Private Tales Muscle

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Arwyl Minras

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"Tickets?" growled the orc covering the door.

"Of course," Arwyl replied happily. Two coins appeared in his hand from nowhere. They weren't quite coins. They were roughly cut pieces of hammered copper. Each had the logo of the Red Stag pressed into the surface.

"As I was saying..." Arwyl continued to Kaius as they were allowed inside, "...we need to recruit."

They were greeted by a braying crowd. A heavy scent of spilled beer, sweat and blood. Crude wooden benches surrounded a raised platform. Two bare chested, unarmed men circled one another in the ring.

There were dark corners and even darker corners. Gambling in the open and private gambling.

"I was thinking..." said Arwyl, looking around the fighting pit, "...that we need to get you a bodyguard."
 
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Kaius

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He really wished the young prince would stop insisting on visiting such establishments. Just because they were in the Falwood didn't mean there weren't traitors. If he was recognised, there were plenty who'd serve them both up to Vel Anir with juicy apples in their mouths. He'd given up arguing and wore his usual brooding demeanour as he followed Arwyl inside.

Recruitment generally meant he had other plans. Especially in a place like this. He was looking for brute muscle, and Kaius huffed to himself as he cast his mossy gaze over the dreary place. It wasn't the sort of place Arwyl would ever have found himself in if his mother had anything to do with it, and just by accompanying him here caused him to feel a pang of guilt. It wasn't like he had much choice, the little bastard wouldn't listen to him.

"Bodyguard?!" Kaius was finally paying attention and turned to glare at the elf incredulously, a few faces turning to regard him as his voice rose above some of the rabble. "Why the f--" he caught himself and clenched his jaw, squeezing his hands into fists and letting them go again.. "What makes you think I need or want a ... bodyguard?" he frowned irritably. "I may be old to you, boy, but I could put every man in this place on his arse without magic or weapon.." he scowled.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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"I don't think you could put that on its arse!" Arwyl mused. He didn't want to point at the lump of muscle, so he tilted his head towards it. They must have taken a wall off building just to get him inside and so Arwyl didn't want to seem rude.

"You took an arrow to the arse Kaius. It could have been the heart. I've got you and Riznak watching my back. You could do with a bit more help."

Arwyl gave a shrug as he looked around. He needed someone to talk to about odds. Putting down a few coins and seeing the books would give him a good idea about who was worth talking to.

"Besides, they're supposed to slow cook some really good pork ribs here!"
 
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Kaius

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Kaius' lips pressed thinly as he regarded the giant wall of muscle and he huffed to himself. "No, but I can definitely run faster." he growled quietly and turned to glower at Arwyl with a clenching jaw as he held back from losing his temper.

"So your answer to that problem isn't to keep yourself and your people safe by not leading them into trouble in the first place, but to get us a little more muscle in case we get shot at, to spare you the guilt should we die for it?.." Kaius laughed under his breath but there was no amusement in it. "Stop me if I'm wrong."

"Perhaps you're ready to fight on your own, without my protection and I can keep an eye on my own arse for once." he quirked a brow. "I led your family's armies for almost a century and survived it, you cheeky little shit, now in a few short years with you at the helm my life has hung in the balance more times than I care to think about." he frowned at the elf and glanced around. "Even being here is putting us both at risk." he muttered, catching a few sets of eyes apparently sizing him up for a fight in the ring.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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That wasn't it. Arwyl would have felt guilt, but that wasn't all of it. Kaius meant far more to him that he would ever admit. He was the closest thing he had to family left in all the world. Kaius had been there for him for just as many years as his mother and through far more deadly and formative experiences.

Kaius had always been there. That arrow had been too close. There would be more violence. The Anirians encroached and even if they found somewhere to set up a new town they would end up having to defend it.

"Things are going to get worse before they get better so maybe you should take a well earned retirement. It would reduce the moaning a lot."

"Besides, no weapons allowed in here but that's never been an issue for us. Worst case we get a few beers in and watch some fighting."
 
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Kaius

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Kaius clenched his jaw so hard he feared his teeth might break. Retirement?...He could only stare at the elf in consternation, a flicker of hurt in his eyes before he dragged them away. He sighed. “Whilst I still have breath in my lungs and blood in my veins you know well that my place is with you, wherever that is. You’re just... not where you’re supposed to be.” He commented in a tone of defeat.

