Corthos and Lena Scene
“Lord Mondragon?” Aldo looked up slightly from his idle writing, closing the booklet to turn his attention to the girl speaking to him in the coffeehouse. She sat across from him, her frame delicate, her dainty hands wrapped around a mug of tea. One hand raised to brush her hair behind her ear, and she smiled warmly. “Might I be able to speak with you for a moment?” Aldo smiled back, setting his notes down to give her his attention. “Yes, Miss Farrowfall?” The young lady laughed, then leaned in. “I was wondering something. How long were you planning to wait before telling the rumor mill that you aren’t who you say you are?” Aldo raised an eyebrow. “Surely you jest. I am exactly what I say I am, no more and no less. What makes you have this belief?” Lena smiled.
“Well. First off, the ink stains. Left wrist normally has one, showing that you spend a good amount of time writing and holding the papers down with that arm – to be expected, as we all know Mondragon writes voraciously. However, your limp give that your right side is supposedly your weak side. Were that true, the right wrists would have the ink stains instead, as you would hold the pen on your strong side.” She looked rather pleased with herself, and Corthos let his eyes open the tiniest bit wider as she continued. “Secondly, you carry yourself with a military bearing while in conversation with Rexus and Maxwell. That might be from a lifetime of service, but you have no visible scars. That makes me feel that you were likely a commander, or simply raised in a strict military family – but you act with the authority of a leader, not a soldier. You say that you came from the Storm Coast, but you use idioms and emphasis that belies Kintargo.” She paused to sip at her tea. Corthos did as well, trying to suppress the smile he felt creeping along his lips. “You are too well-versed in the names and histories of local nobility to simply be passing through. I’ve overheard some of your conversations with Rexus, and you bandy about various minor nobilities names that you would not have known offhand. These things make me feel that you are not who you claim. I could go on….” He raised a hand, then lightly applauded. “You….you were an excellent choice, Lena. An altogether excellent choice.” He laughed slightly.
“A few minor things are off. But you are close.” He winked. “Corthos Tanassen, at your service.” Lena snapped her fingers. “So close. I had you pegged for a distant Victocora.” Corthos shook his head. “Never that dull.” They both grinned. “Might I offer you some free advice, Miss Farrowfall?” The girl nodded. “Your rumors are too specific. I’ve heard them come back. Clutter the details. People keep talking about what they don’t know. Once they know something, it becomes passe and boring to them.” He slid the notebook to her, flipping open to a blank page to allow her to take notes. “Two, this should stay between us. As of right now, I don’t need my reality being widely spread. So far, we’ve contained it her. But you gave me a few things to correct. And please – if you see more, let me know.” She nodded, grinning wide. “Of course, M’Lord.” Corthos rolled his eyes. “I hate that title from friends. Please, just Aldo or Corthos. And third…while you have been quite good so far, you need to make sure to turn that keen mind on your own effort as well. And proofread this.” He handed her the newest Mondragon letter, sitting and waiting.
After a few minutes, she handed it back. “It’s good. Hard to trace back to you. Even I wasn’t certain, and I’ve been studying you since you showed up.” Corthos smiled smugly as he spoke. “Our little secret. I’ll help you with rumors, and you keep that close eye on my disguises. Deal?” Lena nodded, reaching out to shake his hand. “I knew it. I knew I was right.” Corthos simply nodded as he stood, walking back to the basement, chuckling to himself.