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Fiance? They certainly hadn't gotten to that level of personal detail in previous encounters. Thorir had no clue Rue was even engaged. He looked down at the unfolded photo, tracking her surprise as if he'd suddenly be able to pick out which one she was referring to.
"That's the one missing. His name is Lykorous." Thorir pointed. "Do you know these people? They're classmates of his." On a sudden suspicion, he scanned the photo for any faces that looked similar to Rue's. He'd thought she was older than the kids pictured there, but maybe she was just mature for her age. Except... this was America. She wouldn't be allowed to work in a bar, would she? Though, if the bar was already illegal, maybe she could.
"Or maybe you know little blonde woman at the racetrack," Njala put in. "She and a little scamp went on high alert when I showed her this picture. They are the shady elements I mentioned."
Thorir kicked back in his seat, draining the last of his glass. He stared at the ceiling for a brief moment, frowning. Even as they pursued this missing kid, a part of him was still stuck on the politics problem. Rue's answer was typical but unhelpful. She couldn't know that paying the money would put him in a much worse position than actually being at odds with the Accia family. He sure did not intend to be quietly folded into a supportive position for some small-time American Sky. It might get around. It might get back to Magne. That would be a disaster. If only Skies were a little more common. Or if only weak ones were more common, anyway. It was getting ridiculous, how difficult it was to switch careers and countries. Regular people did this kind of thing all the time without inciting turf wars, didn't they? A baker didn't suddenly worry about the people in his new city deciding to manipulate him into baking solely for their benefit. There were probably a lot more professional killers in the world than bakers; killing was fairly easy, baking was not.
He came back up to face Rue with a, well, rueful twist to his lips. "If you really do know these people, I'm going to have to start thinking this job was not a coincidence. Whoever sent Ms. Choi my way might know us all."
The girl behind the counter that Thorir had identified as Rue looked every bit a normal girl. She was discussing the families just as casually as if Thorir had asked for directions around the neighbourhood. The slight downturn of her lips was clearly more one of concern than any real discomfort of the topic. The topic being that whoever Thorir and Njala were associated with, they were clearly in opposition to two of the most powerful names in the city.
“‘Lying low’ may mean you have to pay, unfortunately. Are they asking for too much? If you don’t give them trouble, they should be treating you ok, but that’s just how things run here. Taxes to the government and taxes to the local enforcers.”
When Thorir handed Rue the note, one Kells did his best to try and read over Thorir’s shoulder without being conspicuous, Rue’s frown deepened.
“We’re not a business where information gets passed around. I’ve told no one anything about you the same way I expect you’d give me the same courtesy. We’re in just about the safest location on this island, but there’s always a risk if too many people know too much.”
Kells was distracted when Njala suddenly, and in a quite expectant manner, turned toward him. He stepped back at first, suspecting she was going to reprimand him for being nosey but she made no such comment.
He quickly produced the photograph, stepping forward to hand it to Rue.
“I didn’t recognize anyone, but the girl looks familiar. The flashy looking one,” Kells admitted.
Conversely, the reaction from Rue was instantaneous and clearly one of recognition. “How- Where did you get this photograph? Who is missing? Did you come to me because of my fiancé?”
Honestly, Thorir had come to Rue more for local gossip than for actual alcohol, but the subject matter and disappointing morning were powerful temptations. He couldn't resist a glass, after all. He took a sip and sighed deeply.
"I'm TRYING to lie low, except that apparently my office is on an Accia-owned street. Or maybe they just sensed me coming and couldn't leave me alone. In any case, they've been hounding me for days about protection money, as if I need protection."
Njala let out a very Pernille-like growl. Without looking, she snagged Thorir's glass away from him and took her own sip. "You need more, but not that kind." Pernille, lying on the floor quiet and polite as a rug, thumped her tail in agreement. They acted like he was a newborn, sometime. He was a fully-grown man, and a trained killer at that. He didn't need six people dogging his steps at all times to protect him. Two was more than enough already, plus Dagny.
Though of course he wouldn't say no if KELLS was offering.
