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Others, 47

“I’ve been saying for…” Rhonda Peregrine looks at a device on her wrist. “A cumulative total of eleven staff meetings that it’s foolish to try and establish a timeline of the Involuted Clock’s appearances. We can say that this is its most recent one, or maybe it’s the first one, who knows and more importantly, it really honestly doesn’t matter.”

“I must disagree.” Omtal Wake nods, all six of its eyes on Rhonda. “Establishing a pattern for the Clock’s appearances lets us predict its behaviour.”

“That’s simply not true.”

Noble, 48

“Do you think the wedding will be bilingual?” asked Janus, head on Geoffrey’s shoulder.

“Probably not?” Geoffrey shrugged the other shoulder. “Maybe. But it’ll probably just be in Daolo.”

“Yeah.” Janus sighed. “Sorry, Dalton.”

“It’s okay.”

“You don’t know Daolo?” Geoffrey asked. “We could teach you some before we get there. It’ll be another week and a half. If you want.”

“I mean…” Dalton shrugged. “Sure, I guess. I’ve been to weddings before, so I can probably figure it out. In the eyes of God I hold you to these vows, in the name of God I bless your union, by the grace of God I declare you married. World peace, amen.”

Slavery, 101

Daniel sat in the middle of the slaves’ room—his room, now, it was only his room—and wondered why it was so fucking big.

It had nothing in it anymore; Hugh, Simon and Marcus’s stuff was all gone, so it was just Daniel’s stupid clothes scattered around. They’d been piled in one corner, but he’d unpiled them to make the room look fuller. The games and books, pillows and blankets too, he’d strewn them around the room like they always were, even though he had nobody to play games with and he didn’t need that many pillows and blankets. He could sleep just fine on the floor.

He was being fucking stupid and he knew it. He hardly slept in this stupid room anyway, he shared Theodore’s bed most nights. Marcus hadn’t even fucking moved out. Benedict had given him a bedroom just upstairs, because people got bedrooms and Marcus was a person now.

Villain, 95

“This is going to be really fucking annoying,” Sam grumbled, picking at his shirtsleeves. He shouldn’t have had to be dressed already.

“Yeah. But we kind of brought it on ourselves,” Henry reminded him.

“You can just say I brought it on us.” Sam sighed. “It’s fine. It’s just James, at worst he’ll pout at us and complain about how he thought we were friends. I knew trying to kill him was a mistake.”

“Then why’d you let Cassiopeia try it?” Henry asked, in the same neutral voice he’d been using the whole time Sam had been complaining about this.

Sam managed to tear a hole in his sleeve, and fixed it with Chaos. “Because she would have anyway.”

Knighthood, 100

“I will be personally overseeing the wedding’s security,” said the knight commander, hands folded on his desk. “With Sir Devin working out the specifics. Given that the whole royal family will be present for the duration of the event, you will all be put under his command. The castle guard will comprise most of the security, and the city guard will be stationed outside the First Church to ensure order. Sir Elaine, you will liaise with the captains of those two forces to ensure continuity of protection.”

Elaine nodded, and Edwin was profoundly grateful he hadn’t been stuck with that job. “Yes, sir.”

“Given the security issues at the last several royal events, we’ll be searching all guests—no matter who they are—for weapons before they’re allowed into the cathedral and again before they can be allowed into the palace afterwards. Sir Edwin will be in command of that operation, and Sir Elaine can negotiate with the captains of both guards to have them spare some people to help speed the searching along.”

Oh. Edwin nodded. “Yes, sir.” He didn’t need to look around the room to know that was the crappiest job on the security detail. The royal wedding was a huge deal and over a thousand people were attending. The city guard didn’t play well with the order and wouldn’t like being under a knight’s command. If there were delays getting people inside—which there would be—they’d be Edwin’s fault.

If there was any kind of security breach like there always was, it would be Edwin’s fault. There were easily four hundred people doing security for the wedding, but anything that went wrong would be Edwin’s fault.