To Be More.
OOC: In my timeline there was a year between the events of the Lavenrunzian Winterball, and the events of the Chains of Pride/it's successors. During that time these events took place...
"Come on you magguts! Keep UP!" Sergeant Major Fain Cloudmallet, Britmattian Special Forces Regiment, or "Sufferers" as the regular army referred to the unit, behind their backs and quietly too, bellowed at the trainees slogging behind him along the muddy track, hemmed in by towering pine trees.
"You focking nancies want in MY regiment? I don't focking thenk-sae! PICK IT UP!" The shattered looking group of men and women picked up the pace again, tired legs trying to match the dwarvish NCO's iron-legged pace. The Sergeant Major laughed hugely "That's nae an effort magguts, you'll never make it as sojers of the King like this!"
Watching quietly from the treeline were three men, a young dark haired man, the winged dagger on his black beret and colonel's crowns on his sleeves marking him as the Special Forces regimental commander, and the dark hair and grey eyes as a Warwick. The young man smiled at the sergeant's exhortations. "Takes me back to when I was a buck recruit."
One of the other men, a dignified man with a full general's insignia raised a grey eyebrow. "Owen that was only a decade ago, the good sergeant is reminding me of the days *I* was a recuit, an altogether different time."
Quiet laughter came from the last man, who was oddly reminscent of a fox, with a pointed red/white beard and sober wings of white at his temples. Green eyes considered the general. "So even though you could doubtless remember this when we first met, I didn't get any slack?"
The general brushed at his moustache, a neatly clipped bar of gray. "If I'd gone soft on you, you could hardly have expected to become the most talented Chief of Staff we've ever had, could we Andrew?"
The Fox, as his friends, and few surviving enemies, called him, laughed again. "Enough flattery Alex, you can't get promoted any higher, or you'll be doing my job."
Alex Dumas, the grey haired man, grinned. "Well I don't want that, you didn't get those white hairs sitting around drinking char. So anyway, other than reminscing over our long lost youth, and keeping Owen from doing his job, what are we doing out here?" Both general and colonel eyed Field Marshall.
Andrew Edinburgh scowled thoughtfully, increasing the vulpineness of his features even further.
"We're here because of Owen's experiences at the Lavenrunzian Winterball."
The redbearded general paused, then spoke again, stroking his beard thoughtfully,
"Perhaps the most capable man in our special forces was knocked out and tied up by soldiers who it's doubtful were half as intensively trained, or enculturated. Why? Because they produced something he needed equipment to counter. It proves in itself that troopers won't always have what they need. So we've devised a project to give them these things in a more...permanent fashion." The Fox frowned.
"Owen, the Special Forces will be providing most of the personnel for our latest effort, so you're cleared for this. And Alex, you're his commander, so you're of course briefed. But this goes no further to anyone under General. Gentlemen, welcome to Project Utlänning."
CentGov Buildings - Military Command Section
Owen walked along calmly, hands in the pockets of his greatcoat. He was currently headed toward the tower briefing room, along with his XO, a female captain who rejoiced in the name of Elisabeth Golightly, doubtless to recieve some sort of briefing.
Odd though. Why would they bring us all the way to Royesse for a briefing, something must be up.
He frowned thoughtfully. Ah well. It'll be explained soon enough.
The Colonel and his XO continued their trek through the endless halls of the CentGov building, the towering castle which dominated central Royesse, till they reached a guard sitting calmy next to a scanner. Behind the guard was a door marked "Briefing Room 01".
Owen pulled his ID card out of a coat pocket and, thumb securely on the thumbprint analyzer built into the card, swiped it through the small machine the guard held out. The Captain followed his example and both officers were waved through. The guard opened the door and the pair were ushered into a room dominated by a long oak table, viewscreens taking up the longer walls of the narrow room.
Already seated were General Dumas, Field Marshall Edinburgh and four other people.
