Sixteen years ago
Casidhe Fionnlagh wandered around the parlor, staring at the paintings. This one’s the worst, he thought. This swordsman’s posture is all wrong… well, at least it’s something to look at.
Nobody ever decorated their parlors for the enjoyment of children, and Casidhe had seen enough of them to be sure of that. He’d been left in so many during his father’s endless meetings; still, Father seemed sure that today would be different. Casidhe could only hope that he was right.
A door opened, and a dark-haired human boy, no more than a year older than Casidhe, entered the room. “You’ve got a sword,” the boy said.
Casidhe looked down at the short sword at his hip. “Sure do,” he said.
“Can you use it?”
“Yeah.” Not well enough to please Father, he thought, but better than you, I’ll wager.
“Who are you?” the boy asked. “You a friend of Phelan’s?”
“Uh, no,” Casidhe said. “Who’s Phelan?”
“My brother.” The boy waved his hand dismissively, as if Phelan wasn’t worth talking about.
“No, I’m here with my father. Name’s Casidhe.”
The boy shook his hand vigorously. “Pleased to meet you, Casidhe. I’m Sim.” Sim leaped into one of the stuffed chairs, kicking his feet. “What’s your dad doing here?”
“Visiting Luthais MacDaer.”
With a nod, Sim said “Yeah, that’s my dad. He mentioned that he’s got meetings today. Your dad needs a job, huh? How come?”
“He used to work for a man named Segonal,” Cas replied. “But something happened, and they aren’t friends any more. Father’s been looking for a steady job for months now.”
“Well, he’s come at the right time. My dad’s looking for a new bodyguard.”
“My father’s not a bodyguard,” Casidhe said, his hands balling into fists. “He’s a duelist.”
Sim threw his hands up. “Fine! I didn’t know there’s a difference.”
“There’s a world of difference,” Casidhe said. His posture relaxed, but his voice was still insistent. “A duelist fights with honor. A duelist never breaks his word. A duelist always -“
“All right, all right! What, are you a duelist too?”
“Not yet. But Father’s teaching me, and someday I will be.”
“Huh.” Sim got up and walked toward a portrait of his family. “Phelan’s gonna inherit the business someday, so I don’t know what I’m gonna – “
Another door opened, and Casidhe’s father, Brandeouf, came in. The man wasn’t smiling, but Casidhe knew him well enough to know that he was happy. “I’ve taken the job,” the duelist announced. “We’ll spend the night at the house; in the morning, we’ll be moving in – hello, you must be Sim.”
“Yes, sir.” Sim was distracted by the sight of Brandeouf’s ornate blades.
“I’m Brandeouf Fionnlagh. My son and I just became part of your life, Sim. I’m sure the two’ve you will be very good friends.”
Sim looked back at Casidhe, smiled, and said “Of course.”