Corrupted Co-Dependence pt. 10

Vayne helps Arthur with his problem, diagnoses the paladin’s “condition” and offers him the hope of a treatment—if not a cure.

Arthur was an attractive man. There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it. He had the look and the dignity of a noble—the kind of thing women were wont to swoon over and that perverts like Vayne couldn’t help but yearn to corrupt.

The Lord Commander was much the same but his regal bearing had an air of aloofness to it that made him difficult to approach. He had the countenance of a king—or an emperor, for that matter—and never failed to seem as if he floated over yonder, in a place beyond the reach of mere mortals.

Arthur, while of high rank in the Order, was not nearly as unapproachable. Part of it, Vayne imagined, had something to do with their shared experiences as novices.

He and Arthur had entered the Order together and made short work of their peers. They’d shot to the top of their class and jockeyed for the attention of their seniors and the Brothers of the Order.

The relationship between them hadn’t always been so amicable. There was a time that Vayne couldn’t stand to see Arthur about, a sentiment he was sure the other had shared at the time.

Regardless, the intense rivalry between the two as they climbed the ranks of the order kindled a grudging respect between the two of them. The unlikely friendship came some time later, forged in the heat of combat and tempered in the fires of a war that had seen some of their best return to the Light.

Vayne had hoped to leverage his bond with Arthur to worm his way into the good graces of the Lord Commander. He’d set aside a good chunk of time for the project, thinking he’d have to exert no small amount of effort to do so. Little did he know Arthur was going to serve himself up on a silver platter.

Frankly, part of Vayne was disappointed. The reason he’d taken over the kitchens first was because he knew all the Brothers received the same meals regardless of rank.

It was just that he’d thought Arthur would manage to resist the effects for longer. The man was stubborn, after all.

Vayne recalled it was a common joke among the Brothers that it would be easier to move a mountain than it would be to deter Arthur from something he’d chosen to set his mind to.

In point of fact, Arthur’s old regiment before he became Confessor of the Lord Commander, had had a particular epithet for him. "Captain Adathis," if Vayne wasn’t mistaken, after the sacred mountain where it was said Mireillor first revealed the way of the Light to Leden the Apostle.

To think that Arthur would succumb so easily…

Vayne could smell a story. There was something he’d missed—or something he hadn’t known—and he’d get to the bottom of it one way or another.

There had to be a reason. There was no way the only man in the Order he considered strong enough to be his equal succumbed to his corruption as a result of being weak-willed.

For now, though, Vayne knew he had to use the situation to his advantage. "I imagine you’d prefer I closed the door," he said, gesturing toward it.

Arthur gulped and nodded. "Y-yes," he said. "I, uh… I think that would be preferable, yes."

Vayne gave his old friend a small, sympathetic smile as he turned around and closed the door. "Is the problem of a delicate nature?" he said gently, pretending at ignorance with regard to the massive erection Arthur was making a poor attempt at hiding.

"I-I would say so, yes," said Arthur.

Vayne nodded. "Then perhaps assurances of privacy would be warranted," he said as he bolted the door shut.

"Oh, yes," said Arthur. He sounded like he hadn’t even thought of the possibility that someone else might happen upon them. It went to show how shaken he was.

The clang of the bolt handle against the metal plate mounted against the door resounded with an awful finality as Vayne turned it to secure the bolt. "Then I shall keep what we discuss within these four walls in the utmost of confidence."

"Please," said Arthur.

"You needn’t plead, Brother," Vayne reassured as he approached the bed. "’Tis the least that I can do for all that we’ve been through together."

"Hah…" Arthur chuckled, though absent any genuine mirth. "Would that this problem were as simple as those," he said.

Vayne chuckled. "Did you not know, Brother? The world only ever gets more complicated the older and wiser you get."

"Is that so?" said Arthur with a wry laugh. "Because I feel awfully old on occasion but I’ve never had the privilege of feeling wise."

Vayne smirked. He stopped at the foot of Arthur’s bed. "Give it time," he said. "It will come. Though I confess I am not surprised it is taking you some time to come into your wisdom."

Arthur shook his head and laughed. "Ah, Brother…" he said softly. "In another life you might have made for a wonderful court jester."

Vayne rolled his eyes. "I am far too rough for that sort of thing," he said.

Looking around, Vayne noted that even though Arthur was Confessor of the Lord Commander, his room was no better appointed than the typical Brother’s quarters.