The Admiral of the Fleet, Vlad Bathame, a muscular, disreputable-looking, balding man with impressive, raven-black moustaches was attended by his aide, an Ensign who was essentially a younger version of himself, without moustaches and with hair.
Air Marshall Weber, a large, if not portly, man with a neatly clipped dark beard, was engaged in conversation with his aide, a tall, handsome woman with almond shaped eyes and Captain's insignia. She grinned at Owen as he took a seat and he smiled back. Elisabet watched the byplay and grinned.
"Old friend sir?"
Owen eyed his adjutant, mouth quirking in a smile. "Stop smirking Elisa, Honor and I were at the academy together."
Elisa coughed. "Of course Sir."
The door opened and Ian, Lord Banksman, the Minister of Science and Technology stepped through. He stopped, eyed the people seated around the desk, nodded, and walked to the head of the table. Banksman was a dry, stick-insect of a man, hornrimmed glasses perched on his nose. He was oddly reminiscent of the generic science teacher, which is what he'd been at Royesse University before his present post. He sat, popped open his briefcase, then looked at the assembled officers.
"Well gentlemen. We're here to discuss Project Utlänning. And by discuss, I mean we're going to take suggestions as to what we actually need to implement to the project." He frowned over his glasses.
Owen blinked and sighed mentally. This was going to be a looong day...
...Notice to All Interested Governments...
The Acting Government of Britmattia has identified a pressing need for aide with a bioalteration program currently ongoing within the Kingdom. Nations with expertise in the fields of cellular and genetic alteration are invited to tender to the concepts for an internally sustainable modification program. Further details will be available on request.
OOC The contract has already been awarded to Tsaraine.
Eugenics and Cloning Research Core, Nova Reio, Tsaraine
Yseult keiMorahn sighed inwardly, and regarded the Division Commandant sitting on the other side of her desk.
At least it isn't the Domina, sticking her nose in my Corps again, she thought. Although Sural tsaChanya was almost as bad. Everyone knew he didn't have the real power in Division Six any more.
"We have a very important assignment!" tsaChanya told her cheerfully. "An outlander nation wants our help."
Yseult itched to slap her superior's crazed grin off his face - there'd always been dangerous blood in her mother's family - but repressed the urge. That wouldn't do her any good.
"Oh?" she asked. "I thought policy was not to assist outlander technological development?"
Sural shrugged, still grinning. "Orders from the Domina," he replied.
That explained it. Another crazy plan from Div5.
"Well, what is it then?" she asked, a little more snappy than she'd meant to be.
"Some nation named "Britmattia", Sural replied. "We're supposed to help them develop geneered special forces."
"We should have done that some time ago ourselves," Yseult noted. Rukine Knights were bodyguards, not commandos. "Some of the Rukine Project modifications could be transferred, no? - Not the electrosensory stuff, of course."
"Of course," Sural agreed. "Perhaps we could transfer adaptions developed for the outlanders back to our own use, too."
Message To: Acting Government of Britmattia
Message Fr: Dominion of Tsaraine
Message Re: Notice to All Interested Governments
The Dominion believes that it has the neccessary expertise to assist you in your endeavour, and is willing to do so, to further contact between our nations.
We will of course require additional information about the project in order to proceed.
~ Sural tsaChanya
Division Six Commandant
CentGov Briefing Room 01
Owen eyed the on-screen communique from the Tsarainese, currently displayed on one of the view-screens in Briefing Room 01, then looked to Banksman, who was chewing the left frame of his glasses thoughtfully.
The rest of the Committee for Augmentation, as it was now formally known, also eyed the dried-out-looking Minister.
Banksman continued chewing. The silence drew on.
Glances were exchanged among the service heads, and Andrew Edinburgh cleared his throat. "Er, Ian, perhaps you could share your thoughts?"
