Welcome | What's New? | The Mainframe | The Hall of Archives | The Infirmary | The Lounge | The Office

Live in Peace

By Quillblade

 

It was late evening when seventeen year old J. Andrews, heading down to his quarters on the third residential level, his mind preoccupied at the time, was very nearly wiped out of existence when a blur of drake and skateboard came rocketing around the corner and down the stairs. The two young men collided with a crash and a yell, and Andrews fell the rest of the way down the stairs, the other boy landing beak-first next to him.

Sitting upright, the kid known as Cutter spat grit from his mouth, and glared at the somewhat older drake who was also struggling into a more dignified position. "Why don't you watch where you're going?" he asked snappishly. Both his pride and his body had been bruised by the tumble, and he was not about to be polite over it.

"I do watch where I'm going," the other replied, just as sharply. "It's just hard to see a dark drake wearing darker clothing in the middle of a dark stairway. You should wear some kind of neon tag on your back or something."

"Oh, so it's my fault, is it? And of course you weren't going about fifty miles an hour over the usual speed limit for a skateboard, a speed obviously going to make it hard to stop in a hurry, no, naturally it's the fault of the victim whom you could have killed."

"But I didn't kill you."

"That's painfully obvious, although I have so many bumps and bruises that I'll probably wake up unable to move tomorrow morning."

"If it makes you feel any better, I didn't do it on purpose."

Cutter rolled his eyes up to the low ceiling. "It doesn't, but thank you for setting my mind at ease. I'd truly hate to think I could irritate a complete stranger to the point of homicide." Some years later this would change and he would maintain he'd come to think of it as a compliment.

It suddenly occurred to him that he hadn't really taken a good look at the wild skater, and it was with some surprise he realized that he actually did know the young man - if only from afar. The messy crop of blue hair, now even messier than usual thanks to the crash, immediately gave his identity away as the Brotherhood of the Blade's top prankster.

"Jedar Stormwing." As if reading Cutter's mind, the older boy introduced himself, holding out a hand to shake - Cutter very nearly didn't, but decided impoliteness would get him nowhere and shook hands briefly, giving his nickname. "I am sorry about that," Jedar added afterwards.

The younger managed a smile. "So am I, but it's in the past now, and the past can't be helped." Rising to his feet, Cutter brushed the dust and dirt from his clothes, grimacing slightly at just how messed he was. "Though I hope you're not going to do that to me again any time soon," he added a little sourly.

Jedar grinned, crawling over to retrieve his skateboard before standing up. "I'll do my very best," he assured him, a little mockingly.

"I knew I could count on you," Cutter replied in the same tone of voice. He straightened his sweater, gave Jedar a nod of farewell, and headed in his original direction.

*****

Cutter had not expected to see Jedar again - and wasn't entirely sure he wanted to, in any case - so it was with some surprise and a little annoyance that he viewed the blue-haired boy's sudden arrival at his breakfast table next morning. Annoyance because Cutter was right in the middle of chatting up a pretty brunette sitting nearby, when Jedar actually bounced over and landed on the seat between them.

The girl, Lavinia, looked a bit startled, but laughed. "Friend of yours, Cutter?"

Jedar threw the lazy half-wave, half-salute that would pretty much become his trademark gesture. "In a way, ma'am. We only met yesterday, but he made a stunning impact on me."

Cutter was sorely tempted to make another stunning impact on him by breaking his plate over the top of the older boy's head. "I'm flattered to hear that, Jedar," he said, with only a faint trace of insincerity that was quite deliberate.

Whether Jedar caught it or not, he didn't say anything about it, as his full attention was on the same pretty girl Cutter's had been just moments before. "Lavinia, isn't it?"

"That's right. Lavinia Lai'Agua."

"A lovely name, as befits a lovely woman." Bowing as well as he was able, the blue-haired young man took up Lavinia's hand and kissed it softly. The girl - whom Cutter had seen flirting shamelessly with a number of other men before he'd decided to try his own charms on her - blushed. "Jedar Stormwing."

"A pleasure."

"Oh, no, the pleasure's all mine."

Cutter rather pointedly got up and moved around to the empty chair on Lavinia's other side, giving his obvious competition a dark look. But he flashed the girl one of his best smiles. "I believe we were in the middle of a fascinating conversation, my dear?"

"Oh! Of course, I'm terribly sorry." She turned back to him with a mischievous expression, and he realized with some dismay that she intended playing the two of them off to see who was the better choice. Well, that was easy enough - he had no doubts about who would win.

"No apologies necessary, darling, it's quite all right. I imagine the trauma of having someone such as Jedar come sit beside you would make anyone's memory slip a little."

The man in question shot him a glare. "Not as much, I'm sure, as having to listen to you in the first place. I'm surprised such an intelligent girl as Lavinia here was able to keep up even her pretence of interest in the face of your pointless twaddle."

Retaining his grin with some difficulty, Cutter pushed his chair out to see past the girl. "There was nothing pretended about it, Jedar, unlike your own facade of intelligence, which, by the way, even a life form lower than yourself would be able to see through, though one may be hard-pressed to find any much lower." He sat back smugly - Jedar would be hard-pressed to beat that triple-layered insult, he thought.

"You may certainly have that problem," Jedar said lightly, "because you're obviously ignorant of the concept of creativity and your insults suffer from the same lack of imagination as your mode of dress and general sense of style. I can't imagine how Lavinia could stand to be seen next to a man with such bad taste and hair that looks like it's been glued onto the scalp, and can only admire her bravery."

