[P] one of them will be me watching you run
#1
The night to night of La Roja went on with its usual unpredictability, but little was the Broker assuaged of normalcy while the family was around. Anything could happen with these wild cards at play. It shouldn’t have been surprising then, to find his older sister alone at a table in the Showroom.

“It’s a lovely song, isn’t it?”

Ignoring his better judgment, Calrian took up the seat beside her. The melody was a joyous one despite the macabre subject matter, and people were up on the dance floor, swinging around and laughing.

They all could move rooms in their own way, but to see his brother shine gave Calrian a deep and genuine pride.

“It is.” She replied. She glanced at him with a raised brow, but then soon resumed sipping at her warmed drink. He could smell that it was only water, likely from her own canteen; it was one of the things he’d come to notice about her, that she never imbibed.

Never sank to their level.

There was another mug at the table. He searched the door with a surreptitious look, easing back in his seat to hide the motion. Whoever she was waiting for would have to wait.

“Did he write it?”

“Yeah.” He smiled. “With the help of our old Minstrel. He was quite the wordsmith, could turn a bloody war into, well, this.” He motioned at the dancers. 

Tiamat glanced the way he gestured, though her gaze didn’t seem to settle on anyone or anything. “I used to know someone like that.”

The door to the Showroom opened. A group of travelers came in—none that either of them recognized.

“Maybe we knew the same person.” He pretended to consider this like it was real conjecture, and then slowly allowed a sly grin to touch at his mouth. “But what are the chances?”

It took her a moment. He liked to see it come together on her face, how her brow gave way to the barest pinch. So he was still important to her.

“What is it, Calrian?” She took a deep breath through her nose, but everything else about her had grown frighteningly still. “What are you getting at?”

The song had come to its natural end, and there was applause around the room. The Broker’s smile shone a little sharper in the light.

He kicked back in the chair, feigning a look of casual repose. To anyone who might be watching, they would have looked like two regular people having a regular conversation, save for his warrior sister’s unapproachable gaze that stood out anywhere except the battlefield.

“We haven’t heard a word from him. Mateo.” He watched her expression unspool a little. He finally had a thread. “That’s why you came, isn’t it?”

Tiamat turned her steely glare in his direction. Without her axe, he supposed, a look would have to be threat enough.

“Where is he?” 

His shoulders rolled. “Isn’t that the question?”

She studied him openly. Calrian was used to this kind of attention from women, but not ones with such murderous energy.

Well, now that he thought about it, that wasn’t quite true either.
raise a glass to freedom!

#2
She thought she might apologize to the boys some day, when the timing was right. Instead she found her hand itching to grab his collar and shake him until the nonsense fell out.

“Why did he leave?” She asked with a patience mustered from reserves she didn’t know she possessed.

“He had a young boy. Not his,“ he added before the connections could make themselves. “An orphan. The child ran off with the earthquakes last summer, and Mateo went to find him.”

Tiamat stared at the table, trying to make sense of the lines in the wood. She felt lost in a forest and a deafening urgency tugging her in all directions. Return home, to her children. Finish the mission, eradicate the Kingdom of Thorns. And now Mateo was lost somewhere, child in tow, perhaps in need of help.

It occurred to her that he might be safe and finally happy. What business was it of hers? If she had never left Portland, she would have never known to look for Mateo.

It was the way he said it though, the way his eyes gleamed, his raven-black hair long enough to be tied back. An old wound, and he'd known right where to scratch.

She looked up. “What is it that you want, Calrian?”

He wasn’t bringing this up for nothing. A Broker never did.
(—) | NPCs: Calrian
#3
He thought, by the way she stared at the table, that they would need to make plans to build a new one. Perhaps she was dismantling his face the way she meant to back in Portland.

Come near me again, she had said, and I’ll make sure your father’s vile bloodline ends with you.

Tiamat turned to him, and to his relief, they were spared the expense.

He drummed his fingers on the table once, a thoughtful look on his face.

“In the past, we haven’t seen eye to eye,” he said, charitably. “So let me paint a picture for you. My Troupe and I pour our blood and sweat and tears into making this beautiful establishment. We work hard to forge connections with the people to the west, to the north, and eventually, we hope in all directions.” He looked at her, and his smile faded. “Then one day, who strolls in but my long lost siblings and their brigade? All magnificent warriors, their past full of bloodshed and triumph and glory.”

Except, perhaps, whatever happened with them and Jethro and Marlowe.

“You were certainly quick to make a profit off our stories of glory.”

“That’s true. Nothing’s sacred, but you know that, don’t you?” She hacked away at all things—enemies, traditions, family alike. He didn’t have to smile anymore. “If you’re not here to find our missing friend, then what hell are you plotting?”

The door opened again, and this time, the one who came through was no other than their youngest sibling. She spotted them with a wave and began to make her way over. As Calrian stood, so did Tiamat.

“If you start a war, Tiamat,” he said to her, his voice low. “You’ll be on your own.”
(—) | NPCs:
raise a glass to freedom!



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