The Occasional Diplomat

Whilst doing a little hunting for something, I found this story for my Star Wars: The Old Republic Sith Warrior and it amused me to re-read it. Thus, I thought I’d share it here. 🙂

* * *

Lord Oskar Constanzio would never become a Darth.

Arcarius based this assessment not on the man’s abilities which were no doubt good enough to have seen him rise to his current position. Rather, his judgement was based on the man’s current state of health. Constanzio was amongst the most corpulent individuals that Arcarius had ever encountered. And unlike, say, Master Devlo’nir Per, Constanzio’s rolls of blubber did not just hide muscle. They swamped muscle. And he stank. Of alcohol and vomit. His life of excess made Arcarius sneer inwardly but he did not allow it to cloud his senses.

He had been Constanzio’s guest for only a day or two before the grotesque Sith noble had dropped the first insult.

‘So you’re the apprentice that fool Thyrus abandoned, then.’

For a moment, Arcarius had been so startled to learn that Constanzio was even capable of being sober long enough to hold an intelligent conversation that he had been unable to respond. When he had finally answered, it had been with a studied indifference and an underlying threat that invited Constanzio to press at the sore a little further. Wisely, the fat Lord had let it go.

‘The time spent with my former master was regrettably short, my lord, but I assure you that none of the skills he taught me have gone to waste.’ Arcarius’s cybernetic fingers danced on the hilt of his left blade. Constanzio’s many chins wobbled as he laughed and waved a hand in amusement.

‘I like you, Duke Getharion,’ he said, his choice to use the apprentice’s newly acquired title demonstrating his approval. ‘And for that reason, I agree to let this discussion move onto the next level.’

But first, he’d needed to eat.

Watching Constanzio feed was an education. He consumed dish after dish of over-extravagant dishes that Arcarius’s long damaged taste buds could barely enjoy. He waxed lyrical about bottles of wine – sensibly and tactfully complimenting the case of Lessian red that Sidre had dispatched along with Arcarius – and almost wept over a dessert of iced fruits with a Corellian rum flavoured cream. He worshipped his stomach.

At the end of the first week, every effort Arcarius had made to engage Constanzio in discussion about the loyalty of his house and troops was brushed aside for other social niceties. The insults, subtle but barbed, were frequently introduced into the conversation. All of them personally customised and some of them genuinely creative.

So how did you clear your name after murdering your mother?

What really happened with the eldest Getharion son and his treachery?

How are you finding the life of a discarded apprentice is treating you?

Arcarius didn’t rise to Constanzio’s bait. Not once. His patience and temper were kept on a tight rein. In his head, he allowed himself the luxury of imagining that tight rein as a garrotte tugged around the lord’s neck. Instead, he remained polite and courteous, engaging in political debate when Constanzio felt the need to do so and set aside the purpose for his visit. He found, after a while, that his first impressions could not have been further from the truth. Constanzio was hiding a sharp mind and astute political awareness behind his vast girth and slovenly lifestyle.

‘This one will likely be different,’ Sidre had told him before he had departed Alderaan. Arcarius had wondered then at the amusement in her eyes. Not all diplomatic trips were handled the same way and this was a case in point.

So Arcarius did something he was deeply unused to doing. He relaxed. Not so much that he let his guard down, but enough to trust himself to speak more openly, more honestly. And over another few days, Constanzio warmed to the taciturn young apprentice. Enough that he finally agreed to negotiate terms.

That was when it came to a head. It began surprisingly playfully.

Constanzio called it negotiation. Arcarius called it an insulting offer. Constanzio said that Arcarius was in no position to say such things. Arcarius sneered and suggested that perhaps the lord would prefer payment in pies. Constanzio countered with a claim that Arcarius was Sidre’s lapdog. Arcarius returned with a scathing comment about Constanzio’s fallen standing within the Empire. Then Constanzio had insulted Sidre. Arcarius had coolly suggested it would be wise and honourable for Constanzio to retract his comment. Constanzio had demanded that if Arcarius had any honour, he would stand and fight for it.

The banter stopped and Arcarius no longer cared to play diplomat. The challenge was duly issued. And Constanzio accepted.

The lessons learned were not just Arcarius’s. He learned that even a Sith Lord who had allowed his body to become less of a temple and more of a pleasure dome was capable of holding his own in a duel. He learned that vast girth did not necessarily render a Sith useless. He learned that an apprentice challenging a lord directly was a matter of great amusement to Constanzio. And as the sabre blade opened up and cauterised the wound across his face, he learned that he had underestimated Oskar Constanzio.

But in return, he gave two important lessons of his own.

The first was to demonstrate to Constanzio that Arcarius Getharion’s loyalty and honour was never to be called into question. The second, delivered as his offhand sabre had severed Constanzio’s blade hand at the wrist, had been that Arcarius could easily win. In this case, the apprentice’s challenge could end the challenged. A long moment of tension passed between the two Sith.

It would be so easy to end him now. Take his title. Move that step closer to your ultimate birthright…

But that would be in defiance of my explicit orders.

They had stared at one another for long minutes and then Arcarius had switched off his sabers.

‘You have a last chance, my lord,’ he said. ‘But only out of deference to my master. Understand that. And be grateful for it.’

‘You do have a spine, then.’ Constanzio beamed with delight, despite his wound and that was the end of it. Lord Oskar Constanzio formally apologised. Graciously, with only the tiniest hint of disappointment, Duke Arcarius Getharion accepted the apology.

Sobriety came swiftly to Constanzio. Sobriety and a startling good humour.

‘We should have done this at the start, boy.’ As the med-droid had been dealing with the amputation, Constanzio had continued his conversation as if he’d merely scraped a knee. ‘But you were an amusing distraction. You have what you came for. And give Sidre my fondest regards.’

Arcarius had not expected that. But his moment of brief smug satisfaction was crushed in the wake of the message that had been waiting for him from his master when he had returned to his ship.

The House has fallen. I need you here. Come home.

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