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been out in the night.
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Since coming to Shaman, Cal had learnt many things – like sword-fighting, jousting and even bread-baking.

Buddy had learnt how to drink beer from a bottle.

He grasped it firmly between his teeth, using his lips as a clamp, and threw his head back to chug it. This was such a frequent sight at the mess hall now that none of the other guards or soldiers paid him the slightest bit of attention. Cal mirrored him, taking a long swig, and reached out to pat him affectionately on the neck. The beer was light, cool, refreshing. The alcohol content was pretty low and Cal had a higher threshold for drink anyway, so it would take a few of these things before she started feeling the tell-tale buzz at the back of her skull.

She didn’t have to wait long for Ithiel, who strolled over presently with a cheery posture and breezy smile. Buddy had been right before – he definitely wasn’t her type – but there was something about him. Something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. He smelt nice, at least, when he came and leant against the wall next to her: fresh and faintly minty.

“Don’t knot your tail, mate,” she punched him lightly on the shoulder, “we’ve not been here long.”

Buddy lifted his bottle again and took another chug, half-emptying it. Cal grinned as she lifted her own bottle to her lips, taking a considerably smaller swig. She lifted an eyebrow at Ithiel’s question.

“You’re going to ask me about work?” Because that wasn’t the most banal subject. “I mean, sure, it’s not as exciting as it sounds, though. Not right now anyway… just lots of lookout duty. I used to bodyguard for Prince Tristan, but,” she shrugged, “obviously not anymore.”

The mention of the renegade prince made Cal’s stomach clench. Nothing about this situation felt right. She shook her head, changing the subject.

“Are you going to go and get a drink or what?” She nodded towards the door of the mess hall. “I think Buddy could use another one if you’re going. I’m good for now.”


CALDERA



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