Cutter self-consciously put a hand up to his head. "Excuse me?" he said, indignantly, before realising he'd just left his opponent an open door.

Jedar pounced on it almost viciously. "Oh, you didn't quite understand me, Cutter? Or did you in fact manage to work through all the words of more than one syllable, but in your overwhelming pride you're unable to come to terms with the blatant truth?"

Neither of them appeared to notice that Lavinia had left her seat between them, and had moved over to another table where she was now deep in innuendo-filled conversation with Duke l'Orange. Jedar and Cutter simply continued with their war of insults until their voices were practically the only ones in the room, and the remaining breakfasters were watching the pair with amusement.

No one could ever remember exactly who broke and lashed out first - Cutter swears it wasn't him, and Jedar swears it was. Whoever dealt the first blow, it ended up with the pair on the floor alternately trying to strangle the other or eviscerate him with their saber. But the fight, furious though it may have been, only lasted a bare thirty seconds or less, as both boys were soon forced roughly apart by bigger, older, tougher men who easily dragged them up to face Ascelin Wingblade.

He was not looking pleased. "What in the name of Drake was that all about?" Jedar and Cutter cast each other sullen looks and didn't reply. "Well?"

"He started it," Jedar said.

"I did not."

"You did."

"I don't care who started it," Ascelin broke in, his tone sharp, "I care about why."

One of their helpful neighbors raised his hand and briefly outlined the details which had started the exchange of comparatively harmless insults and the subsequent brawl. Ascelin sighed and put a hand to his forehead. "A lady? You were trying to kill each other over a lady? A lady who, by the way, is currently fluttering eyes at my apprentice over there?"

The two young men whirled around in shock, and Duke had the decency to look guilty. Lavinia, however, just shrugged and gave them a 'sorry, but you lost' smile.

Cutter coughed, attempting to recover some of his dignity at least. "Actually, sir, it was less over her and more over the fact that his manner irritated me..."

"That's even worse." Ascelin frowned. "You should learn to better control your personal feelings about another man, Andrews. That particular skill can come in handy when dealing with someone you don't like." He paused for a moment, looking back and forth between the pair. The Leader of the Brotherhood appeared to come to a decision. "I don't want bad blood between two promising members to start with an incident like this, so you two will learn to get along. Take them both to the brig," he said to the two thieves who'd broken up the fight. "Disarm them both and lock them in, then get out of earshot. You two," he added, returning his gaze to the boys, "can yell insults at each other all you like down there, but if you use physical violence against one another again, I can think up worse punishments. Also, I will be talking to your mentors about this, and they may not be as lenient as myself."

Both Cutter and Jedar winced visibly. "You couldn't just ground us for a week or two instead?" the older asked hopefully. Ascelin shook his head. Jedar sighed. "I didn't think so," he said ruefully, as the two were marched out of the room and down to the cell block.

*****

They sat at opposite sides of one of the three small rooms known collectively as 'the brig', their backs to one another, not saying a word. It was almost a half hour since they'd been locked in, and that half hour had been passed in sullen silence as they counted cracks on their sides of the room. But they were both running out of cracks by now, and running out of patience with the silence.

It was Jedar who spoke first. "I think we made complete fools of ourselves this morning," he said.

"I think you're right." Cutter sighed.

There was silence again, but it was the silence of people getting ready to talk. "I'm... sorry about all that," said Jedar, eventually. "Really. It got out of control."

"That it did."

"I wasn't really after the girl, you know. I'm afraid I was more out to annoy you."

"I had a feeling that was it. You succeeded, by the way," he added, reluctantly. "I let myself get angry, something I try never to do, to avoid the sort of thing that happened."

"Probably a very good idea, at that." Jedar turned around and leant against the wall - Cutter did the same, so they faced each other now. A little sheepishly, the older boy grinned. "I didn't really mean what I said, though."

"Oh?" asked Cutter dryly. "Which part in particular?"

"The part about your insults being unimaginative. They were rather good, actually, I thought."

"Thank you."

"No problem."

They just looked at each other for a few moments, then started laughing. "Well, this is just a fine predicament, isn't it?" Jedar chuckled. "You know, I always prefer having friends than enemies, could we possibly be the former rather than the latter?"

Cutter's face grew serious. For about five seconds. "I don't know about that. It just wouldn't do to have us come in here willing to commit homicide on one another, and go out best of friends. Just think of what everyone would say to that. I know I'd never be able to live it down."

"When you put it that way, it would be a bit of a blow to our respective reputations I suppose."

"Quite."

"We'll have to keep on insulting each other, I suppose."

"We might make a habit of it."

"Would you mind awfully?"

Cutter grinned. "No. I don't suppose I would. Aside from the annoyance I felt at your untimely intervention, I actually rather enjoyed myself. At least, up until the part where you compared my hair to a glue-on wig," he said, folding his arms with a slightly injured look. Whether it was genuine or not, Jedar was hard-pressed to tell.

"Terribly sorry. The hair is obviously out of bounds. I'll remember that next time." Jedar paused, and grinned almost wickedly. "Though, come on, with the amount of gel you put in it..."

"No."

"All right, all right."

"Anyway," Cutter continued, "you can hardly talk, can you? Your own hair looks like an unwashed mop stuck in copper sulphate solution. How often do you wash, by the way?" he asked. "Because you're rather fragrant even from over here."

"I washed just last night, thank you."

"Got caught in the rain, hm?"

"Very funny, Cutter."

 

Return to the Library...