He found them a quiet table tucked away in a cove with a balcony overlooking the ring, meaning they wouldn’t need to watch their backs.

“Thank you lass.” He dipped his chin to the pretty barmaid who brought two flagons of ale to the table and he tilted his chair back to recline against the wall as he drank and watched, his mood obviously sour.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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"I know," he sighed, as if the thought tired him out. Kaius wouldn't go and put himself somewhere safe. He had served their family more than they deserved, more than Arwyl deserved.

"Big guy or little guy?" Arwyl asked. Stepping up was a half...something. Definitely not all human.

"What do you think he is? Part orc or just a human who had been force-fed eggs his entire life then beaten with an ugly stick?"

Facing him was a dark elf who was more scar than elf.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius studied the fighters for a moment and gave a quiet huff, as though being forced to play along in some ridiculous game. "Little guy looks like he has issues getting out of the way quickly enough..But then I doubt the big guy is going anywhere fast.." his brow arched. "My coins on the elf.." he dipped his chin and took a long drink of his ale.

"He is damn fuckin' ugly though.." he muttered as he set the drink down on the sticky surface of the table and licked his upper lip. "Should've brought Riz and made ourselves some coin.." he snorted and folded his arms to watch as the fight kicked off.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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"Riz would have enjoyed blowing off some steam too," Arwyl laughed. "But he probably needs to rest some of his bruises for a while."

If they didn't find a bodyguard, then Arwyl would be glad if some time to drink and talk to Kaius. They lived long lives, but they had compressed a lot into the last few weeks. Arwyl needed to try and work through some of that.

"Well my coin goes on the big one then," Arwyl laughed.

"No private wagers!" hissed someone behind them.

"Odds? We'll have a wager on each." Arwyl turned to see a halfling carrying a thick book. There were no words in there. The bookie probably couldn't even write properly, but he could manage his own language of checks and marks for the wagers.

"Three to two on the Shillena. Five to three on Grok."

"Mins on Grok, assuming that's the big one," Arwyl said pleasantly, handing over a few coins. They might have thrown most of those gems away to avoid the anirians tracing them to the ends of Arethil, but they had done well enough from looting.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius fished out a few coins and slid them across the table toward the halfling.. "Shillena." The word tumbled out in a huff and he sat back again. The tavern wench was back before long to refill their flagons. She was the flirtatious type, and spared them both a little more attention than was necessary, leaning over them, suggestive smirking, a wink as she swayed her hips on her way back to the bar. Kaius watched with disinterest and shook his head a little.

"We should've brought Riley." he commented dryly. "I know she'll be safe enough with Riz but, I know a couple of the others still haven't completely come around to the idea of having her join us, whether they express their opinions or not. I'm not sure what else the girl needs to do to convince them that she's one of us." he muttered over his ale and winced as Shillena took a straight, meaty fist to the face but somehow managed to recover quickly.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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Meanwhile Arwyl watched with at least a passing interest as the wench walked away. His attention returned to the fight.

Arwyl hadn't expected the little one to take a straight punch and stay standing. The odds had probably been a little too in favour of the big one of the drow could take a hit like that. He was ducking and weaving now.

"I didn't think to ask," he said. "She'll be safe though," he added firmly.

"But hey, this way you have me alone to have a good whinge about all the things I've done wrong recently!"
 
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Kaius

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Kaius' icy facade melted a little and his cheeks dimpled with a grin.. "Is that what I am to you? The grumpy old bastard that 'whinges' about everything you do wrong?.." he laughed in genuine amusement over the rim of his flagon and downed half of it. "Fine. Boy. I'll loosen up then shall I?.." he arched a brow and dragged the back of his wrist across his lips before calling the wench back over with a request for 'something stronger'.

He grimaced at the wet slaps the drow’s fists made against the orc's stomach and sides, but the beastly thing hardly seemed to notice and simply guffawed in amusement until he took a kick to the nuts and he roared in fury.

"And you haven't done anything wrong.. You just, haven't done anything right..." he smirked. "What is it that you want, Arwyl?.."
 
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Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl didn't order another drink. An excuse to bring the wench back again in a few moments.

