the perspective of the masses.”

“I will submit. I see no value to a public spectacle. How long will we be your guests?”

“It shouldn’t be long,” Welsley replied. “You’ll be free to move about the tower and grounds. As long as I have your word you won’t attempt to leave without my permission, you may keep your guards and their weapons.”

“You have my word.”

“Excellent. We’ll be one big happy family,” Welsley relaxed with a soft smile. “We’ll meet tomorrow to discuss the future.”

Welsley turned and walked down the dais’ stairs. She walked slow and purposeful so as to keep from shaking. She could hardly believe things had gone so smoothly, it would have been so easy for things to have slipped into violence. She glanced and looked around her at the bottom of the stairs; there were at least two of her soldiers for every Falson.

Satisfied, Welsley headed to her chambers.

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