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Old May 13th, 2013 (8:00 AM).
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Sweet Dreams Sweet Dreams is offline
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Joseph "Honest" Sherman - The Strutting Stagg, Curilan Eveamoor

Honest didn't pay much attention while he followed the small group back to wherever they came from. Instead, he cleaned the blood off of his used knives and then carefully daubed them in poison again. He was beginning to run low, so he should stock back up when he had the chance. Every now and then he'd sneak anxious glances at the heavily wounded girl that Varian carried. Honest, being merely a merchant's son, had never seen anybody seriously wounded before, let alone on the verge of life and death. He wasn't exactly used to battle. How would a mere novice survive in a group of such proficient fighters? But he owed a debt, he reminded himself. (He will survive; he always does.)

When they finally arrived at the inn, the girl they'd rescued showed more life than she had throughout the entire ordeal and rushed towards her father. He wondered what his own father would have done if he'd known that Honest had been kidnapped by professionally trained bandits. It was a good thing he didn't have to find out. His father shouldn't have to deal with that kind of anguish--not after Honest's mother had died years previously.

Honest watched in interest as Varian and the client had a heated argument, becoming quite bemused when a physician suddenly appeared so that he could inspect Honest's shoulder. Proper cleaning and clean bandages were always welcome on an injury, of course, but he wasn't used to the treatment. (Nobody had ever bothered, not for him.) He hadn't seriously injured himself for a long time, which was probably a miracle considering his lack of experience with fighting.

When the mayor announced he was actually the leader of the merchant guild, Honest's jaw dropped in surprise. This meant his father was this man's subordinate in a way. He'd never even have dreamed he would meet someone so important on his journey. All the things he could tell his father when he returned, well, it might just blow him away. When the mayor went on to invite them to a night of free lodgings and beer, Honest found himself very conflicted. He'd never tried alcohol before, although he'd heard much praise for it during his travels. He'd never been in an environment where he'd felt comfortable enough to purposely dull his senses and fighting ability. And even if he was, there was something about losing even one iota of control over himself that deeply unnerved him. (Control. Control was everything.)

Still, he was curious. Especially now that he'd encountered someone like Cass, who was still so incredibly strong even with her affinity for alcohol. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad to try a little bit? Just this once. What would happen, anyway? Tonight of all nights, surrounded by such strong warriors after a harrowing experience, he should be able to let himself go a little. What is freedom if not being able to try things you want to try? (Maybe the alcohol will be enough to make him feel.... real.)

It was enough to convince Honest to accept the ale that was offered his way and take a cautious sip. The taste was more palatable than he'd expected and the warmth that bloomed in his belly was quite pleasant. Making a note to limit himself to one glass for now, he stayed around Cass, unsure of his position within the group and clinging to what amounted to his only connection to the rest of the mercenaries. A jingle of coins when he shifted positions was enough to remind him of part of his promise to Cass. Before he could offer her the money, however, a dwarf walked up to them and initiated a conversation.

Cass did not react well, initially, to the point that she reached for her weapon in anger. Honest watched the discourse with a wary eye, although he wouldn't have dreamed of intervening. He relaxed again when Cass suddenly roared with laughter upon discovering that the dwarf was also apparently a writer. This definitely caught Honest's attention, although he wasn't sure what he felt about it (not that he was ever sure). Being able to write generally meant that you were from the upper class, and Honest tended to avoid those types as much as possible. He'd been used as a messenger before because who better to trust a secret letter to than somebody who couldn't read? At the same time, Honest felt a grudging respect for the dwarf. Reading was definitely a skill that took much time and effort to acquire. Any simpleton could pick up a sword and run someone through with it, even on accident. Literacy was not a product of accident.

Apparently the dwarf could also fight. It was a combination that Honest had only ever witnessed in the most brutal officers, back when he served in the military. Officers had to write, but they never really had to fight--not when there were plenty of soldiers to do the job for them. Honest couldn't help but instinctively distrust the dwarf. Despite knowing that reading was not a sort of magic granted only to those of noble birth, it still felt mystical how somebody could look at a few dashes and interpret meaning from them. Besides, he'd never ever had a good experience with those that could capture words on page. He couldn't be sure this... Anlem would be any different.

Huh. His mug was now almost empty. That was quick. He only half paid attention when the dwarf joined the mercenary group, choosing instead to languidly stretch. Another jingle from his coin pouch met his ears and he hurriedly sat up once he remembered. Quickly extracting a few coins for himself--food, poison and emergencies--he moved closer to where Cass was.

"Here, like I said." Honest presented the pouch of money to her. It was still a sizeable amount, although nowhere near what he had originally. There was just nothing to be done. He then turned to Varian.

"So..." he scratched the back of his head and smiled. (The one he practised in front of a mirror for hours after he observed that this was what people did when being friendly. Or sometimes malicious. It was still difficult sorting out some of the distinctions sometimes but he was learning.) His voice was easy, his posture relaxed; he was looking about as non-threatening as possible with his glaive still strapped to his back. "If you could use another person, I hope I'll do?"

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