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Narsi's response was met with another rumbling snarl from Julan as a result of her tone. It took a conscious effort for him to reign himself in and avoid over-reacting. Everything seemed more intense to him when he was transformed, emotions as well as senses. Positive and negative emotions alike could feel exaggerated to him, including his frustration at Narsi's stubbornness. "Well I think you do. You...try too hard, it seems like. You act like some of the children. The young ones who aren't allowed to apprentice to the warriors yet. They try to act tough, but it just makes them look stupid. You shouldn't act like that, and you shouldn't want to be alone. Lone wolves are weak. That's what scoutmaster Eslund says. He's, um, one of the instructors."

Again, Julan started to try and focus on transforming back to normal, this time sitting down just in front of Narsi. Although, there was no position he could take that would make him seem much less imposing.




"Oh...we're all fine." Gwindir remarked, with a short silence hanging in the air afterwards. Interestingly, it was Shevari that recognized everyone's hesitation and decided to address the Daedroth in the room directly.

"I just don't think this is how anyone expected the day to go, but...we can all be glad that no one was hurt, yes?" Shevari pointed out with a, perhaps, optimistic smile.
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"Yeah, whatever, rub it in, see if I care." Narsi had enough venom still that coming off as indifferent was hardly believable. "Just 'cos I have to be here and train with you boneheads doesn't mean I have to treat you like family, got it?" She lowered her eyes. "As soon as I get to beat Lorag up, I'm leaving."

Rhazii returned with some sturdy sticks under his arm. "Really? That's why you're here?" He couldn't stifle a snort. "You make it sound like you'll get it done in a week or two."

"Shut up," Narsi said under her breath.

"Stand up," Rhazii said, holding forward one of the sticks. "We'll begin while Julan finishes up."



Fendros nodded without making eye contact. "Yes. It was unfortunate, but at least he didn't... didn't hurt anyone." Fendros put a hand on the table. "I cannot begin to express how sorry I am that my father behaved in that manner. It was unfair on you that the problems between the two of us put everyone in danger."
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Narsi was making it somewhat challenging for Julan to focus on reigning in his beast spirit. It seemed like she was just trying to irritate him. Still, he felt that his heart was beating gradually slower as time went on, and he was feeling slightly more like himself. One of his dark green eyes opened and settled on Narsi.

"Now that I'm thinking about it, where did you come from? You look younger than me, but you still would had to have been born a long time ago, right? How did you just kind of show up all of the sudden? You can't be from this clan, so where were you raised? One of the other clans?" Julan asked.




Ahnasha nodded along with Fendros, picking up as he finished. "There is a reason we didn't want you to have to meet him. But...the rest of Fendros' family was really glad to have met you. Calia, Monderyn, Llarasa, they did enjoy our afternoon, until...you know. So it wasn't all bad, at least, and nothing like that is going to happen again."

S'nashi reached across the table, grabbing Ahnasha's wrist in her hand, then doing the same to Fendros with her other hand shortly afterwards. "Please don't do anything like that again. I don't know what all that was about with the sword, or what the sword was supposed to mean, but none of it could be worth risking your life like that. I woudln't be able to handle it if something happened to either of you."
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"No clan. A city." Narsi stood up and took the stick Rhazii offered. "Not telling you where."

"Uncle Lorag picked her up from Cheydinhal," Rhazii said flatly.

"Shut up!" Narsi raised her voice again.

Rhazii only let the corner of his mouth twitch up. "Raise your weapon to your side. Block my strikes and step back with each one. We'll take turns."

"I know how the drill works, I've done plenty with the others-argh!"

While Rhazii did not throw powerful horizontal strikes, he kept a brisk pace throwing them at Narsi's left and right in an alternating fashion. Narsi statically blocked each one as they slid their feet back with each movement, Rhazii advancing and Narsi going backwards. It was a simple drill to make strikes and footwork more natural.

Once Rhazii had taken about seven steps, he stepped back and let Narsi take her turn. She was far rougher with her strikes, clacking her stick loudly against Rhazii's blocks in a way that would jar the wrists of most her size.

"Why do you care, anyway!?" Narsi said to Julan over the audible swishing her stick made whirling in the air. "It's not like it matters to you!"



