There Once Was A Girl... - Part One

By Deuce Traveler

Chapter One

"Deuce Traveler," the long haired priestess called out to the chained man as she entered the cell. A smile of satisfaction appeared on her pretty face as she saw his look of surprise. She wore a long white robe that made her fiery hair and green eyes even more noticeable. Her name was Precilla, and she was the priestess and spiritual leader of the town known as Henn.

The young man sat on the ground, his arms chained to the cell wall. Five months ago he was caught attempting to burgle a citizen of Henn's home. He had admitted that he was originally from Hillby and was twenty-two years old, but anything else that he spoke of seemed to be twisted with lies. Finally, a travelling pilgrim had come to Precilla and admitted that he had run into such a man last year. It was easy to identify Deuce Traveler. Not many men his age had long silver hair tied into a pony tail , and not many humans had his violet colored eyes. Deuce quickly recovered from his surprise and smiled sweetly at the priestess, "Congratulations. That only took you months to figure out. Can I go now?"

Precilla sighed as she lay a tray of mutton and goats milk in front of Deuce, while keeping a safe distance away. When the rogue was first captured he took his imprisonment good naturedly, believing he would soon be released. The people of Henn did not use the standard punishment of time in prison, however. Instead, their priests were trained to preach to criminals until they felt their wards were ready to fit back into society. Although he had learned to read as instructed, he refused to discuss philosophy with the priests, causing his stay in prison to become drawn out. The rogue had been imprisoned for months now and still hadn't lost his sharp tongue. In fact, as the months dragged on he had become even less civil and almost violent. In the last two weeks Precilla had had to personally intervene in his indoctrination. There seemed to be a desperate anger in his eyes. Sitting down across from Deuce, the high priestess couldn't help but feel she was losing him. "By the gods, why do you have to be so stubborn! The sooner you cooperate the sooner you get to leave this place. All I'm trying to do is talk to you."

The rogue laughed bitterly as he tore a small piece of mutton and tossed it into his mouth, "Fine. Let's chat. Nice weather we are having. Are you married? If so how are the husband and kids? What's your favorite color? Personally, I don't have one I stick to. Today my favorite color is gray, tomorrow it will probably be blue."

"That's not what I meant when I said we should talk."

"Oh, so I suppose you will choose what we talk about? Doesn't sound like a conversation to me, as much as it does a one-sided lecture."

"Call it what you will. The important thing is we determine why you feel the need to take things that do not belong to you," Precilla said for the twentieth time in a week.

"Oh. Why didn't you say so? There are excellent reasons for why I do the things that I do."

Precilla sighed again slowly, knowing the thief had a sarcastic streak. "And those reasons are?"

The rogue's face grew serious. "You see, I've always felt like an outcast in society. If only people would have taken me in, taught me, and nurtured me I would not have grown up to be this wicked man you see before your eyes. I truly regret my behavior, and if you ever have the compassion to release me I promise that I will be a changed man."

The high priestess of Henn winced. This was worse than she thought. The only thing that Deuce was willing to learn was to read, and once he had done that he began to read as many books from the Temple of Henn as the priests were willing to bring to him. It seemed the only way at the time to reach the thief, but he had obviously laid his eyes on the Henn philosophies on society, sin, punishments, and redemption. Precilla would have to be even more vigilant as he would simply feed her whatever he believed she wanted to hear. "I don't believe that. You were quite charismatic when we first captured you. And I don't believe you are a bad man since you didn't try to harm the little girl who had discovered you in Komas' home."

Deuce nodded at her as he maintained his somber look, "It's because I'm desperate to make friends. Also I know how it is to be like that girl, vulnerable to a cruel world. She reminded me of me when I was young."

Precilla counted a few numbers as she tried to be patient with the thief. "You don't act as if the world beats you down. You act more as if you wish to challenge the world head on."

"Exactly true. There is no greater rush than sneaking passed hired men and into a merchant's treasure room. I can't help the fact that I'm addicted to danger. It's a thrill that I can't find easily replaced in our normal, mundane world." Deuce continued with a disgusted grin. "In fact you shouldn't even be imprisoning me. You should let me go and admire me as a free spirit that you both pity and envy."

Precilla rose from her sitting position, shaking part in anger, part in shock. "Stop," she whispered.

