Chapter 8: No Deal

The old man eyed Vicco suspiciously, his face barely visible in the lab’s dimness. “Why?”

“I just offered to pay the money you’re owed, and you ask why? Is that not what you want?” The captain struggled to keep a calm, level-headed tone, despite the growing impatience inside of him.

“I do not care what you have to do, but get him out of Nau.” 

Ralk’s voice rumbled through his mind, giving Vicco’s offer more urgency. The beast understood Rhashian the entire time, and Adorin knew. Their deception infuriated him, but such things came with his new title. Being a captain of Lord Yanth’s city guards got him more fear than trust.

Something else bothered him as his thoughts raced to the courtyard. That look in the G’yel’s eyes… Why was he so worried about Adorin?

The beast was a fantastic actor. He always seemed indifferent toward everyone when Vicco was around, which made it easy for them to hide how close they were getting lately. His usually blank, bestial expression turned uncanny and almost human-like as he begged for help. That was the second time Ralk displayed such emotion, the first being after their duel.

“Of course, but I also want him to pay it. He was the one that wronged me, after all. Stealing is a crime,” Tauh muttered, sitting at his workbench with a groan as his joints popped. “Aren’t you one that values the law above all else?”

Vicco gritted his teeth as the man spoke. He knew this would come up, and he regretted not sending someone to negotiate in his stead. 

“Yes,” he said, looking down. “But you deceived him.”

The old man cocked his left brow. “I did?”

“You know damn well what I’m talking about.” Vicco was losing his composure, but dialed it back after taking another deep breath through his nose. “Are you really that cruel, Tauh?”

The old man’s eyes narrowed again as his pointer finger and thumb traced through the short, white beard on his chin. “Life is the cruel one, captain. How fortunate for Rin to learn that lesson early in life rather than cling to a false optimism.”

“What happened in your past has nothing to do with him,” Vicco snapped. “He was honor-bound to pay back that debt; that is the way Alacian’s are.”

“I was not aware stealing was a part of honor,” Tauh said with a slight hiss. “I’d imagine his morals are as muddy as his—”

“Enough!” Vicco shouted, slamming a plate fist on the workbench, cracking the wood.

The old man didn’t flinch as his lips pulled up into a smirk. This was the reaction he hoped to see. Vicco was losing more ground the longer this went on. “Damaging my property now?”

“You are lucky it is not your face, though I’d imagine caving it in with my knuckles would be an aesthetic improvement.”

Tauh laughed. “Did you come here to bargain for the young man’s freedom? Because you are doing a poor job of it.”

Vicco felt nauseous. He had never been at Tauh’s mercy before; in fact, this was the old man’s chance for revenge. He couldn’t let him have it. As humiliating as it was, he’d need to humble himself or Adorin would slip through his fingers like fine desert sand.

He cared for the man—too much. Vicco knew the risks, but men do desperate things when they want what they shouldn’t have. 

Demanding Adorin live with him was the first step in getting that, especially when he talked of leaving the city. The rarity of this situation prodded Vicco forward like a red hot iron pressed to his skin. Being coy was no longer an option, not at his age. And the odds of an Alacian man living in Nau were already slim. Add on the mutual attraction this one felt, and the chances became so astronomical, it could only be ordained by the gods themselves.

Such thoughts smacked of heresy, but if it was the gods, then there was hope.

Every night the fantasies got more intense. Adorin’s handsome face appeared in his mind, his strong jawline lightly brushed with stubble. His long, flowing black hair and beautiful dark skin—he was the epitome of masculinity, despite his lack of physical strength. The man had a warmth about him, a nature he could trust with his very life if it came to it.

He had to know if this was more than mere physical attraction. Aside from the moments he angered the man with his hard, thoughtless words, there was a force that pulled them toward one another. Being assigned as Adorin’s guard was yet another sign that couldn’t be ignored.

He couldn’t let a vengeful old demon stand in the way of divinity.

“I will pay ten times his debt, and you free him.” Vicco cringed as he let it slip out so suddenly. What was he doing? That sounded desperate, and Tauh picked up on it right away.

The old man’s eyes widened. “Ten times,” he exclaimed, another crooked smile deepening the creases along his mouth. His eyes squinted. “Why?” He drew that question out as he schemed. “That’s way more than I’d spend on a horse, and that Alacian isn’t worth a quarter what a well-bred beast of burden would be.”

