“Well hello, dear. What’s a pretty thing like you doing consorting with Dechi? We’ll be taking them off your hands. The king’s men always pay a fair price for them and their so-called greywolves. You and I both know the truth about that, though.” He winked.
The broguish youth was not much older than Dechar. His irises were a blue that grew darker close to his pupils, and his hair and stubble took a subdued, sandy hue around a square jaw. Though muscular and broad-shouldered, his build was fairly trim.
One of the older Alfar spoke in a strange language to the youth, who rolled his eyes and replied in the same tongue, turning his heels and leaving with the rest of the company.
“Wait!” Oliana yelled. “You have to let them go! They’ll be killed if you deliver them to the king!” She ran up to him and grabbed him by the arm. Ghillie Dhu followed her closely and quietly, unable to help in the situation seeing as Oliana was not in actual danger.
The young man reeled and shot her an irritated gaze. “Remind me again how that affects me. The only reason these two aren't already dead is because they're worth more money alive.” He lifted her hand off of his burgundy cloak and noticed her ring.
His eyes widened. “Twin lions… now that is fascinating. And quite valuable.” He ripped it from her finger.
“No! Stop! Give that back. My father used it to propose to my mother!”
“How romantic. Your father must be a man of good taste. They don’t make rings like this anymore. The insignia of Eirethstead has featured but one lion for... must be about twenty years now. Matter of fact, most anything with twin lions has been destroyed. So this’ll fetch a fine price somewhere, I’m sure.”
“My parents are dead. Damn near everyone I’ve ever loved is dead and I WILL NOT let you have Dechar!”
She tried to tackle the young man, failing miserably, being flung to the ground by his strong arm as he caught up with the others.
Up ahead, Dechar had ripped through the cloth round his snout and had nearly succeeded in biting a dark elf’s navy-skinned arm. Ylva's legs were wrapped in chain, so as she tried to take advantage of the diversion to hop away, she stumbled.
“Come a little closer and I’ll bite those points off your ears!” Dechar cried, but he was soon overtaken by several Alfar working together, and sturdy rope replaced the ripped cloth. The magic chains weakened his muscles so that a single stout elf was able to lead him with one end as a leash.
The young man had run to meet the rest upon noticing the altercation. The bandits had no actual experience in the capture of Dechi as they had only just obtained the chains from their shady dwarven counterparts. It looked as though this venture would be harder than they had thought, and if they had bitten off more than they could chew, there was a chance the wolf might do the same in regard to any number of their body parts.
“It’s alright, Dechar. I’m going to get you out of this, one way or another!” Oliana came up to him.
“Are you really still here?” the young man asked. “Don’t you get it? You’ve lost. Now shoo! We don’t need any girly nuisance hanging about.”
The older elf began to speak once again, and the bandits hushed to listen. Oliana wished she knew what was being said, but these beings themselves were entirely foreign to her, let alone their language.
After about a minute, Oliana heard the young man reply to his captain in a tone that led her to think he was objecting about something. The argument ended fairly quickly and the young man turned to her with reluctance, sighing.
“It seems Orlo favors you. He’s decided that you might be useful after all. You will accompany me into the city of Stromton tomorrow to help me with a heist. Alfar are not allowed in these parts, after all, so big jobs like this are normally left to me, but for some reason, somebody thinks it’d be a grand idea to let an inexperienced little--”
“What’s in it for me?” Oliana said. This man spoke entirely too much for her patience.
“You’ll get your wolf’s freedom back if you prove yourself. Which you won’t. But neither of us has a choice in the matter, apparently.”
“I’ll do it,” Oliana said.
“Yes, that’s what I just said,” the young man rolled his eyes again. “For someone who surely speaks this language more than I do, you aren’t very good at comprehending it.”
“I don’t pretend to speak anything more than you do,” she quipped.
The man laughed. “I may learn to like you yet,” he said. “These bastards call me Tihaltak, but humans like you know me as the bold, charming, and adventurous Keon.” He bowed indulgently.
It was Oliana's turn to roll her eyes. “Displeased to make your acquaintance,” she said. "Give me my ring." She tried to snatch it from his hand.
"Not yet, dear," he said, dodging the grasp. "All in good time. At least give me your name."
"Oliana. Now may I please have my ring?"
"Not a chance." He looked away from her and pretended not to notice her frustration, though a grin still shone through.