It made sense from the perspective of the scriptures, which extolled the virtues of humble living and austerity, but it seemed almost wrong to see. Surely, a man as important as Arthur deserved better.

Every piece of furniture in the room was purposeful. There wasn’t anything purely decorative—not even the plants on the windowsill—and not a single one matched more than one other piece.

Vayne could tell which pieces were constructed by Brothers who’d taken woodworking as their Vocation. Those had the symbol of the faith—a pair of antlers with the radiant sun caught between them—inscribed in a conspicuous spot somewhere on the piece and were hardly ever of good enough workmanship to compare to the other pieces that were built by professionals.

At most two of the major pieces of furniture had the mark of the Order on them: the bed and one of the chairs by the small table in the corner of the room. As far as Vayne could tell, anyway.

Much of the other stuff came from donations. As capable as the Brothers were, the Order still relied heavily on wealthy patrons and the laity for donations to help keep things running.

Actual furniture built by Brothers of the Order were rare. Brothers were expected to engage in a Vocation to help ground their minds and give them something to work toward. While they were theoretically free to choose whatever vocation they liked, most chose swordsmanship or other martial pursuits as an extension of their training.

Precious few chose the trades. And of all the possible options, the Order did not have the spare resources to invest in but a few.

Brothers who partook in woodworking had to rely on donated lumber and spoiled firewood. Even so, seldom did the Order have enough of either to spare on the building of furniture. As a result, the woodworking workshop in the fort grounds was mostly relegated to replacing lost or broken wooden utensils and tableware.

Arthur cleared his throat, yanking Vayne from his thoughts back to the real world.

"Apologies, Brother," said Vayne.

Arthur shook his head and proffered a pained smile. "You needn’t, Brother. It is I who is imposing on you by asking for aid."

Vayne returned the smile. "All the more reason I should not be letting myself get lost in flights of fancy," he said, though he meant it more as a reminder to himself than any sort of apology.

"No, Brother," said Arthur as he waved his hand. "By all means… I am yet struggling to find the words to explain my predicament."

Vayne cocked an eyebrow. "Must be a hard problem," he said, continuing to pretend that he did not notice the raging erection tenting out the front of Arthur’s sleeping garments. A good Brother of the Order wouldn’t pay heed to such things, after all.

Arthur’s expression faltered for the briefest moment as he shook his head. "Oh, Brother…" he said. "If only you knew how hard it is… Pray. If you might indulge me. What were you thinking about?"

Vayne pursed his lips. "Nothing overly important," he said with a light laugh.

"Humor me, Brother. Please."

Vayne scratched his cheek. "If you’re genuinely interested… But I’m afraid you might find yourself sorely disappointed."

Arthur reached over and grabbed Vayne by the wrist. "Please, Brother," he said. "Perhaps your idle thoughts might help my predicament."

Vayne shrugged. "Well, alright," he said, keeping a largely somber expression while smirking inwardly to himself. "I merely noticed that your chambers didn’t seen any better appointed than my own."

Arthur tilted his head and frowned slightly. "Is that truly so noteworthy, Brother?" he said.

Vayne chuckled. "I would have thought so," he said.

A light frown creased Arthur’s forehead. "How come? Does it not make sense, somehow? You and I are both Knight-Captains of the Order. Is it not perfectly reasonable that our quarters are the same?"

Vayne shrugged. "That may be the case, Brother, but you are Confessor to the Lord Commander. The title alone carries more weight than the unblemished record of the Sun Heralds."

Arthur’s cheeks took on a tinge of pink.

Curious, Vayne thought to himself. To see such a reaction from Arthur at the mention of his title…

He was all but certain now: whatever it was that had led to Arthur succumbing to his corruption faster than anticipated, it likely had something to do with the Lord Commander.

"A record no less remarkable than the Brighthand Regiment," said Arthur as he averted his gaze.

"Hardly unblemished now," Vayne pointed out.

"Ah…" Arthur’s expression fell. "Apologies, Brother. But if I might—"

Vayne said nothing but he motioned for Arthur to continue.

Arthur locked eyes with Vayne. The bright blue of his irises seemed to twinkle in the daylight as he spoke. There was conviction in his voice, deep and heartfelt. If only the words that followed weren’t lies, Vayne might have been touched to hear them.