"What's wrong? Used to criminals who try to plead with you that there are good reasons for what they do? Every person has a sob story and a sorry excuse for their actions. It keeps them from ever having to change or be accountable for themselves", Deuce spat. "I don't want your pity, I don't want your cheap forgiveness, and I certainly don't want you to analyze my head as if it was a simple to read map. I just want out of this fucking cell."

The high priestess stood up, fury on her face, "You mock everything we believe in. My priests tried to help you until they finally gave up. I was the only one who would come here, making me take time away from my flock to aid you." Precilla walked up the steps towards the cell door and turned to look at the grinning thief waving to her happily from where he sat. "By the Goddess Fury I swear to you we tried. Food and water will continue to be brought to you, but you will still not be released until I come up with another way to help you. It could take some time, so I want you to reflect in your waking hours."

As she opened the door to leave she could hear the rogue's chains clattering as he stood up quickly, "Wait!" Precilla looked upon Deuce's desperate face as he begged her, "Please. I need to get out of here, you don't understand."

The high priestess was unsure what to do at first. As she pulled herself together and walked towards him she admitted to herself the rogue was full of surprises. "Alright, Deuce. But you have to give me something in return. Why did you come here?"

Deuce frowned at his loss of control, but knew he was backed in a corner. "Fine, but you will play my game, too. Let me ask you to forget your books for a moment. Forget those theories on criminal behavior that you teach. Think for a moment and tell me in the most basic terms why a man may steal."

Precilla blinked and stared oddly at the rogue. "Well, I suppose for need. If someone is starving and hungry I can see why they would feel the need to steal to survive. And then there is greed..."

"No", Deuce said as he shook his head patiently. "Greed is only a higher or corrupted form of need. Greedy people steal for things like status or a perception of inadequacy and need. Some people have works of art stolen so that they can show it off to close friends in their rich circles. Other people steal and horde gold like a dragon since coin makes them feel powerful."

"Well then what about bank robbers and muggers? Wouldn't you call them greedy since they are willing to take personal risks over and over again in the pursuit of money?"

"Partly. Though most of the time those kinds of people are asking for violence..."

"Thrill seekers," This time Precilla interrupted Deuce. "There is a bit of greed to it, but the coin doesn't mean as much to them as the actual adventure and the sense that they had gotten away with something they weren't supposed to."

For the first time in months Precilla saw Deuce smile kindly, no malice in his eyes. She was happy she was able to communicate with him and bring out his charming side. "So that's it, thrill seekers and personal need?"

"No. That's not it." Deuce's smile disappeared and he ran his hands along his silver hair. He began to pace the cell back and forth, as if trying to decide something.

"What else could there be besides personal need and for a thrill," Precilla asked the rogue. He would not answer her, and continued to pace with his shackled hands behind his back and his eyes on the thinly carpeted floor. The high priestess could not think of any other reason why someone would perform such a selfish act. Unless the act wasn't selfish. Precilla almost slapped herself for not thinking of it months before, "Sometimes a man feels he needs to steal for someone else. There's a sick child and he can't afford the medicine and so must steal it. Perhaps another must steal gold from a lord so that he can pay adventurers to rescue a parent from ogres."

Deuce stopped and smiled, "Yes! Now you understand. And you understand why I must go."

"So you aren't doing this for selfish reasons?"

"No I'm doing it for her. Or maybe for us," Deuce looked confused before he added in frustration, "Or maybe I'm being greedy and selfish and doing it for me, but I won't know until I get back to Logby."

The high priestess looked the rogue in the eye for a moment and then sat down across from him, "Logby? I think this is the first time you have ever been fully honest with me. Please go on."

"There's a house in Logby and I needed the money for the rent. My girlfriend and I..."

"Stop," Precilla interrupted quietly. "I said I believed you, but I need you to start from the beginning if I'm going to continue believing you. Tell me everything about the two of you, up to your current difficulties. It's a lot harder to cover a lie when a long story is told from the beginning."

"It's personal, and I don't know you woman. Is nothing sacred to you," Deuce stared hard into the priestess' eyes.

"Nothing a thief has to give is sacred to me. Is your pride more important than getting back to her," Precilla asked as she met his eyes unwaveringly.

The rogue sighed and sat down across from her. He gathered the mug of goat milk in his hands and stared into it, wishing for a beer to make the story easier. Sighing, he looked up at Precilla and began. "There once was a girl..."

