Ver’s little Vrekan heart began to pound as he realized he was not alone in his bedroom. The doors had been closed, the room had been swept, the guards had been patrolling yet somehow there was something in there with Ver. Something was sharing a room with the Vrekan king while he was in his most vulnerable form, naked and unarmed.
“Uh… hello there…”
“King Ver, it is a pleasure to meet you!” the colossal, antlered Rethan smiled as it materialized between Ver and the bedroom door. “How are you?”
Ver’s eyes darted around the room, searching for an exit, but it was pretty clear that this being had all the exits covered. His heart still racing, Ver decided to straighten himself out and attempt to act like a normal, not scared being. “Uh, um, I am… well, thank you. How are you?”
“I am very well myself! Is it not a bit late to be going to bed?”
“It is midnight…” Ver stuttered. “And I have been awake for a while. Even kings like myself need a good rest! May I… ask who you are and why you are here?”
The sinister, black Rethan with a golden trim laughed heartily. “Aha! My bad, King Ver! I have not introduced myself proper to you! I am Kenon, Lord of the Void and High General of the Rethavok! As I said before, it is a pleasure to meet you!”
Kenon held out his hand, waiting patiently for Ver to shake it. Vrekans didn’t normally shake hands, but Ver knew better than to refuse. He raised his arms and shook them briefly, retracting his Vrekan arm-blades as much as he could, before finally taking Kenon’s hand.
“I am King Ver of the Vrekans, how may I help you today?”
The Voidlord continued to smile. He vigorously shook Ver’s hand then abruptly let go. With a flick of his wrist, two black, smokey chairs and an equally smoke-ridden table appeared. Kenon sat down and waited for Ver to do the same.
“I want to discuss where we stand, whether we shall remain friendly or whether… you harbour any… unknowns…”
Ver made his way over to the spare chair and sat down awkwardly, being careful not to damage his tail feathers. “I… don’t know what you mean by that?”
Kenon leaned forward, somewhat menacingly. “You are not hiding potential traitors or exiles from the Rethavok, are you?”
“What? Noooo!” Ver edged backwards, as far away from Kenon as he could, desperately trying to keep his arm-blades sheathed. “W-we don’t even really know what is going on! You just appeared, killed the previous guy and then took over and we all… we are all just trying to continue as normal… I mean, this isn’t the first time a god has come along and killed a High General, but still…”
The Voidlord tutted. “So you do not know the whereabouts of any potential non-followers?”
“Lord Kenon, I don’t even know who you have chosen as your Vice General, let alone who might stand against you…” Ver sighed, his worries and fear obviously visible to this deity. “I will put this, uh, plainly. I don’t stand with you, nor do I stand against you. I’m rather upset that General Rethais is dead as I was beginning to warm to him, same way I was upset when General Elkay was taken by the Allbirther. What is important to me is that I protect my people and the Reth-Vrekan Union continues to run as normal, trading between and protecting its members.”
“And that, dear Ver, is what will happen!” Kenon announced proudly. “Trust me, everything that is going on among the Rethavok will stay among the Rethavok. Any external actions, communications, anything like that will proceed as normal, as if the former High General was still in charge…”
Ver sighed. “You want something from me though. You want me to offer any… what did you call them? Non-followers? You want me to offer them to you. But I don’t have the power to do that and even if I did, I wouldn’t.”
“And why not?”
“Because I am not a Rethavok and I have no right to force them to do anything against their wishes. You should act the same way. You said it yourself, these Rethavok are not true to you or your cause, but if you want safety and security, you are better off letting them be free and letting them remain outside your rule.”
Kenon grunted, leaning forward even more, getting far too close to comfort. “Again, why should I do this?”
Ver took a deep breath. “You are a god, yes, but you have not… lead mortals the same way I have. If you go chasing after 100% loyalty, you’ll just end up breeding disloyalty. That is how the previous Vrekan Kings lost their throne. Meanwhile, I maintain a steady 75% approval rating because I let other Vrekans express their feelings and go on to learn from them. Total control is never total…”
“So, what you are saying is that I should allow these traitors to roam free?”
“Are they actually traitors?”
“No. The proper term would be separatists.”
“Then, uh, let them go do their own thing?” Ver shrugged. “They will change their minds if you prove to provide better shelter, food and comfort.”
“Is that how you took over?” Kenon grunted.
Ver shook his head. “Oh… no, I was, uh, democratically elected… Providing the shelter and stuff is how I’m still in power…”
“Hm…” Kenon finally backed away, pondering Ver’s words. He stood up, knocking the table between them over and making Ver’s heart skip a beat. “I like you. I shall take your words and use them. Thank you for this interesting chat.”
And just like that, the Voidlord vanished, taking the table and chairs with him. Ver found himself falling and landing rather hard on his butt. As soon as he was certain that Kenon was gone, Ver reached for the nearest intercom, a button on one of his wristbands.
“Guards, can you get me a medic please? I think I may be having a panic attack…”