"If I might, I would say that the courage and heroism you showed that day in ensuring that all of your men returned alive, if beleaguered, far outstrips whatever blemish the defeat might have left on the record of the Brighthand Regiment."

"Thank you, Brother," said Vayne. "I confess my memories of the day in question have yet to return, but I shall trust in your words."

It was a lie, of course. He might have felt bad but if Arthur was going to blatantly ply him with untruths, it was only fair play to lie right back.

Arthur smiled at Vayne. "I am certain the memories will find their way back to you one day, Brother," he said.

Unlikely, Vayne thought to himself. He couldn’t regain memories of an event that never happened—not unless the Order planned to plant artificial ones in his head.

"In any case," said Vayne, "What is the problem you need my assistance with?"

Arthur scratched the back of his head. "I had hoped it might go away by conversing with you, Brother, to be perfectly honest."

"I take it the ‘problem’ has not gone away, then?"

Arthur’s cheeks took on an even darker shade of red. "No…" he said glumly. "No, it has not."

Vayne suppressed the urge to smirk. "If you are still struggling to find the words to express your problem, then might I ask why it is you believe me capable of helping you with the matter?"

Arthur chuckled. "You should know, Brother, that it pains me to need to make this admission but I do think you are far more knowledgeable of the world beyond our walls than I am."

"Why, Brother. I’d almost think you were calling me uncouth," Vayne teased.

It only made sense. Though noble blood ostensibly counted for nothing within the walls of Fort Radiance, the story was far different in the outside world.

Vayne himself was of the nobility but Arthur’s family was significantly higher up in the hierarchy than even his. Where House Avenor drew power and influence from its close ties with the Mirellian Church, the House of Levin stood on its own as one of the pillars of the empire.

Outside service was mandatory for would-be Brothers of the Order as a means of giving back to the community. That was the public rationale, anyway.

Vayne knew what the year of service was really all about: establishing favorable connections with noble families on the outside. Only the candidates without any background or prospects were assigned to do actual community work. The rest of the candidates, especially those with noble blood like Vayne and Arthur, were used to expand the Order’s base of power.

Come to think of it, Vayne and Arthur had done their mandatory year of service at the same time. If he recalled correctly, they’d both been assigned to serve as bodyguards for noble families of middling status.

It had been a heavy dose of reality, Vayne recalled. The depravity he witnessed had sickened him and he’d proved powerless despite his background.

As it turned out, House Avenor was well-known and feared in Church circles but not so much in parts of the empire where the Church’s influence was less entrenched.

He imagined Arthur’s experience must have been vastly different to his own. The House of Levin was known all around the empire. Though he’d never asked, it was probably safe to assume that Arthur was treated like a prince for the duration of his assignment.

Vayne would have been envious but he wasn’t the one still trapped in the lies of the church. Master had freed him from those shackles and shown him the pleasure of truly living.

"Not at all, not at all!" Arthur insisted.

"Peace, Brother," Vayne laughed. "I jest."

Arthur breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank the Light," he said. "For a moment I wondered if I had truly offended you."

Vayne smirked. "You know well enough I don’t much care for noble sensibilities these days, Brother," he said.

"Of course." Arthur tapped his forehead with the heel of his palm. "How could I forget?"

Vayne chuckled. "Right," he said. "Shall we get to business? I swear I shall bring my considerable knowledge of the outside world to bear and do all I can to help you resolve your problem."

"Good," said Arthur as he fidgeted where he sat. "Good… Because… Brother… If I am being honest, I truly need the assistance."

Arthur gulped audibly. "H-have you been experiencing strange dreams of late?" he said.

Vayne cocked an eyebrow. "Do you suspect demonic incursion, Brother?" he said, taking a moment to pause for dramatic effect. "No… Strange is far too broad a word… Perhaps if you could describe the nature of the dreams?"

Arthur chuckled nervously. He bit his lower lip and looked away. He tapped his foot on the stone floor. "I…"

"I know I am not your confessor, Brother, but you can trust that what is said here will be kept in the utmost of confidence," said Vayne. A smirk tugged at the corner of his mouth. "I swear it solemnly on my devotion to the Light."

Arthur’s eyes widened as he turned to look at Vayne. Such proclamations were not taken lightly in the Order. They were the equivalent of unbreakable vows, made with the threat of divine retribution should they be broken.

Of course, Vayne no longer had a devotion to the Light to swear upon, making the oath invalid, but Arthur didn’t need to know that.

