Riovynn hated the dependency. Having to ask for everything. He looked forward to the day that he could tell the guard who found them... Jasper? That he was no longer needed. Back at the Dark Lord's fortress, Riovynn had often told people they were no longer required... usually by killing them.
He wouldn't be able to do that here unfortunately.
During the meal, little attempt at conversation was made between Riovynn, his apprentice, whose real name he still didn't know, and Jasper. In fact, Jasper's attention was more diverted to the girl at one of the other tables.
Riovynn made note of that.
He also made note of how she ate, how she held herself, how she sat. He had his suspicions on where she came from, but decided to make sure.
"Who is she?" he asked.
"Who?" said Jasper in an almost hostile tone.
Riovynn leaned forward and lowered his voice, "I do not presume to think you are stupid Jasper. Don't insult yourself."
Jasper glared at Riovynn, who was largely unaffected by it. He had received many glares in the course of his service for the Emperor. People he was about to kill, family of the people he had killed, and even other servants of the empire who were too afraid to challenge Riovynn and simply tried to kill him with their eyes.
"Her name is Layla. She escaped from the empire."
"Would this have been about two or three weeks ago?"
Jasper's eyes narrowed, confirming Riovynn's question, and initial thoughts about the girl. She was a slave. She was the very same slave who had stolen one of Threl's horses. Riovynn smiled at the thought.
"Why are you curious Durn?" said Jasper accusingly.
"I might have known her, back when I was forced to serve the empire." said Riovynn, holding Jasper's stare. "Not that you would know anything about that. How fortunate of you to be able to choose the course your life took."
It was Jasper's turn to lean forward.
"Yes, what a choice. Choosing between certain and uncertain death. There is much about me that you don't know Durn. So don't insult yourself."
"Very clever retort. Your comrades must be grateful to have a man who can think for himself."
Jasper grabbed Riovynn by his collar and all but pulled him over the table. Riovynn had to consciously hold back from responding to this threat like he would have at an earlier point in time.
"Listen well Durn. Call me what you will, but I, at least, am honest. I will not lie to you by saying that I trust you, or that I want to trust you, or that I will ever trust you. I don't know where you came from, but I doubt you were truly on the run from those soldiers. Your sister" Jasper sneered on the word, "Killed nearly as many of them as did our archers, and you looked ready to take them all yourself. You could have killed them easily without our help. You are not what you seem to be."
Jasper released Riovynn, stood up from the table, and left the dining hall.
"Well done brother." said the apprentice.
"I'm an assassin, not a politician. Had we been fighting with swords instead of words, I could have killed him easily, as you well know sister. Now come. We need to talk in private."
As they made their way out Zane caught up to them.
"Durn! Ah, well... I'm not sure what happened back there, but I apologize if Jasper lost control of himself, he-"
"It is fine. The issue is now past and we... understand each other a bit better."
"Oh... alright." He seemed to think for a moment before continuing. "I will be teaching Layla the sword. If you come to the training grounds tomorrow we can evaluate your skill and set you up to learn as we-"
"I am proficient enough with a blade, as is my sister. She still needs instruction which I will give her. Thank you." They started to walk away and as an afterthought Riovynn added, "Do you have a blacksmith here?"
"Yes. His name is Erik. I can take him to you now if you would like."
"I would be grateful."
Zane lead them through the maze of caves and tents and eventually they could hear the sound of metal clanging in the distance. They approached and Zane stuck his head inside, calling,
There was a curse from inside.
"Zane! Dammit! I've told you to not sneak in like that!"
"Yes of course. My apologies. Here are our two newest arrivals. Durn and his sister Tanya."
Zane stepped back and allowed Erik to come and shake their hands.
"Hello there. I apologize for my outburst, you two may not know better, but this one should."
Zane cut him off, "Yes well, Durn was asking for you Erik. Perhaps you could help him?"
"I can't guarantee it will happen anytime soon, but I will help if I can. What do you need?"
"Well, I need a few new knives."
"Ah, come this way, I have a few already made." said Erik bringing them to a rack with various butcher knives, bread knives, and others of a more domicile nature.
"Knives for battle." said Riovynn. "Daggers."
"Ah I see. I believe I can help you there, but as I said, it will be awhile. I am the only blacksmith at the moment so I am quite busy."
"Could I offer you my help?"
"You could offer, but I'm not sure you would be much of a help. I don't have time to train an apprentice."
"Could I at least watch then? I have an eye for detail, and I am a fast learner."
Erik rubbed his chin in thought and finally said, "If you are just watching, then I don't mind as long as you stay out of the way."
"My pleasure. I must get back to work now, but I will keep an eye out for you when I'm free."
The wiry man turned back inside and soon the sounds of clanging metal could be heard coming from within. Zane led them back to the dining hall and pointed out which way their separate rooms were.
"I'll extend an opportunity to the both of you. At the training ground we hold friendly sparring matches if you ever wish to come down and watch or better yet, participate. It is up to you."
And then he was gone. Riovynn and his apprentice made their way to the room she shared with Layla and hoped that it was unoccupied. It was. They sat down and began to discuss the events of the day.
"You apprenticed yourself to a blacksmith?"
"Not quite. I'm going to observe him at his craft. I have a good memory and I am practiced at observation. It is my job after all. With time, I may pick up some skill. Now I have a question for you. What is your real name?"
"For now you can call me Tanya. My real name is one of the few treasures I have left. I am not going to spend it so freely."
"As you wish. Now about our mission here, we are to-"
"Tanya are you her- Oh! Hello Durn. I am sorry if I interrupted."
"No don't worry, we were just finishing actually. I am sorry for intruding. I will leave you to your privacy."
As he left, all Riovynn could think about was his mission. He had ended up with the rebellion as he had hoped, but now he had an apprentice to train. An apprentice with a quick mind. An apprentice who might realize it if he blatantly disregarded the mission. He would have to think about how he would play both sides to his own advantage.
He hoped that somehow, playing things to his own advantage would involve harming the troublesome Guard Jasper.