She was certainly good looking, a woman’s body to be sure, somewhat unlike his sister.
            Dalaena, the name was like a song, a chant that echoed in his head. He closed his eyes and stopped sharpening the blade for a moment.
            She had a girl’s body still, though filling out and always beautiful, yet even so she had grown up so much since he had last seen her as to be almost a different person to him. She was filld with a confidence. Sure she had always been wily, a little wild, but time in a bigger city had made her wise too, beyond her years.
            Devlin clenched his fist at the thought of her husband. He should protect her, but he doesn’t. I could protect her. That thought jarred with him for a moment, and he reeled at the intensity of it. Devlin growled to himself, and began furiously striking his sword with the stone/
            “Did you ever imagine such a crowd?” The marvelling voice came from the shadows.
            Devlin gave his sword another, long stroke, watching the sparks spray into the crackling heat below him, and he put it at ease. He did not recognise the speaker, who shivered a little in the shade.
            “Step forward, towards the fire. You look cold.”
            “I couldn’t, you—you’re—“
            “—I insist.” He said, a flat iron command.
            “The lad stepped forwards, a thatch of short, chestnut hair flopped upon his smooth brow, almost touching almost violently green eyes. He was younger, Devlin could tell, perhaps sixteen, and sporting pearlescent plate armour that seemed to meld with the morning mist.
            Devlin did not recognise the sigil emblazoned on the chest in a simple yet effective bevel, twin shields.
            “What house are you from?” He wondered out loud.
            “House Whittleford, I’m Vincint Whittleford. Im not much surprised you don’t know, we’re a small House from the Maiden’s way, a quiet fief called Two Shields, if it please my Lord.” He spoke quickly and all at once. The boys armour made more sense then, the Maiden river was known for its modest, misty robes which would give them advantage as to not being seen. The Maiden’s Boys were a mercenary band that employed such tactics along the stretch. He knew that much at least.
            “And is House Whittleford a servant House?” Devlin raised an eyebrow.
            “Of course not, we’re—“
            “—then I am not your Lord, my House is as small as yours, I am simply Sir Devlin of House Drayvon.”
            “Yes, sir. I know who you are.” His worrisome frown cracked into a broad grin. “you’re just as I expected.  Of recent, my father has been raving about House Drayvon, a minor House that’s outgrowing the Old rose. And I know all about your exploits in that war—“
            “—that war is still going on, and we do not outgrow, my father is a loyal vassal, I am a loyal soldier.” Devlin sighed, and gave the sword another stroke, this time the fire roared a little.

The End

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