Briac shook his head at what was before him. Sighing he pushed the glasses that had slide down his nose while he was reading. Dim candlelight illuminated golden blonde skin and dark black hair. A man sat bent over thick leather tomes. He sighed in frustration, long dark lashes sweeping of dark brown eyes. By Dagden's ghost he should have figured this out already. He leaned back stretching muscles that had been locked one position for far too long. He winced when his back creaked. He was too young to creak. just past twenty. Okay twenty-five. but still. he shouldn't creak. He rose and looked in the mirror. And smiled at what he saw. The orange glow of candlelight added a sense mystery to his dark features. Long straight black hair escaped the leather throng that held it back in a tail away from his face. Dark eyes shone enigmatically behind thin dark rimmed glasses, the effect of long hours of perusing through old books in dim light. Warm golden skin on aristocratic features very like the ones on a statue he had in the study. He shifted the black utilitarian fine wool rode he wore managed to cling to broad shoulders and muscular chest. He had studied how to use a sword and still practiced to stay in shape although he had never used a sword in a battle situation. He shrugged, dark eyes somber, if he was lucky he would never have too. His luck had held out well so far. No one had declared him a Gifted. Oh, many suspected, but so far no one had voiced this suspicion to the king. He winced. If they had he would be as good as gone. Locked up in some tower for study. And if they ever realizes how much he knew. how very much he knew and understood. they would either kill him on the spot or lock him up so tightly behind to many Gates, Locks and bars that he would never get a moments of peace. They would prevent him from studying, as well, at the very least; they wouldn't want him to gain more knowledge. more power. He felt anger grow. Anger that he normally blocked out or shoved away. because for many a Gifted anger was a key. a key to more power but at the same time. a deadly key. That should never be used. For the power anger led to could not be controlled once it was unleashed. That was allegedly what had started the hunt of the Gifted. One of their kind who had lost his temper. Briac grinned ruefully at his reflection. but both he and the King knew differently didn't they. The hunt of the Gifted hadn't been about that it had been about.. A voice cut into his thoughts. "Hey. admiring yourself again Briac. I thought we had talked about that. that it isn't good for you to be so conceited." Briac didn't turn but spoke a mischievous smirk coming across his lips, "Ah. but surrounded by books there is no one to tell me how beautiful I am. so of course I have to do it for myself." There was warm laughter behind him. He saw a trussled blonde head and familiar grin. He sighed not bothering to turn and face the person who had intruded on his solitude. "So what do you want Sam?" The blonde laughed, "how did you know it was me?" Briac spun to face his friend, "One word. mirror." Sam laughed again, "Duh.. Foolish me." Briac grinned, leaning back against his dark wood bureau, a mischievous smile on his lips. His tone mock exasperated, "So what do you want Sam?" Sam turned away suddenly his expression somber. Briac stood, his smile dropping. His expression turning concerned. "Sam?" Sam didn't look at him immediately but rather turned away from him. Briac approached looking at Sam's profile. Sam rested one gauntleted and gloved hand on his bookshelf about head level and seemed interested at looking at the grain of the wood. Briac could feel his brow furrow. He stopped and stood still when he realized that Sam was in his full out battle-gear. Briac sat down with a sigh, rubbing the increasing ache between his eyes. This was bad. Sam was dressed for battle. Gloves, gauntlets, grieves and steel plate and he didn't have the cocky expression on his face. that could only mean trouble. His tone sounded tired even to his jaded ears, "Sam. what is it?" Sam turned and from the glow in Sam's dark eyes he could tell he wouldn't like it.


