"If I can't win, I don't want to play!" -- Anon Guest
Emperor Gregor "Elf-hand" of Vardia always displayed his shortened hand at the negotiations table. It put the wind up the other side. They knew the story, without a doubt. Mainly because he had someone as part of his staff whose job it was to tell it.
Anyone entering the negotiations room would stare, and then try to not stare. And fail. And they'd spend the rest of the talks being very nervous indeed because they knew without a doubt that they were seated across the table with a man who obviously did not fear pain, and moreover retained immense control when he felt it.
It had been a marvellous bargaining tactic. Before today.
Today, he was facing down the Child King of Grapthar. The nastiest of nasty brats who saw grey hairs as a sign of weakness and senility. It didn't help that Gregor was old enough to be the whelp's grandfather. But it did help that Vardians had hair dye enough to make his grey hairs invisible.
The kid was either an overfed ten or an unexercised seven. His doughy countenance was nothing like the magnificent portrait on his realm's legal tender. He was an incarnation of their god, as Gregor recalled, and his assistants were unable to deny him anything. Or enforce any kind of discipline. Which had lead to the Child King being nothing more than a whiny brat who treated everything as a game. And who threw tantrums when he didn't win.
"The screen in my chambers is broken," complained the Child King, living embodyment of the Great God of Grapthar, Bringer of Spring, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
"Oh it is, is it? How did it come to be broken?" said Gregor.
"Your stupid programs wouldn't let me win, so I threw the controller at it."
"Such a pity. There are no new screens, your majesty."
"You will address me as your lord. I control where you wind up when you die! You'd better give me a room with a better game or else."
"Sorry, your majesty, my theism and yours are incompatible." He brought up the terms on a less breakable display. "There are no rooms to spare. All I can do is leave you with the consequences of your actions. And speaking of such, you are here to negotiate the terms of your surrender."
He lurched up like a whale breaching. "I DO NOT SURRENDER, I AM THE LIVING GOD! I DON'T LOSE! I NEVER LOSE! YOU'RE GOING TO HELL! I STRIKE YOU WITH A MILLION THUNDERBOLTS!"
Gregor looked up theatrically. "We don't have weather in this installation. Not so much as a spark of static electricity. Now." He drummed his tetradactyl hand on the tabletop. "You have lost. Your armies are defeated. Those who survived your death or glory rhetoric are held captive in some rather interesting holding facilities. Even if they manage to escape, they're going to have a long walk home with no air. Which I doubt they could survive, even with your miracles on their side."
"YOU'RE WRONG! YOU'RE WRONG! I'M WINNING! I'VE WON! YOU HAVE TO SURRENDER!"
"No," said Gregor. "You, too, are captured. You, too, will be going to one of our interesting holding facilities. And all your generals and all your soldiers will actually see an hear their nasty, brutish, brat of a god in person. It may break them. You have two options, your majesty. Surrender and sign the treaty. Or refuse and join your soldiers. This is the fifth day of the seven days we have given you. And we're being generous."
"YOU CAN'S SAY NO TO ME! I'M THE GOD! LIGHTNING! LIGHTNING!"
Gregor leaned back in his chair and watched the Child King exhaust himself trying to use his cosmic powers against a man who didn't believe in them. He knew better than to try going against Gregor's royal guard. They were rather better trained than his Holy Brattiness' palace forces.
"You have lost the mandate of heaven, your majesty. All you have in your favour is your wits and a very annoying voice. I am impervious to both."
The Child King, bringer of light, hope of his people, fell to the floor in a screaming fit.
Gregor slowly put in his earplugs and watched to make sure the brat didn't choke himself. His own heirs had put on better shows than that when they were still being toilet trained.
At the second round of screaming, he signalled for a very thick book. Paper, of course. A display of wealth to anyone in the Galactic scene. And a display of contempt for the bratty monarch of Grapthar.
One thing these negotiations were good for, it was allowing him to catch up on his recreational literature.
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