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The Gentlemen


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#1 Offline K I N G

K I N G
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Posted Jul 13 2018 - 04:26 PM

---THE GENTLEMEN---

PART THE FIRST

 

As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I

There armored lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by

No pipe did hum, no battle drum did sound its loud tattoo

But the Angelus Bells o’er the Liffey’s swells rang out in the foggy dew

 

---The Sleepers.---

The Sleepers, Talvi and Pakastaa, stood stoic and unmoving on each side of the Sanctum’s door, she on the right, and he on the left.  Their eyes were closed; to the outside viewer, they appeared to have fallen asleep on duty, Pakastaa with his pipe still smoldering, and Talvi leaning on her glaive.  Hence their loving nickname, and the title that they had adopted, the Sleepers.

      However, outside viewers would be wrong.  The Sleepers were not asleep.  They were simply relying on their fine-tuned other senses- hearing, smell, and touch- to more effectively guard the Sanctum’s precious contents.

      The eyes could be deceived, but the other senses could not.  That was their principle.

      An unworthy presence approached the door, obviously trying to sneak past the Sleepers.  It slunk quietly across the snow-covered stone.  But it did not get far.

      Pakastaa was the first to notice the unworthy presence, hearing its footsteps and smelling its scent of fur and iron.  He scuffed the tip of his boot across the snow, the movement barely visible or audible, as a signal to Talvi.  She repeated it.  Simultaneously, the Sleepers crossed their glaives over the door just as the unworthy presence reached for the door handles.

      They could tell that their coordination and seemingly unthinking movements had startled the unworthy presence before they even opened their eyes.  When they did, though, all they saw of the one who had dared try to breach the Sanctum was its back, as it turned tail and fled into the nearby pine forest.  In the shadows of fading twilight, it looked vaguely like a fellow Okotan.

      The Sleepers shared a look.  Talvi made a subtle, negative head motion; whatever had approached them, it was gone.  There was no need to pursue.  They were needed here.  Pakastaa made a similarly subtle, yet affirmative, head motion, acknowledging.  They went back to their previous positions, asleep to those who didn’t know any better…

 

---Ihu.---

Ihu sat outside the door of the Sanctum Guard’s bunker, trying to light his pipe.  Around him, a quiet breeze blew, slightly disturbing the snow drifts and the needles of the pine trees.  In the almost completely-darkened sky, the light of the twin moons, both at their fullest point, shone through the thin blanket of clouds.  It was a peaceful twilight.

      Down below, he observed the normal bustle of Sanctum City begin to wind down, as shops closed, Okotans returned home, and lights were put out.  Here and there, a lantern lit the streets, providing some illumination for the Gentlemen who would be patrolling that night.

      He was supposed to be one of those Gentlemen.

      Ihu finally succeeded in igniting the damp pipeweed, and took a long pull.  Not for the first time that night, he began to wonder where Arktinen was.  He was supposed to have reported back ten minutes ago to be relieved of his afternoon patrol; then he, Ihu, would take the night patrol.  But the greenhorn was nowhere to be seen.

      Then again, this was Arktinen’s first real patrol.  He probably just lost track of time.

      Speaking of Arktinen… The recently appointed Gentleman came bustling up the stairs of the Sanctum Mount, cheeks flushed beneath his mask, breath coming hard.  He adjusted his fur coat and multiple scabbards before meeting Ihu’s gaze.  He grinned sheepishly.

      Clutching his glaive and rising from his stool, Ihu approached Arktinen.  “A bit late, are we?” he asked in a mock-angry voice, though the smile he wore belied his true feelings.

      “Sorry, Ihu,” Arktinen replied.  “I guess I got too caught up in my patrol.  I didn’t realize that I was late for my shift tradeoff until I saw that the sun had gone down.  It took all I had to get here before night completely fell.  It won’t happen again, I promise.”

      Ihu patted Arktinen’s shoulder.  “It’s all right, lad.  I was late for my first shift tradeoff, too.  It happens to even the best of us.”  He chuckled, and after a moment, Arktinen joined in.

      Their camaraderie was cut short, however, by a rustling sound.  They turned around to face the nearby trees.  Arktinen’s hand dropped down to one of the knives in his scabbards; Ihu tightened his grip on his glaive.  Out from the foliage came…

      “Oh, it’s you,” Ihu grunted as the tension went out of him.

