I stood outside of the hall, checking over my equipment one more time. Mark was next to me, cheerfully chatting about nonsense. I could tune out most of it, but one thing he said did catch my attention.

"I heard that three people were arrested the other day. Yeah...one of the guards works here, so he told me all about it when he got back. There was this one guy, clubs just went right through him, and another, just kept saying 'shiny' over and over."

"Sounds like a crow-man," I said.

"You're right there; he tried to fly off when the other two were brought down. But it's the last guy that's the most interesting. Wears weird armor; I've never heard of anything like it before. Supposedly it's a lot more advanced than anything the smiths are making. Can't take it off him, so all the guards think it must be enchanted somehow."

"Is it black, with silver highlights?" I asked quietly.

"How'd you know?"

"I thought as much..." Engle had been arrested there. I'd have to make sure to pay him a visit as soon as this job was over.

Mark had already moved on to another topic, so I went back to tuning him out. As I finished packing my backpack, I noticed that Mark had fallen silent. "What's wrong?"

"Huh? Oh, nothing, just ran out of things to talk about."

"Don't lie to me. You're terrible at it."

He sighed. "Can't get anything past you...all right. You're a lot like my little brother, you know that?"

"I didn't know you had a brother."

"He died about ten years ago...I guess I never really got over it." He shifted his gaze, so he wasn't looking me in the eyes. "You don't look like him, but you act just like him."

"Hey, Mark..."

"Yeah?" He was looking me in the eyes again.

"I'll come back. I'm not gonna die on you now. Not until you can beat me at your drinking games."

Mark's customary grin slowly appeared on his face. "All right, you've got a deal."

"See you when I get back, then." I started walking, waving over my shoulder.

"See you, bro," I heard him whisper.

The End

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