Edmund struggled not to lean forward in his chair. Right now, as far as they were concerned, he was just part of the scenery. He tried to breathe quieter, almost holding his breath. Thunder rolled from somewhere over Brackenburg.
“I consider it quite bad form to keep us in such suspense, Wislydale,” Junapa sighed. “Get on with it.”
Wislydale smiled and reached into his pocket, pulling out a small piece of paper. He unfolded it and held it out like a preacher’s bible, gripping his drink to his chest like a crucifix. A glint crept into his eye as the languid and slow drifting drawl faded from his voice.
“I have here a signed affidavit from a noted solicitor, from a reputable family, which clearly states that Mander Moulde, Matron of Moulde Hall, head of the Moulde Family and possessor of the estates and titles pertaining thereto, due to an appropriate amount of actionable evidence that was provided by Burnabum Wislydale Bonne, First cousin-in-law once removed from the aforementioned Matron Mander Moulde, is now hereby, immediately, and unconditionally declared mentally unfit and unable to make the decisions and choices necessary for the continued management of the aforementioned estate and all of its holdings.”
There was a pause, then Kolb gave a small cough.
“I beg your pardon?” he asked, leaning forward over the back of a chair. “You’ve declared yourself mentally unwell?”
Wislydale’s smile faltered, and he cleared his throat loudly, taking another quick gulp from his drink. “That is,” he rallied, “Matron is now legally unfit to own the estate. As such, as of this moment, control of the whole bally estate now falls to her legal guardian.”
The room held its breath. Slowly, Tunansia stood up and walked to the drinks cabinet, reaching out for a glass. Kolb let out his breath on a low whistle.
“By Jupiter’s boils,” he whispered. “So now what?”
“Now what?” Tricknee shot back, his voice sharp and biting. “What on earth do you mean ‘now what’? If the estate is under the thumb of her legal guardian, then we’re no better off than before.”
“Well, now,” Wislydale chortled, finishing his drink and walking to the drinking cabinet. “I don’t think so. I think we suddenly have a lot more room to maneuver, what?”
“Do we?” Kolb asked, taking the stage at the edge of the fireplace. “What will our malodorous Matron throw our way if we make her mentally maladjusted?”
“You think there’s anything she can do?” Pinsnip asked, his mustache twitching like a mouse’s whiskers. “I mean… if she’s mentally unfit… I mean legally, then…”
“She can always do something,” Junapa muttered, crossing her arms. “The founding families have never abided by the common courts–I warrant she’ll do something quite vicious if we let her.”