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Into the Breach - Elynde's Arrival (Attn Amon)


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Elynde leaned back against one of the many tall ash trees, native to this part of Andor, that lined the track she was following and took a long thoughtful drink from her water bottle, scanning the surroundings with a sharp gaze. Nothing stirred.


She was beginning to suspect that she wouldn’t find this Band by herself but given the isolation of the area, wasn’t entirely sure what to do about the predicament. Dusk would not be long in making its presence known and she wasn’t particularly enthralled with the idea of sleeping out there alone for the night. At least it isn’t raining or likely to any time soon, she contemplated the clear sky for a few seconds as she replaced the water bottle in her pack.


Deciding there was nothing for it but to continue in the same direction, on the premise that the track was worn enough to be regularly travelled, Elynde set off, determination marking every stride. She didn’t mind walking, having become accustomed to it in the last couple of years, but she did find herself longing for a hot bath to get rid of the dust and grime that accompanied any journey. Hasty washes in cold streams aside, she had not had the luxury of a bath in several weeks and was feeling the lack.


An hour later Elynde found herself following a wider pathway, wide enough for two horsemen abreast, the tightly packed dirt suggesting heavier local traffic and the possibility of nearby farms or villages. The area was too rural to support anything that could seriously be called a town and she knew Baerlon was well to the north of her current position.


A sharp cracking noise brought her out of her reverie suddenly, though she did not stop walking. There was nothing to see amongst the dense trees and scrub but there was no doubt in her mind that someone was there, watching her progress. Instinct told her it was no animal that had caused the sound.


There! she caught a brief flash of metal behind a storm damaged trunk off to her left, just tall enough to conceal a person, and as she reached it, she casually dropped her pack to the ground and stretched. “I know you’re there, so you’d be as well showing yourself,” Elynde’s voice was almost conversational, belying the tension in her frame. There was no point in antagonising someone who might... might... not have any ill intentions.


A man slowly appeared, moving into the centre of the path, facing her with an unpleasant grin on his face. He was about an inch shorter than Elynde, his skin swarthy and pockmarked, framed by lank, greasy blonde hair that hung just to his shoulders. His sword hung at his belt untouched. Obviously he didn’t see her as any real threat. His mistake. He took a few steps closer, the grin becoming more of a leer and she could see his train of thought reflected in his lascivious expression.


“Wha’s a lil’ birdie like you doin’ out here alone then, eh?” the accent was broad and not one Ely could place easily. Not Andoran that was for sure. Wherever he was from, she misliked the implication of his words when added to the way his eyes slid over her frame. She shifted her weight imperceptibly, replying, “I’m looking for the Band of the Red Hand. If you happen to know where they are, I’d appreciate directions.”


“The Band is it missy?” the man chortled as though she’d told a joke. “Well now, I reckon I could be showin’ ye the way... if ye make it worth my while...”


Ely’s hands moved for her daggers of their own accord just as the fool lunged for her arm, slicing in rapid succession across his wrist and shoulder. She barely noted the surprise on his face as she spun behind him, curving her arm around his neck so her blade lay across his throat. “One move,” she grated in his ear, “just one...” The threat hung there for a moment until Ely’s ears registered the jingle of bridles and the stamp of several hooves heralding an audience to the little contretemps.


Raising her head slightly, she favoured the party of horsemen with a hard-eyed stare, picking out the likely leaders. Deliberately, she took a step back then raised one booted foot, planting it firmly on her assailant’s rear before shoving hard and sending him sprawling face down in the dirt.


“One of yours is he?” she enquired, a clear edge of contempt to her voice and an eyebrow arching sardonically. These newcomers certainly looked like soldiers but if they were part of this infamous Band, they chose their company badly... very badly indeed. Either that or discipline was lax. Perhaps joining them had not been such a good idea.


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   “Yes he is actually, a rather good Scout, or at least so he would have us to believe.

     Amon had never seen anyone jump so high before, nor twist around and move to the defensive so quickly. Not when he had crept up behind them and startled them. It was obvious that his woman in front of him had some skill, but whether or not she had the sense to go with that skill was yet to be established.

