3 - Somewhere to Rest My Boots

I almost punch the statue in front of me. Once I restrain myself from that, I almost grasp for my guns just so I can shoot something. Anything. I'm not sure if the bullet's really meant for the King or for Lyric.

I am beginning to see why my teachers were so adamant that we who carry Arms learn to keep them in a safe place at times like this. Fury is an automatic thinker.

I sit for a few moments, force myself to be still, to not run after my brother. To not act. Acting right now would lead to foolish mistakes. I'm not thinking with my mind now. I'm thinking with both an anger that can only be caused by my kin and a fury that can only be called up by someone putting my kin into harm. Both must be quelled. This will be a very short mission otherwise.

I think of the smell of the cut flowers in my family's home. Of a card play at the gambling tables. Of a market street where both nothing and everything in particular is happening at once. Of the strings of a lute. A piano. My Father playing piano in my home.

Just idle things. It's the best way to think of nothing at all. And before long, I have my mind back. Now, instead of thinking about killing people, I can think of how to.

It's all about being constructive.

Part of my mind is still with Lotus, noting where he is staying and if the King is still with him. The other part is wondering where I will be staying, and if there will be food there.

If I'm to fulfill my mission and subsequently drag my brother's ass back to our Father for the beating of his life, I'll need to have proper accomodations.

* * *

The inn-keeper doesn't know I'm staying here, but there's a room reserved for me nonetheless. There are fresh towels and sheets for me when I get there. He doesn't have my name on the books. My name won't be anywhere in this Kingdom. But for some reason he is keeping a room free of occupation and keeping it up as if it had a guest in it, and he'll likely never question this decision, explain it away in some simple manner to his workers and guests.

At least, that's what I told him to do as my pocketwatch swayed back in forth in front of his eyes. So far it appears that my suggestions were taken well, so I have few worries about it. I change my clothes into something more nondescript, keep up my mental defenses to the degree that most people don't bother looking at me for too long, and then eat downstairs.

I think about my brother. I think about Father. I think about how long I'll be here. How convenient smuggling a body would be. How easy it would be to poison the ruling monarch of this Kingdom. You know, the usual thoughts I have during a meal.

I tip the waitress well, tell her to send a hail on to the cook for me, and then I record the day's events up in my room.

I missed the quill. Like any good Poet. I missed pressing it to paper and watching the ink trail out behind the nib in long, flowing arcs. I missed putting precision and flair into each word that I make. I missed putting it down, most of all. Noting my thoughts and observations, recording them. Making them concrete. It's its own relief, like I've uncorked. Like I've had a good smoke. One of my peers once likened it to taking a really good shit.

...And that sort of thing is why we Poets are known best for our eloquence.

I record my brother, the events he went through with the Peacock King. I don't think about what this may cost him, if my words will bring him to harm. ...Well, I do. But it doesn't cause me to hesitate, only to wonder. More to mull over. I finish my writings. I turn in my chair, surveying the room as I rest my arm on the back.

It's high time for some of that mulling.

What we're taught about our Art is that it helps people. That if we use it properly we can solve problems, help situations. Even, perhaps, make miracles. It's not just a matter of Writing what happens, of observing. Because we are there, because we are the ones observing things...

...Things get better.

So I'm not afraid to write my brother in this terrible situation. Without me here, I suspect it could end very bad for him. I'm here now, though, and I can turn this thing around.

I wish our teacher was here to make me more certain, though. Or another Poet, or anyone, really, to be here and give me the blessed confirmation that all of this won't go to shit. That I could really use. I've been through high stakes before, but this is different. I'm alone, I have to stay alone, and I can't just solve this by fixing my aim and slamming a bullet after it.

I'm just a Poet who can carry the Arms. I'm alone in a foreign, enemy Kingdom. What can I do?

...My brother is getting to me more than I like. We're taught in the first serious classes never to grind our confidence down with questions like that.

Speaking of my brother. My darling younger brother. Just how has he been doing these past few hours? It should be his bedtime now, shouldn't it?

Maybe it's time for me to settle down and spy on him like a good sibling should.

* * *

There's very little to unpack and put away before I go to bed. Important possessions are either kept on my person or squirrelled up in some pocket space so no one can find them except me.  [When we first began to learn that trick at the Academy, you could just stop the sentence at "so no one can find them."] My writings, especially, are nothing that I want found by anyone. I'll turn them in when I return from my mission.

So I slip my boots off, lie on this little bed with its fresh sheets, take off my hat and set it on the floor beside the bed. One of my guns is under the pillow. [They say that we who sport Arms keep our guns with us a little too much. I don't see why they tease about it. It just...makes me feel more secure at night, like a teddy bear. A...fully-loaded teddy bear.]

Sleep is a welcome respite. I've had rough travel and a long day in which I've had to concentrate far too much even while doing the idlest things. Sleep is also, however, a gateway into more work. I have a tag on Lyric, that I do. Now that I can relax and rest...we'll see just how well my brother has fared in his new room in what its owner likes to claim is the finest of palaces. I need to know, really. And as a spy whose identity must be kept secret, as someone who must be seen very rarely in public lest my very distinctive face tell tales of my lineage, I really have nothing to do except to spy more.

So as the room dims, as my breath comes in even and slow, Poetry becomes effortless. Lyric's thoughts, actions and words are my dreams.

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