Our protag is on his way to avenge his brother's murder, at night, when he runs into Julian, who's been waiting for him. Julian's attention has been attracted by the silver medallions our protag's horse is wearing, and he's tried to buy them. Julian is working for the Emperor but our protag hasn't twigged this yet :)
"I hear the silver market's depressed," I said. "Although that for gold is buoyant."
His eyes narrowed, pinching his whole face. In the next moment, however, his expression relaxed.
"That's not how to bargain, Aquilla," he told me.
Had he thought it a casual remark? And there I was trying to be clever.
"You are free with my name--what is yours?"
"You are slow," he said, also with a smile. "Perhaps it's the clothes? The context? I don't disguise myself, yet I'm never recognised...I believe I could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my brother, and never be known." His eyebrows were raised, and he held the torch so close to his face that I feared his hair would catch. "No? Well, we have different mothers, of course. Perhaps that makes the difference?"
I studied him, trying to map his face onto those of people I knew.
He sighed. "I know what you see when you look at me, but when you look at him.... What do his young hounds see?"
"You're Radea's brother?"
This was like being hit by a shell. [Like getting conched on the head.]
"Is it so hard to believe?"
It was--very. I might have said, impossible. Yet he had been quick to come to Radea's defence on the airship. What a fool he must have thought me.
"Don't look so dismayed," he added. "It's very useful to me to be thought nothing of, believe me."
The black was done scratching. I pulled his reins over his head, and began leading him to where the track began. Radea's brother fell in alongside me, abandoning his mules.
"You must not," he said.
"I want justice for my brother."
"There are more important--"
"Not to me--" shoving him away "--not for me."
His hand seized my arm. "Must I fetch Aquinus Caesar to make you do as you are bid?"
[Well done. The gold/silver line sounded like a code greeting between spies. In context, I'm sure we'd see why Aquilla thinks it's so clever and why Radea thinks it isn't.]