Fendros hesitated and brought his eyes down, away from S'nashi. His thoughts immediately went to the upcoming invasion. Saying yes to her now would be a lie. Unqualified, at least. At that, Fendros lifted his eyes and answered, even if the pause was suspicious. "Thankfully, our home is far enough away from here that I do not believe this will be a problem any time soon."

He tried and failed to smile.
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Finally, Julan felt that he was making real progress despite Narsi's distractions. He did not reply to her last comment for a time, instead allowing her to continue with her drills while focusing himself on reigning in his beast spirit. After another minute or two, he ended up shifting back to normal in the periphery of their vision.

Julan took a few moments to collect himself as he brought himself slowly back up to his feet. Transformation in either direction was still rather painful, and he did not feel close to being used to it. Still, he was at the point that he could at least act like it did not bother him. Ease of transformation was a point of pride for many children in the clan.

Walking back up to the edge of the training area, Julan quickly resumed watching the drills. "You said you're from a city, but you don't act like you've ever even been around people before. Or you're trying to pick a fight with everyone, even though everyone else here is tougher than you."




"So...that's it then?" Gwindir asked. There was a part of his demeanor that made it seem as if he was not quite convinced by what he was being told, which made it even harder for Ahnasha to maintain eye contact. "You're going to go back home and won't end up seeing him again. So you won't be in any danger from him, right? You're not going to make a big deal out of what happened and try to confront him again, so you're going to be safe?"

"That's right." Ahnasha lied right away, though quickly and confidently enough that she was actually rather convincing.

Gwindir let out a long breath. It was difficult to tell if he was just showing his stress at the situation, which would be perfectly understandable, or if he actually had some reason to doubt her. "Then I suppose there's nothing more to be done about it. I do wish we could have gotten along with your father, Fendros. I still really do believe that people like him can be reached, but it's not worth risking anyone getting hurt."

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Rhazii remained neutral while performing the drill with Narsi. His eyes flicked over to Julan at moments. At least he was getting her to talk. He did not know whether that was ultimately a good thing or not.

Narsi answered Julan as best as she could while concentrating. "Well, maybe not everyone has to be nice to you, clown paint. Did you think of that?" She switched stances as Rhazii took his turn striking. "And 'everyone else here' is tougher? What's that supposed to mean? You think I haven't beaten up a few fighters my size since I've been here?"

"How long have you been training?" Rhazii asked.

Narsi answered immediately. "Since I could hold a weapon. Momma said I could stop training with her once I beat her up myself."

Rhazii sighed. "Right. Orc. We get it."



Fendros nodded vigorously. He was also having trouble maintaining eye contact. "Yes, I agree. There might be a time when things change and he changes, but...I would not count on that for less than a century or so."
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As stubborn as she had been, Narsi's answers finally gave Julan enough to go on to get what he assumed was a good picture of her life up to now. He grinned, though out of sight of Narsi as she continued her drill. "Hmm...well I think I get it, then. If you're really from Cheydinhal, then you're actually a city dweller, but probably raised different than most of them. I don't think children from cities are taught like lycans are. They're weaker, and aren't trained to fight like us. But if you were trained, then I guess you've always just been the toughest kid around."

Julan was smiling by this point, confident that he had figured out an explanation for why Narsi acted the way she was. "But not here. Almost all of us have been trained like that. Have you ever even been around other lycans before? Other than your mother? Hircine likes for us to fight each other and get stronger. Aunt Meesei has always said that the way we, um, test each other makes us more powerful. So now that you're here, you're not special anymore. You're just another one of us."




"Perhaps, at the least, we can still write letters. I suppose there is some small chance that he may read them." Gwindir commented. His attention remained firmly on Fendros, and his expression showed something between curiosity and uncertainty. It was fortunate that Ahnasha's parents were at least not stubborn enough to try and contact Rossarm after he had threatened violence, but the whole ordeal may have given them reason to doubt some of what they had been told.

"At any rate, I didn't know you practiced magic, Fendros. Where do you find the time between hunting and running a store?" Gwindir asked.
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"I don't care," Narsi proclaimed. "I'll beat you, I'll beat this guy, and then I'll beat Lorag."

"You're striking too low," Rhazii said. "If you cut like that it'll glance off the shoulder. Go higher." He tapped the base of his neck and they continued. "Also, you won't beat Lorag."

