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Opening Night

The week leading up to the grand opening gala for the Ravilan Crown Jewels had been busy but pleasant, with the strange comfort of being in a room of people who all spoke one’s own language. Brother Lapis had been particularly keen on a series of guitar recitals at the library and opera house which he himself had introduced.

Brother Lapis made himself as scarce as possible to his brother in cloth, Brother Rudyard. Rudyard, the second son of the family that had made the exhibition possible, was positively insufferable making sure every detail of the week’s cultural entertainments and provisions for the entourage were in order.

At last, the opening night, invitation only (which could be purchased for a suitable fee), and all the High Society of New Babbage were in attendance. To the edge of the crowd, Brother Lapis and Phaedra Byrne watched the festivities. They stood at the proper distance that was proper for those pretending to be merely acquaintances of each other.

Phaedra sipped from a champagne flute, noting how Rudyard resembled a strutting peacock, dressed as he was in his family’s full regalia. A group of highly fashionable women clustered around him as he regaled them with history of the Crown Jewels and legends of his home city.

“Your friend is quite the prat,” Phaedra commented to Lapis.

Lapis smiled. “You’ve never met his elder brother. He’s the prat if I understand the word correctly.”


“Come. There’s a gap in the crowd. Time to get a closer look at the main show.”

They strolled over to the central exhibit, which could be viewed under glass from all angles. Phaedra leaned close, eyeing a particularly large ruby.

“I wouldn’t mind having that on my neck,” she said.

“Many men have died to place that on a lady’s neck,” said Lapis.

“Yes, I couldn’t help but overhearing Brother Peacock say as much. What were you saying about his brother? I can’t possibly imagine someone more full of himself than him.”

“Well,” Lapis started. “I think he still regrets that he didn’t have me assassinate him.”

Phaedra turned her attention away from the jewels, trying to decide if Lapis was making a joke or not. His posture said not. She took his arm and let him lead her away before the next group of patrons came near to examine the Crown Jewels.

Phaedra smiled. “I knew there was a reason I liked you, Brother.”

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