“Then this should be easy. I’ll pay his debt, and you free him.”

“Hmm,” Tauh mumbled, stroking his beard again. “No.”

“Are you insane?” Vicco shouted, his voice shaking with frustration. “I am offering to pay his debt back tenfold!”

“Ah,” Tauh said calmly as he stood from his bench. “I think I see. You threw all your cards face-up on the table, fool. What happened to the stone-faced soldier that condemned my son to the pits?”

Vicco’s face burned hot as a rush of dread raced through him.

“Your son was a deserter, a traitor, and a coward,” the captain said through a clenched jaw. “He cost us lives, Tauh. He deserved what he got.” 

The old man frowned, his brows furrowing. “He was my only son. You could have convinced the general to show mercy. I beseeched you, offering to pay you whatever price. You held his fate in your hands.” Tauh swallowed his emotions as his stare turned to stone. “Now you are offering me a bribe to let a criminal off the hook. How delicious.”

“Twenty. I’ll pay twenty times the debt he owes.” He couldn’t stop the desperation pouring free as Tauh seemed to steal the very air from his lungs.

“He’s more than a friend, isn’t he?” Tauh’s words were another punch to the gut. “The captain has a secret,” he said, inching closer. “A handsome young man, never married, never courting. You do know what would happen to you if—”

“Stop speaking unholy nonsense.” Vicco clenched his fist, the plate on his hand slightly squeaking as metal rubbed against metal. He had to deflect this. “He is a man with hopes and potential, yet he wastes it under you—a piddling old goat that barely knows how to cauterize a wound. He deserves better.” 

Tauh grimaced. “That savage deserves nothing more than to be fodder for the fighters. Without my guidance, he would kill anyone he touches through pure incompetence.”

“You know that is not true. The only reason he stole from you was to save people.”

“Dead people,” Tauh interrupted. “He disobeyed me. Those men’s wounds were too grave. Sure, they lived, but their lives weren’t worth the cost. They would never see the inside of the coliseum again as fighters, and if they cannot fight, they become walking debts. Yanth scolded me, and he fed those men to the yowlerback during intermission. Now tell me what was gained from that, and was it worth the money I lost?” 

The captain went silent as his blood boiled. “I seem to have forgotten,” Vicco whispered with a scowl. “Even the healers in Nau value money more than human life.”

“If I valued money more, I’d have taken your deal.” Tauh pointed to the door. “My son’s life for his. You can leave now.”

“Name your price, Tauh.” Vicco’s voice was barely a breathy whisper as he struggled to breathe. “There has to be a price.”

Tauh paused and nodded, his eyes serious as he leaned in close. “There is, and you are paying it with interest.” He pointed to the door again. “Oh how I have longed to see that look on your face.”

It was another unusually cool night in the city as humid breezes blew into the menagerie over the walls. The light, high-pitched whistling of thousands of nocturnal insects was nearly as loud as the water pouring into the pond from the aqueduct.

It was far from a pleasant evening, and Adorin didn’t want to be alone. That room of his… he always thought of it as a prison cell. Now there was truth to that. He had planned on spending the night laying against O’lua for comfort and warmth, but that wasn’t what happened.

He and Ralk said little after Vicco left. Adorin couldn’t speak; he could barely move as though the captain’s words were a paralytic venom. Nau finally crushed his soul, and all he could do was fall into despair. He wasn’t sure when he had fallen asleep, but he hadn’t cried like that in many years.

Ralk breathed deeply behind him, his arms gently draped over Adorin’s chest. They had both fallen asleep like this on the bedding, Ralk doing what he could to console him. Despite the bleakness of his situation, Adorin felt at peace for now. A good cry in the arms of a friend who genuinely cared—he would have never thought that person would be the G’yel who nearly killed him years ago.

He didn’t want to move, but he couldn’t sleep. All of this time he had been a slave and never knew it. A few times he thought about visiting the edge of the island and making a first and final trip to the wastelands below, but something pulled him away from those dark thoughts.

Vicco was a mystery now. He seemed cold and distant, his burnt irises turning to polished stone as he stood there silent. After Ralk was done shouting at him, he left. With that, everything he built up in his mind crumbled to dust. Adorin was a slave now, a convicted criminal, and Vicco was a man of the law. The fantasy shattered like thin, delicate glass.