   “If i was in your position i would be more amenable.” Amon twisted his sword and made the woman in front of him turn to face him, it was hard to not do as a sword commanded when it was resting on your jugular.

   “I am Amon Turamber, supposedly the Commander of this motley bunch. “ Amon turned to glare at the troops who Elynde had addressed. “It is usually common sense to not challenge a group who has you out numbered considerably. But i guess common sense does not run in your family, eh girl?”


Amon Turamber


Under Commander, BotRH


Berserker for Hire


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Elynde turned… slowly… and faced the man holding the sword, currently aimed at her throat.


“If I was in your position I would be more amenable.”


Carefully, not allowing her amusement to show, Elynde relaxed her defensive position and equally carefully, slid her blades into their sheathes at her hips before opening her hands palm upwards to show the lack of threat. Not that any threat would be seen from one lone female but she supposed he might wonder if she had company nearby.


“I am Amon Turamber, supposedly the Commander of this motley bunch.”


Ely didn’t miss the glare at the horsemen behind her. So, he’s in charge and he’s not best pleased. That was all to the good in her opinion.


“Well Amon Turamber,” she inclined her chin, ignoring the sword tip and the danger it represented. “I am Elynde Sidoro. I seek the Band of the Red Hand as I was just telling that… individual…when he accosted me. As to being amenable,” her eyes hardened further and her words proudly challenged the notion, “would you cower and scrape if you were cornered and outnumbered? If I am to die, I shall do so on my own terms.”


Perhaps not the wisest response girl, the thought flitted ruefully across her mind. But truthful for all that. Now to hope that he would be able to tell her what she wanted to know or her guess as to their affiliation was wrong and she was in more hot water than she could handle!



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    “What i would do is not allow myself to be outnumbered and cornered. But then i am not you and so do not share your outlook on life.”

    Amon did not need reminding just how tenuous a hold on life he had, After the recent events in the Mountains of Mist; he was even more concerned about the men under his command.

    “However, i admire your courage Elynde, it is not every day we come across a man with as much courage as you have displayed.”

    “Well most men i have known have more courage when they are in their cups.........You however seem sober. Is it your day off the drink?”

    Ely regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth, but she had always stood up for herself, and she would not  back down no matter what.


  Move out now, make our heading north” Amon lowered his voice as the Sergeant moved closer.

  “And make sure those Scouts are more alert, if a slip of a girl can catch one of them unawares, what would a Trolloc do to them?”

      Amon kicked his heels into the flanks of his horse and did not bother to look back to see what response this Elynde gave. He had enough on his mind with the recent losses to be bothered if some waif and stray followed through with her commitment or not


Amon Turamber


Under Commander, BotRH


Berserker for Hire


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Elynde wiped the palms of her hands down her thighs once the last of the horsemen had passed her, a solitary concession to the strain of the last few seconds. You’re lucky he didn’t run you through on the spot, she admonished herself. She didn’t usually let her tongue run away with her like that and wasn’t certain what had prompted the momentary madness.


Regardless, she’d still had no straight answer as to who they actually were. No mention of the Band or any other militia group. They could simply be brigands for all she knew but somehow, the air of command and military bearing that was settled around Amon gave the lie to that idea. He seemed young to her for a leader of men, probably around her own age or even younger, but the authority was natural, habitual. Certainly a man that other men would respect and follow although her amusement returned as his words regarding being cornered and outnumbered echoed at the back of her mind. Nobody who was human was infallible and she’d lay bets it’d happened to him at some point. Everyone had a learning curve. She shrugged it off good naturedly, putting it down to typical officer talk when there was a need to avoid losing face rather than any true slight to her. She had been a little careless.


Ely watched the retreating group speculatively as she picked up her discarded pack and straightened her clothing. Dragging a distracted hand through her thick dark hair, she decided that following them was as good a plan as any for now. They were headed in the same direction she’d been travelling and it wasn’t as if she could lose them. The signs of their passage were too many to be hidden and they weren’t making any attempt to do so in any case.


Decision made, she strode after them, not rushing to keep them in sight but not lagging either. The possibility of a night’s sleep in safe environs was too enticing to pass up and she wasn’t near prepared to give up on joining the Band anyhow.


