The Devil in the Details - Braiden

   
"This is why I thank the Powers that I was born common, and not a noble," the servant said lightly. He stepped forward, patted Kalem's shoulder three times, and then stepped away. "He's all yours. I'll be near; hollar if you need anything, Prince Braiden."

Just as he left the room, Kalem started awake and shoved his hat back. "Where is he?" he growled, teeth clenched. "The insolent coward!"

Letting out a little sigh, Braiden flopped into a chair where he would be one of the first things Kalem saw when he woke up. This was something his instincts screamed at him to avoid, to run and hide from, no matter what excuse he cared to use to make it sound like something else. And yet, here he was. Doing his job, though he wasn't entirely sure which part of his job this fell under yet. It might be the son-in-law part, but it might also be the Duke part or the Royal part or the beholden to Asmodeus part. Ah, to have an uncomplicated life again. Except he never really did, it was just complicated in different ways. Never mind.

"You said it was urgent, Kalem, so I came as soon as I could." He knew the man didn't like distractions, so he'd be easily diverted from the one he was currently pursuing. Much as he'd like to let the man ramble on an unfair diatribe against one of his employees, he did, in fact, have other things to do. Whether those other things were also better things was something he had yet to determine. "My apologies for keeping you waiting."

"Eh?" Kalem blinked at Braiden, then the tension drained out of him and he waved his hand dismissively. His sleeve fell back, exposing the old familiar knotwork of scarknots at his wrist. "No, never you mind that. Sit, Braiden. Listen. I haven't wanted to make a fuss over this, or make it your problem, but things are no longer acceptable. I've been wasting months trying to go through the normal channels. The dragons, Braiden. I need into their mountains. They've had long enough to sit up there and mope and cry - nearly a full year! They need to talk to me, and they need to do it before they go where ever they're going, not after."

"Going?" Braiden raised an eyebrow and flicked his eyes down to the bandage and back up to Kalem's face. "What makes you think the dragons are going someplace?" That would explain a lot, though. The 'mope and cry' schtick honestly didn't really makes sense in some respects. Granted, they lost the Eldest, but they were all old, they watched humans die all the time, they had to see the cycle of life thing. Being fixated on it was reasonable for a few, but all of them...

Quiet dragons were like quiet children. A relief in some respects, but mightily suspicious. His mother always knew he was up to something if he was silent, and it was always true. Why didn't that occur to him before? Because he was busy and it wasn't anything he thought about much, that's why.

Kalem blinked at Braiden, then grunted as if something had just occurred to him. "You've been away. Of course. The last few days, the dragons have been flying. South, and west. Don't know where, or why, but they're going in large Flights. Who knows when they'll be back, if the cowardly sniveling lizards bother coming back at all! It's important I gain access to the mountains, son. Very important. For Cady, and all of our sakes."

"So go," Braiden shrugged, used a hand gesture to dismiss the complaint, knowing fully well that one does not simply walk into the mountains, especially if one wishes to keep all of his parts intact. "If you want me to try and get you an invitation, you'll probably be waiting for a while, because they aren't interested in talking to me, either. The King might be able to help you, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. What is it you need from them? If it's attached to the request, we might get a better response."

"Bah, they aren't going to let me in. I was banished from Katar itself, remember? They were behind it, and the last time I decided to go in, they locked me away without a trial, letting the real murderer go free. Or do you think I haven't noticed that no one's bothered to try and figure out who murdered the Eldest once they couldn't pin it on me?" He snorted, and shook his head in disgust.

"If you can't do it, then arrange for me to speak to the King. Or your sister, if she'll do. I need to go and study. First, the Eldest's study, if that's possible, but most certainly the mountains. I need free range, to go where I need. Probably... very likely... deep." Kalem frowned, looking troubled by the thought.

"Are you going to tell me anything about the subject, or just continue to be mysterious and vague?" Braiden nodded, though, he'd happily pass Kalem to Elenna. Nothing like fobbing a demanding mage off on his big sister. She needed that kind of excitement in her life (about as much as she needed a pike through her thigh, but it builds character, so he'd heard). "Telling me there's something you need to do for Cady's sake and then stalking off to go tangle with dragons isn't exactly the best way imaginable to make sure I can sleep at night."

Kalem paused and looked at Braiden, his eyes narrowed in thought and consideration. "I keep forgetting you... bah, you're new. Very new; to her life, to her world, to me. It's hard to remember that you have a stake in all this. Cadence trusts you, though, which means I will. A moment, please."

The mage's fingers flickered, and he gestured three times - once to the ceiling, once to the door, and once to the floor. Something in Braiden trembled and tensed, like threads were attached to his hair and skin, and tuggled lightly to the sides. If he didn't know better, he'd say he was sensing the magic Kalem cast, which was, of course, impossible. Only those with magical talent could sense spells.

When the mage's fingers finally went still, he nodded. "There, we may speak in privacy, now. Cadence's mother came to see me, and after she decided to not give me a slow death of suffering, she pointed me to the mountains. She also warned me to tell no one of my concern, nor my reasons, which I'm ignoring by telling you. I imagine you'll likely tell Cadence, which is just as well. I owe no loyalty to Celia.

"She said that the dragons have secrets, which is like saying they have scales, and that shadows grow there. Some are forgotten, and some are sheltered. She indicated that if I wanted to protect Cadence, I would focus on the mountains. So I am, but I've learned all I can without going there myself. I don't waste your time, Braiden; I prize mine too value, if nothing else."

Selling his soul: the gift that just kept giving. Braiden shifted a little, finding the sensation too peculiar and unexpected to not be a little discomfited by it. He covered it by looking annoyed about the subject of discussion, because he really had no interest whatsoever in discussing what he'd done to himself with Kalem, or anyone else for that matter. His thumb fiddled with his ring, spinning the dragon around on his finger and he scowled at nothing in particular.

"If it's that serious, I'll go see if I can crack the door for you myself. I have something I'd like to discuss with them anyway." Tess was going to kill him, probably with paper and a quill, employed creatively to express her feelings about handling unexpected vacations. She'd no doubt put his head on a pike in the courtyard as a warning to the next occupant of the estate. "Oh, by the way, I don't suppose the name 'Ketoric' rings any bells for you?"





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