The only one he had left was Ralk who gently stirred behind him. He felt terrible about being so needy. The G’yel had problems of his own, and they were much worse. Now he was stuck consoling a human who took up half of his already small bedding. Perhaps he should’ve left and cried alone.

Adorin slowly lifted Ralk’s arm and slipped out, but not before the arm came down hard on top of him, pulling him back. Such a sudden movement caused him to shriek.

Ralk let out a light chuckle before releasing him. “I am only kidding. Heading to the stalls?”

“No,” Adorin said, sitting up. “Letting you sleep. I am sorry for this. It must have been uncomfortable.”

Ralk sat up and rested his hand on Adorin’s back. “Actually,” he said. The man turned to face him, surprised by the response and warm smile. “It was pleasant. G’yel often sleep in groups, many times using one another for warmth. Housing is for females and chosen males. The rest of us live in drafty tents or caves, but the ne’ak are always comfortable against one another.”

Adorin let out a breath of relief and sat back against the stoney wall of the pen. “Thank you, Ralk.”

“There is no need for thanks. You are family to me now. That is what it means to be my new ne’ak. When one suffers, we all do. Lying next to you brought back a lot of pleasant memories of my early years.” Ralk grinned. “You do not need to go back to your room if it is that terrible. You can lie against me whenever you need to.”

Adorin wiped his eyes with the back of his arm. “I do like the fresh air,” he said, glancing softly at Ralk. “And the company.”

The G’yel’s stomach growled and Adorin’s skin went cold when he remembered he hadn’t picked up the food from the kitchen. It was so late; would Sitha still be there?

“I am so sorry,” Adorin said, standing and bowing repeatedly. “I will see if I can find you something.”

“Adorin.” Ralk stood, brushing past the man through the barred door. “If I miss a meal, it does not matter. I have gone weeks without eating before, what is a few hours?” Something caught the G’yel’s nose as he sniffed the air, pointing his snout toward the other side of the pen. “Ah, it seems they catered, anyway.”

Adorin’s shoulders slumped downward. “I will need to apologize to Sitha tomorrow,” he said, his own stomach starting to growl. “I still have leftover curry. I will head back to get it.”

As Adorin turned to leave, Ralk caught his shoulder and squeezed. “Try my meat.”

The man turned to see Ralk smirking about something, nearly on the verge of laughter.

Adorin shook his head. “I could not eat your food. That is for you, and you need your strength.”

“I am sharing,” Ralk said, articulating each word while opening the cart. The food inside had long since cooled, but the smell of lightly spiced meat made Adorin’s mouth water.

“They may be big and tough,” Ralk continued, his tone sharper than before as his eyes narrowed on Adorin. It was a bit unsettling. “And perhaps a human would have a hard time, but the meal is… satisfying, I assure you.”

Adorin nodded, confused by Ralk’s awkward glance and sly grin. “That is really kind of you, but if you are still hungry after, try some of my curry.”

Ralk’s grin widened as his longer, sharp canines peeked up from his black, taut lips. “Describe your curry. I have never sampled it before.”

“Well,” Adorin said, staring up at the sky, his eyes still watery and red from earlier. “We use many spices, and each has its own medicinal use. When put together, they encourage proper digestion. They also add incredible flavor and dark color to each dish. Foreigners who have had our food describe it as hot, but cool in their mouths at the same time.”

“That sounds nice,” Ralk whispered, looking down into the cart. “Many male G’yel do not get to experience any delicious cuisine. However, there is one taste I can never forget, and I have not had it in many years.” He trailed off as he reached in and grabbed a hunk of meat, handing it to Adorn. “Here, eat.”

The man grabbed the flank and bit into it. The meat was tough and difficult to chew, the fibrous muscle slipping in hair-like strands between his teeth. This wasn’t Sitha’s cooking; in fact, little care was given to the preparation of this meal. To a starving G’yel, it may have been adequate, but to a human with a refined palate, it was terribly bland.

“I can see in your face this does not suit you,” Ralk said with one of his high-pitched, whooping laughs. It nearly made Adorin choke. The laugh was so contagious, and the way the G’yel’s face lit up made it hard to resist joining in.

Adorin finished chewing before struggling to swallow. “Not quite, no. But it is food, and I am grateful for this.” He paused for a moment and examined the G’yel’s face. “And I am thankful for you.” Adorin thought to himself.