      The ‘you’ in question was Ahkmou, another recently appointed Gentleman hailing from the neighboring Region of Stone.  Ever since the alliance between the Regions of Ice and Stone, Okotans from the latter Region had trickled in to join the ranks of the Sanctum Guard, the most recent being Ahkmou.  Why he joined was a complete mystery, because so far, he hated everything about being a Gentleman.

      Ahkmou’s head and shoulders were topped with snow.  He was huddled deep in his fur coat, with a white scarf tied tightly around his nose and mouth.  He was very visibly shivering.

      “Hi, Ahkmou,” Arktinen said.

      “Shut up,” Ahkmou responded, the words muffled by his scarf.

      “That’s no way to greet a fellow Gentleman,” Ihu said gruffly.  He held no tolerance for Ahkmou’s rudeness.  “What in the blue blazes were you doing in there, lad?  There’s beasties deep in those trees, and, last I checked, you hated being outside in the cold.”

      Ahkmou shook off the snow on his head.  “It’s none of your business, old man,” he said.  “I’m going inside.”  With that, he stormed through the door of the bunker, slamming it behind him.

      Ihu shook his head.  “He’d better learn some respect on his own, or I’ll have to knock it into him.”  He gave Arktinen a farewell pat on the back.  “Have a good night, lad.  Don’t let Ahkmou get to you.”

      “G’night,” Arktinen called back, as Ihu descended the Sanctum Mount’s stairs.

      As he walked, entering the outskirts of Sanctum City, Ihu took another long pull at his pipe, watching the smoke he exhaled spiral into the chill breeze…

 

---Jaa.---

The common room of the Sanctum Guard’s bunker was full of Gentlemen and Gentlewomen relaxing after a hard day’s work, enjoying a drink, a smoke, or a chat with friends.  Some were spending the night patrolling the streets and borders of Sanctum City, and some were sleeping in the Gentlemen’s and Gentlewomen’s barracks.  The majority of those present were Ice Okotans, but here and there, brown armor and masks punctuated the white.

      Jaa was in the middle of sharing a hilarious story with his best friend Ehrye.  They both tried unsuccessfully to hold back their giggles as he continued.

      “… and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s not even the same bucket!’”

      Ehrye fell into a very unladylike snorting fit as Jaa delivered the punchline.  He fell into laughter along with her.  For a few moments, everything was all right.

      The door suddenly slammed open, then closed, catching the attention of everyone in the common room.  Ahkmou stormed in, rubbing his arms as he made his way, hunched over, to the fire burning merrily in the fireplace.  “Move,” he told Kylma, who was currently enjoying the warmth.

      “No,” Kylma said.  “This isn’t your fireplace.  Why should you have it all to yourself?”

      Ahkmou didn’t bother to answer properly.  “Move,” he commanded again.

      “No,” Kylma refused again, more emphatically this time.

      This time, Ahkmou didn’t even bother to verbalize his wishes.  He gave Kylma a hard shove, causing the Ice Okotan to fall off his stool.  He then took it before Kylma could get back on it and scooted as close to the fire as he could, holding his hands up to the flames to warm them.

      Kylma made a sound of disgust.  “Enjoy your stool,” he muttered under his breath, as he departed.

      As the activity in the common room slowly returned, Jaa glanced between Ehrye and Ahkmou, silently communicating his discomfort at Ahkmou’s rudeness.  From her expression, Ehrye shared his feelings.  Their discomfort was alleviated, however, by the arrival of Arktinen.

      “Hey, Arktinen,” Ehrye greeted him.  “How was your first patrol?”

      “It was all right.  I was late for my tradeoff, but Ihu didn’t seem to mind.”  Arktinen rubbed the back of his head.  “I should learn to keep better track of time.”

      Jaa chuckled.  “It’s all right.  Like Ihu says, it happens to even the best of us.”

      “Yeah.”  Arktinen looked over to where Ahkmou was huddled up by the fire, forgoing his intentional ignorance of people to deliver a cutting remark every now and then.  “He came out of the forest just as Ihu and I were trading patrols,” he said, pointing.  “He was kind of a jerk.  Is he always like that?”

      Jaa followed Arktinen’s finger, hesitant to answer.  “I don’t know,” he replied after a moment.  “Ahkmou’s only been a Gentleman for about as long as you have, so I can’t really give a good judgment of his character.  Though I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he was a jerk all the time.”

      “What was he doing in the forest?” Ehrye wondered.

