#Nanowrimo Day 14: Vyrdin meets Bryeison

Word count so far: 32,498

And our story continues...

Draeden found the roast hiding behind Bryeison and moved to take it, bringing Bryeison nearer to the ginger and nettle tea. He filled his own cup, and then held the kettle near to Vyrdin. “Tea?”
                Vyrdin swallowed hard and tried not to stare at Bryeison’s gargantuan arms. “Yes, thank you, sir.”
                “Bryeison,” he said, in a kindly accent, pouring the tea and granting a few friendly smiles.
                 Vyrdin raised his cup and was about to drink, hoping to avoid conversation with the Varrallan giant, but a gesture from Bryeison, his raising his cup and professing to Vyrdin’s good health, persuaded him to invent something to say. He would have asked his history of how he had come to the keep, but Draeden’s exclamations of success upon finding the remains of the pottage in the midst of the foray of dishes compelled him to ask, “Does Draeden usually eat this much?”
                Bryeison smirked and drafted the rest of his tea. “He talks as much as he eats.”
                “I’m choosing to ignore you,” Draeden grumbled, searching about for the peppered boxty.
                Bryeison made an arch grin and leaned close to Vyrdin. “He eats more than I do, and I let him eat what I don’t finish. If I don’t, he begins to complain.”
                “No, I don’t, you rotten brute,” Draeden’s voice echoed.
                A suggestive raise of his heavy brow, and Bryeison and Vyrdin shared suppressed smiles.
                “Food may satisfy his appetite for a time,” said Bryeison, “but there is nothing that can stop Draeden from talking.”
                The friendly raillery between the giant and the prince went on in the same style, the former speaking to Vyrdin with unhindered sagacity, and the latter making his aspersions while collecting various unfinished plates from around the table. Vyrdin recalled what he could of Draeden and Bryeison during their training, thinking they were the very reverse of the two he had been used to see training in the yard: he remembered Draeden as being quick and precise, and Bryeison as being bellowing and ferocious. Here, however, Vyrdin’s expectations were pleasantly unfounded: here was not a prince, subject to all the modes of vanity and consequence; here was no frightening colossus, but two companions, on one side all sober forbearance, the other all scrupling volubility. He marveled at their association, for no notion of their disparity of rank or situation effected to hinder Bryeison’s smiling derision or Draeden’s playful condescension. He should never have conceived such a friendship to be suffered by a member of the Frewyn nobility, for despite Bryeison’s being the same martial rank as Draeden, he had no fortune, no fashion, no understanding more superior than Draeden was in possession of to recommend him as a suitable companion for a prince. He glanced at the king and considered how His Majesty treated those lower than himself. Everyone appeared equal in his eyes: he spoke with everyone, loved everybody, never jeered at those wishing to greet him, and always had a kind word for anyone who paid him the smallest civility. Here was a True King, one who did not merely lead but who made himself a representation of those who entrusted him Frewyn’s seat.
                A shadow pouring over him from behind, however, forced him to rouse from his musings and turn back. His eye followed the looming shade across Draeden’s chair and up, where he was met with Bryeison’s forthcoming aspect. He had moved aside Draeden’s seat and had sidled him without his notice, remarking him with peaceableness that must be acknowledged. A something like trepidation rushed on Vyrdin, assailing him by the sudden convenience of the Varrallan giant, and he turned away, staring at the table and pretending to be too much engaged with his plate to return Bryeison’s gaze. A moment spent in the anguish that a lurking giant could evince, and Vyrdin glanced up again, hoping that the giant had turned his gaze elsewhere, but all his hopes of secrecy failed him: Bryeison was still looking at him, his gaze unblinking and his smile indefatigable. They exchanged a few slow nictations until the tension in Vyrdin’s shoulders began to dissipate. They sat for some minutes, reveling in their equal stillness, Bryeison’s watchful eye unmoving in the midst of his raging tranquility, and Vyrdin’s unsettling qualms beginning to die away.
                “Don’t be afraid to speak to me,” said Bryeison, in his rumbling purr.
                A prolonged and meaningful look succeeded, suggesting that Bryeison’s proposal was felt far beyond what Vyrdin’s captivated expression conveyed.
                “Here.” Bryeison placed a small parcel on the table and pushed it toward Vyrdin.
                “For me, sir?” Vyrdin asked, forgetting his familiarity in his surprise, “but-“
                “Take it.”
                It was said with such firmness and determination that Vyrdin could not but accept it. He took the parcel in his hands, and unwrapped the brown paper to reveal a leather vambrace, reinforced with a steel plate as a guard.
                “May it serve you well,” said Bryeison, and then with an arch grin, he added, “You will need it if you join my regiment. Learning to block an attack with your sword is one thing, but learning to brook the brunt of an attack from me without a weapon is another. That will help you if you are ever unfortunate enough to have me hit you.”
                Vyrdin marveled at the craftsmanship of the piece. A gift so sensible given by one who was interested in his future prospects was all his private regale. He suppressed his smiles, content to glory in the warmth of heart his gratitude supplied. “Thank you-“ he began, but at that moment, singing broke out at the lower end of the table, drawing their attention thither, and Vyrdin was silenced. He fastened the vambrace around his wrist and pulled his tunic over it, his heart leaping in secretive delight, feeling the roughness of the unbroken leather abrade his skin. He made a fist and rolled his wrist, his sinewy thews flexing under the ascendancy of the straight steel. His eyes brightened, and he resolved to wear it beneath his tunic every day until he should be allowed to join the forces and put it to its proper use.