Ralk tore off a huge chunk with his powerful jaws and began chewing loudly. He nodded, and though his mouth was full, the grin he wore made his face shine. The G’yel’s eyes were two sparkling sapphires reflecting the moonlight as they peeked through two narrow slits. When G’yel smiled like that, they weren’t frightening at all.

Why did humans and G’yel hate each other when they had so much in common?

Adorin peeled off a more tender part of meat, separating it from the gristle with his fingers. “What taste have you not had in many years?”

“Mmm,” Ralk mumbled, swallowing what he had in his mouth. “Kolkaab. Have you ever had it before?”

That word… Adorin remembered it from the dream.

“I have,” the young man replied. “I too have not had it since Lydia…” He trailed off, shaking his head. Adorin could have asked if Sitha knew the recipe, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to eat it. Such a humble delicacy would unlock too many memories of friends no longer of this world.

Adorin slipped another piece of meat into his mouth, placing the discarded gristle on top of the cart. Ralk snatched it as though he hadn’t eaten in weeks.

“This is the best part,” he said, his mouth still partially full as he stuffed the discarded cartilage in with what he was already grinding between serrated rows of teeth. The way he ate was violent and fast, effortlessly ripping apart flanks of meat while gnashing them between those thick, powerful jaws. Strands of gluey saliva hung from his maw like white bodice laces, stretching longer before breaking off and dripping onto the ground.

“Here,” Adorin said, handing Ralk the rest of his meat. “I am full.” It was a half-truth. Between the unappetizing meal and watching the G’yel eat, he wasn’t able to continue.

Ralk cocked his head as he reached for the morsel. “Are you sure? Perhaps the curry would be better.”

“I am fine. After everything that has happened tonight, I do not have much of an appetite.”

It didn’t take long for the G’yel to empty the cart before walking over to the pond to wash his face and hands. Adorin followed close, kneeling to dip his own greasy hands into the water.

Though Ralk now spoke, he was still prone to long bouts of silence. Perhaps it was a habit having not conversed with anyone for so long. Adorin didn’t mind the quiet. Having someone next to him was enough to lighten his mood.

It never lasted. His mind would slip into darkness if there wasn’t something to keep him occupied. In two days, Ralk would fight for his life, in spite of the odds being in his favor. The one friend Adorin had left in this world would likely join the others in the afterlife. 

Ralk would be dead, and Vicco would forget him. There would be no one left to talk to, though he had no shortage of friends in the menagerie.

But they didn’t talk back.

Both G’yel and human were not meant to be solitary creatures. Their friendship developed quickly from loneliness, and it became harder for Adorin to leave Ralk’s side. If he left, it was back to stifling loneliness, darkness—the terrible places he didn’t want to dwell.

Being alone made him want to cling to Ralk like he did Lydia, but he wasn’t a child anymore. He needed to be stronger and support his friend in the coming days. He’d need to be there mending his wounds if Ralk survived the coliseum.

“Let us get some sleep,” the G’yel said, walking away toward his pen. “We have a day of training ahead of us.” Adorin sighed loudly, prompting the G’yel to glance back. “You did not think I would let you off the hook just because you received some bad news, did you? I will have you hold that shield with confidence when I am done with you.”

The young man nodded, rubbing his aching arms from the little training he did earlier that day. “I suppose.”

“It will be good for you,” Ralk said, walking through the doorway. Adorin followed, instinctively shutting the pen door from the outside. The G’yel reached through the bars and caught Adorin’s hand. “Were you not comfortable earlier?”

“I—I thought that perhaps you wanted to be alone.”

“Did you not hear me?” Ralk opened the pen door and pulled Adorin inside. “I know you do not want to go back, and I do not wish to be alone.” 

There was just as much fear in his voice as Adorin felt. Did he feel the same way? Did Ralk wish to cling to him as well?

Adorin looked up at the G’yel’s annoyed expression and his stomach knotted. Though he was glad to not be spending the night alone, there was a voice inside that screamed at him, warning him of something.

Adorin nodded nervously, swallowing the lump in his throat. Earlier he fell asleep in a very delicate position, and it bothered him how comfortable it was. This time, he would lie next to the G’yel on purpose.

Ralk sat down on the bedding before shifting to his side, making just enough room for the human. Adorin carefully crawled into the space, lying on his side before facing the same way as Ralk, his back flush against the G’yel’s chest. The position felt right and wrong at the same time. As Ralk’s arm slid over Adorin’s chest, the knots in his stomach pulled tighter.

