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Pt 8 / Pt 9
|Baereth sat back in his chair and silently watched Bastard - Ryer, the woman had called him, and wasn't that priceless. Probably had no idea his name meant anything. These people never did.|
"What do you want?" the captain asked, tiredness deep in his voice. It almost made Baer feel sorry for the guy - except that compassion had been beaten out of him recently.
"Answers," he said. "And honest ones. Who are you? No guard captain I've ever known of has been able to decide who gets a position like spymaster. And I don't believe for a minute that the king decided and you just passed on the message. Fuck, I wouldn't be surprised if you've just come back from convincing him to agree to it. So who, and what, are you?"
Ryer closed his eyes, his expression revealing exactly nothing.
"What other answers do you want?" he asked.
Fair enough, Baereth thought. I'll have time for that one later.
"Who was that woman?" he asked. "What exactly will my job be? And why the fuck would you ask someone like me to even do it?"
Why the fuck would you think I'd do it anyway?
"That woman is Lady Sarfyndar Tyaveris, a gearsmith of great - and mostly unacknowledged - talent," Ryer said. "She inherited her extensive gifts and tools from her honourable and equally unknown father, Smith Grydar Tyaver- ah, you've heard of him?"
"We've had some- history," Baer said stiffly. "It is irrelevant. What is it she does that makes me her boss? Are her toys capable of spy work?"
The bastard laughed. "I wouldn't recommend calling them toys in her hearing," he said. "Unless you want her to spend the rest of your life and hers making things miserable for you. She does not anger gracefully. As to her constructs, some of them are of great help, but for the most part they are experiments and decorations, or tools for the armies. Her greatest asset is that no one would ever suspect her of spying, even in the face of tangible evidence. She's far too direct."
A perfect disguise in a land of the blind.
Ryer glanced over at him, but he said nothing. After a moment the bastard went back to staring at the canopy.
"As for your job," the bastard went on. "That will be somewhat flexible. The systems in place have been designed to allow sudden disruptions at all levels, so it will be up to you what sort of role you take. The spymaster before the current one had an entirely administrative role - he took reports from every level at all times, controlled everything with an unrelenting grip. Even the king did not argue with him. You could even act more directly if you wanted - it will help that you have no current standing in court, so you can act freely. I'll introduce you to the others tomorrow - I hope that dusk is a good time for you, by the way. I wasn't sure."
"It's fine," Baer said.
Ryer tugged idly at his chains, and Baer found himself thinking of what else could be done with them.
/It would be one way to repay the bastard for what he did. But definitely not now./
Bastard sighed into the silence. "As for why you?" he said. "Well I could say it was because you've proved you won't give up your secrets under torture, or that it's a way to keep you where we can keep an eye on you. I could say that I believe you turned to the life you did because it was there and not out of any malice towards the kingdom, and that I hate to see such talents wasted like that. Perhaps I could even claim that we've been watching you and this was only the final test."
Baer found himself smiling at that. It was a nice combination of twisted truth and honest cynicism, and a fascinating puzzle to boot. He could work with that.
"But-?" he said.
Ryer shrugged. "Maybe that's true, maybe it's not," he said. "The real reason is that we need someone to take over the role, and I haven't met anyone else who could do any better than not bringing our kingdom to its knees from within."
"I see," Baereth said, stifling a grin that was half amusement and half irritation. "So I'm the best of a sour bunch?"
"Quite the contrary," the bastard said. "You're better than I could have hoped for."
Pt 8 / Pt 9