Sam stood unsure how to begin. On his walk. okay run over he had realized that he would have to break to Briac that the King had outed him as a Gifted. He stood and could tell from the slightly rigid and curled in posture and the deep concern in Briac's eyes that he already suspected. Sam sat down across from his friend carefully watch Briac's expression. Briac began to rub between his eyes again. Sam forced himself to say lightly, "Well. I. me and Cullen.." Briac interrupted, "Cullen and I." Sam blinked. Briac looked up at him, "You said Cullen and me. you and Cullen are the subject so. it would be Cullen and I.". Sam raised and eyebrow at this. Briac managed a wobbly grin and a weak laugh, "sorry. Continue." Only Briac would give a grammar lesson while in crisis. Sam almost smiled glad for Briac's habit, as it broke the tension and loosened him up, reminding him of all the things they had managed to get through. They would get through this as well. Sam nodded satisfied, "As I was saying before I was interrupted." Mock glare at Briac. Briac shrugs his broad shoulders carelessly. Another glare from Sam, "Cullen and I. had company today. These unwelcome visitors were none other then the Kings personal guards who were looking for you I might add." Briac blinked for several minutes and then shrugged sighing and rose. He walked over and opened a large case and proceeded to through books into it, very calmly. Sam just blinked at this. No freak out. nothing.. "UH Briac did you just hear me. the king is looking for you." Briac shrugged again and murmured something. Sam stared at him. Sam rose and walked over to Briac closing the trunk that Briac had been packing. Briac raised an eyebrow and proceeded to just stand there looking at him arms crossed across his chest. Sam blinked at him and then gestured, "Hello-o. what's going on in that mind of yours? Don't you have a problem with this?" Briac continued to look a t him as though he was crazy, "With what?" Now it was Sam's turn to look at Briac like he was crazy. "Well. a crazy homicidal king is looking for you." Briac shrugged opening the trunk and loading more books and scrolls into it, "it was only a matter of time before he came looking for me. My good name can only protect me for so long." Briac stopped what he doing and looked up thoughtfully, "so why exactly did the guards show up at the bar? I never go there." Sam watched Briac pack and felt his face flush, "uh. they heard we. worked together.." Briac looked at him when he heard the catch in Sam's voice. Briac looked at him expectantly. Sam said nothing so Briac shrugged and resumed working, "alright." Briac didn't turn around so he didn't see how embarrassed Sam was. "Sam that reminds me.. I might have one last job for you." Sam blinked, "last job?" Briac turned and spoke as he shot Sam a look, "not like that Sam.". Sam grinned, "can't blame me for thinking.". Briac continued, "I'm just leaving town. I don't intend on . What Sam. What are you talking about?" Sam sighed melodramatically, "nothing." Briac shook his head, "anyway, I think it might be right up your alley." Briac sat on the bed and Sam sat on one of the stools suddenly interested, "Hmm. you don't say. what kind of job?" Briac grinned, the mischief in it making his eyes flash brilliantly and he tilted his head in that way of his, stray stranded of black hair falling to frame his face. "Oh you know the kind. dangerous, small chance of success, screws the king over, helps me.". Sam's grin turned wicked and his eyes glinted with a hard angry light for a brief moment; "Sounds perfect. what does the job entail?" Briac leaned back waving a hand a piece of parchment rose off of the desk and unfurled. Sam always enjoyed this kind of thing...the rare displays of Briac's gift. Dark lines splayed across the page taking the shape of hallways, walls, and passages a line followed a path through them. "Impressive." Briac grinned wickedly, "you have no idea." Sam raised an inquiring eyebrow. Briac grabbed an inkwell and splattered it across the paper. Sam opened his mouth to speak but was silenced when he turned and saw the paper become a three dimensional sketch of the palace. It was so life like as though he could touch it. He wanted to reach out and touch it but forced himself not to. Briac as though reading his mind spoke, "don't touch it. its light and energy shifting across. using the ink as a medium to refract.." Sam tuned him out mesmerized. "Hallways paths whizzed by he memorized what he saw. Words flowed across the bottom of the page giving directions. "Hmm. well now I know where to go but what am I looking for?" Briac turned to him his expression all calm business. "There is a book in the