“We’re going to get something to eat from Tomas, boss. Do you want anything?”
Gideon looked up from his paperwork, a mountainous pile that he was making very little progress on.
“Sure, Sabine. Get me a pie will you?” He asked, scratching the bottom of his nose with the end of his quill as he looked towards the two women who’d disturbed him. Sabine was the second-in-command of Westpools city guard. She was a stern woman, that was dedicated to her work but always felt she had something to prove. Her black hair was clipped short and her skin had a strange red tint to it but the most unusual thing about her was the four arms. Wound in coils at her waist were two whips, and across her back twin sword.
At her side was the newest recruit amongst the city guard. Bryn. A fresh-faced young woman with large eyes that always made her look startled. Her hair was a wavy mess of dirty blonde. She wore the uniform of the guard well, even though it was a little big and despite her youthful naivety she showed a lot of promise. She also brought out the protective side of her boss, who tended to give her easier assignments due to her age and lack of experience. When the four-armed woman’s brow narrowed at him, he drew the back of his hand across his nose, smearing the ink stain he had put there. “Money is in the pouch,” he indicated vaguely, somewhere towards the door with the feathered end of the quill. Sabine waved off the indication and ushered her young companion out of the door. “Come along, Bryn Harver, We will leave Gideon Ecbal to his work.”
Gideon cringed as he always did when the outlander used his full name; a quirk from her homeland in the Soundless Sea that had never quite diminished despite being told multiple times to just call him by his first name. He watched the two women leaving and heaved a sigh looking back to the mounting paperwork. A hand ran through his hair trying to loosen the tension in his own messy mane. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a piece of paper fluttering across the floor. Under the belief that his work had fallen from his desk, he stood to retrieve the paper. Leaning on the corner of his desk he bent to pluck the quarter folded paper from the floor. With a frown of his own, he scooped it up and unfolded it while returning to his chair. The handwriting on the paper wasn’t his own. Nor was it anything to do with his work.
Written in a gentle cursive was a deep, heartfelt poem. Crafted by someone that should have been a master poet, not someone on his staff. Words of projected loneliness, sorrow for a love that couldn’t be returned and forbidden feelings being ever suppressed. Carefully, Gideon folded the paper again, feeling like an unwitting, intruder into someone’s deepest feelings. He returned to the pile of work feeling distracted by the words. Had this come out of Bryn’s pocket? He couldn’t think that such sensitive words could come from Sabine’s harsh mouth.
Gideon was mulling over the poem still when the two women returned sometime later, the smell of warm meat pie preceding them. “That smells amazing,” he said as they walked into his small office.
Bryn handed over the small package which he tore open with gusto. “Whose idea was this? Good thinking.” Gideon enthused as he took the pie from its wrapper. He listened as the women spoke of their trip to the shop and some of their minor reporting from the day’s escapades. There hadn’t been any arrests thus far, but it was still early evening so they were expecting to be called out as the night got darker and the miscreants of the city caused the guard bell’s to ring. When their discussion came to its natural close, Gideon stated to Sabine.
“Can I have a word?”
Sabine nodded and Bryn, knowing she had been dismissed left the room, she closed the usually invitingly open door behind her.
“I think Bryn dropped this.” He said, motioning to the poem he had found.
Sabine picked up the paper, her expression impassive. She didn’t open it.
“It’s a…” Gideon started saying in between bites of pie, but he left his statement vague. “I don’t know who it’s about, but, I don’t want to embarrass her by being the one to give it back.”
Sabine nodded looking down at the paper. “You read it?”
“Yes,” Gideon confessed. “It’s about love not being able to tell the person of your affections how you feel.” He explained.
Sabine simply nodded.
“It makes me worry somewhat for Bryn. She has a lot of potential that girl. I’d hate to see her throw it away over some infatuation. Has she seemed different to you? Distracted, maybe?” He asked, bringing his intrusion into the young woman’s privacy back around to work.
“No,” Sabine asked, a wry smile forming on her lips. “You are such a fishwife, Gideon Ecbal.”
Gideon’s cheeks reddened with the accusation. “I am not!” He flustered. “Well, I am,” he shrugged casually, “but not in this case.”
Sabine laughed, more at ease now the seriousness of the conversation was over. The two not only shared a professional working relationship but one of uncomplicated friendship. They’d been working together for many years, seeing the best and worst of times together. It was a bond that held them together based on both trust and companionship. “I will keep an eye on her,” she agreed, putting the paper in her pocket.
“Oh Goddesses,” Gideon then breathed, sagging further into his chair, “You don’t think it’s about me do you?”
“No!” Snapped Sabine again, folding both of her arms defensively. “You are not her type.” She added quickly.
“Good,” the older man replied, feeling all of his years in that instant. There was no denying that Bryn was an attractive young woman, and while he’d love nothing more than for someone to pour out their feelings in a tender poem about him, he could do without that complication in his working life. He was about to speak when the tolling of a bell sounded through the open window of his office. He offered a grin to his second as he got to his feet. “And so the night begins.”
Once again, Sabine nodded soundlessly to him two of her hands moving to the handles of her twin whips. Gideon moved around to the front of his desk and pulled his evening cloak from a hook by the door, throwing it over his shoulders. He pushed past Sabine and opened the front door to the barracks, the bracing sea air of Westpool made him glad of the heavy cloak over his shoulders. Over his shoulder, he shouted. “Bryn, get your coat on, stop slacking love,” treating her as he would any other member of his team – with heartfelt banter. Sabine drew closer to him and placed one of her free hands on his shoulder before adding, “Don’t be the last one there again, Gideon Ecbal.”
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