"V-very well, Brother," said Arthur. "If you have the courage to make such a pronouncement then perhaps I should muster the courage to confront my problem as well."

Vayne said nothing, electing instead to simply smile at Arthur.

"The dreams were of a… lustful… variety," Arthur mumbled, his cheeks turning a deep shade of scarlet.

Vayne nodded. "I see… Are such dreams not a natural and expected part of life as a man, Brother?" They were, according to scripture, a form of temptation that Brothers of the Order had to learn to resist through meditation and introspection.

"Not… Not these dreams, Brother," Arthur said almost breathlessly.

Arthur was having a harder time of this than Vayne would have thought. His hands were trembling as they gripped the edge of the bedframe and there was sweat rolling down the side of his face.

"Has meditation not worked, Brother?" said Vayne.

Arthur shook his head.

"Sword trance?"

Arthur shook his head. "Everything, Brother. I have tried everything and yet I feel it burning in my veins still," he hissed. "Even meditating in a bath of cold stream water did not help."

Vayne knew well enough nothing Arthur tried would have worked. His corruption was simply too potent for such methods. "Not Basking in His Light? Not kneeling in prayer on hallowed ground?"

Arthur shook his head despondently. "Brother, I even begged the Lord Commander to cross blades with me in his private training chambers. Not even the ardor of battle could quench the fire I feel coursing through me."

"I see…" said Vayne. "Then you have truly exhausted our methods?"

Arthur locked eyes with Vayne. His bright blue eyes shone with tears. "I have, Brother," he said with genuine fear in his voice. "All I know, I have tried, and all I have tried, have failed."

"I see the predicament now," said Vayne.

"Is this how men on the outside live their lives?" said Arthur. "How in the Light do they manage? Surely they must know a way to temper this… this madness."

Vayne pretended to ponder for a moment. "Hmm… There are some ways men on the outside use but…"

Arthur squeezed Vayne’s wrist. "But what, Brother?" he said. "Tell me, please."

Vayne chuckled ruefully. "I’m afraid they are rather… indelicate means. I must admit, my knowledge in this regard is limited to second-hand experience and I am afraid I might damage the purity of your spirit should I recklessly advocate for one means over the others."

"Is that truly so?" said Arthur. He seemed both touched that Vayne cared so much for his spiritual health and rather at a loss for what to do next. "Is there nothing we can do?"

Vayne again pretended to ruminate for a moment. "I think there might be," he said.

"Then by all means, Brother," said Arthur. "I would be in your debt!"

Vayne waved his hand dismissively. "No need for that, Brother," he said. "I have some knowledge of the means by which men on the outside take care of their afflictions of lust but I think I may need to see your condition for myself before I am able to judge which method might be the best-suited."

Arthur gulped audibly. "I-I see…" He trailed off as his gaze grew distant, his mind clearly struggling with the weight of what Vayne was asking him to do.

Vayne gave Arthur a moment before he said, "Then might I, Brother?"

"W-what?" said Arthur, having been interrupted from his thoughts.

"Might I see your condition for myself, that I might recommend a cure?"

The lump in Arthur’s throat bobbed up and down as he swallowed thickly. "Y-yes, I suppose so," he said. "M-my apologies, Brother. I-It’s just…"

"Embarrassing?" Vayne helpfully provided.

"Y-yes," Arthur squeaked. "V-very much so."

Vayne chuckled. "You needn’t worry," he said. "We are in confidence, remember?"

Arthur nodded. "Oh, yes," he said. "V-very well. If you would stand before me, I will show you the hardship that has been plaguing me."

Vayne did just that. He walked around to stand at the edge of the bed, facing Arthur. He looked down at the Brother expectantly.

Arthur released his grip on Vayne’s wrist and placed both hands on the edge of the bed. He leaned back slowly, hesitating every step of the way as he spread his legs to expose the erection tenting out the front of his sleeping garments.

Vayne stifled a laugh. "I-I can see that you are experiencing substantial hard-ship" he said.

A soft noise that could well have been characterized as a whine escaped Arthur. It was almost cute. "W-what do you think, Brother? I-is there a means to put an end to this waking nightmare?"

Vayne clicked his tongue. "I am not certain…" he said, teasing Arthur as he trailed off. "Might I ask how long this has been a problem?"