Banksman blinked. "Oh. Yes, sorry Andrew. Yes. The Tsarainese. Yes. Well. We could've hardly gotten a better response. They're experts in this sort of field, and don't usually share what they develop with outsiders. I guess our donation of genetic material to one of their more recent projects must have aided. But we should accept this with alarcity."
Andrew nodded, and stroked his beard. "Very well Ian."
Britmattian Govt Communique
Formal Program Brief, as set out by the Committee for Augmentation, Chaired by Lord Ian Banksman.
Public Genetic Augmentation
"Clean" genetic code - All known flaws are removed retroactively via gene therapy for those already born, in-utero for the unborn.
Utlanning Augmentation Program
skeletal enhancement/replacement - improved tensile strength/improved crush surviveability/improved kinetic attack surviveability.
skeletal enlargement - covers more vulnerable areas, increases energy conduction/dissipation.
subdermal mesh - kinetic attack defense
genetically modified epidermis - thermal absorption, reduces the effect of energy weapons/burns, also reduces IR signature.
Sealed bodily systems - internal sealing of differing cavities to contain fluids in the event of a puncture wound.
Self sealing wounds - wounds to muscle areas self repair immediately.
Muscle Enhancement - muscle/body fat balance self adjusts, high energy drain immediately adjusted to by fatty tissues breakdown, stronger, faster and more tacticle control than the average human.
Stealth Capabilities - all augments are invisible to the naked eye.
Organ Redundancy - Useless organs removed, efficiency improved on all others, major organs have biomechanical backups.
Enhanced Capability Augments
Improved Senses - All senses are improved by genetic retroversion, approximately wolf level for hearing/smell.
Improved Sight - Eyes are enhanced via retroversion, giving them improved nightsight and are made mechanically capable of shifting into IR/UV spectra.
Built-in weaponry - internally sheathed polymer blades?
Anjou, Bathame Dutchy, Britmattia
"Now reentering atmosphere over polar cap. Please prepare for reentry."
The Tsarainese ECRC platoon obediently returned to their seats and buckled down, as below the spaceplane the curve of the Earth grew into the shining plain of the North Polar ice, and a speck of green and grey at it's edge grew into the Vestear Kingdom of Britmattia.
At the end of the ice the spaceplane braked, hard, to bring them down to landing speeds at the military airfield of Anjou.
From the viewports of the spaceplane, Ksarin tsaKoinah could see cold ground, stubbled with hardy grasses, and a few buildings scattered about on the surface. This was what Tsaraine might look like, if the Treznori rad-eating bacteria worked.* (http://www.nationstates.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2066498)
When they'd got the green light to disentangle themselves from the acceleration harness, Ksarin assembled his platoon for the usual foreign-relations speech. He'd never actually said it before, but the thing was policy.
"All right, people. We are now entering the territory of a foreign soverign state, the Vestear Kingdom of Britmattia, for the purpose of aid to strengthen foreign relations.
"In this foreign nation you may see customs and peoples alien to the good Tsarainese mind, and you must remember at all times that these are alien customs. We are obliged by common politeness to respect those customs, but we must never allow ourselves to adopt them; for therein lies the seed of corruption which can, if allowed to fester, destroy the State.
"Go forth, and aquit yourselves well, for the glory of the people and the State.
"And now that bit of palaver is over ... behave yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, but have fun."
Ksarin led the way off the spaceplane and onto the landing field to meet the Britmattian delegation awaiting; twenty figures in the heavy white coats of Tsarainese Researchers, and one in the black flightsuit of the Space Command. That was the co-pilot, escorting the Researchers as a representative of the martial Divisions, as was laid down in the regulations.
Owen shivered and turned the heating elements in his coat up some more as he climbed out of the Wanderer APC, followed by a couple of troopers, both wearing the clamshell armour of Spec Ops.
He watched the white-coated Tsarainese file off the shuttle dispassionately, mentally cursing the engineers who'd built the temporary shuttle pad above ground, fully exposed to the biting winds coming off the ice cap. He muttered to himself, and headed towards the group at a jog, trying to generate some heat.
