“You finally decided to accept my invitation,” Photeianos smiled, a crooked, mean-spirited smile he normally saved for enemies. Elkay and Rethais had both seen this smile before, but this was the first time they were the enemies, not someone else.
“We have been very busy, Photianos,” Elkay tutted. “What do you want? We have work to do, and I would not want to waste my time with a corrupt criminal like yourself.”
Photeianos didn’t seem to appreciate how blunt Elkay was being. Elkay could never understand the… sacrifices he had made over the years to hold on to his power and keep the Rethans under control. It occurred to him that he should say that.
“You are clueless to the sacrifices I hav-”
“Sacrifices, hm? Sacrifices that affect others more than they affect you? Are they really sacrifices when it’s other vok who suffer?”
“Elkay, you do not understand…”
“I understand perfectly!” Elkay interrupted. “You told me of a lot of your ‘secret missions’ and all that. You said to me that you’d told me all your secrets, the same way I told you all of mine. Except you didn’t. And how do you repay me, for keeping silent and essentially ruling for you? You pay someone to shoot up my family and throw me out of a window.”
Rethais stepped forward in a vague attempt to calm everyone down. “Alright, alright. I get that you are both upset. We didn’t come here to open old wounds, we came here to discuss some matter of some sort, yes?”
Photeianos nodded. He missed Rethais, he had always been a level-headed Rethan, mostly calm and collected in his thoughts. And a member of the powerful Rethianos family, thus a useful ally. Photeianos could not understand why Rethais would leave his side for someone like Elkay. Maybe it was the sibling connection or something.
“Indeed,” Photeianos got back on track. “I wish to discuss the… rules we will have while campaigning and while debating. The number of debates, things like that. But since you have already attacked me, Elkay, I am in two minds to suggest a no-holds-barred campaign in which I will paint city walls with the mistakes you have made.”
Rethais looked awkwardly at Elkay. Whether Rethais had deep, dark secrets was anyone’s guess, but the idea of a dirty campaign did not impress him. Elkay on the other hand seemed completely unaffected by Photeianos’s suggestion.
“That’s fine by me. You’re the one with dark secrets and an eternity of mistakes,” Elkay smiled. If anything, he appeared to relish the idea of having free reign to slander and mock Photeianos. Maybe Photeianos had made a mistake.
Suddenly, Kayelar, Photeianos’s little running mate, entered the room, holding a large board. He propped it up and pointed to several diagrams he had scrawled across it.
“As much as a dirty campaign sounds interesting, I am afraid to say that recent polls suggest that this would be a bad idea. The Rethan population does not want mud-slinging and hatred, especially after recent events.”
Rethais nodded in agreement. “I would rather follow the will of the Rethans.”
Photeianos made a mental note to make a gift or something for Kayelar later on for saving his skin. “I agree. Do you, Elkay?”
“Fine. But if we are going clean, then I want lots of debates. Topics get picked at random or by the public. No rules in those debates apart from time limits. Fair?”
Photeianos didn’t want debates, he hated debating, but considering that Elkay had agreed to not slander him, he couldn’t say no.
“Okay. Five debates, one a week. That is… agreeable.”
“Good,” Elkay grunted. “Now, I am very busy. If you’ll excuse us, we have preparations to do.”
The former Vice General grabbed Rethais by the hand and dragged him away, muttering under his breath. Photeianos and Kayelar though both breathed a sigh of relief.
“You nearly jeopardised everything,” Kayelar tutted.
“You think that Elkay is truly pure,” Photeianos growled. “He is not. He had made grave mistakes.”
“Not as grave as yours,” Kayelar sighed as he walked away to make plans of his own.