Chapter Two

"WhooHooo! Oh my oh my oh my oh my oh my, look at all the pretty girls!" Rooks was screaming like a mad man. The young mage had a bit too much to drink and couldn't stop leering at the various females as he passed by, his hands full of fake flowers to give out. It was the end of the month of the Grand Struggle, heralding spring, and the Riversy Fertility Festival was nearing its peak. The better the fake or toy flower a man would offer a woman, the better kiss she was supposed to give him. Some even went so far as to suggest where the woman should plant her lips, although such bad displays were frowned upon by the patrolling city guardsmen.

"Deuce, please buy your friend another drink to shut him up," Trad suggested eagerly. The red haired stocky dwarven woman had her arm around her fiancee, Pent. Pent was slightly taller than Trad, with jet black hair and a long braided beard. The two of them had met the nineteen year old Deuce in the local thieves guild and had allowed him to share their apartment as long as he helped them on the occasional job.

"I swear. I'm always having to babysit the man," Deuce mocked annoyance as he purchased two mugs of ale from a side vender. He paid the man, admired the backside of two passing brunettes, and handed his friend Rooks a mug as he began to sip the other. The rogue held a collection of flowers to give to the women walking around. He had earned a half dozen of them, and was given three good flowers from a woman for planting a kiss on the top of her bodice. He had done so with such gusto that she planted her ladies brimmed hat onto his head, complete with a large feather at its top. He still wore the thing as he walked though Main Street, a mug of ale in one hand, a clutch of flowers in the other, and a stupid grin on his face.

The four companions decided to relax at the intersection of Main Street and Merchants Row. It was getting late, and there would be one more night of the Festival left. They would have to get their rest if they were going to be able to do any decent partying. As Rooks desperately tried to convince a bored red-head, brunette, and blonde to kiss him all at the same time, Trad laid her head on Pent lovingly and yawned. Deuce smiled at the two of them and turned towards the crowd to give them privacy. He grinned unashamedly at an olive skinned woman and winked at her from over his beer mug. She blushed and smiled back warmly as she disappeared into the huge crowd.

With a hoot, Rooks, who failed to get the three women to kiss him, ran past Deuce and across the street towards three elven women with piercing blue eyes and light blonde hair. Sighing, the rogue chased after his friend, hoping he wouldn’t chase every girl away. Rooks was now trying to get a kiss out of the two taller elven ladies, stiff arming Deuce as the rogue approached. The rogue shook his head with an amused grin and looked for the third elf. If he was going to be standing around he figured he might as well make conversation.

The shorter elven woman was young like him, and looked bored and impatient. What struck him the most was the beauty of her eyes. He didn't know what it was about her, but there was a certain grace and assuredness to her. To him, she was the most stunning woman he had seen in a long time. "Hi, I'm Bosco," he introduced himself with a grin. Another custom in the Festival was to give a fake name when introducing yourself. You were supposed to talk to as many people as you could, giving a different name each time, a tough feat if one was also following the tradition of drinking heavily.

The elf glanced at him and looked back towards the street, "I'm Caitlyn."

"Flower for a kiss?"

"I'm not really into kissing strangers."

"What a lucky day. Gorgeous and a lady," the rogue thought to himself. "Ok, I'm actually Deuce," he whispered as he leaned towards her. "What's your real name."

"Caitlyn," she repeated with honesty and boredom.

"Oh, this is no good," Deuce thought. A girl this pretty must have been bothered all night. He needed something to get her attention. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a mechanical rose he had been saving for a special moment in the Festival. It was a rare gnomish device designed specifically for the Riversy Festivals and the rogue had spent many of his coins on it. "Here," he said to her as he handed her the rose, "I think you might like this."

She raised an eyebrow in surprise as the rose petals began to move, then spin. Soon they were twirling at a furious speed, forcing the rose to fly out of her hand and high into the night air with a piercing whine. As the two watched, the rose disappeared into the night, replaced a moment later by a bright flash and loud crack. The people in Riversy looked up in surprise with an audible 'Oooooh' at the results of a rare Gnomish Festival Rose. Caitlyn smiled, then chuckled in delight as she looked up at the rogue, a twinkle in her eye.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Deuce, Rooks, Trad, and Pent slept at Pent's apartment in an attempt to recover and prepare for the next day's abuse. Deuce couldn't help thinking about the last day's events as he prepared to go out into the crowded streets again. He had earned his fake flowers, gave some others away, had quite a few tasty drinks, and met a lovely woman. He couldn't wait for what the next day would bring.