"Gentles, I'm here to collect you, and" He waved a gloved hand at the ugly bulk of the Wanderer "here is your transport. Uh, I'm afraid I'm a little rusty on Tsarainese insignia, so...who's in command?"
A tall, gaunt man, face ruddy from the stinging wind raised a hand.
"I'm Ksarin tsaKoinah, the Platoon Commandant."
Owen nodded. "I'm Owen Warwick O.C for the Spec Ops, any further conversation can wait till we get out of the bloody wind." He motioned and the two troopers scooped up the baggage, just in time for a second Wanderer to pull up and have it loaded on.
He motioned for tsaKoinah to follow and jumped in the cab of the first Wanderer. The rest of the ECRC platoon filed on board through the gaping doors on the back.
As the last Tsarainese climbed on board Owen hit the hatch close, started the engine and began hauling the boxy APC round in a circle.
tsaKoinah huddled closer to the warm air blowing up from the main console and looked to Owen.
"So you're commanding the SpecOps? Um, what er..position does that give you with regards to the project?"
Owen, scowling slightly, staring out at the blasted tundra ahead, carefully avoiding the town as he drove took a while to reply.
"Sorry. Hate driving these bloody lumps of metal. I'm the unit Commander for the guys you're here to help us...augment. I'll be undergoing the process myself as well, so I have a fair degree of say in how things run. But for the development you'll mainly be working with,"
He paused and carefully guided the grumbling APC around a stand of scroungy looking trees and onto a dirt track masquerading as a road.
"What was I saying, oh yes. You'll be working with our Minister of Science, Lord-Professor Banksman, he and his staff will eventually be administering this project..so"
He paused again as the APC came to what looked like a mountain covered in concrete, which ominously overhung two massive doors. Heavy guns could be seen protuding slightly from the hillside, tracking the movements of the APC. Owen guided the vehicle to the doors, then wound down the window on the drivers side. A trooper in power armour, toting a slung HVM Launcher easily, approached.
Owen flipped out his idea card, the trooper scanned it, then stepped back into the guardpost he'd emerged from. The massive doors started to grate apart and Owen slowly slid forward, looking back to his guest,
"So you'll be building as you work, sorta. They've got some tech we acquired from a trading partner they want your opinion on anyway, something about "retroviral" thingummies. I don't know. I'm a soldier, my specialities lie elsewhere."
The APC continued to grumble along inside the mountain, the tunnel it'd started off in behind the doors gradually opening into a vast cavern, which seemed to contain a city, or near enough to. Vehicles moved hurried around streets made of crushed rock. Eventually the APC arrived at next to an unfinished-looking building with "Research - Spec Ops" painted on the sign on the driveway up to it.
Owen parked the APC neatly at the front, then hopped out of the APC. The Tsarainese piled out, most looked vaguely nauseous, the Wanderer had been designed to be ridden in with power armour on, thus shockabsorbers were optimized to deal with massive weight on board. Lighter loads meant horribly bouncy rides for unarmoured personnel.
tsaKoinah looked at the building, then back to Owen, who saluted and spoke, "Tsarainese guests, welcome to your new home. barracks are first corridor on the right as you go in. You've got single rooms and there'll be acclimatisation tours later today. For now, I suggest you get settled in. Platoon Commandant, the Lord-Professor will be around shortly after I inform him you're here. Do you want that to be swiftly?"
tsaKoinah grinned. "Colonel, of course I want it to be so, my people are ready and raring to go."
Owen eyed the groaning Tsarainese and grinned himself. "Quite so. I'll let him know in a few hours then. On my own behalf, welcome Platoon Commandant." He shook tsaKoinah's hand swiftly, then whirled and clambered back into the APC, swiftly backing the oddly shaped APC out of the drive and down the track.
tsaKoinah followed the retreating vehicle with a satisfied expression.