Narsi scowled. "Bullshit. He's not invincible."

"No, but he's better than you," Rhazii answered flatly. "Only a handful of people the clan have actually beaten him in a stand up fight. He's been fighting hard for all his life. Not just training. Wars. Battles." He stopped. "Okay, now continue with Julan."

While Rhazii and Julan swapped places, Narsi was surprisingly quiet and somewhat sunken.



Fendros felt his ears darken with a rush of blood. He tried to keep a straight face while searching for a satisfactory answer. After a suspicious length of silence, he lowered his eyes, waved a hand, and came up with all he had. "My family has magic in its tradition. I grew up learning. Just...keep my skills sharp when I can. It's easier now that Rhazii is almost grown up."

He hoped they did not remember Calia speaking about Fendros' previous difficulties with magic.
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"You're just going to have to deal with not being the best around anymore." Julan remarked, following Rhazii's lead and stepping up in front of Narsi in the training area. "You were trained by your mother, right? So when you were in your city, it was just her that was better. But now it's most of us. You try to laugh at me, but do you know what I had to do for my rite?"

By this point, Julan's agitation showed, at least subtly, through his slightly barred teeth. "I had to fight someone older than me who had been fighting longer, with real weapons. I had a spear put through my leg, and had to just keep fighting if I wanted to win. You just gave up as soon as you thought you couldn't beat me, and I hadn't even hurt you yet. I...guess it's good you at least want to get better, though. And you are tougher than a lot of others your age. It might not take as many years for you to become a warrior."

Julan gave a quick glance towards Rhazii. "Maybe we should see how she does with fists?"




It was not immediate for any of Ahnasha's family to pick up on Fendros' lie, but he did not get away with it. It was actually Vasiq who commented on it, though by his tone, he did not even realize what he implied until he had already said it. "I suppose it makes sense that you would've gotten a lot of practice back then. I don't know why your father was so surprised when you were able to cast a ward."

Ahnasha shifted nervously. She wanted to come up with some excuse, on Fendros' behalf, but she had to be careful on what she said, and when. If she just leaped into making excuses for him right away, then her parents would know to be suspicious.

Gwindir raised his brow at Fendros. "Yes, didn't...your mother say you had trouble with magic?"
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Narsi remained blank, almost betraying some sadness as Julan spoke. But as they drilled, something Julan said made Narsi's face harden.

Julan's suggestion to Rhazii came with a certain coincidental timing. The end of his sentence was punctuated with an aching impact just below his sternum, where Narsi jabbed her fist forward while he was distracted. The wind was gone from his lungs and his diaphragm swirled with nausea.

"Hey!" Rhazii instantly leapt into action, grabbing Narsi by the wrist, twisting her arm around to her back, and then shoving her against the ground by the nape of her neck.

Narsi strained one eye to look up at Julan. She snarled through grit teeth with her cheek pressed against the floor. "I ain't scared of you, clown boy!"

"Don't hit like a coward like that when you're training!" Rhazii shouted, in a way channelling Lorag, if a little less overwhelming. "If you're so bothered by some dumb words, you challenge Julan properly! Got it!?"

She was in no position to resist. Narsi struggled and got nowhere, hissing breaths in and out between her teeth.

"Are you going to make a challenge or not!?" Rhazii demanded.

Narsi closed her mouth. She broke eye contact with Julan, her stubbornness lasting another several seconds. She growled in frustration. "...No," she finally admitted.



Again, Fendros took a moment with his eyes downcast. He did not want to be the one caught lying, even if they were to lie in the first place. He did not have some inspired cover story.

"I did," was all he could say.
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Julan was taken off-guard and was unable to speak for a few moments as he was catching his breath. Despite being younger, Narsi was certainly able to throw a punch, though it was nothing more than anything Julan had to endure before. By the time Rhazii was finished berating her, Julan had recovered with only his anger left to show for the attack. And there was no mistaking that he was indeed angry.

Julan marched up and stood over Narsi, practically growling and locking eyes with her. "Then maybe I should just do it instead? You hit me with a cheap shot, then just run away and hide when it looks like you're going to have to actually fight? You're definitely not from a clan. You're just a soft little city-dweller. So I'm challenging [/i]you[/i]. Come on, fight me, coward!"