      Arktinen shrugged.  “He didn’t say.  He wouldn’t say, actually.  Like I said, he was kind of a jerk.”

      Jaa peered at Ahkmou, who was unaware of the scrutiny.  He had repeatedly stated that he hated being outside in the cold, and the fact that he had been out amongst the pines, refusing to disclose what he had been doing there, seemed a tad suspicious.  Jaa decided to keep an eye on him every now and then, to make sure that he didn’t do anything too fishy.

      Ehrye yawned.  “Boy, I’m tired,” she said.  “I’m going to go to bed.”

      “Yeah, I think I’ll hit the Harakeke, too,” Jaa said.

      “Me three,” piped up Arktinen.

      Simultaneously, the three left for their barracks, Jaa and Arktinen going to the Gentlemen’s, and Ehrye to the Gentlewomen’s.  They bid each other good night before hopping in their bunks.

      Jaa stared up at the bottom of the bunk above him, where Arktinen had already fallen asleep.  His mind raced a little as he thought, not of Ahkmou’s mysterious journey into the forest, but of Ehrye.  She had been his best friend ever since they joined the Sanctum Guard three years ago.  And over those three years, he had developed feelings for her.  Feelings of love.  He had wanted desperately to share those feelings with her for about a week now, but hadn’t found the right opportunity to do it.

      He yawned and rolled over, his eyes closing.  He had the day off tomorrow; he’d think more about his confession then…

 

---Ahkmou.---

The flames danced over the logs in the fireplace.  They gave such good warmth.  And for Ahkmou, good warmth was what he craved right now.

      He absolutely hated it here in the Region of Ice.  He especially hated it here in Sanctum City.  It seemed like the coldest place in all of Okoto.  For a native of the Region of Stone, who was so used to the desert heat, it was utter misery.  He had no idea how his fellow Stone Okotan Gentlemen could stand it.

      He would stand it, though.  Even though he ached to return home, he would tough it out.  Once he completed his objective, once he had done the thing that was his sole purpose for joining the Sanctum Guard, then there was the possibility of going home…

 

---Ehrye.---

Ehrye groaned as she crawled into her bunk.  It had been a long, hard day for her, what with patrolling Sanctum City’s outer perimeter and all.  It was good to finally get some rest.  She’d need it; she had Morning patrol tomorrow.  She closed her eyes, eager to drift off into dreamland…

      “Ehrye.  Ehrye!”

      She opened her eyes at the whisper that came from above her, and sighed.  She forgot that she was bunked under Lumi, the gossip and insomniac who loved to have others stay up with her, into the wee hours of the night, sharing juicy tidbits.  “Not tonight, Lumi,” she muttered, rolling on her side to face the wall.  “I’m too tired to gossip.”

      “Come on, Ehrye, stay up for just a little longer?”

      “No.”

      “I heard something that you’d definitely be interested in!”

      “Good night, Lumi.”

      “It’s about Jaa!”

      That caught her attention.  She sat up, rubbing her eyes.  “What about Jaa?” she yawned.  “If it’s something that’s going to tarnish him in any way, I don’t want to hear it.”

      Lumi hopped down from her bunk, hastily adjusting her mask; that thing seemed to always be loose.  “It’s not anything bad, unless you think it is.  I overheard Jaa talking to Kokkan that-” she could barely contain her giggles at this point- “that he likes you!”

      “First, it’s impolite to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations, especially relatives’.  And second, of course Jaa likes me.  He’s my best friend; best friends are supposed to like each other.  Is this really what you kept me up for?  To tell me something I already knew?”

      “Not that kind of like,” Lumi giggled.  “He likes you, likes you!”

      It took a second for Ehrye to register.  When she finally did, she asked, “Are you sure?  I think you’re making this up.”

      “I’m not!  Would I lie?”

      “You managed to convince Kopeke that the Ice Eagle was a type of hat.  Yes, you would lie.”

      Lumi blushed.  “Yeah, but that was completely different!”

      “Look, Lumi, Jaa hasn’t let on that he likes me, likes me, and if it were true and he wanted me to know, he’d tell me.  That’s how confessions are supposed to work.  Besides, I know better than to listen to something you overheard and act on it; there’s always the possibility that you misheard.  So until Jaa comes to me and tells me that he likes me, likes me, I have no choice but to not believe you.”  She lay down again and rolled over to face the wall, with her back to Lumi.  “Now go to sleep.”

