Bas and Jonathan got off at a stop in Maskiff, the town of Des.
To Jonathan, this town was familiar, but it had grown into a city. That was to be suspected as it had become the unofficial capital of Maskiff.
Jonathan started riding the streets, followed by the young prince. He was clearly looking for something.
“Where are we going?” Bas asked.
“There’s a saloon here.” Jonathan wasn’t sure of the name, but he would remember where it was. “I need to meet up with some people that I haven’t been able to contact.”
The saloon was larger, almost twice as wide. The general store was gone, but the religious temple had survived the expansion of its next-door-neighbor. The addition stood out even more due to the wood not have been beaten down by the sand, sun, and wind yet. However, none of the wood for the place was splintering.
Jonathan walked in. He noted how some of the squeaky floorboards had been replaced. “Go sit down at the table over there.”
“I’m going to buy some food for us.” Jonathan pointed to an empty table, one of the few without a game running. “I just want you to wait over there.”
“Fine.” Bas didn’t like that he kept being left out of things. He had a feeling there were far more secrets the lumberjack was keeping from him.
Jonathan put an elbow on the bar and waved the bartender over. He ordered some things he remembered were okay from last time, and two glasses of water. The man cleared his throat and added, “Does the bar still pride itself on its gossip?”
The bartender had a stoic expression on her face. “We do. I’m the owner, Paige.”
Jonathan nodded. He had remembered Paige, just based on how much she had to say about her country and that she paid Emlyn’s gang protection money. “Any news about the Moiety?”
At the same time Jonathan was asking Paige for information, two people in cloaks walked into the saloon. They had an insignia pinned to their chests, the sign of Moiety. One of them had a gun in hand, and gestured for Jonathan to follow them outside.
“I guess . . . that answers my question.” Jonathan put some coins down, enough to pay for the food. He saw Bas getting up out of his chair, but held his hand out to stop the kid. The transmigrator followed after the Moiety members.
Once they reached an alleyway, the taller one pulled out a sword.
Jonathan unsheathed his new blade, and parried. He raised his sword as if going for an overhead swing down, but at the last second he actually kicked the other swordsman in the stomach.
The attacker backed up slightly, letting out a grunt of pain. He quickly had his blade at Jonathan’s throat regardless of the surprise attack. He realized a second later that there was a dagger against his stomach.
“Really, do you just want to test me, or are you not sure I’m who I appear to be?” Jonathan asked. He had a grumpy expression on his face.
“More for fun really,” Emlyn replied. The 3rd Prince of the Hrea Empire was smiling broadly. He dropped his hood down and sheathed his sword, then clasped Jonathan into a hug; Emlyn ignored the grumbling from the younger man.
Millan looked incredibly unamused. The 5th Prince of the Hrea Empire crossed his arms. “I want to eat. Can we finish this up?” His hair had been dyed a dark brown, same as Emlyn.
“What happened?” Jonathan questioned. “The two of you wouldn’t go underground for no reason.”
“Clementine happened,” Millan dryly explained. “Turns out Lorelei made her a better deal in the end.”
Emlyn shrugged. “She might have tried to backstab me . . . in the literal sense.”
“Ah. She’s not just relying on poison anymore? An improvement,” Jonathan dryly said.
“An improvement?” Emlyn gasped. He put a hand over his chest, jokingly offended. “You make it sound like you want me to die.”
“You can be quite annoying,” Millan muttered.
Jonathan titled his head. “Well,” he said and cut himself off immediately.
Emlyn gasped dramatically. “I’m hurt. How dare you say something like that to your older brother. I might pass away from a broken heart.”
“You have a heart?” Jonathan deadpanned.
“Eh, not really.” Emlyn leaned on Millan’s shoulder, made easy by his younger brother being a head shorter than him. “I lost it a while ago, haven’t found it since.”
“Shame,” Millan stated.
“Truly,” Emlyn and Jonathan said in unison together.
The three smiled.
“Nice sword by the way,” Emlyn complimented. “I didn’t know you liked broadswords. What’s it called?”
Millan rolled his eyes. “It’s going to be something dumb.”
“Fennec,” Jonathan said with a straight face. He had continued on with his naming system, but this one wasn’t really funny; it was just a reference.
“I was right. It’s stupid,” Millan muttered.
Jonathan glanced down the alleyway, out to the street. He considered an option for a moment, and proposed, “I’m headed to Lembroke. If you want to meet Queen Aderes and establish a connection there, I can introduce you.”
“Thank you for the offer.” Emlyn’s smile was that of a cookie cutter, containing the same warmth of an imperial dignitary. He had slipped back into his political mode for a moment. “That sounds wonderful.
Jonathan grimaced. “Don’t accept it like this,” he warned.
“Sorry, sorry. It’s just a habit for these sorts of things.” Emlyn clapped Jonathan on the shoulder. “Millan, you said you were hungry, right? And Jonathan, how about an introduction to the kid you’re travelling with?”
The other two agreed, and they went back into the saloon. Emlyn and Millan had taken the pins and cloaks off, storing them in their bags.
“Are these your friends?” Bas asked, a bit wary as Jonathan was followed by the two other men.
“Brothers, actually,” Emlyn gently corrected with a small, pasted on smile. “I’m Emlyn, and this is Millan. We’re headed to Lembroke as well so we’re going to travel together.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Bas bowed his head, as was custom in Malamut as a sign of respect and for greetings to strangers. “I’m Bas.”
Jonathan would be called a magnet here if not for how all of these meetings have been intentional (except for Oliver, but he tagged along with Liam).
Emlyn and Millan are back! It’s definitely good to see them; their political sub plots are never far behind.