TITLE: The First P’p’l’rarian War
SERIES: The Adventures of Lord Sam and Lady Brooke
AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: Not owning most characters, not making a profit and so on and so forth.
PAIRING: Sam/Brooke… And Others
NOTE: Whee! Another videogame-induced chapter in the Lord Sam series. Bonus points for those who can guess which game it was this time. And now that I’ve finished it I realise it’s become more soapbox-y than I intended.
War unites people. It’s a nasty truth, but a truth all the same. When war breaks out complaining citizens become Upstanding Patriots, corrupt tyrants become Great Leaders and an ineffectual government becomes The Last Line Of Defence Against Them (“Them” being Not Us). In short, war has a lot of benefits and it could even be sensible government policy if it wasn’t for all those people who tend to die.
Lord Sam, however, thought that sending thousands of people to their deaths so that everybody else would like her more was not sensible government policy and so had disbanded the P’p’l’rarian military after the PHL incident. There was a police force, yes, and the Palace still had a selection of ceremonial guards, but that was basically it. Lord Sam didn’t seek war and, because close neighbour Dunc was mostly concerned with warring itself, war had never sought her.
“In conclusion we regret to inform you that diplomacy with words has failed and we find ourselves forced to continue with the diplomacy of arms,” said the man standing in front of Lord Sam’s throne.
“I see,” said Lord Sam. And then, “So… who are you anyway?”
“I am Jacob David,” the man declared. “Official War Declarer of the Glorious Republic of Athan.”
“Official War Declarer?” Lord Sam asked. “Are you saying it’s your job to randomly go out and declare war on people?”
“Indeed,” said Jacob David. He produced a small stack of paper from somewhere inside his robes. “Incidentally, I will need your signature here and here and your initials here, here, here and here,” he pointed.
“That’s the official declaration of war, isn’t it?” said Lord Sam.
“Yes it is,” said Jacob David. “And could you please hurry? I still need to work through quite a lot of paperwork.”
“And if I refuse to sign that thing?” Lord Sam asked.
Jacob David looked shocked. “Not sign a Republican document? Why such a thing would be considered a serious act of aggression.”
“And then you’d have to declare war on us, am I right?” Lord Sam said.
“Quite so. We couldn’t let you get away with something like that.”
“Right,” said Lord Sam. Reluctantly, she took the paper and signed it there and there and put her initials there, there, there and there before handing it back to Jacob David.
“Thank you very much,” he said as he accepted the war declaration. He took two pieces of paper out of his pocket and quickly scribbled a few things down. “Here is your receipt and here is the copy of your receipt.”
Lord Sam looked at the two pieces of paper incredulously. “I get a receipt for a war declaration?”
“Of course. Republican law states that receipts have to be handed over with… pretty much everything,” said Jacob David. He nodded. “Well then, good day to you.”
And then he was gone.
Lord Sam looked out the window of her bedroom chamber and watched the sun slowly set. If she concentrated, however, she saw P’p’l’r turning away from Her.
Lord Sam felt two arms snaking around her waist and got back down to earth.
“What are you thinking of?” Lady Brooke’s voice sounded in her ear.
“War,” Lord Sam answered. “Apparently, we’re at war with the Republic of Athan.”
“Never heard of it.”
“Me neither. So I’m trying to locate it.”
“Right,” said Lady Brooke.
Lady Brooke was silent as Lord Sam at one and the same time looked out the window and down at the planet.
“Hmm,” she said, after a while.
“What?” Lady Brooke asked.
“Apparently Athan lies far to the north of Dunc.”
“Pretty far,” said Lord Sam. “So it’ll be a while before their armies’ll get here.”
“And then you’ll just incinerate them?” Lady Brooke asked.
“No, I’m afraid I’ll have to do this properly,” she spat the word. “No divine interference and such.” She turned around in Lady Brooke’s arms and smiled. “But we’ll worry about that tomorrow.”
It is generally accepted by scientist that the speed of light is the fastest speed anything could possibly get. But, then again, what do scientists know about anything? The speed of light is nothing compared to the speed of gossip. Especially if it’s P’p’l’rarians doing the gossiping.
