"When I find out who is responsible for this," Piotr said, enunciating the words slowly and clearly despite the amount of maple mead he had consumed, "I am going to disembowel him and decorate the room with his guts."
It couldn't, strictly speaking, be called a bedroom, being not much more than a narrow cave closed off from the passage with a heavy curtain. A straw-stuffed mattress covered with a heap of tattered woollen blankets, a wooden box containing spare kit, a shallow clay bowl and covered pot in a corner: this was what the Dendarii mountains offered the General. And, sometimes, his aide-de-camp.
Ezar followed Piotr in, letting the curtain fall shut again behind them, then stopped as he saw what had drawn Piotr's ire. There was something red all over the room; the dancing shadows from the oil lamp Piotr held made it look like they were moving. Ezar stooped, picked one up and discovered it was a rose petal.
They had celebrated a notable victory today when Ezar's engineers had breached a passage for a torrent of water from a mountain lake to sweep down onto a large Ceta base. Not even all the Ceta's clever tech had been a match for the inexorable water, and the whole base had been washed away. "Even our land and our water fight for us," Piotr had proclaimed afterwards in a victory speech. Those speeches always followed the same pattern for Ezar: he knew all the rhetorical tricks, he'd heard it all before and made many of them himself, and yet before Piotr was halfway through he would be listening like the rawest recruit, spellbound, heartbound. After the speech Piotr had allowed the men to broach a barrel of maple mead, and they'd toasted with the men, laughed and sang. Ezar had watched his General with his men, and waited for his turn to come.
"It's roses," Ezar said blankly. "How the fuck did anyone--"
Piotr whirled on him. "This wasn't your idea, then?"
Ezar glared back. "How much of that mead did you have?" he retorted, and Piotr barked a laugh and pushed him against the rough wall of the cave.
"No," he breathed in Ezar's ear, "you're not the sort for roses, are you?"
Ezar broke away and pulled Piotr with him over to the mattress, crunching rose petals under his boots as he went. Piotr flopped down on the bed of roses, picked up a handful and tossed them at Ezar.
"Smells better, anyway," he said. "Come here."
Kly and Ross had slipped out of the party earlier, Ezar recalled. He'd assumed they'd been leaving for much the same reason that he and Piotr were here now, but this prank would also explain their sidelong glances and choked outbursts of laughter. It must have taken some planning. There had been wild roses rambling along the side of a hill on the return journey, but he hadn't noticed anyone picking anything. Kly was sneaky as they made them, and it must be rubbing off on Ross at last. Good.
He unlaced his boots and Piotr's too, and extinguished the oil lamp. "I know who did it," he said as Piotr drew him down like an extra blanket across himself. "I have a much better revenge in mind." Someone, after all, was going to have to clean all this up in the morning.
"Good," said Piotr distractedly, and rolled him over, his face in a puddle of rose petals.
Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/166508.html. There are comments there.