      “But, Ehrye!” Lumi protested.

      It did no good.  Ehrye was already asleep…

 

---Arktinen.---

Arktinen dreamed.

      He dreamed of things that once were and things that would be.  Things of good nature and things of foul nature.  Things created and things destroyed.  Things far away and things very near.  And in all of these dreams, there were the hand, and the mask.

      He didn't think much of what he dreamed when he woke up; the only prevalent thought in his mind was that he'd try to be more on time today...

 

 

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Edited by Scrubbish, Jul 13 2018 - 04:28 PM.

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#2 Offline K I N G

K I N G
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Posted Sep 30 2018 - 03:04 PM

---THE GENTLEMEN---

PART THE SECOND

 

Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war

It was better to die ‘neath an Irish sky than at Suvla or Sud-El-Bar

And from the plains of Royal Meith strong men came hurrying through

While Britannia’s Huns, with their long range guns, sailed in through the foggy dew

 

---Matoro.---

“Is that all?”

      Captain Matoro sat behind his desk, feet propped up.  He had just finished hearing Talvi report last night’s attempted intrusion.

      “Yes, that is all,” Talvi replied, in her voice of silk-covered steel.  “The perpetrator simply fled into the pines when Pakastaa and I blocked his reach.”

      The Captain of the Sanctum Guard tapped his chin thoughtfully.  Attempts to break into the Sanctum were rare, but not unheard of.  It had been about twenty-eight years since the last try, and that time, the circumstances had been much different.  Still, though, he was somewhat relieved that last night’s encounter had been resolved easily and quickly.

      “Well, good job nonetheless, Talvi,” he said after a moment.  “You’re free to go back to your post.”  The Sleeper bowed and made to exit the office, before she was stopped by a last-second request.  “On your way out, could you send Arktinen in here?”

      Talvi nodded, and left.

      Matoro put his feet down on the floor and began sifting through a good-sized stack of paperwork on his desk.  Most of its contents were written status reports, monthly performance evaluations, and the like.  He scratched the stubble under his mask as he looked over a promotion application from Mazeka and sighed.  Mazeka was nothing if not persistent; this was the fifth promotion application he had submitted in the same number of weeks.

      The door creaked open, prompting him to look up from the promotion application.  He saw Arktinen enter, a nervous expression on his face, adjusting his multiple scabbards.  “Hello,” the new recruit stammered as he offered the Gentlemen’s salute.  “Is something wrong, Captain?”

      “Not unless you’ve been stealing rations,” Matoro jested.  He gestured to the seat that Talvi had previously refused to occupy.  “Don’t stand there like a statue; have a seat.”  Arktinen did so, still nervous.

      “I just wanted to let you know, and I say this in the nicest way possible, that you need to learn how to keep track of time,” Matoro continued.  “One of the most important qualities of a Gentleman is their ability to know exactly where to be, and when to be there.  That’s part of the reason why we put bright new recruits on patrol consistently for a week after their acceptance: so they can develop the punctuality needed for a Gentleman.”

      Arktinen was quite visibly relieved.  “Okay,” he said.  “I’ll do better today.  I’m sorry I didn’t keep up yesterday.”

      Matoro made a dismissive gesture.  “I can forgive that; it was your first patrol.  Other than that, you seem to be doing a good job.”

      “Is that why you’re being so nice to me?”

      “What do you mean?”

      “I thought that Captains of things like the Sanctum Guard were supposed to be more… y’know, strict and hardnosed.”

      “I’m only strict and hardnosed on those that aren’t doing their job right.  You aren’t one of those, as far as I can tell, so I don’t need to be as strict on you as I usually need to be.  Just remember, keep track of time on your patrol today, or I will get strict.  Okay?”

      “Yes sir.”  Arktinen stood, saluted, and left.

      Matoro went back to looking through the papers on his desk.  He couldn’t help but smile; Arktinen was a good egg, eager to please and always trying to do the right thing.  He had a soft spot for kids like him, and he legitimately wanted him to succeed during his time in the Sanctum Guard.  With enough guidance, he could be one of the better Gentlemen in recent history.

      His smile faded as he glimpsed another paper.

      It was another promotion application.

      From Mazeka.

      He cradled his head in his hands; he’d have to talk to Mazeka once he came back from morning patrol about sending in so many promotion applications…

 

---Ehrye.---

The wind blustered about, kicking up snow everywhere and generally impeding Ehrye’s progress.  She struggled against the gusts that threatened to knock her down and blow out her lantern, digging the blunt end of her glaive into the snow with every belabored step.

