“There’s far too many of them around the castle and the council, if you ask me”, grumbles the heavyset gnome as he wipes the foam from his mouth with the back of his hand. “Bad enough that one of them was on the council, but now Duke?”
Several other small heads nod in agreement, the other gnomes muttering curses under their breath. The speaker sets down his tankard with emphasis, leaning forward earnestly.
“I mean, how do we even know he’s really Duke Faisal at all? This could all be a trick by the little bastards to make a play for power! He just shows up a couple weeks later and they’re all, ‘Oh, your grace! So glad to have you back!’ without even checking? It all seems very convenient to me.”
Several of the gnomes slam their mugs on the table, alternately agreeing with the argument and demanding more ale.
“And then our Duchess abdicates as soon as he comes back? Everyone knew they were going to be married soon. Did they get her out of the way before she discovered the truth? If she really cared about him, why would she just abandon him like that? ‘Course, I can’t blame her for not wanting to marry one of those dirty little dogs.”
Another round of nodding a murmuring is punctuated by another voice lending agreement to the disgruntled gathering.
“And now he has a troop of kobold warriors with him at all times, provided by that conniving bastard, Sootscale? An ‘Honour Guard’, they claim. Sounds more like a bunch of thugs put in place to ensure they get their way. And what about that sister of Mikmek’s who’s always with him? She can’t be up to anything good! Who knows what they might do if any of the Council try to oppose them? How long before our other leaders start getting ‘replaced’? They might even try to go after our High Diplomat!”
“I’d like to see them try!”, exclaims a younger gnome at the end of the table. “Beppo the Magnificent would turn them into ash so fast they wouldn’t know what hit them.”
The heavyset gnome fixes the younger lad with a hard gaze. “Even a great man can be brought low by treachery and a sharp blade, lad. We have to look out for our own before these damnable kobolds ruin the whole duchy!”
“YEAH!”, shout the rest of the gnomes.
“We deserve to be heard too!”
“Beppo should have been made Duke!”
“Are we going to stand for this!?”
“Then let’s go do something about it!”
A dozen small voices shout in outrage and alcohol fueled righteousness as the small troop crowds toward the door, spilling out into the quiet streets of Firenze. The larger patrons of the makeshift pub stare after the miniscule mob for a moment before shrugging and returning to their drinks.