Between the two of them, Ahnasha was the one who tended to be better at lying, and in this case, she did at least have something in mind before the silence grew too long. As usual, it was to mostly tell the truth. "Well, he's really only good at wards right now. The protective magic, the one that guards against incoming spells. He had a lot of trouble learning as a child, but he did know enough that our friend Meesei was able to help him with wards. Fendros is an Atronach. Or, um, born under the birthsign of the Atronach, that is. It means he can't replenish his own magicka very easily, but apparently, Atronachs are naturally good at absorbing magic. Like with wards."

The specifics of magic and the celestial influence of birthsigns was something that went far above her family's heads, which was what Ahnasha was counting on in this case. It made them more likely to just accept what she was saying at face value. Most of what she said was true, even if it was not the full story, so they could not easily contradict her.

"Right, your mage friend." S'nashi replied, still looking visibly nervous as she spoke of her. "I'll be honest, the whole idea of her...teleporting you all across the world still terrifies me. But...if she can really let you move so far, so quickly, then maybe you can come visit us more often? As long as it is completely safe, of course."
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Rhazii let out a frustrated sigh. "Can't we just-"

"LET GO OF ME, FURBALL! I'LL SOCK YOUR TEETH OUT, SHIT-PICKER!"

The outburst from Narsi made Rhazii flinch his ears up from their flattened angle, even if her renewed struggling did not break his grip.

"Call me a coward- the only reason I didn't keep hitting you is 'cos your fat friend put me on the floor here!"

"Alright!" Rhazii spoke over the both of them. He looked between Julan and Narsi for a pause. "...You two want to fight? Fine. Just don't kill one another." He lifted himself off Narsi, giving he a quick shove as she tried to wriggle free too quickly.

It did not stop Narsi scrambling to her feet as fast as she could. She had her fists up already. Unlike before, she was lighter on her feet, focussed, and fuming like an enraged bull.

Rhazii stepped back and let them at it. By the way Narsi was moving, he suspected she had learnt from the fights with Julan before.



Fendros bent his head down and wiped his closed eye with his thumb. Every detail they piled onto the story ate at his conscience, not to mention his patience.

"Ahna." Fendros said resolutely. He turned to face Ahnasha. For a while he just gave her a serious look. After mulling over his words, he softly shook his head. "This is turning into a game."

He maintained eye contact for as long as it took for Ahnasha to decide what to do next.
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"Oh, sure, now you say you want to fight. Just a few seconds ago, you were refusing to even challenge me." Julan retorted, with him too taking up a fighting stance. Narsi had successfully pushed his agitation over the edge into outright anger. Although he was no longer under the influence of his beast spirit, the time he had spent in his beast form had certainly made it easier for her to get under his scales. "Have you ever even fought anyone other than your mother? Or did all the other kids back in your city just run away?"

Despite his taunting, Julan was at least not acting too overconfident. The stance he took was more than simply raised fists, it was one that he had practiced and drilled with his mother. In Elsweyr, Ri'kalesh had trained both Kaleeth and Janius in his unarmed fighting techniques, and as such, the Khajiit martial arts had been a part of his own training. He was, of course, very much a novice, but he was still trained beyond just throwing punches on instinct.




Both of Ahnasha's parents showed their confusion in the silence that followed Fendros' comment. Ahnasha did everything she could to think quickly, though S'nashi still had time to question what was going on. "I'm...not sure I understand. What is he talking about, dear?"

"Fendros, you...really don't need to frighten my mother like that." Ahnasha began, frantically piecing together her story in her mind as she spoke it. "Mother, he has always just been somewhat dubious about teleportation since Meesei first told him about it. Supposedly there have been some mages that have made mistakes using it, but they weren't Meesei. I assure you that we are perfectly safe, mother. She's teleported hundreds, if not thousands of times, with no mistakes."

S'nashi took hold of Ahnasha's hands. "I'm sure she has, but if there's a chance it could be dangerous, maybe you should..."

"It's alright, mother." Ahnasha interrupted. "If you really are worried, we can make sure to only ever use it sparingly. I promise."