"Let's be honest now, you do enjoy your rants just a little bit from time to time," observed Arwyl. "Though it seems you want to cut straight to the bone with this one..."

The drow ducked under a punch. He kicked the back of the monster's knee, but used it to gain some height. He wrapped himself around his opponent's back, getting a lock around the neck.

"I want to go back to a time when I could actually be growing up. Where my name meant more than fuck all around the world. Where I didn't have the last scraps of a once great kingdom clinging to me. How about that?"

It wasn't quite true. Kaius probably knew that as well, but Arwyl could be just as stubborn and immediately went to the most antagonistic answer.
 

Kaius

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"Then stop giving me cause to rant.. I don't want to cut to the bone. I want you to start your life, Arwyl." he glanced at him with a furrowed brow and returned his gaze to the fight, but he wasn't really taking it in as he listened to the elf speak and took another long drink rather than bite the bait and respond in anger.

He let out a breath in a quiet huff. "And it could be great once more if only you put your time and energy into rebuilding it rather than trying to tear down one of the most powerful civilisations in Arethil."..He stopped talking to accept the large whisky the wench brought over and he flipped a coin onto her tray and waited for her to leave, but she took her time about it, deciding to give the table a bit of a polish just so that she could lean over and smile coquettishly. Kaius cleared his throat..

As the woman left, he stretched his arms into the air and laced his hands together behind his head to continue watching the fight, the draw rolling around in the dirt trying to avoid the orc's pounding fists and stamping feet.

"You have a name, whether you want it or not you were born with it, and it means something. Mine means nothing, and you'd have me fail the most important thing I've been entrusted with in my life, out of stubbornness." he grumbled and threw back his whisky.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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This time he did not pay the wench much attention at all, despite her best efforts swinging back and forth to clear the table.

"My failures shouldn't be your failures. You should have been asked to get me away safe. Just that."

Arwyl looked down at his mug. He gave the beer a brief swirl around, letting the suds disperse.

"This beer doesn't taste great."

He was speaking more softly, taking care over his words. His expression kept being pulled between anger and sadness, finally settling on something that captured both.

"I still hear the sounds every night," he admitted for the first time. "I know I was young, but I remember looking back and hoping that everything would be alright. It was the time they lit the fires. Right before the screaming started."

"The beer doesn't taste good. Nothing tastes good. The whole fucking world is grey and empty. I would have died without you. But there's no joy for me."
 

Kaius

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Kaius was dragged into the elf's memory of the night he'd carried him out of the city and he rubbed at his face with a heavy sigh. He remembered trying to stop the boy from looking back and the look on his face when he'd heard his people's terror. "You wanted to go back and get them out. Didn't speak a word to me for a week straight." Kaius told him with a frown. "If I could have I would have.. But you were my priority." he huffed quietly. "Still are." he dropped his gaze and let a pregnant silence fall between them. The wench brought him another whisky without him asking for one, but he dipped his chin in thanks never-the-less.

He watched the fight go on as he spoke. Shillena looked like he was tiring the orc out now. "You haven't failed at anything yet. You just haven't accomplished anything yet either. If I die before seeing you take up your throne like you're supposed to then I fail. In these past few years I've faced death far too many times, and one of these days, the odds are going to be against me. We've lost men and women, for what cause? We're a thorn in Vel Anir's side, that much is certain, but they'll never bleed out from a wound that small. Build. Arwyl. Build a kingdom, then - then you can build your army. It takes time and patience, we've been gifted with the long lives to see empires rise and fall and rise again, but you are still young and you risk throwing away any chance with your zeal and impatience. I'm afraid that by the time you realise this it'll be too late."

He stopped speaking as the Orc slammed his meaty fists into the elf's head and gripped hold of it, crushing it together until there was an audible crack and the elf went limp. There was silence for a moment, and then uproar. Kaius' gaze fell back to his whisky.

"Your parents were good people, Arwyl. I respected your father very much, he was a great King, and your mother.." his jaw clenched. "I loved your mother very much. She gave me a chance, and I vowed to spend every day of my life from then on trying to prove myself worthy of it." He threw back the whisky and let out a sigh.

