After Tatiana narrowly escaped the dragon attack, she went to Kyratia to report directly to Duke Galenos. Her commanding officer sent Orivan to report to Warlord Varranor at the main fort. But Orivan has barely spoken to Varranor in two years since their last fight, and he doesn’t know how to handle the unresolved feelings between them.
Orivan Reports to Varranor
Orivan fidgeted with the corner of his report. The thick paper wrapped around the outside had been bent while stuck inside his jacket during his long flight on the back of his marewing, Moonshadow. He’d flown overnight to reach headquarters, and although he knew the message inside was the important part, he couldn’t help but try to flatten it out properly.
The tall, slender young man was standing in the reception area outside the warlord’s office, waiting to be called, and although he didn’t want to admit it, he was nervous. The last time that he’d seen Commander Varranor nearly two years ago, their flirtation had ended in an abrupt and confusing way. Orivan had previously been hesitant to get closer to Varranor, who had a reputation for frequently changing lovers. But when Orivan finally decided to risk a relationship with the other man, Varranor abruptly became distant. He ordered Orivan and Tatiana off to Bourassa, miles away on the border, and hadn’t spoken to him since. During the marewings’ annual gathering, both men had avoided each other.
He hadn’t understood it when it happened, but in later discussions with Tatiana, they’d pieced together that cryptic conversation and realized that Varranor might have assumed Orivan and Tatiana’s friendship was a love affair. Orivan had often thought about writing a letter, apologizing for his own mistakes and explaining the situation, but he was afraid that he could have misread things. After all, Varranor could have simply tired of him and moved on to someone else. That seemed to be his typical pattern. And as the months stretched on in silence, it became too awkward to try to reconcile. Still, there was a part of him that regretted what had happened.
Now he was facing Varranor again, and he had no idea what to do. He had his military discipline to fall back on, but marewing riders tended to be more informal with each other and the commander had an easy, joking manner—at least, that was how Orivan knew him. He couldn’t imagine that things had changed over the past two years. What would be more awkward, if Varranor was friendly or if he wasn’t? And how should Orivan respond?
After what seemed like an eternity, the commander’s assistant reappeared and beckoned to him. “You may go in now.”
Orivan startled to attention, forcing his arms back to his sides. “Ah, yes, thank you.” But his feet didn’t seem to want to move. Just get it over with, he told himself, and marched into the office.
Varranor was seated at his desk, bent over a stack of paperwork. He was an imposing figure: taller than Orivan than half a head and nearly twice as wide, with skin so dark it was almost blue-black, broad forehead and nose, and close-cropped wiry hair. Although he was the leader of the company, he wore the same leather marewing rider uniform with only a row of gold stars at his collar to mark his rank. He looked ill at ease in his chair, his muscles tensed like a chimaera ready to pounce.