Dragon, 112

The Best Way to Deal With Obstinate People Is Just to Be More Obstinate than Them

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“Hear me out on this,” Twig suggested, tugging at his collar.

“You have two minutes,” Owen told him.

“I think we should be allowed to go to church wearing whatever we want, instead of wearing fancy rich-people clothes.”

Owen thought about that. “Yeah, me too.”

“Great,” said Twig, grinning. “So next week we can just come in normal clothes!”



“Because Gavin’s going to make me dress like this,” Owen said, tugging at his own silk shirt. “And so I’m going to make you dress like this too. It’s only fair.”

“Seems like if you’re going to be a trailblazer and not pass on the whole squirefucking thing to the next generation, you could also be a trailblazer and not pass on the whole ugly clothes thing,” Twig grumbled.

Owen patted his head. “This is different, because it’s funny.” Twig was wearing a yellow shirt—Gavin said it was cream—with frills on the collar and sleeves, and a bow. He also had tight black pants on so he looked a bit like a bee. His hair was just long enough for Owen to have made him comb it, too.

“You know, you suck actually. Stan never had a sense of humour.”

“You want to get reassigned back to him?” Stan had left the city with Percy and a few other knights to go fight goblins, so Twig would have to wait if he wanted to be whipped that badly.

“Uh. No. He also sucked.”

Owen nodded. “Good, because I wouldn’t let you go back to that piece of shit even if you wanted to. Next time you can stay home with Grey Rain if you want.”

Twig stuck out his tongue, which did nothing to hide that he was blushing. “Does he usually stay home because he doesn’t like the Catechism, or because he doesn’t like wearing clothes?”

“It’s almost entirely the latter,” Owen told him. Grey Rain had his own gods, but he was actually really interested in Catechism stuff. It was next to impossible to get him to talk about his life before he’d been kidnapped, but he’d mentioned once that he’d been training to be a werewolf priest when he’d been younger. But he needed to be in a particularly patient mood to put on fancy clothes and sit still for three hours to pay attention to a service he’d need translated for him. He was here today, looking miserable, and he’d only come because he’d wanted to find out what Owen was going to learn from talking to the High Presbyter.

On the other hand, Greg had told him how handsome he looked in his stupid outfit no less than five times, so maybe there were other moods to put him in to convince him to come to church more often.

“Well, same,” Twig said with a sigh, tugging at some of his frills again. “You know, the worst part of this is that we have to go to the fortress after we’re done and everyone is going to see me wearing this.”

“Nah,” Owen promised, patting his shoulder. “I don’t want any of them to see me dressed this way either. I made sure our clothes and armour were in the carriage. We can change after we’re done talking to Pauline.”

“Oh my God I love you,” Twig said, sighing a huge sigh and looking much lighter. “Thank you, fuck. Are you really on a first name basis with the High Presbyter?”

“No,” Owen said, shrugging. “But her name is shorter than her title. Here she comes.”

“Okay, you take the lead and I’ll jump in and provide backup if you need it.”

She was just kind of walking towards the door that Owen was standing near, and Owen pushed off from the wall to intercept her. She’d been doing her usual talking to Gavin’s family and also Gavin that she did after every service. Owen could see them getting ready to go. Greg was holding Gavin’s hand, but he didn’t look upset, so she must not have been that intense. Grey Rain was looking at Owen, waving.

Owen waved back at him, just as the High Presbyter realized she wasn’t going to be able to ignore him. “Prince Owen,” she said, smiling. “I’m surprised you’re not over there with your family.”

“I had to go for a short walk after the service,” Owen told her. “I get terrible cramps in my thighs.”

She blinked, clearly not having been expecting that. “An unfortunate affliction in one so young. Can I help you with something?”

“Yes, actually,” Owen told her. “You remember last week when we spoke about the tunnel that connects this church to an underground hell portal that was built by someone who wants to destroy Three Hills?”

“Vividly,” she said, voice flat. She hadn’t been very happy during that conversation. “And as I’ve told you, I have no knowledge of such a tunnel. It has been sealed, and anyone could have accessed that room, even someone not affiliated with the church.”

“Right, thanks,” Owen said. “I also remember that, so I’m glad we both remember the conversation. I’m going to post two guards in the church at all times until we catch the person who’s responsible.”

“You will do no such thing,” said the High Presbyter, trying to stand so she was taller than Owen, which she wasn’t. “This is a place of worship and contemplation, not a barracks. I will not have armed guards stomping around intimidating people.”

Owen nodded the whole time she was speaking to show he wasn’t listening. “I hadn’t actually thought about whether or not to arm them, but I guess you’re right, they should be. Thanks for the tip.”

“Excuse me?” Pauline demanded, going reddish. “Did you not listen to anything I just…”

“Not really. There’s an evil sorcerer trying to suck the whole city into hell. I think they’re using your church as a way to get away with it. It’s not your fault, the tunnel was definitely there before you became High Presbyter. It was also there before I was a knight, but I am a knight now, so it’s my problem. And since you are High Presbyter now, it’s your problem too. I remember from your sermon just now that hell is kind of a bad place where demons live, and so it seems to me that, seeing as you’re the High Presbyter and all, you should probably want to avoid having a whole city full of innocent people, including you, be sucked into it, right?”

The High Presbyter looked at him for a minute, then took in a sharp breath. “These guards must be dressed inconspicuously. And they must be ordered, very strictly, to remain only in the area of the church where the tunnel is. And not to bother anyone.”

Owen nodded. “I can make sure of that. They’ll be on the lookout for anyone trying to access the tunnel, nothing else.”

“Very well,” she said. “Inform me when you’ve set them upon the church.”

“They’re already here,” Owen told her. “I did it yesterday.”

“Excuse me? Then what was the point of…”

“Did you notice them?” Owen interrupted.

“Well…I was hardly on the lookout, was I?”

“Right.” Owen smiled. “That’s the attitude I hope our sorcerer has. Thanks for your cooperation, your Holiness.”

She sighed. “Someday you will find a problem that being bullheaded will not help you solve, Prince Owen.”

“I’m not worried about that,” Owen said. “Other parts of me are bull-shaped too. I have to get to the fortress. Have a good day.”

“And you as well.” She sounded tired, but it wasn’t even noon.

Pleased with how that had gone, Owen let her go, waving Twig to follow him over to Gavin. “Thanks for the backup.”

“You seemed like you were doing fine,” Twig said immediately. “Besides, I couldn’t breathe because this shirt is so tight and ugly.”

“I bet Dante would like it.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea. I bet he’d like tearing it off me.”

“I’ve tried that, Gavin just replaces stuff,” Owen said.

Twig sighed. He waved as Grey Rain ran up to them. What happened? Did the evil church lady say yes to the guards?

She’s not actually evil, Owen told him. And of course she did, I didn’t ask her permission.

Grey Rain scowled. How come when you don’t ask permission it’s cool but when I don’t ask permission it’s rude?

Because I’m saving the world, you’re just horny.

I think those are almost the same thing.

You’re right, Owen admitted. He patted Grey Rain’s back. Come on, let’s go get undressed.

Really? Grey Rain’s tail was wagging.

He means for work, Twig explained.

Grey Rain’s ears went flat, and he pouted all the way back to the carriage. But Greg was waiting for him there, and he perked right back up again.

As they got in, Owen took one last look at the First Church. It looked perfectly normal, and it probably was. But also this was the second time it had been connected to a demon that wanted to kill everyone.

Maybe Owen should talk to Grey Rain about werewolf gods, just in case.

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