Author Topic: The Game Begins  (Read 8274 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Reaver

  • Guest
The Game Begins
« on: January 23, 2008, 10:08:55 AM »
The wind made short, clipped attempts at stirring Sigvald\'s beard. The best breeze only flattened the patch of hair to his chin, making him itch irritably. He had spent years trimming the beard to get it just right. He could now proudly say, that it was ready for any feast. The problem was, the scratching. Letting out a deep sigh, he lifted his gaze cautiously as the last gust of wind settled. The campsite was empty. Magnus and Valdis had packed their things and moved into the city itself, and the rest of the band had either gone their own ways or taken up residence at the farm. His own belongings had been safely delivered to his cottage.

He hadn\'t been waiting long, the ground where the campfires had been stomped out was still warm to the touch, and a hawk gliding above had only completed a dozen circles. Sigvald smiled as he watched it slowly rise on the drifts, and closed his eyes just in time to save himself from another gust of wind. A cold day, that was for sure.

A guard from the farm was sitting nearby, picking dirt out of his oily black hair. The man hadn\'t said a single word to Sigvald, and only looked up occasionally to coldly watch him. It made him feel like he was being scouted out for prey, just like the hawk above was likely hoping to spot a catch from higher up on the drifts.

Just like Dag to send a guard to make sure his estate manager made it home safely. The Gulbrand merchant seemed convinced Sigvald would fall into a well if the thing was covered and latched. Of course, if Dag didn\'t think he was an idiot, this whole plan with Ryanna would never have worked. Well, would never have come to fruitation. Making the plan work was another thing. Something he hoped she could pull off in the next few weeks.

Turning an eye back to the city, he crossed his arms across his chest and waited patiently for Ryanna to return. The guard never bothered to ask why he was waiting. A good thing, perhaps he would just think Ryanna was a trollop to entertain him for the evening. Dag wouldn\'t hear about something like that.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2008, 01:08:38 PM »
It had been a quick run home, all the more since the camp site was not too far from the city gates, a blessing.  Ryanna dashed into her home, flinging open her wardrobe and riffling through all the dresses she had never worn.  It took fetching her neighbor to get into the corset, but once that was done, Ryanna easily slid into a green dress, waist as thin looking as it really was, though her breasts looked a little bigger than they really were, a touch of cleavage showing at the low-scooping line of her dress.  Ryanna spun around a few times before stepping into some flat, slipper like shoes, stuffing the papers in a leather case for safe keeping before dashing back.

The corset had taken the longest, so Ryanna had no idea if she would be late or early.  Ryanna grabbed her skirt in both hands, dashing off with the long hem held up a little for ease of movement, case slung over her shoulder.  It must have been an odd sight, seeing Ryanna hurtling through the Oberon streets and then rocketing out through the gates.  The guards there probably did not even recognize her.  There was a little shadow above her eyes, a thin amount of charcoal rimming them.  Some powder made her freckles less noticeable.  Her lips were painted a soft peach, glossy and lovely and all that frilly, girly stuff Ryanna cared nothing for.

Soon enough she was back at the camp, and surprised to see it was no longer a camp.  Damn.  It had already been dismantled.  Oh well, Ryanna could hunt down Magnus in the city easy enough, and definitely find that woman easily enough, just follow the wagging tongues.  Ryanna did not care.  She was above such things, right?  Maybe not.  Ryanna took a deep breath, calming herself.  She straightened out her dress, head held high as she did her best noble gait towards where Sigvald was awaiting her, and apparently with some guards.  Hopefully they did not talk with her.  She had not yet gotten all that guard out of her accent yet.

Ryanna wanted to sound well schooled, cultured, ladylike, keen and smart, like the kind of lady a rich man might hire for the job she was posing in.  Of course, with all the bad habits she had gotten from the guards, this would be hard.  It was just a matter of always being aware and vigilant.  She couldn’t let Dag catch her off guard.  Ryanna had a dagger tucked neatly away in her corset for that anyway.

“I am all ready to go.”  The snobby, aristocratic accent Lystra Maracatte had rolled smoothly from Ryanna’s mouth, even the young woman surprised, though she fought to hide it.  Well, working for the noblewoman briefly had really helped in this bit, even if it scared the living wits out of her.  At least the Lord Liari was not like that.
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2008, 04:02:21 AM »
Sigvald let out a shallow sign of relief, and smiled sheepishly at the guard. He had to play the part right. Ryanna had gone above and beyond. Where had she learned to speak like that? Dag would love her. Dag would fear her. Smiling, he offered a bow and then motioned with an arm that she should follow closely. He would have offered his arm, but a noble lady would hardly want to touch a lowly farmer like him. The guard would find the whole thing amusing, for sure. In fact, he already looked like he was stiffling a laugh with a large yawn.

He couldn\'t wait for the planting season. Everything seemed so barren, the cold air unfriendly. Not to mention, he also had nothing to do. Over the next few weeks, he\'d be stuck wandering, or waiting. It meant he could observe Ryanna\'s actions for Magnus, but it also meant that he would have to put up with Dag\'s nagging and off remarks. With Ryanna in disguise, she\'d probably have to join in.

Letting out another sigh, he turned off of one path and onto another. It didn\'t take long for the tall, boarded walls of the training compound to come into view, and shortly after the sprawling farm sat ready for their arrival. A shiver shot through his spine as he realized there were people waiting for them as well.

