I folded my hands authoritatively on the regal mahogany desk in front of me and met the Count’s defiant grey eyes. “So,” I began, “I hear you’ve started raising a little rebellion against me, Count Vernon. Even though I was next in succession after my father’s death and I have been groomed for lordship from the womb, you truly believe you are more fit for it than I. What claim could you possibly have to my seat? To my birthright?”
Unwaveringly, the Count met my stare, somehow convinced that he deserved this authority more than the late lord’s own daughter. “We are at war, your ladyship,” he growled. “I have been living on the outskirts of your great lands battling your enemies. I have defeated these ruffians who would see this magnificent house brought to ruin. With this most recent development, this brutal attack upon the capital and your father’s tragic murder, war with this ruinous cult of blood mages and our King’s transgressors is on the horizon. It would be best for House Angelos, my Lady, if someone with battlefield knowledge were in charge of things rather than someone as green as yourself. My experience in combat gives me a higher claim to the lordship.”
I sighed heavily. Experience in combat amused me somewhat. I was far from “green”. If only he knew what I did in my free time. I had a feeling this would only be the start of situations like these – foolish people thinking they can take my place as head of the house on a whim. Call it instinct. “Count Vernon, are you a direct descendant of my dear late father, Virgil Angelos?”
He shook his head.
“Then you have no claim to the lordship, and you were foolish to think otherwise. I do not suffer fools easily, much like my father did. You will learn this quickly about me if you continue to cross my path. I am the new head of House Angelos, and I do not wish to suffer such trifles at the hands of my subjects the day after my father’s death.” Clearly, the Count did not underestimate my abilities. These words set in him a visible unease as the defiance in his face faltered slightly. “However,” I continued, “I do have some need of your knowledge. Instead of handing over my position like some spineless twit, I offer you a position on my council of advisors as Chief Advisor of War and Defense. You may have this or death. Your choice.”
I watched the Count as he pondered my offer. He of course would not get any better offers, and really, he had nothing to lose. Of course, he would not have any real power. My uncle is perhaps the only advisor whom I actually trust on all matters. This buffoon would only have a figurehead position that made him feel as though he were important. To give a subordinate any power at all would be the height of idiocy. He would only be in a better position to subvert me.
After a long pause, Count Vernon spoke up, “My Lady, I will take your offer. I would be honored to serve as an advisor on your council.”