The two men guffawed like they are trying to compare who has a more capable lung capacity and stronger facial muscles. Especially for the Prince of Taranto, whose lacrimal gland function dwindled because of age, has his tears almost gushing out of the side of his eyes laughing.
Finally the two men stopped, the Prince gave Antonius a pat on the arm, and they started greeting each other asking things like how have they been recently, how is the situation at sea trying to figure out each other's intentions before finally jumping to the topic. Because the Prince of Taranto knows very clearly that he cannot manage to provoke this Antonius before him, at least not in this point of time, as the Prince still needs to rely on Antonius and his fleet for logistics and transportation, before he grows strong enough to be self reliant or have other fleets from other Republics to choose from.
"So, Lord De'Ricci…" The Prince of Taranto asked grinning. "May I know where is my disobedient commander, Tancred of Foggia? May you please hand him over to me instead? I will be there to make sure to give him a trial to serve justice."
"Sure." Antonius grinned back politely. "Your highness, he is just here, beneath your feet… See that plate armour over there under your feet? that used to be his, you can take it back for a fair trial of course."
The Prince stared at the plate armour for a while, under the dim torch he can see clearly the blood stains tainted on the armour, together with some attached meat and skin tissues with flies buzzing around feeding on their sumptuous feast.
The prince felt a sense of queasiness and kicked the piece of plate armour aside with his boots. Then he looked at Antonius with the tip of his mouth twitching. "Lord De'Ricci, I hope that the misdeeds by this man shall not disrupt the future corporations between your emperor and the Crusaders."
"Of course, we wont…" Antonius replied and asked another question out of curiosity. "But isn't he your vessel?"
"No." The Prince replied without hesitation. "He is not my direct vessel, or in simpler terms, he is my vessel's subject."
In the end of the day, no one really cares about the already deceased Tancred of Foggia. Even his own soldiers and master, or they might not have taken him into a serious concern since the start, the poor man is used by everyone since the start.
"So, how do you think of it?" The Prince reached his hand forward, without any glove or gauntlet this time round, towards Antonius. "May I foresee a future of peaceful and enduring corporation between the Crusaders and the emperor of Constantinople?"
Antonius remained silent for a while, shook his head and passed the Prince another scrolls from the emperor, who sent him two scrolls of different editions of the same message, one to be shown to foreign 'friends' or untrusted people.
The Greeks, or Romans, have an entire system for court intrigues or diplomacy accumulated with thousands of years of invaluable experience.
The Prince tried to understand the script with his rough knowledge of Greek, after he realised what is written on it, the grin vanished from his face.
"What is the meaning of your emperor? What emergency issue does he have behind those walls of Constantinople? Why does he have he need of calling you back? Sorry, Lord De'Ricci, I just simply cannot understand!"
"It is just there written on the script, your highness." Antonius moved the torch closer pointing towards a line on the script. "It says that there is a sudden surge of pirates from the coasts of Chersonesus, creating a great threat for the city… Thus, the emperor called me back to defend the city, once again."
The Prince of Taranto stared at Antonius for a moment, but soon his sight softened and grabbed hold of the hands of Antonius biting his lips, there is even a few drops of tears coming out of his eyes as he murmurs. "Really, you are a great man, great admiral, although… you did cause me some troubles back then when you are a… free lancer sailor of fortune back then off the coasts of my demesne."
Antonius coughed and laughed almost choking himself recalling that period of embarrassing history.
The two men hugged once more, and then the Prince wiped his tears with his handkerchief and asked with slobbery. "So, Lord De'Ricci, although I am deeply infelicitous and shocked that you are going to leave us, but as the commander of the Crusade I have to be responsible to my men… I would like to ask how we will be getting our supplies in the future?"
"That comes to the second topic that I want to discuss with you today, your highness." Antonius released his hands from the Prince's shoulders and stepped backwards by one step looking at this hell around them. If it is not for these slaughter ground filled with scent of blood, decay, and gleaming smell filling every single corner of this God forsaken place, people might think that this is a happy occasion where two old friends finally unite with each other.
"Now to serious things, your highness, how do you plan to manage this city?"
The Prince of Taranto thought for a while frowning holding his chin. "How about this, the city shall be entrusted to me to govern it in the mean time, while waiting for the orders of the Holy See, while you… Shall get the port, and you shall also control the entire city's maritime trade revenue… How do you think about this?"
Antonius shrugged his shoulders. "I cannot agree with it."
The grin disappeared from the prince's face. "Lord De'Ricci, how many more do you want from me? I must warn you from the perspective of an old man who is rich of life experience, that you cannot be overly self indulgent, you might lose more instead."
Antonius sighed and placed his hands on the grip of his cutlass looking at the prince with a demanding pair of eyes. "Your highness, I want you to be out of this city, with your crusaders."