Rose for a Thorn, Part 1

“I’ve got it!” exclaimed Tyrric as he ran down the church hall to Keelath. A few worshippers looked up at him with scowls for breaking into their quiet meditations, but Tyrric didn’t seem to notice in his excitement.

Keelah rose from where he had been praying by the altar. Friar’s Day was just two days off, and if anything could help him now, it would be the Light. “What have you got?” he asked.

“Why, the role! It’s an answer to all your problems. Look, look!” Tyrric shoved a flier at him.

Keelath looked at it. It was an advertisement for the last play Miri’s troupe was to perform that season. It was an old folktale, starring two highborne elves from a tragic love story that took place during the Sundering.

“The man gets turned into a naga!” said Tyrric gleefully.

“Yes?” said Keelath. “I know how the story goes.”

Tyrric huffed and snatched the flier back. “At least try to have some imagination! Look, see, they’ll have this giant snake mask to put on over his face. The part has no speaking lines until the very end, either!”

Keelath wasn’t sure what Tyrric was talking about, but he leaned over his brother’s shoulder to read. “Miri is playing the first highborne lover?”

“Yes! See? You will play the second. You’ll be able to get close to her, and you even get to kiss her at the end!”

Keelath jaw dropped as Tyrric’s meaning came clear. “I suppose that would work… but… you’re forgetting one thing, brother. This Tarineth fellow–” He pointed out the name, written in golden ink under Miri’s. “He’s the one I saw leading her off that first night. He has the role, not me. And I couldn’t rehearse with the rest of the troupe without them finding out anyway.”

“Oh, you just leave that to me!” said Tyrric. “We can practice together, and as for that Tarineth fellow, don’t worry! I didn’t start studying alchemy for nothing, you know.”

“Tyrric!” In exasperation, Keelath grabbed his brother’s shoulder and pulled him into a cell, out of earshot of the monks. “You are not poisoning anyone, even if they are just some two-bit actor!”

Tyrric irritably wrenched himself free of Keelath. “For Light’s sake, give me a little credit! I wasn’t going to poison anyone! I’ll just coax him into having a little too much to drink that night, during the intermission. It’s a long one, you know, on account of their having to conjure up all that seawater for the set. Then, you take his costume, put on the mask, get out on stage, and just stomp around like you normally do. No one will know any different!”

“Well…” said Keelath, truly torn.

“Do you want this woman, or not?” Tyrric persisted.

“Yes… of course I do.”

“And has any other way you tried worked?”

“Well…”

“No. The correct answer is no. So trust me, brother. We’ll get you your chance with the lady, if it’s the last thing I do. I swear to the Light!”

“You shouldn’t make such oaths while in church,” Keelath admonished, “but alright. We’ll try it your way this time.”

Tyrric laughed gleefully and punched Keelath in the shoulder before he dashed out again, gathering more scowls from the priests on his way. Privately, Keelath made a little prayer of thanks to the Light for his brother, even as his stomach tightened with anxiety. He had only two days to prepare. The naga in the play barely had any lines, as Tyrric had noted, but Keelath was determined to give it a good showing, anyway.

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