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Peeling Back Armor

Title: Peeling Back Armor
Author: iceprincessd
Rating: G
Prompt: an old book (#6 Things)
Characters/Pairing: Basch (claim); Gabranth/Drace
Warnings: spoilers from before Mt. Bur-Omisace to end of game
Summary: He hoped to find clues as to how he now needed to act


One of the first things Basch did when coming to Archades was go through his brother’s belongings. He didn’t do so out of idle curiosity, but to learn who his brother had been in the almost twenty years they had been apart. He hoped to find clues as to how he now needed to act, who he must interact with, what Noah might have been last working on.

He didn’t find much; his brother’s sleeping quarters were sparse and utilitarian – even though the sheets on the bed were of the highest quality and the wood furniture well made, the décor had stayed simple. There was a chest holding neatly folded clothes, many of which were made to go underneath armor, though there were few civilian style pieces as well. Bookshelves lined the walls of the modest sized connecting office, book after book of Archadian law contained within each. Basch ran his hand over the spines, determined to commit each tome to memory.

A heavy desk took up an entire wall, the surface clear of clutter, the drawers organized with precision. Rifling through the bottom drawer, far to the back and placed under many heavy stacks of notebooks as if Noah hadn’t wanted anyone to find it, Basch found a piece of parchment, yellowed with age and heavily creased, as if it had been folded, unfolded and then refolded many times. With careful fingers, Basch smoothed out the paper, finding a child’s drawing inside. There in the center was a small blob of white and green, topped with a messy smudge of black. Flanking and looking as if the figure was holding a hand to each were larger black scribbles. The left was drawn with enough detail to make out curving horns on the helmet.

At the lower right hand corner, written in familiar small, neat script much like Basch’s own handwriting was a title reading G, L, D – Larsa, aged five. Basch carefully refolded the picture and placed it back where he had found it.

Under a few sheets of paper in the first drawer, Basch unearthed a list of sorts. There were honing stones, armor padding, and other such items written down, but each had a line crossed through them. Underneath, Noah had made a note: Drace, impossible to shop for. Purchase something with lace and risk her wrath instead.

“So you had a lady,” Basch murmured. He wondered who this woman was. Guessing that the “D” in the picture Larsa had drawn years ago and the Drace that Noah spoke of were one and the same, he made a mental note to ask Larsa.

The last place left to investigate was the bedside table back in his new sleeping quarters. There were no drawers, but a single book lay on the surface. It was old, the ends of the pages uneven in their binding, as if it had been repaired numerous times. Basch recognized the title, his throat tightening at the gold letters describing fables and fairy stories from his homeland. He might not have remembered each tale, but he remembered vividly how his mother would read to him and his brother every night right before they went to bed. Thinking that it was the same volume their mother used to have, Basch opened the cover.

It wasn’t; he knew that from the spiky handwriting on the front fly leaf. Happy thirtieth, it said. We may not have our past, but that doesn’t mean you need to forget where you come from. D

“They tried to be discreet, but we all knew,” a voice said from the door. Basch turned to see Judge Zargabaath leaning against the doorframe.

“Who is she?”

“She was Lord Larsa’s guardian. One of them, at least. Ghis used to ridicule how she and your brother tried to pretend that there wasn’t anything between them.” He looked down at the floor momentarily. “It must have destroyed something in Gabranth to be the one to strike her down on Vayne’s orders.”

“It must have been hard to lose the one he loved.”

“It must have.” They stared at the other for a while before Zargabaath continued. “We are colleagues, you and I. And while we work for the same lord, we are not friends. Gabranth is a private man who keeps his own council. Because of this, Vayne had you investigated to see where your loyalties ultimately lie. As head of the Ninth Bureau, you will be able to obtain the files containing all the information you could have ever wanted to know about yourself. They are in the archives.”

Basch set the book back on the table. “I thank you,” he said.

Zargabaath put on his helmet. “I did not tell you that for your benefit,” he said, his words echoing around the metal. “I serve the Empire and our young Emperor needs all the allies he can muster to his side. It would not do if the most common of peasants could see through your guise, putting Lord Larsa in danger.”

Basch listened as Zargabaath’s armored boots echoed down the hall. Picking up his brother’s helmet, he made his way out of his room, hoping that he could recall the way to the archives correctly.

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