Arthur nodded, the motion halting and hesitant. "I-I first noticed it a few days ago. I would be going about my business and it would spring up, pulsing with insistent need…

"T-the dreams started soon after and things have only gotten worse since. At first I was able to remedy the matter with sheer force of will but that is no longer the case…

"With every day that goes past, I strain in my breeches for longer and more often than the last. Three hours now, my loins have ached, and I know not what else to do!"

Vayne nodded. "I have indeed heard of this," he said.

"You have?" said Arthur, sitting bolt upright as if he’d been struck by lightning. "Then pray, brother, is there a cure?"

Vayne schooled his expression into something grim. "First, I shall have to ensure that your condition is indeed the one I am thinking of," he said.

"Tell me what you need, Brother, and I shall make it so," said Arthur.

Vayne suppressed the urge to smirk. He kept his expression grave and somber as he looked Arthur in the eye and said, "I shall have to see it unrestricted, Brother."

Arthur’s eyes widened. "U-unrestricted?" he stammered.

Vayne nodded. "You will need to remove your breeches, Brother."

Arthur gulped. "B-but to do such a thing—!" He looked down and gripped the edge of the bed. "Is there no other way? To expose myself to someone I will not be wedded to—and a man, no less—is improper!"

Vayne nodded gravely. "I’m afraid it is the only way," he said.

Arthur frowned. "I-I appreciate your help, Brother, but this I cannot do. The scriptures are clear!"

Pinching the bridge of his nose, Vayne sighed. "I know, Brother. This is why I do not ask this of you lightly. But you must understand. Your immortal soul hangs in the balance."

Arthur’s eyes went wide.

"Left untreated, your lust may well run rampant, corrupting you and consuming you, damning you to a death beyond the reach of the Light."

The pallor of Arthur’s face was nigh-priceless. Vayne sorely wanted to laugh at the sight but he had a role to play and needed to make do with gloating inwardly.

"I-in that case…" Arthur hesitantly brought his fingers to the laces of his sleeping garments. "S-surely He would not punish his faithful for seeking to preserve their purity…"

Vayne nodded. "I believe He would wish for all his beloved to join Him in the Light at the end of their journey," he said. "I am certain he would not begrudge you for doing what you must to ensure you stay on the path of the Light."

"Yes," said Arthur, more to himself than to Vayne. "Yes. That is what He would want. I believe it. Thank you, Brother. You have dispersed the fear in my heart."

Vayne smiled. "I only desire what is best for you, Brother," he said.

With remarkable dexterity, Arthur quickly undid the laces of his sleeping garments. He took a breath as he hooked his thumbs into the waistband. He rose off the bed, partially, and pushed, forcing the coarse linen halfway down his thighs.

The head of Arthur’s cock caught on the waistband for a moment, but not for long. It sprang free shortly thereafter, just as he was falling back onto the bed.

It was a far cry from the biggest Vayne had ever seen; Edric, young as he was, was already substantially better endowed. It was, however undeniably pretty, much like its owner.

And such a pretty sight did Arthur make as he leaned back, arms braced against the mattress for stability. The light shining through the window illuminated him in the soft rays of the sunrise from behind.

With the light shining through his hair, Arthur would have looked the picture of a saint with a golden halo around his head. If only his face weren’t flushed and his sensuously parted.

In that moment, Arthur’s countenance would have looked divine were it not for the utter vulgarity that was on display past his waist. His cock, which was quite long but slender enough that Vayne could likely wrap his thumb and index finger around it with a little overlap, rose like a marble pillar from the space between his legs.

Arthur was as hard as an iron rod and his length bobbed ever so slightly up and down as it throbbed. Moreover, Arthur was leaking profusely. Pre-cum glistened as it traced a path down the underside of his cock, the trickle following the side of a particularly juicy vein as it wound its way down his erection.

Vayne resisted the urge to lick his lips. "I shall have to examine it from up close, Brother," he said.

"A-alright," Arthur gasped.

Arthur was one of the most fastidious rule-followers Vayne had ever known. He wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Arthur had never had his erection out in the open and indeed, he suspected such to be the case.

It was likely the reason for the soft noise of alarm and pleasure that then spilled from Arthur’s lips. It was one thing to have a hard cock tenting out the front of one’s breeches or pressing up against one’s thigh. It was another thing entirely for the flesh to be exposed to the elements, to feel the caress of the air and the draft against the skin.

A thick glob of pre-cum spurted from the tip of Arthur’s weeping cock as the scarlet shade coloring his cheeks deepened further.