The soft light of dusk had become near full dark by the time the track left the trees and crossed open arable lands. The lights of distant villages appeared only to be swallowed by darkness as the men ahead kept moving at the same steady pace. Elynde kept her distance but hoped they’d reach their destination sooner rather than later. She’d have little time to choose an alternative resting place if her judgement was wrong.


Finally, their route having taken them back into deep forest, sounds of activity filtered back to Ely and Amon’s group came to a halt as a challenge was called to identify themselves. Dark walls loomed up, only dimly seen so well did they blend into the surrounding trees, giving an ominous impression of incredible size. No small outfit this then. Ely relaxed again, though her eyes kept a careful watch, and continued walking until she came abreast of the lead riders.


“The Band of the Red Hand I presume?” the words were quiet but pitched to allow anyone nearby to hear and respond if they chose. If not, well, she’d no doubt find someone more free with information than those she’d come across thus far.



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    “No this is not the Band of the Red Hand, this is the Citadel.”

    Amon watched the young woman’s face, searching it for any sign of frustration or annoyance. Amon was not a mean spirited man, far from it actually, but his sense of humour often left people confused as to whether or not he was joking.  Before he could say anything else though, a figure detached itself from the group of men stood off to one side and approached Amon and Elynde.

    “Don’t be so harsh on the girl Amon, one day she could be in a position to save that fool neck o’ yours.”

    Amon did not even need to turn to know who this was. Although Amon was very relaxed about proper protocol there was not many men in the Band who would address him with so much familiarity. “And she does not need an old letch like you slobbering over her either Ham.” Amon turned to face his old friend, a big grin on his face. “So how did the Scout training go Amon, they must have been doing something right if you are bringing strays back with you.” Ham’s gap toothed smile turned his old grizzled face into the face of a doting grandfather, that was until you noticed the smile did not touch his eyes.

    “They still need work Ham; this young thing was able to approach them without being detected. Mind you she made less noise than our enemies would do so they have that going for them. But their noise discipline is still not good enough. We have a lot of work to do with them my friend.”

    Aware that their guest was growing impatient, Amon turned to face her. “I am sorry for the comment earlier, however this is the Citadel and we are the Band if the Red Hand. Why don’t you take our horses over to the stables on the next street. Tell them i sent you and that i will have their hides if any of your things go missing. My name is Amon Turamber, you will be able to find me in the Gap Inn, ask anyone where it is and you will not miss it. Come on over and i will stand you a drink and we can talk about what brings you to such a salubrious place.” With that Amon turned back to Ham and the two men started talking about ways to improve the training of the Scouts as they made their way along the busy street. Just as they were about to turn the corner, Amon stopped and glanced back. There was something about that girl that tugged at his memory, but for now he could not think why.


Amon (Tik Tik) Turamber


Under Commander, Band of the Red Hand


Berserker for Hire


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For the second time in as many hours, Elynde quashed an urge to laugh, hiding her amusement at Amon’s words, and focused instead on the older man who provided a stark contrast to the younger. Ham was clearly a friend of long standing, regardless of their respective ranks, and one who was afforded considerable leeway at that.


She listened appreciatively to the banter flowing between the two, taking some comfort from it. She had noted over the years that humour was a cure-all the world over, whether it was soldiers in an army, merchants' guards, waifs surviving on tough streets or sailors confined to ships for months at a time... each used humour as an outlet for frustrations, anger and simply for things they could not change but must deal with somehow.


As the minutes passed, however, Ely tried to contain her growing impatience. Now that she knew she was in the right place, she wanted to get settled in and acquainted with her new surroundings.


“…this young thing was able to approach them without being detected.”


Ely’s stare hardened. Why the insistence on referring to her as though she was barely away from her mother’s skirts? Anyone with an eye in their head could see she was far from young any more!


With an inward sigh of irritation, she pushed the oddity away to be considered later but it was hard to put aside years of ingrained habit. In the Rahad, a woman would be more likely to kill a man for such a slight than to let it slide and have no qualms doing so. You are no longer at home though, the small voice reminded her. Time and more than time to be accustomed to such differences. Besides, she had never been one of those to kill indiscriminately though she might thump heads or leave someone with a cut or five to remind them of their errors. Ely’s lips did twitch then. Nobody had ever crossed her twice.