"You can find joy if you let yourself.." he commented quietly, watching as the dark elf's limp body was dragged from the pit.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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Arwyl fell into a particular, thoughtful kind of silence. For an elf, memories were like find strands woven through a thick mesh. Memories were not blocks hastily thrown together. It could take time to sort through all the threads. He was young. When he reached Kaius' age there would be so many memories to string together.

Hearing of his parents hurt. It always would, even if it became less with each year. Kaius was always respectful of his father, but there was adoration for his mother.

Arwyl didn't know what to say. He certainly didn't immediately jump to any grand plans. Perhaps they did need to start with something, no matter how small. At least a base, somewhere beyond Vel anir's reach.

"I know," he said into his mug. A pause long enough for Kaius to consider what Arwyl meant be that

"I know you do actually care. And I always give you a hard time for it and you don't deserve it."
 
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Kaius

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It was the way he said it and the silence he left after saying it that caused Kaius to lift his moss-green gaze in a sideways glance at the young elf. The pause was far too long and he felt his nerves stir uncomfortably. His brow rose in mute expectation of his elaboration, and when it finally came his attention dropped to the empty whisky glass in his hand. His eyes creased at the corners as he smiled..

“I’ll take that as an apology. As good a place to start as any.” He grinned and leaned back to stretch his arms behind his head.

The halfling with the thick book returned to wordlessly dump Arwyl’s winnings in front of him, and the bar wench, apparently having heard the coins hit the table, was over like a shot to lean over the red headed elf as she collected Kai’s empty glasses.

“Can I get you boys another round?..” she asked musically.

“Aye. It’s on him.” Kai smirked.
 

Arwyl Minras

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The most stubborn part of Arwyl wanted to demand that Kaius apologised for something in turn. He realised that he didn't know what he wanted an apology for. He also knew it would be unfair given that he technically hadn't apologised properly in the first place.

"Another round on me then," he said, providing another tip. There was a balance to be struck. He liked her lingering - or at least the view - but he also did not want someone listening to every part of the conversation.

"I fancied the drow for that one to be honest. Don't like the look of the orc for us, too quick to murder. He enjoyed that."

That part of the conversation he did want overheard. He suspected the news that the two elves were looking to hire would reach the right ears very quickly now she knew.

"No matter where we go, if Vel Anir keeps growing they'll eventually swallow us up. But we could travel south west, closer to the coast. Further from what was home, but further from the humans too."
 
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Kaius

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The curvy wench flashed a perfect smile at Arwyl and dipped her chin in acknowledgment before returning to the bar, hips swaying flirtatiously. Kaius watched the display with a quirk of his brow as he looked to Arwyl..

"I can leave, you know..." he commented with a snort and shook his head. His eyes were on those milling around inside the pit, but his lips twitched into a wry smile as Arwyl started thinking of more sensible plans. His throat cleared and he gave a brief nod.

"Good. Wise." he answered firmly, and his gaze narrowed on the orc who refused to leave the ring, demanding his next opponent. Another skull to crush.

"Elena!" a man called irritably, and an elven woman hopped the barrier. Before he'd even seen her fight it was clear that the woman was strong. She was as tall as Kaius and her body was sinewy and honed, and she carried herself with confidence toward the centre of the ring. There was discussion and agreement, and both opponents took to either side of the ring.

"ALRIGHT GET YOUR BETS IN - ELENA WILL FACE GROK!! GET YOUR BETS IN!!"

Kaius waved over the halfling and he opened his book so that Kaius could place a silver coin on the opened page. "Elena." he nodded, and sat forward and crossed his arms on the table to watch with interest.

The wench returned with their drinks, Kaius spared her a brief glance and a quiet thank you.

"You're welcome, handsome.. If there's anything else I can get for you both.." she purred, her attention on Arwyl and her hand reaching to smooth over his shoulder and squeeze suggestively at his bicep. Kaius' eyes rolled.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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"I can leave, you know..."

"We are enjoying the view but not here to attempt to besmirch what little honour that barmaid may have left..." Arwyl laughed.

He said said as he continued watching. His attention was finally drawn away back to the fight.

It felt fair to bet on Grok again. He has thought the drow would have won, but had simply bet against Kaius. Now it felt like this was the game between them. He was even more certain the elf would put up a serious fight.

