ansgars

  • Matthias: What did she say?
  • Nina: She said you’re a very nice fellow, and a credit to the Fjerdan race. Ooh, look, blini! I haven’t had proper blini in forever.
  • Matthias: That word she used: babink. You’ve called me that before. What does it mean?
  • Nina: It means sweetie pie.
  • Matthias: Nina—
  • Nina: Barbarian.
  • Matthias: I was just asking, there’s no need to name-call.
  • Nina: No, babink means barbarian. She wasn’t insulting you! I swear!
  • Matthias: Barbarian isn’t an insult?
  • Nina: No. Well, yes. But not in this context. She wanted to know if you’d like to play Princess and Barbarian.
  • Matthias: It’s a game?
  • Nina: Not exactly.
  • Matthias: Then what is it?
  • Nina: In Ravka, there’s a popular series of stories about, um, a brave Fjerdan warrior—
  • Matthias: Really? He’s the hero?
  • Nina: In a manner of speaking. He kidnaps a Ravkan princess—
  • Matthias: That would never happen.
  • Nina: In the story it does, and they spend a long time getting to know each other. In his cave.
  • Matthias: He lives in a cave?
  • Nina: It’s a very nice cave. Furs. Jeweled cups. Mead.
  • Matthias: Ah. A treasure hoard like Ansgar the Mighty. They become allies, then?
  • Nina: Do you like these? Maybe we could get Kaz to wear something with flowers. Liven up his look.
  • Matthias: How does the story end? Do they fight battles?
  • Nina: They get to know each other intimately.
  • Matthias: In the cave?
  • Nina: You see, he’s very brooding, very manly, but he falls in love with the Ravkan princess and that allows her to civilize him—
  • Matthias: To civilize him?
  • Nina: Yes, but that’s not until the third book.
  • Matthias: There are three?
  • Nina: Matthias, do you need to sit down?
  • Matthias: This culture is disgusting. The idea that a Ravkan could civilize a Fjerdan—
  • Nina: Calm down, Matthias.
  • Matthias: Perhaps I’ll write a story about insatiable Ravkans who like to get drunk and take their clothes off and make unseemly advances toward hapless Fjerdans.
  • Nina: Now that sounds like a party. We could play.
  • Matthias: We most certainly could not.
  • Nina: At one point he bathes her.
  • Matthias: Why would he—
  • Nina: She’s tied up, so he has to.
  • Matthias: Be silent.
  • Nina: Already giving orders. That’s very barbarian of you. Or we could mix it up. I’ll be the barbarian and you can be the princess. But you’ll have to do a lot more sighing and trembling and biting your lip.
  • Matthias: How about I bite your lip?
  • Nina: Now you’re getting the hang of it, Helvar.

Since Ansgar had arrived, the amount of time that he had to himself seemed to have doubled. The converse of this had been expected, what with the sheer numbers of aristocrats around. One of the benefits of having been a guard for as long as he had was that he could take the easiest shifts and leave the worst hours to the newer men. This had left him with plenty of time to waste in the evenings. Whilst he was usually a keen reader, whether or not he would need to ask permission to lift something from the library was beyond him, and in any case, he wouldn’t have a clue who to ask. Ansgar has spent the better part of an hour standing outside the entrance to the library, mostly to watch who was going in. Of course, the royals would be permitted with no questions asked, but the rules in relation to his position were blurry, as per usual. Surely, there had to be some sort of systems. He liked systems. Systems made sense, unlike people. He half considered going back to his quarters when he finally decided to swallow his pride and ask someone.

“Not to bother you, but you don’t happen to know the protocol for borrowing books?”

@tentaculi

   “he’s gonna be okay, right?” the poor thing’s lying on the metal table, barely even hurt, but ansgar’s worried beyond belief. reno was half the reason ansgar made himself come home each night— as reluctant as he was to admit it. “please tell me he’s gonna be okay.”