The unit continued the dinner that Martine’s pilfered coins were affording them. Adrielle drank until she had an actual buzz going, and the Breton, trying to keep pace with her friend, indulged until she thought she might regret it come the morning. Kang laughed long and loud at the women’s antics, drinking right alongside them and generally enjoying himself for the first time since his arrest. After a couple of hours, the money ran out, and they made their exit from the Merchants Inn.
When they stumbled out into the street, a small mob awaited them, with a familiar face in the lead. Fergus smiled nastily when he saw Kang and his companions. “Having a good night, Orc?” he asked.
“Always. We’ve drunk this place dry, eaten our fill, and demolished their women. You’re welcome to go in and have my scraps though. That seems to be your thing.”
“Ooo,” hooted Martine.
Fergus snorted. “Get him.”
Adrielle slurred something about “Dibella” and “buzzkill,” while Martine fumbled her sword free of its sheath and readied it. “Okay, so we’re doing this,” she said.
Fergus leapt first, swinging a club at Kang’s face. The Orsimer tried to dodge, but his reactions were slowed by the alcohol and the Colovian’s weapon cracked into the side of Kang’s skull, jarring his head to the side. The former Arena champion slowly turned his head back to face Fergus, grinning without mirth as his split cheek healed in seconds. A beat later, the rest of the mob surrounded Kang and tried to bring him down with a flurry of truncheons. His fighting instincts, developed in slavery to a Daedric cult and honed in the Arena, kept him ahead of the attempts of the small fry.
Martine called out “Hey! Get offa him!” and started hacking at the closest of the mob. Her attack put them off balance and Fergus yelled at her to stay out of it.
Neither she nor Adrielle were inclined to do that. The Nord said, “Hey, you guys! Freezed!” She then evoked elemental cold across three of the men who were completely unprepared to face a magical assault. Adrielle’s hands splayed and waves of frost coated the rabble, draining their strength and rendering them unconscious. As they fell, the Nord giggled about her pun.
“I shoulda remembered the jokes,” said Martine.
Kang laughed, too. “You are a fool, Fergus. You think I am the dangerous one here.”
The Colovian snarled and swung savagely at Kang’s knee. The Orsimer moved his leg back, but it cost him his balance. Kang decided he’d had enough and launched forward out of the mob to shoulder check Fergus, knocking the man back a step. The mob followed, but Kang easily kept ahead of them, and a few even stumbled.
“Show you who’s little,” Martine grumbled as she pursued the gang to reach Fergus. Jode’s Claw shined brightly in the shadows as she worked like a graceful butcher, felling three men where they stood.
“No time for jokes, you guys are in the wrong place, you need to leave before it gets too shocking for you,” quipped Adrielle. Lighting arced from her outstretched hands, stunning two more thugs into submission. She hiccupped. “I am not enjoying this.”
Fergus raised his club in both hands, an expression of utter fury on his face as he saw the fight turn so thoroughly. However, his blow never fell, as something hits him from behind. He dropped the club, then fell to his knees. Owydon stood behind him, looking a little startled. Fergus fell face first to the stones, a dagger in his back.
The unit looked at the Blademaster quizzically. “I … I thought he was about to kill you,” said Owydon.
“I’m sure he was about to try,” said Martine, glancing distractedly at the blood on her blade.
“Oh crap! Move!” Adrielle ran over and checked Fergus for signs of life. Then she poured healing magic into his dying body, stabilizing the man. Martine wiped the silver sword clean and sheathed it, moving to watch Adrielle with a sort of puzzled curiosity. The Nord fell back on her haunches. “It’s okay, it’s okay. Fewer deaths the better, now he can be arrested.”
“What about them?” Martine asked, pointing at the men she’d killed. Adrielle stood and walked over to the bleeding men to try to help them as well. They were already gone, and she shook her head sadly.
Kang nodded to his gladiatorial mentor. “Thanks for looking out for me, Owydon. As always.”
Then Tristane emerged from the shadows of the nearby alley. “That’s one interpretation.”
Owydon narrowed his eyes at the Breton. “What? You.”
“I don’t think I’m going to need the full twenty-four hours, Kang,” said Tristane.
Kang glanced over at the man. “Tell me what you believe then.”
“It never would have occurred to me if only Fergus hadn’t been so prideful.”
“You shut your mouth, criminal,” Owydon said harshly. “I know the type of man you are.”
Tristane chuckled. “And I thought I knew the type of man you were.”
“Boys! Boys! You’re both pretty,” said Martine.
