A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

Stories taking place in mainland Europe and Russia west of the Ural Mountains. Some countries include France, Norway, Bulgaria, and Poland.
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 #40061  by Adrian Katoracov
 
"Brandy," Adrian replied. "Enough to flavor it, but Mirela knows what she is doing. She would not put your wife or child at risk."

The old man tapped his fingers along the desk as he gathered his thoughts.

"I always trusted Darius the most out of all of you," he said after a long moment.
 #40063  by Gavril Balcescu
 
"Thanks for the complement," Gavril huffed, though there was a hint of amusement to his tone. He filled up the old man's glass again, just for something to do with his hands.

"I don't know," he continued after a moment. "I trust him too, certainly more than Antony. But I get the impression he wanted to...I don't know, like he wanted to be done with all of this after we reforged the blades. But I don't really have anyone else, not like him. And I can't be in four places at once."

His scowl deepened, and he would likely be displeased with the level of comparison between himself and the way Adrian looked when he had been the one in charge. Gavril was lucky they had no audience to point it out to him.

"I really was an ass," he remarked after a moment.
 #40065  by Adrian Katoracov
 
"The reason I say that," Adrian continued once Gavril was finished, as though the other man had not spoken at all, "is that Darius always seemed the most put together of all of you. The most responsible. Even if we I did not like that he had dated Adriana, once he was in the order and married, had a good job, started a family, performed well on his missions... he should have been an obvious choice to replace Emil when the old man passed."

Adrian took another drink and shook his head.

"I realized that, even though he was an exemplary member of our order, he did not have what was needed to fill that particular role."
 #40067  by Gavril Balcescu
 
Well that was...not at all the pep talk Gavril was hoping for.

"Maybe I can just handle most things myself," he sighed, picking up the envelope again.

"Malanda has a better head for this part than I do, anyway. Then again, she won't be able to do much once...although I guess if Darius could manage..."

Emil had been tough to follow, and Gavril was beginning to appreciate even more deeply why the man never had children of his own. Theirs was not exactly a profession that was well suited for fathers.

"I don't suppose you want to help."

It was difficult to discern if he was joking or telling the truth.
 #40069  by Gavril Balcescu
 
Young. Impressionable.

There were the obvious answers, but this needed an un-obvious solution. Razvan was too careless, Sorin too aloof, although he might be a reasonable contender. No, Gavril needed to think creatively. He needed someone who could keep up, someone who knew how to stay quiet. Someone who intimately understood the inner workings of the order while being able to take direction.

"I have two ideas," Gavril exhaled, tapping his pen on the desk.

"Either one results in Anca killing me, for two entirely different reasons."
 #40071  by Gavril Balcescu
 
"Pavel seems like the easiest choice," Gavril admitted, surprised by his own response.

"But he is not impressionable, and I worry about his dedication."

The younger of the two men stared at his mentor for a long moment, then looked back to his files. He needed someone young and impressionable. Not someone who had been brought into this by obligation, but someone like himself, like Adrian. Someone who was still trying to find his path in life, who had an intimate understanding of things. And for the first time in the history of the covenant, they did not necessarily need to ask someone to swear his life to the blade so long as he could be trusted.

"I think I need to find Mihai," Gavril finally blurted out, his tone surprisingly decisive.
 #40076  by Gavril Balcescu
 
"He's been doing work for her," Gavril pointed out, knowing well that this would probably be news to the old man. He assumed, anyway. Now that Mihai was older and Malanda was no longer his instructor at the school, the two had found they had a lot in common. They kept up regularly through letters, and Malanda had sent him money several times so that he could continue traveling throughout Europe... so long as he picked up a few odd jobs here and there to earn it. Never anything that required the use of the blade, but Gavril was well aware from his wife's information that his brother-in-law was not always operating within the confines of the law.

Such was the way, he supposed.

"I wasn't supposed to come to you either," the younger man added, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms. He stared at Adrian for a moment, considering the situation and the man who stood before him. Ultimately it was his decision no matter what, but he valued Adrian's opinion, both as his former employer and as his father-in-law.

"He's good. He's smart, he's... a little too much like me. Needs to work on his budgeting. But I think he can do the work. And if I take Anca to Greece, give her some time to think about it..."

Gavril shrugged, arms still folded over his chest.

"The lines between the families are blurred now as it is. There is no need to 'steal' him away."
 #40077  by Adrian Katoracov
 
Adrian knew Malanda had taken an interest in her younger brother, but the exact nature of their dealings was new information. He supposed it was none of his business, but it was still disappointing to hear that the young man was doing "odd jobs" that Adrian knew were likely to put the boy at risk.

There was a point, though. If Gavril and Malanda could compromise, they might find themselves in better spirits.

"Bine," he conceded. "This is a matter between the two of you, now. I will leave it to you."
 #40078  by Gavril Balcescu
 
Well, Adrian didn't hate the idea. Malanda might, but that was something they could tackle in Greece. Which Gavril couldn't believe now that he was agreeing to, but it was either that or... the old man had been right. She was probably going to go on a murderous rampage if he kept her home any longer. How had he been so stupid?

"You think she'll be okay?" He asked after a moment, allowing himself to relax once more. He knew his father-in-law would be leaving momentarily, but his mind had returned to the comments Adrian had made before the discussion of Mihai and Darius came upon them.

"I've never seen her so miserable."
 #40079  by Adrian Katoracov
 
Adrian finished the last of his drink.

"She needs to make it through the next several months, and then it will be on to the next part. I will not lie and say everything will be easy after the birth. It is likely to get worse before it gets better. You absolutely need to work together and to be on each other's team."
 #40080  by Gavril Balcescu
 
On each other's team. Gavril seemed to recall a similar sentiment when the old man had cornered him at their do-over wedding, though Adrian had been in such a good mood that night that it had frightened Gavril more than it had comforted him. He was right, though. He and Malanda needed to work together, both in life and with this work they were doing to provide for their family. Their whole family, including the child that was not yet fully among them.

"She has some names picked out," the younger man allowed a small smile to cross his face.

"Don't tell her I told you. Are you alright to get home? Do you want a ride or to borrow one of the horses?"
 #40081  by Adrian Katoracov
 
"I think I will have an easier time walking than riding a horse," Adrian admitted, his face softening. "But thank you for the offer."

The old man stood and donned his cloak.

"And I do not want to hear any talk of names until the two of you have settled on one and the child is born. Noapte buna, Gavril."