(Person 1): "Ok, let's get one thing straight."
(Person 2): "Yes?"
(Person 1): Straightens painting hanging on wall -- TheDragonsFlame
Thief hunkered in a corner. She didn't know what she was thinking when she saved this Mage from the brigands, but now they feared their anger. Mages were glass cannons, it was true, but they were also vengeful shits who could turn -say- a kobold Rogue into a toad or worse. And Thief had lived her entire, brief life in fear of others' wrath.
The Mage stopped pacing. "Okay," they said. Impossibly beautiful and glamorous because they were an Elf. "Let's get one thing straight."
Thief flinched on instinct. Held her breath as she watched the Elf cross the room and tidy up a crooked painting on their shared inn wall.
"Good," said the Elf. "Now I can think."
"Oh," they said, as if realising that Thief was there. "Aaaawww... I'm sorry, small one. I'm not angry in your direction, I promise." They adjusted the placement of a vase of flowers and the other bed by a few significant fractions of an inch, then tidied the wrinkles out of the blankets. "I have... a problem with disorder. My name's Wraithvine, and I owe you my life."
"I'm not taking it," said Thief. "I'm not taking anything. Pleasedon'tturnmeintoatoad."
"I'm not that kind of wizard," said Wraithvine. "You've obviously found yourself in ill circumstances for a long time."
How could they read Thief like that?
"What's your fondest dream?"
Thief dared uncurl from her protective huddle to try and read the Elf's youthful face. There was no hate there. Nor anger. Nor callous cruelty. And those were all the emotions that Thief was used to seeing. Maybe - and this was a strange thought for Thief - maybe Wraithvine was sincere. "A safe place to live in. Three meals a day. Hot meals. And... I never have to be scared any more."
"Just that? It sounds... boring."
"Please, I've never had boring. It sounds nice."
Wraithvine reached out and pushed Thief's hood back, revealing the truth. "Ah. Yes. I can see why you'd like boring. Alas, boredom tends to cost a lot of gold to secure. So you and I will be adventuring together for some time yet."
"You... and I," echoed Thief. "Together. Like... allies?"
"I would hope, friends and compatriots. You saved my life. You deserve to have a better one in return. Sound fair?"
"Sounds like a dream come true."
Wraithvine's smile made their whole face shine. "Good. A team, then. Do you have a name?"
"I am called Thief. I think. People always say it when they see me... um. It's... it's the best I've got." Thief shouldn't have looked down, because she was grappled and held. But... it wasn't the usual way the guards did it. Thief was wrapped up in wizardly Elven arms and held close against robes and she heard... a soft and comforting purr. And she felt... nice. And safe. Nice and safe. "What- I can't- are you- What is this?"
"It's a hug," said Wraithvine. "You are in sore need of many. And an actual name." They sniffed. "And a bath."
Thief had heard people talking about baths before. Everyone seemed to think she needed one. They also seemed to think she needed a good whipping, too. "It won't... hurt... will it?"
Wraithvine's face was wet. "Oh, my small one... I have so much to teach you. And I promise that none of it will hurt."
And since a wizards' promise was worthy of gold, Thief allowed herself to relax. Maybe all of her pain had finally paid for a change of luck.
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