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weekly (Another Night…) – 12

“Exquisitely thrilling as this riveting banter isn’t,” Manadan prissed, “might we please hurry it along?”

“Nevermind, Jimsa,” Gupti apologized, shrugging through the grate. “It was a bad joke. Can we get our weapons?”

Jimsa eyed him suspiciously for a moment, then seemed to give up and slid back behind the crate.

“Jimsa?”

“Eh.”

Manadan took a breath, but Gupti held his hand out to wait.

“Come on, Jimsa. We need our weapons. We’re late for duty.”

“So.”

“So, we’ve got to get moving. The captain is already angry at us for being late.”

“And whose fault was that, again?” Manadan’s stage whisper, full of snidely false curiosity, covered Jimsa’s response.

“What did you say, Jimsa?”

Jimsa mad a rough barking noise “Jes’ like I sprek. Body don’t care.” His pale arm flopped above the crate and waved dismissively. “Gan whicha.”

Gupti glared at Manadan, but kept his voice quiet.

“Jimsa, please. I’m sorry. I’m listening.”

“Nuh-ah.”

Manadan opened his mouth again, his eyebrows tight with frustration, but Gupti covered it with his hand. Leaning in close, he whispered very quickly and very firmly. “Go wait upstairs!” Then he turned the little man around like a doll and pushed him slightly less than gently back down the corridor.

Manadan did not reply, and he only paused slightly, before moving off the way they’d come, Gupti returned his attention to the grate and the reticent armorer.

“Yes I am listening, Jimsa. Please, just give us our weapons and we’ll leave you alone, okay?”

“Alone?” Dry breath rattled in a dry throat. “Alone?” His face appeared once more beside the crate and his round eyes fixed Gupti squarely. “We’re never alone.”

Gupti leaned back in mild surprise. Jimsa was not entirely squarely tied on, as it was said, but solitude was his one known pleasure. That was partly why he’d been assigned here. He hated being bothered only slightly less than he hated doing what others told him to do. The only thing he hated worse than those two things, however, was not being able to complain to someone about them.

The other reason he was bound within these stony confines was an awe-inspiring knowledge of weaponry. Or a disturbing knowledge, depending upon one’s point of view. As the King’s Guards had seen it when they had installed him some twenty years past, Jimsa was the perfect armorer. His background, whatever it had been, ensured that their weapons were always cared for, always prepared, and always lethal. As the local populace saw it, Jimsa was a bogeyman, an unseen hand whose works wreathed the barracks as a bristling reminder of an angrier past.

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