Seems amiable enough.
"Right people. Let's get settled in."
Anjou, Bathame Dutchy, Britmattia
Ksarin gathered his Platoon again, and waited a few minutes for them to cease their complaints about the poor suspension on the Britmattian vehicle.
"You have several hours to get settled in," he told them. "I expect you all to be ready to go in a few hours, however; remember, your time is the State's time. Don't waste it."
They replied with the usual affirmatives, and disappeared into the barracks with the equipment. Ksarin experienced a twinge of discomfort at the jolting the expensive machineries and samples had recieved; but they were carefully cushioned in their cases. They should be fine.
Following his Platoon into the barracks, Ksarin found an unclaimed cubicle, and dropped his bags on the bed. The room wasn't much smaller than his own quarters in Nova Reio, back in the Dominion.
OOC: Brain goes meyoort! Meyoort! No more thinking, Mr Goldfish! Argh. Gah...
Research Lab 023, the next day
Ian Banksman settled the folio he'd been referring to back into order, then laid it down on the lab bench he'd been leaning against. He pushed his glasses up his nose and squinted at his Tsarainese counterpart.
"That's as far as we've gotten. The bone-replacement was easy enough, once you devise a way to calcificate an alloy. The genetic code was simple enough to tweak, it's just getting people to agree to implement genetic testing now. However, the organ tweaking and the muscular enhancement are beyond us."
tsaKoinah nodded. "Well, if this retroviral design you've got works out, we should be able to work through it. I think it will work, which leads us to the main problem of this work. Making this" he waved a hand at the diagrams covering walls of the lab "unobtrusive. Not just because you've chosen to modify citizens, so they'll presumably retire eventually, but also because you'll have to get them through customs, which the amount of metal you've got inherent to the design won't allow."
Banksman frowned, then nodded uneasily. "Well, it's a national trait. We're not really comfortable without bits of metal attached to our person by some means or another."
tsaKoinah looked at his host for a moment, then laughed slightly, unsure if it was a joke or not.
Banksman smiled back. "Ah well. Needs must when the Dark One drives eh?"
tsaKoinah nodded "Indeed. Well, I'll get my people in here, and we can get to work on the retrovirus."
The Tsarainese Researchers examined the plans with interest; the Britmattian idea was certainly one of the most ambitious they'd undertaken (and probably the craziest, too).
One of the Researchers, with a DNA-splicer's tabs on his white coat, almost drooled over the retroviral schematics.
"You, you, you ... Fate loves you people!" he gabbled happily. "This ... this is quite possibly the, the most important revolution in applied genetics since the DNA helix w-was discovered!"
"It's not tested," one of the Britmattian scientists pointed out. "We don't know if it works yet."
"Well, well, we'll make it work!" the happy Researcher bubbled.
"You know," Ksarin remarked to Banksman, nearby, "This is going to be very difficult to conceal, however we do it. Replacing the metal with ceramic or plastic might work, but we could never replace all the metal, and in any case there are systems which could detect it. To be honest, I have very little idea of how to achieve this."
The Labs, Structural Section, a week later.
Banksman perambulated into the lab, grinning. Well, it would've been a grin on someone less...beaky. He wandered up to the head of the Structural Section, who surprisingly enough was a Britmattian. Generations of building armour around wildly different body types had meant the expertise was something of a national trait. And in this case, a species one, as the head of the group was a dwarf. A female one by the name of Minty Littlebottom (GoGo Tribute Characters!).
She looked at her startlingly heronlike boss. "Mornin sir, I assume the grin is because someone else has had a breakthrough?" She rubbed her nose ruefully and continued "Cause we certainly haven't."
The other scientists made unhappy sounds of agreement.
Banksman continued...well, the term that sprang to mind was grimacing, but it was clearly a happy look, so the team mentally substituted "grinning". He rubbed his hands together gleefully.
