To celebrate crossing the 50,000 word mark on Hand of Mars, here’s the second scene XD
He was early for dinner, and only Mage-Captain Janet Adamant and her steward were in her dining room when he arrived. The room was easily large enough to seat all of Adamant’s officers, with a table made from an old earth oak tree.
Despite living in the Sol system for three years, the table was still a luxury to Damien’s eyes: he’d been raised on the MidWorld of Sherwood, almost a month’s travel from Earth. At home, anything from Earth had been a barely affordable luxury for even the wealthy.
“Welcome, My Lord Envoy,” Adamant greeted him. She was a tall woman, with the slightly Asian features of a Martian native.
“Please, call me Damien,” he told her. “The ‘My Lord’s are confusing – I keep looking around for the actual important person.”
“The third adult Rune Wright in the galaxy, personally trained in politics, magic and law by the Mage-King himself, and the man who brought down the Blue Star Syndicate,” Adamant replied calmly. “Unimportant, huh?”
“I didn’t bring down the Syndicate,” Damien pointed out. “I killed Azure – a lot of hard work by people wearing your uniform finished the job.”
Mikhail Azure, one-time leader of the largest crime syndicate in the Protectorate, had chased Damien to the end of the galaxy. Eventually Damien had been forced to carve a dangerous rune on his own flesh, allowing him to destroy the crime lord’s personal warship and save his own friends.
His ‘reward’ for that had been to be drafted by the Mage-King.
“Most people would kill for three years of training under the Mage-King,” the Captain pointed out, responding to what he hadn’t said as much as what he had.
“It wasn’t a reward,” he pointed out. “As you said, I’m one of three adult Rune Wrights in the galaxy. Given that our very existence is classified enough we couldn’t have this conversation with your staff in the room, they couldn’t exactly let me roam free.”
Adamant chuckled and shook her head at him.
“Fair enough,” she admitted. “Have a seat. Wine? The food should be ready shortly.”
Damien gratefully took a glass of wine and a seat, nodding gracefully as each of Adamant’s senior officers entered and was introduced. He wouldn’t be aboard the warship long, so he only peripherally registered the names and faces.
“I can’t believe they pulled an entire battleship to play courier for the pipsqueak,” someone muttered halfway through the soup.
Looking up, Damien met the focused gaze of the Commander who served as the Righteous Guardian’s tactical officer, in charge of all of the many and varied weaponry she carried. The man was easily ten years his senior, but had the grace to look embarrassed when he realized he’d been overheard.
“I’m quite grateful that Righteous Guardian was going my way, actually,” Damien told him. “As you say, I’m not a very large package, and I suspect they’d have found me a box on a mail courier if you’d been heading a different way!”
That got a laugh from everyone, including the tactical officer. Damien was a small man, easily the shortest person in the room and definitely the lightest. Spending three years studying magic, law, and politics had left him little time to bulk up.
“What’s it like studying in Olympus Mons?” another officer, this one wearing the gold medallion marking him as a Mage along with his Commander’s uniform.
“Intimidating,” Damien said dryly. “Believe me, when Desmond Michael Alexander assigns you homework, you find the time to do it!”
“What’s bringing you to Tau Ceti, Envoy?” another officer asked, and Damien realized that he was going to be the center of attention tonight.
“I’m joining the Hand Alaura Stealey for a mission,” he replied. “More than that I can’t say.”
That put enough of a damper on the questions that he could, at least, finish eating. It also helped avoid mentioning that even Damien himself wasn’t entirely sure what he was heading to Tau Ceti for.