On the bed, breathing his last, was City Sergeant Brevis, the man Prince Albert had incapacitated with his knife. Faq had no Healomancy available, and there was no budget to buy a scroll, so the unconscious Brevis would croak tomorrow afternoon at the start of Faq's turn. Queen Jillian had ordered Albert to stay here with the unit until that happened.
"It was an accident," snapped the Prince. "I said!"
"Oh I believe you," said the Count, putting up his hands. "Her Majesty doesn't, but I absolutely do."
Albert's felt his face scrunch up. "You gotta tell her, then! Come on! I didn't do it! I didn't mean it! You saw!"
The Count nodded sympathetically. "Okay, y'Highness. I'll tell her."
"Thank you!" It came out like an angry yell, even though Albert felt relieved and grateful.
"She might not listen, though," said the Count. "I mean, I can't blame her for thinkin' that. She'd rather believe you're a mean-tempered liar than that bad a shot, you know? It's tough to think that your heir can't throw at a target without hittin' friendlies."
"Arright, so. Level with me, Prince," said Count Doombats. "So I can help your mother see the truth here. How bad a shot are you?"
Prince Albert shook his head. "I'm a great shot."
Count Doombats pursed his lips and stared, as if saying, "is that so?"
"I'm a great shot!" snarled Albert. "Anyone can critical miss!"
"Yes and no," said the Count. "A critical miss... in yer specialty... in a training exercise... leading to the critical incapacitation of a friendly unit? I ain't no Mathamancer, but what is that, about a one in fifty thousand accident? Hundred thousand? Whatever, it takes a special kind of bad-at-what-you-do. So what happened? What were you thinking? Did we make the sackcloth targets too realistic or something? You couldn't tell 'em from the real units?"
Prince Albert stood up slowly, and stepped up to face Count Doombats, keeping his boots on the floor. It was pretty clear now this guy was playing, and he needed to step off. Albert got up in his face and said nothing. He could do that "silent stare" thing right back.
The Count didn't flinch. "Look if you're a terrible shot, it's gonna come out. But if you are a great shot, then every time you hit a target, it'll just confirm what Queen Jillian thinks of you. So which is it, y'Highness? Did you do him on purpose? Or did you miss?"
Albert's chest heaved a few times as he glared at the Transylvitian. He considered taking a swing at him, but he couldn't do that under terms. Not for damage. And since he wasn't the Chief Warlord, he didn't even have the authority to break alliance.
But of course, a punch wouldn't change the truth.
"I'm a great shot," he said again, more quietly.
"Yeah," said the Count, "of course you are. Terrible commander, but a great shot. 'Cause, see, a commander knows his decisions have consequences. Your mother ain't so good at seeing those either, sometimes. But she knows that if you're leading, you gotta own your own actions.
"She put you down here to watch him pay the price for what you did," said Doombats. He put his arm out straight and pointed at Sergeant Brevis, without breaking eye contact with Albert. "You think it matters to him whether you did it on purpose or not? You did it. You gotta own up to that, Prince."
Albert kept his chin raised up, but said nothing. Annoyingly, his right knee started to shake.
The Count appeared not to notice. He turned and floated away from the standoff, plucking the sack from the top of the chest. He opened the door and looked back at Albert.
"It's good to know you got some sympathy, y'Highness," said the Count, holding up the bag and shaking it. He then used the bag to point at the bed. "But ain't it kinda misplaced? G'night."