Ruin came to his feet so fast that his chair fell over and went scraping away across the floor; that two-handed scimitar of his was halfway out of its sheath before he stilled himself. He was staring directly across the room, directly at Darvinin. Nobody else moved; even Sam looked surprised. The tavern had gone silent around them, again.
So much for subtlety, Darvinin thought. Still, the High Provost knew Ruin was back, would be seeing their mother in the Privy Council, and probably wouldn't find it remarkable that the brothers were reunited as well. Wishful thinking, he decided. The High Provost will try to use this however he can. But it was too late for secrecy now. And if rumors spread of this, of a Twice-Born drawing steel in a tavern, word would also spread that the High Provost worshipped Vecna and was working against the greater good of Duendewood; if the gods were kind, it might balance out.
Darvinin said, "My brother," and let the words hang there.
Ruin stepped to the side, twisting his head to look at Darvinin from another angle. "You survived."
"No," he replied. "Your death half-killed me, and I am not yet healed."
Ruin looked away. "It didn't do me any favors, either." He slammed his blade back into its sheath.
"No," said Mistra, "I imagine it didn't."
Ruin turned to look at her, then looked again at Darvinin. "This is Mistra," he said. "We were -- we are -- lovers."
Ruin nodded. "Another of the True Prince's honor guard?"
She nodded back. "The same. I had hoped to meet you under better circumstances."
Ruin relaxed, albeit slightly. "I would have also," he said, and a small wave of relief passed through Darvinin.
"How did you come here?" asked Darvinin. "We planned to visit the house, to present ourselves in disguise."
"You know what we're dealing with," Ruin said. "Deceptions piled on deceptions. Mother blocked sight of the house, so when a stray dog approached us in the street I assumed that someone had decided on another approach. I followed it back, and found it talking to Shanna."
Darvinin moved closer and Mistra moved with him, keeping her hand in his. "If we came to your house this evening," said Mistra, "could your mother check us over and be certain that we are what we seem?"
Ruin considered. "That... might be for the best." He looked at Darvinin. "I know she would like to see you; she's been worried. And I'm sure she'd like to meet you," he added, looking at Mistra, "along with Shanna and her companions."
Behind him, Sam said: "Meet the wizard Baethira? In person? Oh hell yes."
"Then it's decided, O my allies," said Ruin, and strode forward to envelop his brother in a hug tight enough to make Darvinin's ribs ache. Mistra let go of his hand so he could respond, and he wrapped his arms around Ruin as well. "Come tonight." He turned to look back at Evrimon. "And no more trying to imitate stray animals."
"No, m'lord," said Evrimon. "Thank you for not murdering me."