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A Request Fic- Chapter One

For queensthief4evr


               It was a truth universally acknowledged that the King hated inspecting the Guard—which is why he sometimes made poor Costis do it for him. It didn’t really require much effort to look at soldiers and see if they were in tip top shape but the King somehow managed to do it with the maximum amount of complaining possible and certain people (like the Queen and Teleus) always felt certain extent of frustration afterwards. So it was unofficially agreed that Costis would take care of that formality every once and a while and simply report to the King afterwards. It was working out well for everyone’s sanity so far, except for Costis’s who always felt that he was an inappropriate substitute for the king on these occasions.
                Watching the Guard’s latest recruit practice with his friend Aristogiton, he felt too small for the boots he was filling in for—though, in actuality, the king had relatively small feet. Costis had no idea what the king meant when he instructed him to ‘keep an eye on’ the new guy, what sort of observations he was expected to report back. So far, Costis could only say that the man was a decent swordsman—though he took way too much advantage of his height when he was pressed—and appeared to get along with everyone well enough. Costis had nothing else to say on Janus, as the new member of the Guard was named.
                He was about to leave when the two finished sparing and Aristogiton immediately greeted him. “Costis! Leaving already?”
                Costis gave his friend a wan smile. “I have to report back to the king before he meets the queen for breakfast.”
                “Well, let me at least introduce you to Janus,” Aris said, putting his arm around the new guard’s shoulder. “I told him I’d introduce him to His Majesty’s personal guard.” He said this last sentence with a flourish, with an equal mix of admiration and jest.
                Janus held his hand out. Costis noticed he did this with a cool confidence—out of place but not necessary impossible to find in a new recruit, addressing a superior officer. He shook Janus’s hand. “I heard you’ve been assigned to Aris’s squad. I hope he and the others haven’t been going too hard on you.”
                The other man laughed. “Oh, I can take it, sir. I wouldn’t be in the Guard if I minded a couple of aching muscles.”
                Costis and Aris chuckled heartily in response.
                “Well, I suppose I should get to the king before he sends an attendant after me,” Costis said.
                Aris nodded. “Join us for lunch later?”
                Costis wondered when Janus had become included in their daily meal plans. “Sure.” And he turned to leave.
                When he was a few meters away, he glanced back at the two and realized, in surprise, that Janus was watching him. The look in the new guard’s eyes was the exact opposite of the friendliness that had been in it a few moments ago. It was beady, crafty…almost threatening.
                Costis wondered if the king would think him petty for judging a man by one look.


                “So, so, so, is this new guard as useful as Teleus says he is, or is he to be another decorative fixture in the palace?” the king asked as he made his way towards the balcony for breakfast. Costis, walking beside him, grimaced at the comment on being ‘decorative’ and hoped the attendants behind them wouldn’t find that offensive.
                “He’s good with a sword,” Costis answered lamely.
                “And supposedly, so are the rest of you,” the king replied. “But I don’t need another swordsman. What else?”
                “He seems friendly,” Costis said, trying again. “Gets along with the others.”
                “Then I suppose he could use his charisma to unite the guard during these troubled times,” the king said sarcastically. “Anything else? Something useful, perhaps?”
                Costis ignored this last remark. He wondered if he should mention Janus watching him as he left. “I noticed nothing else, Your Majesty,” he eventually responded, deciding against it.
                The king looked thoughtful. “He didn’t seem familiar at all to you?”
 Costis shook his head, wondering what the king was getting at. “I’ll keep observing him, if you wish.”
The king nodded slowly. “Yes. You do that. Meanwhile, I will be enjoying my breakfast,” the king said, stepping out into the balcony. Costis hardly noticed they had gotten there. Taking the king’s comment as a dismissal, he went to find Janus and continue his observations.
***

          He watched Costis walking back into the palace. That one is going to be a problem, he thought to himself. If his plans were to succeed, he needed to get the king’s personal pet out of the way.
        “You think you can do another set of exercises?” he heard his squad leader say beside him.
        He quickly looked away from Costis’s retreating figure and gave Aristogiton a smile. “Of course, sir. Whenever you’re ready.”
        And as he clashed his practice sword against Aristogiton’s, he imagined he was bashing it against the king’s head.

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