So Layla remembered him. He had been afraid of that. Had he been able to play off his service as an unwilling one? She had to trust him.
If she told anyone about him, it would make things much more difficult.
Of course, he couldn't do what he usually did and simply kill her. That would be worse than Layla simply spilling his story. He had to get close to her. Doing so would have a two-fold reward. Not only would he be able to "clear" his name, but he suspected it wouldn't sit well with Jasper either. Where and how should he begin? Layla didn't trust very easily, especially not when the person asking for her trust had been a favorite of her hated master. He would have to be very careful.
When Riovynn made it back to the Forge, he saw Jasper walking out. The guard didn't see him slip into the tent, which was just as well.
"What did he want?" he asked Erik.
Erik looked up from his notes, "Oh, he came in to check up on our project." Erik rubbed his chin in thought, "Now was it his idea? or yours?"
If Jasper was going to come and check up on this, why didn't he just tell Erik about it himself?
"The two of us had been talking, and our discussion fell to armor and tools of war. Jasper suggested that I talk to you about it, but it was by no means just his own idea." Riovynn needed an ally, and Erik was as likely a candidate as ever. He needed to plant just the tiniest seed of doubt in his head about Jasper. Something to make him disreagard Jasper's furhter attempts and inquiries. He turned to pore over the notes with Erik, and after a moment said,
"He seems to like sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. He is constantly sneaking out, and he and Layla are... well I guess it's really none of my business."
He had Erik's attention.
"What? What are they doing?"
Riovynn shrugged, "I can't say for sure, but the two of them are constantly at the baths together, and they've been meeting up at the oddest hours."
Erik's eyes narrowed, and Riovynn wondered if he had gone too far. If Erik and Jasper were good friends, then Riovynn's attack might be counterproductive.
"I've always been a little wary of him. His sour demeanor has never really appealed to me. Perhaps we should tell Ceri?"
"No, not yet." said Riovynn. "I'd like some more proof before I lay accusations. And I don't want to hurt Layla either. She is having a hard time blending in with people here. It wouldn't help her if people heard allegations, be they true or false, concerning her nightly habits."
Erik nodded. "Aye. That'd be wise."
Erik and Riovynn began to close up the forge, and as they were leaving, Riovynn asked,
"Did Jasper mention what he wanted with the armor?"
Erik nodded. "Said it was for some girl. I wondered who he was talking about at first, but now I'm pretty convinced I know who it's for. Anyways, good work today Durn. We should be ready to start making the pieces in the next few days. Have a good night."
"And you Erik."
So Jasper wanted the armor for a girl. Like Erik had said, there was little doubt that it was for Layla. But why would Jasper want to give her something like that for? He wasn't training her, that was Zane's responsibility.
Riovynn entered his tent, focused on how he could best reveal this information to Zane. If he played his cards right, he could soon have another ally on his side. Riovynn laid on his cot. He had come here hoping to escape the Empire and the past that he had with it. But even without the Emperor looking over his shoulder, he was still defaulting to the skills that he knew so well. He couldn't have enemies here. He would need support if he were to publicly sever his ties with the Empire. Riovynn counted himself lucky that at present he only had one person who wasn't inclined to like him.
Well... two Riovynn thought to himself as Tanya came to mind. She had been growing more and more restless with their apparent inactivity. She had a sharp mind, and was constantly asking Riovynn why they weren't doing more to serve the empire. Why they weren't destroying this pathetic band of rebels. Why they were "lazing around in blacksmith's shops."
It was becoming increasingly difficult to placate her. She was picking up her lessons quickly, and had taken to disappearing from camp. No doubt to practice her new techniques on nearby patrols, be they friendly or not.
As annoying as her pestering was, he had admit that she was partly right. He would be expected to make a report to the Emperor soon, and he had until that time to decide if he was going to continue this charade or drop all pretense of serving the Empire. Riovynn suspected the former. He didn't have enough support yet. Revealing that he was one of the Emperor's most trusted spies would set Jasper, and more than likely Tanya, on him. Some day soon he would have to feel her out and see how inclined she would be to switching sides, if only for the sake of becoming free of the empire.
Riovynn sat up, and out of habit his hands shot to his weapons.
"Who is it?"
"Zane. I was wondering if I could issue you a challenge."
Perfect timing. Riovynn thought.
"Of course! Come in."
The man came through the tent flaps but didn't sit down. He didn't seem to have much intention of staying.
"What weapon?" Asked Riovynn.
"A mug? You wish to have a barroom brawl?"
"No. I want to challenge you to a drinking contest."
Riovynn was caught a bit off guard.
"I... yes... of course. Where and when?"
"I will approach you later with the details. I simply wanted to see if you'd be interested."
Riovynn's mind was whirring once more. "I see. I will accept on one condition."
"And that is?"
"No audience. Just you and me."
Zane smiled. "That shouldn't be a problem. I will talk to you later. Good night."
Riovynn lay back down, grinning. A drinking contest would provide the perfect setting to let slip a few pieces of information concerning Jasper. As his eyes closed, Riovynn was aware that this was all familiar.
He was playing a dangerous game. His favorite kind.