It’s been a couple of weeks since Bataav posted the security detail at my estate on the surface.

I spend most of my time at Astral and FedMart with Bataav, so I checked in with Aranza today to see how things are going, as I imagined it would be quite a change for her to suddenly have five armed men in body armor traipsing around the grounds and the house. Perhaps it comes from memories of my brothers, who would tear (on occasion) down the halls, whooping and hollering in some fantastic display of make-believe games and sending all manner of items crashing to the floor until my parents shooed them outside to play, where they would inevitably trample my mother’s flower garden. Not that I expect Bataav’s men to play or stomp on the plants! But Aranza has been head housekeeper for many years now and runs my home just-so, and everything there has been so quiet for so long. Five men—grown or not—suddenly tossed into the mix could be, from her point of view, trouble enough.

To my surprise, she was actually quite unruffled. The six of them have integrated very well, apparently having easily come to a kind of unspoken agreement on how to work together. The rest of the house staff have not been bothered either. Aranza said Bataav’s men—I call them a “security detail” but honestly they are really commandos—are mostly quiet and unobtrusive, very respectful of the status quo, serious about their duty, and she doesn’t often see them. They spend most of their time patrolling the grounds and the estate’s perimeter. As each ends their shift, they enter the house to take meals, and relax and sleep in the rooms provided to them, though someone does stand guard over the house at night.

She thinks they are incredibly capable and she feels very safe, which reassures me. I’ll be in good hands whenever I go home.

Aranza has the most contact with the team’s commander, Korasen; the others rarely speak when in her presence except for greetings or to express gratitude when being served meals. Anything they need (which apparently hasn’t been much; they are quite self-sufficient) they request through him. Since it’s likely they’ll be there for some time he’s asked to convert unused areas of the two basement levels into a sort of training or fitness facility for his team. They don’t want to leave the property and they need somewhere to keep up with their disciplines. I’ve given Aranza my blessing and funds to make whatever renovations are required.

There was one thing. Aranza, even at her age, has never left Intaki, and isn’t the kind of woman keen to visit places where tourists are wont to go. She likes her peace and quiet so has never had much exposure to foreigners. I’m not sure exactly what was going through her mind when she leaned close and whispered, almost with surprise and even a bit of awe, that every one of these men are not Intaki by birth. Actually, I think she finds it rather exciting!

It confirms something I had suspected. I only met Korasen briefly that day when the team arrived at the estate and noted what his appearance, and that of his colleagues’, suggested. But looks can be deceiving and at the time it wasn’t something I spared a lot of thought about, as I had other things on my mind. But as Aranza has gotten to know him a bit, he has spoken briefly about the team’s background.

I am glad, and satisfied, that they’re at my home and protecting it and me from Darac Rin. Their background really has no bearing on it. But it does give me reason to wonder about other things Bataav has told me, or rather, what he’s left out. For all that we know about each other, there are times he still feels like a stranger to me, always reluctant to open up or only giving me vague or elusive responses. It’s like he never tells me the whole truth.

I don’t like being kept in the dark, especially not by one whom I love. I wish he would trust me enough to tell me the rest.