The four of them had been late for the last night of the festival, and Deuce thus far, hadn't recognized any of the people he ran into the night before. There were just too many citizens on the streets. After only an hour of drinking, an exhausted Pent and Trad walked up to Deuce and Rooks. "We're going to turn in. We just can't keep up with the drinking and our bedtime activities," Pent said with a wink, causing Trad to punch him lightly in the ribs.

Rooks cackled with glee at that, "You lucky bastards. I can't even get a wee kiss when I need it."

"Well, maybe if you didn't smell like a brewery you would do better," Trad suggested helpfully as Pent waved a goodbye and pulled her through the crowd.

"I'm beginning to think she doesn't like me," Rooks said with a smirk.

"She only doesn't like you when you're drunk. You can be a pain in...," Deuce's voice trailed off as he saw a familiar elf on a side street. "I'll be right back." Caitlyn was looking up and down the crowded streets as the rogue approached her. She noticed him, a look of recognition lighting her face.

"Oh, it’s you again," she said.

"Hello again, Ketlin."


"Right, Caitleen. You look lost."

She ignored his failed attempts to say her name. "I’m looking for my cousins. They were supposed to meet me on this street."

"I’ll tell you what. My friend and I are hitting the taverns. Why don’t you come with us?" Deuce put his hand slightly out to her and smiled, expecting her to shy away from the strange offer.

Caitlyn didn’t know what to think of the man in front of her. He was obviously attracted to her, but didn’t seem to be overbearing or cruel. His smile was warm and open. There was a happiness to him, and she momentarily forgot her sisters, took his hand in hers, and allowed him to lead her through the streets of Riversy.

"Damn, why am I following him?", she thought to herself and blamed the firebreathers she just drank.

They began to get to know each other, joking around in bars and just smiling and cuddling together. Actually, he did most of the cuddling and stole a kiss. She got a bit annoyed with him at first, but she noticed whenever she felt uncomfortable he seemed to sense it and back off. She sensed that this odd boy named Deuce just seemed happy to be next to her. And he finally got her name right with some coaching. His annoying friend, Rooks, kept interrupting their cuddling with lewd jokes or the demand that they get up and go to the next bar with him. When Rooks next turned around, Deuce took her hands in his and slipped out of the bar with him, leaving the rogue’s friend behind. The two of them ran into the next bar laughing, and as she sat on a stool he wrapped his arms around her and stole another kiss.

"Oh, so now you think you can just kiss me when you have the urge?"

Deuce laughed, "I’m sorry. It’s just that I feel incredible with you. This night has been so surreal."

She smiled at that. "Surreal?"

"Oh what? I can’t say surreal?"

"Well, surreal just doesn’t seem like a Deuce word. It sounds pretty silly coming from you."

"I’ll have you know I can say more words than beer and legs."

"Oh, I feel so surreal today," she mocked.

Deuce laughed, held her again, and stole another kiss. They spent the rest of the night like that, teasing one another, laughing at the odd people in the Festival, giggling, and kissing. The Festival was winding down when they ran into Caitlyn’s two cousins. They looked disapprovingly at the rogue, saying some quick words to Caitlyn in elven. She shot words back and looked at into Deuce’s face with a frown and a sigh. "I don’t want to go."

"But you have to," Deuce said with a nod. He thought about offering her to come to his place or to go to hers, but knew that would ruin this most perfect moment. "Will you mail me?", Deuce asked. "I am Deuce Traveler and live in Riversy. I’m staying in a rented room in the Westing House. Just mail it to me and I’ll pick it up at the Post Office here in the city." Caitlyn smiled and hugged him, giving him a long and gentle kiss. She squeezed his hand and watched him walk away as she went to join her cousins.

Deuce felt he probably wouldn’t hear from her again. People had enchanting moments, but rarely acted on them. That and she was tired. He doubted that she would be able to remember his address all the way back to wherever she was staying at. The rogue sung love ballads to himself in bliss as he walked alone through the city streets. A man offered to play him at a game of chance with cards, and Deuce lost the small remainder of his money to him. The rogue just smiled and continued walking undaunted as the sun came up. For hours he just walked, remembering her smell and thinking of her. "I’ll never see her again, but god what an amazing woman."

He finally reached the Westing House and climbed the steps to his residence. The door was open and a passed out Rooks laid on the floor. As Deuce sat down and got ready for bed, Rooks stirred and looked up. "I was getting worried. What happened to you, mate?"