So when morning came Lord Sam was not surprised that the P’p’l’rarian postal services had delivered a huge number of letters at the Palace gates. This was nothing new, Lord Sam frequently received plenty of mail. However, none of those letters ever began with “To Lord Sam, Most Noblest Of Us All.”
Lord Sam sat in her throne and looked at the pile of letters in disgust. She knew her subjects well enough to know that this whole war business would do wonders for her popularity, but she never expected to actually get fan-mail. Her opinion of the average P’p’l’rarian reached a new low. That got even lower when she read the letter from a woman who was apparently pregnant and hoped her offspring would be twins so that the Glorious Lord Sam had an extra soldier to send off into battle.
Disgusted, Lord Sam shoved all letters into the fireplace, then sent one of her servants to go and fetch Misty for her. Not long after the red-haired girl who had accidentally come from another dimension stood nervously in front of Lord Sam’s throne.
“Ah Misty,” said Lord Sam. “And how are you today?”
“Very horny, my Lord,” Misty said.
Lord Sam winced and briefly regretted not having the massive power of denial her subjects were blessed with. “Glad to hear it,” she said, forcing a smile. “So, Misty, how would you like to go on a vacation? To, say, the Rim Mountains.”
“Sure, that’d be great,” said the girl.
“Splendid,” said Lord Sam. “Well in that case, go to the stables, get yourself the fastest horse there is and go for it. To the Rim Mountains, that is. I’ll make sure you’ll have enough gold and everything.”
“What about Carmen?” asked Misty.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about her too much. She’ll be fine.”
“OK then,” said Misty.
The girl turned around and left the throne room. Lord Sam nodded to herself, then quickly set to work on composing a letter.
Five minutes later, the doors to the throne room swung open.
“Ah, messenger Carmen, just the girl I wanted to see,” said Lord Sam, smiling.
“My Lord, Misty has disappeared!” messenger Carmen shrieked.
“Oh dear,” said Lord Sam. “If I’m not mistaken Misty has set off for the Rim Mountains.”
“What!” yelled messenger Carmen. “But I haven’t had any sex for seven minutes!”
“Well if you hurry you might catch up with her.”
“I’ll do that,” said messenger Carmen.
“Oh and if you’re going to the Rim Mountains anyway, mind delivering this letter to the Crystal Queen for me? Thanks.”
Messenger Carmen quickly grabbed the letter before hurrying out the throne room. Lord Sam smiled. A big part of ruling is knowing your subjects.
It wasn’t an army. While it was true that most human armies tended to comprise of men and women holding things with really sharp edges, the multitude that had gathered in front of the Palace still wasn’t an army. It was just a group people holding knives, pikes, a sword or two and a couple of forks.
Lord Sam stood in front of the group and tried to glare, though she feared she wasn’t being as intimidating as she hoped on account of Julian lounging on the Palace roof and snickering at her.
“So what’s all this then?” said Lord Sam, trying to pretend the dragon behind her didn’t exist.
A young man stepped out of the crowd, chest proudly thrust forward, the manic gleam of the true patriot in his eyes and a rusty razor blade in his hand.
“We have come to volunteer,” said the young man.
“Volunteer for what?” said Lord Sam.
“The army, of course,” said the man. “We are willing to lay down our lives doing what’s right. The evil aggressor must be stopped and we’re the ones who’re going to stop him.”
Julian stopped snickering. And started laughing.
“That’s nice,” said Lord Sam. “Of course, you do realise that this war is pointless, right?”
The young man looked confused. “What do you mean pointless? It’s war!”
“Yes, but there’s no good reason for this war. No strategic benefit for anyone, OK?”
“We must hold back the invaders!” the young man declared. “We must make sure our wives aren’t ravished in their beds!”
“And how are you going to do that when you’re not actually home but on a battlefield somewhere?” Lord Sam asked.
The man looked nonplussed for a moment, but recovered magnificently. “We’ll strike them down on the field of honour.”
Lord Sam raised an eyebrow. In her opinion the field of honour was really the field of bleeding and screaming.
“Right,” she said. “Well in that case, we’ve received information that the enemy is going to come from across the Novak Sea so you should all hurry to the shore, all right?”
The man proudly thrust his razor blade up into the air. “We shall be victorious!”
“Of course you will.”
Lord Sam carefully waited until the amateur army had gone, then rolled her eyes and turned around.