Vayne was all but certain he would have a lot of fun teasing Arthur. "Then I shall begin, Brother," he said as he sank to his knees.

Arthur tensed up as Vayne shuffled into the space between his legs. "I-I should prefer it if you did not touch it…" said Arthur as he tried to look anywhere but at his raging erection.

"I should not have to," said Vayne. Nor, for that matter, did he intend to.

This was the perfect opportunity to tease Arthur and he wasn’t about to let it slip from his grasp. Besides, the more he wound Arthur up, the easier it would be to manipulate him.

Men, him included, did not tend to do much thinking with the head on their shoulders once they were aroused enough. The head between their legs was much more amenable and eager to do anything for the next bit of pleasure.

It was almost pathetic how incapable the Brothers were at resisting sexual temptation but that was simply the end result of how they were trained to approach sexuality. Simple temptations like attractive men and women were trivial matters but they withered almost immediately under a concerted effort.

Arthur would be no different, if Vayne had to guess. Much like his own noble upbringing combined with the Church’s repression had rendered him powerless against Master Azzagg, Arthur’s would have sheltered him to the point of dysfunction.

That Arthur didn’t even know how to masturbate was proof of that. The poor man must have read that it was forbidden in the scriptures and never asked what it was and why it was verboten.

While he’d promised not to touch Arthur, Vayne came as tantalizingly close to doing so as he could. He leaned forward on his his knees to get a closer look and cupped the air around Arthur’s cock with his fingers.

He watched it twitch and leak before him. It was such a pretty cock he was having a hard time holding back, but it was all just a part of the game to get Arthur as desperate as he possibly could.

"Is… Is it bad, Brother?" Arthur whispered.

Vayne glanced up and saw a pair of bright blue eyes staring down at him. "I’ll be a moment longer, Brother," he said. "Such delicate things as this must never be rushed."

"O-of course."

Now he knew Arthur was watching, Vayne put his plan in motion. He pretended to examine Arthur’s length closely. He made sure his fingertips were just hovering over the skin.

Looking up again to ensure that Arthur’s attention was fully on him, he moved his fingers. He curled each one slightly, one after the other, mimicking a wave or a ripple to give the appearance that he was stroking Arthur’s cock.

As Vayne had hoped, Arthur squirmed as a result. "M-must you do that, Brother?" Arthur squeaked.

"I am afraid so," said Vayne.

"I-I thought you said you wouldn’t touch it?" Arthur whined.

Vayne hid the smirk that tugged on his lips. "I am not touching it," he said.

"Hah…" Arthur groaned. The bed shifted under his weight and Vayne snuck a glance up just in time to see Arthur toss his head back. "It feels like you are!" he complained.

"I apologize," said Vayne. This was turning out to be even more of a triumph than he’d anticipated. He did need Arthur’s attention to be on him, though. "If you would look closely, you would see that I am not."

Arthur whined softly. His cock bobbed as his chest rose and fell with shallow breaths. "I-it really feels like you are," he groaned.

"Peace, Brother," said Vayne gently. "It won’t be long now."

He leaned in as close as he could. Arthur smelled clean. Washed. There was a masculine musk under light fragrance of the soap but it was faint. It nevertheless made Vayne’s body tingle.

"B-Brother!" Arthur said in a hoarse and brittle voice. "S-something’s happening!"

Vayne chuckled inwardly. He should have known something like this would happen.

Considering how Arthur’s cock had swelled and throbbed with just the motion of his fingers in its vicinity, it was no surprise that he’d managed to bring the poor man right to the edge of orgasm with just the heat of his careful breaths.

All at once, Vayne pulled away. He removed his fingers from around Arthur’s cock and leaned back so that his breath would no longer ghost along the sensitive length of the neglected member.

Arthur groaned with what sounded like disappointment before he could catch himself. "I-is everything alright, Brother?" he said softly after taking a few deep breaths to, ostensibly, regain his composure.

Vayne nodded. "Yes," he said, sighing with artificial but certainly palpable relief. "Yes. I know what you must do. But I may have some bad news…"

Arthur frowned. "Bad news?" he said hesitantly. "Pray, Brother. Tell me, please!"

Vayne suppressed the urge to smirk. He had Arthur. Hook, line, and sinker. It wouldn’t be too long now before he got his hands on the Lord Commander himself.

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