Dag stretched as he spotted Sigvald, legs cracking as his boots dug furrows in the ground. The guards that had carried the chair outside for him waited nearby, eyes locked on Sigvald\'s guest. To his other side, the gardener stood watching with a curious smile. Dag didn\'t know how the man had convinced him to hire a gardener. He couldn\'t even grow anything, not at this infernal time of the year. True, he had a small herb garden in the kitchen going now, kept warm by the cooking fires. What good were herbs? They had little medicinal value and they tasted bland. He could market them if he had more, but the cache was small. The old man was small, wirey, and quite ugly. Gardening was probably the best of the jobs he could find.

Letting his own eyes trail back to Sigvald and his guest, his eyebrows arched. He expected it to be a girl (what else would the farmer be up to that wasted so much time?) but he had expected a homely, dirty girl. This one was too rich for Sigvald\'s taste. Standing, he motioned for the guards to take his chair away, and offered a deep bow as Sigvald approached. "Don\'t waste any time now, who is your magnificant guest?" He made it obvious that the bow wasn\'t for Sigvald, and hid his scowl with a wolfish grin.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2008, 04:14:22 AM »
Ryanna kept up just fine, keeping her head held high, nose up a little.  Her nose was small, but looking down it at people would not be hard, if she wasn’t so damn short, that is.  It was frustrating.  Ryanna kept such thoughts to herself, holding in her excitement and surprise at just how sprawling the farm actually was.  It was a compound!!!  Ryanna kept in her worry over that, realizing now how much money Dag had backing him.  It was quite a lot.  From what Rico had told her, Kysis owned a city, so it couldn’t be that bad, but still!  It was huge!

And it looked like Dag was lazy.  A chair?  This was going to be easy.

Keeping her arms airy and at her sides, Ryanna let her eyes scrape over Dag, surveying him from head to toe, her lips pressed into a straight, firm line.  Ryanna made sure she looked unimpressed by what she saw, an eyebrow arching up as Dag asked about her without addressing her.  Well, luckily Dag was not as refined as people like the Maracatte family.  They would have spotted her as a commoner from a mile away.

“My name is Westra May, though you must address me as Lady May.  Am I understood?”

It was definitely something Ryanna could imagine Lystra Maracatte saying, which was perfect.  That fiendish woman was feared and respected, which Ryanna would need in order to snoop around like she really wanted to.  Otherwise, Dag would watch her hawkishly, without regard to what kind of power she might have in the city.  Of course, Ryanna had no power in the city as it was, but still.  He didn’t need to know that.
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2008, 04:32:39 AM »
Sigvald smiled sheepishly at Dag from behind Ryanna. His part was small, and Dag would dismiss him soon enough. He just wondered at where Ryanna had picked this all up. It made him realize just how little he knew about the girl. Did Magnus know? The man seemed to pick up the oddest bits of information, and he had seemed rather confident about the plan.

The guard that had escorted them blinked, and quickly fought back a wolfish grin. Dag caught it, and did his best to hide his own grin by putting on a charming smile and dipping into a bow. "My apolagies, Lady May. Forgive my ignorance and allow me to introduce myself to such an esteemed guest." He kept the sarcasm out of his voice, but just barely. Behind Ryanna, the guard was shaking his head at the gardener, the pair barely restaining themselves at the humor of the bureaucratic situation. One person putting on a mask for the other, the other putting on a mask for who knew who. Compliments and formalities would be exchanged all day if need be, just to see who was more dignified and important. Except, of course, they both knew that Dag didn\'t have the patience for that and unless the girl showed some sort of use to him soon, he would find one she might not find as amusing.

"I am Dag Gulbrand. We do not typically get many guests around here, certainly not one of your standing. How can a humble merchant like myself help you?" Dag said with a drawn out wave of his arm. Something about the girl seemed familiar, but he hadn\'t met any of the lords and ladies in the city yet. What could it be? Why was she here, anyways? Sigvald couldn\'t have netted or paid for someone of her level, so unless Lord Liari was using spies now he just couldn\'t place her. She certainly wasn\'t interested in one Dag Gulbrand.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2008, 05:57:29 AM »
“You can’t.” Ryanna was referring directly to his statement about how he could help her.  The statement was not entirely true.  He could help by keeping his eyes averted from her a lot of the time, so she could snoop around without him noticing.  Of course, Dag was not likely to let her go completely unwatched.  That was fine.  Ryanna could be sneaky.  Her father had always worried that she could go either way.  She could become a fine guard or a nimble thief.  Luckily, Ryanna would rather be a guard, but feared herself too short.  Oh well.

“However, I do believe we have a…. mutual friend.”  Ryanna let one of her hands flick her carrying case gracefully open, slowly pulling out the document with Weiss’s seal on it.  It would tell him that she was a watchdog, and probably one with a mean bite.  That thought kept a wicked smile on her lips (well, as wicked as perky little Ryanna could muster, she wasn’t Maracatte, after all). “This should be of interest to you.”

Ryanna offered the document forward, but did not move to hand it to him.  He would have to walk to her.  That was the way it went in the courts, so why not see how it felt to be a pretentious bitch?  Ryanna was disliking it already, but it was a bit fun, especially with someone as bad as Dag at the butt end of it.  Yes, she was actually going to enjoy herself.  The more mental ire to Dag the better.
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2008, 06:40:16 AM »
Dag\'s smile dissapeared, and he briskly stepped forward, eyes locked on the papers. "Excuse me, but I need to reassure myself of their... originality." Eyes scanning the papers closely, he frowned. They looked real. He had seen enough of Weiss\' letters to know his style. Motioning for the guard to come over, he had him look at the papers as well. Thad was in charge of Dag\'s correspondence with Weiss. It was a job he liked giving to new recruits, to ensure they understood the importance of Dag\'s work. Of course, he had as many guards watching to make sure the papers weren\'t tampered with as he did guards to make sure Sigvald didn\'t bring any strangers around without his knowing.