Sensing the man’s discomfort, Ralk began speaking.

“This is strange for you,” he whispered, patting Adorin’s chest. “And if it is uncomfortable, I am not forcing you to stay like this. Sometimes I forget the differences between us.”

“I am okay,” Adorin said, trying to relax the muscles in his body. “I am just not accustomed to sharing a bed with someone else.”

“You have never slept in the same bed with family or friends?”

Adorin shook his head. “Perhaps when I was a small child, but not when I was older. I always thought the next person I shared a bed with would be my lover.”

Ralk’s arm tensed, and Adorin blushed as he thought about what he said. Hopefully, the G’yel didn’t take that the wrong way.  

“Humans are strange,” Ralk said. Every grunted word he spoke hummed through the human lying against him. “Lover is not something my kind is familiar with, but after years of being around your kind, it seems to be something you all desperately seek out.”

“You mentioned this before.” Adorin shifted, trying to get into a more comfortable position. “Is there no one a G’yel shares his life with, including all the intimate moments?”

Ralk grunted lightly. “I have told you. There is no one person. Sex can be with anyone in the ne’ak, but does not sit at the same level as friendship. Humans think of the two together as something else entirely, something called love. You wish to be friends with the captain, but also mate with him exclusively, forming a bond. G’yel do not form that kind of bond with only one person. It can be with as many or as few as we want.”

“That sounds chaotic,” Adorin said, still confused by Ralk’s explanation. “Don’t G’yel get jealous? How do you form anything meaningful with so many people?”

“You think like a human, not a G’yel.” Ralk’s arm relaxed around Adorin. “It is not something I can explain easily. G’yel have many friends, and friends are family. Ne’ak shares everything.”

“I see,” Adorin whispered. A moment later his eyes widened, and he turned to face Ralk. “I—I agreed to be your ne’ak.”

A sly smile inched up his maw. “Things are different between us. We will learn what is acceptable and what is not. Is that what worries you?”

“N—no,” Adorin said, struggling to get the words out. “We should sleep.” He turned away quickly before resting his head on a softer edge of the bedding. Adorin feared the G’yel again, but this time it wasn’t for some sinister reason. He felt something for Ralk just then, something he never thought he would.

It was slight, and it only lasted a moment—but it was enough to be dangerous. It must have been desperation, nothing more.

“That can never happen,” Adorin thought to himself, gritting his teeth. “It should… never happen.”

The light of the suns warmed his face as they rose above the menagerie walls. It must have been mid-morning already. Had he overslept again? Adorin opened his eyes and looked down at Ralk’s large, furry arm still clutching him as he lightly snored from behind.

Something shiny stuck out of his peripheral, and he looked to see Vicco sitting on the bench, his piercing eyes locked onto both of them lying there. He said nothing, and Adorin couldn’t place the man’s stare. There was no one emotion tied to it; it was a mixture of different feelings he gave off.

Adorin eased Ralk’s arm upward and slipped out from under it, careful not to wake the tired G’yel. He opened the cage quietly and wandered toward the pond. Vicco was still silent as his eyes followed Adorin.

“I take it you have bad news,” Adorin muttered, keeping his gaze ahead of him as he sat at the edge of the water, his back turned to the captain.

“There is nothing I can do,” Vicco said, breathlessly. “I offered Tauh a small fortune for your freedom, and each time he refused.”

Adorin stared blankly at the water as it splashed and swirled in foamy currents beneath the falls.

“I do not understand why he hates me so much,” the younger man said, his legs now submerged. “I only wanted to save lives. I only wanted to help, and this is where it leads me.”

“It’s not you he hates.” Vicco tapped his fingers against his leg, making small metallic clanks. “He hates everyone, especially me.”

“Why?” Adorin asked, looking back. There was hopelessness in his tone, and just as much running from his eyes.

“It doesn’t matter, does it?” Vicco stood, his boots clanking next to the smaller man. “This wasn’t meant to be. We have dangerous thoughts, Adorin. Perhaps this was the gods’ way of punishing both of us for them.” Something broke in the man Adorin once thought of as steel. 

The younger man’s face burned with both shame and anger.

“As if your worthless gods mean a damn thing to me. Your city smothers the bones of innocent people while your murderous pious sit perched upon undeserved thrones. If they are the ones deemed worthy of your gods’ blessings, then it is not gods you worship.”

