Tender is the knight

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Warnings/notes: Shydeman/Kai-stern (pseudo-consensual), Kai-stern - Rath, Tetheus - Kai-stern, ooc.

Disclaimer: I don't own Dragon Knights.

(!) Spoilers for Tetheus' family.

written at 31st october 2005, by Misura, for the livejournalcommunity 30kisses (theme: good night)

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Tetheus knows something is wrong, has known something is wrong from the moment Kai-stern sauntered through the gates of the Palace, perfectly in time to celebrate Mid-Winter and to sip hot chocolate with the Lord and Queen, while chatting about insignificant things like treasures, food and diplomacy, absently returning Rath's hugs and ignoring Rath's ignoring him.

For one thing, Kai-stern is -never- in time for any kind of festivity.

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Kai-stern managed not to sigh as Lord Delano prattled on about the reception he'd be hosting in honor of the Dragon Lord's representative this evening, and the esteemed persons who were sure to attend, and whom Kai-stern really just -had- to meet.

To give him credit, Kai-stern had to admit that at least Delano treated him like a welcome guest, rather than someone barely better than a spy or, worse, some sort of higher power, capable of solving every problem with a snap of his fingers. Compared to his last two hosts, Delano was downright pleasant.

However, that still didn't make the man any less of a bore. Kai-stern would almost begin to wish that Delano had been some kind of brilliant schemer, only -pretending- to be a witless idiot, to lure Kai-stern into a false sense of security, while Delano's assassins were actually lurking right behind the corner, ready to strike.

"And you will definitely want to talk to Lady Medea; she has the most extraordinary collection of books. Truly, I have never seen anything like it. She - "

They rounded the corner without any assassins popping up. Kai-stern sourly decided that he didn't even had to think of a polite lie to get away from Delano and his guest-list; claiming that his head was killing him would be saying nothing short of the truth.

Delano, of course, oozed sympathy and concern. Would Kai-stern like to have a physician sent for? A nice, cold, refreshing drink, perhaps, or a talented musician who could sing him to sleep? At the very least, surely, he wanted some soft pillows brought to his room, so that he might rest the more comfortable?

Kai-stern succeeded in offering sincere-sounding thanks, while refusing all of the offered and suggesting that he'd doubtlessly feel better this evening, which went a long way to soothing Delano's worries.

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Rath's behavior is just the slightest bit off, too, Tetheus decides, though he can't quite determine if Rath is simply reacting to the change in Kai-stern, or if it's Rath who's become different, together with Kai-stern.

Kai-stern has been home for four days now. In those four days, Rath has ignored him for a single afternoon; all the other days, he's hung around Kai-stern like a puppy around its master.

Or, maybe, Tetheus can't help but thinking, like a vulture circling a dying man.

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Delano gave him three whole hours of uninterrupted peace and reasonable quiet, before knocking on his door to offer profound apologies for disturbing him and to inform him that an unexpected guest had arrived, whom Delano was sure Kai-stern would be very interested in meeting.

Given the choice between finishing a report for Alfeegi and meeting this mysterious guest of Delano's, Kai-stern was quick enough to put off the report to a later point in time, assuring Delano that he had not incurred the wrath of the Dragon Lord by keeping his envoy from completing a letter - Alfeegi's wrath, obviously, was another matter altogether, but then again, Alfeegi tended to prefer directing his anger at the nearest available target, so Kai-stern saw no reason to add to Delano's worries.

Allowing Delano to convince him that the traces of cream on the floor of the Hall had -not- been caused by the special cake that Delano had ordered weeks ago by some famous baker -a cake that would decorate the center of the room in which the reception was to be held and that had definitely not been dropped by some careless servant, no, milord- Kai-stern successfully kept his hopes regarding Delano's special guest low.

In all likeliness, it would turn out to be just another Lady who created the cutest paintings (Delano's words, not Kai-stern's), or some Lord who had managed to bred the fastest horses Delano had ever seen (which didn't mean all that much, considering).

There was no chance whatsoever that the person in question would turn out to be of any interest to Kai-stern, not with Delano practically bubbling with excitement. One of Delano's acquaintances could never be even as much as a tenth as interesting a person to meet as, say -

"My humble keep is greatly honored by the Dragon Lord sending not one, but -two- representatives, to be sure," Delano gushed. "And how fortunate that I had already planned a reception for this very evening! Perfectly in time, so that the two of you may depart again on your mission."

Delano's wink wasn't what Kai-stern would call 'subtle', and he very much doubted if the man had the least idea about Kai-stern's mission. At another time, he might try to find out, and maybe give the man a little extra push in the wrong direction, but for now, he was more curious to see this second representative of Lord Lykouleon's.

He knew Alfeegi hated traveling almost as much as people spending money on buying drinks. As there hadn't been any reports about demons showing up in this area, Rath probably wouldn't have volunteered to come here either, and Thatz and Rune had departed for Kuulta a week before he'd left Draqueen. Ruwalk tended to stick around the Castle -or, more precisely, the Lord. Which left ...

"Tetheus!"

Well. This one guest, at least, wasn't likely to bore him to death with conversations about cattle and the weather. Tetheus might drive him to distraction by being cryptic and mysterious about the way he'd located Kai-stern, or secured a much higher traveling-budget than Kai-stern ever had, but 'boring' was one word that didn't apply to him in the least.

x- to be continued in the second part -x