May 11, 2021 8:54 AM
People are quite suspicious of the Commander's new girlfriend
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"Thank you," she says, regaining her composure mostly through willpower. "That's the plan. I worry that a lot of old magic was lost with the savagery of time, and it seems... such a pity. I'd like to restore what I can of that, and help connect the old with the new. And according to Taimi I make a much better research minion than James, so clearly I have found my calling."

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That startles a giggle out of the Queen, who covers her mouth with a hand to maintain the regal aura. "Best of luck. I'm sure the Commander will be grateful not to have to collect any more samples from the battlefield."

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"I think he liked the part where he would go out to kill the things that would provide the samples, but... yes. I don't think he'll miss it. Though I might want to give him a crash course in field research methodology for when I'm not trailing along behind him, scraping up bits of things he's killed."

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"He'll enjoy the lesson, I'm sure," says the Queen who is sure of no such thing. She stands up and looks around at the garden. "Shall we return? I believe Anise should have finished grilling the Commander by now."

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Vetareh's pretty sure that she'll have to make some kind of game of it for James to enjoy literally anything about that, but okay, sure, she doesn't mind hearing pretty, pretty lies.

"Yes," she agrees, standing as well.

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So they can walk back to the throne room, where indeed Anise and James are waiting for them.

"I do hope we did not keep you waiting overlong," the Queen says.

"Your sense of timing remains impeccable, Your Majesty," replies the Countess.

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"Had fun?"

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"Mhmm. Careful, there's still time for me to run off to dazzle Rata Sum with my brilliance."

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"I would not dream of stopping you, if that's your heart's desire."

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The Queen and the Countess exchange the briefest of looks before the Queen says, "We had a marvelous walk and got to know each other much better. I thank you very much for taking this time to humour me."

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"Thank you very much for having us, your Majesty," says Vetareh, with a proper curtsy. That sure sounded like a dismissal to her. It's a dismissal, right? They're free?

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They absolutely are. James bows, and out they can go.

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Freedom!!!!!

"I like them both, actually," she admits to James, once they are out the door.

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"I thought you might."

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His level of smug earns him a look.

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He is completely unashamed.

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She rolls her eyes at him fondly.

"So I suppose no running off to Rata Sum for me. You're heartbroken, I know."

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"You can always decide I'm too insufferable."

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"That's true, I could. Hmmmmm." Kiss. "Not just yet, no. Despite your best efforts."

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He laughs.

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And then a woman in a very pretty flowery set of armour runs into them almost out of nowhere. "Commander! What a coincidence to run into you today. And who's this?"

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"Good to see you, too, Kas," says the Commander who will believe this was a coincidence on the same day he starts trusting Lazarus. "This is Vetareh." He turns to said Spellbreaker. "Vetareh, this is Kasmeer Meade. She's Marjory's girlfriend and they work together as private investigators."

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Yeah, Vetareh does not think this is a coincidence either. Getting checked for being a manipulative fraud by one of James's friends is less intimidating than the same by the queen of his country, though. The stakes are more personal.

"Pleasure to meet you," she says sincerely, with a polite curtsy.

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"So, Commander, I have a bone to pick with you..." says Kasmeer, straight to business.

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"Before I get an earful, I told Marjory it was a terrible idea."

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