When we last left him, The Governor had blood on his sword and two heads on the ground. Here’s what comes next…
Later that evening, Commander Drogan entered his tent to find the Governor reclined on his cot. Drogan’s cot.
“It’s about time,” said the Governor, puffing on his water pipe. Drogan’s water pipe.
Drogan paused. Stared. Said, “I beg your pardon?”
“It’s fine, come in, come in,” said the Governor, raising himself onto an elbow. The cot, Drogan’s cot, creaked under his girth as he reached for the lamp, turned up the flame. His elbow seemed about to punch through the bottom.
Drogan removed his helmet, set it on the table by the door of the tent. He removed his gloves, laid them atop the helmet. He noticed the Governor’s wet boots digging their heels into his blankets. Drogan’s blankets.
“Governor, I must ask – “
“What I’m doing here, I know, I know.” He paused, looking like a bloated kettle blowing steam towards the sky. “What am I doing here, Drogan? What do you think?”
Drogan said nothing.
“Commander,” said the Governor again, getting no response. He became pouty. “Commander!” He slapped his thigh, and fat rippled.
Drogan said, “Yes.”
A pause. Hookah to lips. Lips to pout. A deep inhale. An exhale, and steam to the sky. “What do the men say about me?”
Drogan paced in the dirt of the small open area within the center of the tent. He ran a hand through his filthy hair, fingers over his filthy face. He cupped his hand in a bowl of water and doused his face. Filth ran down his forearms, leaving his face more or less clean with a ring of filth encircling it. “The men, sir?”
“Yes, what do they say about me?”
“Now that you’ve shown them how to murder children, you mean.”
Blankets snapped off the cot, onto the floor, and the fat man’s boots hit the ground and dug in. The cot crackled and squawked as he struggled upright and lifted himself over his little legs. “I made a statement, Commander. I said clearly that I am to be feared. Can you not see that? Can no one?”
Drogan said nothing.
The Governor took two small steps forward. They were not tentative, but they appeared so. It took energy to move such mass, and small legs could not be held at fault for protesting. They gave the sensation of imminent collapse, the legs. And then what? thought Drogan. Then there would be an obese torso pouting and slobbering.
The thin legs propelled the orb they supported still closer. The mouth of the face atop it opened once more, and over the glistening, pouty lips came the question once more:
“What do the men say of me?”
Drogan’s hand found the hilt of his sword, which sang as it left its scabbard.
The fat man seemed to step back. Or gave the impression he wanted to step back, but was unable to reverse his momentum.
The sword sank into the damp earth next to Drogan’s boots. He drove it deeper. Twisted it.
The Governor’s eyes flitted down to the blade.
“If you must know…”
The Governor whispered yes.
“They say you are a coward.”
The Governor’s eyes went wide with surprise. “Who does? Exactly whose opinion is this, Commander Exactly?”
Drogan grasped the hilt of his sword, pulled it out of the earth. He shouldered the blade and wrapped both hands about the hilt.
“Governor, I would ask that you respect the privacy of my quarters.”
The Governor studied Drogan. “Do you wish to leave my service?”
Drogan closed his eyes, grit his teeth. “Rest is what I require, sir. Within this campaign moments of peace are hard kept. I wish not to act rashly, nor do something I might regret.”
The Governor’s eyes flitted up and down. A cough rattled deep inside his lungs. He swept his robe about him and almost collapsed the tent as he crashed towards the flap. Then he stopped and turned back round.
“Commander, there were only two boys this morning.”
“Scores of families across these miles, but only two boys. I expected more.”
The governor studied Drogan. “Why do you think there were not more?”
“I do not know, sir.”
“It’s almost as if they knew we were coming.”
Drogan whirled his sword off his shoulder. The Governor gave the impression of stepping back, though he was too fat and slow to actually do it. Drogan turned his back on the governor and leaned his sword against his desk.
On his desk lay the map they’d been studying in their efforts to locate Whitehall, the Phantom City ruled by the Phantom Lord. He ran his fingers over the folds. “Armies do not move in secret,” he said.
Drogan ignored him.
“Hmm?” said Drogan, studying the map.
“We break camp at dawn.”
Drogan closed his eyes and sighed, balled his hands into fists, and leaned on the desk, his head down. “And why is that, sir?”
“We are going to destroy the last known outpost of Whitehall.”
Drogan met the governors eyes. The governor blinked, giving the impression of one attempting to stand tall and proud.
“Why?” Drogan asked, shaking his head.
The governor wobbled a bit on his little legs. “Because I don’t like it.”