The guard stepped back and nodded to Dag, no longer having to force himself to not laugh. Things had gotten serious rather quickly.

"Well, Lady May. If there is anything I can do to serve you." Dag bowed again, much lower than before. "Or I can do to serve Weiss\' interest, do not hesitate to command me." His bow hid his scowl, barely restrained anger at the meddling Weiss and this trollop he had sent.

At a wave from Dag, the guard headed back to the compound with the gardener, Sigvald trailing after slowly. That just left it to Dag and this Lady May. There was nothing he could do to dismiss her. The compound was hers to explore.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2008, 06:51:40 AM »
Command.  It was such a lovely word, and it took every ounce of her will not to giggle at it.  Command.  Ryanna had never had command over anything, or anyone.  So this, this was entirely new.  She would have fun with it, as much as she could without compromising the situation.  Ryanna still had to play a lady, after all.

But some ladies could be down right bitchy.  Like Maracatte.  Or worse even!  Mentally, Ryanna giggled, and it only showed in the gleam of her eyes.

"Perhaps you can start by giving me a tour?  Just to be sure the money has been well spent, of course."

Yes, of course, show me everything!  Everything I say!  Ryanna kept that last part to herself.  This was going to be harder than she thought, with all the humoring, almost maniacal side-thoughts she kept having.  Oh dear.  Hopefully she didn\'t burst out laughing in the middle of the tour.  That would be bad!  Really bad!
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2008, 07:36:19 AM »
Dag\'s eyes twitches, another false smile thrown aside. "I can assure you, his funds are put to the best use." Turning towards the farm, he offered his arm for the lady as he ran though his mind all the possabilities for Weiss\' suspicion. He must have heard about Lord Liari. Competition for wares was one thing they had considered, but not of this quality. Weiss was probably more curious about what he meant to do about Liari than how he spent the money.

Until Lady May directly hinted at that, he\'d stick with a simple tour of the compound. Waiting to see if she would take his arm, he offered a list. "There\'s a barracks, the cottage itself, the storeroom, a training compound for the guards, and a smaller cottage where the cretin that just escorted you resides. Which would you like to see first?" He swept his other arm, the one not being offered, across the view of the farm.

With another pause, he decided to throw a few more details into the mix, to buy his guard sometime. "The actual forges haven\'t been set up yet, and we\'re going to build a more permanent storehouse for goods and the steel. All things I await the next funds for." He didn\'t add that he already knew that Weiss was on his way. Lady May would likely want to feed him that detail, something to make him sweat. Until he knew what she was really after, he would sweat, too.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2008, 07:46:36 AM »
"Start when the training compound, then the barracks.  I do not care where that commoner lives.  The cottage can be saved for last, I suppose."  Ryanna wanted to see the first two for her own amusement, but the strict snap of her voice made it seem like business.  Yes, business was a biggest matter to press, considering Weiss was a business partner to Dag, and Ryanna was supposed to be working for Weiss. "And do not make me linger long in the sun.  I would like to keep my skin fair."

Ryanna had remembered hearing Maracatte say something like that last part before.  The woman prided her pale skin, so vain.  It was sad.  Ryanna took a soft, dainty hold on Dag\'s arm, noticing it was not the arm of a warrior.  He stood no chance.

"I hope these facilities of yours can complete with the castle\'s forge at least.  Of course, there is Zyen\'s forge and the Liari weapons to worry over as well."  Ryanna had just heard of Zyen not long ago, and was rather irritated.  Didn\'t anyone realize the Lord Liari was laying claim to this market?  Hmph.  Stupid people.  Ryanna couldn\'t stand them, so foolish with their money, burning it away. "I hear Liari even has an arrangement with the guards to provide them with all new weaponry."
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2008, 08:01:01 AM »
Dag chuckled. "Zyen hardly worries me. It will be looked into. As for Lord Liari... do not worry yourself over him. Arrangements with guards are simply that, arrangements. Things change." His smile was thin, eyes cold, and he didn\'t press the topic.

Guards at the gate of the training compound stepped aside and let the door swing outward, a third guard standing within. Beyond, several guards sparred with wooden weapons. It was a heated exchange, but wounds were tended to quickly. In truth, it looked more like the sort of training soldiers would recieve, rather than lowly farm guards. He had Magnus to thank for that. He trained his mercenaries well, and now that they had disbanded they worked for Dag. They kept up old traditions well.

One man with a broken nose that looked like it had just recently stopped bleeding was sitting off to the side, keeping tally on each guards wins and losses.

Dag pointed him out. "The guards that score the most wins in a day are in charge of drills the following day. Those that score the most losses, are put on cleaning duty. It keeps morale balanced, and keeps them moving towards improvement. It also lets us cycle who\'s in charge so that they all get experience at it. We only have a dozen or so guards at any given time, when they\'re not off delivering messages or escorting goods. So it\'s good to keep things changing." Each many also tended to specialize in one weapon as he practiced, but he figured she could see that for herself. That also meant that a guard could face a swordsman one minute, and the next have to fend off attacks from someone with an axe. He wanted them ready for any eventuality.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2008, 08:08:35 AM »
"Unless Liari gets untangled from the Captain\'s bedsheets, I doubt that arrangement will change."  Ryanna kept a cool voice as she said this, watching the training with interest.  If she wasn\'t in a dress, she would want to get into it, armed with a spear or unarmed, for that matter.  Ryanna could kick high and hard.  She was very proud of that fact.