      Above her, the sky was lightening through the thick clouds, gradually transitioning from very, very dark gray to a more steel gray.  Snow began to fall.

      As visibility continued to diminish marginally, Ehrye just made out Buzkayo’s Fist through her squinted eyes.  Buzkayo’s Fist was the last remnant of an ancient statue of the legendary Protector of Ice that had stood near the outskirts of Sanctum City.  The statue had been toppled in a civil war several decades ago, and the only thing that had remained intact had been Buzkayo’s outstretched fist.  The fist had been planted in the ground as a memorial.

      Ehrye liked Buzkayo’s Fist.  It helped her think, somehow.  She trudged up to it and leaned against it for a brief moment’s rest.  With the wind blowing from her back now, she had a much easier time of seeing the city.

      Sanctum City was vaguely bowl-shaped, with the outskirts and walls set higher than the rich folks’ dwellings in the center.  Here and there, dark pine trees broke up the monotonous white of the ground, with one particularly large patch sloping all the way up the Sanctum Mount and, by extension, bordering the Sanctum Guard’s bunker.  The streets sloped and wound between buildings, some wide and safe for travel, others narrow and distinctly shady-looking.  Few were out and about to occupy the streets, however, due to the harsher-than-normal weather encroaching on them.  Once it abated, the Ice Okotan citizens would emerge and go about their business.

      The sight of Sanctum City from here always reminded Ehrye of an old friend of hers, from before her days as a Gentlewoman.  When she was younger, she and Toudo would come up to Buzkayo’s Fist every Sevenday at sunset and watch the city wind down as darkness crept up and the moons began to shine.  That had been a long time ago; Toudo had since left to join an archaeologists’ guild somewhere in the Region of Jungle, at the same time Ehrye had been initiated into the Sanctum Guard.  She still wondered if he had ever found whatever the guild had been looking for, and what it would be like if he had joined the Guard with her.

      All right, that was enough thinking about that for now.  Back to it.  Bracing herself, Ehrye moved out from the cover of Buzkayo’s Fist- the wind stung her eyes- and continued her trudge along the now snow-topped road to the downward-sloping street that crossed her path just ahead…

 

---Mazeka.---

“Booooo!  Booooo!”

      Mazeka ground his teeth; he was really getting tired of these hoodlums following him everywhere and booing at him.  They had been at it for about two days now.  At first he had accepted it, since there were always young folk in cities that made known their disdain of public servants whose job it was to protect them, but they had refused to relent after yesterday’s talking-to.  In fact, their heckling had gotten worse after.

      One of the delinquents threw something in his general direction, but thankfully missed.  His companions began to chide him for missing; he tried again, and Mazeka felt something explode wetly against the back of his coat.  He didn’t want to know what it was, but it sure seemed to set them snickering.

      “Booooo!  Booooo!”

      “Will you lot please knock it off?” Mazeka asked, straining to keep any sort of anger out of his voice.

      “No!” piped up one of the hecklers.  “You suck!”  The group fell back to their booing.

      Wearily, Mazeka trudged on, trying and failing to ignore the disdain and verbal abuse being hurled his way.  God, I need that promotion, he thought…

 

---Ihu.---

Ihu always got a free pass to sleep in; he was the Gentleman who always took the night patrol, after all.  He trundled into the common room, where those with patrol shifts later in the day or those who had the day off gathered, passing a pot of fresh coffee around.  Ihu accepted a mug and hunkered down on a free stool, sipping the hot liquid.

      It was getting close to one o’clock, which meant that a patrol shift tradeoff was incoming.  He could see the three Gentlemen slated for the afternoon shift today- Kazi, Kantai, and Arktinen- donning their coats and otherwise preparing for their venture outdoors.  He could also see that Arktinen had a peculiar expression on his face.  Determination?  Anxiety?  Something else?  He couldn’t tell.

      “You’re going to be on time for tradeoff today, right, lad?” Ihu asked Arktinen as the latter passed by on his way to the door.

      The query seemed to catch the young Gentleman by surprise, but he got over it soon after.  “Huh?  Oh, uh, yeah!  This time I’ll get back on time!  For sure.  Yeah.”

      Ihu offered a small smile.  “There’s a good boy.”