"Oh we've had a major breakthrough alright. On the trade front!"
Confused looks greeted this pronouncement.
Banksman grinned some more. "GMC have agreed to export us their C-60 Nanotubes, which in addition to having a greater tensile strength than diamond also superconduct at room temperature! It solves the metals detection problem, gives us a far more flexible substance to build the cybernetics around, and boosts the protection for the entire design!" The Lord-Professor skipped around the table, a sight which startled the somewhat shocked staff even further.
Minty shook her head and blinked. "With that..." she stopped speaking and crushed her boss in a hug "We're on our way!"
O.O.C Because Tsa is a lazy lazy man, I'm posting again. Heh. ;)
"Again, next panel."
"Excellent. Take a rest Corporal."
The black bereted Corporal saluted and walked out of the room.
tsaKoinah looked at the series of destroyed panels. The muscular enhancement trials were going excellently. Indeed, the project had been remarkably trouble-free. The retrovirus tests were continuing apace and his people were ecstatic with the possibilities inherent to it.
He finished jotting notes down on his tablet and reached for the intercom,
"Marion, could you send a cleaner down to Room 38, we're done here for now."
The intercom squawked an affirmative. He hung the reciever up again and ambled out of the room, gaunt frame starkly angular in the artifical light of the corridor. He strolled up the bare hall, occassionally leaning in and looking at the results of the various tests his and the Britmattian personnel were working on.
He eventually arrived at the Project Co-Ordination Office, where he'd hoped to find Banksman, a hope that was fulfilled.
"Ah Ksarin. How goes the muscularity tests?"
"All complete Ian." tsaKoinah took a seat on the table in the middle of the room.
Banksman nodded. "Good. All up, we've completed all the superstructural augments, bar the epidermis mods. The survivability changes are ready to implement the moment the retrovirus boys finish up, which I'm reliably informed will be some time later today. We're just waiting on design completion for the eye augments, the other senses stuff has been built into the retro beastie. The built in weaponry has turned out to be a bust, so we've deleted in from the program brief to save a bit of time and money."
Banksman grimaced. tsaKoinah mirrored the expression, money or resources, it was unpleasant to have to scrimp on any project. But this one had been a success in pretty much all other areas.
Ksarin pinched the bridge of his nose. "So who's going to be the guinea pig? We've modelled it all extensively on computer, but someone'll have to test the whole shebang in real life. So far all we've done is the structural stuff, and even then only in parts."
"Owen has volunteered."
"Really? Leading from the front I suppose.."
Banksman grinned, thin lips almost peeling back. "He is a member of our aristocracy you know. They do these sort of things."
"So, you've finished the optical systems?"
The cybernetics Researcher nodded, and held up a glossy white sphere for Ksarin's inspection.
"It took some experimenting, of course, since using carbon nanotubes is as new to us as it is to the Britmattikh, but we think it'll work. It's not entirely finished - there's adding the retina and so on first - but that has to wait until we know who the user is."
"Ruki kal ainra, I hope you're as certain as you sound, Researcher - I know who the user is, and it's not pleasant."
The Researcher frowned, trying to figure that one out and giving up.
"The Arkhor Britmattikh himself! All these foreigners are crazy, I swear!"
"But we need to do more testing, and, and, more testing after that! What if it doesn't work?"
"Let's hope that it does, Researcher; if it doesn't, we're in trouble."
OOC Oh no he's not yet :P! Even we don't risk heads of state with this. but nevermind, i'll work around it.
Admin Offices, Officer Commanding, SF.
Owen looked at the fat buff envelope sitting almost smugly in the middle of his desk.
It was an impressive envelope, gold gleaming on the corners, and the raven and tower sigil of the Grand Magus embossed in the heavy wax seal.
However, Owen didn't want to open it. He had a fairly good idea of what was inside. Envelopes like this didn't come to military officers, or middle ranking peers of the Realm.