Of course, that was just a rumor.  Ryanna was not sure, but since the Captain had been spotted with an engagement ring of some luster, it seemed like the rumors were true.  What else could she say?  Nothing, really.  Ryanna looked to the man with the broken nose, gaze full of disdain.  He was obviously not that good.

"It is a fine system.  Are you preparing for a business or a war?"
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2008, 08:22:01 AM »
"Like I said Lady May, do not concern yourself with Lord Liari." As to her question about the training, "War is business, as the saying goes." Dag shook his head, as an afterthought. "I\'m afraid I have too few men to be anything more than a nuisance. My aim is more a well-founded business, and good men to protect my investments. Just as Weiss means to protect his own investments, right?"

The guard from before returned with a scroll, and handed it off to Dag. Nodding to the man, Dag waved him away again and unrolled the paper. "I have a list of wines here if you would like to wet your pallet. I wouldn\'t want any harm to come to that, nor do I want any harm to come to your fair skin." He kept the list for merchant business, but was glad he had it now. He couldn\'t think of a time he had seen a person of her standing without a drink. He didn\'t care if she took one or not, but he didn\'t want any slights against her. Weiss would likely recieve a report on this entire thing.

He noted that the guard still stood ready at the side, even if his gaze did keep drifting back to the practice. Although his newest guard, he had already defeated each of the others, and was longing for a good challenge. That was one thing he was counting on for his plans concerning Liari. The gardener seemed to have an odd talent for fighting as well, although he kept claiming his back was too sore for any serious combat. The way he had disarmed that cutpurse had been... interesting. Just a few trumph cards for dealing with Liari.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2008, 01:02:52 PM »
Do not concern yourself with the Lord Liari.  That in and of itself worried her.  Kysis was more than just a skilled guard.  He had survived a battle with death itself.  But still.  Ryanna had to tell the Lord Liari somehow, without him knowing what she was doing.  Maybe she could tell Rico, and he would pass on the knowledge discretely.  Oh, now she was really nervous, and that nervousness might actually make her slip up, which had her heart in her throat.  It was pounding so loud she was surprised no one in the room could hear it.

"No wine for now.  I like to keep my head clear for business. Maybe... later." A smile twisted on her lips, Ryanna giving Dag a sideways glance before looking back to the training.  She would be interested to see some of the guards battle, so she could see weaknesses in them, perhaps warn the Lord Liari about it too.  Dag was definitely up to something bad.  She just had to find more conclusive proof.

"Perhaps I can watch some fighting rounds later?  I would love to see what they are capable of."  Ryanna purred this, that smile remaining on her lips.  She was sure she was getting herself into something she did not want to be in, but she had to find out.  If there was any threat to her boss, she had to know it, and now.  Hopefully there were no stealth assassins in their ranks.

"But first, you really should finish this tour.  This facility is definitely up to standards.  We can move on to the next."
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2008, 02:13:50 PM »
Dag nodded and rolled the scroll back up, carefully so that he wouldn\'t have to make another. Tucking it under his arm, he smiled at the sudden interest Lady May was taking. Was that approval, or was this a ruse? If approval, than Weiss would certainly fund his other ideas once he arrived. If a ruse, then what was she after now?

Gesturing towards the guard standing nearby, Thad, he patted the man on the back. "Thad here is one of my newer guards. He\'s already beaten all of the others. If you want to see some sparring, he would be happy to fight for you, or direct whatever fight you wish to see." Thad shrugged, raked his fingers through his lumpish black hair. Dag was pleased that the man was so unkempt. It would be a slight against Lady May that couldn\'t be openly questioned. Thad was certainly his top guard.

"This way then." Dag led them back out of the compound, and around to the front of the barracks. She had already seen a great deal of the outside. They had traveled to the back of it to get to the gate of the compound. There was no guard stationed at the doorway. It wasn\'t necessary. Guards kept their arms with them at all times, or on racks in the training compound.

Opening the door for Lady May, and following behind, he motioned for Thad to stay outside.

Bunkbeds were spaced evenly, and a small storeroom sat at the end for food rations and cleaning gear. Three of the guard\'s beds were occupied, resting for night duty, and the cook\'s servant lay with a nurse tending to his fever. Simple, effective set up. Sanitary as well. The floor was boarded, with slats of thinner wood filling the gaps so that nothing could seep into the room. "We keep things clean here. I don\'t want anyone coming down with anything."

Pausing to regard the cook\'s servant, he sneered. "The boy was dared to eat something. He won\'t tell us what, but it doesn\'t matter. As soon as he\'s better, I\'m sending him back to his parents." A boy that would take a dare at his own risk might very well take one at his guard\'s expense, or his own. That thought was not a pleasant one.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2008, 03:19:15 AM »
Well, Dag might have thought it a slight, but Ryanna flashed a smile at that thought.  Thad was kind of cute in her mind.  Then again, she had been nursing a crush for Lieutenant Frederickson for quick some time, and not many other women shared her opinions there.  Oh well.  More for her right?  Ha.  Not likely.  Ryanna cursed herself for being so short again, trying to keep in character as Dag led her around some more.  Luckily they kept to the shade a lot, otherwise Ryanna would have had to complain.  Noble complaining was one of the things that grated on her nerves the most, and having to do it... just the thought alone made her blood seethe.

However, the barracks got her thoughts off that quite quickly.  They were orderly, well kept, clean.  Ryanna looked down at the floor, taking note of the design.  Very good.  She did not know about everything, so she had to assume on some of it.  Luckily she was the one quizzing Dag and not the other way around.  Ryanna would have failed already.

