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None of the Shepherds seemed to know much about Gaius’s past. Well, it was possible Maribelle did. They appeared to be close, but she and Niles were too repulsed by each other for a conversation to go anywhere useful.

That meant Niles had to spend a night digging for information in Ylissian criminal circles.

Gaius’s reputation was actually not that terrible. He was even known for being a bit soft, refusing to kill those who he thought didn’t deserve it and once being pressured into a scheme with the threat of the death of some noble girl he didn’t even know. His darkest secrets weren’t violent in nature; they were past addictions to substances far worse than sugar. That was really the only thing Niles could use against him that everyone couldn’t have already guessed, though at this point he didn't suspect he would have to.

Someone grabbed Niles from around a corner and shoved into a wall. He was face to face with Gaius.

“I know what you’re doing here.”

Well, this was going to be interesting. It was very rare that someone caught Niles in his research, and also rare for someone to sneak up on him so smoothly, even in the night. He wouldn’t admit it, but truthfully, he was impressed. “Gaius. You just can’t keep your hands off me, can you?”

Gaius was too serious to be flustered. “What do you know?” He kept his voice steady, but there was definitely fear in his eyes.


“You’re not getting anything from me until I know what you know.”

“I don’t want anything from you. I collect information on everyone. It’s nothing personal. As long as you don’t get yourself on Prince Leo’s bad side, you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

His grip tightened and his eyes narrowed. “You better not breathe a word, or--”

“Or what? Why are you trying to bribe and threaten me when you could silence me right here and now?”

“Because we’re supposed to be on the same side, and The Order needs all the help we can get.”

“So… you really do like me.”

“You wish, Patch.” Gaius tossed him to the ground. “I mean it. If you tell anyone in The Order about--anything, I will get back at you for it.”

He really was soft. Niles couldn’t help but think with a touch of envy that Gaius was better than him… but he would never have survived in Nohr.