Amon’s instructions interrupted her meandering thoughts and she nodded briefly, taking the reins of his mount and forbearing to point out that she had no horse to be stabled. Orders were orders. There was no need to ask for directions. She simply followed the rest of the riders as they progressed slowly through the still busy streets, taking in all the sights and sounds as she went.


The Citadel, she could see now, was far from complete and signs of construction were everywhere. There must be a larger encampment in the vicinity to cater for everyone. The people, for not all were soldiers, looked content as they went about their business. There was no hint of anyone being ill fed or impoverished here though with the changes taking place in the world outside, Elynde was moved to wonder just how long that would last.


Reaching the stable, a building of considerable size to cater for the many cavalry horses, general stock and pack animals, she handed over the reins to a groom and arranged for her pack to be kept safe until she returned, repeating Amon’s warning to the man in charge. He looked affronted but made no demur, merely grunting his acquiescence before moving off to shout at a stable lad who was manhandling a prime piece of horseflesh.


Wandering back outside into the warm night air, Ely spied a convenient water barrel and, hastily rolling up the sleeves of her somewhat rumpled shirt and loosening the ties at her neck, scrubbed cool water over her face and arms. Refreshed and with the grittiness removed from her eyes, she dragged damp fingers through her hair, combing it into a semblance of tidiness and smoothing strands back from her face before setting off in search of the Inn Amon had named.


It proved easy enough to find and, much to her relief as she eased through the door, was still relatively quiet for the hour. Ignoring the few patrons and oblivious of the interested looks she was receiving, Ely’s eyes scanned the room, noted the layout, found the back exit and approvingly noted the cleanliness and order of the bar itself. Finally, having decided that she’d be prepared to drink whatever was served in the establishment, she wove her way between the few tables until she stood consideringly before the man sitting in the corner with his back to the wall.


“Expecting a flanking action?” she enquired laconically, conveniently ignoring the fact that she’d already established an escape route herself.  



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    Amon watched as the door opened and the girl stepped through it, her eyes instantly scanning the environment. Amon recognised what she was doing and realised his earlier assessment of her had not been that far of the mark. She had skills, but they needed honing, the rough edges removing and a finesse that she did not currently portray would then allow her to be less obvious in what she intended.

    As she walked across the floor, Ham nudged Amon, a laconic smile appearing on his face. “She is about t’ take the bait Amon, this be a bet i am going to win.” Ham continued to smile as the girl moved closer to the far wall. ““Expecting a flanking action?”

    At the sound of her question Ham burst out laughing and demanded his payment. “You are an evil man Amon, and she is not going to forgive you for this prank.” Pocketing his winnings, Ham rose from his stool and made his way over to where Elynde was standing. Snatching the hood from the soldiers head, Ham revealed a face split by a large grin. “Don’t you be taking any notice of these fools, missy. They like their pranks and play them on every one of us, myself included.” Scowling at the grinning buffoon in front of him, Ham guided Elynde over to where Amon was sitting. “Take a seat, and tell us what brought you to this disreputable part of Manetheren?”

    Ham was fairly sure there would be words about this prank, and he had no doubt who would catch the worst of it, but at least he could say he had tried to deflect the blame from Amon. Turning to his friend, he watched as Amon unwound his long hair, letting it hang freely down his back.




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  • 3 weeks later...

Momentary puzzlement gave way to mild irritation at being caught out as understanding dawned on Elynde. The mens’ laughter around her was raucous but there was no ill intent behind it and she took Ham’s words at face value, inclining her head ruefully in acknowledgement of the ruse.


“Take a seat, and tell us what brought you to this disreputable part of Manetheren?”


Ely hooked an ankle around the leg of an empty chair, drawing it out and seating herself with one booted ankle resting on her other knee, the very picture of ease, before responding.


