“She seems pretty intelligent to me,” Edmund said. “Why don’t you let her keep running the estate if it has done well for so long?” Junapa looked up, her smile twisting slightly.
“Surviving is not the same as… doing well, as you so crudely put it. The estate has been corroding steadily for the past seven generations, and while I do credit her for arresting it’s collapse, she’s old. She will die soon and if she doesn’t give the estate to me, it will go either to you or one of my idiot cousins, and any gains she may have made will be lost. Even if she doesn’t die for another twenty years, it’s time for her to abdicate. It’s a whole new world outside of those doors, and not one of you know what’s out there; what’s lying in wait for a sick and weak family to stagger away from the pack. We must remain strong to keep the predators at bay…” Junapa gestured aimlessly at Edmund, “and Matron is fighting a war against riflemen with a blunt wooden stick and some wet string.”
“So you want to save the family?” Edmund asked. Junapa laughed again, more easily than before.
“My dear Master Edmund,” her black eyes glittered. “The family can go rot. I want to save the Moulde estate–and remember, an estate that I have saved will look very different than an estate that someone else has saved…”
For a moment, Junapa paused, looking at Edmund with a curiously calculating look that reminded him uncomfortably of Matron. Then, with a subtle shake of her head, she slipped her book into a hidden pocket in her dress, stood up, and walked deeper into the library. Not knowing what to do, Edmund followed her.
“Do you know anything about strategy, Master Edmund?” she asked as she walked, her long strides carrying her deeper into to the stacks. “Have you ever read any of the war histories of ancient Greece, or Asia?”
Edmund shook his head. Just as he realized she couldn’t see him, she spoke again.
“Thousands of years ago, wars were fought with hundreds of warriors, on wide open deserts at the behest of kings, queens, or even meager and minor lords long since forgotten to history. The best ones–the very best–told their tales and explained their actions so other great men and women who lived long after they were dead could make use of their knowledge. It was a form of continuing their conquests after their death, I presume. What does it matter which body commands the army, if the war was won with the same mind?”