Koltec

A little eavesdropping

Thurgrim overhears Fisk, Drake, and Purity discussing recent events and new plans

The door closes behind the party. Fisk turns to Drake. “Are you having fun driving Isobel crazy? Don’t you think it might be a good thing to play nice? We are trying to recruit allies here, after all.”

“True. But we shouldn’t let them get too close. They aren’t Trusted yet. They will be betrayed many times in this business. Then they’ll need to continue working with their betrayers. We need to ensure they’re ready for that. If that requires me to be a jerk, then that’s what I’ll do.”

“And it doesn’t hurt that you enjoy it?”

“It doesn’t hurt that I enjoy it. Anyway, we have a lot to catch up on. The Canterbury situation. This group’s strengths, weaknesses, and training needs. And I notice the stars have left town. Did anyone pick up on the trail Brewster and Rodrik laid?”

“4. Three moons and a star. Oddly few curious recruits from this batch of suns. Lots of humans. From what I hear, they may be a more fertile recruiting ground for Arm of Glory. Shall we pass that along?”

“Might as well. Going to be tough to hit our recruiting numbers without many coming from these suns. Guess I see some travel in our future.”

Having been silent and watchful until now, Purity speaks up. “Have you received any further intelligence about the recruiting? Why do we need so many new Men? And why race relations in particular? I do not mind the increase in status but we have done well historically with just 3 crews. Why do we need 6 new crews just for relations?”

Fisk replies. “Nothing new from HQ. But Hensbane Wakefield did hear from her Manchester sister. Roger has been meeting with foreign dignitaries again. It’s keeping him in Manchester much longer than he’d anticipated. Apparently Balwer started this big recruiting drive 3 days into the discussions. And the major foci were us, Arm of Glory, Hensbane, and Lamp Lighters. No new Sheathed Swords or Bright Lights, which is odd if war really is immanent. I mean, even Move Yer Ass and Plowshares got one recruit mission apiece, but nothing for the swords and lights?”

Purity replies. “Something is up. It is not like Balwer to play things this close to the chest. How are we supposed to help each other if we do not know why we are doing these things?”

Drake smiles at her (a much more unguarded smile than you have seen them share before). “You and your infinite desire to help people.” She swats him. “Anyway, I’m sure they’ll tell us in time. As you said, Balwer doesn’t like to leave the Trusted out in the cold. First time I’ve seen him do it, in fact. Given the urgency of recruiting, I doubt we’ll get to ask him in person. Which, of course, means that we’ll be the last to know.”

She sighs. “It feels just like it did before we were Trusted. I guess we lived with it then. We can live with it now.”

“How has Canterbury fared while we were away?”

Fisk replies to her. “Plainly, it’s a mess. And my sister is not helping. Now she has allies among the Minerals. On the one hand, this means it is no longer a humans versus elves thing. On the other hand, that means that the Vegetable / Mineral rivalry has entered the picture. It’s getting very political very fast.”

Drake replies. “I’m surprised. I didn’t think she was political—either in ability or interest. She always struck me as the quiet one in your family.”

“From my quiet and pleasant sister to rabble-rouser in a matter of weeks. And with political savvy that smells of experience. I’m guessing she has a mentor. There’s someone else behind this. But why they care about that particular patch of forest is beyond me. I mean it’s pretty and all, especially along Moss Creek between the falls and the lake. And there are some ancient trees. But there has been reasonable harvesting of the vegetation in that area forever. Why the sudden call to stop it, and why to stop all activity? I hear they’re even asking for a hunting ban now. It’s almost as if they are trying to ensure no one has any reason to go out there.”

Drake rubs his chin thoughtfully. “Now there’s a thought. Think they’re hiding something? Think they’d let you in to see what it is?”

“Sounds like I’m leaving for Canterbury soon. Looks like Rodrik and Brewster are busy here for the moment. I’m guessing they could use your help. And you two need to keep an eye on our new friends. I guess Andrei and I go alone. I’m sure he’ll love to change back to being Alexis and spend some time with her husband. She might be able to get something out of her college contacts.”

“Sounds good. Speaking of our new friends, any observations or events we should know about? And did you really have to let them burn down our house? I liked that house.”

Purity smiles. “We made a lot of good memories in that safe room. But we have discussed this; we always knew it was a possibility. And we do still have the place on Chandler Row. Hate the neighborhood…”

“…but I love what you’ve done with the place.” Drake says, laughing. They smile at each other, grasp hands briefly, and return to the conversation.

Fisk looks away in pain at their happiness. He clears his throat. “Anyway, the basics are in my journal, as usual. Beyond that, it sounds like we’re about to see how they do with diplomacy. I assume you’ll set up the meeting, Drake? They’ve been pretty brutal to date. Sorry about Henry; his apprentices haven’t heard from him in weeks. I suspect they had him taken out. Somehow, I don’t think the same approach will work with Prince John Hannover. It’ll be interesting to see what they choose.”

Drake shakes his head and looks down. “Yeah, I loved that old man. I swear he remembered every fanciful story in any book that he’d ever sold. And boy could he spin a tale! He, more than anything else, got me through our Betrayal. Sorry dear; my love for you was too mixed up in things. But Henry. Henry was a sweet old man who was always willing to lend a mug of mulled cider and take you away from yourself with one of his crazy stories. Damn.”

Purity gives Fisk a hard look. She saw his earlier yearning and knows that sidetrack was intentional. “We will simply have to see whether they can learn subtlety and tact. They certainly have the viciousness, inquisitiveness, and acquisitiveness to make fine diplomats. Now we see if they can summon the gravitas and patience. I have hopes for the two elves. Not that that helps, since like all elves they will not be able to maintain the relationships they seek with those in the nobility.”

Now it is Fisk’s turn to glare at her. “Fine. Are we done here? I’m sure you lovebirds want to get back to Chandler’s Row after 6 whole days without. And I’ve got a trip to plan. I’ll let Andrei know.” He storms out.

“Wow dear, you got him to forcefully close a door. Not a slam, but quite loud for Fisk. Why do you see so much reason to needle him?” They stand and hug. “You know how much losing Cicely still pains him. Perhaps you should let him heal.”

They separate and walk to the door. “Like you are with Isobel? Fisk still needs to learn to protect himself better.” They close the door and Thurgrim comes out of hiding.

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