      Arktinen returned the smile.

      The clock over the fireplace bonged once, and as if on cue, the door of the bunker swung open, admitting the three who had been out on patrol for the morning shift.  Lumi, Mazeka, and… oh Lord, Ahkmou.  The Stone Okotan shoved his way past Lumi, who fell up against the wall, and stalked into the depths of the bunker, offering no greeting or any sort of courtesy for anyone present.  Just glares, mutters, and a general air of not wanting to be here.  So more of the same as yesterday.

      Ihu took another swig of coffee and sighed.  One of these days, he was going to have to have a little chat with Ahkmou about his behavior…

 

---Jaa.---

Flowers?  No, those were way too hard to come by up here.

      Chocolate?  No, the chocolate up here sucked.

      A secret note?  No, that was much too cliché.

      As he strode along the somewhat cramped hallways of the Sanctum Guard’s bunker that early afternoon, Jaa pondered ways to confess his feelings to Ehrye.  It had to be something unique, or else it wouldn’t be special.

      His steps led him to the small library deep in the bunker’s bowels.  He liked the library; the quiet atmosphere and the surprisingly calming smell of paper and leather helped him think.  He entered, nodded a greeting to Podu, the Stone Okotan librarian, and sat down in his favorite chair to continue thinking.

      A romantic serenade?  No, he couldn’t sing.

      A candlelit dinner?  No, he couldn’t cook as well as Kopeke.

      Training Ice Eagles to fly in a heart formation?  No, that was ridiculous.

      His thoughts were interrupted by intense scribbling noises that, for some reason, he hadn’t noticed before.  From his current position, he could see the long, chair-lined table positioned in the center of the library.  Ahkmou was sitting in one of those chairs, his back turned to Jaa, glancing at an open book every now and then as he frantically scribbled something on a sheet of paper.

      Hadn’t he decided last night to keep an eye on Ahkmou and make sure that he didn’t do anything fishy?  Here was a prime opportunity to make good on his intent.

      Stealthily, Jaa rose from his chair and slunk over to where Ahkmou worked.  He peered over Ahkmou’s shoulder to see what he was working on.  The Stone Okotan had a book on the history of the Sanctum Guard open to the chapter on the Sleepers, and he was taking notes on some of the content.

      “What’cha working on, Ahkmou?” Jaa asked.

      Ahkmou practically jumped out of his chair in surprise, making a blot on the paper with his quill.  He slammed the book closed, grabbed the paper, and hid it inside his fur coat.  He turned around to face Jaa; a look of anger was on his face.

      “Did you have to sneak up on me?” he asked.

      “Of course I did,” Jaa replied.  “You know, the Sleepers were some of the most enigmatic Gentlemen back in the early days of the Sanctum Guard.  They’re still pretty mysterious today.”

      “Is that so.  Now go away.”

      “Why?  You’re not doing anything illicit, are you?”

      “It’s none of your business whether or not it’s illicit.  I was studying the Sleepers; that’s all you need to know.  Now leave.  Me.  Alone.”  To emphasize his point, Ahkmou gave Jaa a small shove.

      Jaa shrugged.  “All right, if you insist.”  He walked away, back to his chair.  As he left, he glanced over his shoulder at Ahkmou, who was now resignedly putting away his things.  He felt a small twinge of guilt for putting him on edge, but the feeling soon vanished as he heard Ahkmou mutter.

      “Great.  Just great.  I’ve got ink in my coat.”

      He sunk back into his chair and pondered Ahkmou’s behavior as the Stone Okotan exited the library, presumably to get a new coat.  The new Gentleman was oddly reclusive, secretive, and jumpy.  On its own, that combination of traits was suspicious enough.  But add to that the fact that he was a member of an order where secretiveness was frowned upon, and that made him seem even more suspicious.  There was also the issue of his unexplained expedition into the forest, a place where few were brave enough, or even allowed, to enter, and his speedily hiding whatever notes he had been taking while reading.  All in all, there was definitely something fishy going on with Ahkmou.

      He decided to try and keep a closer eye on Ahkmou than he originally intended.  Maybe Ehrye could help.

      Speaking of Ehrye, how was he going to share his feelings with her?

      Shouting it from the top of the stairs?  No, that was also too cliché.

      A late-night chariot ride?  No, the chariots weren’t allowed to be used for leisure.

      A rose petal trail?  No, Captain Matoro frowned on things like that…

 

 

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