"Very strict.  Very good.  Weaknesses like that should not be suffered."  Ryanna looked at the cook\'s servant for a second, a hasty glance to make sure the lad was already before turning her head sharply away as if in disgust. "I cannot linger in this tainted air long, Gulbrand.  Would you mind moving us along?  I believe the cottage was our next stop?"
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2008, 06:21:16 AM »
Dag exited the building, and finally dismissed Thad. The gardener would be in the cottage tending to the herb garden kept in over the fireplace, and Thad needed to practice anyways. That would be a good distraction for Lady May, later on. He hoped she was serious about it. The longer he kept her in good spirits the better the report was likely to be.

Opening the front door of the cottage, he stepped into the plain room. It served as his personal dining room, the meeting and planning room, and a good sitting room to read. Simple, but with its uses. The gardener, Abe, was hovering near the fireplace, trimming one of the mint plants. A miracle that he could get one to survive. They never lasted for very long, though.

"As you can see, there would be little gain from breaking into the cottage itself. The room on the right is where my body guard would sleep. Thad\'s my next canidate, he does well." Opening the door to the guard\'s room, which was currently set up as a very basic kitchen, he gestured towards the door beyond. My room is beyond this one. I keep all important articles on my person or hidden at all times, there would be little gain in breaking into my room."

"Below us is the storeroom, guarded at all times. The door is on the back of the cottage." Pausing to let her soak all that information in, he watched as Abe clipped withered leaves from the plant. The man wore an ugly eyepatch over his right eyesocket. He had tried convincing the gardener to wear smoother, more decent looking cloth, but the man had picked a tattered rag of leather. Why were all of his staff so dirty? It bothered him.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2008, 12:25:35 PM »
"How prudent of you."  Ryanna made the observation, and was calculating how she could get her hands on one of these important articles.  There was one option, which involved getting his clothing off, then getting him to fall asleep in such a state.  Ryanna could think of one way to do that, but would rather not.  Having touched Dag\'s arm, she wasn\'t interested in the least.  Yuck.  She would rather the muscle of someone like Thad any day.

But such thoughts had to be swept aside.  Ryanna would do what she had to do to get the information she and Magnus both needed.  She had no idea how much Magnus had to go through to get those authentic seeming documents, so Ryanna would assume it had been a lot.  So, she would return the same amount of effort.  She had to find something, and she had to find it quickly.

"I am curious though, how much did you spend upon your own room?  Merchants are known for being gaudy in most cases.  I would hate to see my Master\'s money wasted in such a fashion."  It was a direct, blunt accusation, which Ryanna was not afraid to make.  Of course, there were risks, but with her current position, she felt comfortable doing it.  Dag would not question her unless she did something suspicious... that he saw.  Ryanna could have gone either way, guard or thief.  She knew a few tricks from both sides.
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2008, 12:42:40 PM »
"Furnished, but just enough to keep base comfort and quality." Dag moved beyond into his room, pointing out all the things in the room. "The carpet was easy to attain, and by purchasing it I also purchased the eyes and ears of a useful merchant. The chest I brought with me, the affects within as well. The book cases were built with spare wood, the books from my personal collection." Turning to the bed, he grinned. One of his few genuine smiles. "I needed a bed, and my rest is important. I need my mind sharp, and I need my body fresh. You\'ll find it isn\'t of some magnificantly rare wood, or anything of that sort. At my estate, in Norway, I indulge myself with money I earn. Here, I use coin only as seems fit."

He said no more about the bed, Lady May simply not being his type. Had she been here of anyone\'s accord but Weiss\', he might have had an interesting time with her, but this was strictly business. Curiousity struck him suddenly, as he pushed away thoughts of beds and women. "The fool that escorted you, how did you know to find him? He certainly isn\'t bright enough to know what you are. He doesn\'t even know about Weiss." He paused to hold his hands out, dismissing any ill offence. "I am glad you managed to find your way here, but I am curious."

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2008, 12:09:51 AM »
So, Dag was already getting some leverage in the city.  That was not good at all.  Ryanna was not sure how much influence the Lord Liari had in Oberon, only that he had one really good connection with the Guard.  She knew he had gone to a feast thrown in honor of the Judge of the kingdom, which really important nobles and the king attended.  From what little Ryanna had heard of the event, Kysis had actually talked to the king, if briefly.  Ties with other merchants, though?  Ryanna was not sure.  Lord Liari had to be active in both circles, with merchants and nobles, and she wasn’t sure how that balance was going.

Norway.  Interesting.  That was further north than Ryanna thought the Gulbrand group was coming from.  Interesting in deed.  Was Weiss from there?  Ryanna could not really ask such a question, as she was supposed to work for the man.  Damn.  There was so much more information Ryanna wished she knew.

But where would someone like Dag hide things?  Not in the chest, that seemed too obvious, though if she got the chance, she would definitely look.  Perhaps on the bookshelf?  Ryanna glanced it over, wondering if there was anything hidden inside the books, if any of them were hollowed out with secret compartments and such.  It was a possibility.  Marcatte hid some of her more important things in books, or at least that was what Ryanna heard while working there.

That question had her pausing for a moment, considering the answers she could give.  Oh dear.  That was not the sort of question she had wanted to hear.  Ryanna had to think of something, and fast.

“I was informed that an encampment of Gulbrand men was to be found outside the city walls, and that they could point me in the correct direction.  When I arrived, there was not much left, but I found my way, none-the-less.”
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2008, 07:28:28 AM »
Dag nodded, slowly. "You informant should have looked more into the matter. The camp broke up today. You\'re lucky you caught anyone, when you did." Bowing, he hid another frown. Sigvald was incompetant and his brother lacked ambition. He had no worries from them. If Lord Liari was involved..but what was he doing? Doubting Lady May? She fit the role perfectly and it was just like Weiss to send a blithering, idiot noble-child to bother him.

