Location: Muchovan Camp, Effenta
“Cringe, sir, we have another Effentan wishing to trade information.” He barely even glanced at the underling. This made the third turncoat today – his reputation won him battles, but that hardly meant each weasel deserved his personal attention.
“A woman this time, and she’ll only talk to you.” It was the snigger that caught his attention and finally brought his gaze to rest on the self-important little man.
Okay, so in reality he wasn’t little – he was a towering, hulking mass, but that frankly just added to his insignificance in Cringe’s eyes. He already had plenty battering rams. The man, Cringe couldn’t currently remember his name, reinforced this opinion by attempting intelligent speech.
“Perhaps she has access to their laundry and can add some itching powder to the soap,” the underling commented in a loud stage whisper, snorting at his own “wit”.
“Well done,” Blustering Bigot. Cringe covered his disdaining sneer with a predatory grin, staring the other man down until the amusement left his face and he started to twitch nervously. Then he stared some more until finally the idiot took the hint, muttered something, saluted and scurried away like the rat he was. “Imbecile.”
Leaving aside the fact that Effentan women were commonly in command, the moron didn’t seem to realize his joke had strategic merit – uncomfortable soldiers would be tired, distracted and more easily defeated. It was always a better plan to attack defenseless supplies rather than well-armed warriors, but of course that wasn’t the Muchovan way.
“Was that really necessary?” asked Osprey, his second in command.
“Yes,” Cringe retorted shortly. Osprey was the golden boy. He was honest, respectful and made Mucho women swoon. He could smooth all the feathers Cringe went out of his way to ruffle. Cringe really wished he wouldn’t.
“This is the first woman turncoat. Most are smart enough to realize they don’t want to be Mucho. Sure does limit the dating pool,” Cringe remarked with an exaggerated sigh. Osprey simply raised a brow, used to his commander’s odd sense of humor. “Bet this one’s a looker.” His tone suggested anything but. Cringe motioned invitingly for Osprey to question this one.
“I’m not you.” Osprey clearly felt this shouldn’t need stating.
“Fine. Duty calls.” Cringe lifted his chin briefly in what passed as his friendly goodbye.
Except this one wasn’t a dog at all. Effentans were a stunning race: tall, dark and graceful. This one also had hair the color of rubies. While acknowledging none of that mattered, Cringe still appreciated a work of art…even if he had to take it apart.
“Welcome. Enjoying your stay?” he greeted cheerily, causing the woman to jerk when he entered the tent.
“You’re the Commander? As I told the last lackey, I’ll only speak to Cringe, not housekeeping,” the prisoner remarked, disdain positively dripping from her tongue. She’d recovered quickly. Oh, he liked this one – too bad she was a back-stabbing opportunist.
“I’m as close as you’ll get,” he replied flippantly. “So, how do you plan on helping me today?” This elicited a flare of her nostrils, irritation, but she didn’t dismiss him. Instead she carefully considered, assessing him for a long minute with wide, unblinking emerald eyes.
“I don’t trust Muchovans. You want to bargain, it’s just you and me,” she stated, directing a sneer at the other guards. This made Cringe smile.
“Oh, Muchovans should never be trusted.” The others left at the dismissive thrust of his chin – his not friendly goodbye. They were alone now.
“Neither should Effentans.” And her ropes fell to the floor…