"Another thing." Thorir pulled out the note that Shiga had handed over last night, holding it up to Rue. "Someone delivered this and a pile of odd jobs to my office last night. Did you tell anyone about the office?" He'd mentioned it to Rue, when they'd first met, in explaining what had brought him to town. Honestly, his money troubles were mostly a matter of advertising. It wasn't like he could buy a billboard while trying to lie low. Dagny would materialize in his foyer to strangle him herself, just before Magnus arrived to batter down the front door. So honestly it was extremely suspicious that someone had not only heard about his business but was interested in helping him out with it. Rue was the only remotely viable suspect, unless Mr. Accia was enacting some devious scheme to tie Thorir down with professional obligation.
"While you are looking at things," Njala began. She stalled for a moment, searching her pockets then Thorirs, then looking sharply at Kells. "Show Ms. Rue the picture? We are looking for missing boy. He is involved with shady elements."
It was a slow morning, with only a few of the usuals nursing their usuals. Rue had set out some paperwork across one of the high-top tables to get ahead in stock in the quieter hours. She expected it to be quiet for another few hours before the midafternoon would bring the start of the usual night business.
There came a knock at the door, and it was a proper knock, so Rue parted from her papers to slide open the view hatch to see a familiar face. Well, a familiar set of shoulders, Thorir was perhaps a bit taller than most of their clientele. Rue unbarred the lock and threw open the door.
"Well if it isn't my favourites, how have you been, Thorir? Njala? Oh and Pernille, I'm so glad all of you could come. It's been a dreadfully quiet morning. Let's get those coats off and get you warmed up- you're all looking so flustered, did you run here?" As Rue spoke, she was waving them to follow, already crossing the room. From a drawer she drew out the large water dish she saved for Pernille's visit and was filling it, along with several small glasses, with water.
She didn't notice the new face behind them at first, but beamed all the same. "Don't be shy, dear, come have a seat. Let's get all of you some water first, then lets get to the real fun."
With the waters distributed, Rue next pulled out a bottle of Thorir's usual to have ready, setting it on the counter to wait for his order. Then it became clear they weren't here just for a buzz.
Of course she knew the names, but why was Thorir looking into this? And what sort of trouble? "Those are some pretty hefty names to be throwing about. Is everything okay? I mean, of course I've heard of them, a business like this? Most of our stock comes through the Choi's.
"Since you're new, you might want to try and lay low. They dabble in a lot of things, but it's just how it is, yeah? They run a lot of the local businesses, and those that they don't usually pay protection to one or the other. If you don't make a fuss they usually don't bother you. Did something happen? Do you need help?"
This is how Kells was going to die: voluntarily getting himself kidnapped by the mafia. He put up no protest as they set about leaving, but was again surprised when they didn't at once hail a cab. Kells was finding a lot of his experience with the mafia was being contradicted by this strange man and his cousin, the owner of yet another complicated name. Kells wondered how long he'd be able to avoid using their last names before he'd be caught out as just not remembering them. He inclined his head in greeting with quiet statement of "Miss" in greeting.
Thorir certainly had an interesting sense of humour. Kells smiled uncertainly and was at once grateful Njala drew Thorir's attention away. He didn't recognize the area they were in and the growing list of street names in his head was making it difficult to keep them all straight. He'd expected the stroll to be short but they were practically crossing the district, and to go where exactly?
The photo was folded back to show a young man, well dressed but fairly unremarkable. Thorir hadn't hesitated to vault up the stairs but Kells lingered a moment even as Njala trudged past. He hadn't expressly been given permission, but Kells unfolded the photo to see what else was pictured. Four others stood beside Lykouros, two to a side. He recognized one more face, the fashionable girl who stood closest to Lykouros, practically hanging off his arm. But from where? Why was her face so familiar?
Kells hurried to catch up just as Thorir was being led to a changing room. It seemed a peculiar time to be shopping for a suit but Kells supposed Thorir must have had a schedule before Kells's arrival.
Wasn't a fitting typically a private affair? Why were Njala and Pernille following? Kells hesitated, unsure if he was supposed to wait out here alone when Thorir's booming voice was greeting someone in the fitting room.
Oh. Kells's heart picked up a pace as he realized this was probably one of those illicit establishments the mafia ran for bootlegged alcohol. Illegal, and not a month passed without the paper reporting one or two had been raided by police. This was not Kells's type of place, but Kells had wanted to tag along. What had he been expecting? A tour through the park?
Clearing his throat and calming his nerves, Kells followed the others through the fake fitting room and into a small space with only a few patrons. The air was heavy with smoke and a stale smell like the wound cleaning solution Vip used, but too sweet. Kells supposed it was everything he expected of his first speakeasy.