Shaking those thoughts away, he led Lady May back out into the main room of the cottage and offered her a chair. Rather than waiting to see if she would sit as a guest for a time, he offered encouragement. "I can have wine brought now, if you would like to rid yourself of the dry-lastings of the sun." He still had the scroll tucked under his arm, and Abe was still tending to the herbs in the fireplace. Service could be easily arranged. He still wanted to stall her and prolong this positive mood she seemed to be in. So he spoke of the possible match again. "If you would like, I could also arrange those matches for you. Or, you can pick them out yourself. The weather is fine today, and shelter can be raised to keep the sun from bothering you."

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2008, 10:45:33 PM »
Informant should have been better.  Right.  If only he knew.  Magnus would probably be rolling on the floor in laughter when he heard her report back, whenever she got to give it.  Of course, that report might not come right away.  Ryanna had spent enough time around her employer to pick up some on tactics.  Dag would probably send someone to follow her home the first few nights, just to be sure she did not go see Magnus or his closest workers, of the Lord Liari.

She had to go see him soon, though.  Dag was plotting something against Kysis, and she couldn\'t bare to see him blindsided and hurt, not now especially.  He was soon to be a married man, had just come back from receiving his title in full.  It just wasn\'t right that someone wanted to hurt him.

"The matches sound like a good end to my inspection today." Ryanna eyed the scroll tucked under Dag\'s arm, considering.  It would be out of decorum to not accept wine during entertainment.  Ryanna had learned this from working under Maracatte.  However... no.  That would make him suspicious. "I am sure Weiss will want to be reassured of just what your men are capable of.  Arrange it."  Ryanna almost said please in there, having to remind herself to be snappy and demanding.  She really did not enjoy the bitchiness as much as she thought she would.  Oh well.  Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

Through all this, Ryanna kept her gaze trained to Dag, though she kept glancing every so often at the gardener, making sure he was not making any suspicious moves.  Was he trained too?  Probably.  Just like how Lord Liari\'s Retainer was battle ready, Ryanna figured the people closest to Dag would be as well.
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #22 on: March 07, 2008, 12:16:06 PM »
"Of course." Dag ducked into a slight bow. He quickly made a mental list of all of his guards. He could arrange a tournament, or simply have sparring sessions. He wasn\'t sure which was more suited to the lady\'s interest. Perhaps just a handful of matches, to show her the men\'s potential?

His questioned was answered the moment Thad entered. It was an interesting idea. Scratching his chin, he turned with a curious smile towards Lady May, ignoring Thad\'s look of confusion. "A champion. Perhaps you would like to choose a champion to fight a series of rounds? Thad here performs excellently in every sparring session."

The gardener turned his single eye on Dag, curiousity driving him. Thad too managed to rid himself of his look of confusion, and replace it with curiousity. It was unusual for Dag to favor any of the men. Thad won every battle by the sweat of his brow and the strength of his back. Dag was harder on him than any of the others. To put him on a pedestal, seemed a little out of character.

Dag himself was thinking of possible ways Lady May might respond. She\'d either want to see the best, see them all, or see the worse simply to irritate Dag. If Weiss chose well, she\'d pick the worse. If this Lady May was more than just Weiss\' puppet, and it was a habit of Weiss\' to occasionally let real human beings into his presence, then she would want to see the best. Or perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps Weiss had choosen her not to irritate him, but to trick him. Inspection might be the least of Weiss\' interests.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2008, 12:32:53 PM »
It was an interesting prospect.  Ryanna wanted to see Dag\'s secret weapon.  She wanted to see Thad fight, to memorize his patterns and rhythms and relate them to the Lord Liari, but it felt like a trap.  Again, it was the presence of Kysis which had rubbed off on her, giving her a bit of an eye for strategy, though no where near his.  Kysis was a genius when it came to those things.  Ryanna was just learning.

But, learning meant she already knew something.

"Asking to see a champion dominate would be like... asking the Lord Liari to fight against general gathering at a tournament.  It would give me no measure of this place\'s truth worth.  I have seen that man fight.  Show me your worst first.  Show me just how far they can improve by following with the champion."

Ryanna kept her eyes locked on Thad through this, no smile on her lips.  Her eyes were as calculating as she could get them, though there was still a glint of curiosity, a dash of fear.  Ryanna wanted to know what her lord was against.  She had to.  Lord Liari did not deserve to be blindsided after all the hard work he had put into gaining his territory, not when Dag had done so little.  Oh no.  She would see the secret weapon sometime she was there.

And if possible, she would draw the secret weapon away from the arm that would use it.
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2008, 12:46:45 PM »
Dag thought a moment, and then smiled. "An admirable idea. I see Weiss selects his people carefully." He offered another bow and then waved to Thad. "Arrange it. We haven\'t terribly much left for daylight. You know who to pick." He was curious about the mention of Lord Liari. Had Weiss already filtered spies in? He might have to step his plans up a bit.

Thad would pick just a handful of men. A pair from every level of advancement. Four fights would have to suffice with what light they had left. He only had one last concern. Who would fight Thad after the other three fights? The gardener seemed to be the only other with skill even approaching what Thad possessed, but Abe refused to fight. His back didn\'t seem fit for it.

He shook his head after glancing the gardener\'s way. If the man truely had the skills he performed against those pickpockets, than he would be a trick worth holding onto. Weiss didn\'t need to know about that. As an afterthought, he looked Abe\'s way again and waved him over. His initial glance had to be masked. "Get me a bottle of Miatana." An obscure wine that he had purchased in Turkey. He doubted Lady May would have heard about it before. Aged to perfection, the rose-wine had a subtle, sweet but not too sweet taste, with a fragrant aroma. It reminded him more of a light juice rather than a wine, but it had a spice to it that made his brow sweat.

