A Reward for a Friend

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"I mean, what do you even make of this?" I flicked my fingers against the stiff parchment in my hand.

Wit never lost on my friend, he looked over the picture and sat back dramatically, "Well... About 20,000 if I hand myself  in."

I smiled unintentionally, the darkness of the ancient cellar seemed momentarily warm - and it occurred to me that I often felt that familiarity during our travels.

"Worry not, Vee, I will split my wealths, as is our agreement," his wry, one sided grin turned it's attention to slowly unbuckling the leather straps of his chitin armor. His likeness in the sketch I held stared back up at me, and it was certainly a true representation of him. Had it not been a wanted leaflet I'd have framed it - by Y'ffre maybe I still would.

"Still," I considered after a moment, "We can't just set up home down here. Burned down or not, this farm was still a known dwelling of yours. It won't be long before they get that information out of some one in the grey quarter."

 His eyes moved to the hatch in the ceiling. "I know... But what was I supposed to do? I needed somewhere quiet and quick to heal. It was never permanent." There was a quiet following his words, in which we both seemed to focus on the sound of water dripping slowly into something hollow and dark. In fact, if not for the fire I had created in the hearth, this cellar would have been entirely consumed by darkness.

Unused for quite some time, damp and brittle - I had had no choice but to use my magic to light the fire. It's unusual orange light flickered across the old stone floor and licked up at a shelf adorned in mismatched books, books that had kept Teldryn occupied during his last stay here. 

"You must have gone mad down here," I pondered, not purposefully.

"Yes.. perhaps that is where that particular string of madness took hold, with only myself for company."

I had been reading labels on some old bottles along the wall, then realising what I had said. "Oh! No I just meant..."

"Heh..." he laughed, though the sound didn't seem to leave his throat. "I had meant it as a compliment unto you, sera. I've enjoyed our travels together." Picking up a bottle, still corked, that read 'brim wine', I tried not to let him see the smile his words brought me. 

"Well there's no need to make it sound so final. Just because you're a wanted elf now... you owe me a bit more time I should think..."

His eye back on the wanted leaflet that I'd since set down on the table, he sighed, "I guess I will be needing to raise my price however... When some are willing to pay such amounts for me."

"You charge enough," I said almost to myself, scooping up another bottle and setting them both into my knapsack.  I turned my eye back to him. "Let me take another look at that wound of yours."

He seemed to wince at the very mention of it, turning from me slightly. "It' s getting there," he sighed.

"Oh stop" I said, gently sitting down beside him, pulling my knapsack along with me. I lifted the leather jerkin at his side, though the blood flow had stopped since I had tended and cleaned it on the ship, the long red crevice travelling below his ribcage was deep and still open. I breathed in, and took a balm from my bag. As I set it across the wound, I noticed Teldryn had become strangely still, and so I glanced toward his face. He had closed his eyes, steadied his own breathing and turned his head from me. 

I had rarely seen him so clearly, for when he was not wearing his chitin helmet - he often wore a red cloth across his face. Even when we had stopped at Inns, or set up camp for the night, he seemed to have a habit of concealing his appearance. He was always so sure of himself, and straight forward in his opinion, yet, in his appearance, he became so very reserved. Whilst it had never been my place to ask, the opportunity had never quite come to do so any way.

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