Ahnasha's web of lies were becoming more and more twisted and complex, and it did not seem that she was stopping. The look she gave Fendros as soon as she turned away from her family made her anger quite apparent. "Fendros, maybe you should head back now. You know your mother is expecting to meet up with you before heading back home, and it is getting late."
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Narsi shouted louder to speak over Julan. "A few seconds ago you hadn't pissed me off enough! GRAAGH!" She engaged with a swift combination of punches, mostly as a distraction and deflection between a single strike meant for Julan's side. The flurry was hardly unstoppable but Narsi did not make it easy to exploit her openings.



Fendros kept eye contact. He did not so much as flinch. "No, there's plenty of time," he said flatly.

For the next few seconds, Fendros' only movement was to blink once. He finally spoke with his voice lowered to a quiet volume, though not so quiet that Ahnasha's family could not hear it. "It does not have to be everything. But you have to say something."
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Julan, to start, guarded with his arms. She was not putting enough force behind her flurry for the strikes to matter, until she finally committed fully into one at his side. However, Julan could react on training, instead of just instinct. He was not skilled enough to block her attack entirely, but he had decent enough footwork to be able to move and lessen the impact. At the same time, committing fully to a strike had finally left Narsi open enough for him to strike back harder. He did take a hit, but she took one even harder, and right to her gut.

Not only did Julan land a hit, but he followed through as well. It was, perhaps, not elegant, but he had been taught not to let an advantage go to waste. He hooked one foot behind Narsi's heel while simultaneously shoving forward with his shoulder. Being that he was clearly bigger than her, Narsi no doubt expected to be at a disavantage in terms of strength, but it would not be until she attempted to resist an attack with his full weight behind it that she would realize exactly how easily a werecrocodile could overwhelm her, even out of beast form.




"There's nothing to say, husband." Ahnasha replied in an equivalent tone. She had precious little time to think about how to elaborate, but keeping her mind focused on the topic of teleportation did help for inspiration. She looked away and let out a long, slow, sigh, which bought her just enough time to say something. "I know what supposedly happened to your great-uncle, but Meesei doesn't even use that kind of teleportation."

S'nashi looked almost frightened, leaning in closer to Ahnasha. "Dear, please, if there's something dangerous about it..."

"There isn't mother, I promise. But...if it really does worry you, I can also promise that we will stop using it after we get home. If you really want us to." Ahnasha answered back immediately. Nothing in her voice or demeanor so much as hinted that she was being anything but genuine. It did speak to Ahnasha's ability to lie that she was able to keep it going this long, and even turn it to her advantage in a way. However, Fendros, at this point, had a choice to make. For as clever as she was, Ahnasha was unlikely to be able to keep going convincingly if Fendros persisted. But, Ahnasha's opinion on the matter was made abundantly clear. As soon as she looked away from her family, she mouthed a single word towards that concisely explained how she felt about his suggestions: "Leave."
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Narsi took the hit to the gut with a grimace, but to her credit she was quick enough on her feet to rebalance before the weight of Julian's shove could put her on the floor. She instead found herself several steps back from Julan and still just as angry.

She let out another shout as she closed in to try again. This time with a simple jab to occupy Julan's hand before following up with a punch at his chin.

Rhazii itched his head. She was fighting smarter than with the axe and shield.



Fendros and Ahnasha's personalities lended themselves easily to arguments. Their stubbornness was as much as source of conflict as it was of admiration between them. This time, however, what Ahnasha saw in Fendros' eyes was the former.

He was tired, stressed, and harrowed after such a day. His jaw clenched around his tongue in a display of strained self control. He could have told them all the truth on Ahnasha's behalf but it was not his place to do so. He could have walked away and been just as frustrated as before. When he stood up from the table, he could only manage something in between.

"Of all the things you I've seen you afraid of, I never thought you would be scared to do the right thing." He said. There was not even an acknowledgement of any response Ahnasha or the family might have had as he walked around to the stairs up to their room.
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Since Narsi had to push back forward after stumbling back, Julan had a few brief moments to think about his approach. She had somehow managed to recover from his aggression, but she was showing no sign of stopping her own aggression. So, he decided to put into action some of his own training once again. This time, Julan did not meet Narsi's attack head-on, but rather set himself up to move with her momentum. He intended to deflect her first jab with the least amount of movement of his own arm as possible, but as his technique was not terribly refined, he ended up taking the jab directly to his gut regardless. But still, it meant his hands were still in a position to receive her main attack.