“You know, your subjects never cease to amuse me,” said Julian from her perch atop the roof.
“Glad you’re having fun,” said Lord Sam sourly.
“So tell me, how are you going to deal with the evil aggressor?”
“Oh I sent a request to the Crystal Queen for aid.”
“I see,” said Julian.
“And I’m betting the Wildcats are up for a bit of fun too.”
“Hmm… those furry barbarians do know how to fight, I’ll give you that. But there’s not a lot of them.”
“More than you think,” said Lord Sam. “They’ve been flocking from Dunc for months now. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of their forest dwellings turned into a complete city. And besides, Wildcats usually don’t bother with that battlefield nonsense.”
Julian grinned. “So if I’m not mistaken you’re relying solely on non-humans to win this for you.”
“I’m very open-minded in that respect,” said Lord Sam.
It was early on the second (or technically third) day of what had become known as the P’p’l’rarian War and there was still no sign from The Enemy which was good in Lord Sam’s opinion. There was also an almost constant stream of fan-mail, which was bad.
The Most Honourable Ruler Of The Most Glorious Nation was feeding her letters to her fireplace one by one when the throne room doors opened and a pair of trumpeters scooted inside to prepare for a grand entrance.
As it turned out, the grand entrance belonged to Pope Carly, undisputed leader of the One True Church of Cassandra (number 256). Lord Sam had an intense dislike for Pope Carly. Not only had the woman been able to interpret “love everyone in your general area” as “make sure everybody listens to what we say by chopping people to bits and setting fire to them” but there was also something very disconcerting about her that Lord Sam couldn’t quite define.
“Pope Carly,” said Lord Sam. “To what do I owe the… experience.”
“My Lord, I have joyous news,” said Pope Carly.
“You’ve given up on torturing people?” Lord Sam asked.
“Of course not,” said Pope Carly. “Torture is the only way people can truly be converted to the love of Cassandra. And, by the way, I would be much obliged if you’d actually allow me to torture the heretic.”
“Not going to happen,” said Lord Sam cheerfully. “So what’s the news then?”
“I am happy to inform you that the war has been divinely approved,” said Pope Carly.
“Really?” said Lord Sam. “Well now colour me surprised.”
“Yes, the Goddesses -and that one God we don’t like to talk about- are most pleased that you have finally heard Their call.”
“And what would that call be, exactly?”
“To convert the heathen, of course,” said Pope Carly. “By any means necessary.”
“I don’t know,” said Lord Sam. “Dead people tend to not convert to anything afterwards, you know.”
“Ah, but you are sadly trapped in this mundane world. Surely the souls of the fallen will be gathered by… well you know…”
“Mort, God of Death?”
Pope Carly looked disapproving. “Yes. Him. The heterosexual. Anyway, once that happens the slain heathen will surely recognise the Everlasting Truth.”
“And all we have to do to get that result is commit mass murder. How easy.”
“Truer words have never been spoken.”
“That was sarcasm Carly,” said Lord Sam.
“Yes, I know you are excited,” said Pope Carly, displaying in that one sentence that, deep down, she too was a true P’p’l’rarian. “And therefore I shall pray for your success.”
“Good. Now go pray someplace else.”
“But of course,” said Pope Carly. “The Goddesses are barely present in this place, after all.”
“Right you are,” said Lord Sam, the Cassandrian Sun Goddess.
On the tenth day the dragons arrived. The society of the Rim Mountain dragons was an uncomplicated one. There were the gargoyles who handled all the menial tasks and generally led quite contented lives and the dragons who made up the nobility and constantly fought each other for power. The Crystal Queen, however, had managed to get the dragons to stop fighting each other and most dragons weren’t too happy about this, although they wisely never said anything about it. And so when the dragons learned of the P’p’l’rarian War, they came in droves, each one even more eager to fight than the last. It still wasn’t an army since the dragons weren’t organised enough. But, then again, dragons don’t need to be organised.
Day fifteen and the tsunami of relentless fan-mail had clogged up every fireplace in the Palace.
Lord Sam and Lady Brooke were having a very intimate… discussion… on Lord Sam’s throne when Shawl, the unofficial Wildcat leader, entered. When she had reached the throne she purred politely.