Thorir might have cracked something, whipping back around to grin at Kells. "If you're offering to help, I won't turn you down!" He clapped a hand on the man's shoulder. "Come along with us! I was just going to pick something up for the office; we can talk on the way." He'd planned to walk back to X instead of taking another cab. Even if every job in that mysterious letter proved fruitful and lawful, they'd still have to be careful with funds for the foreseeable future. Anyway, he hadn't gotten a chance to exercise yet today and he was itching to work up a sweat. He led the way through the streets cheerfully for the first block or so, until he tried to make a left turn. Pernille yipped sharply, darting in front of him, dancing on her paws. He changed course to the right without complaint. Pernille led the rest of the way there through the city. The sidewalks were crowded as ever, but a big dog followed by three big people cleared the way pretty well, even among the notoriously-unfriendly New Yorkers.
"I don't know if I mentioned--this is my cousin, Njala Ragnvaldr and our friend Pernille. We've only been in the States for a few weeks now. Before that, we were in Copenhagen with the rest of our family. Both only children, but enough cousins to make a chorus line! Had to cross an ocean to make any kind of life. The hardest part so far has been keeping a schedule--nobody in this country is on time for anything! I find it hard to believe your president was once assassinated at a railway station; his poor killer must have had a hell of a time coordinating that."
Njala's elbow hit him in the side while he laughed at his own joke. Thorir grimaced at her, and she pulled the same face back at him, exaggerated. The walk went on and on through New York City, until Thorir was comfortably warm and considering how bad it might be to remove his jacket in public. Pernille dropped back closer and closer to those following her, her head drooping on her neck. Panting noises didn't quite sync up with the movements of the dog's mouth. At one point, Njala seemed to stumble in place, and afterwards walked bent slightly forward. At that point, the dog seemed to perk back up, and sped ahead once more.
"Anyway, yes, Choi. A young kid, Asian. He's gone missing. I have a photo if you'd like to take a look..."
At long last, Lohr's appeared before them. Outwardly, it was a suit shop. The windows were filled with snazzily-dressed mannequins. The steps up to the front door were a nice cooldown. Thorir fanned his collar when he reached the top. Poor Njala was staggering up behind him, Pernille apparently unwilling to let her go even to ascend the stairs.
The bell over the door chimed as Thorir entered. He exchanged nods with the man behind the counter, who eyed their party without interest, even at the entrance of the dog illusion. "Here for a fitting, sir?"
"Yes, I am. Fitting Room Four, please," Thorir announced. The man was a little livelier at that. He hopped off his stool and led them down a short hall, to a door with an iron 4 bolted to it, which opened into a stairwell. Thorir led the way down without hesitation. Njala groaned heartily, and muttered, "You owe me big," in Danish. At the bottom of the dim stairs was another door. This one Thorir knocked at in a pattern of two short-two slow-three short.
The door was opened by a familiar face. "Rue!" Thorir grinned. He'd only been here a few times, and she was petite, but she was probably the friendliest face in the city that Thorir was not related to. Behind her was the shape of the speakeasy's taproom. It looked like any bar Thorir had ever visited in his home country. Only far more difficult to get to. Thorir was lucky he had Dagny, or he'd have never found this place.
"I know it's early, but I was hoping to talk to someone plugged in to what's going on around this neighborhood. I've run into some trouble recently by the names of Accia and Choi. Have you heard either?"
It was unmistable now they were indeed talking about the mafia. That wasn't a suprise to Kells so much as the fact Thorir was suddenly retreating from his previous interest. "Hey, you're not dragging me anywhere, I offered to help."
In truth, Kells didn't want trouble. A more clever man would have stepped back now, with the information he had now, to regroup with the girls and figure out if this was important. Now that they'd released the boy, who took off like a shot, Kells didn't really have a moral reason to be interposing himself in this situation. Especially now they, at least stated, they would not be following the boy.
Then they'd finally said who they were after. And that that they were indeed working for someone within that family.
"Choi?" Shit, Kells didn't want to react too strongly. Of course the family these two were involved with was the same one Vip had been digging up dirt on. Strange first name on their target. Perhaps having a complicated name just came with being a member of the mafia? Well, here went nothing: "I don't know this guy, but maybe I could help? You said you're fresh off the boat? I might not know where to find your man, but I know this city. What could it hurt to have another pair of eyes, right?"
