108 Far from Fine Pt.1

    "You are awake."

    Brahms groaned as he pushed himself up on the bed, his green eyes slightly squinted. "Captain, I-"

    "At ease, soldier," the brawny, black-haired man replied as he sat upright on his chair. "You need not worry, I have not been here for too long." He spoke calmly, "I just wanted to inform you that Montgomery and Dufresne have already visited the emperor yesterday. The negotiations have already begun."

    Brahms managed a small nod at the mention of his companions.

    "However, it will be a while till we can leave Saim or send for reinforcements," he continued with a slight frown, "the relationship between Saim and New Britannia is still at its infancy stage."

    "Yes... It will take some time" Brahms remarked, "I do not think the Saimese trust us yet."

    "No," Amadeus agreed, "and we should not trust them either." He eyed Brahms grimly, his brilliant blue eyes half concealed by his eyelids. "They may not trust us but all that matters is that they trust Montgomery. After all, it is his job to be the bridge of our two nations."

    Brahms stared at the muscly man who wore a pensive expression, his black hair parted to one side and his jawline peppered with bristles. As confidently as he could muster, he reassured him, "Vernon is competent. He will succeed in this mission-he has shown his determination time and time again."

    But Amadeus remained dubious. "Erwin, as a soldier, I trust your judgement," he professed, "but when it comes to that friend of yours, I am afraid I do not share your confidence."

    "Vernon can be trusted" Brahms insisted. "Did he not prove his loyalty to our cause?"

    Amadeus was quiet.

    "There is no reason to doubt him, Captain. His loyalty lies with New Britannia-not with Saim. He is one of us."

    "You cannot be sure of that" Amadeus argued. "He may have been raised in our land, but a mongrel born in a stable does not make it a stallion. He is a half-caste. A half-breed like him can never be fully one of us."

    Biting back the words he wanted to retort, Brahms clenched his jaw. He knew too well that Captain Amadeus Jaeger was a stubborn and prejudiced man that listened to no reason. But as Vernon's closest friend, he felt a tinge of shame that he couldn't speak his mind and defend him in the same manner he had always done for him.

    Why couldn't he be brave?

    "You must know why the king chose Montgomery of all people" Amadeus spoke, interrupting Brahms' reverie. "It was not by chance that a young and inexperienced man like him was chosen for the position of consul."

    "What do you mean?"

    "The king," Amadeus cryptically stated, "is using his pieces strategically." A sardonic smile graced his lips as he added, "In the game of chess, we are all just pawns in his fingertips. But you see, some pieces are more useful than others." He stood up to pace around the small room, his dark smile unwavering. "But in the end, once we have played our part, we will be discarded like the disposable pieces we are." Brahms stared at him with a puzzled expression and he chuckled. "All of us have a role to play, Erwin." The smile that once graced his features dropped as he asked, "But are you aware of yours?"

    Brahms tried to maintain eye contact as Amadeus' blue eyes bore into his. "Of-of course" he murmured. His eyes dulled at the gravity of his task. "My duty is always to my people."

    Nodding in approval, Amadeus responded, "And you should do well never to forget that. Our duty to New Britannia comes before anything and anyone else. Nothing must ever come in between."
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