He followed Rien down the corridor. The more enthusiastic of the brothers walked with them, waving his hands emphatically as he asked questions and then didn’t bother waiting for the answers. Rien, however, seemed more amused than annoyed. Had he not known better, he would have taken Rien for the elder of the two. Rutger was now expounding on his own adventures, which seemed to involve having been chased across half the world by an improbable number of angry husbands.
Then again, he was related to Rien. Perhaps pissing people off just ran in the family.
Rien opened a door, then gestured for Bastien to follow. Rutger just went ahead and entered. He hadn’t been sure what to expect, given the city itself and Rien’s own standing. The first chamber was a simple sitting room. It was clean, and a fire had been laid in the fireplace. Furs were spread across the floor to serve as rugs, but rather fine tapestries hung from the walls. Several weapons had also been mounted, and he realized he was looking at trophies.
After the door closed behind them, Rutger gave Bastien an appraising look before glancing at Rien. “And you are absolutely going to have to tell me this story.” He reached out a hand to touch Bastien’s hair.
Bastien caught his hand and twisted it away, stopping just short of the force needed to break the man’s wrist. Rutger grunted, and Rien laughed. “Careful, brother. My dog has teeth.”
Rutger pulled his hand free of Bastien, and narrowed his eyes before chuckling. “I see.”
“Within these chambers you may speak freely, Bast.” Rien nodded to him.
“I think I made my point already.” Bastien shrugged.
“I’d say I want one, but frankly I prefer all my bits remain attached.” Rutger shook his head. “I will let you settle in, brother.” He hugged Rien again before leaving.
“Come.” Rien waved him deeper into the chambers. There were three bedrooms as well as another small chamber with a pallet, clearly intended for a servant. Only one of the bedrooms was furnished. The bed was massive and opulent, piled high with furs. Various treasures, likely all stolen on raids, decorated the room. Somewhat grudgingly he had to admit Rien had good taste in artwork, at least. The view from the balcony made his head swim just a little, much to Rien’s amusement, as did the fact the man had his own library.
“Out of curiosity…” Bastien picked up one of the books. “Have you ever actually opened any of these?”
“I can read.” Rien gave him a mock glare. “And yes, though I’ve not read them all. Many were already present when I claimed these quarters.” He gestured for Bastien to follow him down the hall. “I’ll have to acquire another servant. I don’t even want to consider all the ways you’d come up with to spite me if I ordered you to keep these chambers clean.”
The next room was revealed to be a bath chamber, and even the Duke’s had not been quite so impressive. The bath was a massive pool sunk into the floor. He’d wager at its deepest it would come up to his chest. It took him a moment to realize the water was being drawn up through pipes, and drained away via a similar mechanism. A fire had been laid in some kind of trencher that heated a basin filled with water, creating steam. He was trying to figure out why the steam didn’t flow into the living chambers when he realized it was likely related to how the water was heated in the first place. “Magic?”
“Laid into the stone centuries ago.” Rien nodded. He waved a hand toward a stone bench. “Lose the armor. And the clothes.”
His body tensed, then he made himself nod before going over to obey the order.