"No, families like..." Thorir trailed off. Did this man honestly not know about the mafia? It was New York City so he had to know ABOUT the mafia, but it clearly wasn't his first thought when he heard 'families' and 'flames' linked in the same sentence. He seemed pretty unfamiliar with flames, too. Did he... not know how to use them?
"Never mind. I'm sorry to have dragged you into this, again. It's probably better for you if you aren't seen talking to me, if you really don't know what I'm talking about and you don't want any trouble." Thorir couldn't help the sad tinge to his smile, at that. So long, best-looking man he'd met in New York so far. Of course an upstanding guy like this would be well beyond Thorir's sphere. And the last thing Thorir would want to do to him was drag him into whatever power plays the local families were pulling on him.
Right then, the kid began kicking up a fuss. Thorir waved at Njala. "Just let him go, already." This had been a bad idea start to finish. Njala sighed, but did as bid. As expected, the child was off like a jackrabbit the second she did so. She slid back into position at Thorir's side, eyeing him in a very 'now what' kind of look.
"Should we follow?" she asked.
"Hasn't done us much good so far."
"A child cannot get a taxi."
"The last thing I want to be arrested for is stalking a child through the streets." And he wasn't sending Pernille alone for love or money. Especially after she'd jumped on the kid like that. He was probably terrified of the big dog illusion now. "Come on. We're going to make a stop before our next lead." They'd hit a bit of a self-inflicted dead end. Clues, but with no direction to take them. With the morning sliding to an end, Thorir thought it was about time to take a step back and think about something else for a little while. Namely, those mysterious letters.
"Anyway, it was good to meet you. Call that number if you run into a Lykorous Choi. Let him know his cousin is looking for him." Thorir waved over his shoulder, turning away from Kells.
Jouett was done with this uncertainty. He was hungry, done with this nonsense and ready to go home. He didn't care about these strangers, he barely cared about why he was here.
An anger cooped up like a cat rearing to pounce was building. He didn't care what would happen to that lady, he had his own hide to watch out for. He was doing what he wanted, and he was keeping it within what he'd been taught to do. These strangers knew nothing.
"Do what you want, but let me go, old hag!" Jouett jerked, leaning his entire weight against the woman's grip.
The new man among them might be a weakness. Jouett fell full force into pity mongering. "I'm just a kid! Mama needs me, I don't care what your doing, just let me go! I promise I won't tell the police, just let goooo!"
Kells didn't consider the downside of letting the man take his hand at first, oiuntil the most recent waterfall of words had emerged and Kells realized just how beyond any form of cover he was. 'Flames' wasn't a term he knew for himself, but knew enough to understand that was how they classified their abilities.
But he was new? There was always strife, between conflicting parties. Different groups and families vying for power with the local police caught up, kneaded and spun about into conditioned little sectors. But [i Copenhagen?] The extent of Kells's knowledge of the city extended to the Cathedral of Copenhagen, a structure he'd once written a paper on.
But flames were the more prominent concern. Kells knew he was terrible at lying from experience. He knew what he had was something to do with flames, specifically Rain, but otherwise his knowledge was limited.
Thorir's was apparently, somehow, even more limited. Or he was actually oblivious. So so [i so] oblivious.
Kells didn't know what would even be helpful at this point. How does one play nicely with someone so entirely incomprehensible?
"Families? This is a big city, there's, uh, there are quite a few families," Kells said, before stopping himself. He shrugged, shifting his weight from one foot to the next. Forget his hide, Vip would have worse retaliation in store for Kells now.
"Yes. I've got what you call 'flame'," Kells admitted, raising his free hand to give finger quotes to the designation. "I'm not looking for trouble, just a concerned citizen."
Then it was about the child, a chip, and a women they were chasing who was connected to the original target. [i That] was how the child was involved?
He wanted to help? Did heaven know that this angel was running around on Earth alone?? Thorir couldn't stop himself from reaching out and clasping Mr. Finnick's hand with both of his own, grinning all over his face.