Vicco grabbed Adorin’s arm and lifted him off the ground. “Do not blaspheme so loud in this city. Do not insult my beliefs.”

Adorin shoved the man away. “I curse your demons, and I curse you. You serve as a willing dog to a corrupt and vile lord. Do not utter your feelings for me and then lecture me in the same breath. That makes you nothing more than a hypocrite.”

The words were like venom seeping from his mouth, but how could Vicco say those things to Adorin? Those feelings were human, not something disgusting, worthy of punishment. This was the man he thought so highly of? 

Vicco felt those words, it was written all over his face. The man seemed to shrink, even though he was taller than Adorin. The commotion stirred Ralk awake, catching both men’s attention as he jumped up from his bedding.

“What is this?” Ralk asked, rubbing his eyes as he padded through the courtyard.

“Nothing,” Adorin muttered. “I will get your breakfast, Ralk.” He glared at Vicco. “You should find another assignment.” His tone went deep, as a single tear betrayed him, streaming down his cheek. “Considering you are no longer needed… or wanted. The gods decree it, right?”

He turned away and ran from the menagerie, throwing open the doors as he disappeared into the hall.

Ralk stared at the captain before folding his arms. His azure eyes were shards of ice, his harsh gaze judging the man before he understood the situation. He didn’t have to. The way Adorin spoke, the tears he was trying to hold back said everything.

“You failed,” Ralk said, his voice coming across as growls.

“In many ways,” Vicco responded, meeting the G’yel’s threatening stare with his own. “How nice of you to speak now. I suppose it makes sense why you would hide it.”

“Plans on letting my secret fly with a loose tongue?” Ralk muttered, baring his teeth.

“That all depends on you.” Vicco unsheathed his sword, swinging it up before pressing the edge against Ralk’s neck. “I’ve got some questions.”

The G’yel swallowed, keeping his head still. “You can ask them without your weapon, human.”

Vicco breathed deeply, curling his lips before letting the sword fall to his side. “Did you know about Adorin’s feelings for me?”

Ralk studied Vicco’s manic movements, curious where the man was going with this discussion.

“Of course. We talk a lot,” Ralk said with a sneer. “You never returned last night, and he assumed what any person would.”

Vicco’s anger melted into a melancholy as he slipped the sword back into its sheath and turned away. “That is not true.” He paused and looked up at the sky. “I couldn’t face him after realizing there was nothing I could do.”

“That did not matter. He needed you,” Ralk said, a little more sympathetically. “He yearned for you. I could smell it on him always, and I was interested to see where it would go at first. But after a while, his obsession with you made me jealous.”

“You aren’t… serious,” Vicco turned back around, his stare narrowed on Ralk.

No, Vicco wasn’t ready to hear that, and neither was Adorin. Ralk understood such things were taboo. Not only was the G’yel a male, he was a different species. They wouldn’t hesitate to execute the poor man if they even got a hint of anything more than friendship.

“Of course not,” Ralk said, chuckling. “The look on your face is quite humorous.”

Vicco cleared his throat. “After seeing your arm around him this morning, I almost believed you.”

“He is a friend that needed comfort,” Ralk retorted, feeling a bit nauseous. He hadn’t thought how that would look to other humans.

“Don’t hold him like that again,” Vicco scolded, exhaling what appeared to be relief. “Do you realize what would have happened to him if someone else had stumbled upon you two like that?”

A jolt of fear shook him as he remembered last night. Someone had already seen them like that. How else would the food have gotten into the courtyard.

Ralk clenched his fists so tight his claws pierced the pads on his palm. The man was right, and hopefully he hadn’t put his friend in harm’s way. As if he needed more of a reason to hate human society, especially in Nau. 

He was angry, frustrated, and terrified all at once. He glared at the human and pointed a large, clawed finger at his chest. “We duel again today, and tomorrow.”

Vicco sighed and slapped away the G’yel’s hand. “You better not die when it is your time to fight.”

 “I did not know you cared,” Ralk said, sarcastically.

“I don’t, but Adorin does for some reason.”

“I do not plan on dying, human.” Ralk’s smile was wicked as his shaky hands dripped blood from the puncture wounds. “I look forward to killing as many of your kind as I can.”

Vicco scoffed and looked away in time to see Adorin wheel a cart of food into the courtyard.

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