Guarding his head with one arm, Julan shot out with the other as quickly as he could and managed to successfully get a grip on her forearm. From there, he pulled rather than pushed to take advantage of her forward momentum. He knew he did not have the balance to keep his footing at this point, so he twisted his body so as to force her down underneath him and make her take the brunt of the fall. He left his torso open and legs open to a few hits, but there was no question that she was going down now.




After Fendros left, it would be about another hour before Ahnasha would rejoin him in their room. However, even with that time passing, he would be able to tell the moment she stepped through the door that it had done little to temper her anger. If anything, it had given it time to fester in her mind while she was putting on her act to appease her family.

Ahnasha practically slammed the door behind her, starring daggers at Fendros and ever so slightly baring her teeth at him. "What in Oblivion is wrong with you?"
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Narsi had better control over her momentum that Julan might have expected. He was still strong enough to throw her. In the end, it was the landing that went wrong. Julan found himself resisted just enough to only have Narsi's arm under his body by the time they hit the floor.

It was fortunate Narsi's arm did not break or tear. She still let out an involuntary shriek as it was jarred at the elbow. Narsi's reaction was an immediate roll over to smack her flat palm against Julan's ear hole.



Fendros had gathered all their luggage on the bed, ready to leave as soon as they needed to. He turned around from where he was looking out of the window with his hands clasped. A neutral face quickly went stern at Ahnasha's entrance. "What did you tell them?" He spoke, repeating himself to interrupt anything Ahnasha might have said to avoid the subject. "What did you tell them?"
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Despite all of Narsi's resistance, the fight was now clearly in favor of Julan, and the outcome seemed all but inevitable. However, it had also been far closer than it would have seemed to have any right being. Julan had just about every advantage from the start. He had height, strength, weight, experience, and training all in substantial excess of Narsi, but she put up far more resistance than Julan would have ever expected, even to the point of making him worried at points. She was certainly dedicated, and the potential she showed made Julan realize why Lorag was actually putting in the effort to train her now, of all times. Aside from the fact that she was his daughter.

But, inevitably, all of the dedication in Nirn would not change some fundamental truths about the match-up between the two fighters. Once he had her in his clutches, Julan could throw her around almost as easily as Rhazii had. The smack to Julan's ear sent his head ringing, but it also allowed him to get a grip on Narsi's only free arm. From there, it was easy for him to shove her over onto her back and pin down her arm at its elbow. He did the same to her other arm as he pushed himself up to his knees, then used one knee to hold down the arm he had been laying on so he could free up his arm, which he quickly pushed up against her throat.

Narsi had managed to hurt him. Julan would be sore and bruised after this, but it would have taken a miracle for Narsi to actually defeat him in a hand-to-hand fight at the current point. For the moment, though, Julan had her in a grapple and was in complete control. "It's over! Do you submit now?"




"I kept the excuse up as best as I could. Maybe. Who knows if they really bought it after what you pulled?" Ahnasha practically growled back at Fendros. Her feet stomped against the wooden floorboards with each step she took as she marched straight up to Fendros. Her volume was not quite enough to be considered shouting, but it looked like she was only barely able to keep herself under control.

Ahnasha stopped just short of shoving Fendros into the wall. "What got into you back there? I did not agree to tell them any more than we already had, and thanks to you, they might not end up believing my story."
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Narsi's sneering face took shallow, wheezing breaths in and out between gritted teeth. Every trace of movement Julan made against her injured arm made her wince. A few last vain attempts at escaping his grasp did not make her any less angry, but it was clear the fight was over.

"Fff...Fuckin' asshole..." she hissed out. Her eyes scrunched shut. "You win...but this don't mean...I'm a coward...hear me?" She winced hard again when she tried to move her arm, silencing her breathing for a moment.

Rhazii spoke up from the side. "You made your point, Julan. I don't think she'll be changing that attitude no matter how black and blue she gets, but it'll be a lesson for taking that cheap swing at you."



"You saw how they were looking at us, they knew there was something more," Fendros responded immediately with a similar tone. "They're worried," he gestured to one side with a flat hand, "they'll not forget, and I can't keep lying to their faces like that! Let alone-" He stopped for just a moment to purse his lips and abruptly turn his head up to the rafters.

He was hesitating to continue his thought. The moment left a void for Ahnasha to retort if she was not speaking over him already.
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