"Maybe you can! You have Flames, don't you? Are there local families I should watch out for? I've been trying not to step on toes since I moved here, but there are a lot more people here with Flames than in Copenhagen!" Hopefully, if Kells knew of local Flame-users, he'd have something to say about the Chois. Investigating his clients wasn't his job and probably wasn't his business, but everything about the situation he'd found himself in stank of foul play. Shiga wanted to find her cousin without their family knowing about it? Maybe he was running, after all. Maybe all these Flame-users were working for the Chois. Maybe, unbeknownst to Shiga, they were responsible. It was all conjecture. He had no knowledge, no proof, no leads. All he could do was find out everything he could before trying to come up with a plan--like a blind man feeling out the shape of an unknown object before he tried to lift it.
The theater thing was so impressive. Kells was doing so well for himself, it was inspiring. Thorir hoped to someday be able to afford a second bedroom. Or a house that wasn't also his office.
"The plumbing was just this scamp," he jerked a head at the child. "Njala will find out why."
"I know why," she said over her shoulder. "He was creating distraction for woman I was following to get away. Blonde, small. Did not catch her name. She knew our target, too." From her pocket, Njala produced a betting chip and held it out in Pernille's direction. "Nille, can you track?"
Pernille stepped over to sniff at the chip. One ear twisted back, while she shifted from paw to paw. Uncertainty. Maybe. At least Thorir could be sure Pernille would recognize her if they ran into her again. Once she got a scent, she didn't forget it.
The adults were just getting distracted enough that Jouett was going to make another break for it when the woman crouched before him. Jouett was still waiting to see if the wolf-owning woman was going to show up, but no sign of her. Good riddance, her dog was clearly evil.
"Ain't never seen this guy," Jouett said. The guy looked like the type of sucker that would be easy to snatch some quick money off of, but otherwise boring.
Woman? Bonner? "I don't take orders from some [i girl]," Jouett scowled at the implication. "And that wasn't enough to hurt someone. Lady, you aren't very good at seeing, are you? Do you see anyone hurt? Huh?"
Jouett was getting the impression these people weren't really out to string him up from a fire escape. So what, then? Police? Then this new guy, people were watching. They couldn't hurt Jouett out in the open, not now that the initial chaos was passing and crowds were in part investigating Sparky and thier own confrontation. "Lady, how could a kid like me do that? I'm just a little boy and you better let go of me before I start yelling real loud that your kidnapping me."
It was just as Thorir was retorting to the kids comment that Kells found himself wondering just [i why] he had thought it was good idea to give his name and place of work to a criminal. It was a stupid move, absolutely foolish, what had possessed him to give up that identifying information so easily?
What was he saying now? Missing persons? If someone was on the run from the mafia, what for? Did they owe money? Could it be someone who testified against their activities? Somehow the ruffian played a piece in all of this, but Kells didn't have enough information to put together any sort of actual picture of what was actually happening.
Vip was going to have his hide for this, but what alternative did he have? The type of person who was evading the mafia was the sort of person he'd be inclined to help. Doing that would mean he needed more information.
"You're looking for someone?" Kells asked, unnerved by what was appearing to be a frequent fluctuation of temperaments from Thorir. He was very expressive for a man who should rightly be trying to do his dealings out of the public eye.
Best not to press on that, there was no reason to alienate the man. If anything, Kells needed the opposite.
"No, that's not the Paramount," Kells said. "It's a theatre over by Time's Square, we're still in the building so it's nothing impressive, but in a few short years it'll be New York's largest theatre. But what [i did] happen? And to the plumbing, you say?" Should he ask about the business? It might reveal a cover they were using, but it also ran the risk offending Thorir's newest mood, which seemed to be a better one. "This is an easy city to lose people in. Maybe I can help."
Ah, he'd been made. How, though? Was the kid some kind of savant? Or just so chaotic that any amount of harmony was immediately noticeable to him? Thorir dropped his Flames, chagrined and annoyed in equal measure. Nobody was likely to object to the two Danish maniacs and their dog just leaving, magic blending-in or no magic blending-in.
"'Old man'? I'm not even thirty yet, you--!" he snarled, barely catching himself before spitting a curse word at an actual rosy-cheeked cherub in front of an extremely fit man. He swallowed. Breathed. "...Apologies, Mr. Finnick. It's a missing persons case, actually. This race track was a known haunt of our target. And this child apparently an associate. We were just going to ask him about the nature of that association when things got... out of hand."
