Warnings/notes: Kai-stern/Tetheus (semi-established), ooc, shortie.
Disclaimer: I don't own Dragon Knights.
written at 17th february 2005, by Misura, for the livejournalcommunity 30kisses (theme: a letter)
When Tetheus arrived in his office to find a letter with his name on it in Kai-stern's handwriting, he wasn't particularly surprised or excited. Kai-stern had left a few weeks ago on another diplomatic mission after all -and Tetheus definitely didn't, in any way, miss him- and, well, on such trips it wasn't uncommon that he picked up some information that might be of use to the Secretary of Security.
Officially, of course, all nations were happy to live in peace, and utterly without any ambitions to expand their borders a little bit in this or that direction -though they usually could tell you a story or two about their neighbors. Unofficially, most nations did want to keep the peace as well, if only because wars were so expensive, yet that didn't keep the occasional ambitious politician from stirring up a bit of trouble. Most often, there was more smoke than fire in such cases, but in some situations, even a spark could be dangerous.
Tetheus conscientiously moved the report to his mail-pile, noting with a slight frown that yes, the number of messages he had to read had grown enough over the past few days to have earned the name of 'pile'. Logic dictated that Kai-stern's letter would end up on the bottom, being the most recent, and so Tetheus determinedly placed it there, before starting on the note that appeared to be the oldest.
Four hours later, Tetheus had worked his way through half the pile. He'd also decided that some of his correspondents -rather a lot of them, actually- could have done with some lessons in clear handwriting. Naturally, he didn't expect all of them to be artists with pen and ink, in the way Kai-stern made every single one of his reports looking like a painting of words, but there was a difference between unreadable scribbles and sloppy writing, and a very wide area in between too fancy and too plain.
With a sigh, he picked up the next note, squinting to decipher what turned out to be his name. Granted, it was a mangled, misspelled version of his name, yet he shouldn't have needed nearly two minutes to see that all the same.
He felt tempted to take a break, maybe go and grab some interesting treatise from the library to relax a little bit and give his eyes a rest. In practice, that would amount to admitting he wasn't up to the challenge -if it deserved that name- of reading his own mail. And if he couldn't even be bothered to read a bunch of badly-written reports, then he obviously also wasn't fit to watch over the safety of the Palace and its inhabitants, was he?
Tetheus rubbed his temples, finding himself almost wishing, for the briefest of moments, that something would come up that would demand his immediate attention, and enable him to abandon his mail for more pressing matters.
Obviously, the granting of that wish wouldn't have done him any good; his letters would still be there after the crisis, probably with a bunch of new ones as well. It would seem that he'd simply have to accept the inevitable -and press Ruwalk to finance some more projects to spread literacy, even if those would do little for his foreign contacts.
Still, there -was- that report of Kai-stern's. It -might- be about something urgent and important; if the matter hadn't been pressing, Kai-stern might as well have waited and told him about it upon his return.
It wasn't, Tetheus argued, a case of laziness if he'd skip ahead to the one message that he could be sure of to be readable as well as informative. Nor was it a certain irrational desire to hear Kai-stern's voice again, if only in writing, that motivated him. He was merely being practical, taking the break he needed without actually stopping his work.
Content with this perfectly reasonable justification, Tetheus unfolded Kai-stern's report, absently noting that the seal appeared to be untampered with, which either meant that there really wasn't anyone else who'd read the information within, or that the document had been handled by professionals. (There was another reason for Kai-stern most often waiting with his reports until he'd come back in person.)
As he noticed the report started with 'dear Tetheus', his eyebrows rose a few millimeters. After he'd read the first three lines, they'd risen even higher.
"Uhm, Tetheus?" Ruwalk asked over dinner, with a slightly nervous look at Alfeegi, who seemed far too deeply engaged in conversation with the Lord Lykouleon to notice anything else. "I noticed you got a report from Kai-stern this morning."
Tetheus thought about correcting him that it hadn't been a report, but rather a -letter-, a piece of writing so carefully stripped of any but the most trivial and unuseful information that any spies who might have read it would surely be driving themselves mad right now in trying to crack a non-existent secret language. (What, he wondered, would they make of Kai-stern's raving about a certain brand of chocolate that had been served as a dessert at a dinner-party with Lord A, or the rather smug remark that Lady B had insisted on his kissing her hand, twice?)
Ruwalk, his nerves seeming to get the better of him, had already continued, apparently not even considering the possibility that Kai-stern's communication with Tetheus might have consisted of anything unprofessional. Tetheus wasn't quite sure if he should feel relieved at that.
"He sent one to me as well, with a request for some extra funds." Ruwalk lowered his voice. Not enough, apparently, since Tetheus turned his head to find Alfeegi staring at him and Ruwalk with an expression that might be described as thunderous.
"I'll write back that he's asking for the impossible, of course," Ruwalk added hurriedly. Alfeegi's face did not become noticeably friendlier, though Lykouleon appeared a little amused. He probably knew as well as everyone else that in spite of all his protestations, Ruwalk -would- send Kai-stern any extra funds he might request, simply because Lykouleon had given him silent permission to do so.
"Of course." Tetheus nodded solemnly. "I'll do the same."
Ruwalk glanced at him with a question in his eyes. Tetheus chose to pretend he hadn't seen it, instead trying to recall some insignificant events he might mention in his reply to Kai-stern. He wasn't really in the habit of visiting frivolous social events, or having Ladies throwing themselves at him, but he was sure he'd be able to come up with something.