Characters: Lucien Roan, Adrian Cross, Wallace von Blair
The question gave him pause. What did he expect of Lucien? He couldn’t make him a regular soldier. For as young as he was, Lucien was far more skilled than a mere soldier. His tactics weren’t exactly what knights would approve of either. While knights were far from what the idealized version of them were, Blade Dancers were a different matter all together. There were similarities, but that was all. His knights presented a pretty picture in public, but left to their own devices many of them let their rank and ego go to their heads. Blade Dancers were a mysterious lot, but Adrian knew enough that they were held up to a far more strict standard and set of rules and regulations than knights. Lucien would quickly become reviled by the others. The prince toyed with the thought of making Lucien his personal bodyguard, but appointing a man virtually out of nowhere wouldn’t go over very well by anyone. Unless…
A plan began to formulate in his mind. He could introduce Lucien to the Wallace, who could bring him to court. The claim could be that Lucien has been working for the von Blairs as a knight. Wallace could say that he felt that the young man’s skills were wasted at the barony and should be devoted to protecting the princedom of S’ran.
“What are you planning?”
Blunt as always. It was one of the few things Adrian appreciated about Lucien. It was refreshing to hear an honest response to anything that was said, spoken or otherwise. There was a hint of caution and guardedness he could hear in Lucien’s voice, his eyes narrowing as he watched the other.
“To introduce you to the brother of the Baron of Chalcedony, Wallace von Blair,” Adrian replied.
“Whatever for?” Curiosity was winning out over his caution. There was one thing to be said about the Prince of S’ran: nothing was ever boring. He closed his eyes and sighed in exasperation when his question was answered with a look that usually meant a scheme.
The baron’s brother Wallace – he preferred to be called Wally by close friends and family – was a well respected man and a Knight of S’ran. He had a dark, if not morbid, sense of humour, and laughed readily. He was a tall, wiry man with black hair and blue eyes, a common trait among the von Blairs as far as Lucien could tell. He was observant and picked up on details quickly, something that served him well on campaigns.
Lucien quickly learned that Chalcedony was part of S’ran, the fertile land and title given to a knight with the von Blair name long ago for saving life of one of Adrian’s ancestors, a brother or some such that had no chance at claiming the throne but had some influence on the ruling prince. Chalcedony still belonged to S’ran, but the barony was autonomous for the most part. To be honest, the history between Chalcedony and S’ran mattered little to Lucien. It went in one ear and out the other.
The only bits of information that he found interesting was that Adrian was a bastard son with no chance for the throne, had been a knight with Wallace, and after a series of unfortunate incidents and revelations involving Prince Leon’s older children, Adrian’s sister was left as the only heir. Adrian and his sister ruled together until she decided she no longer wanted to rule and gave the throne to her brother.
The other interesting thing was that the von Blairs were not natives of Caselien. They were really from Laskanda, and their longevity and close ties to S’ran were what helped them keep a firm hold on the barony. The family held an expansive estate on Laskanda near the capital city as well as the barony. The von Blairs were not a family to be dismissed offhandedly.
It was no wonder that Adrian wanted him to meet the von Blairs. Of all the families he held alliances with, the prince trusted the von Blairs without question.
Wallace leaned back in his chair, regarding Lucien with a look he couldn’t identify. Speculation? Confusion? Calculating the possibilities? “Claim him as one of my own squires or knights, you say?” When Adrian nodded, he hmmed to himself. “He looks young enough to have been a squire not long ago. He’d probably rattle in any armour we gave him.”
Lucien bristled at the perceived slight, which only made the knight laugh.
“Easy, lad. No insult was intended. You’re like me: small in frame, thin, wiry, agile. Probably a strength in your frame that most wouldn’t expect judging by the weapons you carry.” Wallace inclined his head to the two kopeshes at Lucien’s side and the short sword strapped to his back. He gaze flickered over the rest of him, and settled on a ring Lucien wore on his right hand. “And I see why.” Pulling the glove off his right hand, Wallace showed Lucien his own ring. “It seems I should be calling you ‘brother.’”
The emotions the swept over Lucien nearly overwhelmed him. When was the last time he had seen a Blade Dancer ring? Or any other ring belonging to one of the three orders? Years at the least. He thought for sure they were dying out, for in all of his years traveling he had never seen a single ring. Choking back a sob, surprised by his reaction, he said, “Well met, brother,” his voice thick with emotion.
Wallace gave him a smile and look full of understanding. “Well met,” he replied, giving Lucien the traditional greeting. “You are welcome in my house any time. Don’t hesitate to call upon my help. In the meantime, let’s see about putting his highness’ plan into action.”
Dinner was served in a private room as Lucien related his story to Wallace, after which they discussed what needed to be done. It was decided that Lucien would be Wallce’s squire and learn the customs and courtesies of the S’ran military, as well as courtly etiquette. When Wallace felt that Lucien was ready, he would be knighted and made part of the 17th Unit. This would give him the freedom he needed to move about the lands and learn what he needed to fight Lyrac.
As they planned everything out, Lucien felt mixed emotions over the whole thing. On the one hand, he was relieved to have found another Blade Dancer and trusted Wallace’s judgment. The man was of the First Class rank in the Order, and he was still a Third Class. Then again, there was a feeling in the pit of his stomach that Lucien couldn’t quite identify. There was no doubt that his road was going to be a long and hard one. He just hoped that Adrian and Wallace would be there in the end.