"You wouldn’t believe it, but I just wanted to spend time with her and I think she wanted to spend time with me," Deuce smiled warmly at the memory.

"And you left your buddy behind. Mates before women, Deuce."

"No. Not for this one. She was something special. She was beautiful."

"She was cute."

"You’re jealous because you didn’t meet anyone."

"Bah! Just shut up and wake me later," Rooks grumbled drunkenly as he turned into a ball on the hardwood floor, wrapped his cloak around himself, and passed back out.

Deuce just smiled and laid down on his back, his hands resting on the back of his head as he looked outside the window at the open sky. It took some time before the bliss was over and he could get his much needed rest. The last thing he thought about as he drifted to pleasant dreams was that he could still taste and feel her lips on his.

A week later he was pleasantly surprised by her first letter.

Chapter Three

Sallya grinned at her cousin, Caitlyn. "You've been writing him back and forth for a year and a half now. You should go."

Caitlyn fidgeted uncomfortably in her chair. She and her two cousins lived together in their elven home far north of Riversy. Now there were rumors that the elves were planning to leave the human lands within the year. Feeling her time in the realm was limited, Caitlyn had decided to see a half-elf in Miramor that had been wooing her for the last couple of years. She mailed Deuce about her plans, his reply being his own invitation for her to visit him in Riversy.

"I don't really remember Deuce well. It was more than a year ago, and we might have kept in touch through mail, but I don't even know him."

"And yet you talk about him often enough," Sallya replied, an amused grin on her face. She sat across from her cousin, settling gently in a deep elven chair.

Caitlyn sighed, "I think I will go to visit him and I can't say why. It doesn't make any sense. I've only met him once."

Sallya's smile grew even wider. "Yes. But what a night."

* * *

Deuce was falling. The rogue had fought with a half-orc on the top of a warehouse in Riversy. Deuce had barely twisted out of the way of the warrior's longsword, but the dodge cast him to the edge of the roof. Sensing victory, the half-orc made a thrust towards the off balance thief, causing Deuce to go over the edge and land in the harbor waters below.

The rogue's body slapped against the surface of the chill water, stunning him. Deuce felt the liquid swallow his body as he descended into the depths of Riversy Harbor. He sank slightly into the muddy sand on the harbor bottom before recovering and kicking upwards for air. Desperately he rose, his hand above him as the rogue sought air. Deuce broke the surface of the water slowly, trying to be as silent as possible as he took in a lungful of oxygen. The rogue allowed his eyes to adjust to the darkness as he sought a place to climb back onto the wharf. Deuce spied a wooden ladder descending from a dock and waded towards it slowly. The rogue heard footsteps approach as he ascended the ladder. He reached for his curved dagger and swore as he touched his empty hip sheath. His blade had fallen with him and now rested on the bottom of the harbor.

Rook's smirking face appeared above him from over the ladder. He whispered, "Damn, you make too much noise for a thief."

"What happened to the half-orc?" Deuce asked as he climbed the ladder. His dripping clothes clung to him uncomfortably.

"Pent got him as he was gloating over where you fell. The fool didn't even see Pent's axe falling."

"And I got the package," Trad said out loud as she approached the mage and rogue. She wasn't happy at all about how the mission had gone. The main thieves group in Riversy was named the Mockingbird House. Rivals had always tried to increase their influence in the city, but the Mockingbird House had maintained their dominance for the last five years. Lately new people had begun to enter Riversy and could be seen observing members of the government, merchants, and the city guard. The Mockingbird House had begun to trail these individuals, and heard word of an important package being picked up in the warehouse district. Trad and Pent were sent to try to intercept the package before the pick-up. The two dwarves decided that they might need help and hired the guildless Rooks and Deuce to join them. The four of them staked out four different entry points to the warehouse district every night for the last three days. It was Deuce that observed and tracked a large cloaked man who entered the harbor in a small raft. The man entered one warehouse building, left it, walked back to his raft, and sailed downriver. The rogue had gathered the others to help him search the warehouse building. The search took more than an hour, and the foursome began to think that their observations had been noticed and that they had been tricked, when Rooks had the idea to search the top of the structure. The package was found near the edge of the roof when the four were intercepted by three armed men. In the midst of the battle, Rooks had killed one man with deadly bolts of magic, Pent and Trad took another, while Deuce was left to fight a tall half-orc that sent him off the roof. Whoever these men were working for would know that the Mockingbird House had been involved. Trad hoped that whatever retaliation would come would not involve her or Pent.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"A hundredths coinsth for each ofs us on a thimple pick-up," Rooks exclaimed intoxicated, a red haired woman in his lap. Her name was Lori and she had drunken glazed eyes and short red hair. The mage and rogue sat across from each other in a table at the Carrion Inn and were well into their fourth pitcher of beer.