Slipping out of the cottage, and holding the door open for Lady May, he directed them back to the compound. Thad was already lining the combatants up. Six obviously curious men standing at ease by a rack of unsharpened, sturdy metal blades.

Dag paused to think again. "We don\'t quite have anyone of Thad\'s level. Perhaps the other six could team up against him after their respective sessions." It was an off idea. It didn\'t really matter to him, he simply needed some sort of way to end the battles. "Or do you have any ideas? This is in your honor m\'lady."

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2008, 12:56:40 PM »
Ryanna heard the name stated, wondering what it was to.  A wine?  Hmmm.  Ryanna hoped it was not to strong, as she could not deny Dag any longer without seeming out of place.  Damn.  It was good to see things put into action.

With a lady-like gait, floating almost, Ryanna followed, hands held comfortably before her to stop herself from fidgeting.  Keeping the mask of Lady Westra May up for so long was a pain, but necessary.  Ryanna could not let her guise slip.

But once they went in there, and Dag said there was no one matched to Thad, she could not help herself.

"Do you have any spears, by chance?" A smile tugged onto Ryanna\'s lips.  She kept her hawkish gaze locked on Thad, green eyes twinkling.  She could use a spear while wearing a skirt.  A proper lady should be able to defend herself, right?   That almost made her laugh.  Ryanna was itching to see what Thad could do.

And wouldn\'t a man sending someone to survey a weapons merchant\'s compound chose someone who knew their way around weaponry?  It made perfect sense to Ryanna.  And, she could observe Thad\'s movements first hand.  It would be a way to start sowing the seeds of descent as well.  Wouldn\'t that be a perfectly ironic way to do it?  Perhaps the tips Kysis had given her would come to use.
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #26 on: March 07, 2008, 01:08:00 PM »
Catching onto Lady May\'s plan, Dag grinned. "Of course Lady May." Nodding to Thad, he watched as the guard picked out a blunted spear and offered it to Lady May for inspection. The point could still kill in the hands of a skilled warrior. Dag had little doubt about Lady May\'s skill. There was no hesitation, no second thoughts. Weiss had chosen quite the lady.

He\'d offer her the chance of a warm up after the first three fights. Perhaps let Thad warm up as well if she took that opportunity. Lady May was an unknown now. He had thought he had her figured out, but it seemed there was a completely new page to this mystery. He didn\'t doubt for a moment that there would be another page after that, and another, and another.

Until then... Abe returned with the wine and two glasses, as other servants set down a chair and small table. The furnishing was for the lady, if she chose to use it. As soon as she was ready, the battle would begin. Already the first pair was stretching. His two weakest fighters, neither were from the disbanded Zirat. One was a local once-farmer, and the other one of his accountants from the estate. The farmer had picked out a broad sword, while the accountant had grabbed a small shield and short sword. It would be an interesting pairing.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #27 on: March 24, 2008, 08:43:27 PM »
She took the spear as it was handed to her, feeling the weight and balance instantly.  It was not as good as her own, Liari made spear, but it was just a shoddy practice piece, so no need to judge, right?  That got a mental laugh from her.  Ryanna waved off the wine for the moment.  She could take a sip later.  However, she did sit, trying to calculate just how movement would differ in a skirt... and a corset.  The corset was the problem, but not too much of one, so Ryanna would suffer through it.

Sitting, Ryanna kept the spear close to her, refusing to let it out of her hand.  Her eyes were trained to the two stretching warriors.  With a quick sweep of her gaze she could tell they were not carrier warriors, probably recruited recently.  She would see how good they were in a moment, right?

Sure.

Ryanna kept watching, ignoring Dag for now.  She wanted to see what kind of punch his people packed.  More importantly, she wanted every tidbit of information she could get about Thad.  He was the trump card.  He was the one to watch.
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2008, 10:35:23 AM »
After letting Thad draw the circle they\'d fight in, and waiting to see that Lady May was comfortable, he nodded towards the bell. Thad rung it and the two novice warriors gazed warily at each other. Neither had any confidence in their skills. Neither should.

The farmer leapt forward, bringing the broadsword down in a wide-arc that the lighter, and notably smaller accountant easily ducked under to take a swipe at the farmer\'s generous gut. Rather than doing what everyone had expected, and losing the first hit, the farmer managed to sweep the accountant\'s attack aside and counter in a completely out of the book manner. The farmer, Espen, picked the accountant up by the collar and tossed him out of the ring.

Dag considered the fight slowly. Both were novice warriors, but not necessarily inexperienced with the bases of fighting itself. The farmer was obviously a tavern brawler of some sort, or perhaps simply physically used to the abuse of weight. His usual chores in a single day probably outdid what the accountant did in a year, if even.

He decided the let the match go at that, after offering the accountant a scowl. "When they know so little about weapons, it\'s hard to expect any less from them." He said to the side, for Lady May. Then louder, "You two will do clean-up tonight, and I expect you to be first in the compound tomorrow training."

Wanting to waste as much of Lady May\'s time as possible without looking rude, he let the next pair of fighters stretch while the first pair redrew the circle. The rest of the guards were from the Zirat, professional soldiers. He was sure Weiss, or even his damnable brother could best any one of them, but their fights wouldn\'t be so laughable.

