Dragon, 97

“What are you up to?”

Twig looked up at Owen, seeming a bit guilty. “Sorry, sir. Just doing a security check.”

Owen nodded. Twig had had his head in one of the many random rooms in the palace, having just opened a door that had been closed before. Owen knew it had been closed, because he’d closed it after checking inside on his way to the privy. “Well, don’t let me stop you,” he said.

Twig looked just a little abashed. “Sorry. This is just my first fancy castle party so I don’t know what they’re like, but you always hear about murderers showing up at rich people’s parties. So I was…” He shrugged. “Looking for murderers, I guess.”

“Good call,” Owen told him, patting Twig’s armoured back.

Pauper, 6

Niall must have been skinnier than he’d looked out there, because his clothes were tight on Russ.

Russ had a feeling they were tight on Niall too, but they barely fit into the things, and these formal silks they’d been made to wear for this party—which wasn’t even a real party, nobody was even dancing—were worse than anything else they’d had to wear so far.

They were pretty sure Nolan had a lot of say over what Niall wore. And ate. And did and said and thought. The more time Russ spent here in the castle with Niall’s servants and family, the more they just kind of felt bad for Niall. It was obvious that he wasn’t in control of his own life, and Russ didn’t think they could pretend anymore that that wasn’t fucked up.

Nolan had gone out again, both nights since he and Russ had talked. And he hadn’t come back with Niall. And now here he was at this party, over there talking to some young guy with the kind of triangle beard people from Barnt liked. Russ was pretty sure that every person from Barnt didn’t like the same thing, because it was a whole city as big as Hazent and the clients Russ had had from there had all been pretty different and told them different things, but they’d also never met anyone with that beard who wasn’t from there, so there was that. Anyway, Nolan had been talking to that guy for a while now, and he’d been talking to someone else before that, and before that, and before that, and since that was obviously what rich people did at parties, Russ had to assume he was having fun. And it was pissing Russ off that he was here having fun instead of going and getting his nephew.

Apprentice, 9

Ignatius was very good at being sneaky.

He’d grown up being trained as a thief and a spy by someone who’d had need for thieves and spies, so he really knew all about being subtle and stealthy and silent and various other adjectives that began with that sound. He sometimes wondered, if his powers hadn’t manifested and he hadn’t run away from his assignment to avoid killing everyone around him, if Ronaldo hadn’t found him on that hill and taken him in, if his life had gone differently, whether he’d still be that person.

Probably. His brothers and sisters still were, the ones he knew how to contact. He’d met Jacob in the capital and he and Roberta were both still working for Dominic. Pax had apparently run off to sail a boat, which honestly was the sort of thing he’d do. He was pretty sure that Cyrus was out in the Fury Plateau somewhere, where he was undoubtedly sticking out, and he knew Callie was in Aergyre. The other three he had no idea where they were, and neither had Jacob.

Pax excluded, it seemed like Ignatius was the only one who’d quit. And he felt a bit shitty about that, but he was kind of too busy being a wizard and trying not to turn cities into starlight to be too upset that he didn’t get to break into people’s houses at night.

Usurper, 13

“I’m sure you probably don’t want to waste your whole night talking to me, my king.” Janus DiCrawe was a big-eyed boy who slouched all the time. “I should let you go.”

Stephan chuckled. “I wouldn’t be talking to you if I didn’t want to, Janus. But I probably should see what else is going on tonight. Maybe I’ll see you again later.”

“I’d like that, my king,” Janus said with a smile.

Stephan nodded. He liked Janus. And the others were right, having him on the council wasn’t a bad idea—he was smart, he knew what was happening in the south, and he’d said more than once during their conversation that he didn’t think that it was his place to try and tell the king what to do—which might mean that if he were an advisor of Stephan’s, he wouldn’t try to manipulate him like the others.

Prince, 32

“I hope our wedding isn’t that boring.”

“It was fine,” Gabrielle said, sipping wine.

“It was fine,” Franz agreed. “But it was really boring.”

“It was very boring,” Gabrielle conceded. “I mean, I got to see my best friend get married, so there was that. I expect it was less interesting for you.”

Franz shrugged. “I got advanced warning that our wedding is probably going to be boring.”

“If it’s any consolation, someone will probably try to kill us.”

Dragon, 46

“I’m still angry with you.”

Owen smiled at Gavin, swirling the wine he was holding. “Okay.”

Gavin’s scowl deepened. “Don’t okay me, Owen. I went to a lot of trouble picking that outfit out for you.”

“You went to a lot of trouble picking an outfit you thought I’d look hilarious in.”

Gavin colouring was enough to tell Owen that he’d been very right about the very tight velvet with all the lace that he’d had to try on at the tailor’s the other day. “A lot of trouble, and you decide to come to my friend’s wedding dressed like…”

“A knight?” Owen asked, looking down at his dragon armour. “Armour is always formal, Gavin. I’m not the only one dressed this way. Besides, keeps the knives out of my body where I like them.”