"Son of a bitch," Engle mumbled.

"Actually, that's 'son of a bastard'," I corrected him. "My mother was the least bitchy person on the face of this planet."

"It can't be..." the red-haired elf prince murmured. "Lance? Is that you?"

"So good of you to remember the half-elf you got into trouble with the Elders so often, Thalean," I replied, giving him a mocking bow. "Now, please be quiet; I need to talk with Engle."

"What do you want now?" Engle growled.

"Only your cooperation," I told him. "I've been hired for a job, and interference from to say...vendetta will only cause trouble."

"What job?" he demanded.

"I am to keep Thalean safe." When no one replied, I continued. "Normally, I wouldn't have even considered a job like this, but the pay--not a king's ransom., but a god's.  Someone is very interested in keeping this redhead alive." I glanced at him. "Any idea who?"

He shook his head, maintaining his silence. "Oh, well," I sighed. Anyway, I'm guessing that the prince wants to take everyone out of here?"

"Yes, I do," Thalean said.

"One moment, then..." Turning away, I opened another dark corridor. "This will give you that mile away you mentioned, Engle. I suggest you forget your grudge and accept my help this time."

He gave me a stony glare, but stepped toward the corridor all the same. Our gazes never left the other until he was past me and through. "Next!" I called, and Thalean and the other three stepped forward at the same time. Thalean went through first, then the crow-man, and Heather. I stopped the last one before he could pass through.

"Who are you?" I demanded.

"Salleem Bradley," he told me, his voice cold. "And you are?"

"Lance Kairan, Dark Knight turned mercenary." I hesitated before asking the question that had driven me to stop him: "Why can't I sense anything from you?"

He smiled enigmatically. "Everyone has their secrets."

Pushing past me, he entered the darkness. Shaking my head at this mystery, I followed suit.


When the shadows faded away, we were the promised mile away from the city. "What now, then?" I asked Engle.

"You're asking me?" he demanded, incredulous.

"You strike me as the leader type. So, what now?"

He hesitated, as if trying to guess my motivation, then shrugged and looked around. "We need to get further from the city," he decided. "And since I still don't completely trust you, we're going to walk. No more portals."

"Corridors," I corrected absently, already doing calculations in my head. "Do you know where we're going?"

Silence for a long time before I slapped my forehead in self-disgust. "That's right, I forgot. You're not actually from here...or at least not this time. Salleem, any ideas?"

"There's a small town just a few miles off," he replied. "There's a very nice inn there."

"I'll take your word for it," Engle said. "We'll go there."

The End

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