Sipping from his wine, he hid a sigh as Thad rang the next bell. Lady May seemed to be for what was going on here. That meant Weiss would be pleased, and finance would continue. Anyone who displeased Lady May, Dag would gladly kill. Perhaps even let Lady May do it herself. That would likely be pleasing.

The next pair chose weapons better suited to their needs. When the first picked a long sword and dirk, the other grabbed a spear to gain the advantage of range. They didn\'t move at first, the bell seemed unnecessary now. The fighters knew when to do their work and how to do it. All Dag had to do was keep Lady May entertained. The spearman tried the usual thrust, unsurprised when the swordsman slapped the spear blade aside with his dagger and leapt in with his own thrust.

Dag smiled as the pair moved, watching professionals at their best. They weren\'t amazing, not even graceful. But they were skilled. The spearman won the battle within ten minutes, using the butt of his spear to knock the swordsman off his feet, blade spinning around to nick his throat. Mikkel and Gabriel were among the first to abandon Magnus, and Dag hoped they would both continue to advance in skill and ambition over the next few weeks.

The third bell was the most interesting. As soon as Thad had struck it, Jerrik had leapt forward and thrust a one-two with a pair of short swords at his opponent. The latter had chosen a battle-axe, using the sweep of the blade to catch first one sword, then twist and slash to deflect the second. Jerrik had expected it though, and spun on his heel to bring both blades around in a single slash, the first blade clashing angrily against the axe as the second blow ripped it from his opponents grip. Within moments, Jerrik had his opponent on the ground and both swords at his throat.

Nothing remarkable, but it had given Thad enough time to study Lady May and analyze her movements. Even watching the fights merited some sort of movements, excitements, twitches. It showed Thad how strong her concentration was, and how surprised or familiar with the scenes she was. After the third pair of fighters had moved away, joining the others in their line, Thad picked out a single long sword and stood in the middle of the drawn arena. "It would be my pleasure, Lady May." Thad bowed to the waist, only taking his eyes off of Lady May for a moment. Not a bead of sweat disturbed his brow under the sun\'s glare, and gaze was nothing short of predatory.

Offline Kysis

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1559
    • View Profile
    • The Relentless Muse Blog
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2008, 09:36:13 PM »
Ryanna had been watching intently through every battle, even when she grew rather irritated at how dull a few of them were.  Didn\'t these men train?  Oh, but they had not been soldiers on the field of battle much, had they?  Ryanna had not either, but she had trained with a few.  Kysis had been Commandant of the troops in Kreos before becoming the Lord Liari, and in a way, he still had their loyalty.  They trusted him, not just because he was a natural leader but was always out on the battlefield with them, proving himself along side them.

The others in that household could not beat Kysis, but still seemed better than a good majority of these men, whether or not they could fight with all different weapons.  So far, Ryanna was not at all worried for her lord.

However, it was Ryanna\'s turn.  She stood up slowly, gracefully, holding the spear out to the side with her right hand, blade at a forty-five degree angle to the ground as she stepped forward into the ring, head held high.  Ryanna walked like the noblewoman she was pretending to be, saving her abilities for later.  She did not want Thad (whom she had felt the eyes of this entire time) to know anything until it came at him.  That was how Kysis beat her every time, and Ryanna refused to let it happen again.

Once in the circle, Ryanna changed her grip on the spear right hand controlling further forward, left holding the spear balanced on her hip.  She was turned just slightly so her right side was a little further forward, feet positioned in a balanced stance with her knees slightly bent.  One look could tell that she at least knew what she was doing, and had not just done this for fun\'s sake.

How much training was left to be seen by the battle.

"Start whenever you are ready, Thad." Ryanna smiled when she used his name, keeping her eyes on the warrior.  Now it was time to garner a little respect and start Operation Make Thad Defect.
Μεταξύ λάμψη και τρέλα


Lord Kysis Liari (Ένας πεσμένος ήρωας.),
Fenwick Baldor (Song, wine, and a bit of trouble),
Calista Liari (Θραύσματα Ομορφιά)

Reaver

  • Guest
Re: The Game Begins
« Reply #30 on: April 14, 2008, 03:20:02 AM »
Thad smiled a thin smile, an amused smirk threatening to overtake his lips. Since the day he had arrived in Oberon, he hadn\'t a single challenge in battle. The other guards were easy to fell, even if they did pass as common soldiers. The experienced warriors of the Zirat had too much self-respect to work for Dag.

Watching Thad casually step closer to Lady May, Dag took a quick sip of his wine and wiped a trail of sweat from his brow. They had to convince Lady May that they were doing well. She didn\'t look impressed. Yet, if Thad beat her... hopefully she wasn\'t easily offended. Hopefully she didn\'t take offense at all. Knowing the noble ring well though, Dag decided it would be best to signal to Thad to lose. Hopefully he wouldn\'t make it obvious.

Watching his confident stride towards Lady May, Dag wasn\'t sure that Thad would listen to him. He was in his element. Sometimes, Dag worried that Thad would overthrow him with the help of the guards. He had their respect. They only listened to Dag because he paid them.

A new trail of sweat slid down into his eye, and he blinked, rubbing at it with the back of his hand. If Thad did too well, Weiss might take him. That would make things easier for Dag, but would take away his trumph card. Stomach churning, he realized it could be worse. Weiss could have Dag replaced. With Thad.

Could he keep him reigned in, and have him lose the fight? Glancing around nervously, he wondered why he hadn\'t seen this coming. Impressing Lady May was important, but Dag was the one who needed to look competant, not Thad.

Watching Dag sweat from the corner of his eye, Thad let his gaze take Lady May in. He noted how she held herself, and gave her a final smile before darting straight for her, sword held low, and point forward.