“One of the worst rings in years, Ondras.”
Navion Dran’amir, the Dreamer, Lord of The City, Ambassador of the Eight Districts, currently sat at Master Mintay’s desk, fiddling with what Ondras had always insisted was a valuable piece of material evidence, but really looked more like a spiralling, rusty spring to Velius. There was a reason he was in charge, he supposed, but if not understanding Master Mintay’s desk toys was it, Velius was not entirely sure he would ever be in charge of anything. Regardless, it was strange to see the ostensible master of Brise fiddling with a piece of metal like a bored child. Moreso because he hadn’t been invited.
As usual, Master Mintay didn’t look surprised. He strode into the room steadily, not breaking stride at The Dreamer’s spoken reproach, offering only a quiet “I’m aware.” as he set his payload of scrolls on a different desk, snapping the first one open. Velius retrieved a chair, and halfway through retrieving it realized what he was doing. There was a moment of embarassment at his own training. Seating himself, Master Mintay opened the first scroll and started reading, then spoke. “What have you been involved in?” was the Master’s only question. There was that disquieting habit of being able to read and carry on a conversation simultaneously. Velius merely took up his position by the bookshelves, realizing he once again had no place in this conversation. Such a stark contrast to all the responsibility he had in Kelasho.
“Ah, as much as could be expected. Trying to sell this ringing as routine rather than reactionary. Stifling rumors about Dramanaks. Telling the gryphons to spend a day on the ground. Talking to dragons.” The piece of metal spun in the fingers of the ruler of the world. His strangely youthful face frowning in annoyance at it. Did the Dreamer recognize the scrap of metal?
“Dragon.” Ondras corrected.
“No, actually.” Navion shot back. “Spoke to both of them.”
“That one doesn’t count.”
“Oh, certainly not. He certainly counted when you needed blood, but you’d be damned to take his advice.”
“We would all be.”
Navion went quiet for a moment, then shrugged. “Point. Did you know they killed Kraleth?”
“I did,” Master Mintay said, setting the scroll he poured over to one side, eyes still locked on it and reading as he opened the next cherry-wood tube, drawing the parchment inside out and setting smoothing it out with his hands. Three things, now, Velius noted. In exasperation at his own limitations, Vel glanced to the bookshelf at his side. Its contents gazed back, almost daring him to say something.
“Yes, where Kelling failed. Interesting how that works out. An individual can do quite a bit, but a concerted group of individuals, working together, can accomplish all sorts of things.” The Dreamer’s voice had taken on a distant tone, and Velius found it strange that the Master was only paying him half his mind. Well, a third. “Does any of that sound familiar?” Navion asked.
“There are no adventurers anymore, Nav.” Ondras said after a distracted silence. “I assume it was the Daizeki and his clan. Were any of the Grey Orc’s materials retrieved from that altercation, Vel?”
It took Velius a long moment to break his gaze away from the creature on the bookshelf, which politely reminded him with a tiny snort that he was staring. “No, sir.” Velius said, probably more sharply than he should have. “The Agents investigated the site before leaving. There were pieces of alchemical equipment, a series of prisoners, some sort of teleportation device.”
“Hellgate.” Ondras and Navion said instantly. Their occasional shared thoughts tended to catch Vel off guard when the two men were in the same room. Navion, however, forged on “And it wasn’t Gorzak Daizeki, nor his original nor adopted clan which did the heavy lifting. It was predominantly the work of the same Periad Inspectors that were involved in Gammond’s death.”
Mintay stopped reading. His entire mind focused on one invisible task, the older man’s studious posture froze in the effort.
Then he shrugged. “Twice is coincidence.”
The Dreamer was almost amused as he set the coiled spring-toy back onto Ondras’ desk. “That’s what they say.” Navion shrugged himself, and, ignoring Vel’s brief bow, strode back out of the chamber, leaving the two men to clean up the aftermath of the Bells.