Rose for a Thorn, Part 1

“Well, how’d it go?” Tyrric asked. They had managed to chase away the fans, and now sat at the tavern. Tyrric was busying himself for a long night of what he clearly thought should be a celebration: both of the holiday and of Keelath’s success.

Keelath almost didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth. “She didn’t go for it, Tyr. She didn’t go for me at all.”

Tyrric frowned slightly, but nothing kept him from his drink in the end. “Oh, well, plenty of fish in the sea, right?” He winked and happily downed a beer.

Keelath glanced at the cup Tyrric pushed his way, then pushed it off again sulkily. “She barely gave me a chance to talk, Tyrric. And I, I blew it. I am pretty sure I insulted her. Doubtless she will never speak to me again.”

“I told you you should’ve kept your mouth shut and just let your muscles do the talking,” said Tyrric with a laugh. “Come on, don’t take it so hard. It probably never would have worked out, anyway. Father would like you to have a nice young lady from the city, of a good family–”

“And such women never interested me,” said Keelath with a groan. Then, thinking he had caught a glimpse of something outside the window, he got up to look.

Tyrric was too busy measuring out a new cup of beer to notice. “So some of them are an acquired taste, like this human drink here. I’m sure you’ll find someone to suit eventually. We might not have much to our name, but we’re both quite handsome, if I do say so myself, and the honor of our titles does go a long way, so–Keelath? What’s gotten into you?”

Keelath grunted. “I think our plan upset her more than anything, Tyr. I feel I ought to apologize.”

“Oh, no, you mustn’t do that!” exclaimed Tyrric. “Apologize? Why apologize for anything, particularly our little scheme? Next thing I know you’ll be apologizing for stealing that kiss from her. It’s quite, um, defeatist of you, dear brother.”

Keelath didn’t answer, still looking out the window.

“What you need to do, Keely, is to stop worrying, come away from there and drink up! It’ll make you feel better in no time, I guarantee it.” And Tyrric invitingly thumped Keelath’s cup on the table — thoughtfully refilling it as it had seemed to have run dry of its own accord in the past few minutes.

“I think I will do just that,” said Keelath, but instead of picking up the beer, he strode for the tavern door.

Tyrric watched him go, slightly wilted. He glanced out the window and saw Miri walking alone under the trees. Behind her, with the awkward furtiveness only Keelath could muster around a woman, his brother was making his way to her.

“Light help him,” muttered Tyrric, watching for a long moment. The two passed out of sight, up onto the hill. Tyrric shook his head. “Ah well, at least he left more beer for me.” And he drained Keelath’s cup.

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