“Ah, Shawl, glad to see you,” said Lord Sam.
“Really?” said Shawl. “Seems to me like I interrupted your mating session and I for one would get very upset if that were to happen to me.”
Lord Sam smiled. “Shawl, you have no idea how happy those words make me. Now then, any news?”
“Yes. My scouts have spotted the enemy army crossing the border.” She hesitated. “But I think “army” is too big a word.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, technically, they’re two boys in uniform.”
“What, just two?” said Lord Sam. “Are you sure they’re the enemy army?”
“They certainly claim they are. But come, I shall introduce them to you.”
Shawl turned around and snarled at the throne room doors. Six people entered, four Wildcats and two humans. Two of the Wildcats were dressed in their traditional garments (nothing), but the other two were wearing robes. The two humans couldn’t have been older than 16 and wore bright purple uniforms. When the small group reached the throne, the four Wildcats bowed briefly. The young men, however, didn’t.
“Lord Sam?” said one of the young men.
“I am sergeant John of the Republican Army (Army Group P’p’l’r division) and I hereby demand your surrender.”
“Really?” said Lord Sam. “Army Group P’p’l’r you say? And where would that one be, exactly.”
“Right here,” said sergeant John. “Me and private Paul are Army Group P’p’l’r and now that we have seized your residence of power we demand your surrender.”
“Yeah, that whole seizing thing is debatable,” said Lord Sam. “You are aware that you are prisoners, right?”
“We have taken a number of prisoners, yes,” said sergeant John. “We will shortly present you with the receipts for them after you have surrendered to us.”
“Let me guess. You’ve taken four Wildcats prisoner, yes?”
“Five actually,” said sergeant John. “Now surrender.”
Lord Sam stood up. Or tried to anyway, but it was pretty difficult since Lady Brooke hadn’t expected her to stand up. But in the end, Lord Sam was standing. And glaring down at the prisoners with her sword drawn.
“Tell me something,” said Lord Sam. “With how many countries is the Republic of Athan at war?”
“The world is filled with terrors from the dark that intend to harm us and the government of our proud Republic has set to work to make sure we are safe,” said sergeant John.
“Right now, “safe” is a very relative term for you,” said Lord Sam. “So you’re at war with a whole lot of countries, am I right?”
“Our Glorious President tells us that without war there cannot be peace.”
Lord Sam remembered the war declarer and privately formed her own opinions on the Athan president.
“In my opinion, war is the one thing that stands in the way of peace,” Lord Sam said.
“Our Glorious President is always right!” sergeant John shouted.
“And I bet he makes real sure you’re safe, doesn’t he?” said Lord Sam, smiling sweetly.
“Evil is forever out to get us but our President has gone to great lengths to make sure it doesn’t get us.”
“Right.” Lord Sam abruptly raised her sword and pressed the tip against sergeant John’s throat. “And how safe do you feel right now?”
Sergeant John tried to swallow. “Our President…”
“He… he makes… I mean… evil…”
“You know, I think the best way to ensure your safety is to run away quickly,” Lord Sam said.
Sergeant John looked at Lord Sam and then at the sword.
Lord Sam put her sword back into its scabbard not long after the two boys had fled.
Shawl was laughing. “Well done,” she said approvingly.
“That wasn’t so hard,” said Lord Sam. “I just hope they’re smart enough to not go home.” She sighed. “But now I’ve got a different problem.”
“What then?” asked Shawl.
“I promised the dragons a fight and now they’re not getting one. They’re going to be pretty pissed about that.”
“Don’t worry,” said Shawl. “My warriors shall entertain them and besides, our mages need the practise. We’ll give them a fight to write home about.”
“I’d appreciate it,” Lord Sam said.
And so the First P’p’l’rarian War ended with a narrow victory for the Wildcats over the dragons. On penalties during extra time.
It was quite some time later and Lord Sam sat on her throne, reading letters. The one she was reading right now concerned the Wildcat mating season and the noises accompanied by it. The writer lived in Bergal, a city in south of P’p’l’r, and even though the Wildcats lived in the forests to the north and their mating season wouldn’t be for another three months the concerned citizen still felt he had more than enough reasons to complain about the excessive noise pollution.
Lord Sam smiled.
Life was good again.
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