Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Page 1709

Hector thought about it a moment. “If that happens, then... please look after Warrenhold for me. There are, uh... only three people living there, right now. My mother, a woman named Amelia Carthrace, and a man named Jamal Easton. But... ah...”

“I understand,” said Melchor.

It would be our honor to protect them,’ said Orric.

“But not our preference,” said Dimas, which was perhaps the first thing that Hector had heard him say since Capaporo. “Please do not get captured.”

Hector just gave him a nod.

After that, Melchor and Dimas turned to leave, and Orric and Iziol followed suit.

Mr. Easton was probably going to be quite overwhelmed with all of these guests. Hector had never actually told the man directly they would be arriving, but he was fairly certain Mr. Easton already knew. Asad’s wife and son should have conveyed that message when they first arrived.

Probably.

One more thing to worry about later, he supposed.

Only Garovel and Voreese now remained.

Huh,’ said Garovel aloud. ‘Shall we head back to Capaporo, then?

Hector eyed him. “Garovel...”

They don’t need me to guide them. They know the correct direction now, and from here, it’s a straight shot back to Warrenhold.

“That doesn’t change the fact that it’s too dangerous to bring you.”

I’ll keep my distance and observe from afar,’ said Garovel. ‘It’s like you said. Leo doesn’t know who you are. He won’t who I am, either, or that you’re my servant. Or that you even ARE a servant.

Hector frowned.

And considering how apparently reluctant you were to share your plan with everyone, I have a feeling that you don’t actually HAVE a plan. Or, at least not one that doesn’t sound completely insane. Am I close?

Hector didn’t say anything and just glanced at Voreese.

Voreese was already looking at Garovel, though. ‘You’re not exactly filling me with confidence over here, sayin’ shit like that.

All I’m saying is, it wouldn’t hurt to come up with a sound plan.’

“Do you have some suggestions?” said Hector.

Let’s move while we talk,’ said Garovel. ‘It’ll take a few hours to get back there.

That was a good point, Hector supposed. He still didn’t really want to bring Garovel along, but as long as the reaper intended to keep his distance when the time came, there wasn’t much actual justification for leaving him behind.

This time, he pushed himself for a faster pace. Without all the climate pods in tow, he no longer had to worry about having a delicate touch. He simply let the two reapers attach themselves to him beneath his cooling variant armor, and then they blasted off toward Capaporo again, as fast as his iron could carry him.

So the fact that Leo doesn’t know who you are may be our greatest advantage,’ said Garovel.

Are you thinking Hector can just sneak up and yoink Roman away from him?’ said Voreese.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Page 1708

((Triple Monday -- Page 3 of 3))
One of the several other servants who had been watching but not saying anything up to now decided to speak up. “Well, if Lord Goffe believes he can do it, then...” It was one of the Blackburn women. Silvia, Hector was pretty sure.

He was surprised to hear her say that, as well, considering she’d actually seen him fight, all the way back in Luzo. She couldn’t have been very impressed by his prowess back then, either, considering Asad had done all the heavy lifting in that battle.

Strange. Hector wondered what had changed her view of him.

Though, perhaps it would make more sense if nothing had. Maybe her view of him hadn’t changed at all, and she was simply saying that because she didn’t give two shits about the current situation and just wanted to move things along so that her family could get to safety.

Yeah, Hector found that much more believable. Aside from Melchor and occasionally Horatio, the Blackburns were noticeably different from the other Rainlords. More withdrawn. Even now, Hector could see it in the way they were standing so close together, especially around the Lady Nere. She was wearing full iron armor like everyone else, but Hector could still easily pick her out of the crowd from her body language alone. That slumped posture, the frequently downcast gaze. From what he’d heard, she’d been that way ever since leaving Dunehall.

Dunehall, where her husband Ismael had been killed, and her son Ibai had gone missing, in addition to all of the other casualties her House had suffered.

Hector certainly couldn’t blame the Blackburns for seeming that much more protective of her now.