Centidel. It is likely to be guarded but I doubt they will keep a very good watch. No one has ever been foolish enough to try and steal it before. The guards are sloppy and the King is." "a pompous ass." "I was going for arrogant but. yeah." The parchment showed a book on a platform. Leather bound. very plain and old, like so many of the ones Briac had. "So what's so special about this book. I mean. you like anything readable but the King." Sam shrugged, "Well, he doesn't seem like the literary type. why is so well hidden and protected?" Sam looked at Briac. "You might be surprised." Sam looked up at the calm, cold, distracted tone of Briac's voice. Briac's eyes were distant and his expression unreadable. Briac was normally smiling and slightly sarcastic but sometimes. he would ice over. At moments like this he seemed distant and as cold as some of the sell- swords Sam had met in his time. He looked a Briac who was looking so far outward. or maybe so far inward that he seemed unreachable but Sam knew better. He knew these moods never lasted that long. Briac came too aware that Sam was staring at him and that some time had passed. He shook off his mood and reverie not meeting Sam's to sharp gaze. "Uh, it contains information on magick. true magick. Skills and powers that surpass normal Gifts. I want to study them and learn." "What?" Briac looked up at the sound of Sam's voice, shocked by its tone. Sam turned to him, his expression icy with rage. The amusing angle of Sam's hair not making the scene laughable but rather contrasting to the pure rage and hatred that blazed in Sam's brilliant blue eyes. Sam's face was set in grim lines, for once not seeming like the face of a lively young man but more suited to the flat unreadable marble of statues. but not even that. Despite the tense blankness that played across Sam's face the eyes blazed with so much emotion that there was no way they could be compared to the, often, flat eyes of statues. Sam titled his head slightly. He must have asked something. "Uh. what Sam?" Sam spoke again, his tone, thankfully, not the same horribly cold voice as before, this time his voice shook with emotion, "I said King Camlin. he has a book of magick. How can that be, he burns everything. and everyone that has to do with magick?" Although he already knew it, knew very well the rumors of the King's burnings, of the King burning people, Briac didn't want to be reminded of it now. When he spoke he couldn't help the tiredness that seeped into his voice; "The King keeps it for his Mages to study.." Briac waited for the blow-up he knew would happen and even though he was prepared the sound of the chair toppling and slamming into the floor shook him inside. However he didn't flinch, he had experienced much worse shocks in his life. He looked at Sam with quiet sad eyes. Sam however wasn't the livid man angry at injustice at the moment. What passed across his face was something far more painful to see. pure despair. followed by something darker and then nothing. A mask had dropped across Sam's face. The mask of a soldier bent on his mission. Briac spoke his voice low and concerned. He rose slowly and walked towards Sam moving slowly as a human does to a skittish horse. "Sam?" Sam didn't look at him. "Sam?" Briac reached out gently and touched Sam's arm. Sam turned to him with blank eyes, which shook Briac to his core. He felt icy fear shoot up his spine. He had seen Sam depressed a few times but never this blank. Briac opened his mouth and Sam looked at him as though seeing him for the first time and for an instant such pain and guilt flashed in his eyes that Briac stopped breathing. Sam pulled away his eyes clearing. His voice calm and low, "uh. what do I have to do for this mission?" Briac spoke softly, "You have to retrieve the book from the King and give it to me. We'll meet in the standard place." Briac reached out and the parchment fell out of the air into his hand, "Take this with you." Sam looked at it uncertain, "Are you sure? This is probably valuable." Briac nodded, "it's fine. It's not irreplaceable." Briac smiled, not saying that it had taken his considerable power and some of his blood in order to do the working. Sam nodded and turned on his heel to leave but stopped before leaving the door one hand braced on the doorframe. He spoke over his shoulder, "Briac, how long has he had mages?" Briac hesitated before speaking, "since the beginning Sam.." He saw a minute tightening of Sam's body and heard the sound of cracking wood before Sam left. Briac stood staring at the doorframe where Sam's hand had been. There was the imprint of knuckles in the plaster and the wood was splintered from when the wooden frame had cracked.