"You're welcome, handsome.. If there's anything else I can get for you both.." she purred, her attention on Arwyl and her hand reaching to smooth over his shoulder and squeeze suggestively at his bicep. Kaius' eyes rolled.

"Well aren't you attentive. Some cheese and bread would be good. And maybe... You might know who we can talk to around here about hiring some muscle for real work?"
 
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Kaius

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Kaius snorted into his cup as he drank down half of his whisky, watching the crowd start to gather around the pit. The orc was trying to frighten the elven woman by thumping his fists against his chest and jaw, saliva spitting and drooling from his broken tusks as he snarled and roared in her direction. The woman stared back, expressionless and unamused. There was a solidness to her, as though a flood could wash around her without uprooting her feet. Kaius had a knack for spotting good soldiers, and she was a good soldier.

He looked up as Arwyl spoke to the wench and she nodded at the prince's request, albeit looked somewhat disappointed as his interests didn't appear to match her own.. Still she used the opportunity to lean in a lot closer than necessary to speak close to Arwyl's ear. "That would be Toren. He's the one who recruits for the fights.." the woman pointed to a handsome if not a little grisly human man sitting at a table in the corner. She straightened up and ran a fingertip along the underside of Arwyl's jaw. "I can also be hired for some real work." she winked and turned to wander off.

"Seven hells.." Kaius muttered to himself and looked to Arwyl after she was out of earshot. "She'll be riddled with disease, don't you dare." he warned, but there was amusement in his expression.

The wench returned with the food Arwyl had asked for as well as another round of drinks they hadn't asked for, and by then the fight was ready to kick off. Kaius leaned forward to watch with interest, his mossy gaze narrowed somewhat more than usual thanks to the effects of the alcohol.
 
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Arwyl Minras

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"I wouldn't touch it with yours," Arwyl hissed under his breath.

The orc circled, relishing the challenge. His broad, muscled arms were thrown wide. He was clearly looking for another grapple. He stepped in and the elf darted underneath the arm.

Arwyl heard a series of sounds, so rapid they almost blended together. The orc snarled, turning about. His left hand went to his ribs where Elena had struck him three times.

"Hello..." went Arwyl.

The wench thought she was being addressed and looked distinctly put out when she realised Arwyl's eyes were on the elf in the arena.
 
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Kaius

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Kaius let out a loud snort at Arwyl's words, his eyes creasing as his grin managed to reach them.

His gaze remained fixed on the fight, hardly daring to blink for a moment for fear of missing a move. The oafish orc was utterly bewildered each time he swung his arms and they smashed and grabbed at nothing but air. Kaius was quite sure he'd never seen anyone move so quickly and his mossy hues followed the woman as she ran rings around the raging creature.

Another few slaps of fist of flesh and the orc staggered and fell to his knees only to be met with a jab to the throat and an elbow to the temple, and he collapsed like a falling tree, sending up a plume of dust around him. Elena had barely broken a sweat, but she curled a lock of blonde hair back behind her ear and strode out of the ring to the sound of stunned silence. The sound was palpable, and it was clear that most bets had been placed on Grok given his last display, and since he'd been facing a woman most had seen it as a no-brainer. Kaius smirked as the place erupted with a roar of fury.

"Can we keep her?.." Kaius smirked, echoing the words that Arwyl had once said to him about Riley.
 

Arwyl Minras

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"That is definitely the new plan," said Arwyl, watching her leave the ring. Grok hadn't been a bad fighter. They had watched him adapt to a more agile opponent and succeed, but Elena had barely even broken a sweat.

Arwyl pushed off of the table and downed the rest of his drink. He felt entire bold enough to go and talk to Toren. There was a no weapon policy here with everyone searched on the way in, but he could draw a crack in the magic field itself and turn it into a weapon.

As he approached the table two men stood up to move close enough to intercept him. What Arwyl noticed immediately ws that they were armed.

"I'd like to talk to Toren. I'm..."

"I know who you are," Toren said, wearing a smug grin very easily. "Extremist elves. Up to all kinds of trouble."

Arwyl fixed the man with a cold stare. He didn't know how he had been marked.

"But you've come here to talk, hopefully with serious money, rather than pulling some 'free the slaves' nonsense," said Toren before Arwyl could say anything else. "And between you and me...I can't be too picky about who I do business with. Back room."
 
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