Adrielle looked up and said loudly “Nooope! No more drunken life-saving tonight! No more fighting gentlemen!”
Tristane’s posture remained relaxed, and he didn’t even spare the women a glance, as he continued speaking to Owydon. “But maybe it was your honor that wouldn’t allow even a potentially crooked Arena Champion.”
“Enough,” said Kang. “Plain words. If you have an accusation, make it.”
Tristane glanced at the Orsimer. “Remember how I said I asked Owydon about you? You weren’t the only one I approached. You’re just a bit more difficult to reach. That man you ‘killed.’ He was a gladiator, too, wasn’t he?”
“Shut up,” said Owydon. His voice had lost a little conviction.
“Do I really need to spell it out, Kang?” said the Breton. “Ask him.”
Kang blinked. “You are saying that Owydon killed the gladiator and let me take the fall for it.” Tristane nodded slowly, a self-satisfied expression on his face. Kang turned to Owydon with narrowed eyes. “Speak. And make it the truth.”
“I … knew you would have dealt with this scum. I saw you talking to Drev, and I knew he’d already cut a deal. Him, I didn’t care about so much. But you?” Owydon looked up at Kang’s face. “I wanted you to be so much better. I thought if you spent some time locked up, it might cool your rage. Curb your … demons.”
“So you did what must have been very hard on an ‘honorable’ man like you, and committed murder for me,” said Kang.
Martine aimed a glance at Adrielle. When the Nord looked back, confused, she raised a hand for a moment, shook her head, and lowered it again. Adrielle shrugged and turned her attention back to the Redguard.
“Killing Drev was no dishonor,” said Owydon. “But using his death like that surely was.”
“If you say so,” said Kang with a shrug. “I’ve never understood the concept anyhow.”
Owydon winced. “I … I guess I always knew that, too.”
“Either way it took guts. Conviction. That I understand. And respect.” Owydon frowned up at the Orsimer. “But. Today you turned to me toward Tristane, using me for your ends. You manipulated me while you hid in the shadows. I knew people like that once. They raised me. I’ve told you all about them. And I swore I would never be controlled like that again!” Kang released his full rage with a punch to Owydon’s head. The Redguard fell hard on his ass in the street, stunned as Kang turned toward the barracks and stalked off.
“Oh, by Dibella…” said Adrielle, wincing.
“Ouch,” agreed Martine.
“Well, then,” said Tristane, glancing from Kang’s back to Martine. “Bit of a mess there,” he added, indicating the dead men.
“Hm?” said Martine, following his gesture. “Oh. Right. Them. Hey, I’m not strong enough to subdue big, strong men.”
Tristane shrugged, unconcerned. “Fortunately, I am a citizen in good standing and witnessed the entire altercation. You were defending yourself and your friend against these armed hooligans. I will say as much to the Watch.”
“You will?” Her face lit up, but it vanished in an instant as she (for once) thought it through.
“Of course, my dear. What Are Friends For?”
“And old friends twice over.” She moved her hands beneath her cloak to ball them into fists out of sight.
Tristane looked up as booted footsteps began to approach. “Ah, here they are now.”
“Thank goodness,” said Adrielle.
The Watch approached and started questioning the conscious. Tristane gave them an account that makes the unit smell like a rose. He didn’t even mention Owydon’s attempted murder of Fergus, nor that the Arena champion had been the ringleader of the mob. The Watch hauled the unconscious men off, while Tristane compelled Owydon to help him get Fergus up. They walked off together, speaking in low voices.
Martine looked back at Adrielle. “Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I may have had enough to drink tonight.”
“Yuuup!” said the Nord.
“Do you still see Kang?”
“KANG” Adrielle called after the Orsimer, drunkenly loud. Then she began to jog after him.
“QUIET!” shouted an annoyed voice from some upper window.
“Shit. SORRY!” the Nord said in a stage whisper.
“Oh please don’t make me run,” said Martine. Walking briskly was perilous enough, but she managed.
Adrielle began to veer a little drunkenly and slowed for Martine to catch up. She then crouched and looked back at Martine. “Hop on! We should catch up to Kang and get to the barracks.”
Martine’s eyes widened appreciably. “Oookay…” She saddled up.
Adrielle began to follow Kang at a steady pace again. “Wait up Kang! You okay?” she called as they headed down the road. Martine giggled like a little girl, wondering when she had ever had fun like this. Kang chuckled as they caught up to him, and the unit continued to the Barracks for sleep.