Corthos and Lena Scene 3
“Corthos, you realize that people could die because of this, right?” Lena stared at him incredulously, her hand gripping Aldo’s duel notice. It had been so much easier to just sit back when she hadn’t met Guinevere. Now, even though her stomach was bruised and her jaw still stiff, she felt like somebody had to intervene. “There are other ways for you to get money. Ways that aren’t…this.” Corthos hardly glanced up at Lena, his attention primarily focused on the book he was sifting through. Roland Tanessen had been in plenty of duels. Corthos hoped to gain some mental advantage from reading his writings about them, although it would be hard to do if Lena insisted on further conversation. He looked over the book at her as she spoke again. “Corthos, would you please pay attention? Fabian is not going to try and make you yield, he’s going to try and kill you. This isn’t some little game amongst the nobility where you can fake it out. This isn’t a joke that you should be laughing about.”
Corthos shut his book with a snap, speaking tersely. “I understand that people die in duels, Lena. I am aware of that. It’s a very popular way for them to end. I, however, do not plan on killing Fabian – I don’t need a young man’s blood on my hands.” Lena started to speak again, but Corthos held up his hand. “Not finished. Second point, he is going to try and kill me. That is an attempt that does not promise success. I understand that you’re upset, but I know what a duel entails. Please don’t treat me like a child.” Lena bit her tongue for a moment before deciding not to. “Then stop acting like one. Corthos, why are you even picking a fight like this? The revolution needs you. Please, just listen to reason – I don’t know what the Delronges did that made you hate them so, so much, but it’s not worth dying over.” She thought back to her conversation with Guinevere, to the conversation hidden in conversations.
Corthos took his time to choose his words, his smile fading. “I have no intention to die, Lena. Not yet, not on the dueling ground, not at the hands of some minor nobility acting in the interest only of themselves.” Lena stepped forward as she spoke, her tone a bit braver than before. “No man goes out there with the intention, Corthos. You’re not a fool, we both know that. So why are you so stubbornly focused on this one thing? Look at the revolution happening around you, look at your allies and your friends and think – for one minute – about what happens if you lose. What happens to the rest of us, to the Ravens, without your pen. Without your mind.” Corthos sighed deeply.
“You flatter me. But if I am so damned important to the Ravens, then it will be after this. If I die, that is not the end of the story. My death would only be the ending if the story were about me, but it isn’t. It’s about you, about Maxwell, about Rexus and Isabelle and Laria, it’s about the whole damned city. I am just a forgotten cog in the great machine. But by taking this stand, at least if I die, I die for something. I ask you one thing – be watchful for our signs.” He looked up, his eyes locking on hers, an unspoken plea in them. “Please, just do that for me.”
Lena bit her lip pensively before speaking. “If you believe in someone, you don’t give up on them. Even when you don’t know why they do what they do.” Corthos narrowed his eyes slightly at the words before Lena continued. “I’m not going to forget the signals.” Maybe she was being foolish – she readily accepted that possibility – but Lena met Corthos’ gaze evenly. “If you aren’t willing to listen, and your mind is made up, I doubt I could find a way to change it. But please….be careful.” He nodded once, brusquely. No more words were said between them until Lena had her hand on the door to leave. Corthos spoke very softly, hardly audible. “Lena….Thank you.” She nodded once in return, then left the room. Corthos lifted the book again, picking up where he left off.