“Rumours, Ham. Rumours and tales of uncommon luck follow this Band wherever it goes. Being a merchants’ guard is honest enough work but it seems there might be a different kind of opportunity here.” She was not about to spill her life story to strangers. Looking for adventure was surely a common enough reason without baring her soul.


Finally, her eyes turned to Amon. They held no laughter in their dark depths but rather a sparkle of fire and a promise of payment to be taken at some other date. She had no doubt where the prank had originated and she’d certainly not missed the coins changing hands. But that was for later. There were more important matters to be dealt with now.


“So, how do I go about getting signed up officially? I’d imagine it’s not so simple as just walking in and deciding to stay,” she queried dryly, taking the mug of dark liquid that Ham thrust towards her and sniffing it suspiciously. Whatever it was, it wasn’t anything she’d served at home and she took a cautious drink. The flavour was rich and many layered, more than pleasant and the smile she favoured Ham with was one of delight, transforming the hard angles of her face and warming her eyes as she nodded approvingly. Her professional interest had her sorting through the possible ingredients while she waited for an answer.


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  • 2 weeks later...

   Amon would have cursed Ham out, if that had been his style, but it was not so he decided that silence was the better part of valour in this instance. As Ham and Elynde crossed the room to where he was sitting, Amon watched their approach through lidded eyes. He really did not need another female recruit, not after recent events. It was never easy for Amon to accept the death of anyone, but it was even harder for him to accept the death of females, and recently he had witnessed too many of them dying. As far as he was concerned, warfare was bad enough without there being the need for women to become involved.

   Ham and Elynde sat down and then started to chat, briefly. Amon listened, his gaze never leaving Elynde’s form, calculating her physical strength and stamina. There was nothing remarkable there, she was obviously healthy and seemed to have a good level of fitness as well. However, Amon wondered what her mental toughness would be like. Could she stand and face a charge of Trollocs, or would she break and run screaming?

   “So, how do I go about getting signed up officially? I’d imagine it’s not as simple as just walking in and deciding to stay,”

   “Actually it is as easy as that, if say you want to work in the kitchens or an Inn such as this. There are also some, shall we say, less than savoury places you could work in, but i would not recommend them to you.” Amon paused, watching her reaction to his words. It was obvious that she was not here to work as a scullion, but then Amon was not going to make this easy for her. If she had the fortitude and resilience to put up with him, then that was a first step to getting what she wanted.

   “So which is it for you then, the kitchens or a bar? If you let me know i am sure i can put a word in for you with the owners and then you should have no trouble finding work there.”


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  • 5 months later...

Fire and humour alike vanished from the dark eyes in an instant as Ely favoured Amon with a flat, expressionless stare. She recognised baiting when she heard it.


What’s his game? Is this Band so good it has no need of soldiers any more or is it just me that he has a problem with? With that thought, a suspicion crept into her silent wonderings, a suspicion she was almost certain was right. No, not me. He has a problem with women. The question is... why? Does he think they belong at hearth and home... or is there more to it? Amon did not strike her as a man bothered by petty prejudices but one could never tell what oddities might take another person.


Nodding thoughtfully, as though considering his words seriously, Ely played for time and debated how best to respond. Losing her temper would avail her nothing. She was going to join this Band.


“Working in the kitchens is no doubt respectable employment but not the kind I have any skill at, let alone the inclination for,” she began. “As to the inns, I could run one single handed and likely better than most,” her chin lifted with pride. The words were no boast merely simple truth though she could not prevent the edge of pain that clipped them short. “That life is past and gone though.”


Ely drained the remainder of her drink, using the pause to keep a tight control on her memories. “These, ‘less than savoury’ places you mention… well, shall we say that unless you’re fond of piles of dead bodies around your camp, that would be unwise? No, I am not here to wash clothes and scrub floors nor to minister to any other “needs”. I came because I heard the Band had need of swords. I am no soldier...yet. But I can fight and a soldier is what I wish to be. I was told women were trained here too. Correct me if I’ve been misinformed and I shall take my leave on the morrow.”


Tiredness hit Ely suddenly, making her shoulders slump briefly before she caught the weakness and straightened. To have come this far for naught would be a blow but it would not be the first and she’d find another path if needed.


