“Of course, but I must disagree somewhat. I do not wish to appear as a simpering fanatic, least of all to you, but it is quite inspiring.” The lad sat himself down next to Devlin, his hands moving erratically. “House Courts has been good to us, to be sure, but House Whittleford is small and may as well fade to nothing for all his good will does for us.” He seemed to pause for a moment, conducting his words with his hands. “So what I’m trying to say is, House Whittleford is behind you.”
            Devlin frowned. He was not out for some kind of rebellion like this boy seemed to imply.
            “You are very young.” Devlin said out loud.
            The boy stood up, a picture of indignance.
            “Only a little younger than you perhaps.” He thrust his finger out.
            Devlin stroked his sword once more before picking up a scrap of cloth and some oil, wiping the blade till it shone even in the mist. He let out a little laugh.
            “Physically maybe but your countenance belies your youth.” He stood up himself then, watching the orange light flash across the metal so as it looked fresh forged. He sheathed it, and clasped the boys shoulder.
            “I appreciate your vigor, and with that energy, you might do well.”
            The boys face lit up.
            “Alas, I am first and foremost a soldier of the kings army. Sworn to do my duty and defeat His enemies, not split the realm apart with my sword—“
            “—a touching sentiment, if it were true at all.”
            The voice came from behind, a familiar one, though tinged with scorn.
            Devlin turned and caught his breath.
            “Damyen.” The name escaped him before he could stop it.
            The face twisted.
            “Try two brothers younger, and a little more alive.” He hissed.
            “My apologies.” Devlin bowed, then brought himself back up, uncertain. “I missed you at the funeral I believe,” he said, an injection of old anger in there. “My condolences.” Devlin offered.
            “Save it, I need no pity from his murderer.”
            Devlin frowned, his fist tense. “Excuse me?”
            “Oh yes, you may not have swung the sword, but where were you when my brother was rent in two?”
            The marches, the fog, the cry of my name and the flash of silver. Devlin felt light headed. I ran but...
            “I wasn’t fast enough. Nothing—I could—the Barbaran.”
            He brought the sword down, split the log in two as he roared. Devlin let go of  the handle, breathing hard.
            “It was your—“
            “—it was not me!” Devlin screamed, grabbing Astor’s head so his own was two inches from it.
            Astor looked surprised, then smiled.
            “The rings around your eyes tells me you don’t believe that.” He whispered, and Astor’s hot words blew across his face.
            Devlin stepped away, a panic rising in his chest.
            What would Dalaena do?
            “The meal, I did not see you at the Tournament’s opening feast.” Devlin uttered, though the energy had gone from his words.
            “I should probably go.” The lad, Vincint, backed away, all but ignored.
            “No indeed, and I heard you came late.” 

The End

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