6: By the Duke's Will

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"Common thieves is all they were, your grace."

    Blayre and Rory sat stiffly in Captain Holt's office, while he briefed them on what had been discovered so far from the previous night's events. The captain's office was nothing like Lord Darach's study. Where the Blumore study gave off an air of well-used clutter, Captain Holt kept his office neat and bare of any decor - plain and orderly, much like the man himself. Fletcher had always said the man was likely to keel over if he discovered a trace of dust in the place.

    "They didn't seem so common to me, begging your pardon Captain. They looked like they were dressed for the job." Blayre objected.

    Holt rubbed at his graying temples, eyes closed as if to summon patience.

    Blayre had never seen the man's feathers so ruffled as they had been the previous night when the guard had announced that she and Rory had arrived at the barracks, and that the Duke de Vihrea was seeking accommodations outside of the palace proper for thee night. The normally calm Captain of the Seekers seemed to have recovered himself, but Blayre couldn't miss his unusually wrinkled uniform shirt, and the wart look on his weathered face.

    "I would have to agree, Captain. These 'thieves' as you call them, were prepared for the job. Either they were targeting myself and Seeker Blumore here, or we just happened to be a couple of well-dressed individuals in the wrong place at the wrong time." Rory's hands clasped and unclasped on the desk, as though he were going to strangle the next would-be assailant he came across.

    "Forgive me, your Grace. I know you are concerned. . ."

    "Concerned?" Rory drew himself up to his full seated height and Blayre was afraid he might leap from his seat to pounce on the unsuspecting Captain. She resisted the urge to put a quieting hand on his thigh which was so close that it nearly brushed her own.

    "You'll forgive me if I am a little displeased with the results of the guard at the moment, Captain. I know they are not under your leadership so I will be speaking to the Captain of the City Guard personally once this meeting is adjourned." Rory was saying, all traces of his Islander accent completely wiped out. For all his misgivings regarding a royal life, Rory seemed to slip into his royal mask as seamlessly as the Cel feeding into the Southern Sea.

    "Very well, your Grace. Can I be of assistance in any other way?"

    "No, that will be all." Rory stood and Captain Holt rushed to stand while Rory made his exit. Belatedly, Blayre realized that she should as well. After spending so much time with Rory without the restraint of customs, it was difficult to get used to all the formalities associated with being around an heir to the throne.

    "Seeker Blumore, I hope to see you again soon." A bit of the informal Duke Rorrick broke through with a crooked smirk.

    "Of course, your grace." Blayre dipped her head, and then watched Rory walk away, with a stirring of wistfulness in her chest. As much as she had yearned to return to her old life, she felt a little bit empty, and the thought of eventually being sent on another low-level assignment left her with mixed feelings as Rory disappeared with the click of the office door.

    "Seeker Blumore, now that his grace is gone, let us turn to the task at hand. While I do not fully approve of your leaving your Triad and therefore not completing the assignment yourself, I do understand that you had little choice in the matter." Holt glanced at the doorway, as if Rory might burst through again. Blayre somewhat hoped that he would.

    "I confess that I was reluctant to leave my post, but recalled that preserving the Crown is the top priority for any servicemember, no matter the faction." She said pointedly.

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