It was on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon that Peter Sully decided he was going to kill Rudyard Lynden.
“I could have done it!” he yelled, trying to ignore the little stabs of pain as skin on his chest pulled at the stitches that had been put in place mere hours ago. “If you hadn’t tried to stop me-“
“- then you would have gotten yourself killed, and everyone else killed, and then where would we be, you stupid boy?” Rud Lynden cut him off with the same impassive, stern tone as always, leaving Peter seething with rage. Because he had been flying across a rooftop using a wire because he knew he could get to the other side and take the targets out, except he hadn’t, because a certain someone interfered, and the wire snapped, and Peter tumbled into the narrow alleyway and cut his chest open on a railing in the process.
The operation had quickly fallen apart from there, and the rest of the Lynden field operatives had vaguely clumped around, unsure of what to do, as their lead tactician was bleeding out on the street. Rud had restored some semblance of order and herded everyone back to to the mansion with minimal injuries, although the criminals had gotten away scot free.
All in all, it had been a bloody, irritating morning, and now the Lynden House hung heavy with the air of a failed mission.
“I could have done it,” Peter repeated stubbornly.
“No you couldn’t.”
“You would have let Demetri do it.”
Rud’s face turned very, very white, and Peter knew he’d made a mistake. Very few people in the Lynden House knew about Rud’s deceased son, and those who did were never brought him up. The subject of Demetri was taboo, forbidden.
“You,” he said in a hushed tone, “are not Demetri.”
It was like someone had sucked all the air out of the room. Peter stood stock still, waiting for an explosion of rage or something equally terrible. But all he got from the man he considered his father was an unfathomable look, a barely imperceptible tremble, and then a simple sentence: “You’re late for training.”
Peter’s ribs protested wildly at the prospect, but he didn’t think it wise to protest.
“Come on, please, Sully- harder, harder!” Sreejoen Lee’s voice rose several octaves as Peter repeatedly punched at her. The training arena shook in his vision; his chest felt like it was on fire. He drew his fist back, threw it wildly, and missed completely, succeeding only in unbalancing himself.
Sreejoen laughed and aimed an impossibly strong roundhouse kick at his stomach, flooring him in an instant. Peter rolled over, clutching his stitches.
Sreejoen Lee was twenty-three years old, a nationally recognized martial artist, and a former Lynden orphan. Since graduating from college, she had returned to Riverrun at the bequest of Rud to train the next generation of Lynden orphans. Widely considered to be one of the best martial artists in the world, the residents of the Lynden House were frankly terrified of her. But her training was invaluable.
“Man, Sully,” Sreejoen cooed, flipping her long, black braid over her shoulder as she placed a foot on Peter’s chest. “You’re kinda off your game.”
Peter glared up at her, trying to pretend that he wasn’t struggling to breath. “I hate you.”
Sreejoen just laughed and kick him in the ribs. “Troy,” she called to the students waiting from the sidelines while Peter writhed in pain. “You’re up.”