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The morning sun breaks through the ornate window of your tower room. As is your custom, you've been woken by the sunrise, not by some servant informing you of the beginning of the day. You value your privacy after all. And not just yours.

It's been a week since Alys stepped out of the infirmary for good. She never bothered finding her own quarters in the western wing of the castle. Clearly she knew where she wanted to be, as did you. You were surprised that what had grown between you was a fresh experience for her, who always seemed so worldly, but then your father did not keep you cloistered in your own home for most of your life. She never complained, not on the first night, not now. Despite the dire nature of your duties, her closeness keeps you level, there has not been a moment of torturous self doubt like after Avighon. You are reminded of all this as you stir, and gently take the slender yet muscular arm draped across your chest and place it back at the red haired woman's side. She hums lowly and shifts in the bed.

“Will, is it morning already?” She mumbles.

You rise and move to the basin to wash last night off of you. After you rinse the wet from you, you respond. “Sun's out, Alys. Last I checked, that's morning.”

She huffs. “I'm supposed to be the sarcastic one, dear.”

You shrug, placing the cloth you had just used back on the rack next to the washbasin. “Guess you rubbed off on me after all.” Your mind flashes to nearly every night of the last week, leading into soft laughter. “Guess you were bound to, considering.”

A pillow hits your back with negligible force. “Cad.”

“Layabout. You're supposed to do your class this afternoon, remember? I'm sure you can at least get out of bed for that.” Alys has been doing her own class for the aspirants lately. Leaving spycraft and knifework to her own tutors she puts her encyclopedic knowledge of the Empire and it's peoples to work, giving them a crash course on anywhere they might be sent and exactly what to do to not stand out among the locals. Her classes are in the afternoons while the tutelage of your two hires are in the mornings. Friedrich tells you word among the aspirants is they appreciate the break, even if Alys occasionally complains of some of them falling asleep mid-lecture in abject exhaustion.

She lets out a theatrical sigh but you hear the sheets rustle as she herself emerges from them. Coming to the basin by your side she lands a quick kiss on your cheek before moving on to her own morning ablutions. “Do find something to get involved with, love, much more monotony for you and you're liable to send poor Garn through a window next time he wants you to hold audience.”
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>>5243545
You grunt. But she's not wrong. An active person, the relative high amount of leisure time afforded you while you wait for your initiates to be trained up, an order from Alkaign to arrive, or just anything at all to happen is indeed weighing on you. There are a number of things you could involve yourself directly in around the castle, but you fear you may just be getting in the way of those more suited to those tasks. Still, idleness ill suits you. A doublet and fine set of pants is set out of you, probably Garn's fine taste. He knows you hate him stepping in on you and Alys, so you often find clothes for the next day laid out and ready when you both retire for the night. You dress in the somewhat too fine clothes and head downstairs, telling your betrothed you will see her again soon.

It's still early morning, you know that the aspirants are out at training, and most of the staff should not be busy. Your habit has been to take up the training yard, but you've been at that for more than a month now and you feel your skills are about as sharp as they will get. At least for now. Better you find something else to put yourself towards.

It strikes you that, if your message was on time, it is mere days before Eleyse arrives with the party from Hold Campbell. You told the Priestess of the surprisingly opulent chapel within Barathon, a matronly woman called Liotha, that you would proceed with the marriage as soon as she arrived. Alys has no family to expect, so that and the ring are all that is keeping you. Liotha, a kindly sort, seemed more excited for you than anything. You got the impression she gets few visitors.

Of course, your coming nuptials have gone from mere rumor to established fact among the men. That was more or less inevitable once Alys never requested her own room, not to mention those guards who saw you all but carry her to the infirmary. All your life you feared scandal, a mark on your honor that could not be rubbed out. Now it is public knowledge that you have fathered a bastard, even if untrue, and are bedding the Emperor's sister out of wedlock. You wouldn't dare deny either. The shock to your senses is that no one cares. If anything, the men seem to look on you more fondly. Maybe aspiring to be an untouchable moral paragon just makes you alien to the common man? They know now that no divine favor follows you, Avighon proved that much, that you have your own “vices”. Perhaps they view you as one of them, raised through some other merit? It does not fit with what you were raised to believe. But the last year has been nothing if not a deluge of new lessons. Lessons a man who spent years pursuing a vicious vendetta against the savages who murdered his father has a hard time understanding.
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>>5243549
You could help Brassus. He could demonstrate against you exactly how to neutralize the longer reach of a weapon such as the bastard sword you favor. Maybe convince Domlech to give a different example entirely.

Salaf is another option. You are no spy, but you are well traveled, and could play adversary for his students in mock interrogations. The straightforward personalities of most guards and soldiers comes naturally to you, even as Alys has taught you other ways of thinking. Also, Salaf will be annoyed, and fuck him.

Yesterday you received word the first batch of involuntary recruits has arrived. Thirty or so criminals, mostly con men, but really anyone promising from the dungeons of Barathon town and anywhere nearby. None of them can be trusted yet, but maybe you can make an impression on them. Friedrich has them under guard in one of the previously unoccupied barracks halls within the walls. Attempted desertion is a certainty but you doubt Friedrich will skip the opportunity to make an example.

> Personal Focus

> Aid Brassus

> Aid Salaf

> Ensure Loyalty of New Recruits
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>>5243551
The Alkaign interlude is still in the works. To paraphrase a far greater man than I, the tale grew in the telling. Ill post it in a pastebin or something when done.
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https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2022/5187631/

Archive link because I forgot it.
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>>5243551
>Ensure Loyalty of New Recruits
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>>5243551
>Ensure Loyalty.

The wedlock thing isnt so bad is it? We are engaged.
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>>5243697
You may have picked this up, but Uilleam is very traditional. He cares a lot more about this stuff than most people do. Reputation wise the bastard is far more damaging than Will sleeping with his fiancée a few weeks before the wedding.
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>>5243551
> Ensure Loyalty of New Recruits
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>>5243551
>Ensure loyalty of the new recruits.

Yay, we're back! Still reeling from last thread's reveal though.
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>>5243551
>Ensure Loyalty
And if we have time, also
>Aid Salaf
Whet our own interrogation techniques.
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>>5243705
I gathered, and hope that he keeps that desire and aim to be a paragon of Honour, if not goodness, despite the world's best attempts to deny him it.
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>>5243551
>Ensure Loyalty of New Recruits