He poked at it with. "Bloody thing. I don't want you."
The envelope, oddly enough, didn't respond. Owen sighed.
A knock came on the door of his office, causing Owen to jump, then swiftly grab the envelope and stuff it into a drawer.
The door opened and Banksman and tsaKoinah ambled in, the pairing of skinny scientists both managing looks of disaproval.
"We're ready for you. If you haven't changed your mind." Banksman scowled at Owen, who rubbed his neck.
"No I haven't. If anyone is going to test all this stuff, it's going to be me. Not some poor gunbunny who's no idea what's going on."
tsaKoinah frowned uneasily "But what if,"
Owen interupted "What ifs are part of my job Ksarin. Whatever happens, happens."
Both scientists frowned. Banksman sighed. "Well if you feel that way, I guess I've got no reason to override you."
Owen thought of the envelope in his desk. "Nope, no reason at all. Let's get to it shall we gentlemen?"
"Stage two anasthetic emitters online.."
"Skeletal replacement is complete..."
"...uh, skeletal growth completing at expected rates, are we ready for.."
"Muscular response tests green. Everything seems to be.."
"...nearly finished. Just the optics to go.."
"Show some slight variation here."
"Work it out, quickly."
"Calculating now..got it..."
"The optics are installed, Mechanical Testing could you.."
"Infra-red mode is go..."
"...yep, ultra-violets are go.."
"Standard enhancing seems workable..uh..mechanical response is perfect."
"..we ready to wake him up yet?"
Owen rubbed a bare arm across his face and swung his feet out of the bed. The room was almost pitch black, no windows this far underground, and his quarters were darkened. However...
Owen scooped up the civilian clothes he'd dumped on the floor after returning from the med bay. Even though he'd been anesthetized for the duration of his augmentation he'd been drained.
Now however, he was revelling in his perfect night vision. Finishing dressing he walked out of the bedroom, into the small lounge room. Everything was nearly as clear as day. Owen smiled.
He slid out of his quarters, down to the transport bay. Selecting a Sprinter jeep, he drove with mounting glee to the admin offices.
Owen gloried in his enhanced reflexes and senses as he drove, the differences immediately obvious. Everything was so wonderfully smooth and swift!
He ambled into his office, having easily slid the jeep into a park with his enhance muscular control. Grinning to himself he flopped into his chair, not bothering to turn the office lights on and pulled the envelope out of the drawer he'd shoved it in hours before.
"Alright. I'm ready for you now." He pulled a knife out of his boot and slit the seal. The scent of cinnamon wafted out of the envelope, causing Owen, with newly enhanced sense of smell, to sneeze, eyes shutting.
A tearing sound came. Owen opened his eyes.
The Grand Magus, raven on his shoulder staring beadily at Owen, was frowning midlly. "Owen...I can see you avoided answering the letter till you'd had your...well. Yes."
Owen swallowed guiltily. "Er yes Oldónar. You wanted to see me I assume, what,"
A snowy eyebrow arched, and the old dwarf sniffed. "Don't dissemble Owen. You've always been fundamentally honest, you're not very good at lying to those you know. You know what you're here for. The vaccum has existed too long, it's time." He sighed. "It's duty Owen, you understand it I know..."
Owen sighed, head bowed. "Alright. No more running away."
Oldónar nodded, a smile tugging a gap in his beard. "Then so be it.
Owen of Warwick is no more. He is dead."
Owen shivered superstitiously. Oldónar continued,
"I name thee Owen of Britmattia, King of Men. Heh. And dwarves, dwerry and dragons. That's all lad, you can relax now."
Owen tugged his collar. "Well. I.."
Oldónar's beard twitched again. "You'll be installed in the morning. And try and look happier for the Dukes. I know you didn't want to be King, but it has it's compensations. You might even meet a nice girl and make your various aunts happy..."
Aaaaaand that's a wrap!