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   Without bothering to respond to Elynde’s words, Amon pushed his chair back and stood up. “If you want to be one of us there is something that you need to see, and need to see now. If, once you have seen what i have to show you, you are still stuck on this foolhardy course of yours, then we can talk about signing you up. I suppose you will be chaperoning us Ham?”


   A slight nod of the head indicated that Ham was going to accompany them, but there was a slight twist to his mouth that told Amon all he needed to know. I will worry about Ham’s hurt feelings later, for now i have more important things to deal with.


   Amon strode out of the Inn, not bothering to check to see if the girl was going to follow him. Whether she did or not was no concern of his, if she wanted to risk life and limb by following whatever fool hardy course she had set for herself then that was up to her. Amon would do his best to dissuade her.


   It did not take long for Amon to reach the area of the Citadel he was aiming for, it was a well trodden route, for him, and one that had even more poignancy after the recent events.


   Amon lead Elynde and Ham to a small walled off area of the Citadel that was the cleanest and most well kept area inside the walls. The reason why became all too evident as soon as one stepped through the wrought iron gates. Row upon row of graves covered the area bounded by the walls. Some were more elaborate than others, but all of them carried the mark of the Band of the Red Hand, and each grave contained the remains of those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice for the Band. Most had died in bloody battle, screaming their lungs out as they died a messy, nasty death. In all of the songs sung about the Band, not one of them touched on this side of things, except for one song, and Amon had heard that more times than he ever wanted to.


   Standing inside the gates, Amon abruptly turned around and faced Elynde. “Take a good look around this place, read the names engraved here, take in what this place means. This is your ultimate reward for joining us, and there is nothing i can do to prevent that.” Amon paused for a moment, letting the portent of his words sink in, and then continued. “If you still want to join us, and share in this dubious reward then i am sure Ham will show you to my Office.”  Amon paused for a moment, his gaze lingering on one particular grave. It was not as elaborate a grave as some, but that in no way diminished the importance of the person buried there.


   Without another word, or a glance backwards, Amon strode out of the cemetery, his back as straight as a ram rod, his pace driven by the urgent need to get away from this reminder of so many past events that he would prefer not to remember.





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Silence blanketed the small graveyard after Amon’s abrupt departure, neither Ely nor Ham seeing fit to break it, both equally immersed in their own preoccupations.


Ely took Amon at his word and moved steadily around the many graves, reading the litany of names with a sombre face. Battles the size of those the Band experienced were an unknown quantity for her but she had listened well over the months to others speak of it. They spoke with both fear and an element of bafflement... almost as though it was too large a concept for the average mind to encompass. In many cases, men talked of battle as though they didn’t quite believe it had happened. That was when words did not simply fail them entirely.


As her footsteps led her back towards the gate, Ely met Ham’s stoic, measuring look with a level one of her own before turning back for a final long look at the mismatched collage of stones and grass.


“Death is a part of living,” she murmured softly. “There is nothing here to dissuade me from my course, Ham. One woman, or man, would be hard put to make a difference on their own in these times... but this Band can. It matters not if I end in a grave like these or an unmarked one in a ditch somewhere. Better by far than dying in some pointless duel or stupid accident. There are changes afoot that are greater than any one person I warrant and I will be a part of it, not a bystander waiting for things to happen to her.”


Ely had not intended the flood of words. She was not one for her explaining herself normally but there was something about Ham which seemed to invite confidences. Surprisingly, she thought she detected what might be understanding and a little respect in his craggy features as he cocked his head in the direction of the camp.


“Best we take you to see Amon. Unless I miss my mark, you won’t be leaving us any time soon missy,” the beginnings of a grin accompanied the man’s pronouncement and Ely responded with a smile of her own.


“You’re mark is true enough, let’s get on. I’m tired enough to sleep for a year and it’s late already. I doubt me that snoring in front of an officer would be a good beginning.”


Ham’s grin became outright laughter and he led her quickly out of the graveyard and headed back into the still bustling camp with a purposeful stride. Intent on simply keeping up and not getting lost, Ely almost walked into Ham’s back as they reached their destination some minutes later and had barely time to gather herself before she was hustled in front of Amon once more.


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