Deuce had trouble thinking clearly. Between the fall in the river, his still sore body, and the alcohol, he found thought came with difficulty. "Sirty coins."

"What'sch that?"

The rogue squinted, trying to see the mage more clearly. "I sthaid thirtsy coins. After havings to buysth a new blade, payingsth the rents to Pentsh, and the drinks toonightsh I haves thirty coinds."

"Stho do anothers job. There's alwaids another jobsth."

Deuce paused, his slurred thoughts interrupted by a flurry of arms. Tara continued wrapping her arms around the rogue's neck, holding him tight and kissing him roughly on the cheek. "Alright, baby. I'm off work so let's get out of here." Tara was cute, a brown haired barmaid with hazel eyes. Her greatest feature were her ample breasts, which she was greatly proud of, always wearing clothes that showed the most of them. Tara once whispered to Deuce that she had even named her two globes, promising that one day she'd tell him those names if he continued to entertain her.

"Shounds gawd, "the rogue replied as he finished off the rest of his beer. He would be sleeping on the floor with Tara at Rook's dormitory room in the College of Magic in Riversy today. Deuce was still living in Trad and Pent's apartment, but tried not to bring women home to the couple. He appreciated them letting him stay for cheap rent and the occasional job and tried not to ruin his welcome. Deuce rose and took Tara by the waist as Rooks and Lori followed the two towards the door.

The rogue stumbled along the beer stained floor, ignoring the dirty looks some of the other patrons gave. Many of them had been trying to entice Tara to the back room or into the alley, even going so far as to offer her money. Lust filled their eyes for her, and jealousy towards him. They would have to content themselves with the used, tired looking prostitutes that filled the marred bar. Even in his drunken state, Deuce sighed at the scene. Sex was fun, but to see men want it to the point of feeling hostile disgusted the rogue. Tara just smiled sweetly at a group of gap toothed, balding men in the corner of the bar, pushed her back up to reveal more of her cleavage, and left the Carrion Inn to the trash strewn streets of Riversy's poorer district.

The four of them began to head away from the slums and towards the College of Magic, ignoring the stray race of ugly dogs called Fido's that filled the streets. Fido's were a strange cross between dogs, coyotes, and wolves. The race of canine was disgusting, with oily thin fur, a pinched slobbery face, and an angry, untameable disposition that ensured no one in their right minds would take them in as pets. They seemed to roam the streets in groups, but were not known to help one another, making them lonely survivors constantly walking through Riversy with survival and procreation the only things on their primitive minds.

Rooks was laughing and pecking kisses on Lori, who was feeling nauseous from alcohol and trying to fend him off. It was a chilly night, so Deuce held on to Tara for want of a warm body. An old drunk stumbled towards the four of them, shouting, "Sirs! Sirs! Help a man in need, sirs! I'm a tired man, sirs, and only wish for a few coins for a meal."

"Go away old man," Rooks shouted and gestured towards him obscenely. "You think we have any money, ourselves?"

"Please, sah! All I'm asking for is a few coins," the drunk begged again as he came close to them and grabbed Rooks by his coat sleeve.

"I said get away!" Rooks angrily pulled his sleeve away from the old man as he leapt backwards. The mage slipped on some street trash and collapsed on his side, followed by the beggar. As the drunk fell on Rooks, his knee went deep inside the mage's stomach, causing him to begin retching with a sickening groan. The drunk began to weep, rocking back and forth and crying something about his pitiful state. Lori seemed stunned by the scene before her at first, until she laughed heartily at Rooks' plight. Tara followed suit as she stepped over the old drunk and told him to get off the drink and run home.

Deuce took a step back from them, disgusted by his puking friend, laughing women, and the old wretched drunk. Suddenly he pictured the man as a boy, vibrant with youth and dreaming of what he would become. The rogue looked around at the filth of this section of Riversy and the barred windows of the surrounding houses. He suddenly felt guilty about his drunken state and meager thirty coins in his pocket. The thief looked up into the stars hovering far above him in the clear night sky and thought, "By the gods, is my life just this? Please let there be something more."


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