A few other voices arose in agreement with Silvia, more Blackburns and a few Sebolts as well, until at length, Evangelina Stroud spoke up again.

“Fine.” She tapped Hector on the pate of his helmet with the iron knuckle of her own gauntlet. “We will go. But do not tarry long. Else you give us reason to come looking for you.” She turned and started walking away.

Hector was too busy blinking to come up with a response. She’d actually agreed? He’d expected her to be the most difficult to convince.

The other Rainlords began following her, reapers included, but Dimas and Melchor lingered a bit longer, as did Voreese, Garovel, Iziol, and Orric.

This is moronic,’ said Voreese. ‘You can’t possibly... agh, I mean, I’m grateful, but... Hector, what the fuck?

“I’ll need you to point me toward Roman,” said Hector. “I hope you won’t mind coming with me part of the way, at least.”

Of course I won’t mind, you piece of a shit! But--! Argh!

Melchor stepped closer to him. “What if you do not return?”

Hector didn’t know how to answer that.

“If you are captured,” said Melchor, “and if we are unable locate or otherwise retrieve your brain... in such a circumstance, is there something you would like us to do for you? As a final request?”

Oh. Hmm.

Page 1707

((Triple Monday -- Page 2 of 3))
Melchor was the one to break the silence. “...Do you truly believe that you can defeat Leo on your own?”

Absolutely fucking not. But admitting that so bluntly was probably a bad idea, Hector felt. He had the feeling that they wouldn’t let him go if he didn’t act like he knew what he was doing.

So the lie here would have to be convincing. And acting overly confident in his own power would not be convincing, Hector felt. Strong people like Evangelina, Dimas, and Melchor wouldn’t be swayed by boasting. No doubt, they’d seen plenty of people talk a big game in the past and then not be able to deliver.

No, in that moment, Hector felt like he had to strike a particular balance between self-certainty and pragmatism. That was what he had to project, if he was to have any hope of being allowed to go after Roman on his own.

Which meant the question of whether or not he believed he could defeat Leo by himself was a crucial one.

“Maybe,” Hector decided to say, “but I probably won’t bother fighting him. My goal isn’t to test my strength. It’s to get Roman back. And fighting isn’t the only way to accomplish that.”

Darktide just stared at him, not saying anything.

Was that good? Did he buy it? Hector couldn’t tell. Agh. It seemed like every old servant had an incredible poker face.

Evangelina chose to say something now. “If not by fighting, then what do you intend to do?”

Oof. He hadn’t fully figured that out yet, but again, admitting as much seemed like a bad idea.

“I... can’t tell you,” said Hector.

“Excuse me?” said Evangelina, sounding irritated. “Why can you not tell us?”

He decided to borrow a tactic from Asad and Qorvass again. “Trade secret,” he said.

“Ridiculous,” she said. “Tell us your plan now.”

“...No.”

It was bit hard to tell through her faceguard, but she did not look happy.

Okay, maybe saying all of that was a stupid thing to do, but Hector couldn’t help feeling that, of the two options available to two him, it was better to come across as cagey than as lacking a concrete plan.

Everyone was being quiet again.

Hmm. Maybe they needed some reassurance.

“I won’t do anything stupid,” Hector lied, knowing that he was already doing that. “You don’t need to worry. And besides, er, it’ll be easier if I go by myself, because Leo won’t know who I am. If I bring you guys along, he’ll recognize you immediately and probably just attack us.” Huh. That seemed like a surprisingly good point, Hector felt. He had kind of been thinking that all along, he supposed, but it sure would have been nice if he could have articulated it earlier.

Does that mean you intend to negotiate with him?’ said Orric.

Aw, shit. Why did they have to read so much into it?

“Ah... maybe,” said Hector again. “If I have to. Look, uh, that’s not important. Just let me handle this, okay?” And one more lie to top it all off. “I know what I’m doing.”

He was starting to feel like a really bad person with all this lying. And also maybe a dumbass.