Chapter Eighty- One

Chapter 81

For reasons unknown to himself, Bridon slipped off the blue stone.

Bridon was not as solitary as the rest of the Brethren; in fact, he found living on the side of hill in a stilted house stifling. On the other hand, he wasn’t gregarious. He was a thinking man, and he didn’t like to do his thinking alone. The Order of the Blue Stone met once a year in High North under the auspices of the Shautu but Bridon found the meetings cut and dried. Has anyone noticed anything suspicious? Let me check the wards on your stones. The leather is frayed here. Do you want the stone to lie forgotten in the mud? etc. etc. The Shautu was like a scolding mother, always questioning and never satisfied, and the yearly meetings never addressed the larger scope of things.

Bridon was a deep thinker, and deep thoughts needed to be fleshed out. Unfortunately, Bridon was fond of riddles, and he found himself asking How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky? to squirrels, chipmunks and wrens. Of course, he spend a great deal of time talking to himself and the day he realized he was in a conundrum with a deer who was determinedly stripping the bark from a sycamore during his exposition of What is perfect?, Bridon knew it was time to get to town.

Therefore, twice a year during the Open Court sessions,Bridon walked off his hill and entered Casoria, always lodging in The Fish Belly, the inn closest to the castle itself. Besides his deep thoughts, Bridon liked to hear gossip; the others might shun the world but Bridon thought the world was too large to ignore. Someday, the Shautu would thank him for his sharp ears.

Before leaving home, Bridon always did three things: he took a thorough bath which included hair-washing, trimmed his hair and beard, and warded his stone repeatedly until his name appeared.

Suga knew him for what he was the minute he saw him. Bridon knew Suga, too, but not as well. That he always ended the evening playing rulla with the enormous man didn’t alarm him for Dr. Sugallus, as he’d introduced, was an excellent player. His skill, if not his passion, matched his own. The doctor played as if the game meant nothing; Bridon was aware of every twist of the wrist, even the sound of the die when they were thrown.

But Bridon recognized a ward when he encountered one, and Sugallus’s was wide as it was high, completely covering the man. He didn’t believe he was dangerous though; there was nothing to suggest he’d kill anyone but over a meal. Bridon believed he’d placed the ward about him to keep him safe from ruffians or pick pockets.

A careful man.

Bridon was careful as well. For reasons unknown to himself, tonight he slipped the stone off the leather he wore about his neck and placed it in the hiding spot. Then, he warded the post time and again.

If the Shautu were standing in the room, he’d get a terrible tongue lashing, but he wasn’t.

Rulla and ale were downstairs.

Bridon shut his door, eager to dice the night away.

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