It was quite a shame that the only employee of this agency who didn't have a massive temper preferred pretending to be a dog in front of non-family-members, actually. Though, hadn't Pernille been the one talking to the child right before he'd exploded the whole infrastructure? Maybe they were all collectively terrible at their chosen profession. That was a new, extremely awful feeling. Thorir had been nothing but good at his last profession. He wasn't used to jobs going this badly. To failing the people depending on him for food this badly.
"Anyway." Shame was pretty good at cooling the heat of attraction, but it didn't make it much easier to speak to the man. If anything, it just made a normally enjoyable experience kind of miserable. Thorir addressed Mr. Finnick's left shoulder. "I'm sorry to have worried you, but..."
Just as he was about to make their excuses, Pernille leaned heavily against his hip. He looked down, into her upturned face. She visibly sniffed the air with exaggerated flares of her nostrils, whining.
Oh. Really? Thorir's mood soured further. Of course the best-looking man he'd seen in the city so far was in with the kind of people he'd most like to avoid. Come to that, was everyone in this whole city part of the mafia? The radio sure made it seem that way sometimes, but he'd assumed it all to be sensationalism. This guy seemed far too mild-mannered on the surface, but then, so did Nille.
Hold on. He didn't know the kid. He said he was an architect. Thorir had never heard of an architect with criminal ties; what the hell would an architect do with them? Could he in fact simply be a random, unattached Flame-user? If so, the odds were greatly in Thorir's favor. Sky types were rare, and he had a fifty-fifty chance on the other six. This could be a very good thing.
He perked up, regaining his steam. "While you're here, what's the Paramount Building Project? We're a new business, new to the States. I hope you're not responsible for this poor place. The plumbing may never be the same again."
Njala, meanwhile, had completely given up on Thorir. She sank to a crouch in front of the child, shifting her grip to both of his hands as she did so. "You don't know this man? You knew woman from before, and our target. What she asked you to do is dangerous. Many could have been hurt. For what purpose? Does she ask you to do this thing often?"
The tall fella didn't seem to be as much of a talker, and an uncomfortable pause came before the kid was finally dropped. Then, suddenly, he was a talker. Not the most coherent, but words were certainly forthcoming in a jumble.
At least the child was dropped, but Kells noticed with a disapproving raise of his eyebrow that the woman with the man was just as quick to catch a hold of the kid. It was better than dangling the kid.
Then the man, Thorir Rad-a string of letters Kells couldn't fathom from a single hearing of it. Who passed over what was easily one of the sketchiest business cards Kells had ever laid eyes upon. A number? For [i what]? There wasn't even a job title. Why would a private eye not want their name on their business card? Kells was was definitely in over his head here, but he slid the card into the inner pocket of his coat all the same. The name itself was of interest if nothing else, Vip often joked something about the power of Thor.
"That's a good start," Kells conceded, casting a quick glance at the kid to see if there were any visible injuries to him. He looked fine, just brimming with snot and tears and looking fit to throw a tantrum.
The woman, who didn't seem so inclined to introduce herself, seemed to be in charge. Her words weren't making sense, but Kells was getting the feeling he was running out of time.
"My name is Kells Finnick, I," He paused as there was a change. It was alarming, because he could feel energy spiking but then it was.....calm. He was in the middle of introducing himself, and cleared his throat before pressing on. "I'm an architect with the Paramount Building Project."
They were on a job? It made sense that they were. Why was Kells questioning their work to begin with? [i Did] he come here often? "Here? By the road?" Dumbly, Kells turned to look around him to get a better bearing of exactly where he was when the orphan started kicking up a fuss again.
"That trick won't work on me, old man!" The brat was practically spitting, and Kells found himself unsure what exactly the kid meant.
What trick? And who was old? Himself? Kells wasn't pulling any sort of trick, and even if the kid knew what Kells could do it didn't make sense he'd accuse Kells of trickery when he was exuberating no energy at all. "I'm not doing anything," Kells said, staring down at his own hands as though expected something there.
Kells's confusion felt less potent when he turned to look at the woman. She was holding the kid. He'd come this way because he was concerned about the kid. He wasn't sure what was happening, but he wasn't liking the fact he was losing concentration on his original purpose. He took a deep breath, quiet and cool and felt the beginnings of embers flaring up should he need them. He wasn't about to fight these strangers, he'd lose, but being ready to slow them down wasn't a bad idea. "What sort of job involves this child?"
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